Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts

Thursday, February 21, 2013

They're Just Saying: February Links

Do Christian Parents Have a Fundamental Right to Homeschool? This post is truly frightening 

How's Your Bible Reading Going? 

Free Family Lent and Easter Devotional by Ann Voskamp found on her blog at A Holy Experience. 

Children and the Culture of Pornography - what is this world coming too? It breaks my heart to realize what my children will face way before their ready. 

Will We Live By Formula or Faith? by Sally Clarkson - so encouraging to be a young mom reading her (and her husbands) writings and encouragement. 

New Child Seat Law to Take affect 2014 

The Truth (About Abortion) Will Set You Free by John Piper 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

El-Roi: The God Who Sees

I mentioned in a recent post that I am in the process of reading Kay Arthur's "Lord, Teach me How to Pray in 28 Days" and that we were studying The Lord's Prayer. In this first week, we have taken the time to look at and pray one of the Lord's names in scripture. It's been such a sweet blessing to study Him and what He was revealed about Himself through His names. 

As most of you know, this week marked the 40-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As a nation we tragically remembered and reflected on the 50 million lives that have been murdered, legally in the last 40 years. Last night, Tim and I watched a video called 3801 Lanchaster.

It was awful, horrible and heart-wrenching and as strange as it sounds:

you should all watch it!!

Reality is, sometimes it takes us seeing something so terrible and painful to realize that we can't just sit by and do nothing. At the very least, we MUST be on our knees in prayer for our country and the millions of innocent victims of abortion. 

We don't see it.

We don't see the daily tragedy and evil that surrounds us. But we have a God that does. 


The God Who Sees

Genesis 16:13 "So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,”for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me."

He sees it all. 

Psalm 139:7-8 "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

Everyday there are children and women (and even men) who are abused, and hurt and in pain. This week we clearly see the pain and effect abortion has had on our nation. But every day we watch as more tragedy and pain is brought to our attention. Human trafficking, a real and frightening reality, even in the seemingly safest of places. Sexual abuse, including rape and incest happen at horrific rates. NewImage

It can be overwhelming and seemingly hopeless to see what our world is becoming. It's easy to want to ignore the realities and to turn our backs on the statistics and the painful documentaries sharing the truth behind them. 


There is hope. 

We have El-Roi.

The God who sees. The God who knows the pain of every victim and every wounded. 


He sees. 

He knows. 

He is just. 

He is loving. 

He is merciful towards those who repent.

We have no reason to fear. 

We have no pain that He does not see and there is no sin that will go unpunished. 


Come quickly, Lord Jesus! 

2 Peter 3:8-9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promises as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Names of God

Studying the names of God this week and moved by all that HE IS! 

(I received the information on this chart from Kay Arthur's "Lord, Teach Me How to Pray in 28 Days") 




Friday, November 11, 2011

Dead to the Flesh, Alive in the Spirit

I am currently in a Bible Study on the book of 1 John. Going in, I was familiar enough with this book to fear it, but now that I’ve gotten to know it a little better, it has become a comforting friend.

If you’ve read 1 John, you know that the apostle John is not known for his “mincing words” ability. He’s hard core. He writes in absolutes. Forget grey areas – this book is filled with black-and-white, light-and-dark, child of God or child of Satan kind of talk.

Take a look at a section of the third chapter with me:

1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

I don’t know about you, but when I read that my heart shuddered a little bit.

I mean, what does this mean? “no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him”…. um, say what?

After studying this portion of scripture, and talking with some of the ladies in my study I feel like I understand it a little better, and it’s really been helpful in my walk.

It’s clear from the text and the original greek tense used throughout 1 John, that John is referring to habitual, unbroken sin in the life of a person, and not the occasional “fall from grace” type sin we all manage to stumble (and admittedly, jump) into on a daily basis. While this is somewhat of a relief to me, it is still somewhat frightening as well.

Because the truth is, I have this…. thing…. this area of my life that seems to consistently trip me up. Now, I don’t want to go into details here, but let me be clear in this “thing” is a sin, it is something I really enjoy, and something I’ve struggled with for --- a while (a long while… like over a year).

There are times when I am able to resist, run and seemingly defeat this thing. And then there are times that I decide, I don’t want to defeat it, I want to enjoy it. So….. when I read something like 1 John 3, it starts me thinking.

In my heart of hearts I know that I want to desire God more than this (stupid) thing. But oftentimes when faced with an actual choice…. I fail. I know that it’s sin, I know that I should resist, and yet I don’t – I choose not to. So what does this mean?

What does it mean (Biblically) when a believer struggles with a particular sin, over an extended period of time, a thing that trips him/her up and is just an over all “weakness” in their life (my pastor has called it a believer’s “Achilles heel”)? Is this even possible, for a believer to struggle with a long-time stronghold?

I’ve learned a lot in the past year, as I’ve struggled with some of my own flesh and strongholds. And I have realized for the first time what resisting temptation means, and how it should look. Prior to this particular struggle I never really had a sin that I couldn’t master with just a little resolve and self-control (of my own). It left me highly independent, when what I really needed was dependence on the One that could actually change my heart.

When we actually struggle in the flesh the way that I have been in the past year, we’re forced to come face-to-face with our sinfulness, and let me tell you, it isn’t pretty or easy to experience BUT it is humbling and life-altering (if you allow it to be). I have learned that some things are worth giving up, some relationships and habits are worth breaking, and sometimes our own resolve just isn’t enough.

Lest you think I’ve mastered this all and am speaking from some “higher place” let me put your mind at ease by saying, I’m still struggling, I still fail and I still do the thing that I don’t want to do. But I haven’t given up and I haven’t given in because He hasn’t given up on me, and praise God He never will!!

