helping my family yearn for the true bread that gives life.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

-Titus 2

Titus 2:3-5 is commonly used to describe how women ought to live and why: “so the word of God is not reviled.” Verses 11-14 expand on the why.

I often feel the works I preform throughout my day are meaningless…diapers, dinner, discipline, picking up the same toys every hour….Scripture tells me to preform my duties as a wife and mother with ZEAL! I am called to live out my days doing these things in love for my family and for my Lord, with my hope rooted in the appearing of Jesus and His glory. This means joyfully pardoning my husband (and holding my tongue) when he leaves his clothes scattered around, remembering how the Lord has greatly pardoned me. It means digging deep into the well of God’s patience during those nighttime feedings. It looks like having a conversation with my husband or playing with Jackson even though the dishes are still dirty, because my rest and peace comes from God, not from how controlled my surroundings are.

As I live this way to make the gospel beautiful and delight in Christ, my family will notice. Hopefully they will be drawn to adore and yearn for Christ! Thus, I get to join in God’s mission of creating a people for His own possession! Lord willing, I am ushering in the kingdom in my tiny apartment! What a high calling! I love how Gloria Furman puts in: “Feast your soul on the bread of life and do whatever you need to do in order to help people yearn for the true bread that gives life!” (Give them Grace).

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Stop pouring out your wine.

Last week, Brad House, our community life pastor, preached on John 2:1-11 where Jesus turned water into wine. You can listen to the sermon here:

“Water into Wine,” Brad House, Sojourn Community Church

There were so many great points he preached on in this sermon, but for me, I was coming to church that Sunday with anger and bitterness. Kevin and I had gotten into an argument the night before which carried on to the morning– to be honest I can’t even remember what it was about now– and prior the that I had been feeling very closed off to Kevin and to the Lord. I was seeing my hard heart and it was condemning me, making me feel like I needed to muster up my affections for both God and Kevin. I was stuck and frustrated.

Halfway through the sermon, Pastor House transitioned from teaching on Jesus’ miracle to reveal how we ought to respond to it: Receive the grace of Jesus. At the wedding, Jesus took the time to bless the guests when they ran out of wine. And just when we are about to run out of joy and hope, Jesus invites us into a life of joy with God. We don’t need to bring anything to the party, he supplies it all- our righteousness, justification, and our joy. He says, “Go, have fun, and enjoy what I’ve given you.”

But we have a tendency to revert back to earning the love of God. We want the stone jars God fills with 20 gallons of wine because it gives us something to pour out and fill back with water. We want to resist the blessings that God freely gives us, and try to purify ourselves. We need to acknowledge that we have nothing in our hands to bring, to put our trust in him, and celebrate the grace we’ve been given!

 

Ok, so how did I respond to this charge? I completely ignored it! My mind shifted to communion and how I didn’t feel like I could receive it that Sunday. I was still feeling bitterness toward Kevin and I wasn’t ready to let go of it and work through it. WHY?!? Why couldn’t I just accept the forgiveness of sin I’ve been given? Why couldn’t I acknowledge the righteousness Jesus gave me? Why couldn’t I trust in the ways Jesus was working in my marriage and in my hopeless heart? Instead, I poured out my wine! I didn’t feel free to just enjoy the grace of God and enter into communion with him.

So my reminder to myself, and you, today is to receive the free, undeserved grace of God and enjoy it. Jesus has justified you by his death, and has given you his righteousness. Drink your wine.

 

Life Map & Saltiness.

Recently I revamped my Life Map to change and align my priorities in such a way that glorifies God and leads me into more holiness. I guess I could explain the Life Map in more detail, but that is not the point of my post…

Obviously my first priority should be “Christian.” As I sat down tonight, I pulled out my Life Map to see how I am doing. Here is my vision statement for ten years from now and the goals I have set for this year as I pursue that trajectory:

(In year 2022) I am a woman whose value is in Christ alone. I have surrendered my whole life and all my time talent and resources to the Lord. As a result, my priorities are Godly. The bible transforms my heart, both by reading my bible daily and studying theology. My life and understanding of God are evidently transforming in the way that I love and extend grace to my family, the church, and the lost.

