Monday, February 29, 2016

Quote of the Day

"God hath done more for thee than if he had never brought thee into affliction and trouble, or than if he had brought thee out the same day on which he sent thee in. If he had delivered thee upon the first prayer that ever thou maddest in thine affliction, if had not been a comparable mercy to his teaching thee by it; prevention and deliverance may be in wrath, but God never teaches the soul, save it be in love."
                    - Thomas Case

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Quote of the Day

"What a comfortable thought is this to a believer, to know that amid all the various interfering designs of men, the Lord has one constant design, which He cannot, will not miss, namely, His own glory in the complete salvation of His people; and that He is wise, and strong, and faithful, to make even those things which seem contrary to this design, subservient to promote it."
                                  - John Newton

Friday, February 26, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Suffering has a way of equipping us to be the best expressions of God's compassion and grace."
        - Scott Sauls

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quote of the Day

"To be better in our brokenness isn't to remove the brokenness; it's to remove the selfishness, pride, impatience, or other sinful behaviors we blame on the brokenness. When we stop blaming our situation on the brokenness, we begin to see that the brokenness is a trial designed specifically for us. 
 I've also learned that I can't overcome my sinful tendencies on my own. I rarely choose patience and grace over anger and annoyance. Yet I've learned that even though they aren't my automatic response to situations, the more I practice patience and grace, the better I get. So why wouldn't God use the trials in my life to teach me patience? Why wouldn't God, who gave us perfect grace and who wants me to give and receive it, give me and astounding number of opportunities to learn how to give and receive grace? If God, who knows what is best for me, knows that means learning to depend on him more than I am capable of, why wouldn't he design circumstances in my life to teach me how to be totally dependent on him for everything? Why wouldn't he design the trials in your life specifically for you?"
                               - Laura Story in When God Doesn't Fix It

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My True Need

Jesus, I need You as much as I ever did when you first saved me. Pure and simply - "I'm believing. Can You help my unbelief?" 


