Category Archives: God’s glory

what are you doing, God?

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ever have those times where you ask “What are you doing, God?”  I know His ways are higher than mine.  I know that He loves me and give and takes for my good.  I know what He’s given me, He also has the right to take away when He should choose.  And I know looking back that every time God has taken something from me its always been for my good, even though immensely painful and gut-wrenching at times.  I know that though things can be taken, that nothing can separate me from His love.  How I need that love to hold me close today.  How I long for my war-torn heart to rest there. 

God seems to be shifting me from one furnace to another.  And I am as unhappy with this appointment as I was with the last.  How I long for it to end.  Trials are a funny thing like that… you beg and beg for them to end and as soon as they do you realize that you’ve learned so much more than ever possible had you not gone through that trial.  So as incomprehensible as it seems to your feelings, you find yourself thanking God for what you just walked through.  And simultaneously you pray that you’d never have to go through it again.  In many ways, that’s where I’m at.  I’m grateful for the trials that God has carried me through because I know to a greater degree the depths of His love, care and compassion towards me.  But as I face yet again another trial, I approach it with the same dread and horror as I faced the last.  Horror because as God is calling me to pick up my cross and follow Him, I’m seeing the death, pain, suffering and heartache that accompanies that cross.  And nothing in me wants to go there. 

Yet somehow my loving Shepherd has promised to be with me each step of the way.  He has promised to complete what He has begun.  He has already cared for me time after time and He is faithful.  Because of that, through His strength to hold me, with His help, I will rest in His control over this.  I am choosing to look past the pain, to look past the cross to my Strong Deliverer, who defeated the power of death and the cross.  He will preserve me by His mercy.  He is my Rock in the middle of the storms.  God has promised to complete what He’s begun, therefore I can have hope that He will keep me safe and true in Him…even here, even in this, even though nothing in me wants this.

Somehow I’m excited to see God provide.  As He keeps taking and in my mind its getting even more difficult for Him to provide, I look to my Jehovah-Rophe with hopeful anticipation to meet my needs and comfort my sorrows.  I haven’t really known what to say lately because it seems there are no words to describe the unutterable ache in my soul.  Nothing seems sufficient other than crying to my Maker… the One who knows me and will never leave me alone.  So, in my loneliness, I look to the One who will never leave, abandon or forsake.  In my pain, I look to the One who suffered in my place.    In my despair, I look to the only One who was ever forsaken by God with gratitude that He will not leave me here.  And in my moments (or days) when I just want to complain, I remember how good He has been to me.  The God who restored my broken soul and gave me life, the God who gives me a reason for joy in my mourning, the God who drew me through His kindness and irresistable love… that God will not quit.  So I look to Him.

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the resurrection

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Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone but in every leaf at springtime.  Martin Luther

 

Our Savior’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.  John Locke

 

the entire plan for the future has its key in the resurrection.  Billy Graham

 

Christianity in its very essence a resurrection religion.  The concept of the resurrection lies at its heart.  If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.  John Stott

 

In the whole story of Jesus Christ, the most important event is the resurrection.  William Lyon Phelps

 

The resurrection of Christ is a fact.  BB Warfield

 

Prior to the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples were timid and fearful, even hiding when Jesus appeared to them.  Following the resurrection; however, they were all transformed into bold witnesses to what they had seen and heard,  even to the point of dying for their convictions

Had they not truly witnessed the risen Jesus they undoubtedly would have recanted of their teaching and opted for a simpler life free of suffering.  They certainly would have told the truth rather than dying for a lie.  Is it really plausible to assert that a group of scattered liars would remain loyal to one another and die for their lying in poverty and disgrace when riches and power could be obtained by their recanting?  Apart from the resurrection, is there any way to account for the transformation of Peter, a coward who denied even knowing Jesus before His crucifixion and resurrection, but afterwards became the fearless leader of the early church and was himself crucified upside down?  Mark Driscoll

 

It is impossible that the disciples could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated had not Jesus actually resurrected from the dead and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew of any other fact.  Simon Greenleaf

 

 

 

happy birthday jessica! :)

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happy birthday my sweet friend. I hope today is filled with all the joy and funness that you bring to so many others. :) You are a gift. You are a delight and a joy to be around. And gosh darn it, you wear Carhartt and cammo and are proud to be a redneck-y pocket-knife carrying gal. :) I love you so dearly and am overwhelmingly grateful for the gift of God that you are to me.

