Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Word of God Proves True


This past week I have been struggling once again with anxiety. I stuggle with the constant fear that the medicine I am on will stop working and I will be stuck back in the same pit again. Last night I had trouble sleeping because I had butterflies in my stomach and my heart rate kept speeding up. I'm not sure if this was because I was feeling anxious about not being able to fall asleep and then started to fear that something was wrong with my heart, or if my fear that the medicine is no longer helping is coming true. Either way, I got up this morning feeling completely defeated and hopeless. On top of anxiety I struggle with a very pessimistic outlook on life.
While I was sitting at the breakfast table feeling sorry for myself, I was reminded of what the pastor spoke on this Sunday (we listen to Grace Baptist's sermons online on Sundays). He talked about how we know God's promises but often don't live like we believe in them. He quoted Psalm 5 where David lays out his request before God in the morning and watches to see how God will keep his promise to him. So I prayed for God to give me hope and some kind of encouragement to get through the day. As I prayed this, I sensed God telling to expect to hear from my good friend Mary. Sure enough when I checked my e-mail this morning, there was a message from Mary. She quoted Romans 8:1 to me and said that it was encouraging to her that because of Jesus we are no longer stuck in our sin or held in bondage to it, and that she was praying for me.
This afternoon I was feeling hopeless and discouraged and once again my faithful God brought to mind more of his word to encourage my heart. Psalm 139:11-12 is a passage I've been memorizing lately and it's meaning finally sunk in. My situation seems dark and hopeless to my finite human mind but to God it is as bright as the sun. He is not up in heaven wringing his hands in despair wondering what on earth to do now about poor Katie. God is never discouraged or in despair over our problems. He is sovereign over them and uses them for our good (Romans 8:28). In fact our trials are given to us by God to teach us not to rely on ourselves but on Him who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:9-10).
He also brought Psalm 42 to my attention. The Psalmist is reminding himself that in his despair he must put his hope in God. He says "My soul is downcast within me;therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar." When we are feeling hopeless, we remind ourselves of God's faithfulness to us and his people in the past. This is what gives us the hope to go on. That he will once again bring us out of the valley and put us back on the moutain.
So I followed David's example and asked to see God's promises realized in me, that they would be made more sure in my heart and He did. I don't know what the future holds or how I will sleep tonight, but I know that my faithful God will be with me. He is my stronghold and the rock on which I stand. I leave you with these encouraging words from Isaiah.
         Isaiah 41:10 "fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will stengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The promises of God

I recently watched a very encouraging video on the Desiring God blog (Krista Horning's Testimony) in which the speaker spoke from a list of verses she had memorized to remind her of the truth of what God has promised us. Krista was born with a disability and has wrestled with accepting it her whole life. Her parents and pastor encouraged her at a young age to dig deep into the word to see what God had to tell her about her disability. I don't have the disability that she does but sometimes my anxiety can feel disabling. It is so easy to get caught up in the lies my mind tells me that I often forget the truth of God's word. Inspired by Krista's testimony, I decided to make my own list of God's promises to go to when I feel discouraged and afraid.

God tells me in His word.....
1.He is in control of everything, including my health and well-being. (Ex. 4:11)
2. He hasn't given me a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control (IITim. 1:7)
3. I can have confidence in Him because He is faithful. (IITim 1:12)
4. No evil will befall me. Psalm 91:9-10
5. I am not alone (Is. 43:1-3).
6. His grace is enough (IICor. 12:9-10)
7. He tells me I have hope. Romans 5:3-4
8. He is a better possesion than anything I could have on earth (Heb. 10:34)
9. I am to walk by faith and not by sigth (or emotions). 2Cor. 5:7
10. God can give me more real, reliable, and wonderful things than what I can see with my eyes. Heb. 11:1
11. God's promises are more trustworthy than my natural perceptions Prov. 3:5-6
12. I have been given everything I need to live a godly life (2Peter 1:3-5).
13. The greatness of His power toward me cannot be measured. (Eph. 1:18-19)
14. The life to come will be far better than even the best day here on earth. (Phil. 1:21-23, Psalm 84:10)
15. He is my confidence. Prov. 3:25-26
16. I can face anything because He is with me. (Psalm 18:28-32)
17. Affliction is necessary to help me see Him more clearly and to learn his ways. (Psalm 119:67, 71-72)
18. I can get through any situation because He will give me His strength. (Phil. 4:11-13)
19. I have nothing to fret about because I have been spared from the day of His wrath (Psalm 37:7-8)
20. Hardships on earth prepare me for the uncomparable glory that awaits me when I see Jesus face to face. 2Cor. 4:17

