Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Impossible

Some things in life have felt impossible to me lately. Like having all our needs met. Being able to own a home. Healing my sick baby. So as things feel impossible, I'm fighting the feelings by remembering just how possible everything is through Christ. What was impossible??? It was impossible for death to keep hold of Him. THAT is what's impossible. Everything else seems so very possible to me when I hang on this truth. Jesus who beat death now gives his own salvation and every good thing. Amazing!

"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him"

Wow! It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him. Amen:)

I love this JC Ryle reflection on Christ's suffering and resurrection:
"We must not be content with a vague belief that Christ’s sufferings on the cross were vicarious.  We are intended to see this truth in every part of His passion.  We may follow Him all through, from the bar of Pilate to the minute of His death, and see Him at every step as our mighty substitute, our representative, our head, our surety, our proxy – the divine friend who under took to stand in our place and, by the priceless merit of his sufferings, to purchase our redemption.

Was He flogged? It was done so that “by His wounds we are healed.”.

Was He condemned, though innocent? It was done so that we might be acquitted, though guilty.

Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was done so that we might wear the crown of glory.

Was He stripped of His clothes? It was done so that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness.

Was He mocked and reviled? It was done so that we might be honored and blessed.

Was He reckoned a criminal, and counted among those who have done wrong? It was done so that we might be reckoned innocent, and declared free from all sin.

Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was done so that he might be able to save others to the uttermost.

Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful death? It was done so that we might live forevermore, and be exalted to the highest glory."

God is so good and loving to us. Believing Him once again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Read the Old Testament

I LOVE this post by Dane Ortlund about reading the Old Testament. Check it out here.

Here's a glimpse:
What are other ways we might read the Bible?

  • The Gold Mine Approach – reading the Bible as a vast, cavernous, dark mine, in which one occasionally stumbles upon a nugget of inspiration. Result: confused reading. 
  • The Hero Approach – reading the Bible as a moral hall of fame that gives us one example after another of heroic spiritual giants to emulate. Result: despairing reading. 
  • The Rules Approach – reading the Bible on the lookout for commands to obey to subtly reinforce a sense of personal superiority. Result: Pharisaical reading. 
  • The Artifact Approach – reading the Bible as an ancient document about events in the Middle East a few thousand years ago that are irrelevant to my life today. Result: bored reading. 
  • The Guidebook Approach – reading the Bible as a roadmap to tell me where to work, whom to marry, and what shampoo to use. Result: anxious reading. 
  • The Doctrine Approach – reading the Bible as a theological repository to plunder for ammunition for my next theology debate at Starbucks. Result: cold reading. 
 DON’T TURN THE BIBLE INTO SOMETHING IT ISN’T
There is some truth in each of these approaches. But to make any of them the dominant lens is to turn the Bible into a book it was never meant to be. A biblical theology approach takes the Bible on its own terms—namely, that “all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Jesus” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Result: transforming reading. 
Biblical theology invites you to read the Bible by plotting any passage in the overarching narrative that culminates in Christ. The Bible is not mainly commands with stories of grace sprinkled in. It is mainly a story of grace with commands sprinkled in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easter links

Here's a roundup of some of my thoughts I've posted in the past on Easter.

Follow the Easter link to see posts on:
- our traditions to teach our kids and stay our hearts (including a playdough tomb, resurrection eggs, and a empty/full basket switch)
-good books/dvds
- a link to the Lenton Lights devotional we use
-my thoughts as I reflected on my sin, Christ's sufferingdeath, and His resurrection

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In the Midst of My Storm

I'm not sure if this post is me processing, confessing, or just sharing things I'm learning. Please forgive the awkward writing style that reflects the confusion. Today I was in Luke 8. I've been praying and processing through some circumstances and my heart in them. As I read Jesus calming the storm, I was struck by 2 things:
1- there was real danger. Luke didn't say it was perceived that the storm was sinking the boat. He says the boat was filling and the disciples were in danger and they knew it.
That's how I've been feeling. One circumstance I often grapple through is our finances. We aren't in trouble, but our daily needs are met through churches and individuals that give to our ministry, and at times, they give less than they committed to. Some even have to stop giving for various reasons and seasons which means we need to leave the studio to go meet with more churches and individuals. Since we set our salary based on needs, I'm always trying to figure out what our actual needs (versus wants) are. Should we save for a downpayment on a house or continue to rent? If we do buy, what is a reasonable pice range? Should we save to adopt children soon, look for funding, or wait? What is a modest budget and are we living too lavishly? It's continual. I'm encouraged that just as the dangers the disciples faced in their storm were real, our situation is also a real challenge we're facing, not perceived....

And 2- Jesus asked "Where is your faith?"Jesus told them to go over to the other side of the lake. This whole trip was his idea/plan. They just followed. He knew the danger they faced and he slept through it. They had seen His power and authority again and again. Yet, in their panic, they woke him to save them. He calmed the storm just like that and then asked where their faith was.