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Almost Persuaded

 Once there was a missionary. His name was Paul. He had been spreading the Gospel all over what is now western Asia and into eastern Europe. For his outspoken faith and bold preaching of the truth about Jesus, Paul endured many hardships. He often was turned in to the civil authorities for his radical beliefs. On one such occasion, he stood before a powerful Roman leader named Agrippa. Agrippa's only reason to care about hearing what this missionary had to say was the disgruntled Jews who brought Paul in to him. As a Roman leader, his job was to pacify and keep the peace of the empire among the Jews. So it was only fair that he give Paul a hearing and let him explain himself to the authorities. 
In Acts 26, Paul's lengthy speech before Agrippa is recorded for posterity and, as he comes to the climax of his remarks, Agrippa says to him, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian" (Acts 26:28). 
 This question has been on my mind for several days now as I've recently begun reading a book called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. The premise of the book is that, for many professing believers, they can talk a good talk; they can adamantly hold that they "believe in God" but they live as if He doesn't exist. They do not show forth their so-called "faith" by their actions and feel as though they can suspend their disbelief each time they enter through a church door. They can praise but never truly worship. They can know of Jesus but never know Jesus and never be known by Jesus. They are, quite frankly, "almost persuaded." 
 I see many in the modern church and society today who live by these standards and maintain that they sincerely do believe in Jesus, so I agree with Craig's analysis. If we're honestly looking at the truth, we might recognize a simple fact: if the heart remains unchanged, do these "professors" really believe in God as they claim to? 
 Turning inward, I also look at my own life, and I see areas of my life and seasons of the heart where I've been "almost persuaded" on more than one occasion. I want to believe but I can't quite seem to accept what God is asking from me. I want to follow Jesus, but I don't want to give up certain things in order to do it. I want to live for God, but even when the truth hits me dead in the face, I resist it. I am a holdout. Like Agrippa, I comprehend, but I don't let it sink deep. I understand, but I don't accept it. 
 In my better moments of honesty, I do see though that if I'm to love without fear, follow Christ wherever He leads, embrace whatever He gives or takes away, then I need to become fully persuaded and not just "almost." God cannot use half-hearted followers. Because half-hearted followers aren't really followers at all. Because they're not truly committed. They're not all-in! 
 I ask myself as I ponder this question first posed by Agrippa: are you truly all-in?! Or are you "almost persuaded?" It's a question that I must return to time and again if I'm to remind myself of what this journey of Grace-living is all about. I must come back to the profound yet simple truth that God wants sincerity more than show. God wants commitment more than talk. God wants my heart more than my than my professing of belief. He doesn't want me to call myself a Christian and then go do my own thing. 
 As I move forward in this daily progressing toward genuine and authentic faith, I want to believe without doubts. I want to be "fully persuaded." I don't want to be an almost-Christian. I want to be a follower of Jesus. I don't want to be a half-way believer who suspends her disbelief when the truth becomes inconvenient and when the God of the Bible doesn't match up with her own definition of truth. I want to be confident beyond any shadow of doubt that I serve a risen Lord and that He's alive and at work in the world today. I want to know fully that my life is in the hands of the One who created the world and all that's in it and that He is completely interested and involved in the day-to-day battles that I face. Many times, I may claim all this is true and still not fully believe it. 
 Perhaps the true prayer against this "almost persuaded" trend is what a man said to Jesus himself while seeking healing for his sick child: "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." If that's the case, I want that to become my constant request of God. Just maybe such a request might change me. Might change the way I believe. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Do your work, O faith! Consider this medicine for your faith to drink in comfort: not the slightest trouble befalls you without the overruling hand of God. He is not only our wise God, but a tender Father. He knows what you are made of and measures out exactly every cross unto us as a chemist measures out grams of medicine. 
 Faith realizes that our current state is not the result of the axe of judgment, but the pruning knife of affliction. It is not a cup to poison but to heal, no matter how bitter the taste. You are kept by His power and the evil one cannot touch you. You are in a safe harbor under the rock of Christ. You will never be confounded. If there is sickness or poverty, it is in your Father's own hand. If a rod comes from a malicious enemy's hand, your Father stands by, looks on, and will moderate the number of stripes...God knows your strength and will not permit them to lay on you more than you are able to bear. His wisdom and grace shall be sufficient for you. Faith further assures you that God not only restrains your crosses, He has determined that they will bring the greatest benefit possible to you. Being administered by a Father who knows your frame, it will work for your very best. When you feel your heart sinking for the present, remember you will be better many days after. Faith reminds us that Christ is our partner in affliction. He upholds the greatest part of our burden. Jesus on the way to glory suffered the crown of thorns, the spittings, the buffetings, the mockings and reproaches of vile sinners, and showed himself to be the Son of God, not by coming down from the cross, but by enduring it. If you wish to be his disciple, the first lesson in his school is the cross. Deny yourself, take it up, and follow him. Glory with the martyrs, and our Master. Faith sets before it the infinite payment of reward and eternal weight of glory. Paul in light of this, counted his afflictions light and momentary in comparison. This made him sing in the dungeon. 'Many are the troubles of the righteous, but by faith we stand, by faith we fight, by faith we overcome.' "
                                       - Samuel Ward in Voices From the Past

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Quote of the Day

"…Because the Word tells us much of living by faith, we would eagerly patch up a life between faith and sense, which indeed is not a life of faith. Though we may use means, we must trust God and trust Him solely; And therefore to bring us to this, God allows us to be tried and vexed with the mockery of second causes, and when we have spent all upon these physicians of no value, then, and never till then, we resolve for Christ."
                            - Thomas Case

Friday, February 19, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Surely he dieth oft whose life is bound up in the dying creature. As often as the creature fails, his hope fails and his heart fails. When the creature dies, his hope is gives up the ghost. He only lives an unchangeable life, that by faith can live upon an unchangeable God."
                            - Thomas Case 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I'm Guest Posting Today!

 Today, I was honored to share my story on Justin Temple's blog! Be sure to visit his site and click on "From Ashes to Beauty: Stories of Hope" at the top of page to read my post. I have the link shown below. Also, give him a follow on Twitter if you use that! He's awesome! 
 I am honored to be invited to his blog and to share my thoughts. 



Quote of the Day

" 'I am with you always' is enough for my soul to live on no matter who forsakes me."
                - Charles H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Call Us Crazy

