Saturday, April 28, 2007

Freed to Praise

Psalm 117

Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!
For His merciful kindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the LORD endures forever.

Praise the LORD!

I'm so thankful that I am free to praise the Lord. In washing me with His blood, He has reconciled me to Himself that I may be free to live for His glory. As we prepare our hearts to gather together with other believers tomorrow morning, may we remember that we have been freed to sing His praises. May we not take for granted the incredible privilege we have of approaching the very throne of God in prayer. Praise the Lord!


It looks like the residents of our little town will be having a great opportunity to practice patience for an undetermined amount of time in the coming days. I’ve mentioned that we live on an island (nothing like the island with the LOSTies and the Others, mind you - my life is not quite that bizarre, thankfully). There are exactly two bridges off our island, one of which is a draw bridge. Now we have exactly one bridge off the island for a while. Here’s what happened: Apparently a barge hit the non-draw bridge yesterday afternoon and the engineers are examining it to see how badly damaged it is and to determine when it will be safe to drive over again.

Today, a trip that normally takes about 45 minutes from the boys’ baseball game field to D’s parents’ house took about 2 and a half hours due to the traffic backing up through town. This is what happens when we only have one drivable bridge. I shudder to think what a hurricane evacuation will be like here…..

So, while the survivors on LOST have to deal with malicious sabotage and mischief from those creepy “Others,” our inconveniences are just caused by a barge captain’s unintentional error, and the owner of that barge is in big trouble I’m guessing! We'll just have to plan on leaving earlier when we need to go into town for a while. I told you living on my island isn’t all that glamorous….big sigh.

Friday, April 27, 2007

That I May Proclaim His Praises

Jude 24-25
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.

I mentioned in my last post that I often ask myself, “Who am I to say these things?” when writing on my blog. Then I got to thinking. Here’s who I am: I am the adopted child of the King. God has redeemed me from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13; Galatians 4:5), and I’ve been called out of darkness into his marvelous light that I may proclaim His praises (1 Peter 2:9). Not that I have already attained perfection, but I press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:12-14). He will complete the work He has begun in me, to the praise of His glory (Philippians 1:6). That is who I am! So, while there are times (so many times) I have to go to my gracious Heavenly Father in repentance and ask forgiveness when I sin, he is faithful and just to forgive my sin and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to me, He will present me faultless before the throne.

I suppose that if I were to wait until I had perfected faith, I wouldn’t write at all, because I won’t be glorified until I die or Jesus takes me home and I know Him fully as I am known. Until then, I want to press on and grow in grace, living humbly before my God, with a teachable, moldable heart, repenting as He shines His light on my sin, and seasoning my words with grace, love and truth.

Good Blogging Advice

I’ve mentioned before that I still get nervous when I publish my posts. I have several posts sitting in my Word draft folder right now that, for various reasons, I haven’t yet felt comfortable posting. Most of them will probably never see the Blogger publish page.

One reason for this is that I want to make sure what I say isn’t too personal. This blog is a personal journal of sorts, but it is also out there on the web. Much as I like sharing, I also know that once I’ve published, I can’t really delete it. At least not completely. Sometimes I write a post and later on think maybe I shouldn’t have shared quite so much. I’m pretty transparent on my blog, but you all don’t need to know everything! And, unfortunately, there are security issues to think of as well, much as I hate that. And I also don't want to try to be something I am not in my writing. As much as I would just love to be one of those hysterically funny bloggers, that's just not me, and though I may have something funny to share once in a while, I'm usually more on the serious or thoughtful side. So, I usually stew over a post for a while before I decide it can go out on the blog.

Another reason is that I want to be sure that what I write is accurate and honoring to God. So many times I write things I know are doctrinally okay, but I feel like such a hypocrite because I know that I’m no where near living out what I know is true the way I want to be. I am growing in grace, but I sure haven’t “arrived.” Does anyone else feel this way? I love to write about the truths of the faith, but sometimes I feel so unworthy to do so because I just have such a long way to go in being consistently faithful. I know the right thing to do often, but doing it doesn’t come naturally, and far too often I don’t flesh out the doctrine I know and believe in my day to day real life. I feel dirty and soiled and tired at times. I write about faith and truly believe what I write, but find myself slogging along in real life not always living out what I know is true. So often the ugly flesh rears up its head and I find myself yelling at the kids rather than speaking kindly, or talking in a sarcastic, snippy way rather than just answering a child’s honest question – albeit asked for the umpteen thousandth time - or find myself wallowing in blue fogs, or even struggling to sit still and read my Bible and pray, and knowing that I pray far too little and blog far too much. And at times like this, I look back at things on my blog and think, “Who in the world do I think I am writing these things?” But, as I’ve said before, we write and speak what we know is true and we pray for the grace and wisdom to live them. I pray often for God to continue to change my heart from one of selfishness to one that seeks His glory. And I am extremely grateful for God’s great mercy and forgiveness.

Nathan Busenitz is in the midst of an excellent series at Pulpit Magazine that anyone who spends time reading, writing and commenting on blogs really ought to read. Much of what he says are things I’m trying to practice as well, and I’m grateful for the things he’s listed as things we Christian bloggers should think about when hitting the submit button. I especially think his first bit of advice to have our quiet time first before entering the Web is excellent advice – this is something I have tried in the past few months to really practice, and I’m glad to see him mention it. And he also offers the extremely helpful advice to think and even sleep on a thought before posting, even if it means being late to a conversation or not even entering it at all. Excellent advice. Read these here, here and here if you haven’t already, and have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Head Scratcher

Boo has lots of cute little toys that we make readily available to her. In fact, whenever I’m putting her down to play in the floor, I always make sure to also put some of her toys in reach. She also has a pile of stuffed animals that live in the corner in her room. She does greatly enjoy crawling in there and snuggling with those animals. She sneaks off into her room to pull all her books off her shelf and snuggle with her animals several times a day.

However, what toy is it that I consistently find her crawling around with, singing/babbling to, and hugging to herself? Is it her cute stuffed animals? No. It’s a nasty old mallard duck dog toy that belongs to our 10-year-old mini schnauzer. Even when I take this gross thing away from her and give her one of her nice toys, not 5 minutes later, there she’ll be with that old stinky dog toy again. I have no idea why she is so drawn to this thing. Poor Oliver. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him looking at Boo wistfully while she shrieks and babbles with joy while toting that ugly duck thing around. Go figure. At least she has pretty much given up messing with the dog food and water bowls lately….she just really likes her dog, I think.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Abiding Joy

Psalm 139:1-6
“O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.”

Psalm 139:23-24
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”

Faith is not just some exercise of practicing positive thinking and trying to make myself feel a false happiness all the time. Faith is placing my absolute trust in Who God is. By reading His Word, I learn of His character. He is absolutely sovereign. He is absolutely trustworthy.

