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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Our fears are due to our failure to stir up - failure to think, failure to take ourselves in hand. You find yourself looking to the future and then you begin things and you say, 'I wonder what is going to happen?' And then, imagination runs away with you. You are gripped by the thing; you do not stop to remind yourself of who you are and what you are, this thing overwhelms you and down you go. Now the first thing you have to do is to take a firm grip of yourself, to pull yourself up, to stir up yourself, to take yourself in hand, and to speak to yourself...
You seem to be thinking about yourself and about life and all you have to do as if you were still an ordinary person. But...you are not an ordinary person! You are a Christian, you are born again, the Spirit of God is in you. But you are facing all these things as if you are still what you once were...and is not that the trouble with us all in this connection? 
Though we are truly Christian, though we believe the truth, though we have been born again, though we are certainly children of God, we lapse into this condition in which we again begin to think as if none of these things had happened to us at all. Like the man of the world, the man who has never been regenerated, we allow the future to come to us and dominate us, and we compare our own weakness and lack of strength with the greatness of the calling and the tremendous task before us. And down we go as if we were but our natural selves." 
                      - D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Spiritual Depression

Friday, April 28, 2017

Admission

 Every healing begins with an admission. Every turning point starts with a desperation cry.  Every victory is proceeded by a confession of failure - a recognition that it's humanly impossible to overcome the weight of one's own faults and sins. It's the Alcoholics Anonymous first step to getting sober: the ability to admit that one is an alcoholic, not just that one has a drinking problem. Because it's easy to excuse away the deepest weakness of one's flesh when one only faces the problem in part...when one only calls the issue a portion of what it actually is. 
 As many of you are aware, this blog has become a forum of admission for myself and those who read it regularly. (And I hope it becomes more of such in the future!) I speak often of my own failings here because I find that my own experience isn't all that unlike that of my readers...we're all struggling in some way to find progress in our journey to Grace; we're all striving to be a better version of ourselves each day - and falling miserably in the process. But all along, we're discovering an incredibly patient and merciful God whose love continues to forgive and renew us in spite of all the times we come short of who we want to become for Him! He accepts us regardless, yet values us too much to keep us where we are. And so, this blog celebrates failure and the Grace which redeems it (in all of us) on a daily basis. 
 Well...today you're going to get a big admission from me. And perhaps you may make the same yourself: 
 I. Am. A. Fearful. Person. 
I've always had a very confident personality, and I've always been the type who was a can-do individual. I've never shied away from a task I felt was worth tackling and I've always experienced relative success in most things I undertook. As a result, I didn't think of myself as being fearful. I could speak comfortably in front of hundreds of people, write important letters to world leaders, meet new people with ease, etc - all things that many others would find terrifying. 
But then again...I've perhaps disguised my fears more than I realized over the years. In the last decade, I've had many personal experiences that have turned me into a person who is afraid of many things. I'm only recently realizing how many there actually are...
 And I'm also beginning to understand that as much as I ask God for a change of heart, my first response to much of life is set on "Fear." Faith is secondary to it. It takes me much talking to myself to get myself to move beyond the "what if" factor. I question everything. Because I've been hurt enough that I expect even the good things in life to turn sour at some point. Sadly, even as many times as God has demonstrated His willingness to give blessings and good gifts to this child of His, I appreciate it for a short time before switching back to, "Thanks God, but will this also be taken away?" 
 This negative response to even the sweet things of life has placed emotional barriers to my relationships. Even the closest friends in my life have, at some time or another, probably noticed the hesitancy, the resistance, the distance. I've let them in closer than others, yet I still have refused to trust their love to the extent that I should. I have experienced their care and yet still thought on more than one occasion, "Others left, so why wouldn't this person leave at some point too?" My past fears have trickled over into my present fears and my fears of the future. I am a fearful person. 
 More than just the human relationships, I have treated God and His good gifts in my life this way too. Even when He continues to show up and turn all things - the bad and the good - into blessings meant for me as tokens of His love, I still receive them with fear. I am living a question mark instead of an exclamation point. I am a fearful person.
 Now that I've admitted such, I'm also realizing that perhaps now I can find myself advancing a bit in this desire to dare greatly, to do life big, and to face all fears with a mighty faith that only God can give. Victory isn't always achieved by determination. Sometimes one must actually be honest and humble enough to see that they can't achieve what they hope to be without leaving it in God's hands. We all admit that we can't change apart from God, but we often see it as a partnership instead of a sovereign submission. We see as mostly God but with help from us instead of realizing that we have no power of our own to make ourselves transform. We only lead ourselves to our own ruin. God actually needs no assistance from us...only a willing and surrendered heart. And often, He does His best work when we are at our personal end and cannot go any further. Then, He does more because we've become less.
 Claiming defeat in the spiritual life is actually the first step to achieving victory. Reminding ourselves that God fights the battles of our weakness for us and that we need only to stand and be still (Exodus 14:14) is really where we will begin to relax and stop trying so hard to do it on our own. God wants us to give up ...in the sense that we quit trying to do His part and rather accept all of ourselves for His sake. Learn to live with ourselves and be okay with not being okay. I'm not fine, and neither are you. As the great theologian D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, 