I hope that you are encouraged by my list to search out God's word yourself for his great and precious promises that will carry you through all of life's trials. I pray that you will remind yourself daily of His truth so that you can stand against the lies of your mind and the schemes of the devil.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Debunking Bad Theology

The past couple of months I have been reading the book Christless Christianity by Michael Horton. It has been a fascinating and eye opening read. I knew that I had been taught a lot of bad theology when I was growing up, but I didn't know the extent of it till I read this book.  Probably the most striking realization this book brought about for me is understanding what the Biblical role of the church is. I grew up being taught that the church was a place to serve. I was to have low expectations of the pastor and his messages since my spiritual growth was entirely my responsibility. If I felt disappointed with the church services and Bible studies, well that was because I came with the expecation to get when it should have been to give, not because the preaching or study was lacking in depth. Can anyone relate to this? It wasn't until a year ago or so, and now in reading Christless Christianity, that I became aware that this teaching was completely wrong. Below is an exert that I just read last night that demonstrates the difference between the church mentality I grew up with and a Biblical church mentality.
           
               Imagine two scenarios of church life. In the first, God gathers his people together in a convenant event to judge and to justify, to kill and to make alive. The emphasis is on God's work for us - the Father's gracious plan, the Son's saving life, death, and resurrection, and the Spirit's work of bringing life to the valley of dry bones through the proclamation of  Christ. The preaching focuses on God's work in the history of redemption from Genesis through Revelation, and sinners are swept into this unfolding drama. Trained and ordained to mine the riches of Scripture for the benefit of God's people, ministers try to push their own agendas, opinions, and personalities to the background so that God's Word will be clearly proclaimed. In this preaching, the people once again are simply receivers - recipients of grace. Similarly, in baptism, they do not baptize themselves; they are baptized. In the Lord's Supper, they do not prepare and cook the meal; they do not contribute to the fare; but they are guests, who simply enjoy the bread of heaven. As this gospel creates, deepens , and inflames faith, a profound sense of praise and thanksgiving fills hearts, leading to good works among the saints and in the world throughout the week. Having been served by God in the public assembly, the people are then servants of each other and their neighbors in the world. Pursuing their callings in the world with vigor and dedication, they win the respect of outsiders. Because they have been served well themselves - especially by pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons - they are able to share the Good news of Christ in well - informed and natural ways. And because they have been relieved of numerous burdens to spend all of their energy on church - related ministries thoughout the week, they have more time to serve their families, neighbors, and coworkers in the world.
              In the second scenario, the church is its own subculture, an alternative community not only for weekly dying and rising in Christ but for one's entire circle of friends, electicians, and neighbors. In this scenario, the people assume that they come to church primarily to do something. The emphasis is on their work for God. The preaching concentrates on principles and steps to living a better life, with a constant stream of exhortations: Be more commited. Read your Bible more. Pray more. Witness more. Give more. Get involved in this cause or that movement to save the world. Their calling by God to secular vocations is made secondary to finding their ministry in the church. Often malnourished because of a minstry defined by personal charisma and motivational skills rahter than by knowledge and godliness, these same sheep are expected to be shepherds themselves. Always serving, they are rarely served. Ill-informed about the grand narrative of God's work in redemptive history, they do not really know what to say to a non-Christian except to talk about their own personal experiences and perhaps repeat some slogans or formulas that they might be hard-pressed to explain. Furthermore, because they are expected to be so heavily involved in church - related activities (often considered more important even than the public services on Sunday), they do not have the time, energy, or opportunity to develop significant relationships outside the church. And if they were to bring a friend to church, they could not be sure that he or she would hear the gospel. (Christless Christianity, 190-191)