How comforting, and yet sobering it is to know that He knows my very thoughts. He knows everything about me. And, knowing what a worm I am, He has still chosen me to belong to Him. Amazing, incomprehensibly awe-inspiring love. There was nothing lovable in me, yet Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for His own. He hedges me behind and before – His protection is real. Nothing happens by chance. Whatever trial or joy I face, it all works together for my good and for His glory. Such knowledge is wonderful; I cannot fully comprehend.

How comforting, and yet sobering it is to know that He searches my heart and knows it. He knows my anxieties – and He is the Prince of Peace. By grace, through faith in Christ I have shalom – peace, reconciliation – with holy, almighty, righteous God. He tries me and sees if there is any wicked way in me, and leads me to real repentance that I may walk in the way everlasting.

Knowing this produces abiding joy – even when surface feelings aren’t all that happy each and every moment. Underneath all the surface and false emotions there is still the abiding joy that God is my Father.

Jesus is the first and last, author and finisher of our faith. He is worthy of praise. Praise Him!

Thank You, Lord, for Your word, that I may know Who You are. The blood of Jesus is precious, for by it You have redeemed me and cleansed me and reconciled me to Yourself. Lord Jesus, You are the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through You. Thank You for opening my eyes and quickening my heart to know this truth. This is the hope that anchors the soul. Keep my eyes ever fixed on You alone, that I may walk in the way everlasting and be a light to point others to You. Be glorified, Lord. You are high and lifted up.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Trusting What is Real

Psalm 42:11
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.”

I need to memorize this verse and camp on it, I think. I’ve hit another of those slumps again that has lasted the past few days. I feel so guilty when these times come because I know in my head there is nothing in my life to be depressed or down about. I think I may just have to resign myself that as long as I walk this earth I may be prone to hormone drenched down times. Praise God that my feelings do not determine my standing in Christ. Nor should they dictate how I act. If I did not believe that God is sovereign, there are days I’m not so sure I’d be able to get up in the morning. I get into these blue fogs where I just cannot wrap my mind around even the smallest things that must be done that day.

But He is sovereign. And I don’t have to get moving in my own strength. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Feelings will come and go, ebb and flow – usually with no real bearing on my actual surroundings. Feelings come and go, but our God never changes. He is ever faithful and His word is true. I have been redeemed and cleansed with the precious blood of Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but He who lives in me. May I run well the race He sets before me.

Lord, take my eyes off of me, me, me and fix them on You alone. That is the antidote to feelings. Grant me the will and strength to do what You have for me to do, and help me to step out in faith and obey, no matter how foggy-brained I may feel.

Christ is my all in all. He is my strength. He will clear the fog in my brain and give me the resources to get done what needs to be done today. I trust Him. I hope in God. He is the help of my countenance – I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.

Amen. What a Savior. He is Lord, my incomprehensible feelings are not. He is sovereign, my feelings do not dictate who I am as an adopted child of the King.

All praise to the risen Lamb, the King, Jesus.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fix Our Eyes On Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

As we run with endurance, it is on Jesus that we must fix our eyes. He alone is our strength and sure foundation. As much as I am thankful for the good Bible teachers and preachers that God raises up who will unashamedly teach the Word of God as opposed to questioning it or saying we cannot understand it, my eyes must not be fixed on those people. While it is good, even necessary and vital, to sit under sound biblical teaching, I must never blindly accept the word of man, no matter who he is, if that word does not line up with the scripture. People will undoubtedly disappoint me, but it is unto Jesus that I must be looking. God has given us perfect revelation of Himself in the person of Christ Jesus, and this we learn by searching the scriptures and trusting Him in faith.

We must be looking to Jesus at all times, not only when we happen to think of it. If we are to grow in sanctification, our focus must be daily, moment by moment, on our Lord and Savior. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit in us can we do this. My nature is not to seek Him first. But oh, how I want it to be. May I learn to fix my eyes on Jesus, looking unto Him even as I wash the dishes, clean the house, care for the children, run errands around town, interact with my neighbors – whatever there is to do each day – I want to be looking unto Jesus, with focused attention, as a marathon runner nearing the final feet of his race fixes his eyes on the tape at the end of the track while he presses on through the exertion and exhaustion to the joy and goal of a race run well. Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, my Redeemer, who has ransomed me from the filth and shame of my sin, is worthy of all praise. I want to lay aside every weight, learning not to allow anything to distract me, and run the race with endurance, living a life of praise, worship, and obedience for His glory alone.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Well, I said quite some time ago that I was going to be starting my spring cleaning. Then I got distracted. Today I'm finally getting to it. Boo is going to be a year old next month (where, oh where is the time going????), and I needed to find the belts that will turn M's old car booster seat back into a front facing car seat for her, so I had to start cleaning out the drawers in an effort to find them. Then I decided since I'm up to my eyeballs now in drawer junk, might as well keep on going and get this chore completed once again. No more shoving stuff in and forgetting it. That little trick only works as long as you can actually close the drawer.....

So, anyway, I found the cabinet that has all the old pictures, and while going through it I found some pictures from my college roommate's wedding (Hi, Heather!). Boy. We look so young!! But what a sweet wedding they had. And I'm so glad we are still keeping tabs on each other, too, though we've lived so far away for all these years.

I also found some old baby pictures of our kids. I can't believe how much Boo looks like her oldest brother, J. And I found a picture of D in his army uniform when he was in Germany before he went to Bosnia that year.

Reminiscing is fun - in a bittersweet sort of way. It's funny how I remember being the person in all those pictures, but how I'm so different now, too. I still feel about 18 years old, but as I look back at all these memories, it's bittersweet to think how fast time is going and to realize how much I really have changed. I remember thinking that when I got to my mid-30's I'd be so smart and just know so much. I mean, I thought my mom and dad knew so much when I was a kid and they were in their 30's. But, now that I'm here at 35, I realize how much I don't know. I realize how much I still have to learn. And I realize how insecure I still feel about some things and how much of that naive 18 year old is still in there and how often it hits me as just so strange that I am the adult now. And I also realize that probably most people feel the same way. Even powerful, put-together, important people who seem so accomplished probably still have an 18 year old kid inside saying, "How in the world am I here? How in the world has so much time just flown by?"

There have been times in my adult life that I have felt somehow discontent - that somehow I haven't "lived up to my potential." I had good grades all through school and graduated well, though I ended up learning that I absolutely hated the field I'm trained in. I did not choose my college major well, apparently. And when I went back to my 10-year high school reunion, I really felt inadequate talking to people who were making something of themselves in their chosen careers. I was a stay-home mom with my first child who was 10 months old at that time. And until that reunion, I had felt great about that fact. I think we are inundated with the message from the time we are tiny that the desire to be a wife and mom and stay home with the kids is somehow lazy or taking the easy road. Not so. I've learned that this is exactly where I want and need to be. And I've learned not to get too riled up when people ask, "So what are you planning to do when all the kids are in school?" Why do we put so much emphasis on defining who women are by what they do? Why is it that if a woman is not called to be a career woman and who really is called to be a home maker, we make that woman feel she is choosing less than the best for herself?

