Thursday, July 28, 2011

Give your life, your family, everything. RUN after the nations with urgency!

This week, David Platt shared with our Cru staff. God used him to revive us in such cool ways. He encouraged us as we faced harsh and untrue criticism from media, he reminded us where our hope and worth are- Jesus/the gospel, and then he charged us to leave and GO and continue to preach Jesus to the nations. What a sweet and timely gift from God to us. I hope to blog on all God's teaching me and Andy, but today, let me just post a few notes I took:

Isaiah 6
 1.We serve an incomprehensible great God!
I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

2.We have infinitely offended a holy God
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
When we think God is too harsh in his punishment we have a man-centered perspective on sin.

3.We have a scandalously merciful Savior
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
-God drank the whole wrath of God, turned it over, and yelled "It is finished!" Does God hate sinners? Look at the cross. Does God love sinners? LOOK. AT. THE. CROSS.

4.We have an indescribably urgent mission!
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
This gospel beckons us to lay down EVERYTHING to say “How can I make this gospel known to the ends of the earth?” Give your life, your family, everything. RUN after the nations with urgency! Do this with a humble realization that you have been invited to this by this God- not because He needs us, but because He loves us.

Amen! Pressing on to the nations as we're renewed by His love and mercy. God is so amazingly good.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Titus 2 isn't just a woman's to-do list

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture and had a "new" truth just jump out at you? I read a post on Titus 2, from The Resurgence blog that is exactly that.

We are taught Titus 2 as an incredible list of things to live out our faith in Christ as women throughout our many seasons of life: teach what is good, be reverent, love our husbands and children, work hard at home, etc. That is right and good, but it's not the full focus of Titus 2 at all. Look further and see a sweet truth: verses 11-14 are all about Jesus. He is the gift. And salvation in Him because of the work He did for us will produce the fruit of the first 3 verses in our life. I become a woman who lives out these beautiful fruits solely because of His great love for me. Who He is, what He's done, and who I am in Him are incredible truths worth dwelling on over and over. How good is God?
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,  waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." - Titus 2:11-14
Jen Schmidt says, "For every hour (you) read through these (first 3) verses, spend an hour basking in the identity that verses 11-14 lavishes upon you.
The list of already accomplished truths from these verses puts the focus squarely where it belongs: on Christ. It labels me a recipient of God’s grace and not an achiever of it.
  • He is the Grace of God - I am given grace
  • He brings salvation - I am saved
  • He trains us - I am being trained
  • He is Hope and Glory worth waiting for - I must wait
  • He gave Himself - I will receive
  • He redeems us - I am redeemed
  • He purifies us - I am purified"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Growing Through Critics

"what if criticism is our Lord in disguise?... It might be God using a critic to get you to be sharper or less dependent on the opinion of men and more dependent on him."
This has been a crazy month in my little world. Earlier this month, our family of churches went public with some hard sin issues that came out from our leader *you can read what I've learned through that here*. But this week, Campus Crusade for Christ, the organization we work for (and adore) is receiving harsh and untrue judgements because we changed our name to Cru.

God lead me to a post on "The Resurgence" blog about critics and what we can learn through them. I'm seeing as I process and pray that God wants me to live a life that pleases Him and brings glory to His name. People will judge and criticize. I've missed a truth there: this is a great opportunity for me to weigh my heart and ask if I've valued the opinion of man over God.
 “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”-Proverbs 29:25
I imagine the attacks hurt many who prayed and labored over this name change. I'm praying God will lavish them with His peace and comfort. I'm praying I will learn in this that God weighs the heart and He gives ultimate judgement and vindication. I'm praying that Christ's name will continue to be proclaimed and many will turn to Him and live, just as it has been for the last 60 years. May I live my life to the praise and glory of His name alone. 
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,whose trust is the LordHe is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”- Jeremiah 17:7-8

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Getting Out"

I watched a 52 minute amazing sermon by Tim Keller that has taught me SO much. I learned that:

1) Exodus 14, "the parting of the Red Sea" is a picture of Christ's salvation to come. This passage is not just one way God worked once for his people. It's a picture of God's redemption. That's why it's mentioned over and over again in both Old and New Testaments. It's that important. God saves His people through a Mediator (Moses, the mediator, is a picture of the true Mediator to come, Jesus-see Luke 9 and Hebrews 3 &4) and God's people cross over by grace out of their bondage. What a picture of our great Savior and our own salvation. Beautiful!