I think this exert explains perfectly how the church should look and how it currently looks in today's society.Can you imagine the impact we would have as a church if we looked more like scenario one than two? That is the kind of church my husband and I long to be a part of, and hope to soon be a part of in Omaha. In the meantime we are praying for the churches in our town to have their eyes opened to what the Bible says is the church's roll. We pray that their leadership and congregation would long for the truth and to be equipped for everything pertaining to life and godliness (2Peter 1:3). One thing I want to point out is that the author (and myself) is not saying that you have no roll in your spiritual growth, but that the church's job is to aid in increasing it. We still must be in the Word and in prayer on our own as well.

How about you? Do you agree or disagree with this post? Does your church equip you to go into all the world and make disciples and to lead a godly life?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is Christian Fiction Safe?

An acquaintance and I were talking about books today, and she made a comment that got me thinking (and blogging). She said “This book is just fluff. There’s no depth to it, but it’s Christian  so I know it’s safe.” What constitutes as safe for a Christian anyways?  If I had thought of that question then I would have asked. I guess I was too busy trying to keep my mouth shut at the time.

I’ve read my fair share of Christian fiction in my day (back when I didn’t know any better), and I have to say most of it was rubbish. Here are a few reasons why:

1. I’ve read steamier love scenes in Christian fiction than in non Christian. Granted, the only non Christian romance novels I’ve read were by Nicholas Sparks, but still. Sparks stops at “and they made love.” Some Christian romance novels I’ve read described in detail a couple’s foreplay before sex. and some pretty erotic make out scenes.

2. Christian fiction usually doesn’t get the gospel right. Heck, Jesus, the center of the Gospel, isn’t even mentioned in most of them. Or if He is, it’s when the protagonist is urged to pray the sinner’s prayer. Most of the time there’s just a brief mention here and there of faith in God.

3. Sometimes they just plain suck cause they aren’t written well. Poor plot line and character development.

Now in saying all that, I have to say that some of my all time favorite books were written by “Christian” authors . Not all are rubbish. Just most. Smile

So back to my question, what is “safe” for a Christian to read? As I said before, I’ve read some pretty steamy love scenes in some “Christian” books. Is it then safe for a Christian to read a love scene described so long as the couple is married and the actual act of intercourse is left out? Speaking from personal experience, I’ve left some of these books feeling discontent with either being single or with my marriage. I felt hungry for more of the characters romance than I did my own husband.  Maybe that’s just me, but I’ve talked to other women who say they feel the same thing after reading romance novels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for love stories, and I think God is too. But do we really need to be reading about other people’s make out sessions and foreplay?

Now what about heretical theology published under the label “Christian?” Is it safe for someone to read a “Christian” book and come away thinking that a belief in God is all they need to be considered “safe” with Him? Or that simply praying the “sinner’s prayer” saves them?

I think you can determine from this post that I don’t think that just because a book is under the label “Christian” doesn’t make it safe. There are some fantastic books out there that aren’t “Christian”, and it would be a shame not to read them just because of that. For a better explanation of why most “Christian” fiction isn’t worth reading, check out Honey for Woman’s Heart by Gladys Hunt.

So how do we as Christians determine which books we should read, Christian or not? The answer isn’t a simple pat answer, but here are a few things I consider when I pick a book to read.

1.  Does it encourage us to disobey God’s word? If the story makes sin look good, safe, and cool, it’s probably not “safe” for us to read. We are to flee temptation to sin, not be encouraged to do it.

2. Does it cause us to dwell on things that are not pure and godly? This will be different for everybody. What makes me think impure thoughts might not make you think the same and vice versa.

3. Finally, if you feel convicted by reading, don’t. If you can’t in good conscience read the book, stop. Romans 14:23 “For whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats. For the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

Check out further posts where I’ll be reviewing my top 10 list of favorite books!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Long Time no Blog

O.k. so it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I know I promised to write about what God has taught me through my anxiety issues. Well I realized I’m not quite ready for that yet. Having said that, I will say that one of the main things I’ve gotten from this trial is a little taste of Hell. I think one of the reasons God sends trials our way is to open our eyes to a little taste of what we’ve been saved from if we are his children.