Something else I realize while enjoying the memories represented by these pictures is that, in no way would I want to go back to being that 18 year old kid again if I could magically be given that chance for a "do over." I know people whose lives were so wrapped up in high school and college and the whole homecoming, prom, big man/woman on campus stuff, that real life afterward is something of a let down. Not me. Most of my real life has happened since school. I married my husband after graduating from college, and then the kids have come along. That's my life. That's where I'm supposed to be right now. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. And even if I had the chance to do it over again, this is the life I would want. I love the family God has so graciously blessed me with, and I want to serve Him faithfully by growing to be a better servant to them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thoughts From This Morning

My dad gave us a CD of The Baptist Catechism set to music that he had gotten from Founders Ministries. We started using it with the boys a little over a year ago, but stopped because, at the time, it seemed that the words were a little over their head. We thought maybe it would be better to use something simpler for now and use the music one when they were a little older.

Well, both boys have been asking recently why they can’t keep learning with “that CD that had the questions and the songs, remember?” So, we’ve started using it again. We’ll keep on with the simpler catechism we had been using, (and which I feel so guilty that we’ve shamefully neglected the past couple of weeks, but are back on track again), and we’ll just be very careful to explain what the questions and answers mean on their level and look up the scripture references with them, too. That’s what we parents are supposed to be doing anyway!

I’m amazed at how involved both boys are with these simple little songs. This morning before school we reviewed the first few questions and ended up having a pretty in depth conversation that I can’t imagine we would have had any other way. I know we are to be teaching them the truth, but I think we’ve been too lax lately, so I’m really glad to get this going regularly again. Imagine, God put it on the boys’ hearts to spur us back to what we’re supposed to be doing with them. Out of the mouths of babes…..

I know, some who read this come from a more confessional background and you probably think, well, duh, of course sound, biblical catechisms are good tools. But I come from the non-creedal SBC background, so this is all refreshingly new for me. I love that the boys are learning these things – and even if some of the wordings are too mature for them now, they won’t always be, and we will have had some good teaching moments all along the way. I like how it focuses my own thinking to dig deeper when I work to explain the doctrines to them in a way they can understand.

As I would say to my husband, prepare for a whiplash, I’m changing topics abruptly now. He likes to be prepared when I’m in one of my stream-of-consciousness modes of talking.

Anyway, I was listening to a preacher on the radio this morning as I was out running errands. This man is pastor of a local church, and very much loves the Word of God and preaches strongly. I have been very edified by his recent series on the book of Daniel. I noticed, however, at the end of his sermon when he was giving a solid Gospel invitation, that he inserted a phrase I have heard preachers say all my life, and I got to thinking about it. He said, “Now, God will never force Himself on anyone.” Then he proceeded.

I wonder why we feel the need to insert that little phrase? Isn’t it enough to preach the Gospel soundly and wait for God to move in people’s hearts? I know they say it as a way of emphasizing the urgency of committing our lives to Christ, but it seems a little strange to me all of a sudden. I would think that when God has quickened someone’s heart and they truly understand the depth of their sin and depravity and their total helplessness before holy God, and the fact that there is coming a certain judgment, that fear of God somehow forcing Himself upon them would not be a concern for them. When the Holy Spirit has awakened someone to the crushing burden of sin that they carry, then Jesus’ invitation to, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,”(Matt. 11:28) will not seem like He is forcing Himself upon them, but it will be seen as the refreshing Living Water that their soul longs for. It seems to me that the response would be like the people at Pentecost, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” followed by heartfelt repentance. When they asked that, Peter didn’t then say, “Now, God will never force Himself on you, but….” No, he said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord will call.” (Acts 2:38) The natural man cannot understand the things of God, so, while the invitation is made by the preacher to everyone, the ones who respond to a Gospel invitation are those whom God is quickening and granting understanding. So, it seems a bit absurd to me to add in that phrase that God will not force Himself on anyone. Just a thought……

Then John MacArthur came on and I heard him preach this sermon. Good stuff…..

Enjoy your Thurday!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Some Things Are Just Serious

I’m feeling more like myself today. Turns out I have an ear infection which is being treated with medication now.

The way I felt Sunday morning when things seemed to be spinning out of control kind of parallels how I feel sometimes about the postmodern, truth denying culture I find myself living in. We live in a culture where the very notion that objective truth exists is under attack. We are living in a time where opinions, perceptions, feelings and experiences matter far more than objective truth. This is the case in the culture at large, but, far more importantly, it is becoming ever more the case within the church as well.

I’ve pared down a lot of my blog reading because, frankly, I am fairly intelligent and educated, but I’ve read some blog discussions recently that make my eyes glaze over and it becomes a waste of time trying to follow what the people are talking about. It’s like a perpetual game of one-upping to see who can be the most clever in trying to tear down the plain meaning of a statement and assign all kinds of crazy motives and deeper meanings, which then veers off into personal attacks on the person who made the original plain statement.

To be honest, I am growing so tired of hearing all the discussions of methods, embracing mystery, felt needs, contemplative whatever and endless talk and deconstruction of words until there is just no meaning left. What I tend to see happening in these kinds of discussions is a willful and intentional misunderstanding of the plain meaning of a statement for the sole purpose of showing how intellectual, erudite and adept at “deconstruction” (whatever that is) someone can be. What gets sacrificed, however, for all their purported love of “discussion” seems to be actual, honest discussion over the clear meaning. It seems to be more important to some people to be able to nitpick over word choices and to ask for “clarity” (I must say, too, that I am growing so tired of that word, also) than it is to enter real discussion where there is an actual desire to come to the truth and understanding of an issue.

I’ve also noticed that very often (but, admittedly not always) when someone enters the comments and asks a writer to “clarify” his meaning, usually the meaning was pretty clear to begin with, the asker just wants to nitpick and argue rather than deal with whatever the actual clear meaning was in the first place.

It seems, too, that there is a growing trend in this culture to say that nothing can really be understood with certainty and clarity, especially not the Bible, and those of us who do believe that there are non-negotiable doctrines that can be stated with certainty are seen as arrogant or not “nice.” This seems to be the biggest no-no anymore. It seems that anymore, the goal isn’t actually learning and submitting to the truths of God’s Word, but just the art of debate and endless, fruitless discussion. The goal is to talk, talk, talk, and frankly, after a few give-and-takes of this “deconstruction” the words are just spinning around meaning nothing. It becomes just so much nonsense, and I’m finding it to be just so much wasted time and energy. We (I’m including me because I’ve wasted far too much of my time over the past several months reading these vertigo inspiring conversations) sit behind our keyboards wasting time trying to be cute, showing how very smart and intellectual we are and, ultimately, all the cuteness and deconstruction really ends up denying the Gospel and trying to downplay the sinfulness of sin. It essentially is the same thing that's been going on since the Fall. Remember that the serpent asked Eve, "Has God indeed said......"

Can’t we just get back to teaching what the Bible says and submitting to it and living it?