That's what I'm begging God to help me see in our circumstances. I LOVE our ministry and I don't want to grapple with lack of trust and miss the joy of serving the church worldwide! I want to know as we walk through this over the years where my faith is.

This month, as we looked at steps we'll need to take for our current financial season, we were convicted that many times we had leaned on our own understanding, not to God. We confessed that we have sought "help" in familiar places that didn't require much boldness or faith steps to meet our needs and our wants. We admitted that selfishness may leave some relationships strained if we continue to lean on them instead of God and we are now taking steps to apologize directly to them and not lean on them anymore.

Though humbling, it was mainly just freeing to see our lack of maturity and seek forgiveness. So now, as we prepare for our next steps, I'm begging him to help me in my weak faith and strengthen it so my trust is fully in Him alone. I want to remember confidently that He lead us here. It was His plan. He knew the "dangers" and He is with me during these real trials, teaching me to trust Him. And all His ways are good.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Teach

I've been sharing some of my thoughts on Jesus' command for us in Matthew 28. I've looked at the promise, the call to go, making disciples, and baptism. Today, I'll share my thoughts on teaching:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Ah... teaching. There is value in bringing people in our lives to hear the Word preached at church and sending them to conferences or websites of national teachers. We are certainly not all gifted teachers. BUT- Jesus called all of us to teach, not just the gifted. He didn't challenge us to do anything more than teach them to observe all that He commanded us. Teach them what we already know through Him. Most of our teaching will come as we do life together. We live it out. We give helpful resources that God has used in our lives. We open our Bibles and read it together. We answer any questions we can. And mostly, we look for opportunities to share His Word in our daily life moments. 

I've learned this through my children. They are always watching Andy and me. When we do well, they are learning what awe of God looks like. Other times, they learn what repentance looks like and how to seek forgiveness (when we seek it after we wrong each other or them). God has had me pause from homeschool to watch a crazy lightening storm and then talk about His power and our favorite displays of God in His creation. He's given me opportunities through my 6 year old's questions while riding in the car to explain divorce, ghosts, and having babies. At the beach I've shared about the wise man who built on a rock and the foolish man who built on the sand to teach about hearing and applying God's Word. Just the other day, I shared the man with much debt and Peter asking how often we need to forgive as we talked about forgiving little brother again as he destroyed another beloved book, after he confessed and asked to be forgiven. 


Teaching others means preparing by knowing His Word ourselves. I grow in Him as I seek Him daily in His Word. And He brings His words to my mind as the people I'm teaching ask questions. I won't know to teach others if I'm not already in His Word as a way of life. But it's more than just head knowledge. We also then teach by modeling His Word: loving Jesus openly and living out obedience to His Word, and then looking for opportunities as we are with them in daily life to share His Word with them. It is a command and a gift. Oh, may we be faithful to teach the people He entrusts us with.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baptize- more than water

I've been going through Jesus' command for us in Matthew 28 and shared first the promise as we obey, then that it starts when we go and engage others, and that discipleship involves pouring Christ through pouring our our lives into others over time. Today, I'll look at baptizing:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

There's an obvious application here- physical baptism. It's an incredible joy to see someone you love receive Christ's salvation. Water baptism is a public profession of that faith and a tangible showing of their death to sin and life in Christ.
Sweet memory- My first 'disciples baptism' in 2001

There's also another significance to baptism that continues beyond the one-time water baptism. It shows that they are now part of the body of Christ- His church. They too, like the rest of His church, have been chosen by the Father, saved through His Son, and now have His Holy Spirit living and active in them. They are now part of this family of believers. Part of discipleship and teaching others happens as we invite them into the larger body of Christ. So we baptize them physically to show new life and we bring them into this family of Christ-followers. I am not the only person that loves Jesus in their life. They need others. Others need them. Not just through Sunday morning sermons, but as they learn to walk together through life to the glory of God. Part of leading and guiding others is showing them how we need each other. We were meant to live life together, care for one another, and show Christ to each other. 


And I love how we live it out. The Christ-followers in my life have walked through hard trials with me, encouraging me and praying. We celebrate birthdays and big milestones. They brought meals for weeks (twice for over a month) when I was hospitalized and had babies. We do mundane things like eating meals, going camping, play dates at parks, ertc. We do daily life together. They are people who aren't shocked by any sin in my life and offer wise counsel when I need it. Baptism isn't just about leaving behind the old life, but more so, it's about entering into the fullness of forever-life through Christ. And we don't do that alone, but we get to do it with others. It's an incredible gift from our loving God to live life together as His people.

When we share Jesus with others, we engage in their lives, invite them into our daily life, and introduce them to others so they can grow in Him, learn, and serve others as part of God's family.