I’ve also gained greater compassion for the lost. What I’m experiencing is temporal. One day I will see Jesus face to face and all my tears and trials will be washed away. I will have an eternity of gazing upon his beauty in paradise. This will not be the case for the unbeliever. They have an eternity of nothing but pain and suffering in store for them if they do not repent and surrender their lives to Jesus.

O.k. so I guess I am sharing a bit of what God has taught me during this trial of anxiety disorder. One day I’ll share more.

I’ll update you on where we are with the whole move thing. No where right now. Our house probably won’t sell this fall so we have set our hopes on the springtime. Until then we are trying to wait patiently on God’s perfect timing. I’m having to learn to be content in whatever situation I am in. He has me here for a purpose after all.

I’ve been reading this book called “Christless Christianity” by Michael Horton. In this book Horton is demonstrating how modern church in America is preaching anything but the Gospel. We’ve become a very “me” centered church, focusing on ourselves and what we have or have not done, rather than the Gospel(that is, what he has done). He also talks about how we all want our best life now, and how ungospel that is. I know I am definitely guilty of striving after my best life now when as Christians we are to set our minds on the our best lives after.

I know this all a bunch of rambling but my point in all this is that it’s not all about me and my happiness but Christ and Him crucified for our sins. We’ve got a lost world out there that is going to face God’s wrath for eternity if we don’t tell them what He has done for them.

Now that it is cold out and I can’t play outside all day, I will probably be blogging more. Stick around!

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Battle with Anxiety: A Gift from God Part 1

I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Three years ago I started having panic attacks. As a result of theses attacks I started having irrational fears; afraid I was going to quit breathing, my heart was going to stop, I had a brain tumor, and that I was just going to all of a sudden keel over and die. I also feared that because of these irrational fears I was going to go crazy and end up in a mental institution or worse, kill myself. I struggled with depression because of these fears, feeling like I would never overcome them. Some days I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day because I felt so overcome with fear. I kept thinking “I never used to be like this. I used to be normal. I just want to be normal again!”

I kept asking my husband, my mom, and my counselor if there was any hope for me. I wanted to know how to fix this anxiety that had now become apart of me and make it go away. I even tried several anti anxiety medications in hopes that they would fix me. They only made me feel worse. This made me feel even more hopeless because I felt I had no other options left but to be stuck this way for the rest of my life.

You might be wondering at this point how on earth I could call all of this a gift! Well actually I didn’t, at first. I called it a curse. I wanted God to heal me, and I wasn’t going to accept any less. But God had other plans. He wanted to use this trial to open my eyes to some things I wasn’t seeing before.

First of all, He revealed to me where I was putting my trust. It is in my circumstances and not the Lord. If my circumstances are good, I feel good. If they aren’t what I want them to be, I am anxious and downright whiney!

Second, I realized I am very afraid of suffering and death. I struggle to believe that dying is gain as Paul says in Phillipians ,or that my present struggles can’t even begin to compare with the glory that is to be revealed to me.  My focus has been very much on the temporal and not on the eternal. I’m clinging to tightly to my earthly home. I struggle to fathom how one can rejoice in suffering. It ruins my fun!

Third I realized that I wanted health, wealth, and prosperity more than I wanted God.  I want a nice cushy life where everything, or at least almost everything goes my way. I don’t want to be bothered with problems. I want to have fun! I want to be comfortable!

Finally, God showed me my misconception that his healing me is the only way I could bring him glory. What glory could I possibly bring God if I have to battle anxiety for the rest of my life? How does that display his power? Aren’t we more wowed by God when He preforms miracles in our lives?

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be addressing all these revelations and how God is transforming my heart. I’m going to share how He is working in my life to replace these lies with the truth. I will share why I believe (or I’m starting to believe anyways) that my trials are a gift. I hope you’ll stick around and find out what God has been doing in my heart. I hope that what He has taught me can also be an encouragement to you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

And so the Journey Begins

This week we put our house on the market. The first step on our journey to Omaha. I hate being on the selling end. It’s so stressful with children to have to constantly keep your home clean and neat for it’s prospective new owners. Makes you feel like the house is no longer yours.