There is a verse that I think very aptly pictures much of what I see happening in discussions today: 2 Timothy 3:7 says, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Rather than working so hard to deconstruct everything and look for hidden meanings all the time and just loving to hear ourselves talk (type), how about just taking things at face value and coming to the knowledge of the truth?

And this is the culture in which my children will come of age. Our job as parents is, first of all, to be praying for them without ceasing, and then to teach them to know the truth, so the truth can set them free. Free from the bondage to sin foremost (amen!), but also free, for one thing, from endless talk, talk, talk that never gets anywhere. Free from vain babblings that never come to the truth. Free to have real answers when tragedy strikes, and not just a lot of babbling about mystery and felt needs. And tragedy will undoubtedly strike in some form – we live in a fallen world with depraved people. It is only by God’s grace that we are not all living out our depravity to its full expression. Please, O Lord God, guard my kids’ hearts and minds, I pray!

Proverbs 9:10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (emphasis mine)

God has graciously given us His Word so that we can know Him, and thus fear Him and love Him rightly. May we humble ourselves and stop the vain arguing and nitpicking over deconstructing every statement and get back to rightly dividing His Word and teaching its truths.

The thing that gets lost as clear biblical teachings are torn apart and “deconstructed” is that there is, most definitely, truth. Jesus is coming again. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. While we pridefully (yet cloaking ourselves in our false humility) quibble away about “clarifying” this or that word choice, there are millions of people living and dying with no hope. When tragedy strikes, what will we have to offer as hope once we’ve deconstructed away all the truths of the faith, or once we’ve declared that we cannot really know those truths? We are wasting time on vain arguments rather than submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

And, not to point all my fingers at “them,” while I appreciate the warnings of heresy that are sounded, we who are interested in being faithful to the Word also waste an awful lot of time being drawn into these discussions and railing about them when we ought to be about the business of worshiping our Lord, speaking the truth, and being about the work He would have us do in the time we are given. Too much of the time those sounding the warnings get overly involved in that and develop a prideful, sarcastic, arrogant, name-calling attitude rather than a humble and broken-hearted attitude of warning. We need to balance warning the body, which, admittedly, is necessary, with worshiping our Lord and living out our calling in full before a world that desperately needs to hear the Gospel preached clearly and rightly. The tragedy that has occurred at Virginia Tech is just one more evidence that we are fallen people who, apart from the grace of God, are capable of just about anything evil. If we believe we cannot know the truths of the Word of God with certainty, what hope do we have to offer those who are grieving today in the wake of this tragedy? What hope do we have to offer to anyone, if we really believe that we cannot know with certainty those non-negotiable truths of the Gospel - the only truly Good News that there is? This is too important to be playing games and being so proud of our ability to argue endlessly as we avoid the clear teachings of scripture.

As the mother of young children who is not trained in philosophy or the art of debate, this is an area of concern for me. I see so much confusion masquerading as intellectual discussion that, frankly, it scares me for my children as they grow. I want to be able to teach them well to navigate in these murky waters, and I see such lack of discernment everywhere that is causing many, especially young people, to just eat up the latest fads with no concern for whether they line up with true, biblical Christianity. For this reason, I’ve ordered a copy of John MacArthur’s new book, The Truth War, and I am looking forward to reading it.

I’m always thankful to find good, solid, biblical teaching from men who will take the Bible and say, “Here is what God’s Word says, and here is what it means for you and me.” Would that more of our pastors will have a burning passion to return to that kind of clear preaching. As Paul told Timothy, “Preach the Word!”

We parents had better be paying attention because this is the culture our children are growing up in. This is how their peers are learning to deal with truth and faith. This is the worldview that their friends will be seeing the world through. We parents had better be diligent to pray for our children and to teach our children God’s Law, the Gospel and the authority and reliability of His Word when we wake up, when we sit down and when we walk along the way. Our kids need a biblical worldview through which to filter every statement they hear. They need the hope that comes from knowing that there is certain truth and they can know it and rest in it. We all need to learn to search the scriptures and examine every teaching to be sure it lines up with God’s word. For there are wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing, and they are growing louder and more popular every day.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Someone Please Stop the Room From Spinning, I'm Ready to Get Off Now

Well, it turns out those broken plans for traveling this weekend are probably a really good thing. Boo woke up the morning we were supposed to leave with a nasty cold and I woke up the same day with fluid on my ear that caused me to have trouble hearing and I was slightly dizzy once in a while. I was planning to call the doctor Monday if it hadn't improved by then. I talked to Grandma that same day, and she was feeling under the weather, too. Plus there’s a huge storm system coming through which would have made driving miserable.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I woke up about 4AM today so dizzy I couldn’t even move. That fluid in my ear must have begun to affect my inner ear and balance system. The dizziness made me so nauseous I was miserable every time I even slightly moved my head. Early this morning, when Boo started making pre-wake up noises, I stumbled, crawled to the phone and called my mother-in-law and begged her to come help, because I knew there was no way I could pick up the baby and get her fed this morning. Then I stumbled, crawled to the front door and unlocked it for her and went back to bed. She very kindly came over and took care of Boo and the boys this morning, and my father-in-law came by later to take the boys to Sunday School and church.

By the time my father-in-law got here, I was feeling better enough that I could get out of bed and stand up without feeling like the whole world was spinning out of control. As I got up and moving a little, I was able to manage better, and I called my on-call physician who has called in a prescription for anti-vertigo medicine for me. He’s pretty sure I have a virus in my inner ear. So, I’ll be calling the office first thing tomorrow morning to be seen, that’s for sure. Of course this happens when D is away. I’m not sure how I would have managed without his kind parents this morning! One more reason I’m glad they decided to retire down here, and D will be home tonight.

Anyway, I’m doing some better now, though bouts of dizziness keep causing me to just sit and wait for them to pass, but they aren’t as bad as first thing this morning. I was wondering at first if I am just extra sensitive to this storm front that’s passing through – it’s a whopper and it’s all over the news, but I think there’s more going on here than just sinus pressure, though that isn’t helping. I made the mistake once a few years ago of flying while I had an earache (and boy, was I in agony by the time the plane landed), and ever since then sinus problems and colds seem to affect me more in my inner ear. I told my mother-in-law I thought I was okay enough now for her to go on to church, and she will be back with my medicine shortly after the service is over. At least I’ve had some good, quality, quiet time to read my Bible and pray this morning, but I would have really liked to have been at church.

I think I’ll just go sit on the couch now and watch Boo crawl around and move very, very slowly when I have to move.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Preparing For Sunday

Psalm 63:1-8
"O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts 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,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
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."

