It's that time again at 5 Minutes for Books for the What's On Your Nightstand carnival. I haven't done a "What's On Your Nightstand" post in a while, and once again I'm a day late, but I thought I'd post a short one this time.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
It's that time again at 5 Minutes for Books for the What's On Your Nightstand carnival. I haven't done a "What's On Your Nightstand" post in a while, and once again I'm a day late, but I thought I'd post a short one this time.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I think I’m allergic to Kentucky. I was allergic to southern Indiana, too, but I do believe it’s worse here. I was on some allergy medicine that the doctor told me isn’t his first choice because he doesn’t think it’s the best for treating the kind of allergy I seem to have but because we were going through the military healthcare/pharmacy system he had to prescribe that brand first. (Just a glimpse of what’s to come for all of us with socialized medicine. Unnecessary aside, moving on....)
Anyway, after almost a month on this medicine I finally quit taking it. Sure I could breathe better, but I was irritable, depressed, crying over things that normally wouldn’t have me collapsed into uncontrollable tears, unable to think clearly, and starting to have some vision trouble so finally I googled the medicine and found that these can all be side effects of the medicine I was on. I didn’t realize just how irritable I had been, however, until I mentioned this weekend that I’d been feeling less irritable and my husband rather quickly said, “Yes, you’ve been much better.” No hesitation there. Oops. I’m glad I’m married to such a long-suffering kind of guy. I’m also glad he advised me to quit taking the medicine before I drove my family and anyone else who has to be around me crazy.
I hate that the medicine affected me that way, but even more I hate that it took me a month to realize I was acting in response to how I felt rather than being self-controlled and patient in spite of feeling irritable and depressed. I don’t want to be ruled by my emotions, ‘real’ or allergy medicine induced. I say ‘real’ in quotes because, let’s face it even without medicine, sometimes our emotions are not based in reality. And really, I shouldn’t ever be making decisions or actions based on them. The sad thing is that I didn’t even notice that’s what I was doing until the cumulative effect of a month on the medicine made the side-effects so obvious I couldn’t ignore them anymore.
The temptation, however, is to blame my sinfully acting irritably solely on the medicine. That would not be wise. The fact is, most days I don’t need to have a month’s worth of allergy medicine in my system to feel irritable at times. I’m still responsible to submit how I feel to the Lord. I’m thankful He allowed me to recognize something that was triggering the things that made it harder to be obedient, but I don’t want to lay all the blame on the trigger. The truth is that I have enough sinful attitudes all on my own that I need to be submitting to Him daily, too.
So, I’m back to not being able to breathe again and feeling stuffy and full of sinus-pressure-headedness, but I feel like me again and I don’t feel nearly as depressed or as full of foggy thinking, and hopefully I’m learning to recognize a little sooner when the irritability and depression I’m feeling may have a real cause and need attention, and I’m thankful for the grace my husband showed me as I worked through all that. For that I’m thankful.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
My younger son is playing Upward flag football this year. At halftime, while the players are meeting with their coaches, a devotional is given for the parents and friends on the bleachers. During the devotional yesterday, the person leading the devotion asked us, “What does God want?” He then proceeded to tell us that we find the answer in Genesis, that it tells us in Genesis that God was lonely and wanted to create man to have a relationship with him.
My jaw dropped, I whipped my head around to look over at my husband and saw that he and the friend he was talking to had both raised their eyebrows. I was making mental notes to talk to my older son afterward since he was sitting there at the end of the bench listening to the devotional, too.
After the man was done speaking and the game started again, my older son slid down the bleacher and sat next to me and said, “I don’t think that was right. God wasn’t lonely, was He?” I was overjoyed to hear him say that. We talked about how, no, God doesn’t NEED anything. He has perfect fellowship within the Trinity, hard as that is for our minds to grasp. We were created for His glory. Yes, we get to have relationship with Him through Jesus Christ alone, that is a glorious benefit we receive through faith in Christ, and He does love us. But God was NOT lonely. And reading Genesis will not tell you that He was.
I also told my boy that’s why it’s SO important that we read the Bible for ourselves and know what it says so we can discern when someone tells us something that isn’t right. I told him one of my favorite things that I’ve heard Alistair Begg say when preaching is, “You’re sensible people. Go and read it for yourself and make sure that what I am saying is true.”