We are comparing this move to the Parable of the Treasure in the Field found in Matthew 13:44. We see a greater value in attending the church in Omaha than we do in staying here. The treasure we see there makes it worth the hassle and costs of moving. We want to say with Paul in Phillipians 3:8 that all of our earthly gain is counted as loss in comparison to gaining Christ. We believe that we will gain more of Christ when we are hearing the word of truth preached and are surrounded by others who see Christ as gain too.

As with the man in the parable, we also have to give some things up in order to gain The Kingdom. We discovered when we met with our realtor that we may lose some money on the house when we sell. This is discouraging. We were hoping to at least break even. But again, we realize this loss won’t matter in a few years. It especially won’t matter at the end our lives. We trust that God will provide for our needs and make up for the loss we suffered. Maybe not monetarily, but we trust that this loss will turn out for our gain.

Is counting all things loss in order to gain Christ easy? Heck no! Nothing the Bible tells us to do is easy. In fact, it’s humanly impossible. That’s why we need Christ. We need to depend on Him constantly and remind ourselves of His promises throughout the whole day. Otherwise we will want to give up and take the easier route. The route that requires less toil. The route that doesn’t lead to Christ. I’m thankful that during this process of moving I have a God who has told me in his word that I can approach his throne of grace with confidence, that I might find grace and mercy in time of need(Hebrews 4:14-16).

My prayer is that our journey will be an encouragement to you to seek Christ as your greatest treasure. To see that he is worth counting all earthly treasures as loss in comparison to gaining Him. Let’s treasure Him together!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Feeling a Little Bored

    I need a project. One of the reasons I started this blog is because I needed something to do. I feel like I’m going through a dry spell. I don’t feel like reading. I don’t feel like sewing. I don’t really know what I feel like doing. Quite frankly, I’m bored. I read a quote recently that said You'll find boredom where there is the absence of a good idea.” I guess you could say I’m fresh out of good ideas. I hate feeling bored because it makes me feel like I’m just existing.  I don’t want to just exist. I want my life to have purpose. I want to be productive.

    I was reading an article the other day in Voice of the Martyrs magazine. It was a story about a man in Laos who spent 10 years in prison for sharing the gospel. He had no cell mates, nothing to read, nothing to do but sit in his prison and exist. I think of that story and I wonder how he got through it without going nuts. Granted he gained a deeper love for Christ and has a far better perspective on eternity than I do. Still, I can’t fathom going that long without anything to do.

    I’m discovering as I write this that I think I idolize activity. I need busyness to feel secure. I don’t know how to be still. Ecclesiasties tells us there is a time for everything. Apparently, it’s my time to be bored. God must have something to teach me right now. Perhaps He has a fresh idea He can only show me during this time of quiet. Whatever the purpose, I know it can be a time of prayer and Bible study. This just doesn’t sound very exciting to me. But I know it’s what I need. I know that man in Laos wished he had had a Bible to study while in prison. I am grateful I have the freedom to do that.

   I know my boredom is temporary. Like everything else, this too shall pass. It is somehow producing in me an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. One day, when I see Jesus face to face, I will never be bored again. I will spend an eternity enjoying Him and discovering more and more of His beauty. Help me Lord to see your beauty in this time of boredom. Help me to keep my eyes on you.

   What about you? How do you get through times of boredom?

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Beginnings

    This fall we will begin our 4th year of homeschooling. It’s hard to believe that my oldest will be in 3rd grade! It seems like yesterday she was a baby and kindergarten seemed like an eternity away. My how time flies!

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    I wish I could say our homeschool journey has been all roses and sunshine, but it has not. There have been many battles of will and frustration. I started homeschooling with a lot of preconceived notions of how school at home should be done. This placed a lot of stress on our relationship as I tried desperately to meet these lofty expectations.

    This year I am determined to approach my children’s education from a completely different perspective. If I don’t make some changes in attitude and expectations, we won’t be able to continue to homeschool. I really do love homeschooling. I don’t want to quit, but I recognize that maintaining a good relationship is of far greater importance. The following is a list of the changes I am determined we will make to see that this happens.