"The fact that you have become a Christian does not mean that you cease to have to live with yourself. You will have to live with yourself as long as you are alive, and yourself is your self and not somebody else's self."

We're all broken people living in this fallen world and trying to see through to God, but just  maybe we could find ourselves further along if we simply accept the fact that we will always live with our failures until the day God calls us out of this world. We will struggle with our weaknesses forever till such time as we leave this earth. As much as we wish ourselves to be better people than we are, it's still a fact that we're always be a worse version of ourselves than we'd hope for. Yet we are powerfully loved more than we dare believe. God just may leave us tied to our greatest struggle so that we are forever reminded of His necessary provision and grace in our lives. 
 My biggest struggle is fear. I. Am. A. Fearful. Person. I'm asking God for greater trust yet realizing I'll keep failing in that belief because I'm a sinner. Thank God for grace though, right?! 
I don't know what you're issue is. You may be only recently discovering it, or it may have traveled with you for a very long time. Either way, remember that there is enough grace in God to accept even the worst part of yourself and surrender to the Healer's touch. Don't be afraid to admit the worst about yourself. Because God already knows about it - and He died for all of it on the cross. Your defeat is His victory. Your loss is Heaven's gain. You are not responsible for your own life-change, and it's perfectly alright to be mistrusting of yourself. Because that's where faith can blossom and God's ability can shine through!



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quote of the Day

"How happy is that state of a believer, to have a sure promise that all shall work together for good in the end, and, in the mean time sure refuge where to find present relief, support, and protection! How comfortable is it, when trouble is near, to know that the Lord is near likewise, and to commit ourselves and all our cares simply to Him, believing that His eye is upon us, and His ear open to our prayers. Under the conduct of such a Shepherd, we need not fear, although we are called to pass through fire and water, through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us, and will show Himself mighty on our behalf!"
                         - John Newton

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Hide yourself under the shadow of His wings; rely upon His care and power; look upon Him as a physician who has graciously undertaken to heal your soul of the worst of sicknesses, sin. Yield to His prescriptions, and fight against every thought that would represent it as desirable to be permitted to choose for yourself. When you cannot see your way, be satisfied that He is your leader. When your spirit is overwhelmed within you, He knows your path: He will not leave you to sink. He has appointed seasons of refreshment, and you shall find that He does not forget you. Above all, keep close to the throne of grace. 
I pray that you may be enabled more and more to honor the Lord, by believing His promise: for He is not like a man, that should fail or change, or be prevented by anything unforeseen from doing what He has said...
Here is the mercy - that His ways are above ours as the heavens are higher than the earth. Though we are foolish and unbelieving, He remains faithful; He will not deny Himself. I recommend to you especially that promise of God, which is so comprehensive that it takes in all our concernments, I mean, that all things shall work together for good. How hard it is to believe, that not only those things which are grievous to the flesh, but even those which draw forth our corruptions and discover to us what is in our hearts, and fill us with guilt and shame, should in the issue work for our good! Yet the Lord has said it! All your pains and trials, all that befalls you in your own person, or that affects you upon the account of others, shall in the end prove to your advantage. And your peace does not depend upon any change of circumstances which may appear desirable, but in having your will bowed to the Lord's will, and made willing to submit all to His disposal and management."
                         - John Newton

