Quieted by His Love

I don’t know how I could love anyone more than Gabe. Flesh of my flesh. I remember some mom saying having a child is “having your heart live outside your body” and I can’t agree more. I enjoy every moment I get to know his little heart. To see his eyes light up, his mouth chuckle, his feet kick with excitement. How can I not expect God to at least be the same? I mean he literally is Love. Like all that is loving, good, kind, caring, self-sacrificing is, in their fullness, found in Him. Yet I lessen His desire to love me to less than my tainted love for my son.

So what do i loose to believe God loves me that much? Why is it scary?

I think it comes down to this verse, “Let not my hope [in the Lord] be put to shame”… Continue reading

A Psalm of Lament

2 Corinthians 3:17-18, 4:5-18

(3:17-18)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

(4:5-18)
For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

God I am so tired. I am mad at all the in fighting and division. I am angry at what I believe caused this. It’s so devastating to watch your Church destroy itself. The people you have given the gift of forgiveness, compassion and love. It is not because of one man but the sin inside us all that is causing all this…. But I AM angry at one man. I am angry that one man’s sin has caused others to sin along with him, misleading the flock and deceiving young believers. I am angry that my friends are fighting. I am angry that your character is lacking in us all. I am angry that I feel hurt by it all, and cant at times see through the cloud of confusion. I feel perplexed, beaten down, even persecuted. My heart aches for an unbroken world. A world not scarred by sin, not impacted by the Fall. This life is hard. I ache for you. Like a weary soul in need of water. You are my spring of life. At times this life is too much. Deaths, disease, corruption, brokenness, abuse… and yet your presence has not left your people. I stand amazed that you stay. We are a mess! You CHOSE to enter this mess with us, before we tried to ‘clean ourselves up’. You decided it was worth your very self, your other-ly-ness, your Kingship, to lay aside your honor for dishonor, your perfection for our sinfulness. To hold the corruption in your hands and say, “I will take all this. It is pardoned. You go home clean”.

Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

I will forever stand amazed at that. You think all this is worth it?! I would have chosen long ago to escape the filth of it all. If anyone deserved to not endure the weight of sin and leave, you did, and yet you don’t. So why do I deserve escape when you have given me undeserved grace? And yet you are there to give me the answer. I get YOU. Through suffering, I have found you to be faithful. I have seen more of your glory and purpose. You have made through hardship my heart yours. I still long for the day when that work will be complete. When the sin in my heart will be banished for eternity and I am raised completely anew. But for now I need to trust your promises and your truth. You see the end that I don’t. I love that 2 Cor. 4 brings comfort in the call to an eternal perspective:

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Why do we endure? For the sake of eternity. We live for the one who died. Who gave us good gifts, and called us to a purpose not our own. We live so that God’s glory (the goodness and person we have experienced and know) may be known to all men. We live so that in this fallen and hurting world, others might experience and see the grace and forgiveness that Christ laid out for them on the cross. To declare “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

God is doing his work in a broken world. He IS working out His eternal kingdom in the midst of the mess of our lives. And that is immense grace to us. Thank goodness! Cause you know what, I am still a mess. I haven’t stopped being in desperate need of God. And thank goodness, God has not stopped saving in the mess.

So as I look at the mess of the world – At the Church, at the culture, at broken bodies, and hardship – I look to Jesus who, although invisible, is redeeming and calling his people to himself.

Paul says “for we walk by faith and not by sight”. I walk forward believing that God is not done yet, and his grace is greater than this mess. What Jesus conquered on the cross (disease, death, my sin, Satan) will be completed when he returns. All will be made completely new!

He is not done yet.

The Ceasing and the Knowing

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“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Psalm 46:10-11

This verse means a lot of me. Every time I read it and scriptures like it, they brings conviction and relief. I figured it would be beneficial to take some time to process why that is, and in doing so, maybe encourage other ‘crazies’ like me who strive way too much, and rest in knowing God way too little.

I’ll start by saying, we all struggle with this – I think that’s why Sabbath is so important to God. Also why in Deuteronomy, God and Moses keep telling the people of Israel, Remember, remember, remember. Do you like me, forget that the ‘remembering’ and ‘knowing’ is almost more important than the doing? Knowing God is a command. It’s not an option. Remembering is an act of obedience to center your mind on knowing God – what God has already done for you, generally and specifically, – focusing you on what and whom really matters in this life because simply, as Israel is a good example, we forget. Forgetfulness is also associated with foolishness. When we forget God, we act as fools. When we forget the bigness of God, how he intervened to save us, how he forgives you of the sin you are committing right now, how he is the LORD over everything, how we are nothing outside of his grace and love, we begin to act out of our heart, will and pride which ends up causing us to be the fool.