 Yeah...go ahead and do it. Call us crazy.
 In this world gone wild with everything anti-Grace, it seems as though those of us who dare to choose the holier way are called "nuts," "weird," and all the other names in the book. It seems that, as our society becomes more against the God-pleasing way, they become more against us. Because we want to pursue the wiser path, to look to Him as our guide, we become more and more the "odd" ones. We begin to look like the ones who are out of step with the culture, who are old-fashioned maybe. Because we choose to walk a less trodden road. And thus, we are mis-understood. Criticized. Laughed off. And sometimes that fact can get us down. Discouraged. Defeated. 
 We can become the beaten down faith warriors who feel as though they must push forward in a battle that, at times, feels like they are doomed to lose. We fight but oftentimes with no hope. All we can see is the resistance. All we can feel is the pressure. All we can think upon is the fact that not everyone is for us. And sometimes not many are for us at all. 
 If there is one word that God seemed to put on my heart for this year it was: faith. Simple yet profound word. By it's definitions, it means: "complete trust or confidence in someone or something; strong belief in God...based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof." Yes...for many weeks now God has been trying to get me to understand that I do not need explanations. I do not need proof. I do not need to see or understand the whole picture all the time. I simply need Him. Jesus, only Jesus. All He is asking for is total reliance. And by depending on Him and placing all of myself at His disposal, I will see and experience wonders from His hand. It is a faith dare this year for me. A personal challenge to say "yes" to my Savior, even in those moments that do not make sense. It is a further stop on the Grace-Journey that causes me to lay my own ideas at the feet of Him who alone makes sense of everything. Just by being Himself for me. 
 As I have reflected on this concept, I have become more aware of how sick this fallen world really is. And it continues to push down on those devout souls who choose to fall into the everlasting arms of God Himself. It cannot comprehend how such belief could answer the deepest longings of the human condition. It cannot understand how those who decide to follow the Master can reconcile themselves to being different. "C'mon!" they say, "How can you really resist your desires for fulfillment on the basis of this God you say you know?!" Thus, the pure ones, the ones who want to see God, the ones who want to love God more fully, the ones who trust His plan above all else...they are told that they are "not cool." They are "behind the times." They are "too good." 
 But if you think about it, what these people who say these things really want is the same as what we want, too. They just don't know it. They chase after alcohol, drugs, sex, and the like because they want happiness. They want joy. They want love. They want peace. But they've looked in all the wrong places. And they've come up empty. So did we at one time, remember? 
 Remember those dark chapters we once walked through also? Those days and lonely nights when we thought God wasn't listening. Or maybe it was us who wasn't listening. 
Remember those times of looking elsewhere for purpose when the real life worth living was right in front of us? We just had to look up. And then be filled. If we truly recall our own years of wandering, of pretending that we had our own answers, of neglecting the hard road for the temporary things that only left us dry...if we truly recall those times...then who are we to judge those who still call out with broken voices into the dark?! Who are we to run from those who pressure us so when we are called to happily accept that we are on the side of God?! If He has assured us that He is for us, (which He is) then what room is there for fear?! What place is there for doubt?! Why should we be the defeated ones when we serve the One who overcomes the world?! 
 If we're honest with ourselves, we have no real reason to be afraid. No reason to live tentative lives. No reason to let ourselves get discouraged. Because we do not live this life for ourselves. We live this life for the One who gives us meaning. The One who is the breath in our lungs and the life to our souls. If we're about the things that please Him, there is no shame in that. Rather, we can be the truly joyful ones who sing in the rain, who praise in the pain, who laugh in the storms. That, my friends, is truly radical! That is something worth being mis-understood for! 
 So let them call us crazy! Let them carry on that we're not "with it." That we're "un-interesting." That we're "strange." We know who we are and who we belong to. We've chosen faith over fear, praise over doubt. We have set out on the journey toward Grace - the journey that takes us places we'll never even begin to imagine. We'll gladly accept the title of being the "crazy ones" because we're following a Savior that was once called "crazy" too.  
  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Prayer of the Day

What a wretch I am without Thee, dear Lord! Apart from Thee, I cannot treat any person rightly, cannot love Thee truly, cannot observe and accept Thy dealings sincerely. O God of the Heavens, before whom mountains quake and tremble, steal my puny show and make me nothing so that I see Thee to be everything. I move closer to becoming the person Thou intendest me to be when I allow Thee to take over every part of me. Take the humble things I offer Thee and accept them as my offering. Be Thou in control. Cause me to surrender to Thy holy will in all things so that my own will dies to itself and I become emptied, swallowed up, lost in Thee.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Be happy in Him, O my heart, and in nothing but God, for whatever a man trusts in, from that he expects happiness."
                 - from The Valley of Vision