 1. Focus on the basics

I’ve spent the past 3 years schooling under this crazy notion that I have to teach my girls everything they ever need to know all in one year! I realize now that that is impossible and unnecessary. What I can do is take one day at a time, one subject at a time. The most important skills they need to learn are the three R’s. Everything else will come with time.

2. Stop comparing ourselves to everyone else

This one will be the hardest to accomplish as I constantly struggle with feeling like I don’t measure up. I’m always looking at what others are doing and feeling like I come up short. This year I want to focus on the path God is leading us down and not worry about what everyone else is doing. I want to look at others’ homeschools for inspiration and encouragement, not as a measuring line I can never reach. My children are unique individuals who need to be taught according to their needs and interests, not someone else’s.

3. Be present in my children’s learning

I am a multi-tasker by nature so it is hard for me to just sit with my girls and help them learn. I have a tendency to say “here, do this worksheet” while I get up and go wash the dishes, make a phone call, do the laundry, etc… This causes great frustration when the girls don’t fully understand what they are working on. They also become easily distracted when I’m not there to help when they need it. This year I will be present and make sure they fully understand the material before I let them work independently.

4. See my children as adults–to-be, not walking encyclopedias

I’ve been viewing education as a process of dumping lots of facts into my girls’ heads so they look good in front of others. But this is obviously not the point.  The point is for them to learn how to solve problems. To be equipped with the skills they need to function as self sufficient adults, and to be able to think intelligently about what they read, see, and hear out in the real world.

God has been gracious enough to reveal these needed changes to me. I trust that by that same grace, He will enable me to carry them out. So here’s to a year of fresh starts, and new beginnings.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Letting Go

   

   People quite often ask me how I feel about moving to Omaha. They know me and know that in the past I haven’t been at all thrilled about moving anywhere. I don’t always know what to say. I feel like I should be scared or worried. But I’m not. To be honest. I’m at complete peace about it.  I’m an anxious person by nature and I normally freak out about, well, everything. So why am I facing such a huge change with such peace? The answer is God’s grace. God has been graciously and gently pushing me down this path. He’s brought me to a place where I am finally ready to let go of my comfort zone.

    Even though I have peace about moving, the what if’s still creep in. It is a constant battle not to let them ruin the peace God has given me. They threaten to tear my eyes off Jesus and put them back on myself and what is familiar. The familiar can be a trap. We are tricked into thinking that that is where our security is, and the threat of it being removed can cause us to feel insecure and out of control.

    The peace I have with our move didn’t happen over night, nor did it just fall into my lap. God had to first reveal to me that I was idolizing my comfort zone and clinging to it for dear life. I was placing my trust in what I could see and touch. By His great mercy, He opened my eyes to see that my priorities were all temporal. I was (am) clinging to things that are one day going to wear out or die. It was when I realized this, that God started to shift my attention to what matters most, what is eternal.  I began to see that maybe God had something better in mind for me than what I thought I couldn’t live without. This is when I began to have peace. He was calling me to trust Him that He knows what He’s doing with my life.

    I don’t have it all figured out nor can I say I’m rid of all my idols. But I have to trust that if I keep entrusting myself to the One who raises the dead, He can deliver me from my fears and set me free. That is what I want the most. To be free. Free from whatever keeps me from the abundant life He died for me to have. I want to be able to say with Paul that “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phlippians 1:21) I want to let go of whatever is keeping me from treasuring Him above life.

    So how do I feel about moving to Omaha? I am excited to face my fears and see how God provides for our needs. I am excited to see what good things He has in store for us. I am ready to let go.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Life Worth Living

    I love the Olympics, especially the summer Olympics. My favorite sports to watch are swimming, diving, volleyball, and track and field. It is so fascinating to me to watch these people accomplish such amazing feats that I’ll never be able to do myself.