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Grace To Fail

 I was up at 3am the other morning and couldn't sleep. I've battled a health issue for several months that makes it hard for me to sleep through the night sometimes, so I took the opportunity to pray and read a little. 
 Lately, I've been living in the writings of John Newton - his words give me permission to be okay with not being okay and to accept all my failings as opportunities for God's grace to drive deeper in my life. I'm currently working through a book that highlights this truth called Extravagant Grace by Barbara Duguid. My eyes fell the other night on a paragraph with a powerful (and convicting) statement. As she details a struggle she'd be having with sin in her life, she talks about a conversation she had with her counselor, Margaret: 

"I sat in Margaret's home and poured out my heart to her. I went on for quite awhile as she listened compassionately and jotted down some notes. After our first session ended, she looked calmly into my puffy, reddened eyes and gave me a peculiar kind of hope. She said, 'Barbara, God is going to pour His grace into you. He will either give you grace to change and to grow in these two areas of great struggle with sin, or He will give you the grace to stay the same and survive your failure." 

While I embrace the fact that I know God wants us all to be improving in our lives and facing our fears and weaknesses with faith and dependence upon Him, I am also beginning to realize that much of our discontentment in our lives stems from the simple fact that we think we should be further along than we are. We cannot live with ourselves. We cannot be okay with the fact that we are not okay. And we just can't ever seem to entertain the thought that God sometimes doesn't fix us completely so that we'll have greater reminders of our need for His grace. We carry with us the remnants of a fallen sin nature that, while it doesn't rule us eternally anymore, still rears its ugliness and keeps us in a constant state of humility. But perhaps the key to combatting such failures in the spiritual life isn't trying harder, doing more, aiming higher, and striving for ultimate victory but rather in simply getting close to ourselves and realizing that we can't become who we ideally would like to be. "The model Christian" doesn't actually exist. And the only way we can find ourselves further along than before is by the gradual disciplines of a gracious God who scourges for our benefit and allows us to be tried and tested for our growth and His eventual glory. 
 So...this week...whatever it is you're struggling with, know this: God may or may not remove that thing in your life you've been battling, but He will give you grace either way. Grace to change, or grace to deal with ongoing failure. But regardless of how He sees fit to deal with your failings, be comforted that His forgiveness will forever run full and free on your behalf!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Whatever believers may be separated from, enough remains. None can take Christ from the believer: none can take the believer from Him; and that is enough." 
                    - Matthew Henry

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Quote of the Day

"If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened."
                          - George Mueller 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The innumerable comforts and mercies with which He enriches even those we call darker days, are sufficient proofs that He does not willingly grieve us: but when He sees a need-be for chastisement, He will not withhold it because He loves us; on the contrary, that is the very reason why He afflicts."
                           - John Newton