As I prepare for Sunday, O let my heart overflow with praise for You, O Lord, Most High. May I seek You early, and may my soul hunger and thirst for Your righteousness. As I trust in You, my soul is satisfied. You are my God. There is salvation in no other. Jesus, Your lovingkindness is better than life. Let that be truly my heart's cry. Open my ears and my heart to hear Your word. Let me worship You at all times and seek to obey You with my whole heart. As Your people gather in Your name tomorrow, let us hear the truth and repent when You convict us of sin. Cleanse us, O Lord, and show us where we are seeking our own way and not Yours. Father, there are times that I feel I'm in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water, but You give us Living Water so we will thirst no more. I know that Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. There are so many voices today screaming for attention and pointing to the broad way that leads to destruction; let me listen only to You and walk along the narrow way that leads to life. That way is only through the Cross. My sin and my shame are crucified with Christ, and now it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. You lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your name's sake. Jesus, You are the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through You. Thank You for the hope that anchors my soul. You are my King. All praise to You, I sing. Amen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cleaning House

Not only are the kids home for spring break, necessitating some blogging slow down, but I seem to be in the midst of a terrible blog funk, too. I’ve been contemplating the delete button for my last post ever since I published it. It’s one of those TMI things, I think, written while feeling hyper emotional. But it’s true, and it’s already out there, so I guess it’s staying. This is my blog and my sort of journal of this stage of my life, even though I’m kind of cringing over that one.

So, anyway, I sat at the keyboard yesterday during a free moment and just stared at the screen trying to come up with something meaningful to write. Nothing. Just that thing I eventually posted which probably should have gone to my private journal, not online, and which I had actually written the day before.

Until this morning. Leave it to a bout of house cleaning (still in progress, by the way, just taking a break) to inspire some blog fodder for my brain.

Here are the thoughts rattling around in my brain this morning as I vacuumed. My house is pretty neat, on the surface. I manage to keep up with straightening up, dusting, vacuuming, wiping down bathrooms and counters, laundry, and surface cleaning pretty well. Just don’t look too closely. It’s that deeper cleaning that gets left out a lot. Like the baseboards – I was studying them this morning as I ran the vacuum by them. How in the world do they get so dirty? I’m finding fingerprints on all the walls, too, but those usually get wiped off in the surface cleaning. And don’t open drawers around here. Things too often just get stuffed into drawers and closets, so that once in a while I have to go through and deep clean/purge these areas. But, until that happens, it’s pretty easy to just shut the drawer or door and ignore the mess. Same with the boys’ bedroom; it is upstairs by itself, so at least I can just close the door and ignore the clutter until we can get to the deeper cleaning. Oh, and I’m amazed how quickly the dirt returns if I don’t keep on it consistently.

But now I have an 11 month old crawling around the whole house. No matter how clean the floor may look, her knees show up the dirt that’s actually there after a day of crawling all over the place. And her little fingers will pick up every single piece of grass or scrap of paper that ends up on the floor. And with two big brothers and a dog, there is always grass, dirt or something in the floor, no matter how hard I may try to keep it clean. But I can vacuum all day and not get that carpet clean in that deeper way that a good steam-cleaning will accomplish. I may get the surface dirt, but judging by Boo’s knees, it’s time for a good steam clean again.

I see a parallel in life here, too. How many people show up at church on Sunday all dressed up, smiling and pretty on the surface, checking the box (been to church this week!) while during the week the Bible stays on the shelf, or in the car, never opened, never read, not having any impact on their lives, and hardly any time is devoted to real prayer, as they just live any old way they please Monday-Saturday? Or, how about this one – how easy is it to sit behind my keyboard and type about how spiritual I am? It’s easy to put my best face forward here, but only I and God know what’s actually going on in my heart. My surface may look really good, but I want so much more to go deeper than just surface. I’m not saying I necessarily want to spill all my dirty laundry out here on the old blog for just anyone to read. But I do want to be sure to be aware that there is dirty laundry to be dealt with.

I want to do more than show up at church with my mask on or write nice things on my blog. I want to make sure I focus more time in prayer and Bible reading examining myself and allowing myself to be teachable when God highlights that dirt on my knees, so to speak, that is evidence that there are areas of my life I haven’t surrendered to Him. I don’t want to just shut the door and ignore the mess when I become aware of attitudes or sins in my life that are hindering my walk with Christ. I want to be willing to purge the things in my life that are ugly and sinful and learn to focus on whatever is true, noble, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy. And I want to live a life devoted to my Lord, so there will not be a need for a mask when I come to church and when I live in the world, but not of it. I don’t want to just be surface clean, but deep clean as well. I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit convicts me and changes my heart so that the things that dishonor Him are being purged and cleansed from my life. I want my life to reflect my profession of faith, for the glory of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. He has forgiven me, reconciled me to God, and freed me to live for His glory. May I run this race well.

Psalm 51:2
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

After a Monday Night Phone Call

D and I have been married for 13 years, during all of which he has been with the Army National Guard or Reserve. This has led to some need for flexibility when making plans at times. In fact, quite often I’ve had to learn that a phone call can change things in a moment. Most of the time I’m able to just go with the flow about it, but not always.

I blew it Monday night. My fallen sin nature was on display. I’m saying I wasn’t patient or kind, not enduring all things, and I most definitely was rude and provoked.

Here’s the thing: We were supposed to be going to visit my grandmother this weekend. The kids are on spring break, so it’s a good time to take a weekend and go to see her. This had been planned for several weeks.

Then the phone rang Monday evening.

Out-of-the-blue phone calls from someone asking to speak to Captain (our last name) are something I have come to dread. Well, it turns out that this weekend is a planning meeting out west for the big two-week training mission coming up this summer, and D’s superior officer who was supposed to go to it has been called to active duty elsewhere and cannot attend. Therefore, they need D to go. He was to call back Tuesday morning to confirm.

I am ashamed to admit this, but I pitched a fit. Well, okay, that may be an exaggeration. D read this post last night and said, “You did not pitch a fit. You were really quiet, and I totally knew you were upset, but you didn’t pitch a fit.” I think it is a good thing he can’t read my mind. There was one big fit going on in there. It was not pretty. I sulked and pouted while D said that he probably could technically say no, but that really wouldn’t be the best thing for him to do. I complained that I’m so tired of the Army so often pre-empting plans we’ve already made – and, coincidentally, it seems to fall at times we’ve been planning something with my family. I laid on the guilt trip, I’m sorry to say.

Then the guilt set in for me as I was reading my Bible and praying on Tuesday morning. I wept in prayer yesterday morning when it hit me how wrongly I had handled the disappointment the night before and how unkindly I had treated my husband. Because even though D cannot read my mind and may not have known the extent of the rude, unloving and frustrated thoughts I was nourishing, God does know my thoughts – even before I think them. I say I believe in respecting my husband. I say I want to honor and cherish him. But Monday night, when I was given an opportunity to demonstrate that I really respect him and how hard he works to support our family and the fact that this Army career is his second job (in addition to his full time civilian career) and helps pay the bills so I can stay home with our kids, what did I do? I sulked and complained and insisted on what I wanted. I wasn’t even taking into account how hard it was for him to have to tell me he needed to spoil our plans once again. He so much didn’t want to change the plans, and I sure didn’t make the situation any easier for him.

