Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Poor...

God responds to the needs of the poor with compassion.
Wonder how God responds to those who neglect the needs of the poor?
Challenged by David Platt... encouraging you to watch this short clip and be challenged as well.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fullness of God's Timing

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons."
So thankful God's timing is perfect and His ways are for our good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Life-Changing Books

I have SO many resources that I love, but I want to share a few gems that I hope will hit your reading list, too.

1) the Daily Walk Bible- Though it's not super insightful, it's special to me because it's the Bible I first used to read through God's Word from Genesis to Revelation. That time impacted me and began a habit of reading through the Word. I have grown to know God in such deeper ways and even know His Word so much better because of the habit started by this Bible format. Really, I would just encourage you to pick a Bible and reading plan that best fit you and read it. This has impacted my life more than ANY other thing I've ever done.

2) Don't Waste Your Life, John Piper- I remember bawling on a plane in Panama when I read a page where he spoke as a father pleased with us for seeking God. My dad loves me (a lot), but that is something he doesn't understand about me and to hear a father encourage me that my life is unwasted when Christ is the treasure freed me in such cool ways.

3) The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn- Small book, HUGE financial wisdom

4) Thin Within- Besides the obvious thrill of a 75 lb. weight loss when I read and applied this, it opened me up to grace in seeking God (not more law- like every other weight loss program or book I've ever tried. and I've tried many.) for my health, body, and eating. It introduced me to the idea that God truly redeems ALL my sin has destroyed (Psalm 130) and that He guides me in freedom, forgiveness, and moderation.

5) Crazy Love, Francis Chan- Oh this book- WOW! It challenged me to ask if I'm really living what I say I believe. Do I look any different from everyone around me? It challenged me to know God's Word and look nowhere else for who God is, who I am in Him, and how to live in light of that. I came away with a clear vision for my daily life to be a missionary right in my home and neighborhood.

6) Loving the Little Years, Rachel Jankovic- It's a short book, packed with practical advice for pouring the gospel into your kids through daily life in these hands-on and often tiring years. It was such a good reminder to me to look at my heart/attitude daily and my favorite tip is Chapter 5, where she explains emotions to her children using the analogy of a horse and rider.

7) The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom. Her story of living through hiding Jews and Nazi training camps is SO beautiful. It is a classic must-read and filled with pearls of wisdom that come out of hard trial and experiencing God in a very personal way through it.

8) Secret Believers, Brother Andrew- This book gave the BEST look into what life is like for muslim background believers and how to pray for them. The second half challenged me to look at how I've viewed "enemies" and how God is calling me differently. It is an easy read, filled with true stories, and gives amazing challenges to American Christians to care for our Muslim background Believer brothers and sisters.

9) Shepherding A Child's Heart, Tedd Tripp- Great help for what biblical correction is and isn't and how to apply it during toddler and early elementary years. I literally have page numbers memorized for the parts that I reread the most (I've blogged a whole series based on this book and a Paul Tripp dvd series)

10) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers- Fictional look at the book of Hosea set in California gold rush early American days that is SO well written and encouraging. What a sweet glimpse of God's grace and rescue given as we (like the character Angel) run back to our sin again and again.

I LOVE a good resource, so I may share more of my favorites in another post someday soon! Maybe break them down into my top picks for marriage, parenting, missions, Christian living, fiction, etc... I'm thankful for books that bring more than entertainment- they breathe life into us, so I wanted to share some with you. Praying the God of His Word comes alive in us more and more as we experience Him daily!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Do we see grace?

I LOVE the post Dane Ortlund wrote showing grace throughout the Bible. I think we tend to miss how grace-filled His Word is (we especially miss it in the Old Testament). Go read the full list of every book and be encouraged at how unified (not uniform) the Bible is! Here are some highlights...

Genesis shows God’s grace to a universally wicked world as he enters into relationship with a sinful family line (Abraham) and promises to bless the world through him.

Exodus shows God’s grace to his enslaved people in bringing them out of Egyptian bondage.

Leviticus shows God’s grace in providing his people with a sacrificial system to atone for their sins.

Numbers shows God’s grace in patiently sustaining his grumbling people in the wilderness and bringing them to the border of the promised land not because of them but in spite of them....

Esther shows God’s grace in protecting his people from a Persian plot to eradicate them through a string of 'fortuitous' events.

Job shows God’s grace in vindicating the sufferer’s cry that his redeemer lives (19:25), who will put all things right in this world or the next.

Psalms shows God’s grace by reminding us of, and leading us in expressing, the hesed (relentless covenant love) God has for his people and the refuge that he is for them...

Luke shows that God’s grace extends to all the people one would not expect: hookers, the poor, tax collectors, sinners, Gentiles ('younger sons'). (19:10)

John shows God’s grace in becoming one of us, flesh and blood (1:14), and dying and rising again so that by believing we might have life in his name. (20:31)

Acts shows God’s grace flooding out to all the world--starting in Jerusalem, ending in Rome; starting with Peter, apostle to the Jews, ending with Paul, apostle to the Gentiles. (1:8)

Romans shows God’s grace in Christ to the ungodly (4:5) while they were still sinners (5:8) that washes over both Jew and Gentile.

