Monday, January 31, 2011

The Heart: My Mouth Shows My Heart

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."- Luke 6:43-45

Jesus was teaching that whatever we see on the outside of people (good or bad) reflects their hearts. We've been teaching Jimmy that his actions show where his heart already is. And God is teaching us that our words and bad attitude flow right out of our hearts of evil too! I'm so thankful to learn this truth. My bitterness towards someone or anger at Jimmy and Caleb for disobeying isn't because of them! If I'm really grounded in Christ, then my desire will be to lay down my life for them. But since I think of myself and how they "wrong" me, it's showing me my heart lack- I need Jesus to heal me and free me from this sin and give me love for others!

Paul Tripp shares how so many parents try to "apple nail" fruit in their kids lives. They want to make this bad tree look good by teaching good behavior. Though boundaries and rules are good (they show us our sin as we disobey them), obedience should never be the goal.  "Lasting change always travels through the pathway of the heart."

Am I just nailing on my tree instead of honestly seeking Christ to change my heart? Am I nailing "good fruit" on my kids instead of letting their sin point to them that they have sinful hearts that need help?
A tree is known by it's leaves and fruit
Our hearts are always selfish and self serving. Only Jesus was good and loving. Praise God, those that are His can be good and kind and loving towards others in His strength. Often though, I still put my energy into  my outward behavior. It's good and right for me to fight the sin and sinful lifestyle, but always by seeking God and getting to the root issue: my heart. The fruit only comes as God changes my heart to make me more like Him.

 Have I missed a chance to show my kids the good news that help has already come through Jesus and our bad fruit doesn't have to lead to death, but can point our need for life in Christ?

So, as I see my sinful heart, I'm learning to fight against the sin by turning to God and His Word, asking for forgiveness, and praying He'll help me live out His love as He changes my heart. And I'm praying that I can both model and instruct my kids in this truth too. Praise God He gives us strength to be renewed from the inside out!!!

"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. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules." - Ezekiel 36:26,27

[Read the rest of this series here: #2- Do I skip heart? #3- Questions, #4- When to Correct, #5- Our process, #6- Bad Character]

Saturday, January 29, 2011

rock out!

MY friend Susy ROCKS! She is amazing in many ways and a huge blessing to my life. She was the first Christian I ever knew, taught me songs from Bible camp, and has poured into me differently in each season of my life. She is also one of the most creative people I know. And she is just so humble. Today, I'm encouraging you to learn from her as she engages her boys in praying.

One way she prays with her kids is by collecting rocks. Read her full post here
and here's a fun picture of her rocks:


I've had awesome conversations with Jimmy as we hunt out rocks every so often to add to our bowl. My friend Allison gave us a tip to paint the rocks different colors to help non-readers. This way we know as we grab the blue rock that it's Daddy or the orange is for Gigi, etc...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don’t Look Back #4: Lift One Another Up

Here’s my last post in this series on the cost of following Christ…  You can read my previous posts here: DLB 1- my call to move away was hard
DLB 2- how giving up good things/enduring through hard things grows me (as I see Christ as the true treasure)
DLB 3- how giving up good/enduring hard shows the gospel to others

Please let it be clear that I do not think hardship/suffering is easy for the sufferer. And I am not saying that this “mini suffering” of moving is equal to other horrors. I believe that it’s beneficial to share this suffering because most of us will only really know these “mini sufferings”. They are very real and we can grow deeper into Christ through them.

Some of us will face more. Some are being prepared through the small so that when great tragedy falls, our strength is rooted and firm in Christ. Others already have experienced or are facing incredibly heartbreaking loss and pain. Those dear brothers and sisters can teach much more than I ever can and I am thankful for the example of so many in my life who have faced great tragedy and modeled faith in Christ.

These same truths God’s been teaching me are true for them. And I’m encouraged by the many believers I see live it out and grieve with hope, suffer debilitating disease with firm faith, rejoice when they are rejected, or sacrifice great wealth to give to others with incredible JOY because they know that Christ is the true treasure. I count it a privilege and (joyful) duty to pray for them and encourage them in the Word as I hear of their trials. 

Here’s a glimpse of a note I wrote to a sufferer once…
“I know that it’s true that for those who love God all things work together for good, that weeping lasts for a night, and that joy will come in the morning, but I'm not foolish enough to think that the night is not long and the good that comes is felt right awaypraying for you as you grieve… and believing God is still present and faithful…
(2Cor. 1:3-4, 11)
We're taking our role as pray-ers seriously and lifting you up!”