    This year I’ve found myself becoming a little envious of these athletes. O.k. maybe a lot envious. How fantastic would it be to travel the world meeting fascinating people and experiencing captivating cultures! Just being a part of the Olympics alone would be exciting.  I start to compare my life with theirs and I become discontent. I’m lucky if I get to travel outside of my state let alone my country! I’ll probably never appear on t.v. or have a medal to put in above my mantel. There’s nothing glorious about my life.

   It was with this dissatisfied attitude that I sat down to listen to a John Piper sermon this morning. He preached on 2 Timothy 2:8-19, in which Paul is encouraging Timothy to stand firm in his faith during the suffering he was about to face for the sake of the Gospel. Paul himself is writing the letter from a prison cell while chained to a wall. There was nothing glorious about either of their lives, certainly nothing to be envious of.  But I was convicted by what Paul says to Timothy, “Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel. 9 I suffer for it to the point of being bound like a criminal, but God’s message is not bound. 10 This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” Unlike the Olympians whose glory will fade as the years go by, our glory in Christ Jesus will be eternal. Paul and Timothy sought the eternal glory that comes from pursuing Christ. They saw gaining Christ and sacrificing their lives for the sake of preaching the Gospel, as a life worth living and dying for.

    If I am seeking first the kingdom of God, my life will be well spent whether I travel the world or not. At the end of my life when I stand before God, all things done for earthly gain will be burned away. All that will remain is what I have done for His glory. No matter how big or small that might be.

    So my life may never be glorious or exciting, but my prayer is that God will use my life to further the Gospel and to bring him praise. That is the life that will bring true satisfaction and reward that will outlast any medal or earthly fame.

   2 Corinthians 4:17-18 17 For our momentary light affliction[a] is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Love your Neighbor

  

   I learned a few lessons today on how little compassion I have for the lost. I took the girls to the wading pool today, and we encountered a few children who tried our patience. One girl in particular chose to single my girls out as objects of her superiority complex. Although my girls had done nothing to her, she called them names, hit them, splashed them, and stuck her tongue out at them. I decided then and there it was time to leave before I did something to that girl that would get me in big trouble.

    As I fretted and fumed all the way to the car, I realized that I had no compassion on her soul. To be honest, I would have preferred that God send her to hell than save her.God then gently reminded me that I am just as deserving of hell as she is. Before Christ came and rescued me from the pit of darkness, I too was on the path to hell. It is only by God’s grace that I don’t treat people the same way that little girl was treating my children. My thoughts toward that little girl were just as wicked as her actions were.

    I was also reminded of the fact that Jesus was mistreated too. People beat Him, mocked Him, and killed Him. But instead of reviling, He prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” He commands us to do the same. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

    So with a humbled heart, I asked for God’s forgiveness for my own sin. I then asked that He would have mercy on that little girl and her family so that by His grace, they would want to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

    Lord, help me to see people the way you do. Help me to have compassion on the lost, and desire their salvation, rather than their destruction.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lessons Learned from an Exercise Video

  

I love exercise videos. In fact, I’m kind of addicted to them. I wake up thinking about which one I want to do that day. Our library has an ample supply of them and I check my favorites out regularly.

    This morning I ran into a problem. I couldn’t make up my mind which video to do! What a conundrum! I am so pathetic that I did eeny, meeny, miney, mo to determine which one to do. Even then I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the one chosen. That’s when it hit me. What difference does it make! God then brought some verses to my mind, “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. Colossians 3:1-3  What matters in life is what is eternal. Although exercise is important, the method I choose is of no eternal value. When I stand before God on the day of judgment, He isn’t going to ask why I chose to do The Firm instead of the Kathy Smith video.

   I don’t know about you but I am constantly stressing myself out over trivial matters. Should I wear the dress or the brown top and skirt? What book should I read next ? What should I make for dinner tonight? Should I go to the meeting tonight or skip it? I agonize and agonize over these decisions like the world might stop turning if I make the wrong one. But what I think God was reminding me of this morning was that what matters is His kingdom and His promises toward me in His word. If I choose the dress over the skirt, His love for me won’t change. If I choose to read book A over book B and I’m disappointed, He will still have a place for me in Heaven with Him.

