Friday, July 31, 2015


2 Peter 1:12
"Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you."

In my walk with God, it took me a rather long time before I realized the true importance of reminders. If I already knew something about God, I didn't see much point in going back over it unless there might be something more to be gleaned (it isn't called the Living Word for nothing). I noticed this most when my Biblical Counselor gave me an assignment to read a number of verses and write down the main point of each. As I worked through the list, I began to feel like I had just been given busywork. I didn't have time for busywork.

The epiphany didn't come until further into the counseling process, but the Lord convicted me of my pride of knowledge versus my forgetfulness. I don't have the greatest memory, but I'm referring more to when the Bible talks about how mankind is quick to forget. Israel did it time and again, and if we're honest with ourselves, we do it, too.  I may know a truth, but that doesn't mean I live it. 

Now, when I hear someone mention a truth they've just discovered, I don't just think, "Ah, so that's what they're learning right now."  I consider, "Is my life reflecting that truth?"

My son is three-and-a-half years and my daughter is just over four months old; I'm still dealing with some post-partum hormones and the rebellion of the threes. I'm also struggling with a pain in my rib that isn't subsiding with physical therapy, and my son wrecked the control to the fan in his room.  I cried.

As I sat there on the floor with his sweet voice reassuring me, I tried to pull myself back together. Then I heard, "It's okay, Mommy, you don't have to cry, because God is here." 

That got my attention. 

"You're right, buddy," I sniffed. "You're absolutely right."  I knew it was God's grace that my little man was reminding me of God's presence. I felt His love in that moment, and several truths came flooding to mind.  God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28); God gives me the strength to carry out His righteousness (Philippians 4:13); I'm not alone in my temptation and I don't have to give in to it (1 Corinthians 10:13); God's grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).  With these under my belt, I was able to continue the day as a mother through God's strength, rather than my own. 

Which of His truths do you need to be reminded of today?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Not in Vain

Romans 8:28
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

I have struggled with chronic pain since I was a child. Over the years, I have had my good phrases and bad phases, the moments of asking "why?" and the moments of sharing God's goodness in the midst of the pain. The phrase, "This, too, shall pass" used to be my mantra - especially during the worst of the pain. That precise phrase isn't in the Bible, though it says something similar: "...weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5) and "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." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) What these verses have over the phrase is a specific hope of WHAT (or Who) is in the future, rather than a simple focus on this moment passing. "This, too, shall pass" seems to place its hope in the fact that the moment will pass rather than on our eternal hope in Christ. 

That eternal hope in Christ is what brings me to thankfulness for my pain, because God wastes nothing; my pain is not in vain. Christ uses my pain not only in my life, but also in the lives of others. He is growing me, and more and more I am learning how to give Him the glory He is due. It can be difficult to be thankful for pain, but the more I focus on Christ and His truths, the easier it becomes. In today's society, we are taught to avoid pain if at all possible, but sometimes, pain is worth it and can even be good. Christ knows this better than anyone - it is why He chose to take our punishment upon Himself. 

I rejoice, not in the fact that it hurts, but in Christ's Victory - that He will use the pain for His glory and the good of His children. May the Lord's will be first in my life, as it was in Christ's!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Life on Earth

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word."

The Bible often refers to the world in regard to the sinful people who live in it. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:2a). As christians, I think we (or at least I) have a tendency to take this a little far: the world is a horrible place to be. Granted, we are to "be in the world, not of the world," but that doesn't mean that life here is drudgery. Part of the beauty of a life of following Christ is - because of His grace - we can be joyful despite our circumstances.

I long to be with Christ in heaven, and I hate this world in comparison, but God still gives "good things" and "perfect gifts" (James 1:17) on this earth. It is here on earth where He chose to create the living, here where He put me, and here where He uses me now. It is here that He has given me a three-year-old son to jet out of the house to tell me goodbye with a hug and a kiss before I go. Here that I have a four-month-old daughter who often smiles at me with a coy little grin. God has given me a life here, and as much as I long to be serving sinlessly in His more tangible presence, I enjoy the life He has given me on earth.

May I be cognizant to show that joy in His grace and good gifts, that others, too, might know of His goodness - even in this life.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ordinary Mountain Tops

1 Chronicles 16:8-11
"Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually."

Have you ever been to a christian camp (Hume Lake, for instance) and had one of those mountain top experiences? Emotions are high, you're pumped for the Lord, perhaps even overwhelmed by His awesome presence. A lot of people don't know that this is possible - sometimes even commonplace - without going to some sort of camp or missions trip. The "ordinary mountain top" can catch you by surprise, but its frequency is usually in direct correlation to an intentional everyday focus on God. 