I don’t think it’s natural or normal for us to rejoice in suffering… I think that’s why there is so much instruction in how to and encouragement to endure suffering. We endure for Christ’s sake, through His strength, remembering His example, and believing Him for JOY both now and in the future. But we are not alone in it. We have a great high priest who is well aquainted with suffering (Hebrews 4:14-16) and offers mercy and grace to us in our time of need.

And God gives us one another- His people, to help us stand up under and endure. We cry together and laugh together. We ask the hard questions together and point each other back to the truth of His Word when it’s hard to remember. We believe God for the fruit in each other’s lives and many others through it. We walk the highs and lows together, pointing each other back to the cross and God’s great love for us. We remind each other that someday every tear will be wiped away. And we’ll know and understand the joy of that day so much more because we have suffered so greatly here.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood…”- Hebrews 13:1-2

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Dad's Tips for Modesty

Great tips from a Dad for parents of girls... and for my friends who want to be modest:
“Four Guidelines for Modesty”:
  1. If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
  2. If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.
  3. If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
  4. If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.
you can read Michael Hyatt (CEO of thomas nelson publishing) full post here where he shares his thoughts of watching the MTV VMA awards.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Don’t Look Back #3: Show His Worth to Others

I’ve been sharing in Post 1 and Post 2 how hard I’ve found the call to follow Christ to be at times and yet that I see purpose in this tearing away and even joy in it… God is reminding me that HE is the true treasure my heart seeks and living here is a chance to see Him as that treasure both in how I receive/reject “good” things and embrace hard times. But I also get an opportunity in each to show His worth to others.

Lesson 2:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him”-Philippians 3:7-9a

Both the good and hard things are not just for my growth, but an opportunity to show His great value to others. God gives everyone good and hard things, not just those that are His. I believe that He does this so that His own can reject good things to pursue Him or embrace hard things to show His great worth. That’s what Paul was saying he wanted- to hate the “good” things and see them for the filthy and temporal things they are and instead RUN towards Jesus and be found in Him, knowing Him more and more! Amen! We can reject these good things like “home”, family, and being known by others and yet have FULL JOY. Why? Because Jesus is the joy and treasure and when we give those others up, it opens us to know Him more and more as we press into Him for those desires. I’m seeing it in this small giving up we’ve had and it’s incredible. He is incredible!

 So here are questions I’m daily asking myself:

Ease: Do I enjoy “good and ease” as much as people without Christ do? Do I see that though they are good gifts, they aren’t THE gift? Am I passing up “good” things and opportunities and showing that Christ is THE treasure?

Suffering: Do I expect hardship/suffering? Do I really see that we ALL deserve them because we aren’t good? Is my response in those times showing as things are taken away that Christ is the treasure of my heart? Does the suffering reveal that as I cling more readily to Him in it? Do I embrace suffering as a way to know Him more and be found in Him?

Oh how God truly is using this time for my good. And it is so very good, even in the pain of it. This tearing away is bringing me daily to Him. And He is so very faithful to bring peace, comfort, and joy here and remind me of the unending JOY with Him for those of us that are His someday on New Earth. God is so very, very good.

“as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”  –Philippians 1:20

Monday, January 24, 2011

Making the Most of Our Small Talk

GREAT post on CJ Mahaney's Cheap Seats blog by David Powlison on small talk. He shares that every word we say matters and even our small talk is a way to honor God in relationships.

"In God's view there is never an inconsequential word that anybody ever says. Every word counts. We are not always aware of that. Jesus says you will be judged for every careless word you utter (Matthew 12:36). That means that when you climb into anything a person ever says you find profound things revealed about what they are about: what they are after, what their intentions are, what their worldview is. Even in small talk there is a revelation of the heart that God is searching out, and he weighs the intentionality of small talk.
Small talk: it is either a way for me to say, “I don't want to know you and I don't want you to know you and so I am going to keep it light and make it as quick as possible and see you later.” Or small talk is a way to say, “I care about you. I would like to get to know you.” We can talk about a football team or the weather and it is actually an expression of two human beings making that connection, but it is because we love each other or want to know each other.
Small talk is going to be judged by God for the kind of deep intentionality it is. In other words, small talk is counsel.
So then, how should we think about our small talk???? Therefore...
Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” 
Read the whole blog here

Friday, January 21, 2011

Don’t Look Back #2: Know His Worth

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”- Philippians 3:12-14

I shared in the last post how following God comes at cost and it is hard. Following Christ’s call for us to do full time ministry has been good in so many ways, but also hard for me.