I called my husband at work yesterday and tearfully apologized to him for being so selfish in the way I handled his news and told him that I understood that we would have to postpone the trip a few weeks, because I finally realized that, while he technically could say, “no,” it really would not be good for him not to go when the Army says, “Go.” And my anger about this call was a bit out of proportion. At least he wasn’t being called up to active duty again; it was just a weekend meeting.

I hate that I had to call my grandmother and postpone our trip at the last minute, causing her inconvenience. I really do. I did not want to do that to her. That’s really the main reason I was so very upset about the plan change. The most frustratingly maddening thing about these kinds of situations is that it doesn’t just affect our plans, but it affects everyone who has been planning for and counting on us, too. But, she seemed to understand, and we are going to try to plan to go up there in a few weeks when my parents are also planning to visit, which seemed to please her, as well. She just said to be thankful it’s just a weekend in another state and not another deployment to Iraq. Perspective is everything, I guess. I’m so thankful she understood.

I also really, really hate that my attitude was so rotten Monday night. I should have been more understanding and gracious to my husband, even while feeling frustrated and disappointed. It is not his fault he got the phone call that night, and being angry at the Army for once again intruding on my plans doesn’t make it right for me to take it out on the one I love so much.

When I apologized to my husband yesterday, he even said he didn’t think there was anything to forgive. Boy, am I glad he can’t read my mind! I’m also glad he was understanding enough to chalk up my bad attitude to disappointment and frustration rather than true anger at him – see, he was disappointed about the change in plans, too. He didn’t want to have to disappoint my grandma any more than I did. So he chose not to take my bad attitude personally. He said he understood how disappointed and frustrated I am and that he hated that this call came when it did, too. But when I insisted on apologizing for my cranky, sulky, pouty attitude, he forgave me. He loved me even while I was acting unlovable and when I was angry at him for something that wasn’t his fault. I’m so thankful for the man I’m married to – even though being married to him means I have to accept the Army commitment and the frustration of broken plans (again!).

And I’m thankful for the way God is working in me, because, not too long ago, that fit wouldn’t have just stayed in my mind. I would have been a lot more vocal with it not all that long ago.

I just pray I will handle the disappointment in a more God honoring way next time. I pray I will use these situations to learn to act right no matter how frustrated I feel. Because, being married to an Army Reserve man means there probably will be more next times.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Just Had to Share...

They're so cute when they're all dressed up!

Posting may be a bit scarce this week, as Spring Break has sprung and kids are home. I'll be spending time with them, and probably not writing a whole lot to the blog. Of course, I've tried taking breaks before and they never last very long, so we'll see how this one goes.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Resurrection Sunday

Mark 16:2-7
“Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away – for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

Praise His Name! The grave could not hold the spotless Lamb of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is risen, and I am forgiven. Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him! May our lips never stop singing His praise. May our lives glorify our risen Lord!

Crown Him With Many Crowns

Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne;
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own:
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save;
His glories now we sing
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of peace,
Whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
And all be prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round His pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of love;
Behold His hands and side,
Those wounds yet visible above,
In beauty glorified:
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
For Thou hast died for me:
Thy praise and glory shall not fail
Throughout eternity.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

Luke 2:10-11
“Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”

The angels testified to the shepherds that Jesus is Savior.

Luke 2:29-32
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Simeon blessed God when he held the Baby in his arms in the temple, for he had seen the One who had come to bring salvation to the Jew first, but also to the Gentiles.

John 1:29
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

John the Baptist testified that Jesus takes away the sin of the world as the Lamb of God.

Isaiah 53
“Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before it shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked –
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.”

Isaiah prophesied of the Suffering Servant centuries before the birth of Christ.

The spotless Lamb of God. The true and final Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. What amazing love He has lavished on us, while we were still sinners. His grace is amazing. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him. There is salvation in no other. Our hope is in Christ alone - and what glorious hope it is! Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to His cross I cling! May I never, never, never forsake my love for this Blessed Redeemer, my Savior, my King, my Lord and my God.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Confessing Faults

James 5:16
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

The challenge Tim Challies gave us to write out our testimonies has really gotten me thinking this week, apparently, since this is the third post I’ve written as a result of it. I actually had some other things I had planned to share this week, but I've saved them for later. Yesterday I wrote about a danger we need to guard against for children growing up in the church. Another danger to guard against that I’ve noticed in my own life is pride and complacency. These are painful to share, for they are true. The prayer at the end is truly my prayer. But I’m writing to hold myself accountable and because this is my testimony, too. I also know that certain of my readers (you know who you are) pray for me and I pray for them, because we have said we would. This is my testimony that God is still working in me and pruning me, and I’m so thankful He is, for as He works in me and convicts me of sin and grants me the faith to overcome it, He is making me more like Christ, and that’s my desire.

Having grown up in the church and, thankfully, through God’s protection, never really rebelled or wanted to walk away from the faith, I have had a fairly sheltered life. It is so easy to get comfortable in my Christian home, at my Christian church with my Christian friends and forget that my neighbors and people all around me are living and dying with no hope.

It is also very, very tempting to sit back, relax, and think, “Well, my doctrine is strong. I’ve learned so much.” Pat, pat, pat on the back. And with that, it’s so easy to begin thinking that I am so smart to figure all this out, rather than remembering that it is only, only, only by the working of the Holy Spirit in me that I have any understanding at all. And if I believe correctly, I ought to be living it out, too. It isn’t enough to think right, but that thinking needs to spill over into all I do and say as well.

It is also tempting to fall into the trap of being complacent where I am right now. I mean, thinking that I’ve “arrived” and am no longer needing to deal with any more sin in my life. Boy, that would be WRONG thinking. But, it’s tempting at times. It's also directly opposed to having a teachable spirit, which I really want to have. I pray God will keep me sensitive to His Spirit as I read His Word, and that I will recognize where my life isn't lining up with scripture.

It is also very tempting when I see or hear error to get all indignant and speak big words on my blog and rant and rave to others about all I see that is wrong with the church and all I see that is wrong “out there.” And it’s tempting to get angry at people who are getting caught up in wrong teaching when what I should be doing is praying for them to understand the truth and being willing to gently and lovingly correct or help when it is someone that I have any friendship or influence with. And what I should be doing is writing and speaking about the Truth, for that is the antidote to error. I do appreciate knowing about the heresy that is flooding our churches today, but I want my attitude in confronting when necessary to be right. I also want to know and write about the Truth in such a way that it will not be hard to recognize error for what it is and learn to steer away from wrong, misguided, evil teaching and run straight to God's Word.

And in all of that, it is so very tempting to turn a blind eye to what is wrong in my own attitudes. It is so very tempting to ignore my blasé lack of concern for my neighbors, and the families at my kids’ school, and the people I meet around town. It is so very tempting to ignore the fact that one of my biggest stumbling blocks is how selfish I tend to be - still - rather than be on my knees about it daily, seeking God’s direction in how to get out of my little shell and to better see the people around me and recognize how I can be a better servant to Jesus in how I’m living day to day.

