Monday, March 29, 2010

Live Like I Believe

Yesterday was a rather busy and crazy Sunday.  But, as I went through both preparing for all of my obligations for yesterday and then proceeded through meeting them, I was continually faced with a powerful question.

Do I truly believe God’s Word.

My gut reaction is to say, “Of course I do!  Why would I not?”  But, when it comes down to the reality of some of the things I’ve been learning lately, do I really and truly believe them?  If I do, then I should live them out.

Do I really believe what Paul writes in Romans 6 about being free from sin?  Do I believe Jer 29:11 and Rom 8:28 and their promises of what’s best for my life?  Do I believe what I read in Jer 1:9-10 recently about the power of God’s words in a simple man? 

Yesterday morning I taught a Sunday school class about living in such a continual relationship with Christ that we don’t miss a beat when challenges arise.  Last night I taught teenage girls about the incredible nature of prayer.  Today I am wound up myself by the things I taught others.  I am energized and enthused.  I am hungry to truly live the things I taught. 

I am challenged to not just say I believe God’s Word, but to live like it!  Wow, what a life I could live if I were to do so!  And that is the life I long to live!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Free – and Living It

…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  Rom 6:6-7

I am dead to sin.  Free from it.  Alive in righteousness. 

So why do I go back?!

I’ve been up just over an hour, and already my heart and mind have departed so greatly from righteousness.  I’m challenged today to focus.  To truly ask myself each step of the way whether my thoughts and behaviors show I am resurrected to righteousness or still acting the part of one enslaved to the sin from which I have been freed. 

I am free! What joy!   What delight!  What comfort!  What peace!  Will I live out those things in my daily, hourly life – even moment by moment?  Starting now?   

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Living the Comfort

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Rom 5:20-21

Doug is reading a book that goes through the Heidelberg Catechism, one of which we had never heard.  The first question of the catechism asks what is our only comfort in life and death?  The answer, of course, is Christ, thanks to His death and resurrection.  Of course, there is much more depth to the answer, but the question I want to get to is question number two.

Q.  What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A. Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.

This morning as I read the verses in Romans, I was filled with such comfort and peace!  I cannot put into words the beauty of knowing that through all of the warring in my heart and soul, God’s grace toward me only increases.  Even while I rejoice in that fact, I long to tune my life to live more and more in line with the righteousness which has been imputed to me. 

But, I realized as the peace settled over me that I do not live continually in the joy of that comfort.  That’s what brought me back to Q&A of  the Heidelberg Catechism.  My challenge is to remember.  When I struggle with the reality of my sinful behavior tomorrow,  I want to be reminded of these verses and statements – to live in the joy that the comfort of His immeasurable grace brings.  May my life of peace bring honor to Him such that others long for the same joy I own!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

His, Not Mine

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.  See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”  Jer 1:9-10

As I was reading a section in Knowing God this morning, I was struck by Packer’s thoughts on the calling of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah was not royalty.  He was not a head of state, and there was no real reason why he should have any sway over nations and kingdoms.  But he did, and it was all because God’s Word was in Jeremiah’s mouth. 

There is amazing power in God’s Word.

I have struggled lately with my words and the question of their effectiveness in so many areas – church, blogs, correspondence and interaction with friends. But, my greatest struggle of late is the impact of my words on my children.  My oldest especially.  She seems to care nothing for what I say.  There is no power in my words to affect her behavior. 

But there’s power in His Word.

I am reminded today that my words truly are nothing when it comes to training and disciplining my children.  But God’s Word is everything.  The same power that simply spoke creation into existence is available to me for parenting if I will just tap into it.  So, I am challenged today to remember to use God’s Word with my children.  I am challenged to not even try to use my own, but to go directly to His for all things.  There is no wisdom in my own, and therefore no success.  But, anything that comes from His mouth holds power and success.  His words are what my children need. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Source of Hope

Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?  Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?  Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’?  For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians that to die in the wilderness.”  But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear!  Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.”