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Counting the Cost

 It's been a difficult few weeks. So much has happened recently that has led me to greater depths of knowledge over my own need, sorrow for the brevity of human life, deeper conviction that Christ is the cure for all our soul's diseases - if only we will let Him mend us in all our broken pieces. As a result of what's gone on lately, I have come to a place of realizing that the cost is great when you surrender to the leading of God. He will take you places where you will often find yourself uncomfortable, lonely, struggling, afraid, and fearful as your human heart fights His direction. You may even find yourself abandoned by others who do not desire the same holiness as you. But with every adversity He allows, He brings with it a fuller understanding of who we are and why He is always the answer. Our place isn't to question Him, it's to obey - willingly, and with open hands. That's so easier said than done. I love my comfort zone, and I do everything I can to stay there. But that's not what following Jesus is about. It's stepping out in faith and facing your biggest uncertainties, your greatest fears, with the assurance and peace that only He can give. His paths will likely lead you to situations that cross your own desires...but whoever said that following Him was about us and our happiness anyway?!? 
 I don't know what He's asking you to let go of or what change is ahead for you, but I do want to encourage you that in your wilderness moments, you will see God. If you keep your heart open, He will show you hidden blessings and miracles that you will miss otherwise. Following Him won't always be the most pleasant thing because you'll find yourself treading difficult paths for His sake. But don't run from His plan simply because you don't like it...run toward it because you'll discover it was the best plan all along! 


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What We Can Do In A World Consumed By Division

In light of the recent news headlines of shootings, a high-profile former athlete committing suicide this morning, church divisions and other things going on in our world, I felt I had to post this...

