Monday, January 30, 2012

To walk in worry, is to walk in pride...

A few years ago, my dad had a health scare. It was the only Sunday I was home between spring semester and summer camp. During the middle of my dad's sermon he said, "I think I'm going to pass out." So he laid down and the nurse and doctor ran forward, and so did I. As his vitals were being taken, the nurse keeping time with her wrist watch said, "We need to get him to the hospital now. He's going into shock." We all rushed to the E.R. and there the nurses began to hook up I.V.'s, take blood and run a myriad of tests. I remember feeling so helpless, but as I remember there is a sterility of emotion. There was nothing to feel, we just had to watch it play out for that first half hour or so. 

In the week that followed my dad was put on blood pressure medications and he insisted that I follow through with my plans to be away for the summer. His bluntness of, "Even if I died, you'd have to move on with your life," was his encouragement. To which I replied with, "Oh thanks, dad! How reassuring!" But off to camp I went trying to trust and trying to be faithful. 

The first two weeks of camp were just staff. In the midst of training and bonding, there was a lot of work that God was doing on my heart. He was asking me to trust Him with everything, even with my dad's life. Now, if you've read my blogs or know me, you know that I have an awesome dad and love him lots. So being away for the summer, when I could have stayed home and tangibly eased my parents' stress was extremely challenging for me. I found myself in a place of deep and ugly worry. It was all that my mind went to when I was with the Lord. 

About a week into the training, I had a phone call with Don Allen, the wise, kind and beloved Director of LB Navs. He was acting as a reference for an internship I was applying for and as we worked out the details, I filled him in on my dad. Our conversation turned and Don, hearing the worry in my voice, reminded me of 1 Peter 5:7, and of course quoted it to me in the NASB, "casting all Your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." And then Don said something like, "I first memorized that verse as a new believer, part of the T.M.S., but I missed something about this verse for along time until I realized that another T.M.S. verse comes right before it on humility." He then shared verses six and seven together: "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty right hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all Your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 

This was the truth I needed to hear. I don't think I would have left my worry had it not been pointed out to me, and ever so graciously I might add, that part of being humble and really trusting in God, was casting my burdens upon Him and resting secure in His care. To do otherwise was to be prideful before God, and in blatant sin before God; for pride breeds sin, as much as it is sin itself. With that wisdom, I was pointed to trust God and walk in humility before Him. 

I have often revisited and passed on this lesson in the last four years. And tonight there are two choices before me again. I remind myself that to walk in worry, is to walk in pride and I  know that there is a much sweeter place to abide!

Perfect Father, I don't want to worry about tomorrow. It will not add a single day to my life. I will consider the lily's of the field, or rather of the vase on my kitchen table, even Solomon in all his royal robes was not dressed like one of these! And how intricate a lily is--an insanely awesome plant! How much more do You care for me. How much more do You care for Your precious lambs! You would leave the 99 to rescue the one. You would leave Your heavenly throne to put on flesh, to show us true humility, and to pay the penalty for the debt that we could never pay. Surely, You care. Surely, You are good. Surely, the shelter of Your wings is the place where my heart will sing. I choose humility. Spirit, help me walk humbly. Help me to be patient and to trust You in all things for You are good. Your loving kindness is better than life, therefore my lips will praise You! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

No turning back

I just read an online post from Open Doors about the church in North Korea and the persecution there. The below paragraph particularly struck me. Christ is worth living and dying for, there is joy set before us. Let's hold our brothers and sisters up in prayer that they may find strength in the Spirit and live boldly. I pray their boldness would embolden us, as well.


However, despite decades of intense persecution, the church is more alive than ever. The North Korean Christians assure us there is victory, even when they are tortured and killed. “A friend of mine is being terribly tortured in prison,” says one Christian. “When he came to faith, he made the decision that one day he would die for Christ. Every Christian in North Korea has made that choice. I am convinced he can take the suffering because he constantly reminds himself of the joy that is set before him.”