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love's Origin

 As the world celebrates Valentine's Day and all things love...I sit and reflect on the great Lover Himself. How the God-man became flesh and dwelt among us, felt what we feel, saw what we see, hurt as we hurt, so that He might identify with us in our struggles and one day walk the way of suffering to Calvary for our sins. 
 I ponder that as human beings we understand so little about love. Because we do not understand the Lover as we ought. He is the pattern by which we learn how to love. If He did not give us the grace to treat ourselves and others rightly, the wars, murders, and brutality we hear about would be even more rampant. It is only His hand of mercy and his daily-given grace that restrains us and somehow holds this broken world together. Were we to truly grasp how terrible the sinful hearts of mankind are, we would marvel that the God of the Universe would choose to still die to grant them eternal hope. Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, didn't come to give his life for the good people. That might make some sense. No...He came to give His life for those who were lost, those who were sick, those who were broken and needed life. He knows there are no innately "good people" because He knows we have no desire in and of ourselves to love Him or do the right thing. We are selfish; we are hopeless. We have no chance at being anything worthwhile apart from Him. And that's exactly why He came. 
 My Master came to teach me how to live and love rightly. His Word shows me that I cannot love my neighbor or my friend or my family as I should if I do not understand how He loves me. If I cannot, in a small way, comprehend the love of God toward me, I have no context on which to base my actions toward others. The sacrifice of the Savior on the cross shows me that laying down my desires and wants is a necessary part of love. The unending patience He shows me everyday reveals to me that giving grace to others is yet another way to love. The simple fact that Jesus continues to seek a relationship with me when I fail Him all the time is evidence that long-suffering and faithfulness is key to being a conduit of His love to others. 
 When I compare His pattern to that of the human concept of love, I find myself coming up short. Human beings can look for "love" simply to fulfill their own desires and wants, not understanding that giving yourself up for another is the way to truly love. Even in the relationships with those we care about most, we can often find ourselves trying to get something from them that we want instead of seeking out how we can deny ourselves and look out for them. Perhaps this Valentine's Day thing isn't all the commercial market makes it out to be. Just maybe our definition of love needs some refining if our relationships with others are to be truly fruitful. Maybe coming back to the heart of God is the secret to understanding what love means...
 The Gospel is about learning to come to the end of yourself, to lose in order to live. It is the opposite pattern from what we are born knowing. We are not taught to be selfish, we just come that way. Because our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned in the garden, we are now inheritors of their shame and emotional nakedness,  their fear of God's presence, and their selfish ways. Unless God shows us another way, we are bound to operate from our own wants. He must enable us, through grace, to re-order our loves. To re-define what love actually means in light of how He lived the perfect life for our emulation. While we will never achieve true Christ-like love this side of Heaven, I think it's time we take a humbler way and learn what loving others God's way looks like. 
 Today, whether you are single, dating, engaged, or married...may you look to Jesus as your pattern of love. May you pray for guidance to see others as Jesus sees them, to learn what it means in a deeper way to give yourself up for them. May you seek to learn more about the indescribably awesome love of God and thus be transformed to be a conduit of that love to those around you. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Quote of the Day

"He has foremost called me to be loved, to be receptive to His love, and to find my rest in His love."
              - Scott Sauls

Friday, February 12, 2016

Quote of the Day

" Die in me world and all your love, so that my breast for ever and ever on earth becomes practiced in the love of God."
                                 - J. S. Bach
                                       Cantata translation BWV 169 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Where I Abide

In Heavenly Love Abiding

In heavenly love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back; 
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.

Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o'er me,
Where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure,
My path to life is free;
My Savior has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.
- Anna Letitia Waring

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Believe in God's grace for the impossible. No situation is more hopeless than our Savior is graceful."
          - Ann Voskamp

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Quote of the Day

"I have sinned against the Lord in my affliction by my impatience, unbelief, unhumbledness, and so forth, yet he was pleased, not altogether to leave me without the teachings of his Spirit - not because I was good, but because He was good; not because I pleased Him, but because mercy pleased Him; not because I was upright before Him, but because He was upright. True and faithful to His own promise, that He hath done it, good and upright is the Lord, and therefore He hath taught me in the way."
                      - Thomas Case

Monday, February 8, 2016

Prayer of the Day

"Grant that I may be salted with suffering, with every exactment tempered to my soul."
                      - Unknown


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Joy doesn't come from our circumstances; it comes from our God. And since God is with us during our trials, it is possible to have joy even in our trials. Joy is in the Lord...It's a deep joy that comes from making intentional choices about how we're going to live our lives despite our circumstances. Despite the darkness of our circumstances, joy does come in the morning. "
                         - Laura Story in When God Doesn't Fix It

Friday, February 5, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Prayer of the Day


Let not my heart be led astray
By things which aren't from Thee;
Grant me to know the narrow way,
The path to clearly see.