As most of you readers know, I don't tend to post on divisive topics. While I do realize that the truth is, in and of itself, divisive in a hostile world that hates God, I try to present the truth to my readers in the least aggressive and threatening way possible. Because we're all on equal ground when it comes to matters of the heart and soul - we've all fallen greatly, and we all need a Savior who will rescue us and give us life. As a result, I feel like this knowledge puts us in a unique and special place to dialogue issues here on this blog. Nobody is above anybody else. We're all on this journey to grace together. 
 That being said, I'm increasingly feeling led to address the escalating division that is sweeping our nation and our culture at large. All one has to do is turn on the news and see people picketing, people yelling, people destroying property and souls...all for the sake of what they believe to be true and just. It's happening everywhere. There can no longer be simply a civil disagreement, a discussion sown in respect even while those involved see an issue differently. All that people have been taught to do now is to shout louder than somebody else. To be more aggressive than the other, just so that you're own point is heard and received. There can be no healthy debate or discussion unless one side agrees completely with the other: either embrace my position, or I'll shoot you down and demean you until I've proven that my side to the argument is true. Being right is more important now than loving well.
Sadly, this spirit is becoming associated with people of the Christian faith. Churches are divided over matters of personal interpretation of core values instead of coming together around the shared absolute truth of the God they believe in. And, on top of the issues themselves, church people are no longer watching the manner in which they state their point of view. While the statement may be accurate, the attitude behind may lack in all things compassionate, caring, understanding, and respectful that, for fear of being seen as "tolerant" of a false point of view, people make the other side feel demeaned, disrespected, hurt, and unwanted. 
 Fear. Fear drives us all to become this way. We're either afraid of being too tolerant and not standing up for truth when we should, or we're afraid of being intolerant and unloving, so we say nothing at all. Either approach is wrong. And we're causing people to take sides because of it. We're driving people away from our Jesus because of it. In this, we have made a grave mistake: out of a desire to defend God and His truth, we've lost sight of the tone in which He would have us to speak and act. We have lost sight of the balance of His character and the simple fact that truth offsets love so that they are designed to assist each other.  
 Impatience, too. Oh...the ever-present feeling that we must hurry to make our point. That we don't have time to wait out a potentially lengthy process with someone of differing viewpoint so that our loving way equally draws them to God as our words! So frequently, we let the emotion of the moment get in the way, and we try to win the other side over in a single blow, only causing more hurt and never achieving what we desire. 
 Over the years, I've been involved in many political, church, or social settings where this aggressive approach to making one's point turned a common vested interest of a group into a divided shouting match where both sides only left with hurt hearts. I've seen it too often, and it's got to change. 
 Three examples of the proper way to compassionately make one's point without disrespecting the other person or group changed the way I view a discussion of sensitive sort. 
First, the example of a pastor who once wrote a letter in response to a article he'd read written by a lesbian college professor: When the author of the article received this letter, she later said that she immediately threw it into the trash after reading the pastor's response. He had spoken truth, but she didn't want to hear it. However, something made her pick it out of the garbage and set it aside. Weeks later, she'd be nearly to the point of throwing it away again, but something would make her read it over and over... and save it. Eventually, after quite some time had passed, the professor reached out to the pastor and they met in person at his house to discuss the issue of homosexuality. To make a long story shorter, his kind and sensitive manner over the course of many weeks and months, eventually drew the professor to attend his church...to listen for herself about who this God was that the pastor kept referring to. In time, she left her life as a lesbian and became a Christian. She married and now has several children. She's also become a best-selling author on the topic of how Christians can relate to the homosexual community, detailing her story and her unlikely conversation. (You can read her story in her books Secrets Of An Unlikely Convert and Openness Unhindered.) The gentle and patient approach of that pastor drew her into the community of faith. He was willing to take the risk of reaching out, yet was also willing to answer her many questions in the most gracious yet truthful way possible.
 Second, the example of a college diving coach and one of his athletes. The Olympic-Caliber diver had everything going for him in terms of talent and recognition in the world. He had already been to an Olympics and was still chasing the elusive gold medal he'd always dreamed of. But he also had an insatiable desire for acceptance, and this had led him to the college party scene. Living this dual life of athletic success but also doing drugs, smoking, drinking, and looking for love in all the wrong places had finally caused him to land himself in a very depressed and dissatisfied state of mind. Finding himself one afternoon in bed and contemplating suicide, the diver reached out to a fellow female diver in the same college program as he, having noticed a big change in her life in recent months. She directed him to the diving coach. Desperate for a solution to his problems, he reached out to the coach. He was invited to the coach's house for dinner. Expecting a quick-fix to his depression, he was surprised when the coach and his wife gave him Jesus. But they did so while asking questions and trying to help the young man to come to conclusions of faith on his own. Over several months time, the diver started to realize that what he needed wasn't fame, or the college party scene, or women. What he needed was God's redemption. He surrendered to the Lord some time later and eventually went on to write a book about his experience called Greater Than Gold. He is now happily married and has a little girl and another child on the way. The coach's approach was centered in truth but was equally intentional as it was direct. He was as much concerned with building a relationship with the young man as helping him to see Christ. 
