Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Prayer Request

Please be praying with a dear blogging friend, Lisa from Lisa Writes as her community was hit by a tornado last night. She and her family are safe, but there is much destruction in their town.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some Thoughts After the Women's Retreat

Clearly I’m in blogging lite mode. Or blogging slump mode, perhaps. Facebook posts are more frequent, being shorter and requiring less thought and all.

I’ve just come home from a women’s retreat with my sisters from church. God has so blessed our church with our pastor and his wife. Mama B, as we affectionately call our pastor’s wife, is a humble, authentic servant of Jesus who He has gifted to open His word to us and teach us well. The theme of our retreat was “True Blue” and Mama B basically exposited the book of Philippians this morning as she shared with us what a true blue, authentic follower of Christ will look like. It was real encouragement, as were the other speakers, lay women from our church, who I got to learn from this weekend. May God be glorified as we seek to daily live as true blue, authentic followers of Jesus Christ. I will greatly miss this church family when we move in June.

I have been struggling recently with emotions again. Not doubt in the truth of the scripture, that is settled for me. No, the struggle that has plagued me has been more a struggle with a desire to more fully and deeply embrace the truths I believe, to live out the faith in a real way and be sure that what I say I believe is what I really, deep down believe, because what I believe will inform how I live, and I'm trying to identify the lies I may still be believing that cause doubts to creep in where I have no desire to entertain them. It has been a soul-searching time and a real struggle.

The Lord graciously allowed me to recognize something this weekend that I think I have known for a long time but have needed to come face to face with and repent and move away from. I suffer from a perverse form of pride which leads to a very low self-esteem. I know, pride and low self-esteem seem to be oxymorons, but not really. This kind of low self-esteem is really a thinking too much about me, being too introspective and perfectionistic, which leads to me feeling I have nothing to offer and that I'm just not good enough and just not lovable enough, which becomes paralyzing and certainly doesn't lead into me learning to care about and love others well, so, it’s really a form of pride.

Anyway, what I have realized is the root of this paralyzing shyness, this low self-esteem, this feeling that I have nothing to offer, is really that I have a sinful lack of belief that God really does love me with a covenant love. I know the right answers, I can explain covenant and give the correct answers to the E.E. questions, but I have a hard time deep down in my heart of hearts believing He loves me. I have a good grasp on God being holy and sinless and the Judge of all. But, for some reason, I have a much harder time really getting that He is love. That’s hard to admit. The bottom line is, Jesus said that He will not cast out those who come to Him. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He took on human flesh and lived a sinless life and redeemed us with His blood. What amazing love He has demonstrated. I am His. It doesn’t matter what my feelings say. I am His child. He died to set me free from my pride and sin. And He will complete the work He has begun in me. His word is true. And I am seeking to see and savor Him, to offer the sacrifice of praise, to worship at His feet as Mary did, remembering that most important part of finding my satisfaction in Christ alone.

Do you ever read through the Psalms and hunger for the kind of love for God that the sweet psalmist of Israel, King David, evidenced in the words he wrote? I want to love God like that. Something else that struck me this afternoon as I was pondering all I heard this weekend and thinking about something else that I’ve been wanting to blog about for a few days was that David did not spend much time fretting over whether his faith was real or whether he was really saved. He was confident that he was God’s man. That was settled because he knew the God he served. He knew that our God is a covenant keeping God, and he rested his confidence in that. I can rest my confidence there, too. Jesus came to save sinners, and I am certainly a sinner. It is not the strength of my faith that keeps me in His hand, but it is the strength of His promise, His word, His finished work of redemption that holds me there. All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus and it is in Jesus alone that I can rest.

We find a beautiful picture of what God does for us in the life of David. In 2 Samuel 9 we find the account of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth. After the death of Saul and Jonathan, and after David finally realized the kingship of Israel for which he had been anointed years earlier, he asks the question, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Well, there was still a son of Jonathan’s who was living in hiding, a son who was lame in his feet because of an accident that happened when those who thought they had to fear David sought to protect this son of Jonathan by fleeing with him. This son, Mephibosheth, was summoned to come before David, and he did so, falling on his face before David. Can you image the fear he felt?

But rather than the ruthlessness he could have expected from a worldly king, this king showed him unexpected kindness. Here is how the scripture records the exchange: “So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.’

Then he bowed himself, and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?’”

I cry every time I read this passage. David understood covenant love. And the reason I cry is because I am reminded again of the great covenant love God shows us. Because what David, as an imperfect man, was able to do for Mephibosheth is a mere shadow of what God does for those who trust Him in repentant faith. He loves me, dead dog and hopeless sinner that I am, not because I am so lovable, but for the sake of Jesus my Redeemer. Jesus took my sin and paid the penalty I owe. I do not have to fear since He has exchanged the filthy rags of my pride and perfectionism and hypocrisy and sin for the royal robes of His righteousness. I am a new creation in Him. Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to His cross I cling.

And while in myself I have nothing to offer but to cast my dead dog self upon His mercy, in His grace He has raised me up to newness of life and filled me with His Holy Spirit to eat at His table and to grow in His grace as He produces His fruit in me so that I may serve His kingdom and fall on my knees at the foot of the cross in wonder, worship, love and praise. And I do not have to listen to the lies of the enemy that would try to paralyze me by doubt. I am saved by God’s grace to glorify and enjoy Him forever.

Hallelujah! What a Savior! What amazing grace!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Just Had to Share This

This is an incredible story. Our youth pastor and his wife know this family, and we've been praying for them through this ordeal. On March 13th, Laurie Coldwell suffered a brain aneurysm and fell into a coma. At that time we were all praying for survival after our youth pastor asked for urgent prayer on behalf of his friends.