2) Water is really a pivotal symbol of God's redemptive plan. In Genesis 1, the Spirit of the Lord hovers over the water and then things happen... creation from water. Then, when everyone falls away, God sends a great flood to "de-create"... In Exodus 14, the Egyptians are "de-created" as the water swallows them up and the israelites cross over through the Mediator. Also seen in Jonah, as he tells the others on the boat to throw him into the sea to save themselves- and of course, Jesus (the greater Moses, who takes on our sin and compares his death/resurrection to Jonah) modeled baptism, which uses water to show the "de-creation" of our sins through his death/resurrection and our "re-creation" in Him.

3) God gave the Israelites the law after they crossed over, not before. They didn't obey the law and then get to cross over the sea into safety. They were saved by grace and then given the law. What a good reminder to me that my kids don't need me to give more law. They need grace. They need the gospel. They need Jesus. Then their hearts will be open to the law.

I haven't even scratched the surface of all God has taught me through this one sermon, but I want to encourage you to watch it and be blessed too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Knowing His Word

What a heart knows by heart is what a heart really knows,” Dennis Lennon
I read a blog post by Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts. She has spurred in me a desire to go deeper than I have before in knowing God's Word and start really memorizing it. Not just a verse here and there, but really knowing His Word, meditating on it, and memorizing it.

It seems awkward to admit, but I've never tried to memorize a book of the Bible before. I love God and want to know Him more and more. I want a heart and mind stayed on Him and delighting in Him. I want to dream His Word and live His Word. And that starts by knowing His Word. And knowing Him deeper through His Word. I'm thankful for her gentle reminder of how important it is. It feels doable now, somehow. I think I'm going to start with memorizing the book of Ephesians.

If you're considering going deeper and knowing His Word, you should read her full blog post. She gives great links to resources to help memorize. Here are her 7 tips for memorization:

1. Old before New

Always take the old paths. Begin each day by reviewing the memorized verses first before learning the next verse. The goal is retention not accumulation.

2. Rinse and Repeat

And again. The only way to retain learned verses is to review them again and again over an extended period of time. Everyday’s memorization rhythm: Rinse and repeat.

3. Location, Location, Location

Like the mantra in real estate is location, location, location, so it is for really remembering: memorize the location of each verse. Memorize each verse number and don’t skip it. This is paramount and makes it much easier to memorize long passages and not inadvertently skip verses when reciting whole chapters. Location!

4. Take a Mental Screen Shot

Use your mental point and shoot and take a brain “photograph” of the verse. Read each new verse several times, hiding one word at a time, burning each word into your mind like light onto film.

5. Preach it

To yourself. Speak your memory verses to yourself aloud. Preach it aloud to the soul that needs it the most — our own — and say each verse with emotion and feeling. Whispering it while driving, walking, working not only is an easy way of reviewing and memorizing, it’s fulfilling God’s call to meditate on His Word day and night. And saying each verse aloud is a way to work the words deep into our memory: His Words never return void.

6. Repeat it for 100

For 100 consecutive days repeat aloud your memory work — all the verses, or the chapter, or the whole book. This is painless and demands no extra time: do it first thing every morning while getting ready for the day — in the shower, getting dressed, making the bed etc. Repeat it for 100!