    This reminds me of another verse. 2 Corinthians 12:9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power[a] is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”  Even if the decisions we make, big or little, don’t turn out as we hoped or they appear to be mistakes, we can still rest assured that God will grant us the grace to get through it. He will bring good out of every situation, if we are abiding in Him.

    With this revelation in mind, I chose a video, did the workout, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Reason Why

 

   In my last post I stated that we don’t feel that the churches in our town take the Gospel seriously. I want to try to explain why we feel that way.

    First of all I want to state that I do believe most of the church leaders here genuinely want to see souls saved and their congregants growing spiritually. I also believe that there are many attenders of these churches who genuinely love Jesus and desire to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel. In fact, I’ve talked to many such people who aren’t completely satisfied with their church but continue to attend anyways because they don’t know where else to go.

    The problem we see is that the messages preached in these churches often do not line up with the radical teachings of the Bible. The Gospel is often watered down to avoid offending people and to make it more appealing to the unbelieving visitors (unlike Jesus who offended people all the time with the truth). Not much is asked of the church either, other than that you put in your time in the nursery and join a small group. We rarely, if at all,  hear messages reminding us that there is great sacrifice and toil in the Christian life. Taking up your cross and following Him everyday isn’t a walk in the park. We often are given more reason to treasure our BMW’s than we are the kingdom of God.

    We’ve also found that politics and patriotism to America are often given more emphasis than proclaiming the Gospel, the only message that will truly change people’s hearts and minds.

    We don’t believe the church’s job is to get unbelievers in the door, entertain us, make us feel good about ourselves, and encourage us to vote for the right politician. The church’s job is to proclaim the truth of the Gospel so that we believers may be “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” Colossians 1:11 and “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” IITimothy 3:17

    In order to reach a lost world and see hearts transformed, we must first see and hear for ourselves the beauty of Christ’s work on the cross.  We must be filled with the hope of God’s grace and goodness, so we can fearlessly go out into all the world and make disciples. How can we expect to impact society with Christ’s love if we haven’t been given the tools to do so?

    This is the kind of preaching  we get at Grace Baptist. We leave encouraged that Jesus is worth following, even into suffering and death. We leave reminded that all of the world’s goods and promises will never satisfy us like Jesus can. We’ve never left a single church service in our town that even came close to moving our hearts in this way.

    What about you? If you attend church, do you leave feeling equipped for every good work, or reminded that in God’s presence “is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore?” (Psalm 16:11)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Changes up Ahead

      It has come to my attention over the past 9 years or so that I don’t like change. I like knowing what to expect and all things familiar. But, as we all know, life brings many changes whether we like it or not.

     A few months ago, my husband and I decided it’s time to move somewhere that has a good solid church. Where we currently live, there are no churches with preaching that, to quote John Piper, “has depth and earnestness and a sense of the weight of glory.” and “heartfelt rigor in the unfolding of scripture, which is heralded with a worshipful sense of the exultation over the beauty of God’s truth.” That’s a mouthful, but the point is, we don’t feel that the churches in Des Moines take the Gospel of Christ seriously enough.

     We found a church with this kind of depth in Papillion, NE of all places. We began attending there about 8 years ago whenever we came to Omaha to visit John’s parents. Since our first visit, we have felt the need to be a part of that body of Christ. Now we are going to pursue making that happen.

      Moving out of the only town I’ve ever called home is a big change. This is a big step for this comfort zone loving girl who thought moving 10 miles up the road was a big deal!

     God has been doing a big change in my heart (more on that later), and has opened my eyes to see that He is an infinitely valuable treasure worth taking big risks for.

     Are we crazy to leave the familiar behind and head into unknown territory? Are we crazy to give up a good job, family, friends, awesome homeschool group, etc…. to go to a fantastic yet imperfect church? Maybe, but our hope is that through this journey God will grow in our hearts a crazy love for Him that makes the things of this world look like rubbish in comparison.

      Who knows how this will all turn out, but I have peace knowing that God is sovereign over it all and will take care of us and our needs every step of the way.

       So check back soon, and I plan to tell you more about our journey to this decision as well as our journey to Omaha.

You never know what God has in store for you, just up ahead!