Throughout this process and studying different portions of scriptures, there have been times that I have actually walked away with more questions than I had answers. Like:

  • What does it mean to be “dead to sin”? And why don’t I feel dead to sin?
  • What does it mean when the Bible says “walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”? (Galatians 5:16)
  • OR how about all of 1 John? How am I to understand ANY of that?
  • Am I saved? Can I desire my sin the way I do and still be a Christian?
  • “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7) Which part of me is my “old self” and why is it still talking if it’s dead?
  • “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) What does the new creation mean, and if I am a new creation, why do I still have old desires?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve asked those questions!! More than once.

In the past week the Lord has been showing me in several different places and ways some encouraging revelation (and clarification) of His word:

When we confess Christ as Lord of our life and experience the new birth, we are in fact a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come. We receive a new-birthed spirit – we are a new being in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3:5-6) However, we don’t lose our old flesh, it still wages a war within us - which is what sanctification is really all about (Romans 6:22). Our flesh will always be at work against the Spirit (big S) Galatians 5:17 “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Once the Spirit comes to live in us, this creates an internal battle within us. (Romans 7:14-25)

But praise God, this isn’t the end, in the very next verse you will find Romans 8:1-11 which offers us the hope we are looking for

1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

This is how we are able to overcome, this is the confirmation we’re looking for.

We are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit, and in Christ. The struggle is real, it will exist in us as long as we have our flesh, but we are dead to it, in the sense that it is no longer the part of us that controls our destiny and future. It is no longer the only part of us that we listen to or care about – we have been given a new life with a new purpose and a true Lord to serve which brings an entirely different perspective.

This changes everything.

This means it doesn’t always come naturally for us. It isn’t always going to be easy, and at times, when we allow our guard to drop and the flesh to creep back in it doesn’t even feel like a reality – but what we feel and what really is, can be two different things. When we’re feeling defeated we can know that God is greater than our feelings (1 John 3:20). He has defeated what we could not, and in Him, we can overcome our flesh.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Clarification on Justification Vs. Sanctification

Earlier this week I posted a quote by John Piper from his book "When I Don't Desire God" In response to that post I received a comment that I wanted to take the time to respond to, as I was researching my response and putting together my comment I really felt like some of the things I was discussing were important enough to post to everyone rather than just the comment readers.

So here is my response:

I want to start by saying, this comment/post is not a defense of Piper or his book, per se. I have not read the book except for a few small passages. So at this point, I am not in a position to defend what I have not read.

However, I do feel the need to address the issues of sanctification and justification from a Biblical perspective (at least as much as I can).

First, I want to just be clear what I am meaning, and what I believe John Piper was meaning, by both terms we are using. The term justification (justify, justified, etc.) – is interpreted by Strong’s as to “render righteous, to declare or pronounce one to be just or righteous”. It is the declaration of “not guilty” that we receive the MOMENT we put our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

I am assuming, or perhaps hoping, that the difference in our interpretation is what we are meaning by sanctification. There are actually two separate greek words translated into our English word “sanctify” or “sanctification”

The first word ‘Hagiazo’ means (according to Strong’s) “to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow, to separate from profane things and dedicate to God, consecrate things to God, dedicate people to God, to purify: to cleanse externally, to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin, to purify internally by renewing of the soul” – an example of it’s usage can be found in where Paul is greeting the church in Corinth “To the church in of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus….” This word refers primarily to an act of dedicating something to God.

The second word is ‘Hagiasmos’ which means “consecration, purification, the effect of consecration, sanctification of heart and life”. In the KJV it was translated equally as either sanctification or holiness. An example of this word in use (and one that Piper used) can be found in Romans 6:22 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. “

When discussing sanctification, we must be very careful to take these different word uses into account. Additionally, another important caution we must take when discussing concepts of scripture is to not “flatten” texts. This is when we incorrectly take a text from one particular place in Scripture to compare it with a similar verse in another area of scripture. The risk we run is that, one scripture may be interpreting the same word/term differently or from a different perspective or even (in our case) using two different greek/hebrew words into the same english word. When this occurs we do not find a contradiction in the Word, but rather a possible misinterpretation by the user.

Saying that, if we are using sanctify to mean different things I can understand more clearly where you are coming from when you say that you think sanctification occurs before justification. However, if you are referring to the process of sanctification, which is in fact a Biblical concept, occurs BEFORE justification I feel as though we may be on completely different pages theologically.

It is my (very strong) belief that we do NOTHING in our own accord to earn or prepare ourselves for salvation. It is a free gift from God and we don’t need (nor can we) do anything to deserve a right-standing with God. We have in fact been set apart, or sanctified, and we have certainly been justified, being able to stand before the Judge of creation covered in a robe of righteousness, all in Christ Jesus. This is absolutely true, the order in which those two things occur… and we’re moving into a little bit of predestination theology here, really doesn’t matter. What does matter, and what the point of Piper’s quote is – it is only after we are justified (made right before God) that an inward transformation begins to occur. As we are always in this process, we will never be fully sanctified in our actions this side of heaven, we must be careful not to confuse the fact that justification is NOT the same as the process of sanctification. Otherwise, our justification would somehow be contingent on our works and ability to make ourselves holy…. Which is clearly unbiblical (for more reading on this I suggest the book of Romans and/or Galatians as a starting point).

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Importance of Truth (and Doctrine)

In light of Michelle's recent posts 'Righteous Judgement' and 'What is Love?' I have been inspired to write a few words of my own on the topic.
This (rather long) post covers my thoughts and opinions (in a very broad sense) regarding what our responsibility is regarding the false teachings and doctrine within the church today. (You do not necessarily need to read Michelle's post to read mine, but I do recommend taking the time to read them... they are incredibly thought provoking and are sure to get you thinking... one way or another :))

I guess it would be only fair to give you a little heads up as to what "I believe":
I believe there are certain areas of doctrine that should be without a doubt argued and debated, and even confronted within the church today - there are some beliefs out there within the so-called Christian church that can be blatantly contradictory to the Word of God and are leading people astray, and by astray I mean to hell.
However, there are also doctrines out there that are NOT as serious, and can safely be left up to the interpretation of each individual believer. These "minor" differences are nothing to divide over in any sense, but personally, I enjoy debating, learning and studying the Word of God and am saddened by the fact that more Christians are not able to discuss/debate their beliefs without becoming offended, angry and downright rude with one another. Everything we do should be done in love whether it's a direct confrontation or a simple theological/doctrinal debate.
Righteous judgment is not about condemning or judging someone in the sense of "bestowing a final judgment/condemnation" but does require a sense of discernment and drawing conclusions. There is a difference.