When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses. Exodus 14:11-13, 30

Upon what do I base my trust in the Lord?  What I have seen, or what I know about who He is?  Moses’ hope was in God’s character.  The Israelites, though, only truly feared the Lord after they had seen Him accomplish something fantastic.

If my hope in the Lord only goes from one miracle or great act to another, then every time things begin to look threatening, I will doubt and complain again just as the Israelites did.  But, if my hope is based on the fact that God knows me, has allowed me to know Him, and is for me, then even when the threats arise I will still have hope as did Moses.

There are so many times when I allow my circumstances and physical condition to dictate my attitude.  I am challenged to not be like the Israelites and only be a fair weather follower.  I am challenged to maintain my hope in who God is.  The same God who overthrew the Egyptian army in one fell swoop defends me as well to His own honor and glory.  Whether there is a miracle or not, He is for me and in Him I have hope!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ready…or Not

Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”  Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.” Ex. 13:17-18

The Israelites thought they were ready.  The marched out of Egypt in full battle gear, high on the adrenalin of recent events.  They just knew they were ready to take on whatever faced them.  But God knew better.  He knew what they’re reaction would be when Pharaoh pursued them, much less what it would be if they were to face opposition from any other corner.  He knew.

There are a lot of times when I think I’m ready.  There are so many things I’m excited about – so many things I’m passionate about.  So, I gear myself up to prove to God that I’m ready.  The truth is, He knows what I am about to face.  He alone knows whether or not I am truly ready for the challenges that are coming from the very things I long to dive into.  But when I think I’m ready and He delays because He knows I’m not, I get frustrated.  Discouraged.  Impatient.  Insecure.

I am challenged to trust Him with joy and peace when things I think I’m ready for are delayed.  He is never late, whether in provision or in the use of my life.  Will I put my faith in God’s wisdom to open doors when He knows I’m ready?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Glad in the Seeking

Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Ps 105:3b

This doesn’t say, “Let the heart of those who find the Lord be glad.”  It uses the word “seek.”  In all honesty, when I’m seeking something, I’m not usually glad.  I’m frustrated.  Why?  Because I don’t truly have the guarantee that I’m going to find it. 

The problem is that I impart that same frustration onto seeking God.  It could be seeking His understanding of what I’m reading in His Word, seeking His will for some new life challenge, seeking His provision, seeking His presence, or seeking anything else of Him.  Whatever the case, I feel a struggle and a desperation in seeking Him, not a gladness.

Unlike things I seek in this world, there will never come a time when I will not find God if I am truly seeking Him with my whole heart.  That is guaranteed in verses like Jeremiah 29:13, and that is why my heart should be glad when I seek Him, from the moment I begin until the moment He is found.   And that is where my challenge lies – accepting the truth that He will always be found and experiencing the gladness of heart that accompanies that truth. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friendship His Way

Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Ex 12:4

This verse grabbed me early in the week and has not let go.  There are many thoughts that have been stirred within me related to these words, but the one that has persisted most strongly is that of interaction.

I love to have friends.  I love to be friends.  I hate to make friends.   It’s as if I have no clue how to interact with people I don’t know.  And yes, I do realize that this is not a positive personality trait for a minister’s wife – it is a realization I have struggled with for years.

The truth is that I have tried to force conversations and interactions to no avail.  I just do not know how to do it.  But, as I have read and pondered Exodus 12 in preparation for this week’s Sunday school lesson, I have realized that I just might be approaching it all wrong.  I am approaching it based on my own capabilities – which are rather lacking, obviously.

In Ex 12:4 God gives clear directions on how His people are to interact the night of the Exodus.  He tells them exactly how to find those with whom they are to share the Passover meal.

I am challenged to remember to seek God and interact His way.  He established friendship.  He established community.  He designed us to need the encouragement of one another.  But, if we try to do it our own way, we end up with failed relationships.  The best relationships I have are ones that just “happened” because God orchestrated them.  I am challenged today to seek Him as I struggle through interactions.  He knows exactly where He wants me to be and with whom He desires me to interact.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Exodus 12:2

Earlier this morning I was looking at the upcoming week and thinking about how it is already full.  We’re only beginning the second day, but we might as well be starting next week for all the flexibility there is.