I’m thinking now of the coming weekend and how precious it is. Jesus never lost sight of why He came, and He never, ever wavered in His purpose to glorify the Father. He came to set the prisoners free. The prisoners who were trapped and lost in sin. He cared so much about our plight that He left His throne in glory and became flesh, walked sinlessly among us, and died for us.

Oh, Lord, may I begin to see what You want me to see. Please change my selfish heart to one of compassion for the lost. Open my eyes and my heart and help me to demonstrate that I care about the people around me. Open my mouth and help me not to stay silent. Help me not to be a hermit – I pray this so often! My natural tendency is to be a homebody, and to be quiet. I have a hard time even talking to people I don’t know, much less learning to be a good friend and getting to know them well enough to talk about important things from a heart that really cares for them. Please help me to know how to really be a friend and care deeply. Lord, it is so easy to sit behind a keyboard and type these words, but so very, very hard to get up and go “out there” and live them. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Help me to purpose in my heart to serve You obediently, and let me do it with abandon. Please guard my heart against foolish pride, for I have nothing in myself to be proud of. May I boast in You, Lord, for Your glory alone. May I learn to be a real friend to whomever You place in my life, and let my love for You spill over into my speech and actions. Love through me, Lord Jesus. Love my husband, my children, my neighbors and anyone else You lead me to through me. Grant me the heart to obey You and to love others. Thank You for loving me so much You died for me and made me whole. Amen.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Little More of My Testimony

I’ve been thinking more about what I wrote of my testimony in yesterday's post. I mentioned that I struggled with doubt during my teen years and into young adulthood. I kind of breezed over that part, but it really was a big deal for me for many years. While reading several of the testimonies that were posted around the blogosphere yesterday, I really recognized much of my story in lots of them.

For instance, one that I read talked about growing up in a fairly Arminian type of church and praying the “sinner’s prayer” lots and lots of times and not being sure which one actually “took,” but knowing that she belongs to the Lord now. Yep. Been there, too. When I was a young teenager, I went to our assistant youth pastor and told him that I was really struggling with doubting my salvation for I was so young when I prayed and was baptized, and I wasn’t sure I had understood enough then. He talked with me a while and told me he saw real evidence in my life that I did belong to the Lord, but if it would help me feel more assured I could pray right then. I did. That was around the age of 12 or 13, I think – the same time that I was beginning to understand things better and to be more aware of my sin and to learn to read my Bible daily. So, was that the true moment of my conversion? Or was I really saved at 5 and God led me to understand more fully later? Only God really knows the actual moment of my conversion, I think. But I do know that I have been born again, for I know Who my redeemer is and I know that I am trusting Jesus’ atoning work on the cross and His righteousness as the basis of salvation. And I also know that I have a growing hunger for His Word and a passion to believe and live that Word correctly that can only come from Him. Ultimately, God has known me since before the foundation of the world, so I entrust myself to Him.

I also read a post that asked whether rebaptism was necessary in a situation very similar to mine. Again, I’m not sure. I have thought and prayed over whether my baptism is in order or not in my own life, and I know the Lord will convict me if I need to correct it and be rebaptized. My husband and I have decided in our children’s lives to be pretty cautious in this area. Our oldest son, J, spent an intense evening with me when he was 6 asking lots of questions. I answered them and he wanted to pray to receive Christ. I helped him do that, but we are waiting now for the Lord to continue leading in his life. I do not want him to be confused later on. He asks about baptism every once in a while, and we talk to him and answer any questions he has, but we want the final decision to be his based on when the Lord leads him to make that commitment. He also asks us about the Lord’s Supper, but we’ve told him that he cannot take it until he has committed his life to Jesus and been baptized. So, we pray for all of our children that they will be saved young and that they will really know and understand the Gospel, and that we will faithfully teach them the truth clearly. We want their commitment to Christ to happen as a result of the Holy Spirit leading in their lives, and we don’t want them to make a false profession due to our pressuring them, no matter how well-intentioned we might be. These are eternally important things.

I do know that when I reached adulthood and began really studying the Bible and listening to good expository (Biblical, verse-by-verse) preaching by men like Alistair Begg and John MacArthur, among others, my doubts began to be resolved as I more fully understood the depth of God’s love for me. I think my doubts were rooted in a deep-seated and unrecognized feeling that I wasn’t good enough for God to really, really love me. And when I realized that that is true – I’m not good enough and no matter how good I acted I could not make Him love me for my righteousness, which is all filthy rags anyway, but that it is all because of His Son, Jesus Christ and His righteousness that He loves me, then the doubt subsided. I had trusted Christ and I knew that it wasn’t my good works that saved me, but Christ alone, but somehow, there was still that residual feeling deep down in my heart of hearts that I had to “be good” to be loved. I still felt unlovable.

I think that may be a danger we need to guard against for children who are raised in the church. I need to go back to that theme I keep harping on. When the Bible is taught as isolated stories with simple moral lessons and out of order and context, we miss the big picture of God’s amazing grace. We run a real danger when we teach only the simple moral lessons rather than the whole context of those stories of raising a bunch of confused Christians who know in their heads that salvation is all of Christ and based on His righteousness, but they’ve had the moral lessons devoid of their deeper context so drilled into them that they learn to believe that we need to “be good,” too. In practice we are teaching faith plus works, though we don’t mean to be. Or worse, we train up a bunch of young people who know we keep telling them to be moral, but they don’t really know why they should. This is unintentional, I know. But, having taught a children’s discipleship class for several years recently, I have seen this. The first curriculum I used was heavy on the moral lessons, light on the actual Gospel. I told my husband that we were teaching these kids how to be moral, but not really what it is to be saved. We were trying to disciple children who had not yet committed their lives to Christ. We had it backwards. They weren’t disciples, yet. They needed to be taught the Gospel! Then we found the Firm Foundations curriculum that teaches the whole counsel of the Word of God. The children learn that God is the Creator, and they learn about the Fall in context, and they learn the history of redemption in context. This is so, so, so important.

I am thankful for the good teaching I’ve been exposed to as a child and as an adult, and I’m so very, very, very thankful to my gracious God for taking the simple child-like faith of a 5-year-old and leading me throughout my life to understand the beautiful Gospel of grace. I firmly believe that any understanding of the truth and any love I have for God’s Word is a real gift from God. Christ has been so faithful to me in leading me to understand His love and grace and granting me the Holy Spirit to open His Word to my understanding. I’m thankful that He has shown me His love and mercy and opened my heart and mind to His grace and truth. There are not enough words to express my extreme gratitude for what He has done for me. Praise Him!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thoughtful Blogging

Neato-mosquito! Kate at Just Another Day in Paradise has nominated me for the Thinking Blogger Award. Thank you, Kate!

Now I get to nominate some other bloggers that make me think – problem is, a lot of the bloggers that make me think also make lots of other people think, so they’ve already been nominated, but here are a few I really like, though it’s not an exhaustive list by any means:

1. Jules at Everyday Mommy has a wonderful blog where she shares mommy thoughts, recipes, interesting posts, and she also often asks questions that make me think and search the Scriptures. Good reading!