I also should mention that I personally think that doctrine is extremely important to an effective Christian walk and far too many Christians are walking around believing what they believe without really knowing why. To be honest, this is a very dangerous place to be, the Bible reminds us over and over again of the importance of knowing and teaching truth. Ephesians 4:11-15 mentions only a few of the benefits which include maturity, unity in the church, building up in love, equipping, and protection from wayward doctrine and deception.

My primary objective in this post  is to prove the seriousness of false doctrine and being led astray. By proving the seriousness, I think we can better evaluate our motives and approach to "righteously judging and correcting" our fellow believers as well as discussing the blessings that come from guarding and keeping the Word of God pure.

2 Corinthians 4:2-6 states "But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the Light of the gospel on the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let Light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Paul states in this passage that he is going to remain true to the gospel, without watering it down or deceitfully introducing it, regardless of how the gospel is received, or not, for he knows that the gospel is accepted and understood not based on how well it is taught or how "convenient" it looks but on whether the recipient has been "blinded" or not.
The purpose of this passage (according to the ESV Study Bible) is that Paul is pointing to the power of God rather than himself, repeatedly, as the source of knowledge and gospel acceptance. This is why he does not lose heart and is able to preach without abandon and without the fear of man and what man thinks of him.
Little bunny trail - we don't NEED to water down the truth in order for it to be accepted, it may not sound the prettiest or make complete sense to us, that doesn't matter, what matters is the power of God and His Light shining on the hearts of people - that will happen in spite of watered down "good news" not because of it!

I want to draw special attention to verse 2 "We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God" the greek word for "tamper" is ('doloo') and its meaning fig. is "adulterate - handle deceitfully" and it signifies an ensnaring, or a corruption "especially by mingling the truths of the Word of God with false doctrines or notions, and so handling it deceitfully." (Strong's Concordance)

The fact is, even if 'watering down the gospel' has good motives behind it (and personally I think it is more often an issue of ignorance than good motives) it is FALSE, meaning NOT the TRUTH and is ineffective - rather than saving it is ensnaring those who receive it!

Let's recall that this chapter is centered around the afflictions that Paul was experiencing because of the gospel he was preaching - this chapter is his encouragement to the church about holding fast to the truth and the larger picture of what's really going on.

Lets look at vereses 13-15 "Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, 'I believed and so I spoke' we also believe and so we speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

It is the TRUTH of the gospel that brings grace and glorifies God.

This particular chapter of scripture has shown us an important comparison of the two extremes - false watered-down teachings opposed to the true (possibly harder to accept) truth of the Bible. There is a right and a wrong - one way glorifies God the other ensnares and traps those who accept it.

Just in case this isn't a clear enough explanation for us, let's also turn to 2 Timothy 4:1-4 "I charge you [Timothy].... preach the word; be ready in season and out of season ["when it is convenient and when it is inconvenient(*)"]; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."
* ESV Study Bible

The opposite of truth and allowing it, is not loving... it's a lie and a trap - one that we should be desperate to save not only our fellow brothers from but also those who have not yet become believers. Scripture paints a clear difference here - it doesn't speak of acceptance and "living with differences" it's spoken as a warning to keep Timothy (and all teacher's) diligent and on the look-out for what is happening.

Turning back now to 2 Corinthians 4 Paul states in verse 8-9 that "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not driven to despair. Persecuted but not forsake. Struck down, but not destroyed."

Let's take a closer look at the word crushed in verse 8- the original greek word ('stenochoreo') means 'to crowd into a narrow space. The Complete Word Study Dictionary describes it a little further as "figuratively, to be constrained, reserved, be unable to express oneself". In the only other instance this word is used (2 Corinthians 6:12) the word is translated as "restricted" and implies a restriction to growth.

Dare I draw the obvious conclusion that the reason Paul can say with boldness he will not be restricted and "unable to express himself" is because he has been true to the gospel and has allowed God's power to work through Him. Reading this portion of scripture with this insight is very interesting to me. A connection is made between holding strongly to the authenticity of the gospel, allowing God's power to work through us and the ability to stand up for our convictions of truth.

This is a big deal, and it effects the church as a whole and us as individuals. The implications of NOT teaching true doctrine and watering down the truth affects far more than just an individual it affects the entire body, including those who decide to not stand up for truth.

For me personally, I don't claim to have all the answers or to be right about everything, the truth is, I know that I'm not right about everything. When I am wrong about something, especially if I am teaching others incorrectly I pray that someone would come to me and correct me in a loving, non-accusatory manner. Not just for the well-being of myself, but also those who realize the mistakes I am making and the souls of those I am responsible to. This is a serious matter, and I think that we all need to take a good hard look at the destruction that is being done by NOT confronting one another's errors (and possibly sin). The implications can be eternal!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Lists for 2010

Okay, it's taken me a while, but I am finally going to admit it... I may have a problem! The sad part is that I LOVE my "problem", I may be able to admit it, but I'm far from ever giving it up!!

I have a two shelves of books labeled "to read" but when my hubby asked me what I wanted for Christmas, what was my answer? "BOOKS!! Of course!"
Tim and I are prime members on Amazon (which means that we get free 2-day shipping on most all of our purchases) so last night we sat down with my "wishlist" and ordered my Christmas present (trust me, it's better this way!!) I was able to (with gift cards and promotions) to order 10 books!! Oh my goodness, I can hardly wait until Christmas to come, my heart is pounding just thinking about it, I'll try to continue!
In addition to the books I am receiving for Christmas I have several I'm adding from my already growing collection that I would like to read in the next several months/year. I am also fairly certain that I am getting at least one more book from my side of our family Christmas, and if I do, that will be added to this list as well.