Lead on, O Savior of my heart!
Thy Word is my delight;
Let not Thy law from me depart,
For all Thy ways are right. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Quote of the Day

"God alone shall have my heart. Indeed, I observe of the world, which holds its dung as priceless, since it treats me with such friendliness, that it would like to be the beloved of my soul. But no; God alone shall have my heart: I find in Him the highest good. We see indeed here and there on earth a little brook of peacefulness, which springs from the goodness of the Highest; God however is the source, overflowing with streams, there I create what forever can nourish me truly and satisfyingly: God alone shall have my heart...I find in Him the highest good. He loves me during evil times and in blissfulness; He will shower me with the goodness of His house." 
                              - J. S. Bach 
                                   Cantata translation BWV 169 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Belonging

 It all started a couple of years ago when a distant cousin did some research on a certain branch of my maternal family tree. Unlike many other families out there, my extended family has kept very good records of our history and previous generations so I was well aware of past relatives a few generations back. What I was totally unprepared for was to "meet" ancestors I was completely unaware of. 
 As my mom and I dug deeper into the links my cousin had provided us with, I was amazed to discover traits and family traditions that have made me who I am today...things I was totally surprised to find out. I discovered that I am descended from British ancestors via New England who were people of great influence, people who were active in their community and were standard setters for those around them. I found out that they married well in that they chose spouses of great character and influence, thus perpetuating a line of family greatness. I was also blown away by the obvious vein of Christian devotion that permeated the family tree, passing down a fear and love of God through the generations. Oddly enough, perhaps the biggest surprise was the fact that God had used my ancestors in big ways at the most crucial times and places in public life. 
 Through my research, I met people like Theophilus Eaton - the first Governor of New Haven, Connecticut and a former agent to King Charles I of England and former president of the Massachusetts Bay Co. I discovered that I am distantly related by a marriage in the line in the late 1600s to Ann Yale - grandmother of Elihu Yale for whom Yale University is named. I learned about Sir John Wright of Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, England whose manor house, Kelvedon Hall, still stands today. He was also a member of Parliament.  His son also was friends with one of England's noted composers, William Byrd, who was a neighbor of the family's.
  Continuing on, I came to learn about men like Elizur Goodrich who served in President John Adams' administration and whose two sons married good girls: one married the daughter of Oliver Wolcott, signer of the Declaration of Independence; another married the daughter of Noah Webster, helping to edit Noah's famous dictionary after Noah died. I discovered Capt. John Thomas Tiffany who, along with his seven other brothers, fought in the War for Independence. I was able to view the document showing that he had been hand-selected by Gen. George Washington to join Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne on the front lines for the capture of Stony Point on July 15, 1779. 
 I also found out that my family name, Goodrich - out of which all these branches come - can be traced back to Godrick, architect of Goodrich Castle, which remains one of the finest Norman conquest castles still in existence in modern day England. 
 Truly, as I came to know more about these amazing individuals, I reflected on the verse in Psalm 16:6 which says,

"The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea,
I have a goodly heritage."

 I also noticed how learning about my heritage changed me as a person and helped explain to me who I am and where I come from. There was a sense of belonging that I had never felt before. History had come alive and it wasn't just about random dates and dead people - these were my people - and for the first time, I saw how I fit in to the big scheme of God's plan for humanity. 
 It did occur to me, however, that some people do not have such a "goodly heritage" and that their line is one big tragic error or event after another. They can't relate to having heroes in their family because the line has been a vicious cycle of failure for generations. Perhaps it was addiction, or crime, or fatherlessness. 
 But I did realize, too, that regardless of what our physical ancestry looks like, when we are brought into God's family, we are given a new family. We are brought into the line of "goodly heritage" that our biological line may or may not have bequeathed to us. We are given the sense of belonging that all of us need...the feeling of becoming part of something bigger. We are now counted among the greatest company imaginable: that of individuals like Apostle Paul, King David, and yes...Jesus Christ Himself. We are granted a new identity through salvation in the Savior that breaks the negative cycles and allows for a fresh start in grace. No longer are we considered random human beings with no purpose on the earth but God counts us as His children, and we are united to His family forever. To me, that is truly a lineage worth celebrating! 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Question of the Day

"Am I going to let my circumstances determine my view of God, or am I going to let God determine how I view my circumstances?"
                                - Laura Story in When God Doesn't Fix It

Remembering A Sweet Friend

 One year ago last Thursday, my friend Katie went home to her Savior. After bravely fighting a battle against cancer, she finished her race well. Smiling the whole way through her difficult journey, she never lost sight of the fact that life is a gift to be enjoyed - no matter how hard it is sometimes. Through it all, she inspired me to be thankful and to look to Jesus in all circumstances...even the ones that are the worst. 
  Today, I thank God for the short time I got to know Katie and the blessing she was to me and so many others. I miss you sweet friend!