In it, I believe God is teaching me a beautiful truth: We can leave “home” joyfully, appreciating that beautiful season and gift of living there, and knowing that HE is my real treasure, refuge, and rest. Oh how I battle to rest in Him fully and give up this  hold onto the past. Yet I am seeing so much more how very real and near and wonderful Jesus is through my struggle. It’s true that in His presence is the fullness of peace and joy. HE is the One who has taken me from there to here and will take us wherever we may go from here, for His glory and our good. He is always with me, guiding me, and sustaining me. Always. Everywhere.

Here are some beautiful lessons He is teaching me in this.

Lesson 1:
 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”- 2 Corinthians 4:18

If I love this world and I look to temporal things for what only God can give, I’m missing it. HE is my joy and hope and peace. He is the precious gift and living here and experiencing His good gifts is an opportunity to live knowing they are not all there is… and leaving those good gifts to follow Him shows others that He is truly ALL in all.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him-Philippians 3:7-9a

to be continued….

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don’t Look Back: Losing to Gain

Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”- Luke 9:61-62

I’ve been chewing on this Luke 9 passage. I remember hearing how this passage is like marriage vows and it’s a joyful commitment to God. If I’m honest, as I read them now, years later, I’m not sure I agree. In fact, Jesus was teaching that following Him was going to be hard and people who didn’t want it to be hard should just leave and go back to what they were doing. He said by following Him you may not even have housing and you will have to leave people and places you love. He’s preparing them that going in His name will not be easy and they will not be loved by all.

I’m struck most by the call to not even say goodbye to anyone but go forward in the work He calls. Though we were blessed to have a wonderful “goodbye party” before we left NJ, I see now my tendency to look back. I LOVE our call and the immediate impact Andy has on people who would never know the name Jesus but now can through his labor. I cry sometimes when I think that He chose us to come and follow Him here to serve others.

Yet, I miss seeing family and celebrating big moments and some everyday moments with them. I miss having consistent paychecks. I miss having bonded time-tested friendships where people rejoice when they see growth in our lives because they know where God has taken us from. I miss raising my children in the house/neighborhood/town where I’ve known and been known my whole life. I miss our postman Fred, who daily preached to me that “He’s coming back soon” while he handed me our neighbors mail by accident. I miss pouring into waitresses/owners of restaurants we loved to pray with and for them and share Jesus with them. I miss our 20 Something group where we stayed long nights and sometimes whole weekends just praying for one another in hard times, praising God together, and digging in His Word to know Him more. There are so many more…  Leaving isn’t easy, even when there’s so much we had to come here to. Just typing it brings fresh tears. I won’t lie, it’s hard.

So what can I learn in this? And why is God calling me not to look back, but instead to press on forward into Him and His call?

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”- Philippians 3:12-14

To be continued….

Monday, January 17, 2011

Be Transformed Post #3: Fruit That Will Last

I shared in the last post how God has sustained me daily to open His Word and seek His face in prayer each morning before my family rises. It was NOT easy to start and only by His grace that I continue. But be encouraged if you want to grow through this with me that fruit has come!

FRUIT IN OUR LIVES
We cannot have sustaining fruit apart from Christ (John 15:5) and Christ himself said to abide/remain in His Word (that’s continual). But He also promises that we will grow more and more like Him as we are in His Word, because we are sanctified through His Word! What an incredible promise.

FRUIT IN OUR MARRIAGE
"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" Galatians 6:7-9
 If we want to be wives who encourage our husbands and moms who train up our kids, we need the root dug down deep. We need to continually seek God in His Word and trust Him for results. When we are daily in His Word, we can apply from Galatians 6 that we will reap fruit from that in our relationships as God transforms us more and more like Him. What's incredible is that the Holy Spirit multiplies our tiny effort into HUGE fruit. I see how Andy has suffered the wounds of me wandering from God and family in the past. But now our marriage is growing in incredible ways as we pray together and listen to sermons and seek Him. This could not have come if we weren't in His Word! God multiplied our teeny effort into big fruit!