I really liked how the "Fall Into Reading Challenge" worked out so I was planning on doing my own "Winter Reading Challenge" and then joining the next challenge hosted by Calapidder Days but for right now, I'm just going to do one larger reading list challenge for the entire year, and we will see how this works out.

I am going to list my book list here and then will reference back to this post throughout the year as I complete books. I will continue to review and post a small synopsis of each book as I read them with their own individual post, as well as little lessons I'm learning along the way, which I will then link up to in this post. You can certainly reference back to this post throughout the year to find all of my links and reviews on all of the books I have read.

Book List (In no particular order):

"Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist" by John Piper
I knew I wanted to get into any John Piper book I could this coming up year. Tim and I had the pleasure of visiting his church back and September and several times since then we have both said "Let's go back" (in fact, we had this conversation last night!!) This book was one of the first ones that I ever knew John Piper wrote. It is based on the concept that as Christians "Delight is our Duty" - it is from this that one of John Piper's more famous philosophies stem "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever"

"Sacred Marriage: What if God designed Marriage to make us more holy than happy?" by Gary Thomas
I had had this book on my "wishlist" for a while but decided to purchase it after I read Jess' review of it over at Making Home she says "This is, bar-none, the best book on marriage I've ever read. Mr. Thomas clearly lays out God's plan of sanctification, maturity, blessing, and growth through a Christian marriage. I highly recommend it to any man, woman, married or hoping to be married. Happily married couples will find further encouragement; struggling couples will find challenge and hope; future married people will be informed about God's higher purpose. It really is the most solidly biblical portrayal of marriage and intimacy and God's plans that I've yet encountered. Read it."

"Love and War" by John and Stasi Eldredge
This book released yesterday (12/15) I have been patiently (kinda) waiting for it to come out. John and Stasie Eldredge, do I really need to say more? All I really know about the book is that it is a book written by the couple on marriage. Publishers Weekly says "The Eldredges offer sound advice on topics such as the delights of companionship, understanding the enemy is Satan and not your spouse, finding your marriage’s mission, taboo topics, and, yes, sex. They are honest and forthright, never skirting a difficult issue; instead, they offer hope, insight, and their own lives as examples of what God can accomplish. Their summation of marriage: “It can be done. And it is worth it.”
Love and War - Book Review 
Love and War - Praying Together as a Couple  

"Boys and Girls Learn Differently: a Guide for Teachers and Parents" by Michael Gurian
Based on the "theory" (sense the sarcasm) that boys and girls do in fact learn differently despite the messages that our culture and educational system send them.
This book is one I am excited to read now that I have both boys and girls and plan on home schooling both genders! :)

"God as He longs for You to See Him" Chip Ingram
This book was recommended to me by a friend a couple of months ago and I have been anxious to get my hands on it. This past year Tim and I participated in a video-based study by Chip on parenting and it was pretty good.
Right now the Lord is really teaching me to learn the truth about who He is and who I am. Not who I think He is or who I think I am... but the truth.... what does the Bible say? Along with this book go my next two selections. I guess Chip refers to both in this book and they are similar in topic.
How Do You See God?

"Knowing God" J.I. Packer
Based on the premise that to know God is to love and know His Word.Topics covered include the Trinity, election, God's wrath, and God's sovereignty, God's jealousy, and more. These topics alone are enough to peak my interest, not to mention the fact that it is J.I. Packer who wrote it - an author I have never read, but that I have heard many good things about.

"The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God" A.W. Tozer
I expect this book to be "deep" like all A.W. Tozer's works but am excited about learning more!! 

"Jesus Lives" Sarah Young
This is another devotional style book by Sarah Young. I enjoyed Jesus Calling so much, I didn't even think about purchasing this one!
Instead of being a 365-day devotional broken down by date, this book has only 180 devotions. It is written in the same style as Jesus Calling - letters/words spoken from Jesus to the reader, based on scripture. On one page is the "letter" on the following page are the printed scriptures to back-up what is being said in the letter.

"This Momentary Marriage" John Piper
Coming from a husband to one wife for over 40 years, this book is bound to have some good advice in it!
Amazon's description said this:
"Even in the days when people commonly stayed married "'til death do us part," there has never been a generation whose view of marriage was high enough, says Pastor John Piper. That is all the more true in our casual times. Though personal selfishness and cultural bondage obstruct the wonder of God's purpose, it is found in God's Word, where his design can awaken a glorious vision capable of freeing every person from small, Christ-ignoring, romance-intoxicated views. As Piper explains in reflecting on forty years of matrimony: "Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It displays the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people to the world in a way that no other event or institution does. Marriage, therefore, is not mainly about being in love. It's mainly about telling the truth with our lives. And staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant and putting the glory of Christ's covenant-keeping love on display."

"Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" John Piper
This book is John Piper's attempt to paint a biblical picture of who Jesus is, the true Jesus of the Bible, with the hope and prayer that once we do (see the true Jesus) we will learn to love and enjoy Him above anything else in our lives.

"Grace Based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel
Recommended by many (including Mark Driscoll). I've had this book for so long I don't know when I got it - I read something by Mark Driscoll recommending it and then saw it on the shelf a few days later... I figured it was a sign, so I took it off the shelf and put it next to my night stand.The synopsis off of Amazon says "Parents in our post-modern world tend to be committed to but anxious about their child-rearing responsibilities. They've tried the countless parenting books on the market, but many of these are strident, fear-based books that loving parents instinctively reject, while still searching for direction.
Now Dr. Tim Kimmel, founder of Family Matters ministries, offers a refreshing new look at parenting. Rejecting rigid rules and checklists that don't work, Dr. Kimmel recommends a parenting style that mirrors God's love, reflects His forgiveness, and displaces fear as a motivator for behavior. As we embrace the grace God offers, we begin to give it-creating a solid foundation for growing morally strong and spiritually motivated children."

"Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren
I'm actually going to be reading this in the morning as part of my quiet time after the new year, after I am done with "Jesus calling" I will need something to take it's place. It's a 40-day type read. The chapters are longer than what I'm used to with Jesus Calling but I think I can handle it for 40-days.

"Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate" Jerry Bridges
Recommended to me by several people, the first of which, my sister-in-law Tami. I bought it back then and it sat on the night stand and then got put on the shelf. Recently several other people recommended it to me, so I figure it's time to dust it off and read it!!
This book is based on the concept that though we, as Christians, believe that all sins are equal in God's eyes we often live our lives accepting some sins easier than other

"Unspoken" "Unafraid" and "Unshaken" by Francine Rivers
These books I was loaned by my mother-in-law.... about 2 years ago. Somehow they got stuck in a box of homeschooling books and I just found them. These books are based on the Biblical characters, Ruth, Mary & Bethsheba, written in a fictional story book form. This is a series of 5 books, I was loaned 4 of them, I read the one on Tamar when I first got them and it was EXCELLENT - I finished it in 1 day!

Unspoken - Review 

"A Celebration of Sex" by Douglas E. Rosenau
Do I really need to say anything? Highly recommended by Mark Driscoll also was one that I wanted to read ever since listening to Mark's series on the Song of Solomon.

"A Time to Embrace" by Karen Kingsbury
One of the only fiction books on my list. I don't know when, why or where I got this book but I have read other Karen Kingsbury books and really enjoyed them. 

"Lord Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days" Kay Arthur
Kay Arthur, the beloved author that I can't recall reading a single book of!! I know it can't be so... but seriously, I can't think of any! This is a Bible/Study type book so I was hoping to read/complete this book in between the Beth Moore Study that I am currently in and the Beth Moore study I am hoping to take in the summer or next fall (if the one I want is offered!) 

"Say Goodbye to Whining" by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
On the back of the book it says at the top "Help Change Kid's Hearts -Nnot Just Their Behavior"
This book is based on "an honor-based" solution and claims to teach you (1) Six ways to teach honor to your children (2) A three-step approach to deal with meanness (3) Five helpful parenting skills (4) Three Biblical solutions to sibling rivalry and (5) Loads of practical family activities
.... sounds good to me!!....

"What Difference do It Make?" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
This is the second book by Hall and Moore, the first "The Same Kind of Different as Me" I read last year and thoroughly enjoyed. This book is an update as to what they have been up to since the release of their first book. I was actually contacted by Thomas Nelson Publishing and they are sending me a complimentary copy of this book to read and review for you all here!! I cannot wait!! This is an opportunity that I never expected and that completely excites me.

Creative Correction by Lisa Welchel
This book I have actually read part of it before. I don't know that it will be so much of a "read-through" as a resource for me. When I first read the books, Treyton was pretty young (like 2 years old) I couldn't really implement alot of the ideas yet. Now that he's older and we have more than one kid alot of these ideas are ones I can use. I have already picked it up and read a little here and there and started using some of the ideas and so far... they're working!

So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore
This book is an add-in. While I wouldn't use the word to describe me as insecure, I do have a lot of areas of insecurity. Areas of bondage really that I want to be set free from. I am hoping that through this book God will give me some of the tools I need to be free!!

Well, there you have it, a list of 20 + books! I am also planning, if at all possible to read/do Beth Moore's "Breaking Free" study as well as her "Believing God" study sometime this year... we will see if I have that opportunity or not ;)

UPDATED: Books Added throughout the Year (you knew I would!)
"Where is God?" by John Townsend
I received a Complimentary copy of this book from the Thomas Neloson Blog Reviewer network -
You can read my review here

Radical by David Platt
And incredible book about taking back our faith from the American Dream - read my review here as well as a link to read the first chapter of the book along with a video and other resources.

Fearless by Max Lucado
A review book from Thomas Nelson.
Can you imagine a life without fear? Broken down into different fears many of us face, this is a book I've needed to read for a while. Read my review here.

The Lord's Prayer by R.T. Kendall
“No prayer is better known--or more misunderstood--than the prayer Jesus provided in his Sermon on the Mount. Turning a keen eye to this much-loved topic, R. T. Kendall unlocks the transforming truths of what we now call the Lord's Prayer. With wisdom and depth, he offers thoughtful exposition on the life-changing revelations contained in each line of this amazing prayer, including: * interpreting and praying in the will of God * the purpose of the Lord's Prayer * when to pray the Lord's Prayer * how unanswered prayer can be a sign of God's favor * misusing the Lord's Prayer * why pray at all? * and more Readers will come away not only with a model for prayer, but with a revolutionary way to pray effectively while drawing closer to the Father.”
Read my review 

Indivisible by Kristien Heitzman
I actually managed to squeeze in a fiction book - I love fiction!
My Review 

Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman
An auto-biography of the journey the Lord has taken Mary Beth (Steven Curtis Chapman’s wife) on, including the loss of their precious 5-year old Maria. A great book that will not only have you laughing out loud, but crying only moments later.

Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski
My Review

A Rush of Wings Kristin Heitzmann
My Review

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker
My Review

I would love it if you all would share some of the books you're planning on reading in the upcoming months/year as well as your opinions on the books that I have chosen!! If you have read any of them, please comment with what you liked or didn't like about it/them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

God's Heart of Service & Perfect Timing

This morning in my quiet I was reading my daily Bible reading for my Bible in a year program and one of the sections I read was Acts 17:24-27
'The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. He made from 1 man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not from each one of us for 'In Him we live and move and have our being"
This specific passage of scripture is so interesting to me; Paul was actually preaching to the people of Athens who served MANY gods and had an obsession with learning new things... the town of Athens was full of temples dedicated to any type of god one could think up. They were a very theological/philosophical people and Paul used this information to his advantage in his sermon to illustrate some valid points for not only their lives, but my own lifestyle and struggles as well.