I’m thankful that the man sharing on Saturday wants to share the gospel with the people sitting on those bleachers. He is also not the first person I have heard try to explain it that way. I just wish that we in the evangelical church would get over ourselves and stop trying to make it all about us humans and realize that it really is all about God. All about His glory. I wish we would see God for how truly awesome He is. We are created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And I really wish we would read our Bibles and be like the Bereans and know what it says and speak it clearly. Just because it's a short devotional doesn't mean we can be careless with our theology. Bad theology from a “Christian” or “church” setting is more dangerous to my children than the things they hear out in the world, if you want to know the truth of the matter, because they expect to hear the truth in those settings and it is presented as being biblical.
And I am so very thankful that God is working in my son’s heart and granting him the discernment to recognize error. May we be faithful to teach him God’s word and to encourage him to read it for himself so that he will grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord who is saving him.
As we were driving home from small group tonight, I was stunned by the beauty of the sunset. I exclaimed to the boys and then said, "That is awesome....but it doesn't even compare to how beautiful Heaven will be because God will be there." We will be able to worship God in purity and holiness there. He is so kind when He declares His glory in giving us this barest shadow of a glimpse of beauty in His creation. How much more beautiful it will be when we will worship Jesus in glory and see Him face to face.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
“O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.”
This was our confession, read together as a church this morning. This is my confession, read often. I pray I will seek my God early, early each day and early in each situation, seek Him, abide in His word, see Him as the only One that can satisfy my thirsty soul. The land we inhabit is a dry and thirsty land, but He is the Living Water who can, and does, satisfy the soul fixed upon Him.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
This was part of our lesson in Sunday School today as we are studying through the book of Ephesians together. I pulled out this passage to look at right now because I’ve been thinking about how deep God’s grace and love are. As I mature along the walk of faith throughout my life, the more I see how deep this love is. I pray I will know Him and continue to grow to love Him and never forget who I am in Christ. The width and length and depth and height! To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that I may be filled with all the fullness of God. Immediately following that prayer, Paul reminds us that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. Having come to realize that I can’t, in my own strength and thought and power, even love God purely and as He deserves to be loved, what a joy to know that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I that I ask or think.
Because I can’t fool God, He knows when I’m merely pretending or putting on a mask. He also hears when I come before Him and confess to Him that I have placed other things, other people, other desires as higher than Him in my affections. I can tell Him that I long to glorify and enjoy Him forever. I can confess my weakness and tell Him that I want to treasure the kingdom of Heaven, to love Him as the greatest treasure of all. And I can tell Him that I want this confession to be true of me, and I need Him to help me to desire Him when I do not, when I say:
“One thing have I desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.”
And He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Friday, September 17, 2010
I’m listening to Christmas music. In September. I’m not crazy, I’m just a choir member. At first, I wasn’t ready for Christmas music. I’m really not ready for Christmas, not ready to even start thinking about it yet.
I finally figured it out, though. It’s not so much Christmas that I dread about Christmas. It’s the shopping and hustle and JUNK, the whole secular-who-needs-to-even-mention-Jesus-to-have-Christmas part of the season that depresses me. It’s feeling pressured to find the right gifts and not really succeeding at that. It’s feeling the pressure to spend more money than I should on those presents. Gift giving/receiving is clearly not my love language. :-)
But the worship and the wonder of the Incarnation? That part of Christmas I never get enough of. And the Christmas music we’re singing this year is ALL about Jesus. This I’m ready for. The chills I get when we sing, “Fall on your knees....” or when we sing, “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel,” or when I start pondering the depths of what Emmanuel, God With Us, means to fallen humanity. When I ponder the wonder of the fact that after hundreds of years of silence, God spoke into the darkness, and He Himself came to redeem fallen mankind. Jesus is the Light of the world. He is the way, the truth and the life, only through Him can anyone come to the Father. That part of Christmas, I celebrate all year long in my heart.
So bring on the Christmas music. I’m rejoicing in wonder at the love, the mercy, the grace, the hope of my Savior.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. he came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:10-14
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about the tension between the “now” and the “not yet” of the Christian life. We’ve been reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan in small groups with our church. I’m not necessarily endorsing Francis Chan per se by sharing this, I mean, everything we read and hear we need to be like the Bereans and search the scriptures and not get so excited about any teacher or author that we aren’t careful to judge their words by the Bible. I hate that I have to say that, but anymore you really do....we tend to idolize Christian teachers and authors and bloggers. Not the point of this post, moving on.....