 Lastly, the example of yet another pastor and a former World-class bobsledder. Much like the diver described above, the bobsledder had been living a dual lifestyle during his teen years. He was now around 20 years old and was watching his own father slip away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Angry at the situation, he had thrown himself into his competing and also into hanging out with his familiar crowd of gang members and party-goers. Just shortly before his father would pass away, he went to visit dad at the hospital. Hung over from a hard night of partying, he arrived to find a pastor there at the hospital room. For some time, the pastor had done ministry over at the nearby Olympic training center and had seen the bobsledder and his family around there. Hearing of their situation, he felt led to drive nearly three hours south to visit them and hopefully communicate God's love to them. He knew that they were not Christians, but he wanted to bless them anyway. The young bobsledder was blown away that someone would come that far just to show care to his father and family. After praying with them, the pastor left his card with the bobsledder and told him to reach out anytime. A few months after dad died, the young man thought he should go to the pastor's Bible Study at the Olympic training center as a way to say thank you...more out of obligation than personal curiosity. But upon getting there, he was surprised by the love that was shown to him by those participating. Intrigued by what he experienced, he began to attend more often and built a relationship with the pastor. Fairly soon after that, he quit his addictions and his connections with the gang. While he still struggled, within a couple of years, God had reached the heart of this rebel and, after nearly committing suicide, he dedicated his life to Christ and was baptized soon after...by the pastor who had first reached out to his family. He became a regular attending member of the pastor's church and allowed the pastor to mentor him deeply in his new-found faith. In 2010, about two years after they first met in a hospital room, both would go to the Winter Olympics together - the bobsledder in his sport, and the pastor as the official chaplain for the U.S. Olympic team. It was a culmination of God's goodness and a pastor's willingness to take a leap of faith and lovingly come alongside a hurting young man. 
 One common theme between all of these stories is that, in each case, the Christian had to take a risk. They had to be willing to enter into the pain that each of these people felt. But because that step was rooted in love, they didn't come in with the sole purpose of trying to "fix" the individual. They simply invited them to give God a chance...and they did so in love. They were intentional. They built a relationship that formed trust, giving them a greater platform from which to share God's truth. They came around these people with a shared sense of need before God and great awareness of their own shortcomings and weaknesses. Instead of taking the approach as many do of, "I'm better than you because I have Jesus and you don't..." they took the way of the Master and said, "I'm a sinner too. I have nothing good to offer anyone in this world except what God has given me. I can't fix you, but Jesus can. Let me introduce you to Him." 
 This approach would fix so many of the divisions we see today. We must realize that God doesn't need to be defended. He can defend Himself. He also doesn't need us. He can certainly make Himself known to a hurting world without our help. But He chooses to use us if we make ourselves available to let Him work through us. So often we act as though He isn't capable of speaking for Himself and it takes all of us to convince a hurting world how wrong they are and how much they need God. But in reality, we need Him as much as they.
 Perhaps we can take a step back and re-think the way we reach out to people of differing viewpoint than ourselves. Instead of picketing everything, shouting down the opposition, and being more concerned with winning an argument, maybe we start by showing the care of our Savior.  Instead of beating them over the head with the truth, maybe we start by simply building a relationship. Perhaps simply asking questions of them over coffee, or texting them a word of care, or inviting them over to a meal is where it starts. After all, the biggest complaint from the religious leaders of Jesus' day was that He chose to eat with sinners. He took the humble place...even to the point of washing the feet of the man who would betray Him. Maybe it's time we follow His example and commit ourselves to daring more deeply when it comes to who we reach out to and what we do. Maybe it's time we take a risk of our own and step out of our comfort zone in the way we reach out. Perhaps there is someone that God is putting in your life or your church that needs to be loved on but is feeling turned off by the aggressiveness of those trying to "fix" their problem. Just maybe the change in that person's life starts with you being willing to start the process of being intentional. Your willingness to follow God's leading and to resist the patten of aggressiveness, divisiveness, and demeaning may open doors to ministering to that person that you never thought possible. Living what you're for instead of stating what you're against will take you a long way. 
 So let us dare to face our fears, to admit our impatience and thus, to start fresh. Beginning from the place of being right or beginning from the place of loving well. Where we start from makes all the difference. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Quote of the Day