Some of the things that I took away from this:

~ God is the Maker of all things - He doesn't need, nor does He desire my works. He has made and can provide anything He needs (or I need).... all He desires from me is a willing heart to live, move and have my being IN HIM. Like I mentioned before, the people of Athens would build beautifully elaborate and expensive temples for the gods they served, much like them I am constantly trying to build up, clean up and add to my own "temple" as a great and elaborate dwelling place/temple for the Almighty. The truth is, however, He doesn't want or need elaborate false beauty, He desires the simple act of faith IN HIM.

John Piper inspired me once again with His viewpoint on this same scripture he says
"God is so great and so self-sufficient that he cannot be served as though he needed anything, and his Son Jesus Christ is so great and so valuable that his death in our place is a sufficient ransom to pay all our debt to God. The question is, will we believe this, and will we receive God's service of us as the most precious gift in the world? Believing. Receiving. Not serving. That's the posture of a person who is right with God. God sets us right through the death of his Son in our place and we receive this right standing, this peace and acceptance and hope not by working for God, but by trusting in his work for us. "
~ Secondly, Paul made the point that God is the one ultimately in control of placement and timing. He has placed me in this specific place in this certain time, in order that I may know Him better.
This is huge for me right now.
During my quiet time yesterday morning the Lord was showing me some specific areas in my life where He has, in His perfect timing, acted on my (& my family's) behalf. Specifically in the area of health, I have been particularly aware and grateful to His timing recently.
It is comforting to me on days that I have absolutely no idea what is going on that God ultimately remains in control and that His first priority is always that I grow closer to Him - and for my life to glorify Him.
That is my prayer, that my life couple somehow point to Him and bring God glory.

Monday, May 18, 2009

God's Pursuit of Man - Chapter 3 "The Mystery of the Call"

I want to just say before we begin uncovering the complicated material ahead of us, that I am aware that what we are about to discuss may or may not be the “popular belief”. This chapter touches on the topic of election, the belief that we are chosen by God to be saved, and that it is only through that election that we can receive salvation. This has been an area that I have been researching for quite some time, and while I don’t declare myself to be “an expert” by any means, I want you to know I am not taking this topic lightly. If this is a topic that interest you or that you would like to learn more about I would recommend visiting the Mars Hill Church website or the Desiring God website – Mark Driscoll and John Piper do an excellent job explaining predestination, election and Calvinism as a whole.

“By a complete misunderstanding of the noble and true doctrine of the freedom of the human will, salvation is made to depend perilously upon the will of man instead of upon the will of God. However deep the mystery, however many the paradoxes involved, it is still true that men become saints not at their own whim but by sovereign calling.”

“The master choice is His, the secondary choice is ours. Salvation is from our side a choice, from the divine side it is a seizing upon, an apprehending, a conquest of the Most High God. Our “accepting” and “willing” are reactions rather than actions. The right of determination must always remain with God.”

Theologians have been arguing for centuries the order of salvation – which comes first, faith or grace. Does the act of faith, of “accepting” the gift of grace, complete our salvation or is it grace that gives us the faith to believe in our salvation? Is redemption “accepted” or simply “recognized”? I was raised to believe that we accepted the gift of salvation, that salvation was there for all and that we choose whether we want it or don’t want it. It was only recently that I was even aware that there were other viewpoints.

The words predestination, election, calling, destined are mentioned many times in the Bible, one of the major scriptures is Ephesians 1:4-5 “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.”

Now some would argue that this verse is referring to the fact that God knew beforehand who is going to choose Him (foreknowledge) so He first chooses them (predestined), I see it differently. I believe that our God is all-sovereign and in His sovereignty before time began (foreknowledge) He simply chose (predestined) some to become holy and blameless. It had nothing to do with us, whether or not we were good enough, or whether we would choose right or wrong – we ALL chose wrong (Romans 3:23) – we have all already chosen death – there is NOTHING we can do to save ourselves, and by this I mean even the act of “acceptance”. It is only through God’s grace and love that we can even see ourselves as sinful and in need of a savior. Without the revelation from the Holy Spirit our sinful flesh prevents us from that realization. Therefore, God does EVERY part of redemption, we simply realize and confess , at this point we may say an “acceptance prayer” (or we may not), but that prayer in no way “saves us” – it is simply an acknowledgement of what He has already done in completion.

The problem with this theory, for most is the contradiction of “free will”. Most of us do not have a problem with the idea that God is sovereign; that He is ultimately in control of all things – the problem comes in when we (even Christians) are faced with the idea that our “free will” may not be as “free” as we thought. When asked if I believe in free will – I would have to say that I do, but I don’t think that our free will is what we have been taught or to the extent that our flesh and pride would like to believe it is. I have written before about the Will of God, which I think helps to clarify what I am trying to say here. When it comes to God’s Sovereign Will, there is nothing that we say, pray or do, that will change His Will – it WILL occur. However, when it comes to God’s Will of Command – we have the choice to obey or disobey. There are certain callings on our life that we choose to follow or not. It’s our choice to do God’s will of command that determines our level of fulfillment and happiness here on earth, and even our rewards in heaven.