Anyway, as I said we’ve been reading that book. It is challenging me. Especially Chapter 4, “Profile of the Lukewarm,” and Chapter 5, “Serving Leftovers to a Holy God.” Just reading the chapter titles gives you a tiny glimpse of the challenge I’m facing in reading and pondering as I read.
I saw more of myself in the lukewarm profile than I want to be there. That’s hard to face. But I must face it. And in facing it and in wrestling with it and in seeking to repent where I’m needing to repent, I am gaining an ever clearer understanding of the depth of the mercy and grace of the gospel. As I was discussing the hopelessness I was feeling one evening while reading Chapter 4 with my husband, in tears I said, “The only hope I have is that when I stand before God, Jesus will stand as my Advocate and High Priest. It is in His righteousness alone, cleansed by His blood alone, that I can hope to stand, because there is nothing, nothing, I can offer Him that is anything more than filthy rags.” I can’t even love Him as deeply as He deserves and I long to love Him. Even in that I need Him, oh, how I need Him. How I need His Spirit to fill me and turn my desires and bend my will and help me to desire Him more than anything else.
And, friends, that is the sure hope of the gospel. In Christ alone do I find rest. In Christ alone am I made righteous. It is true that on my very best day, my very best effort to worship and praise Him and love Him and obey Him is tainted by some sinful thought or motive. And that’s on my very best day. It’s a horrifying thing to realize how often the hypocrite in me rears its ugly head in pride, even when I want to do the right thing for the right reasons. How tempting when I come to understanding in some area to look around and say, “I’m so glad I’m not like those people,” when really I need to be on my face before Jesus in humble gratitude for the way He is opening my eyes each step of faith along life’s walk with Him. How I fear the hypocrite in me that taints everything, even victories and good things, with pride and sinful motives, even when my desire is to be humble.
But that is the now. It is not the ‘not yet.’ I’ve been listening to John MacArthur preach about Heaven on my iPod this week. Friends, can I just tell you that one thing I greatly long for about Heaven is that this sinful flesh will once and for all be completely put off. I will be able to worship God with full love and devotion, untainted by the hypocrite I wrestle with in the now. Then I will be made holy as He is holy. Then I will be able to worship Him with no taint of the former sinful self. Then, no longer will I see through a glass darkly, distracted by the trappings of this world. No, then I will be like Him, for I shall see Him as He is. Then I will be glorified and conformed to His image. Then I will be able to sing in purity with the Redeemed, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is and who is to come.” Until then, I cry out just as the hymn says, “More love to Thee, O Christ! More love to Thee!” Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Philippians 1:3-6 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
Proverbs 16:6 “In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures,”
Hebrews 2:17-18 “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”
Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.”
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Since the blogging break is something of a non-existent, yet sporadic thing, and I’m not sure I’ll get around to a Thankful Thursday post tomorrow, and since I’m feeling thankful at the moment, here are some things I’m thankful for today:
Thankful for breakfast with some friends today at Panera. Breakfast was more than just breakfast. It was conversation, some much needed perspective, and even more needed laughter. What a gift, the joy of laughter! I’m so thankful for the gift of Christian friends and the answer to prayer they are. God is so very kind to us.
Thankful for the blessing of my husband. He understands me better than anyone I know and he loves me in spite of that.
Thankful Handel wrote the Messiah. I wonder if we’ll get to sing “Worthy is the Lamb” in Heaven one day. Either way, I love to be encouraged to worship with those words and that music here and now.
Thankful for our church. Praying for wisdom as we will be in search of a new pastor, but so very thankful for the strong leadership who remain.
Thankful for Wednesday night choir practice. It’s something I look forward to each week. I’m even thankful we get to work on Christmas music this early.
Thankful that Fall is on the way. My favorite time of year. If only I could find pumpkin in my grocery store. I may have to learn to actually cook a real pumpkin in order to make the pie my son loves so much this year. Who am I kidding, I like it even more than he does.
Thankful for the grace of God which is sufficient, so abundantly sufficient, in my weakness.
Thankful that though weeping may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning.