FRUIT IN OUR KIDS LIVES
"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."- 2 Timothy 4:2-4
When we are daily seeking God and prioritizing Christ as first in our lives, we are modeling to our kids what they need- the life sustaining word they need to live in Christ.

In Deuteronomy, we are told to talk about God's ways with our kids as we walk, rise, etc. We can’t talk about what we don’t know. As our kids grow, they’ll ask lots of questions and we should look for opportunities to share the gospel in daily life. We need to know God’s Word to know what to share when those opportunities come.

When Jimmy was 4 years old he was really into the Burger King crown. One day, while playing with it, we started talking about kings and I shared about kings in the Bible (like Josiah) who followed God and kings who didn’t and what their outcomes were. Later, we were talking about how the crown is so sought after (this came from him not wanting to share it) and such a treasure, so we shared that Jesus said where our treasure is, our heart will be also- and I got to share the gospel by showing that Jesus is the true treasure we long for and everything else, no matter how glittery will die away. Only Christ brings life. Jimmy still applies that truth and even gave away his entire piggy bank (his "Disney ticket" savings) twice in the last year to help two different families in their times of need. He did this knowing he may never go to Disney, but believing that Christ is the true treasure. What a tender heart towards Jesus that I'm honored to get to pour His Word into and guide up into Him. Praise God for fruit!

I could share other stories: people I meet in hotel lobbies, my neighbors asking questions, friends/family in the midst of grief, etc. that need counsel and comfort from His Word that I could not bring if I didn't know His Word. But my point is this: God brings fruit in every area of our lives when we seek Him. And it overflows and then bears fruit in others lives as He blesses them through us. We can trust Him for the fruit in our lives and those around us when we seek Him. We need Him and need to daily be in His Word. Please do not let a hard season of life be reason to disconnect from our very source of life. Will you consider committing this mont to a daily time in His Word? Maybe getting up before everyone in your home does and seeking Him first? 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Be Transformed Post #2: But I Hate Mornings...

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”- Luke 6:46-49

Trials will come and do come. Where I’m planted is how I’m prepped for them. The foundation of the house is built before the house. Before marriage and kids, Jesus planted and rooted Himself in me, but now how can I apply that? 


I believe it’s to start my day BEFORE they are awake, planting my self in the Word and prayer so that by the time anyone else is awake, I’m firmly rooted in Christ’s love for me, established in remembering/applying  the gospel today in daily life, and ready to serve and share with each of them.


I start by going to bed at a reasonable hour the night before. Yup- my “quiet time” starts the night before by getting enough sleep that I can get up. This used to be hard for Andy, but as he saw my heart change as a result, he now encourages me each evening to go lay down.


I set my alarm and beg God to help me get up when it will go off. He does daily. I have a small light and my Bible next to my bed and I just roll over and grab them. Some days it’s duty, others a delight, but daily I seek Him first and it feels like such a HUGE win!!! 


This planting daily has lead to a renewed hunger and thirst for Him. Somedays nap time is spent praying and listening to sermons, or at night Andy and I study the Word or read great books to spur us more in Christ. It has become a model to my children and I'm prepared to share with them daily.


I'll share more of the fruit of this small (yet hard to put in action at first) step in my next several posts, but today let me encourage you as you read this- You need to be planted in His Word. If you aren't already daily being transformed by the renewal if your mind then take this step to start a daily time with Him. Dig down deep and ask Him to help you obey Him by starting each day in His Word and prayer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Comfort and security? Or Jesus?

"it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:20-21


I battle sometimes wondering if I'm missing it. I love Jesus and yet I enjoy comfort and security. I rest in them. In full honesty, I usually rest there instead of in God Himself, my true rest and refuge. We encounter the persecuted church a lot through our job (from afar) and I feel a thrill to serve them in any way and yet a sadness at the reminder of how my daily life doesn't always show Christ as my Supreme treasure.

I believe God has shown me this to encourage me, not discourage me. In His grace, I think He is lovingly and gently reminding me that all the earth and everything in it is His. The gifts I daily receive are great gifts from a loving Father, but THE gift is always Him. And in my plenty, it is an opportunity to remember that it's all from Him and to his glory. I'm encouraged though, by others who had all the same wealth I have and gave it up fully so that everyone everywhere might know this great Jesus.