Have you ever been driving in your car and a great song comes on the radio, and you just start praising and singing to God? Have you found yourself overwhelmed by His love while meditating on His grace (or another of His attributes)? Have you been working along and found that you have just enough soap left to finish your dishes, and you feel tears well up that He saw fit to provide for such a Small Desire? This is the "ordinary mountain top." It's all part of our everyday relationship with our Savior. 

He is incredibly personal with us, providing for our needs and cares, and the more we focus and meditate on Him and our relationship with Him, the more often we feel close to Him on that ordinary mountain top. Talk to Him all the time - "...pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17) The more you seek Him, the more you will recognize His influence - and the more thankful you will be. 

I thank the Lord for the ordinary mountain top I had with Him in my car the other day. Being able not only to know that God is close, but to really feel it, is a true blessing. His grace not only allows this, it often precipitates it. Thank You, Lord, for Your grace of the ordinary mountain top. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Reason to Breathe

1 Peter 1:13
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

My playlist pulled up "Reason" by Shawn McDonald on my drive to work this morning. As I listened to the lyrics "Please give me a reason to breathe," my eyes welled up with tears at the realization that I no longer live in that place of depression where I constantly and urgently wish I was no longer on earth. For many many years, life was just something to get through until I finally died and could go be with Christ. I was so ready to die. 

Somewhere in this journey of thankfulness, that changed. (See my testimony here.) Certainly, I still long to be with my Savior, and I have no qualms about dying, but it isn't this urgent desire that constantly sucks away at my soul. Now, the only way I can describe it, is that I'm content with serving my Savior in whatever capacity He chooses - which happens to be as a physically present being in this sinful world at the moment. 

I have a reason to breathe. As much as I love them, it isn't my family. It isn't my job, or hobbies, or talents. It is simply serving God. The One who saved my soul from the death penalty. The One who has been there with and for me during my whole life of depression, pain, worry, and pride, of happiness, feeling lithe, enjoying passions and talents. The One who has provided His Holy Spirit so that I can actually do good things. The One who opened my eyes to His everyday gifts and miracles. Christ is my hope, my contentment, and my reason to breathe.

This life is my privilege, given by my Savior. It is not a drudgery or a curse. Rather, " live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)

Philippians 1:18f-21
"Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Each Day's Own Trouble

Matthew 6:32b-34
"...for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Praise the Lord for His bountiful grace! I deserve none of His good gifts, and yet He lavishes them freely. This passage holds two related gifts:  the lack of the need to worry about 1) tomorrow, or 2) my basic needs. I just need to focus on seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, and He'll take care of the rest. So what does that look like?

The greek word for "seek" in this verse is zeteo, and one of its sub-definitions is "to seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into." So the more I think about, meditate on, and find out about His kingdom and righteousness, God Himself will see to my needs. How do I find out about them? How do I think and meditate upon them? By reading His Word.

God gave us His Living Word - the Bible and infallible Word of God - for our knowledge (among other things). If I seek after God and His kingdom and how to be like Him within the pages of that book, God will reveal Himself. Each time that I read it when I am truly seeking Him, I come away with a little something more. That's part of what makes it "living." Even if I find myself reading it without truly seeking, I fill my mind with its thoughts, and remind myself of some piece of His truth. It helps me to Meditate upon Him - even when I stop reading.

As with all things in the Bible, it isn't just about the academia. It isn't just about reading and learning about Him; it's about applying what I have learned. So to seek His kingdom and righteousness after I have set the Bible down, I am to live it. I am to live in Light of Eternity with Him, and  For His Glory. What, in this moment - not tomorrow - would glorify Him?

I thank the Lord for this grace of not needing to worry about tomorrow or my basic needs, and instead to have the ability to focus on and seek Him.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Unashamed Prayer

1 Peter 5:6-7
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.

I have recognized something in myself that the Lord recently addressed with me:  we don’t have to be ashamed to ask God for something that we don’t know He will grant.  That’s just pride talking.  There is no harm in asking if He will heal small hurts or big hurts, save your friend or a stranger, or even give you enough paper clips to see a project through.  There is no shame in asking - or in receiving a "no" answer.  

Just pray.  He wants you to cast your cares on Him.  Wait to see what His answer is; He can’t answer if you don’t ask in the first place.  Don’t place your hope in a “yes” answer - your hope is in Christ, the very High Priest whose grace enabled you to speak with God directly - but God isn't too busy to be bothered with your petitions. 

Even if His answer is "no" or "wait," the time may come when the answer is "yes."  If asking is destroying your contentment in Christ, then perhaps it's time to stop asking. Otherwise, be thankful in your petition and leave it in God’s hands from there. It doesn't "reflect on you" if He says "no."