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Posts from the ‘Faith’ Category

Staying Put in Tough Times

Don’t doubt that in the midst of a tough time, you may be standing in the middle of God’s will.

Many times we question and want to run because times aren’t as easy as they should be. Our expectations for life far outweigh reality. What the world says is good is not God’s good. So, we’re caught in a whirlwind of how to get out of a situation as quickly as possible because it’s just too painful.

This morning, I was standing on the corner watching my youngest ride his bike to school. I stand at a distance as he crosses two streets, and fortunately, am able to watch his head move along the brick wall of the school, knowing he has safely arrived. I’ve dropped every obligation I had at the elementary school for the last six years as my oldest went through, and I’ve barely stepped foot in her middle school. I have dropped and am dropping other activities as well – some obligations, some ministry opportunities, some time with friends.

And, it’s painful.

There are days that I have grief over these losses.

I’m not saying this for sympathy or to complain.

What I’m saying is that in the midst of this discomfort, there is no doubt in my mind that I am following God’s will – in homeschooling. I’m not pretending to know any steps from here. I just know this is right for now.

Homeschooling has changed my life. It’s been a big adjustment – bigger than I would have expected. But, I am not sorry. I fully believe God has brought us here. He will accomplish his work through us, and He intends for us to succeed. And, while some of the sorrow remains, it is falling away. I am seeing God’s purpose more clearly.

May God show Himself to you today as you seek Him through pain.

May He give you a glimpse of His purpose and will.

For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Psalm 107:9

I love you, I’m just not…

“I love you, I’m just not in love with you” is one of my favorite quotes to use — if I’m talking about food. I’ve just never quite known what to do with those words, but today, I’m grateful for the much-used statement. It helped shock a little sense into me when I replaced one word in the sentence: Believe

I believe you. I just don’t believe in you.

Throughout the book of John, that little word “in” makes a big difference.

“And, his disciples believed in him.” John 2:11

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name.” John 2:23

“Many Samaritans from that town believed in him.” John 4:39

“This is the work of God that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29

“For not even his brothers believed in him.” John 7:5

What is the difference between believing him and believing in him?

I believe you (head), and I put my faith in you (heart). Both are needed.

It’s not enough to believe the words and never throw our lives full-fledged into the arms of Christ. We must put our faith in him.

A Summer of Profession

I blogged last that we are attributing our great summer to reflection, objective and profession. By far, the most important highlight of our summer has been a profession of Abby.

Abby entered our room late on June 20th professing faith in Jesus. In a cute-and-awkward-8-year-old-way, she shared what had been going on the previous hours, telling us of her conversation with God, belief in him and desire to be baptized. In short, we believe God called, and she responded. In a small amount of time, we have seen conviction and repentance.

Abby’s first profession of faith is that Jesus is Lord. He has heard the cry of her heart — that she cannot save herself. This will not be a one-stop declaration. The mark of the Christ-follower is a continual profession of faith, a continual declaration of dependence on the One who saves.

These same utterances have been the theme of many believers that have added to an encouraging summer. We’ve witnessed as brothers and sisters in Christ have adopted children, buried children, treated children for cancer, made great strides toward racial unity, worked toward restoring marriages and moved across the world for mission work.

In all these acts, we have observed professions of faith. “Jesus is Lord” was declared long ago by these believers and is their foundation. And, there is a continual profession of  Jesus is Lord, help us, lead us, heal us, free us, save us that will never cease until the last day of a God-follower.

We are grateful this summer for the encouragement from The Body, and we are especially grateful to God for saving Abby.

Faith Without Compartments

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but clothes are being made smaller these days. For that reason and others, I’m working to get down to a lower size. I was shopping last weekend with my girls. They are getting to the age where it’s enjoyable to do girly things together. I was modeling for them while they sat on the plush, dressing room sofa with two young adult hostesses standing by. I was somewhat confident in trying on the smaller sizes, smaller for me, when toward the end of my show, one of the young girls, brought two shirts and said something to the tune of Here are two extra-large tops you may want to try. Scotty Smith says, “Do whatever you can to make sure your criticisms come across more like a life-giving-rebuke than a drive-by-shooting.” Well, what may have seemed like a cool drink of water to this lean, young girl, felt like a whizzing cap grazing my cheek, momentarily undoing a few weeks of hard work and consistency.  The call is to press on.

Why I press on is because if anything has been impressed on my heart over the last years, it’s that the Christian life cannot be compartmentalized. I cannot put different areas of my life in nice, organized containers and choose which ones I hand to God. Here God, you can have_______________ but don’t take _______________. You are free to enter this room, but you have no place in that room.

Holistically, my life is God’s — my body, my marriage, my spirit, my children, my mind, my possessions — all.