Now, if you click on the link above you will see a news story that features Laurie's 7-yr-old daughter who saved her mom's life by calling her dad when mom fell that day. This video clip will make you cry. As a friend of mine said on Facebook today, it is really neat to see this family we've been praying for but have never met in real life and to see what God is doing in their family. From their Facebook updates, they are using every opportunity they can to share Jesus with people they meet along the way in all this.

Thanking God for the mercy He has shown and continuing to pray for the Coldwell family.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

Just started reading a little book called Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper. Here are a couple of quotes that lead me to know it will be worth reading:

"We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self. Indeed, what could be more ludicrous in a vast and glorious universe like this than a human being, on the speck called earth, standing in front of a mirror trying to find significance in his own self-image? It is a great sadness that this is the gospel of the modern world.
But it is not the Christian gospel. Into the darkness of petty self-preoccupation has shone 'the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God' (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Christian gospel is about 'the glory of Christ,' not about me. And when it is - in some measure - about me, it is not about my being made much of by God, but about God mercifully enabling me to enjoy making much of Him forever."

And this:

"Christ does not exist in order to make much of us. We exist in order to enjoy making much of Him. The assumption of this book is that to know the glories of Christ is an end, not a means. Christ is not glorious so that we get wealthy or healthy. Christ is glorious so that rich or poor, sick or sound, we might be satisfied in Him."

I read that and my heart cried out: This is what I'm looking for! This is how I want to be. Satisfied in Him, enjoying Him, no matter my circumstances, no longer obsessed with trivial things but seeing Him for who He really is.

We've just finished our study through the book of Hebrews, and what a wonderful time it was. Hebrews is a book that makes much of Christ, and our group enjoyed studying His superiority and learning how He is infinitely better than anything this world has to offer. How I want to continue to go deeper and grow stronger in my unshaken assurance of His grace and might. He is worthy.

I think this is going to be a good book. May God use it to turn my eyes to Him and to understand His word and apply it more and more each day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

God is So Good

Psalm 24:1-2
“The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.

We had a wonderful day of worship today when we met together at church. My Sunday school class is working through the book of Revelation, and our teacher truly has the gift of teaching. What a blessing this class is. Today we were reading about the church at Ephesus and how it had a sound orthodoxy but had left its first love. I was convicted that I am very prone to that. I know proper theology; when I don’t know the answers, I know to look for them them in the Bible; and when I'm unsure, I know to rest in the authority of God's word. I want to live a holy life, but I lose sight sometimes in the midst of the tyranny of the everyday that I want the passion of my life to be to see and savor Jesus Christ. I want my motive to be to worship Him in spirit and in truth. I want to consciously see Him for the beautiful savior He is. So the lesson was very appropriate to my heart today.

Then in the worship service, the music lifted our hearts to our Savior in a real way today. And pastor led us in worship through the preaching of the Word. Again, this sermon was very appropriate to my own need today, though I didn’t realize just how much at first. His sermon was titled, “Now a Word From the Owner,” in which his main scripture focus was Psalm 24:1-2, but he used many other scriptures to support his points that God is the Creator, Sustainer and owner of everything, and we are stewards charged with being faithful with His provision and making much of Christ in the lives we are given. The Lord really spoke to my heart today and I once again want to be faithful to remember that I am His, I am bought with a price, and He will guide me and sustain me in this life until He brings me safely home to be with Him forever. What a good God we serve!

I’m thankful for that sermon. It was great before I even realized that it was great heart preparation for what we found after church.

Someone broke out the passenger side window and stole my purse, which I had been stupid enough to leave in the car, while we were in church this morning. The look on my son’s face as he stared in disbelief at the shattered window made my heart stop until I got over there and saw what he and Drew were looking at. And then I realized my purse was gone. My friend loaned me her phone and I called the bank to cancel my debit card - someone had already tried it at the nearest ATM but had been locked out when they didn’t know the PIN number. Another friend came over and hugged me and prayed with us that whoever did this would be found, but more importantly would turn from crime to Christ. I confess I wish I had more of her attitude, I’m ashamed that wasn’t my first thought. Drew called the police, some friends graciously offered to take our kids to lunch, some sweet men from the church stayed with us until the police had come and taken our statements and examined and photographed the car, and then those same sweet men helped us sweep out most of the glass and sweep it up from the parking lot.

I am very thankful, too, that while the police were still there, Drew called about another credit card and found that the person had just 15 minutes before tried to use it at a couple of nearby stores and managed to buy $87 worth of merchandise, then got the card locked when they were dumb enough to come back and try to get cash out but, again, didn’t know the PIN. So one of the policemen was able to zip off quickly and talk to those stores. Maybe this will enable them to catch the person - apparently they’ve been trying to for a few months.

All in all, we were able to cancel everything before they got any more money from us. It could have been much, much worse. My keys were in the purse, too. They could have taken the car. Drew changed the locks on the house this afternoon, and I’ll have to get a new driver’s license and debit card and military ID, and we’ll have to replace the glass on the window, but thankfully I only had about $5 in cash in the purse and nothing else worth much of anything. Bet they’re wishing they’d picked someone with money to rob.

All in all, God protected us and provided for us in so many ways today, with friends who stood with us and helped us, a worship service and sermon that prepared our hearts to look to Him, and bank card protections that blocked the person from cleaning out our checking account or maxing out our credit card before we found out there was a problem. And I'm thankful for the lesson learned, too, that because I feel so safe most of the time I forget often that we live in a city that still has a pretty high crime rate, and we need to be careful not to do dumb things about which we know better. Not that my leaving my purse gave anyone a right to break my car window and take my purse, but it wasn't a wise thing for me to do, either.

God is so good, so kind, all the time.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Resurrection Sunday

Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah! What a Savior!