Thankful that in the midst of weeping, I never have to lose sight of the peace that passes all understanding and the joy that is mine in Jesus.
Thankful for hope that is sure.
“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:15-23
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3
Monday, September 13, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
A sign that the semi blog break you keep saying you’re going to take but keep coming back from like a pesky fly might need to become something more permanent:
When someone googles “why evangelicals need to be jettisoned into outter space” and it brings them to your blog, it might be time to rethink why you do this blogging thing anyway.
So many questions come to mind, not least being, “Why would someone feel the need to search that?”
Second being, “How much from my recent blogging would have encouraged them away from that sentiment if they spent any time here?”
That second question stings a lot. My friend Lisa posted yesterday about how the things we become obsessed with and the solutions we try to find for satisfying those obsessions cannot satisfy. She pointed out that the only obsession that can satisfy is to be obsessed with Jesus. I’ve been thinking a lot about that since I read it yesterday. When I started thinking about that second question, I realized that the less I am focused on Jesus, the less meaningful this whole blogging adventure becomes, the less meaningful life becomes.
I want to really know Jesus, to run to Him and lay aside the weighty sin that entangles. I want to dig into His word and spend time with Him and know Him and live like I love Him. I want to be faithful and a faithful witness. I want everything I do to be full of the fragrance of Christ, informed by the truth of His word. I want to love Him more fully, more deeply and to live in the light of His word.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
I got into a discussion with someone recently on Facebook who believes that I am in violation of scripture to believe that the decision to not homeschool my children is a disputable matter. It is NOT the point of this post to debate that topic, and I won’t engage in the debate here, so please let’s not go there here. There are lots of places where that is being discussed if you are inclined. Here are a couple of posts I found interesting on the issue, also, if you’re interested:
The point of this post is that in the course of the discussion, the word “pharisee” was used. I did not use the word, but at the time I agreed with it, and I still agree with the sentiment behind why it was used, that we believed that burdens are being added to the command in the law to train up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord to insist that this is a mandate for homeschooling. I think we all agree that training our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is a clear command in scripture. Where we were differing is in the area of our convictions on how that is to be done. As I said, the benefits and non-benefits of both sides are being argued all over the place and strong lines in the sand are being drawn on either side, and I don’t intend to do that here. I agreed at the time with the use of the word ‘pharisee’ because the Pharisees were known to add burdens to the law.
However, upon thinking on it some, I think to use the word ‘pharisee’ probably goes too far. I can see why it is offensive, and it is not my intention to be offensive. It could seem that by its use we mean that we think the person is a proponent of false religion. I do not believe that about the person with whom I was having the discussion. I do believe we reached a point of disagreement where a lot of sound Biblical people do, in fact, differ, but that is a far cry from false religion, and not what was meant by the comment.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that in blogging as in life, it’s best to keep the discussion focused on the issue at hand and avoid inflammatory words when possible. Especially in a post where I was trying to think about graciousness in the midst of disputable matters.
Just one of the reasons I sense a need for a blogging break.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Following my friend Lisa’s lead again, I love this post format.
Sitting....in semi-darkness, trying to type this post quickly because I need to get off the computer for the evening.
Drinking....water. Lots of water. Because the doctor AND pharmacist made a point to say that the antibiotic I’m taking needs lots of water...something about flushing out the kidneys. Alrighty then.
Reading....Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Chapter 4 this week. Perhaps I will say more after I’ve read the chapter. Perhaps.
Also reading....The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb. It’s another in her ballad novels series. I’ve liked the others. Not far enough into this one yet to tell if I like it yet.
Feeling....a little sad about something I’ll keep to myself.
Thankful....for the church we joined recently. It’s nice to have a home. It’s wonderful to be encouraged and challenged in the Word.
Contemplating....taking a blogging and Facebooking break. Not sure yet. I may need to step away for a bit. Part of that sadness up there, in a way. When it is no longer an enjoyable hobby, it’s probably time to take a breather and reconsider why I do it and how much time I should be spending. Today I spent way too much time on the computer and there were other things I needed to be doing that were neglected. That is not a good use of time, a precious commodity.
Weary.....that’s why I’m contemplating a break.
Grateful...beyond words for the grace and mercy I’ve been shown by the Savior. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.
Time....to quit for the night. Good-night, all.