1 Corinthians shows God’s grace in favoring what is lowly and foolish in the world. (1:27)

2 Corinthians shows God’s grace in channeling his power through weakness rather than strength. (12:9)

Galatians shows God’s grace in justifying both Jew and Gentile by Christ-directed faith rather than self-directed performance. (2:16)

Isn't God so amazingly good? What a great reminder of just how good and loving and gracious He is. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Begging In the Walmart Parking Lot...

I'm still processing through my encounter with a woman in the Walmart parking lot. Maybe you've had these encounters too... We've had people at rest stops who say they lost their credit card and can't get home, men at gas stations asking us to fill their tanks, teens in parking lots asking for donations (and offering a "gift" out of their trunk) to teach at risk kids about drug abuse, and, most often, women (sometimes with a child) crying and telling us how mean everyone has been as they ask for $4 to catch a bus home. It happens a lot. Definitely once a month, sometimes several times in one week.

My thoughts are not about whether the stories are true or not. I don't know the motivation, but I'm usually guessing it's a "scam" (though I hate that word). It's where my heart goes that bothers me... and I believe God continues to allow these encounters to lovingly draw out my own pride and sense of entitlement. I usually give money, but I leave sickened at how much better I seem to think I am. I think way too highly of myself. I'm no better or different. I've been given much. So much. And I want to give with a pure heart of selflessness without needing any assurance that anything I give will be used for good. Why should that matter to me? Who am I that anyone has to prove their motive to me? Ouch.

Here's where I landed as I prayed through this encounter:

"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." -Acts 3:1-11 ESV

Begging isn't new. And, praise God, here's an example of how strong followers of Jesus handled it in the Bible! Here Peter and John don't actually give the beggar what he thinks he needs right then, but heal him instead. And he praises God for it. And other people noticed and wondered. Which provided an opportunity for Peter to then challenge the large crowd to repent of their sin and receive salvation through Jesus that day. And look what happens: "many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand (Acts 4:4). Thousands of people repented of their sin and received eternal life all because of an encounter with a beggar and two followers of Christ. Wow. I would LOVE to see that impact from my daily life encounters. I'd love to see even just one person see and know Jesus because of it.

Truthfully, I know I've been given everything from God: from THE gift of my salvation to all "our" money and possessions. And I know me. I know I didn't deserve any of it. Jesus would not be fooled by a "Saint Ginny" act, He knows me. He knows my heart and always has. Even of the good I have done, His Word says all my righteous deeds are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). AND YET- He gave. He gave His life to pay for my sin. And then He beat death and rose again and gave me His righteous standing with God. He loves me knowing my sin and He gives generously to me always(Romans 3:23-26). What if my encounter with "parking lot beggars" is to share with them that they too can have that generous a love give to them? What if I get these encounters so when I give them the money they asked for I can tell them how Jesus knew me, loved me anyway, and gave to me and Jesus knows them, loves them anyway, and is the only way to meet their real need?

Begging isn't a new thing. As a family, we love to give when we see genuine needs. And now we're learning to give even when we're pretty sure it isn't genuine. But not just give cash and walk away quickly and awkwardly with our heads down. We want to give intentionally and purposefully, because in that giving is a chance to share Jesus. Thankful for God teaching me through this and praying I will live this out to His glory alone.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Was Our Present-less Christmas?

I blogged last month (read the posts here and here) about our choice this Christmas to give up receiving gifts and instead seek Christ together and give to the least of His people. Have you wondered if our Christmas day was odd without getting gifts?

It was hands-down the most incredible Christmas I've ever experienced. We kept our traditions of writing things we love about Jesus on paper ornaments (but skipped stocking stuffers attached), eating birthday cake, and reading/acting out Luke 2 and Matthew 2. I just felt overwhelmed by the truth that Jesus IS THE treasure our hearts seek. And He so freely gave Himself to us. I'm so beyond thrilled to be His and the time we had to reflect and pour Him into our kids all morning served as a sweet reminder to me of Jesus as THE gift. 

And then we went online to give through Gospel for Asia. That was so much fun and such an amazing feeling. We really are so very rich and it felt so right to spend our riches giving to meet others needs. We spent lots of time together all day which is precious to me. We talked/facetimed family who live far away. We watched some Christmas movies and relaxed together. We played. We ate our cookies and candy and enjoyed our traditional dinner feast to celebrate Jesus and it was a full day. 