 2013 Goals:

  1. Spend time reading my bible/ journaling everyday
  2. Read 12 books by 2014
  3. Blog 1 time a week

I was convicted about blogging. I know it seems silly, but my blog life really does reflect my growth with Jesus and the scriptures. As I process things, it helps to write them out for an audience so I can hold myself to a standard of theological accuracy and clear teaching. Just because I have a baby does not mean my blog needs to turn into a scrapbook–not that there is anything wrong with having blog posts about children, or even a whole blog site devoted to them!–this is just not the purpose of my blog on a large scale. So I figure I will ease myself back into a writing. I don’t have anything impressive to say, but Jesus has been good to me in giving me small nuggets of truth to sustain my heart…So I need to write about it! Amen?

This first month as a mama has been hard. Many days I don’t leave my apartment or open the blinds. I sometimes go a whole day without talking. I have felt lonely. I have also felt inadequate to be a mom who uses her life to advance the kingdom. How am I supposed to be the “salt of the earth” as a young mom, who knows few people in this city, and who doesn’t even have the motivation to leave the house?

Matt Chandler explains Matthew 5:13-16 well in his recent sermon “Light of the World.” Basically, he taught me that just as salt is a preserving agent in cooking, our function is also to be a preserving agent on earth. We become an agent of change and redemption for God’s purposes on earth right where we are. For me, I am now a mom and a wife, so breastfeeding, changing, and holding a crying baby all day is where “salt” takes place for me. What does this mean? No matter where we are in life, we can pursue saltiness as we:
1. Walk in integrity
2. Are a faithful witness to Jesus and his gospel
3. Refuse to enter into what is sinful

It is easy for me to spend all day with the t.v. on or to become frustrated with Jackson as he cries. Obviously none of us are batting 1000 in these three areas that make up “saltiness.” So how do we move forward? As we keep our eyes on the grace of God through the sacrifice of his Son on the cross, we will be led to a sobering seriousness about sin and a desire to be made into his holy image. It is this kind of seriousness that marks our life with confession and repentance.

Regardless of how I feel about my performance, I can rest knowing that God is using me as an agent of change and redemption as he preserves and advances his kingdom on earth. And as I pursue “saltiness” through regular confession of sin to other sisters and repentance, I am also a light for the world–revealing that there is something greater than my small world worth living for.

casting cares on the lord: psalm 55:22

After reading Steph’s post today, I wanted to share with her (and whoever else is out there) a verse I have been memorizing this week for Women’s School. And thanks to Seeds Family Worship, I have been singing these words of truth all over the place:

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.”

I have a lot of fears and worries right now, specifically revolving around my recent miscarriage and the hope having another child. Sometimes I don’t even know how to, or if I can, cast all of my fears on the Lord. It has been such a relief knowing that Jesus has sent me His Holy Spirit for help in that area! This verse reminds me that whatever happens to me or to my children, the Lord will sustain my faith in Him and care for us. While He may let trials come, He will never let anything move us from His presence and sovereign protection, in heaven or on Earth. Amen!

Romans 1:16-17 Part 1: The reasons for the eagerness

I think Romans 1:16-17 has been my favorite part of Romans thus far in my time studying it. Paul leaves off in v. 14-15 speaking of his obligation to preach the gospel. Sure, ANYONE would be eager if his obligation was to serve a king with a message that would incur wrath to the people and to himself if not adhered to (see analogy in previous post). However, Paul gives us a second reason for his eagerness to preach, and it proves that his desire is not only out of obedience and submission to God, but also out of full assurance of the message.

“So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

“For” can be read as “because” (both the same word in greek) so Paul is saying,

“Why am I eager to preach the gospel? Because I am not ashamed of it! Why am I not ashamed of it? Because I am convinced that the gospel is God’s powerful means (and his ONLY means) to rescue mankind!”
(my emphasis)

And that rescue or salvation, is not referring to becoming a Christian, but to STAYING a Christian! The salvation that happens as we are rescued on the last Day from the sinful, decaying world to the kingdom God is preparing! This is third reason for his eagerness to preach to Christians (as well as Christians): to impart the message that the Christian life is a life of obedience of faith, from the day of your conversion until your last breath. The Gospel is the instrument God uses to pay our debts and make us right with him (justify us), and persevere us in holiness and increasing love for the King (sanctification) until the end. Check it out in v. 17:

For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith, from first to last, just as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.