2. Rabbit at The Hutch also makes me think, and sometimes laugh, too, quite often and I’ve enjoyed reading her blog over the past several months.

3. Elle at A Complete Thought has very complete thoughts that are very thought-provoking.

4. Connie at Practicing Theology writes to help women learn doctrine and to know why they believe what they believe, and I’ve been appreciating her writing for a while now.

5. Lisa at Lisa Writes is someone who writes the kinds of things I have been thinking myself, and I really enjoy reading the way she says them!

I also find much food for thought over at Following Judah’s Lion, Pyromaniacs and Biblical Christianity, though I’m pretty sure those bloggers are not into the meme thing, but they are definitely good reading and often very thought-provoking writing, so I thought this would be a good place to mention that.

If I've linked you and you've already been nominated, wonderful! Just goes to show that lots of us like how you think and are thankful that you share your thoughts. If I've linked you here and you want to participate, here’s how it works:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote. (Displayed at the top of this post.)

My Testimony

By God’s grace, I was 5 years old when He granted me the faith to ask my parents some questions and to pray to receive Jesus as my savior. I don’t remember a whole lot about that time, but I do remember that my parents wisely prayed with me and then waited and trusted for God to continue to lead in my life.

At the age of 7, I remember sitting in church at the end of the service during the invitation time, and I grabbed my mother by the hand and dragged her down the aisle, because I was ready to talk to someone about being baptized. I went through a “Precious Lambs” class our church offered to disciple children making a profession of faith, which, upon looking back all these years later was actually quite thorough and a good beginning discipleship class, after which I was baptized.

God continued to hold me, and at about the age of 12 I began to more fully understand about Jesus’ Lordship and to understand how to study my Bible and learn about Him and to be more aware of my sin. It was at this age that I really began to personalize the faith my parents had been teaching me. It really became mine as my understanding grew and I committed my life to Christ anew.

Because I was so young when I made that initial profession of faith, and because I grew up in a church where pinpointing a specific time of conversion (my spiritual birthdate, if you will) was often seen as very important, I struggled some with doubting my salvation as a teenager and young adult. When I began to study the Bible more and learn more, and to understand that it is the Holy Spirit who regenerates us and grants us faith, I began to understand my own profession of faith better. It became less important to me to be able to state absolutely the exact, specific date and time of my conversion, but much more important to understand what my hope of salvation is depending upon.

I’m not sure how much I understood at 5, but I know that God kept me and allowed me to grow in understanding and grace, and I know that today I am trusting, not in my own works or in a simple prayer I prayed at the age of 5, but in Christ’s righteousness and His sacrificial death on the cross as the basis of my salvation. I can look back over my life and see how God has kept me in His hand and granted me the faith to believe Him and trust that His Word is true. Also, as I’ve grown in the faith, I’ve become more aware of how sinful I really am and how holy God is. Even at 5, I needed a savior, for we are born in sin. Though I’d not done anything we would consider heinous at that point, I still have a sin nature and had already committed sins as a 5-year-old. I also know the daily, moment by moment struggle I have with my flesh. And I know that in Christ I am forgiven and reconciled to God – what an amazing gift that is! The older I become, the more I am aware of how undeserving I am of such a gift, and the more grateful I am for it. I can also look back over my life and see how my love for my blessed Redeemer and Lord has grown, and how my understanding of the depth of His love and grace that He has extended to me is growing and shaping my life. This faith in Christ has been the anchor for my soul all my life, and for that I say, “To God be all the glory!”

Thank God, He is still holding me and I am still learning and growing in faith, by His grace, and He has kept me from ever straying too far, though I have, on occasion, done some dumb things and sinned for sure. By His grace, He will grant me the faith to persevere to the end, for my hope is in His righteousness, not my own. And all the praise goes to Jesus Christ, my Lord. I pray constantly that the life I live will honor Him out of love, joy and gratitude for the precious gift He has given in cleansing me from sin and reconciling me to Himself.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Birthday, Tic Tac

My sweet little Tic Tac is six years old today. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been six years since he made his official entrance into our family – two weeks early, and with his daddy away at a job interview in another state! D made it home to see our little M twelve hours after he was born, but my mom and dad made it into town in time to be in the delivery room to welcome him properly. What a wonderful day that was.

M is truly a middle child. He is the sweetest, most sharing and caring kid, and he’s a real peacemaker. The neat thing is, he was like that even before we had Boo! He follows hard on the heels of his big brother, J, wanting to do everything he does, and he just loves making his little sister, Boo, smile. God really blessed our family with this little boy.

On Saturday, we took a road trip and spent the afternoon in Savannah so Tic Tac (M) could go to the Mad Hatter shop he likes so much and pick out another crazy hat. This time it was a monkey hat with light-up eyes that makes a loud shrieking monkey sound. Then we went to The Pirates’ House for dinner – one of his favorite places! We had already had some of his Pirates of the Carribbean birthday cake at home, so the ice cream sundae, complete with sparkler that the waiter brought out for him was a neat treat, too. All in all, he had a piratically terrific day, and his brother and sister enjoyed it, too!

M the Pirate at his birthday dinner

Boo chilling out in her stroller, enjoying the walk

Big brother J helps build some of M's new Legos

The sparkler treat that topped off a fun day.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday

Psalm 118:25-26
“Save now, I pray, O LORD;
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”

Jesus entered Jerusalem to the shouts of, “Hosanna,” and the people waved palm branches as, seated on a donkey, He passed by on the streets of the holy city. They were ready to welcome Him as King. Or so they thought.

They wanted salvation from the tyranny of Rome. They wanted a temporal salvation tied to this world. They wanted an earthly kingdom.

Their view of God was not nearly high enough.

They did not even realize that He came, not for some temporal, earthly salvation from Rome, but He came to save them from a far more insidious enemy. He came to save them from an enemy they weren’t even aware they needed to be saved from.

He came to save them from the tyranny of their sin. He came to redeem them from the bondage of sin that is part of every one of us down to our DNA. He came to free us from our sin nature that resulted from the first Adam’s fall.

He came to die. For that is the wage our sin merits. By grace, He came to offer Himself in our place; the spotless, guiltless, sinless Lamb who came to pay the penalty for undeserving sinners such as we are.

So, as they hailed Him that Palm Sunday, they had no idea that less than a week later He would hang, bloodied and dying on a Roman cross, the true Passover Lamb, after they cried, “Crucify Him!”

And less than week later, when He gave up His spirit saying, “It is finished,” the curse of sin was broken. The price was paid. He did what He came to do.

Less than a week after that Palm Sunday, the temple veil was torn in two and the Holy of Holies was opened to those who would place their trust in the true King, Jesus Christ whose blood paid the ransom for their souls.

As we sing, “Hosanna,” on this Palm Sunday, we remember that it didn’t end with the triumphal entry. Praise God that Jesus completed the work He came to do, so that a week later, He rose triumphantly from the grave. To God be the glory!