Then I read this verse and the subsequent passage.  God came in and pretty much told the Israelites how it was going to be.  He told them how they were going to structure their year.  He told them in minute detail how they were to prepare and eat this meal.  Essentially, He informed them that they were now His, and therefore everything from how they performed a basic function of life (eating) to how they structured their time was now in His control and they would do it all His way.  Just thumbing through the remaining Books of the Law confirms what begins right here.  It’s God’s business, and we are to completely submit to it.

The days before me are not mine.  I might have intentions for them, but if I hold stubbornly to those intentions at the neglect of what God intends to do through me, then I am walking in disobedience.  There is no way around it.  My schedule frequently holds little room for flexibility – little space for God to step in and tell me how He wants me to do something.  That has to stop!

A schedule helps me be accountable for my time and energy.  It helps me be a good steward of what God has placed before me.  But, when it takes the place of God ordaining my steps such that I heed the schedule instead of heeding my Lord, it becomes a false god – a worshipped idol.  That must cease!

Lord, this week is Yours.  May I be a good steward of all You lay before me, and may I be have open eyes to see Your plan clearly – even if You lay it out mere minutes before I am to follow. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

First Things First

Typically before we go to bed, Doug and I put our BlackBerrys on the “phone only” setting.  This keeps us from being awakened by email notifications in the night.  Last night I forgot, as I occasionally do, and just before we drifted off to sleep my phone indicated that I had new email.  I reached to change the setting, and as I did I saw that the emails were from my dear friend Joanna.

I resisted the temptation to read the emails then and there, but it was hard.  You see, Joanna and her family are thousands and thousands of miles away, serving as missionaries in the Solomon Islands (South Pacific, near Australia).  Our families are very close, and we miss them greatly.  Any news from them, whether by email, blog post, package, or letter, is treasured and enjoyed by all. 

When I woke up this morning, the emails from Joanna were one of the first things on my mind.  But, as I thought about reading those emails, I realized something – this morning I don’t have nearly the same excitement about sitting down with my Savior.  Ouch.

The truth is that our relationship with this family is so strong because their passionate love for the Lord beckons us.  We want to be like them.  We want to be with them.  We want to soak up His presence through theirs.  Friendship and companionship were created for that very purpose.  But, I have to be careful to make sure that I do not replace my direct relationship with the Lord with my relationship with friends, no matter how godly.

I have been up for nearly an hour and a half, and I have yet to read Joanna’s emails.  Instead, I have been challenged through the course of the morning to be just as excited about time with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   As beautiful as our friendships here on earth may be, they are nothing without the foundational relationship that must exist with the Creator of those friendships.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

He Will Be Glorified

I’m reading Romans and Knowing God by J.I. Packer right now.  The combination can make for some slow, ponderous reading – especially considering that I try to read both pretty early in the morning. 

I can’t really point to exactly what in Romans or in Knowing God stirred up the thoughts in my heart and mind today, but it was somewhere through the course of Romans 3 (a discussion of the fact that we are all guilty but justified through the gift of Christ) and chapter nine in the book (a discussion of the wisdom of God). 

Whatever the source, the thoughts invading my heart and mind were powerful.  First came the reminder that God’s character is not in the least affected by my beliefs or actions.  He is who He is, period.  He doesn’t need me to believe or act properly to allow Him to maintain His character.  Nor does He need me to believe or act properly to allow Him to reveal His character to this world through me. In fact, He can reveal Himself clearly even through my failures if He so chooses!  He proved His power to perform that miracle numerous times throughout Scripture. 

But, He still desires that I walk in a right relationship with Him.  Daily.  Hourly.  Every moment.  As I sit here drowsily trying to take in what He has presented through His Word, I am reminded that His righteousness covers me.  Period.  Not because of my actions or beliefs, but because of who He is.  Because of Christ’s sacrifice.  And He wants me to live that out daily.