Beliefs cannot be compartmentalized to faith. They have to pervade the whole of our being/living without inconsistency. Examples would be: Counseling one set of standards to the couples on my couch but living differently in my marriage (which has totally happened). An elder showing grace in his church then treating his employees at work harshly.  Speaking love on Sunday but showing no regard for a neighbor any other day of the week.

For the Christ-follower, God not only owns Sunday, he owns Monday-Friday. He not only owns the 10%, he owns the checkbook, the savings, the 401K, the American Express. God not only owns the kind words uttered at Bible study, he owns the words uttered in the privacy of home to family members – those said out loud and those in thought. He owns our heart concerning racism, classism and nationalism. He owns our diet, our politics, our marriages, our schools, all. Pursuit of happiness and comfort do not overrule the Lordship of Christ in any area. Faith cannot be compartmentalized.

The grace of this all is the chipping. First, all has been accomplished on our behalf by Christ. But also, God is gentle in changing our desires to be his. He is gracious in revealing areas that need to be handed to him, and that work will never cease.

Compartments assume that things do not run together. Not so with the Christian life. All areas of our life bleed over into the next. They can’t help but affect each other. That is the goodness of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus breathed him into us, and he permeates every inch of our being and doing.

No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.  – Nathaniel Hawthorne


Three Days Bring Much Change

This morning, the first words to meet my eyes were “We are Easter people living in a Good Friday world,” and my mind went to a million places at once. I went to all of the encounters I have had meeting with people over coffee and lunch and in my living room with couples counseling with my husband. I was taken back to my own warped identity that I am still tempted to sink back into of lies and skepticism and resistance. I pictured Chris seeing a distorted identity of himself, skipping to the future and wondering what traps my children will fall into.

The unraveling of Friday to Sunday is the most beautiful 3 days we can experience in our lives. The eyes being opened. The chains falling off. The heart being set free. The justification of the sinner — Jesus covering our sins on Friday, then rising for our righteousness on Sunday is and always will be the greatest day in history. But, it is also the greatest day in present and future.

We are no longer slaves to sin. Friday

But slaves to righteousness. Easter

The old has gone. Friday

The new has come. Easter

I have been crucified with Christ. Friday

It is no longer I who live. But Christ lives in me. Easter

Do not be conformed to this world. Friday

But be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Easter

Dead in your trespasses. Friday

Alive together with him. Easter

Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Friday

Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Easter

Once were far off. Friday

Have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Easter

Under law. Friday

Under grace. Sunday

Wages of sin is death. Friday

Free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Easter

Unbelief, Skepticism, Doubting, Resistance. Friday

Faith. Easter

Despair, Glum, Drudgery, Sadness, Dismay. Friday

Hope. Easter

Hate, Scorn, Judgement, Ridicule, Betrayal, Enslavement. Friday

Love. Easter

It is true that we live in a Good Friday world, and we are mostly surrounded by Good Friday people, but as followers of Christ, we live a life in the glory of Resurrection Sunday. Our identity is that of Easter people.

“…left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entrophy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them. And we are wrong. Our task in the present…is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.”  N.T. Wright

 

Holding Out For A Hero

Since 11, I’ve been holding out for a hero. It was then that Bonnie Tyler compelled us through our love of the original “Footloose” to question “Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?/ Where’s the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds?”

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been studying the life of David. Cooper, my almost 6-year-old, is enamored with King David, so when I pick him up from school, he sometimes asks, “Mom, did you learn anything new about David today?” He asked that very question a couple of weeks ago. I replied with a yes and we’re going for ice-cream. Over ice-cream covered with junk — gummy bears, chocolate chips, cereal, sprinkles and syrup — I told Cooper the story of David and Bathsheba. When I was finished, he paused, looked up and said, “Well, I guess I need to pick a new guy to like.” I laughed a little and explained there was no one in scripture we could follow who wouldn’t have a story similar to David’s because… “There is only one perfect man,” he finished my sentence.

When the Philistines saw Goliath was dead, they ran away. And when God’s people saw them running away, they cheered. God had saved his people. David was a hero!

Many years later, God would send his people another young Hero to fight for them. And to save them.

But this Hero would fight the greatest battle the world has ever known. (The Jesus Storybook Bible)

We are inspired by great heroes of the faith, and we ourselves are able to inspire. But people can’t rescue people; only a Savior can do that.

Read Hebrews 11. Such an encouraging chapter for motivation and endurance in our race. But, my pastor recently pointed out what directly follows, Hebrews 12:1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let men encourage our race, but look to Jesus.

And, know we’re no longer holding out for a hero. We’re only holding out for his return.

Here’s a recent article from Sally Lloyd-Jones on The Jesus Storybook Bible