I read a series of posts on Tim Challis' blog that just pierced me with a reminder of two lives lived fully to God's glory. It's the story of John and Betty Stam, young missionaries to China who were brutally murdered for their faith. The love they had for God and others is a beautiful challenge for me. I weep every time I read about having to leave their baby as they are taken to be killed and just trust God would provide and care for her. Wow. And it is told that they died with peaceful looks on their faces. Could I trust in Him in that major a way? I long to stop living for me and instead delight in God fully and live and die to His glory alone!!! You should read their full story in the blog here: Part 1 and Part 2

Here's one glimpse explaining God's glory in this seemingly untimely suffering:

in all things God will have his glory. And God was glorified through the lives of John and Betty Stam. Here are just a few ways in which we see it.
When Evangelist Lo found the bodies and placed them in the coffins, he preached to the crowd that had gathered there. Here is what he said to them:
You have seen these wounded bodies, and you pity these foreigners for their suffering and death. But you should know that they are children of God. Their spirits are unharmed and at this minutes are in the presence of God.
They came to China and to Miaosheo not for themselves but for you, to tell you about God and His love, that you might believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved eternally. You have heard this message. Remember it is true. Their death proves that. Do not forget what they told you. Repent and believe the Gospel.
Many of the people who listened to the evangelist wept, something that was notable because other missionaries would say that never in all their labors had they heard of Chinese people weeping as they heard the gospel. But these people had witnessed a demonstration of the power of God and the truth of the gospel. They had seen the difference the gospel makes.
There is one way God was glorified. Another way was when newspapers all over the world, secular newspapers, carried the story of what had happened. People read the story and heard of two brave Christians who considered their lives less valuable than their service to God. People were drawn to the gospel just by hearing this!
And all around the world people heard the story of John and Betty and determined then and there that they, too, would be willing to dedicate their lives to that same cause. Only eternity will tell how many people became missionaries, and how many souls were saved, after hearing the story of the Stams.
That is part of the answer, I’m sure. For the rest we will need to wait. And now it’s a good time to ask, Would you be willing to face death as they did? Would you be willing to give up every comfort? Would you be willing to trust God not just with your own life but with the life of your spouse? Your children? Would you make your last words gospel words, words that carry life even as you face death? Their on their knees on the cold ground in China, John and Betty were stronger than they had ever been. And God was glorified.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Be Transformed Post #1: Does "quiet time" exist when you have small kids?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”- Romans 12:1-2

 Here Paul says we can know God’s will and know what is good and perfect (only Christ) only by being renewed (a consistant habit) through the Word. “the nonconformity to the world does not primarily mean the external avoidance of worldly behaviors. That’s included. But you can avoid all kinds of worldly behaviors and not be transformed”- John Piper

Paul says it’s not just a “don’t conform”, but an action of being transformed.

“Oh, how crucial this is! If you long to break loose from conformity to the world, if you long to be transformed and new from the inside out, if you long to be free from mere duty-driven Christianity and do what you love to do because what you love to do is what you ought to do, if you long to offer up your body as a living sacrifice so that your whole life becomes a spiritual act of worship and displays the worth of Christ above the worth of the world, then give yourself with all your might to pursuing this—the renewal of your mind. Because the Bible says, this is the key to transformation.”- John Piper
I was totally convicted as I heard John Piper's sermon on Romans 12:1-2 that I could actually miss Christ if I am not daily in His Word. Though my turn away had been slow and gradual, I was starting to see in my attitude (my longing for a break from Mommy-hood and my desire for someone to see how hard I’m working and praise me, etc) that Christ was not my full treasure, portion, and reward. The very roles and calls I had begged Him to give me were now my full focus.  Most of the time I loved them, but sometimes they were the very things I dreaded doing b/c I was so drained by them and they are unending. I needed transformation, not from my roles, but to once again have JOY in Christ throughout daily life. God lovingly showed me (again) how I can have that. It only happens when HE and His Word are my daily priority… that is where/how transformation happens.
Next post I'll share how in Christ's strength, even in a time consuming season of life, we can "find time"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Warning: this is heart-wrenching, but real.

My heart is so burdened for so many I know who are experiencing painful trials and asking hard questions. Today, I found myself weeping and sobbing for a woman I've never met. God brought me to her blog through a mutual friend.