 You can read the full article here: North Korea

"I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
No turning back, no turning back."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Give me Jesus

I got home from the Civil Wars concert about an hour ago. It was a lot of fun: a good time with new and old friends alike and some sweet folk music. I love folk music and those two are quite the entertainers!

I came home and the song that is in me is "Give Me Jesus" by Jeremy Camp.
"You can have all this world, just give me Jesus."

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." -Matthew 13:44


Here is a great recipe for fresh cranberries, I leave out the nuts. Cranberry Orange Loaf

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

benediction

"May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you.
May the Lord be gracious unto you.
And give You His peace, His protection,
and a good night's sleep. Amen?"

"Amen," was my reply to my father's benediction. And with the answer came my father's kiss to my forehead.
I was officially tucked in.

This was our nighttime ritual growing up. I can still hear the gentle rhythm of my father's voice each night, the words of his blessing and feel the comfort of his protection that brought such peace. To hear my father speak of the Lord so lovingly as he entrusted his precious ones to Him each night, asking for His blessing on our lives, taught me so much of the Lord's goodness. What good words, indeed! The words come to mind and my heart takes joy in their consistency, as the blessing is from the Lord, the unchanging One.

I find myself in an ocean of God's blessing. What a gift it is to have received unmerited favor from the Creator of all, when certain demerit was due! What a blessing it is to have a heart alive in Him, to be awakened to that which is eternal. It makes me think of my father's words, his sweet and faithful words of blessing. How beautiful it is to be so blessed by God that the only response is to rejoice in Him and share the blessing.

There is always more room at my Father's table. Come in, eat with us, and share in the blessing!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

that which is lovely

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." -Philippians 4:8


Lord, all about me I see Your goodness. 
You show tender mercy to me, a least one, but to me You have granted full pardon and bestowed righteousness upon by the blood of the Lamb. 
My sins have been washed away and my night has turned to day. 
How near You are, how attentive Your ears to the cries of my heart. 
How swiftly You work for good and for Your glory.
How perfect are Your ways, beyond searching out. 
I see such loveliness in Your creation; though affected by sin, it will one day be restored anew.
 And in the lives of those about me I see such beauty, for we are made in Your image. 
And our lives, blemished by the curse, are in great need of the restoration that only You bring. 
Lord, may Your gospel bear fruit and grow in us here. 
Lord, would we know abundant life, life spent worshiping You in Spirit and in Truth. 
Lord, thank You for first loving us. 
Woo us heavenward to You, for Your glory.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wrestling: It's Choreographed

Genesis 32:24-30:

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
   But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
   “Jacob,” he answered.
 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
   But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”


I am struck by the fact that at times when we wrestle with God, we won't let go till He blesses us. But isn't that God's purpose for us in Christ? Does He not lavish blessing upon blessing, and grace upon grace? Though we struggle, Christ has overcome and in Him we are blessed by God, our lives spared and our eyes allowed to see Him face to face.

In His love He purposes the events that lead us to places where we wrestle with Him. He invites us into greater intimacy, if we will bring all of who we are to all of Who He is.


Monday, January 16, 2012

A thought from the book of Job

I spent the majority of the afternoon reading through Job. I really enjoyed reading it in its totality. There are a lot of different things that I thought and prayed over as I spent time in the Word today, but I am walking away with one main thought.

When we believe in God's sovereignty, while doubting His holy perfection, wisdom and goodness, His sovereignty is no longer a place of comfort and refuge for us in our distress, but rather it becomes to us the agency that is causing it. 

This is so detrimental to us in our grief and mourning. For God desires us to turn to Him in our pain that we may find help in our time of need, but how the enemy would have us believe that God does not care or that our present circumstances are the result of God's judgment. How vital it is for the believer to know God aright as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures and in the person of Jesus!