"His love to us counted nothing too costly, too difficult, too grievous. Let us likewise show our love to Christ: nothing too hard, or too expensive, or too hazardous, or too grievous. Let us cross our carnal inclinations to follow Him in painful and costly service."
        - David Clarkson in Voices From The Past

Monday, April 17, 2017

Quote of the Day

"If your faith stops at the cross - it misses the blessing of the fullest revealing of Christ! 

You need a Savior who not merely two thousand years ago went to death to redeem you - but one who is alive to walk by your side in loving companionship! 

You need a Savior...
  who can hear your prayers,  
  to whose feet you can creep in penitence when you have sinned, 
  to whom you can call for help when the battle is going against you.

You need a Savior who is interested in all the affairs of your common life, and who can assist you in every time of need. 

You need a Christ who can be a real friend - loving you, keeping close beside you, able to sympathize with your weaknesses. 

You need a Savior who will come into your life, and will save you, not by one great act of centuries past - but by a life warm and throbbing with love today, and living again in you.

A dying Christ alone will not satisfy our heart. We must have the living One for our friend! Nothing less than a LIVING Christ will do for us! And that is the Christ the gospel brings to us: one who was dead - and is now alive for ever and ever!"
                                           - Charles H. Spurgeon in Morning By Morning

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Why I Need The Resurrection

 It's Easter. All over the world, people are celebrating the arrival of Spring and the hope of new life. Churches are holding services to remember the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead. I've heard the story all my life of how He came to live a sinless life and then died for the sins of mankind so that we'd have eternal hope. But somehow, over the last few years, the Easter story is taking on new meaning for me. 
 Because I'm realizing that the resurrection wasn't just for a one-time act of triumph over eternal destruction and sin but that God is still in the resurrecting business today. My resurrection didn't just happen when I accepted Christ's offer of eternal life...I still need a resurrection today! And will tomorrow...and the day after that...and so on. Until I one day reach my glorified state in Heaven, I will constantly be needing to have new life bred into the dead places of my heart. There are still empty and dark spaces where His love has not yet been allowed to enter and I need His promise of renewal more than ever. I feel the deep effectings of such a broken condition and desire to have them changed by the transforming and redeeming hands of God. I am in the winter season, waiting for the signs of a spiritual spring. But as I look to His ultimate victory on the cross, I see that I have no reason to despair that I am not as far along in my transformation as I would perhaps like. He who began a good work will complete what He started. This is what the message of Easter is and why it matters so much. As a quote I read recently states, 
 "The resurrection of Christ means everything sad is going to come untrue, and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost."
As the flower bulbs burst forth from the cold, dark earth - as I am reminded that He is alive and will be forever - as I greet gladly the arrival of spring and its promise - I ask God to bring new life to my soul. I ask Him to turn all of the messy places into a beautiful garden filled with the scents and colors of His love. I ask Him to fulfill His promise in that He, the resurrected King, can and will resurrect me. 


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The Son of God was crucified: I am not ashamed - because it is shameful.
The Son of God died: it is immediately credible - because it is silly.
He was buried, and rose again: it is certain - because it is impossible."
            - St. Augustine 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Quote of the Day

"It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious souls cost Him crucifixion."
                         - C. S. Lewis



Thursday, April 13, 2017

What Would I Have Done?

 If I had walked this earth when Jesus did, what would I have done? This question has driven deep into my heart as of late. I have spent a great deal of time pondering what my own responses would've been if I had witness what the disciples did. What would I have said? What would I have done? 
Perhaps you would like to ponder with me as I place myself back in the time of Christ: 

What would I have done if I'd met Jesus? Would I have greeted Him with the eyes of faith and seen Him as the Savior? Or would I have turned a cold shoulder and been one of those calling for His death? 

What would I have done if I'd seen Jesus performing miracles and teaching radical truths of forgiveness and deliverance? If I'd watched Him touch the blind man, tell the woman caught in adultery not to sin anymore, heard Him speak to the Samaritan at the well and reveal her personal history... if I'd been there to see Him calm the storm...or even rise from the dead...would I have believed Him? 

What would I do if I found myself beginning to embrace the teachings of a rabbi-figure named Jesus who was turning the cultural norm of the day on its head? If I knew that following Him would cost me everything, would I still go?

Would I have failed to pray with Him as did the disciples in the garden as He sweat drops of blood and pleaded for His cup to be taken from Him? Would my desire for rest have robbed me of the ability to watch with the Savior as He endured such anguish as this for my sins? 

What would I say or think if I had to witness the crucifixion of the Savior? Would I have been among His close devoted followers, or would I have been in the neutral crowd? Worse yet, would I have been among those jeering and wishing for the release of a hated robber named Barabbas? Would I have turned down my own chance at salvation just to be rid of a man who failed to deliver on His supposed promise to free my people from the Romans? 

Would I have missed Jesus for who He really was? Would I have been so focused like some on the needs at hand that I would neglect the simple fact that the Provider of all things was right there? 

Would I have acknowledged the miracle that was the physical manifestation of the Son of God? Or would I have walked away? 

I will never completely know the answers to these since I was not alive then. But this thing I know - these questions must drive me to live today intentionally. To walk my life-journey in greater faith and daring. To believe outside of my own human wisdom so that my eyes can truly see God for who He is and what He's doing in the world. I don't want to miss the miracles He's performing in every day life today simply because I'm too "busy" to notice. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Why He Came

As we journey through this Passion Week and reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I think it only fitting to remind ourselves of why He truly came...