 

God you are provoking in me a great love and eagerness for the Gospel to be proclaimed in my home, in Shelby Park, in the World. I know you are only going to reveal more and more how unworthy I am to be loved by you & someday reign with you in the Kingdom–let alone free from a drop of your wrath! I know that my own resume would never cut it, and I need your righteousness to be revealed and given to me. I’m not fully sure what your righteousness really is or why it is the power behind the gospel, but I want to know, and I want to receive it empty-handed. Help humble me Jesus! Amen.

Romans 1:8-15 The eagerness to preach the gospel

The beginning of Romans is like the introductory paragraph of this gospel of grace, culminating in its ultimate purpose: The obedience of faith (Romans 1:5). Christopher Ash defines this phrase as “bowing a knee in trusting submission to Jesus the Lord, both at the start and all through the Christian life.” This, Paul writes, is for the sake of His name and glory being revealed on the Earth (1:6).

So you would think Paul would go right into expounding his 10 points on “How the Gospel leads us to Obedience of Faith,” but instead he gets all emotional on us, expressing his longing and desire to see the church in Rome, mutually encourage each other, and preach the gospel to them. Paul is teaching us that gospel-FACT should lead to gospel-EAGERNESS for the sharing of faith in community and to the world.

Paul, in this scripture, is an example to us of how we, as gospel-FACT carriers, ought to live in relation to others:

1.He REMINDS his church that MANY are encountering and submitting to the Lord in obedience of faith through the Gospel that they have been proclaiming (v.8). Even with the great responsibility and agenda Paul has been called to, he took the time to point out the ways God is using them in the world to encourage them to keep pressing on in their ministry.

2. He longs to share his faith with them, and them with him (v.11-12). He knows that when we share our faith in community, Jesus is made much of and the church is unified. Instead, when we boast in our accomplishments and works, we puff ourselves up, often leading to envy and strife within the body.

3. Paul’s longs and prays to “reap a harvest” (v.13) of lives changing- both in people converting to faith through the grace of the gospel, and growth in godliness through obedience of faith. Isaiah 5:1-7 describes the harvest: how it belongs to the Lord, created for a specific purpose, growing in justice and righteousness. He seems to desire that for the church and for the rest of the gentile world.

4. Lastly, Paul feels an obligation to preach the gospel to everyone (v.14-15). “Like a city being conquered by a new king, ” Ash describes, “the herald is entrusted to proclaim the new king’s victory and offer of his pardon. The herald owes it to the citizens to tell them quickly, or else they will incur the wrath of the king by not bowing a knee to him and accepting his pardon.” We as believers are called to preach the gospel and be heard by all who are offered the grace of God through faith in Jesus’ death and atonement. Paul likewise, wants to preach to all without distinction, whether wise or foolish, so that any who come empty-handed by faith, will be saved from wrath.

 

Jesus may your prayer in John 17 be powerful and effective in our lives. Let the great truth of your work through the gospel and coming kingdom, make us people who respond in emotion and action. May we be people who build up the church to press ON to holiness and OUT to the world who does not know you. Amen.

Romans 1:1-7 The W’s of the Gospel

In first grade, questions words such as- Who, What, When, Where, Why, Which, How- are extremely important when teaching young learners to write with purpose and detail. Sometimes when a child brings me their story for a conference, we will read it together and it will have tons of gaps and holes and the only way I can understand the story is by asking them questions about what happened. I will then ask them to go back and ask themselves if they have included all those important W’s so that a reader can make a “movie in their brain” of exactly what is going on in their story when they are not there to verbally explain it to the reader.