I realize that this post is already getting pretty long, so I would like to try to close – I want to leave you with the chapter of scripture that impacted me the most in my study of predestination and that is Romans 9 – other portions of scripture offered a taste here and a taste there, but when I got to Romans 9 I found the entire chapter dedicated to this topic so in closing I would like to leave you with the words from the apostle Paul himself (the key section – for me – was verses 18-23):

1 I am speaking the truth in Christ I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but Through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son. 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls 12 she was told, The older will serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, Why have you made me like this? 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

25 As indeed he says in Hosea, Those who were not my people I will call my people, and her who was not beloved I will call beloved. 26 And in the very place where it was said to them, You are not my people, there they will be called sons of the living God. 27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay. 29 And as Isaiah predicted, If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Loving Wrath of God

I was listening to a Mark Driscoll sermon this morning on Revelations, he was on the section of scripture where God's wrath is revealed and poured out on the earth. This concept (and most of what goes along with the end times) is something that frightens most of us, it's a contradiction in our mind that a "loving" God could get angry and pour out his wrath on sinners. I love the example Mark gave in his sermon about being a father and husband. He said (and I'm paraphrasing), If a person was coming into my home night after night and molesting my children and threatening my wife and family, and I forgave him and offered him friendship, yet he continued over and over to betray me and continued to do horrible things to my family. My failure to protect my family would not be loving, it would be the opposite. By allowing these things to continue to happen and not intervening would make me worse than Satan!

"He [God] has a plan for sinners and sin, you and I would love it if God intervened in human history, we want all of the sin to be taken care of, we want all the sin to be taken away; as well as it's stain and it's sting of sickness and death. What you and I don't want is for God to deal with sinners, we just want Him to deal with sin. The problem is that sin resides in us and sin comes out of sinners, and if God is going to deal with sin he has to deal with us. Those of us who have had our sin dealt with by bringing it to Jesus who is our God, who died and rose in our place for our sin, will find ourselves standing with Him (Revelations 15)."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joy in Relation to Hope

Pre-Warning: this is a long post.

I am currently doing the Beth Moore study on the fruit of the Spirit with my mom and sister, this week we are covering joy. After talking on the phone with my mom about joy I began to think about how confusing the topic really is for me. How many misconceptions and assumptions I have regarding joy. Something that has always stumped me about joy is that I have always assumed that being joyful is a continual thing, like you can NEVER lose it once you have it, like a joyful person would always show signs of joy (like never being sad). After looking into the Bible a little more, I now know that this is not true - Joy, like any other fruit of the spirit or character can be temporarily forgotten or ignored by a believer , a good example of this is patience. You can be a patient person, and have a sudden outburst, but you are still a patient person, you didn't lose your patience just because you failed, the same is true with joy, if we allow a situation to overtake us and we lose our joy, it doesn't mean we aren't joyful, it only means we aren't currently experiencing our joy.

So, back to my thoughts....What is joy? We know that it isn't happiness... it's seems similiar to peace, but a little different, we're told it isn't dependent on our circumstances, but we really don't know what that means --- can you still cry and be joyful? What emotions are 'allowed' while still remaining joyful? Are we supposed to be glad when bad things happen? What is it about trials that is supposed to be considered joyful?

Let's go over a few things that the Bible tells us about Joy:

1. We acheive joy when we obey the commands of God 1 John 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." This also insinuates to me that there are different levels of joy

2. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-23 Joy comes as a result of the Holy Spirit in our lives, as we open up our hearts and lives to the Holy Spirit, in turn, we will experience joy as a 'fruit", or side effect of His indwelling.
3. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances Romans 5:3-5 "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces HOPE, and HOPE does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." James 1:2-3 "Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."

4. It seems to me that joy is a result of suffering, not because of the suffering per say but of the character that sufferings and trials produces. If that is the case, then it is fair to say that anytime we begin to develop character (perseverence, HOPE, faith, loyalty, etc.) we also obtain joy. Joy comes as a result to character development, primarily HOPE. Romans 12:12 "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." When we face trials, the test is: are we going to allow ourselves to hope in our salvation, in our Lord and saviour? Or are we going to focus on the storm around us? It isn't the trial that matters as much as it being an excercise of hope, which brings us joy in the midst of our suffering.

5. Joy is dependent on our faith in Jesus Christ, without Christ we have no salvation, we have no future, no HOPE Romans 5:2 "Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and we rejoice in HOPE of the glory of God."

6. God also rejoices and has joy, He finds joy in His creation (including us) Psalm 104:31, Isaiah 65:18, Luke 15 speaks of 3 parables (the lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost son) and refers to the joy over the salvation of 1 sinner(15:7)

7. Sin will rob a person of joy Psalm 51:7-8 (along with this the sin we fall into will turn us into a prisoner to sin... definetly NOT joy!)

8. We are called to rejoice (to be joyful) with those who are rejoicing Romans 12:14 "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." When I looked up the original greek word for "weep" I was surprised by what I found. This word ("Klaio", pronounces klah'-yo) is NOT referring to crying. It actually refers to 'any loud expression of grief, wailing, sob'.... this word is referring to a serious expression of emotion and sadness. What this is telling us is that as christians we can be joyful and also wail, weep and express (strongly) the pain and hurt we experience in this life.

9. Joy is a result of having an eternal perspective Psalm 51:12 & Luke 10:17-20 When we allow ourselves to focus our heart, mind and spirit on heaven and the eternal implications of our actions - our lives will be TRANSFORMED, and in that as well. When our heavenly destination and eternal fellowship with God becomes our focus our earthly circumstances take on a new meaning, giving us a natural joy and peace.

I pray that we will all begin to experience the joy of God in our lives, that we may focus our hearts and lives heavenward and live in the joy and strength of our God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What are you learning?

Just like a newborn baby needs to be fed, so do we need to be fed by the word of God. Please comment below and share with us a Bible Verse from your quiet time this morning and share what it spoke to you. I love to hear what's going on in your lives and if you are willing please share it with others too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

How to Use Your Tongue

Proverbs 27:2 "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips."

I read this verse this past weekend and again today and it really affected me, it penetrated right to the heart of some issues that me and my family faced recently (and are still facing in some ways). It brought me to ask the questions: How often do we (I) lift ourself up rather than allowing God to? How often are we using our words and actions to benefit our own self (or those we care most about) rather than others?