7. Sabbath Sanctuary to see the weeds

After your Repeat it for 100, take the last Sunday of every month and make a sabbath sanctuary to read through your memory work. This will help you to “see the weeds” — any mistakes that have crept into your recitation of longer projects/chapters/books. Soak in His Word on a Sabbath — pluck out some weeds. Commit your heart — and mind —- to Him again.
(*Ideas adapted from Dr. Andrew Davis)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Defending Myself

"When we face opposition, the temptation is to fix our attention on ourselves—justifying​ ourselves, proving ourselves and defending ourselves.The other temptation is to become obsessed with our opponents, allowing their words and their scorn to ring in our ears. Instead, we need our ears ringing with the Word of God. Our eyes need to be fixed on Jesus. Our goal needs to be his glory. When we know the God who is great and awesome, we know that the battle belongs to the Lord."
I'm recognizing how little I "overlook" offenses. I often sit in judgement over "the offender" or plan my defense.When I do that, I am missing grace. This quote is such a sweet rebuke to me. A reminder to go back and fix my eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Look to Him and His grace and forgiveness. Pray, reflect on His Word, and seek Him in those moments when I'm tempted to replay "the offense" in my mind. I need to confess my own sin in it and receive His sweet grace. And then... trust Him. Thankful for that timely encouragement.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Fallen Idol- one man's sin exposed my own

CJ Mahaney steps down as SGM President...

I'm still midprocess, but wanted to share thoughts on what God is teaching me. This week, I read that the President of our family of churches was voluntarily stepping down for a season of discipline and restoration because of sins of pride, sinful judgement, lack of submission to accountability, and even spiritual blackmail. We were assured this has been a year and 1/2 long process and he had already been restored to many he had wounded in his sin, but is stepping down to help healing personally and in Sovereign Grace Ministries as a whole. One (godly) man compiled 600 pages of documents of accusations and emails that he sent to CJ and that were posted online. I read through much of it as I grieved and wondered what this means for the church we've loved these past 6 months and our family.

Andy and I prayed. I cried. And then I poured over websites of hurt former members and the official documents. They were written personally to CJ and I admit it felt wrong to read them, but I continued reading all night long. Somewhere in the midst of the final document, I realized I wasn't concerned for CJ, known in our circle as the "humble Pastor", or even the people hurt by his pride. I was reading just hoping that the Pastor I had loved and cherished for years (Josh Harris, CJ's disciple) was not fallen as well. Woh.

God so gently revealed a deep sin in me. At some point, I stopped just being thankful for a Pastor who God had used (we attended Covenant Life Church whenever we visited family and supporters in DC) to renew my love for Him and His Word and revived my weary heart. It became more- I have been following man, not God. Josh Harris became my idol. And I had a pride in our family finally becoming a part of Sovereign Grace Ministries, who I had deemed the best churches. What horrible pride and idolatry. And it came out as I read about CJ's very public confession and accusations of his sinful pride.

A passage God used to reveal this depth of sin- "All men are like grass and all their glories like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever." I have always thought of celebrities when I read this. Some people just seem like really pretty flowers. They just stand out beautifully and we fall in love with them as a culture. This is exactly what I've done with Pastor Josh. He just shined as this really sparkly flower: solid, humble, and with an incredible ability to point to Jesus. Ironically, I admired the pretty, but fading flower and have missed the Creator. I have set "part of" my hope away from God and to a godly man instead. I'm bawling as I type because I long to love Jesus with my whole heart and life and I'm finding myself surprised by how quickly I turned from Him. I proudly believed I was above idolatry. I'm not. Ouch.

I cannot begin to share in one post how sweetly God has forgiven me and is lavishing grace and rest on me. I'm studying 1 Peter 1 this week with my bible study ladies (hence the "flowers fading" passage striking me) and verse 7 jumped out to me. God uses trials to test the genuineness of our faith. If sin is present in those who are His, the fire will reveal it. This is exactly what has happened to me. It's revealed. I have painfully confessed my sins to Andy, and some trusted friends, and now I'm posting here. I believe God has revealed them because He wants my hope to be "set fully" on Jesus- our living hope (1 Peter 1:13). He doesn't want my heart divided, but pure and full in Him alone.
"Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright."- Proverbs 14:9
I'm thankful for CJ's public confession and for this whole process it's started in me. We've been continuing to pray for those who have been directly and indirectly wounded by CJ. We've been praying for his family, for Covenant Life Church, for so many in other SGM churches, and for our own local church as we begin looking to our own sins and confessing to one another. We're praying for healing and restoration. And we're encouraged by a few really awesome steps we've seen already take place:

1) Larry Tomczak, the man CJ spiritually blackmailed and hurt by his sinful actions (in the 90s) wrote an incredible letter sharing his forgiveness of and full restoration to CJ and shared how CJ met with his wife, son, and in laws as well. It was an incredible picture of the work God does to restore all that our sin has destroyed!