What a surprise it was to see Paul doing this in Romans 1! When I started my summer study of Romans a few weeks ago, it was important for me to have a good introduction so that I could know exactly what Paul was going to write about.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What? The Gospel (v.1)
When? Promised beforehand (v.2)
How? Through the Prophets and the holy Scriptures
Who? Concerning Jesus, the Son of God, decadent of David. (v.3)
Because of? His spirit of Holiness and resurrection from the dead. (v.4)
Why? For the obedience of faith in all the nations, for the sake of his name. (v.5)

Christopher Ash defines the “obedience of faith”/the WHY of the gospel as, “bowing the knee in trusting submission to Jesus the Lord, both at the start and all through the Christian life.” If this is the purpose of the gospel for all the world, and if this is what brings glory to Jesus, I am confident the rest of Romans will lead me further into this thesis and bring me to a place of bowing, trusting submission to the will, rule, and love of Jesus for my whole life.

if it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come.

Habakkuk, like all prophets, knew of God’s righteous and merciful nature. He knew of the salvation and rescue that would come, but also knew that God had promised sin and wickedness to be punished first. Habakkuk specifically was the prophet who received an oracle from God that wickedness in Judah would dealt with, but when the nation continued to backslide morally and spiritually, he cried out to God. With false prophets preaching against a wrathful and judgment-bearing God, it didn’t seem like his prayers were being answers, nor God’s promises being fulfilled. This is God’s response:

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end-it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous will live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:3-4)

Basically, God is saying, “even if fulfillment seems slow, what I promise, I will do.”

I’ve been slowly studying Romans, and thinking about verses 1:16-17 a lot: “The gospel is the power of God for salvation…in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith and for faith…as it is written ‘the righteous will live by faith.'”

Like the Israelites, we are awaiting out salvation. Paul comforts us that the gospel is the power and the tool that seals our future salvation. In the gospel, God’s righteousness is revealed. God’s “righteousness” wraps around the entirety of who God is, what he does, and how we does it. I’ve been learning that the activity of God’s righteousness is his promise keeping: his reaching out to save people, as he said he would.

Life is hard right now. Being in a new city is hard. Being married is hard. Finding jobs is hard. Making friends is hard. BUT, this I know and God has promised, “All things work together for my good, since I love God and am called by Him according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). I don’t really see how the move to Louisville is for my good or God’s purpose yet. Everyday I question whether we should really be here, but God’s word to Habakkuk encourages me. God has brought us here and he has promised it is for his will and my joy. It seems slow now, but I will wait for it. God’s promise will be fulfilled and his comfort will surely come.

My prayer, and God’s command from Habakkuk 2:4, is that I would not respond in self-sufficiency (“puffed-up”), thinking that I can cope on my own, but that I would live by faith, waiting upon God to rescue me and open my eyes to what he is doing.

If you are weary, listen up.

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Phil. 4)

I am feelin Paul on this. I am hard-pressed, weary, plate-overflowing and over-committed; anxious and frustrated; hearing voices from every angle and having my arms pulled in every direction; feeling as though I am a dissappointment to others expectations. Today I woke up feeling that weight and longing to cry out, “to die is gain! To depart with the LORD is far better!” If you are feeling this, let us speak to ourselves with the very truth Paul clings to:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8 )

Amen. May we be people who LIVE and recount the deeds of the Lord. (Psalm 118)

Debtors.

“So then brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” (Romans 8:12)

We are conditioned to live according to a sinful pattern and within certain limitations. The sinful nature leaves you with a sinful pattern and powerless to love God and others. You don’t have to live according to that script! You have no obligation or debt to live that way. The sinful nature is the kingdom of condemnation and death and we are no longer obligated to remain there. We are conditioned to think small, think sinfully, and to think that sin satisfies and pleasure is found apart from life with God.

Don’t buy into the lie that you still have to live that way.

 

“Paul’s arguments seems to be this: if the indwelling Spirit has given
us life, which he has, we cannot possibly live according to the flesh,
since that way lies death. How can we possess life and court death
simultaneously? Such an inconsistency between who we are and how
we behave is unthinkable, even ludicrous. No, we are in debt to the
indwelling Spirit of life to live out our God-given life and to put to
death everything which threatens it or is incompatible with it.”
-John Stott (on Romans 8:12)

 

The 40-day Romans 8 Devotional.