I usually fail daily in this area of my life. Most of the time, I feel this urge inside of me making me think that I must somehow bring it to the attention of those around me my "good" qualities and works while leaving out all the bad ones. And on the flip side of that it's much easier to point out the faults of others than in myself. How true it is to that it's easier to find a speck in another's eye while ignoring the log in our own (Matthew 7:1-5).

I want to live my life loving others, truly I do, and I somehow think that I am good at this - until there is a difficult person in my path and I find it much easier to ignore and dislike this person than to love them. I want and need to do better at this.

To start I am going to work on using my words to not lift myself up but to praise others - and while I am going to start with my friends and family, I pray that I will be able to get to the point in my life where I can also praise those less-likeable in my life. I no longer want personal differences to stop me from seeing the good in people. While I can agree to disagree with certain people and I can create boundaries for myself, I can also love those I feel this towards.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Great Sermon on Faith

Our Pastor gave an AWESOME sermon on Faith (it's the October 1st audio) during our Wednesday night Bible study. The first part of the sermon is based on Genesis (the book of the Bible we are going through), but he went on a bunny trail for most of the sermon on Faith. I highly recommen you listen to it if you have the chance. I pulled out a couple of quotes that I thought were good:

"Fear is the opposite of Faith"... and we have no problem imagining the worst possible scenario for the negative, playing out our fears in our minds is normal, what I'm telling you to do is the opposite. (my paraphrase) "Some of you are sick physically just because you see it before it happens" "What I'm telling you to do is the opposite, how about seeing the answer to your prayer before it happens!"

"To the point where you can actually rehearse this answer, it's like you start to see your answer, you start to believe it before you receive it. How can you believe it before you see it? Because you always believe what you can see but you're not seeing it here (your eyes) but you're seeing it here (your heart)."

"You've got to get to this place where you can start to truly experience God's answer in your heart, in your mind, before you actually recieve it."

"Just doing it (praising God) isn't the key, you will naturally do this if you sill start picturing God's answer in your life" "You great experts at worrying, do the opposite, you rehearse it in your mind: the best possible scenario.... You just stop at times and you just think and you just imagine, 'how wonderful it's going to be when God answers my prayers'.... it changes you physically. You can't help but praise Him, It's
called 'hope'"

"The word hope means 'an absolute calm assurance'... we have changed it's meaning to wishing."

"It's not this false new age visualizing, it's interesting how they do that.... The false stuff is close to the real thing. It's about getting to a place where you can have faith.... Where you can start believing God for miracles."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

To Be Crucified with Christ

To be crucified with Christ is to die to oneself. It is a painful, often lonely experience. It involves a surrendering of control and plans, going outside of my comfort zone, enduring judgement (by others) and possibly humiliation. But most importantly it means NEVER being forsaken by the Father, and a oneness with Christ that is unlike any relationship you have ever had or ever will have on earth.

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Romans 6:4-8 "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. "
We can "walk in a newness of life" we can't live according to our old self/life - that life no longer exists - we are a different person "in Christ". We are united in Christ! Praise Him for that! Death frees us from sin (verse 7) which is why being crucified with Christ is so important.

Colossians 2:13-14 "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross."
Our sins (our record of debt) has been nailed to the cross and it died with Christ there.

Colossians 3:1-4 "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

Think on the things that you are facing and dealing with, with an eternal perspective and value. It is in heaven and eternity that our life that is "hidden with Christ in God" is.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Regardless of the Situation God's Working on Your Behalf

I wrote a close friend of mine an e-mail today encouraging her regarding a personal situation she is currently facing and after I wrote it I thought to myself "I think I may have just ministered to myself more than her." I hope that you may find some blessing from it as well.

I actually got some of the information/thoughts out of the In Touch Magazine that I use for my daily quiet time (I higly recommend it - you can sign up for it - it's free and it has good articles and a monthly devotional in the back - I think you could google in touch ministries and you would find it.... okay enough about that!)

John 12:24 says "Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

"That is, only by falling and breaking can a single grain produce a rich crop. If it remains isolated and protected, it will never produce anything."

Now, I'm not going to pretend for a second that I understand "why" God allows us to go through the troubles and struggles that we face. But I can say, that God IS in control and that we are not going through it alone. Our God is a God who sees, and He knows what our needs are and what we are capable of doing in our own power.

The Lord allows things to happen in our life for many different reasons, to strengthen us, to cause us to trust in Him alone, to prove something, to take something away, to humble us, etc.... again, I can't for a moment pretend to know the "why" in each circumstance. But I can say, He is with you and He will give you the grace you need to get through it.

No matter what the future holds....

1 Peter 1:5 "[We] by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"
Romans 8:31 "If God is for us, who can be against us"

These verses illustrate that the Lord is guarding us, and keeping us. We can't be sure exactly what this verse is saying but we can be sure that His power is real and it is being used on your behalf!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More on Grace

So, after yesterday's post, I've been thinking more and more on the concept of Grace and God's Love. I am currently reading through "His Princess Love Letters from Your King" by Sheri Rose Shepherd and today, the verse and letter went along with this all to well. I thought I should share it with you all.
Romans 3:23-24 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ

"My Princess You are Saved By Grace, Don't be so hard on yourself, My love. I see your heart filled with frustration. I know you're in a constant battle between your flesh and your spirit. Don't ever give up on trying to live out your faith because of your weaknesses. Don't you know that nothing you do in your own strength will last? I give you grace when you've gone the wrong way, and I give you strength right
when you need it. I am here waiting to make all your wrongs right and to heal all your hurts. The battles in your mind belong to Me, so don't waste any more time tearing yourself down. I love you no matter what you've done or said. Now give Me a chance to show you who you are when you are surendered to Me. Let Me give you My gift of Grace. Remember that you have been covered with My forgiveness since Calvary; now walk in freedom from the past and open My gift of a new start. Love, Your King and your Grace"