I'm praying for Tricia and her sons Tuck and Tyler who just lost their husband/father Dec. 23rd. Please pray with me for this woman and her children. I've wept and wept and also praised God over and over as I reread this gut wrenching post she wrote of losing her husband tragically a few weeks ago that is filled with faith in God in the midst of great sorrow...

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.
The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side. 
The sun will not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going,
both now and forever. ~ Psalm 121



Here's a glimpse into part but I encourage you to read her post in full here:



"He died with me.

I rubbed his prickly head, the shaved cut I loved so much. And I thought to myself,Remember this. Remember this. Remember this.

I held his hand, the only part of him that still looked like him. His fingers were cold and white; his fingernails were purple. But it was his hand, the very hand I held on our first date, on our wedding day, as we prayed over each meal together, as we sat together in church, as our sons were born. I kissed his palm. I slipped his wedding ring off his finger and onto my thumb.

I kissed his forehead.

"I'll love you forever, Robb Williford. I'll love you forever."

There are many things I do not understand, and there are many questions in my mind. But I am confident of three things:

1. He died fighting. He pushed himself up, he leaned against the wall, and he fought to stay alive until his eyes held mine.

2. He died knowing I was fighting for him. He heard me screaming for him, to him, for God, to God. He knew I fought for him, with his dying breath.

3. I know where my hope and my husband rest: with the Lord Jesus Christ. I may have no idea how to walk the path of tomorrow, this week, or next year, but my hope is sure. I will see my husband again. And in the meantime, I long to dream of him. I'd love to hear him laugh.

He died in my arms, and I will love him forever.

My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tremble at His Word

"this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word"
-Isaiah 66:2

Oh how I want to be the one He looks upon!!!
1) To be humble- I'm terrible at this. Even when I clean the toilet, I refuse to use it until Andy comes home, just to be sure he'll notice how clean the room smells and looks and be impressed by how great a homemaker I am. Seriously? I even have a pride battle in how well clean my bathroom? That's awful. I LONG to joyfully see my absolute need for Jesus (real humility) and rejoice in him fully because of that. Only humility allows the right and good picture of Him.

2) To be fully repentant and disgusted by my sin (contrite in spirit). Not just "guilty feelings" because that is really just a pretty term we put on our sinful desire to stay in our sin and not repent and turn away.

3) and to tremble at His Word. His Word is key. With a word, God created out of nothing (Gen. 1). With a word Jesus will strike down the nations (Revelation 19). 
In His Word is life. I need His Word. It is the power to transform me. I cannot let the busy-ness of this season of life with small children or the tiredness/depression that creeps in during winter months or so many other things be an excuse. I need His Word to sanctify me... Praise God He is faithful when I'm faithless. And He renews me and sustains me... by His Word:)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

urgent prayer request for Christians arrested

Praying for a Wycliffe Bible translator who was kidnapped in Nigeria... link here


AND

praying for over 70 Christians who were arrested in Iran over Christmas... Will you pray with me?

"In the early morning hours after Christmas day, the Iranian government arrested 25 Christians in Tehran and other locations. They also planned to detain sixteen others, but were unable to locate them. There are also unconfirmed reports that the authorities have arrested over 50 other Christians. According to BBC Persian, the Governor of Tehran has vowed to arrest more evangelical Christians.

One of those detained was able to make a call to friends from an unknown location on the morning of the arrests, leaving this message -
"Unfortunately early this morning the authorities came to our homes. They arrested us and many other believers. I want to ask you to pray for us. We are sure God will never leave us or forsake us. God bless you. Sorry for giving you bad news over Christmas, but I believe God will do something for us."

Read the whole story on Josh Harris' blog

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Outside the camp

I've had a rough re-adjustment home. I'm not sure if it's just exhaustion from traveling with 2 kids in a car all over the country for a month or more than that, but it's been a season of clinging to the cross and trusting that the small act of "sowing" will be multiplied by the Holy Spirit into fruit that explodes out and lasts. One encouragement for me in this has been to look back on what God's taught me in my journals. As I've looked back and prayed and just rested in Him, I'm seeing the height from which I've fallen... I am right back to looking at me, desiring my comfort and ease,  and missing Him. But OH WOW...to look at Him again all new is amazing! He is sooooo good. 