If your like me, you are not naturally prone to humility, grace, patience, love, and long suffering. When i am striving, I have usually forgotten some truth. Something in my thinking has become off-kilter, and I am running on a path that is leading me away from surrender, peace and God.

I grew up thinking that my actions produced outcomes. The good in life was because of my effort and the bad was directly because I failed. Also, because of some of my early relationships, I believed my whole worth was in serving and helping others. I didn’t know who I was or how to be outside of another person. Because of all this, I believed God was mad at me when people or situations failed because it was “in my hands to fix” (lie!). If i succeed, i felt secure, whether or not God was actually happy with me. I didn’t need to ask him. This made me very big and God very small. If I couldn’t succeed or if I was unable to make someone happy or helped, I had somehow failed. What is so sad, is how untrue all this is. Living these lies robbed me of peace when things failed, or taking way too much responsibility when really, situations weren’t always in my hands or control. I might have a slight influence, but ultimately I do not have the final say how things work out – whether I succeed at my job, whether my son falls asleep, or whether my friend “thinks” I am a loving friend. And even though I may not have anxiety attacks when I am alone anymore, my heart still wanders back to the bondage of striving to create the “Ends” i want, forgetting only God deserves that role.

So i am reminded to rest. Rest in the last part of that verse…God says “Cease striving” but pairs it with the truth about himself….“I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.” I can rest in knowing god is with me. He is my stronghold, my safe refuge. I do not need to strive, because he has already done it. He has done the hard work… now i just follow. I don’t need to work for my salvation. I don’t need to worry about outcomes, cause I am not Lord of my life. Nor am i all powerful to change anything. I am not Maker or Creator. I am disciple, follower, worshiper and relier. And God does such a better job. So you do your thing God, I will stay out of it. You are holy, and i am not. You are making all things new, and I am just beholding your works. And thats the place I want to be – Beholding your wonders – So please keep making me new.

 

BG

9 Marks of the Submissive Leader

9 Marks of the Submissive Leader

Readers,

I couldn’t help myself but needed to share this blog that speaks to the attributes us women leaders should desire and seek daily. It encouraged me greatly and reminded me of the sweetness of the attributes God desires to develop in us for us to be like him and glorify him through humility. It’s a must read!

http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/blogs/2013/12/10/9-marks-of-the-submissive-leader/

(It will be added to my resources as well!)

Comfort to the Suffering

Man praying on stepsThe Bible is a book about suffering. If anyone wants to tell you differently, they are aren’t reading the whole thing. In fact, it should be a comfort that to one of the biggest world problems the Bible has so much to say. Not only does it address the problem of suffering from sin (ours, others against us, and the overall sin condition) and provide the only solution, it addresses undue suffering. The type of suffering you don’t deserve, didn’t expect and is straight up unfair. The suffering that comes from doing good.

And the Bible has a lot to say for the Christian that suffers. I am hoping that these points would comfort the wounded heart, breath life back into the dead soul and remind us of the nature of God and his comfort:

1. We will suffer

This is unavoidable. When we follow Jesus, we will suffer.  1 Peter says,

“Do not be surprised at the fiery trail when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (4:12-14).

Don’t be surprised. It’s going to happen. God’s words both created the universe and cut through bone and marrow to men’s hearts. They are so powerful, if wielded well, God’s words are assured to accomplish what they were intended to do. Whether that is to call God’s sheep to Himself, or causing shame to the unbelievers who run back into the darkness to hide from truth. There is no grey. For those who despise the name of Jesus, they will bring strife, just as they did to Jesus.  Jews hated Jesus, (and the following apostles) because Jesus was taking their glory, confronting their desire to be god. Lead by Satan, murder rose up in their hearts to eliminate the source of conviction and truth. If we are also messengers of that truth, we can expect the same result: Salvation and Confrontation. Is it strange that we would be like Christ?

2. Suffering will bring Jesus’ glory just as Jesus’ suffering brought about God’s glory 

Our suffering, we can be assured, brings glory to God if brought about for his name, according to his will.

“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).

We can rejoice in the future glory our endurance through suffering will bring Jesus’ name. And that God’s Spirit will rest on you.  The glory of God is shown through being insulted for Jesus’ name. Not solely success. That’s pretty backwards and pretty amazing.

And we can look to our “living hope”; our “imperishable inheritance” that is kept in heaven for us, to keep faith until Jesus is revealed to us and calls us home.