Such incredible truth requires action on my part.  It requires a growth that I frequently resist – a continual putting aside of myself to glorify Him.  He will be glorified through me.  That’s the goal of my life.  Whether it will be done through my obedience or through my stubbornness is really my only choice in the matter.

Will I really acknowledge that this life is not in the least about me?  Will I truly submit to the truth that it is, in reality, all about making much of Him?  That is my challenge.  And that, although corrupted by my flesh, is truly my heart. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Good Word

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad. Prov 12:25 (NASB)

As I read this verse today, I couldn’t help but think about my own heart.  I let anxiety weigh my heart down far too frequently, especially considering that Jesus makes it clear that worry is a sin.

But what really challenged me today was not the thought of all of the anxiety, but the reference to the “good word” that “makes it glad.”  What do I accept as a “good word” that will actually accomplish overcoming anxiety?

Too often, I insist that the good word be a solution to the problem I am worrying about.  An unexpected check in the mail to solve my financial woes.  A change in the schedule to ease my exhaustion.  A change in a child’s behavior to improve conditions at home.  Something encouraging at church to help bring encouragement that we really are making a difference. 

When I rely on good words like those, my reliance is on the circumstantial.  And yet, when are my circumstances ever truly reliable?  How often do circumstances look great one minute only to fall apart the next? 

The good word I must rely on here comes not from my circumstances or even from a “knight in shining armor” rescue from them.  Instead, it comes from God Himself.  It comes from the fact that He gives me supernatural peace in the midst of the circumstances (Phil 4:7).  It comes from acceptance of the fact that He has overcome this world and therefore I have no reason to fear (John 16:33).

My challenge is to recognize that the only true source of a good word is God Himself.  Only His truth will make my heart glad.  May I learn to accept His good word!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Learning & Righteousness

I’m not entirely sure how to put into words the thoughts that have been swirling through my heart and mind as I have read Romans.  Today I read Romans 2:17-29, and I was struck by the reminder that all my love for learning, all my growth and education, comes to naught unless I have the righteousness of Christ.  And yet, so often I grab onto the learning and run with it, convinced that now I suddenly have it all together just because I know new things.

Which brings me to a two-fold challenge.

I am challenged first of all to continue learning.  Oh, how I hunger for it!  And oh how God wants me to learn!  Even one glance at His Word shows how much He wants to reveal about Himself to us, His beloved children. 

I am further challenged, though, to learn with perspective – the perspective of God’s greatness and Christ’s righteousness in comparison to what I have learned.  In doing so, my pride can be kept in check as I realize that no amount of learning could ever open my mind to the fullness of God.  No amount of growth could ever achieve the righteousness that is required to spend eternity in His presence.

But thanks to the righteousness of Christ, all that I learn can be used to further bring honor and glory to the God I serve.  And that is increasingly my passion.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Do all things without grumbling or disputing… Phil 2:14

This verse made up a good portion of Doug’s sermon last night.  As he preached, I realized how much I do grumble about things.  I might not argue or fight with others, but I don’t go into the things I do for the Lord with cheerfulness and joy.  I hunger to change that about myself.  To go into each and every thing with cheerfulness and joy.  No grumbling.  No disputing.  No complaining.  I long to be a shining star (Phil 2:15), in my family, in my church, and in this world. 

And I’m going to start right now…

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Not Ashamed?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  Rom 1:16

I cannot speak these words in truth of myself.  I love my Savior.  Sitting here in the quiet of the morning I am hungry to share His truth.  But, when I am face to face with this dying world, everything seems to drain from me.  It’s not that I am shy or don’t have the words.  It is that I am ashamed.