2) Our local Pastors shared everything in detail on Sunday, offered to meet personally with anyone who wants to talk through deeper, and did not make light of sin and repentance. I'm thankful they were so open and vulnerable and praying that may become a normal practice in our church.

3) Josh Harris (yes- the very idol of my heart God is lovingly taking from me) shared a very timely and needed sermon on God's discipline in light of all the church is experiencing with CJ's sins revealed.

I'm reminded how deeply sin wounds. And yet, I'm coming through this with such a greater picture of how God redeems and how freeing it is when sins are confessed and healing can begin.
May we be people who humble ourselves, set our hope fully on God's grace, and seek restoration.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mommyhood: My Daily Life Matters, Part 2

I shared about a post I read about motherhood that has really set my eyes straight on my mission as Mommy. I want to share some more thoughts I had and encourage you to read Rachel's post.
Giving up what you cannot keep does not mean giving up your home, or your job so you can
go serve somewhere else. It is giving up yourself. Lay yourself down. Sacrifice yourself here, now. Cheerfully wipe the nose for the fiftieth time today. Make dinner again for the people who don’t like the green beans. Laugh when your plans are thwarted by a vomiting child. Lay yourself down for the people here with you... Rejoice in them. Sacrifice for them. Gain that which you cannot lose in them.
It is easy to think you have a heart for orphans on the other side of the world, but if you spend your time at home resenting the imposition your children are on you, you do not. You cannot have a heart for the gospel and a fussiness about your life at the same time. You will never make any difference there if you cannot be at peace hereYou cannot have a heart for missions, but not for the people around you. A true love of the gospel overflows and overpowers. It will be in everything you do, however drab, however simple, however repetitive.
This passage struck me the most. It's just so true. I've often heard people who say they have a heart for the world and wonder why if they really have such depth of love like they say they do, that they aren't involved in internationally ministry right here now. Or learning new languages and getting equipped biblically to prep for overseas. Do they even sponsor a child through an organization already reaching them? Or give generously to world missions? I judge quickly (ouch!)

Reading this convicted me that God is calling me in the same way. If I have a heart for people who need Jesus and I'm willing to lay myself down and "go" wherever He calls, then my daily life matters. My heart for missions should overflow in my daily life to my family. I should live it out where He has already called me. Here. With my sweet boys who need Jesus. Daily. Willingly giving up myself for them to see a glimpse of our sweet Jesus. What a joy and honor. I'm so thankful for Rachel's encouraging post. You really should read the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mommyhood: My Daily Life Matters

I read a blog a few weeks ago and it has spurred me on in daily life so much. I encourage you to read the entire post, written fromRachel Jankovic on, but I'll share a few quotes and my thoughts...

When you are a mother at home with your children, the church is not clamoring for monthly ministry updates. When you talk to other believers, there is not any kind of awe about what you are sacrificing for the gospel. People are not pressing you for needs you might have, how they can pray for you. It does not feel intriguing, or glamorous. Your work is normal, because it is as close to home as you can possibly be. You have actually gone so far as to become home.
This rung so true to me, because we are missionaries and we often are asked about "requests from the field" and how others can pray. And the work done worldwide is SO important to us. We desire that everyone everywhere will see and hear Jesus. That's our heart. And it is equally my heart in my home. I long for my sweet boys to walk with Jesus all their days. We view our home with intentionality and people are often surprised when we ask for prayer for the "unbelievers" in our home. Oh Moms, let's pray with each other for our kids. Let's ask each other how we can pray for one another!!!

Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.
Amen. We can live out the gospel right here in our homes. We can lavish grace on our children, help them see their sin, and show them Jesus who takes away the sins of the world. What a precious gift I can give them. And that may mean there are some good things that I'll never do because I believe this call to my kids is greater than any other call. I desire to live that out in humility. And some days I do it well, but many I do it reluctantly or just plain ugly. I'll share more in my next post about that...