Honestly- we really didn't notice the present part was missing. It surprised me how quickly the day went and with no fighting, fussing, or mess and clutter. The boys were completely unphased by it and excited to give to people with real need. Jimmy chose a water buffalo as his gift and couldn't wait to tell all our family about it. It was a little odd, but really cute (and funny). Andy and I had such a relaxing Christmas season and Christmas Eve without the pressure of shopping and wrapping and we got really into picking where our funds could best be used. Andy has always wanted to give a well to a village (so we did) and has such a heart for missionaries (so we gave many bicycles). I really wanted to help the disabled (we gave special adult tricycles) and the widows and orphans. Jimmy and Caleb LOVED giving animals- rabbits, chickens, even a camel. In the end we felt so rich and so fulfilled. It was amazing.

In reflection of the day, I am just so thankful for this fresh and new experience. It was so good and so exciting. I want to live like this all year long, not just on Christmas.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Does Your Home Feel Organized?

Tis the season for renewed vigor at seeking Christ, caring for our bodies, loving our family better, and getting our homes in shape. I thought I'd share my favorite book for gaining a vision for your home and simplifying it. It's a book called Organized Simplicity. It's awesome! In it, Tsh has tips for scheduling, calendars, etc. and takes you through an actual step by step/room to room process to a clean home, but first has you set a mission and vision with your husband for your family, home, and then evaluate how each room fits that. It radically changed how we fill our home.
They wanted to play together, but I wanted safety
Example: We realized as we went though that Jimmy's room wasn't fitting our family. Because he had a toddler brother and lots of small toys, his door always had to be closed. But Jimmy never went in there because he hated being alone. So we sorted through, giving away some toys and added shelving and bins to his closet, making room for his closet to be home to the toys with small parts and books he chose to keep. This freed his room to be open daily for he and his brother to play in. During his brother's nap time, Jimmy would open the closet and play with the other toys and books. And he LOVED it that way! Now they even share a room because they love spending time together so much (Well- maybe more because we knew a new baby was coming).  And we had no clue how the set up of his room hindered our family until we evaluated it against our vision for our family and home!

I encourage any of you rethinking how your home is to check out Tsh's book. It's a gem.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Update on my 3rd C-Section

Some of you have asked me to share how my surgery went. I'm sitting here almost a week later staring at my precious third baby boy thinking how sweet God's gifts to us are. He's small and cute and perfect.

Our family is so much fuller because he's here and it makes it seem silly to talk about anything else...but onto the surgery and what I learned:

We need the church- I felt so overwhelmed by fear at just the thought of going into surgery and yet God so covered me with His grace and strength through the love of friends and family. So many sent Scripture to encourage me, blog posts to help prep me, and lots of hugs, prayers, and kind words. It reminded me that we need each other. In a time of really weak faith, I had an army of faith-filled friends and family fighting with me to hold me strong towards God. It was Ephesians 6 (armor of God) lived out in community and it was an incredible (and humbling) experience.

Sometimes the things you fear DO happen- When I started prepping, the anesthetist couldn't find the space in my back for the epidural. It took many painful attempts (some that sent my leg springing up involuntarily) and finally she had to call the doctor to do it. I was in pain, shaking, and could not calm my body physically. When they finally got my epidural in, they had to give me medication to calm me. Throughout the surgery I repeatedly started to "vasal down"- my blood pressure would drop and heart race and i would struggle to breathe. Similar to fainting. They had to rub alcohol under my nose give me epinephrine shots to bring me back up. It was not the smooth experience I longed for by any means.

Jesus is the Answer and He is Near- In the midst of fear and challenge, I sensed God's nearness. Scripture came in my heart that brought such comfort. It was Jesus. I just kept flashing to bits of His story- an Isaiah passage about Him being wounded for my sin, His humble dedication in the temple with the "poor man" dove offerings, Judas' betrayal, him crying in the garden to God, his death, and many times I thought of Him standing in the room with the disciples after rising from the dead. He beat death! He beat death! I kept sensing that all the "strength" and "trust God" verses I memorized and planned to recite weren't the answer. They were meant to point me to Jesus! HE was the answer. JESUS is my comfort, strength, salvation, and peace. In HIM alone do I rest and trust and live and move and breathe. It was Jesus. And in those moments as his painful life and death, but ultimate victory ran through my mind, I knew He knew. And I knew that He was so very near. It was a sweet time of truly leaning on God in the midst of intense fear and finding Him so very present and real.

God Takes Us Through- I didn't die. I could have and that would have been a good outcome. I trust that not because it is easy, but because I know God is always good and His ways really are perfect. I'm thankful for His nearness and that He brought me through to an end of the scary experience with His presence fully known to me throughout.
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:10-11 ESV 
In the end, He rewarded me with another sweet little boy to raise to know Him. It was an incredible gift and Andy and I tearfully pray with thankful hearts for how God gifts us so lavishly. We are so very rich. Not only did He give us Baby Boy #3, but He revealed Himself so much more fully through this birth and I'm thankful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Did THAT Tempt Jesus?

Awesome sermon:
"Dr. Russell Moore preached a powerful sermon at Covenant Life about when Satan tempted Jesus to jump from the temple. Ever wondered why that would have tempted Jesus? Russell shows how we face the same temptations to demand by sight what God has given by faith and to vindicate ourselves."

Here's the sermon!