That has to go.  Today.  This moment.  Not even necessarily because of the decaying world, but because as long as I am ashamed my statements of love for the Lord are essentially nullified.  If I love Him, I will obey His commandments.  If I love him, I will not be ashamed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Reminder

It always amazes me how I can take something as simple as Jesus' command to not worry and fail at it so utterly and completely.  Things seem to go well for a while, and then I just fall apart.  And, it is always the little things that reflect it.  This weekend it has been concern for a cat.  We brought a cat home on Thursday, and he just has not been well.  And I have worried.  But, as I think about it, worry over the cat is really just a surface reflection of the fact that I'm worried about a lot of things.  Family stuff. School planning. Upcoming conflicts. Church issues. The future.  The cat is just something present, tangible, and simple.  So, my worry about everything else shows up in my worry about a cat.

The reason my fight against worry spirals out of control is because I take Jesus out of it.  I can't avoid worry on my own, and He doesn't ask me to!  He knows that the only way I keep from worrying is by doing it His way.  That's why he gives me Phil 4:6 - the instruction to be thankful!

This morning I thanked Him for Jack the cat, prayed for wisdom, and then was immediately shown that God really does have Jack taken care of.  Immediately.  And, through that immediate reminder, He also showed me that even though I might not have immediately tangible encouragement in the other things I have been anxious about, He is working just as definitively in those areas as well. 

That's His peace - the peace promised in Phil 4:7. 

Every now and then I just need a reminder and a renewed commitment to present it all to Him with thankfulness, whether it is something huge or something as little as concern about a cat.  I am challenged today to use my mental energy to go through and give Him my anxieties, be thankful, and then let His consolations delight my soul (Ps 94:19) and his incomprehensible peace guard my heart and mind. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I have been trying to mull over Romans 1:9-13 for several days now, and it has been challenging me greatly.  On Sunday, it was about passion and unceasing prayer.  Monday it was about my witness.  Tuesday through today there have been thoughts that I haven’t really even been able to put into words.  I tried yesterday, but struggled.  I think today I’ve finally been able to narrow it down – it’s community.

I long to be close to my church family.  I long for the friendship and support.  The love and the intimacy that comes from feeling like they are a family, especially considering the geographical distance of my biological family.

But, Paul’s words to the Romans have challenged me to think about community with my church family in a deeper sense.  It’s not about friendship.  It’s not about family.  It’s not about being there in time of joy, sorrow, or need.  Yes, all of those things are important, but frequently I make them the be all and end all of the relationship.  In truth, they are the bi-product.

So, what is the foundation of community?  According to these verses, the foundation is an intense passion to encourage growth in one another.  Paul had never met the Roman church, but he had such a longing to be with them.  He had a passion that drove him to his knees continually for them.  He had an intense love for them – for people he’d never established a friendship with, people who had never physically met his needs or cried on his shoulder in time of sorrow.  All that existed between them was a hunger for growth together. 

That is the culmination of what has been challenging my heart this week – I am challenged to have that passion for my church.  To long for community in growth and to be passionate about seeing it happen.  So passionate that I am on my knees continually for my church family.  So passionate that I do not rest until we as a church family are growing together.  That is love, and from that will come the beauty of fellowship that I crave. 

Monday, March 1, 2010


For God whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you… Rom 1:9

My brain is trying to wrap around the concept of calling God as my witness for anything.  This is quite the bold statement.  God knows it all.  He knows my heart.  He knows my actions.  He knows the motivation behind those actions.  He knows how much I fight for my own rights – how much more concerned I am for my own life than for others.

Could I really call God as my witness?

If I were to be on trial on the hour, every hour, every day for all I had done the previous hour, would I really be bold enough to call God as my witness?  He holds my actions up against the standard of His Word – His Son.  That’s a pretty powerful standard.

As I passionately move through this life, I long to stand in purity before those I seek to reach, to whom I seek to minister.  The ultimate standard of that purity belongs to God.  I am challenged to spend each day – one day at a time, even one hour at a time – making sure that I stand clean before Him.  If I live my life with Him as my witness and defender, then I will succeed in honoring Him in all I do.  That is an idea that absolutely thrills my heart.