“To be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 1:3-7

3. When we suffer for God’s name, we are instructed to entrust ourselves to a faithful God

Peter says Jesus continued to entrust himself to “him who judges justly”. When faced with suffering and the cross, Jesus knew God was the Avenger & Judge of the undeserved suffering he was going to endure and saw it fit for him to suffer. He was the one who was truly just and knew what was ultimately good. Therefore, he entrusted himself to that Judge, and gave himself completely to his will.

“When he (Jesus) was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”    1 Peter 2:23

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good”  1 Peter 4:19

Later in 1 Peter, we, the believers, are implored to follow in Jesus’ footstep and entrust ourselves to our “faithful Creator” as we suffer. We must entrust. I think entrusting is as much an action as a belief. We entrust – in Greek (paratithemi) meaning to place before or commit into one’s charge – our souls to a faithful God. We say in our hearts, “Even though this path might bring suffering, I will trust. I will go. You are good. You are worth it. You are enough.”

4. God is the ultimate Comforter to those who suffer

hand-of-god

Although suffering was a part of the plan for our redemption and sanctification, it was not for us to endure alone.  But he proclaims himself as our Comforter:

“You who are my Comforter in sorrow my heart is faint within me.” Jeremiah 8:18

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Cor. 1:3-5

“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus..” 2 Cor 7:6

“I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker,” Isa. 51:12-13a

When you suffer, no matter how you might feel, God always wants to comfort you. God is the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions. Wow. You heard that – ALL afflictions. So not only does God forgive us so that we can forgive others, he comforts us when we are suffering so we can comfort  sufferers! And there is no affliction he does not want to cover with his comfort. No pain he has turned a blind eye to. No situation he deems you should endure without comfort. This is our promise. He will comfort us in them all.

Bonhoeffer

“Principals only take you so far. At some point, every person must hear from God, must know what God is calling him to do apart from others.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Humility & the Kingdom of God

I have been pondering on the nature of the “Kingdom of God” or in other words, the attributes that describe God and what he wants his people to value and reflect. Basically, how does God order things. What is most important? What is less important? If God could ask you to do one thing, what would it be?

Christians have VERY different answers to this question. We all have proclivities. Different comfort levels with different commands of God. But if we attest to follow Christ, and be “Christ like” our proclivities and the aim of our heart should reflect that of whom we follow. We should adopt the values and nature of our King that we serve. Similar to when you believe in an organization or company, you want to take their “mottos” or “agenda” and make that your own and spread them to others because you believe they work… Except for God’s kingdom is ultimate and higher than any made of man and deserves all importance. It is all together true, holy and trustworthy.

As I was thinking about this, God reminded me of the parables and the beatitudes that Jesus taught.

Have you heard a sermon like this in a while. . .

“Blessed is the poor in spirit…” (Mt. 5:2-11)

If you were to foster an attribute, would it be “poor in spirit”? He goes on…

“Blessed are those who mourn…. Blessed are those who are meek… blessed are you who others revile” (v. 4, 5 & 11)

When was the last time I felt blessed to be reviled? How does one even do that? Or “poor in spirit”. I spend most my time trying to be “good” and “all together”. When was the last time I was even ok with being “poor in spirit”, much more finding it a blessed or good thing!

“Blessed are the meek…”

Man, does frustration rise up inside me when I don’t get the honor I believe I deserve. And to be seen as “meek” by others, even worse! How many people can relate to my feelings?

Let me ask you as I also ask myself… Why do you think God calls these things blessed? Let’s think about it for a while. Why does God choose the foolish to confound the wise? Why is it not ONLY ok, but called “blessed” by Jesus to be called a meek, poor in spirit, mourning, reviled, least of these, Jesus follower? Here are a few thoughts:

The greatest love is to lay down your life for a friend (Jn. 15:13)

Jesus laid down his life to save us. To be with us. Immanuel. Jesus’ love for us required humbling himself from his throne of power to become a baby and live a hard and “unglory-filled” life for our sake. By the time he died on the cross, all his disciples basically left him. He fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:3, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised, and we esteemed him not.” His disciples followed suit. Are we willing to follow?

We are not the answer

The plan of God’s redemption was never that we would be the answer. That our glory and performance would usher in the Kingdom. John the Baptist who paved the way for Jesus said, “I must become less, so that Jesus could be made much of” (John 3:29-30) The is also our call. We are not it. Jesus is. So as we die to ourselves and be made alive to Christ, we can walk with him in full freedom, not holding on to any pride or need for glory, but entrusting it all to the one who does deserve it – Jesus.