Here's a journal entry from August as I went through Hebrews that brought Him flooding back central in me. Yes, JESUS! :

"Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name".- Hebrews 13:12-16

I’ve been reading Hebrews lately (complete with notes from a sermon I heard ages ago that has brought it freshly to me as I reread it this go through) and God has been bringing it ALIVE to me and reminding me of why the book was written- it’s all about Jesus! The first 9 chapters seem to go on and on with who He is (awesome!) and then suddenly it shifts to suffering and taking HUGE risks in light of who He is. It’s filled with people who were willingly plundered, beaten, jailed, obeyed and yet didn’t receive the promise here, etc. All because they knew the real and true treasure wasn’t here, but is in JESUS! I’ve been floored by the call in Hebrews 13 to go TO HIM outside the camp and bear the reproach He bore.

My tendency is to want to fit in, belong, be liked and wanted (and in full honesty, I’d like to be praised- ouch.)
And yet my call- shown clearly in Hebrews 13 is to love Jesus so thoroughly and completely that I’ll willingly and joyfully remain in Him through suffering and make ALL decisions by FAITH looking towards heaven and not here.

It’s so timely since moving has given us many temptations to “fit in” and try to be liked by people. I’ve already had to check my insecurity as we prayerfully consider which homeschool materials, how we feed our kids, what activities to choose, church to commit to, get pictures taken with my short hair, consider how to act in the office, and even when to exhort people in truth as they make decisions that could cause them or others harm. We know God is calling us to be bold for Him. He’s calling us to remain steadfast in Him and obey His Word. He’s calling us to go reach people groups that no one else has gone towards and believe Him for impossible things, not settling or ever viewing here and now as our home. That is radically different from how most people we know live and it makes for many awkward conversations where we perceive that people think we are freaks or may think we're being judgmental of them for not doing it with us. Sometimes we feel incredibly attacked.

I’ve shared with some of you that since we’ve moved, I have had nightmares daily. Though people give different thoughts to why, as I’ve prayed God has given me a peace that regardless of the cause, He is with me, He is pleased with me, and He is my strength in it. I have been surprised sometimes at how fully rested I still feel every day even though I have such horrid and short sleep. And though I’d expect it, I’m not at all consumed by fear, but filled with joy. This is evidence to me that God is with me in it and guiding me lovingly through it.

Sometimes it can be tempting to shirk back from Him or our call because it’s hard… but here’s what God reminded me: I’m not just going out from, but I’m also going to someone… JESUS! 

And Hebrews had just reminded me some incredible truths about who I’m going to…just who this Jesus is. He is:
-God’s final revelation 1:2
-heir of all things 1:2
-creator of the world 1:2
-the radiance of God’s glory 1:3
-the exact imprint of God’s nature 1:3
-upholds the universe by the word of his power 1:3
-made purification for sins 1:3, 2:9, 2:17, 9:24, 10:12
- sits at the right hand of the Father
– Majesty on High 1:4
-is God and is enthroned forever with His sceptor of uprightness1:8
-is worshiped by the angels 1:6
-His rule has no end 1:8
-is above all other beings in the universe 1:9
-took on human flesh 2:14
-is crowned with glory because of His suffering 2:9
-is the founder of our salvation 2:10
-was made perfect in all His obedience because of His sufferings 2:10
-destroyed the one who has the power of death, satan 2:15
-delivered us from the bondage of fear 2:15
- is a merciful high priest 2:17
-made propipiation for our sins
-is sympathetic b/c of His own trials 4:15
-never sinned 4:15
-offered up loud cries and tears with reverance and God heard him 5:7
-became the source of eternal salvation 5:8
-holds His priesthood by virtue of an indestructible life 7:16
-appears in the presence of God on our behalf 9:24
-will come a 2nd time to save us who eagerly await Him 9:28
-is the perfector of our faith 12:2
-is the same yesterday, today, and forever 13:8

This is Him! This is the Jesus I am seeking to know and live in light of and JOYFULLY “give up” mini wants (like fitting in) and take risks to share with worldwide and endure hardship and suffering (even small like a financial need or nightmares) because of His great love. THIS is who we go to outside the camp and bear His reproach. What a joyful privilege! I’m honored and pray I remain in Him and He is well pleased ☺ Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Could you be satisfied with Heaven if Christ was not there?

praying through this... and realizing I've made heaven something it is not and have missed the true treasure: Jesus.


"The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?"
- God is the Gospel, John Piper