How thankful I am that all You do, O Lord, is good, right and perfect. Even though I may not see or know what is ahead, and at times may feel pain, grief, and confusion, how I can still trust You, the Holy One of heaven, to work my life and the lives of others for Your glory. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." -John 15:1

Tomorrow I begin teaching a unit on plants to the fifth graders. It is amazing to see how intricately plants function and to think about the different ways we classify them. I am by no means an expert on plants, only teaching fifth graders, but it doesn't take much studying to see that the forms and functions of plants are beautifully designed.

As I sit here now, my dad is reading from the gospel of Luke on the couch and I am content. My father's voice brings such comfort to my heart and it reminds me of the even greater comfort that I can find in my heavenly Father. We are so blessed to have life in Christ and to be connected  to the vine.We are so blessed to rest in the care of the Father. He knows exactly what pruning His little branches need to bear fruit for His glory. He is the perfect gardener in every way with a master vision for the garden. May our souls be quieted as we trust Him and walk in His Spirit.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nehemiah 6:15-16

"So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God." -Nehemiah 6:15-16

Sometimes I am afraid of great tasks, especially when I feel under pressure to complete the task with a limited amount of time. As I read these two verses the other night, I was reminded to pray big, to dream big, to not fear great things because God is my Helper. Nehemiah led the men of Jerusalem to restore the wall in fifty-two days and under great opposition. His confidence in the Lord and his humility before Him enabled him to do this. What would it look like for me to take on great tasks with full confidence in my God?

I am not only afraid of great tasks, but at times I also fail to recognize the influence that the things I am called to do daily have an impact on those around me. I often lose sight of the fact that what God has called me to do this day is great, if done for His glory and in His power. I may not be building a tangible wall, but around me are so many people who have yet to realize the Father's love for them, who have yet to acknowledge that every good thing they've tasted in this life is a blessing directly given to them from their loving Creator. I pray that as I walk in obedience and with all my confidence in God that those around me would realize that the work I've done has only been done because God is my help and His joy is my strength.

Lord, I think of how strongly we are opposed to You in our flesh and in our pride, and how necessary it is for us to walk in full dependence upon You. Lord, how gracious You are to help us, how loving a Creator! You did not create us and then leave us to our ways, but rather You saw fit to be with us and to redeem us. Lord, I pray that You would grow in me a deeper faith, that I would trust You more, that I would not fear great things and that I  would walk in full confidence of who You are. Lord, that I would fear You alone Lord and live out of the knowledge that You are the sovereign Lord, the Maker of the heavens and the earth by Your outstretched arm and great power, nothing is too hard for You. May my dependence upon You impact those around me, would they too realize You are my help? O Lord, reveal Yourself through the power of Your Spirit. May they have eyes to see, ears to hear, and minds to understand Your love for them in Christ. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Brick by Brick


I have been in the book of Nehemiah recently and gleaning a lot from my time with the Lord there. Nehemiah was a man of great leadership, but most importantly he was a man who sought the Lord in prayer. His heart was burdened to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem with the remnant that had been sent back. Without the wall the people of Israel were open for great attack and even their purity as a people was risked. I was thinking about this and how essential fellowship is for the believer. Also, I was struck by how the men of Jerusalem were under great opposition while they sought to repair and rebuild the wall, so much so that they built with swords by their sides (I am always struck by this!). 

Friends, there is much work and at times we feel the burden of it more than others, but I pray these verses would encourage you wherever you are at in life. 

"Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”" -Nehemiah 4:19-20

Keep building, brick by brick! Be ready for your enemy, know the Word and know your brother is working alongside of you, even though you may be spread out. When the sounds is given, take up your sword and join with your brother in battle. Our God will fight for us! He is faithful.


Nehemiah doesn't mention anything about war paint, but this is to make my parents laugh.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ain't it good to know that...


"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." -Colossians 1:15-20


I love the truths in these verses and pray that God will continue to remind of Christ's supremacy in this new year. He is faithful!