Those feelings and experiences in the beatitudes are inevitable for those who follow Jesus’ foot steps and teach his Truth

In the gospel of John, Jesus says that the world will hate you, because it first hated me. You cannot be above your Master or expect to have a different experience. What feelings do you think Jesus felt when betrayed, devalued by his closest friends, tempted, debated, pursued to be murdered out of hatred and utterly despised by so-called ‘godly’ leaders? Could it possibly have felt something similar to “poor in spirit”, “meek”, “reviled”?  Being honest in experiencing these attributes doesn’t devalue God’s glory if he himself says these things are “blessed”.  And it does not impact joy either. The Bible also says, “Jesus counted as joy to go to the cross….” He joyed in his death. Why? Knowing he would get us. Knowing he was doing the Father’s will, in which he utterly trusted. He had his sights on the God’s redemptive plan: he saw the end zone. He knew God was making all things new, and using his sacrifice to reconcile man to God forever. The end was enough for him.

If we have nothing, there is nothing to protect

Two of Jesus’ parables say basically the same thing (Lk. 14:11, 18:14). The greater you are, or think you are the higher chance God will humble you or possibility you might not be his child or in his kingdom. And the more humble, and dead to your sense of self-righteousness you are, the more he will glorify you. I think part of this has to do with the less you glory in yourself, the more you will be free to glorify him. In another parable it says, he who is faithful with little, will be faithful with much. If in small ways you honor the Lord, when unseen, then God can trust with you, knowing his message will not be tainted by pride or deception with greater places of glory and honor.

Eternity-minded.

It is our gift to give God glory, and be made less of and him be made more of. Why? Because we inherit the Kingdom of God. Is that enough for you? Is that enough for me? It was enough for Jesus. Jesus had God’s ultimate glory and goodness in mind for our salvation, when he found it joy walking toward the cross.

If it is to God’s glory and goodness to make me less, my prayer should be so be it. If it reveals the truth of grace to have me reviled by others, I want follow. If my shame is God’s glory, I want to trust. This is the prayer of my heart. That I would truly die to myself and fully entrust myself to God’s goodness and purposes, no matter where the road takes me… Even if it takes me lower.

The Kingdom of God is a “narrow door”, and not many want to go through it the way Jesus is leading. And Jesus is asking, will you follow? 

And someone said to him (Jesus), “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Luke 13:22-30

Beholding the Love of God by Timothy Keller

Sermon – Beholding the Love of God by Timothy Keller

This sermon is gold if you ever wanted to know what it looks like to experience God and what the difference is between someone who has beheld God and one who is religious or moral. Soooo good and convicting that God will not be controlled and a great reminder of how great his love is, that moves and remakes us! Pastor Tim Keller paints a great picture that God’s work in us is not counter to intellect but moves the knowing of truth into the whole of our being.

I love TK!

Shattering Egypt

“Then Israel will no longer be tempted to trust in Egypt for help. Egypt’s shattered condition will remind Israel of how sinful she was to trust Egypt in earlier days. Then Israel will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.”

(Ezekiel 29:16 NLT)

What a gift when God breaks the bonds of our sin! What a gift when he rips out of our hands our precious idols! What love of our Husband that he would fight, even die, to win back his love from her many ‘mistresses’ after she had cheated and gone astray. Or what love of a Father, that after his son have left home and lost himself, used up every form of sin, He still welcomes us back into the family with celebration and honor.

After?

After we had tasted intimacy with the King and said “This is nice but I think there is something better out there.” What wildernesses we wander in that come up dry and ultimately bring us to back to you! Oh God, how humbling, and bitter sweet is your forgiveness. Let the humility of our selfish efforts change us to remember. To remember to die to our trust in ourselves, and place it back in you hands. You allow us to denounce past “slave drivers”, and take our place as sons and daughters of the king of Kings without recompense.

What painful grace is that which receives us when we do not want to be found. Which follows us, when we do not want to be followed. Who loves us when we want Egypt instead! The Psalmists get it right when the writer meets the grace and mercy of their Maker, and declares “Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! You alone are worthy!” God’s grace is painful in that it reveals his goodness and our own wretchedness. Once seeing this amazing grace, we can only choose between turning from it to be slaves to self-righteousness or die to self and be alive in Jesus.  His love makes it possible to not be crushed by our sin because he said, Christ was enough. He paid it all. It is finished.

God’s sweet love crushes our idols, and false hopes and false dreams.

I want to praise God for the crushing because he does it to let me know who he is. The he is my God. My God is jealous. My God fights for our love. That I don’t deserve it but he choose to pursue me when I had already betrayed him. Just like Israel, God chose covenant with me based on his efforts and not mine. And he does everything to fight for his Bride.

How great is this love!