"Why did Jesus come into the world? To call sinners - those who know they have a terminal disease, those who are helpless and desperate, those who are hurting, those who are hungry and thirsty, those who are weak and weary, those who are broken, those whose lives are shattered, those who are desperate - sinners who know they are unworthy yet long to be forgiven...Thus Jesus came to expose us all as sinners. That is why His message is so penetrating, so forceful. It tore our self-righteousness away and exposed our evil hearts so that we might see ourselves as sinners."
                        - John MacArthur in The Gospel According To Jesus

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Quote of the Day

"We who profess and hold the precious faith of Christ in truth, do we also make Him our all in all? By our tongue He may be heard, but in our lives and deeds, is He to be found? As Savior many will own Him, but as Lord few do know Him...He that desires anything above Him, equally with Him, or without Him, shall never obtain Him. He will be won only when you seek Him with all your soul and strength or He will not be won at all."
                                 - Samuel Ward in Voices From The Past

Monday, April 10, 2017

Constant Dependence

"It is not needful that the Lord should raise up a mountain in my way, to stop my purpose; if he only withdraw a certain kind of imperceptible support, which in general I have, and use it without duly considering whose it is, then, in a moment, I feel myself unstrung and disabled, like a ship that has lost her masts, and cannot proceed till he is pleased to refit me and renew my strength. My pride and propensity to self-dependence render frequent changes of this kind necessary to me, or I should soon forget what I am, and sacrifice to my own drag. Therefore, upon the whole, I am satisfied, and see it best that I should be absolutely poor and penniless in myself, and forced to depend upon the Lord for the smallest things as well as the greatest."
                         - John Newton 


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you."
                     - George Mueller 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Quote of the Day

"...It's actually down in the mess that things get good...If you can't find happiness in the ugliness, you're not going to find it in the beauty, either. " 
                     - Joanna Gaines in The Magnolia Story

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The life of faith seems so simple and easy in theory, that I can point it out to others in few words: but in practice it is very difficult; and my advances are so slow, that I hardly dare say I get forward at all. It is a great thing indeed to have the spirit of a little child, so as to be habitually afraid of taking a single step without leading."
                            - John Newton 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Quote of the Day

"I think the greatness of trials is to be estimated rather by the impression they make upon our spirits, than by their outward appearance. The smallest will be too heavy for us if we are left to grapple with it in our own strength, or rather weakness: and if the Lord is pleased to put forth his power in us, he can make the heaviest light. A lively impression of his love, or of his sufferings for us, or of the glories within the veil, accompanied with the due sense for the misery from which we are redeemed; these thoughts will enable us to be not only submissive, but even joyful, in tribulations. When faith is in exercise, though the flesh will have its feelings, the spirit will triumph over them."
                         - John Newton

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What God Calls Us To

"What God calls us to do is always impossible. Impossible, that is, without His help. It is always too big for us, too demanding. The price is too high. Yet He calls us to count not our lives dear to ourselves."
                         - Elisabeth Elliot in The Path of Loneliness



Monday, April 3, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Unbelief is continually starting objections, magnifying and multiplying difficulties. But faith in the power and promises of God inspires noble simplicity, and casts every care upon him, who is able and has engaged to support and provide." 
                    - John Newton

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Quote of the Day

"If you and I have to pass through the furnace of affliction or sorrow, of losses or failure, then let us submit ourselves to the hand of God. Let us not question either His mercy or His goodness. We must often endure the chisel of affliction, as God carves us into His image. We desire to be godlike in character. Remember that God only afflicts for our good. Like the surgeon, God does not hurt willingly - but only of necessity. 
In our times of trouble, He would have us run into His arms and tell Him all our troubles, our questionings, our heartaches!"
                     - Charles Naylor