Jessica, you have faithfully been my friend… you have loved as Christ commands… earnestly… not seeking gain or anything in return but simply because you are modeling our great Savior. Over the past 5 years, you have consistently and faithfully served and cared for me in more ways than i could count or ever even probably know.

It was your genuine faith that first made the gospel appealing to me. It was your lack of conformity to the world that made me notice you. (not in the fact that you dressed like a clown, which you did, but in the fact that you were not swayed by the world’s pleasures and devices like i was). I remember when I first met you and would give you rides home from various things…you would talk about things like pride and the gospel, I’d talk about boys and alcohol. Man that was weird… i had NEVER met anyone like you.

And as I got to know you, and you patiently kept putting up with me, I began to know without question that your faith was real. I tested it many times, and it proved deeper and more beautiful than my cynicism, questions and doubts. I often talk about my chats with your dad at Jack in the Box and Cracker Barrel as being pivotal in my coming to Christ, but don’t underestimate the power and work that God did in our many car rides and through your many prayers. Jessica, you are an amazing beautiful gift of the gospel and God used that in my life to draw me to Him. For that, my sweet friend, I’m forever and eternally grateful.

But you didn’t stop there, so neither will I. That day at Carowinds… wow, I could write a book. But I’ll simply say thanks. Thanks for lovingly and sacrificially modeling God’s character and humility. :)

And since then… over the past 3 years especially, you have ALWAYS been there as my friend. Jessica, you are truly a gift of God to me. Whether I’m doing well or falling apart, you always seem to be there. Thanks for your notes and random happy gifts that you’ve placed on my seat at church (or on my porch at home). The level of detail that you include in your care is like something I’ve never experienced before in my life.

Whether i’m cracking up or falling apart, you are ALWAYS there… to listen, to encourage, to hug, to care for, to remind me of my hope in Jesus. And at the many times in my life where my problems appear bigger to me than my God, you are there to both give me a hug and remind me that it’ll be okay and simultaneously smack me upside the head and point out that life is about so much more than the difficult problems we face here. :) thanks for both… thanks for the balance. You don’t just tell me things will be okay… you give me a reason why.

Jessica, you are truly the most clear model of Jesus I have ever known. Your life is a multi-faceted jewel that reflects so many aspects of His character. You love sacrificially, your hope is in heaven, not in comfort here. Your faith is in a faithful God that hears your prayers and knows your needs. Yet, like Jesus and the Psalmist (who were often speaking of Jesus), you cry to Him to hear and listen to your cry. You go to Him to meet your needs. You expect Him to bless. You confidently hope despite all hope.

You continue to persevere with hope while entrusting your soul to a faithful God who judges justly. You love Him even when you feel that He has forgotten you.

You don’t give up on following Him because you KNOW that He will NEVER EVER give up on loving and cherishing and caring for you. Like Jesus, when reviled, you do not revile in return. Like Jesus, when tempted to follow Satan’s devices, you look to your eternal hope and satisfaction in God. And like so many saints of old, you quickly and thoroughly reconcile any differences that come up with your fellow Christians. You truly count your church as the dearest place on earth and you sacrifice without limit to care for these folks. Our entire church is a different place today because of you. We have benefited at different levels to your care, but make no mistake, we have ALL benefited.

It has been so greatly encouraging to me to see your faith grow… particularly in the past two years. From a “I’m getting old and God has forgotten me” to “God is abundantly faithful and has shown me such steadfast love.” That is a transformation that only He can do, and it has been a delight to watch that radical caterpillar-to-butterfly-like change over the past years. You are living in Habbakuk 3… as opposed to where you once were in chapter one.

The fig tree has not yet blossomed for you. There is no fruit on your vine or cattle in your stalls (or ring on your finger or home to call your own or car that is dependable or man to call you his blessed wife or even health in your body). Yet in the midst of all that, when most would chose to give up on God because of His apparent absence, you continue believing in His steadfast love. You continue reading and learning more of it. you continue hoping in it. You continue expecting Him to reveal Himself to you.

And He is. And He loves you. And He is blessing you, even now, in the middle of some of the hardest battles on faith and trust you have ever had to face. Yet the words that come out of your mouth are awe inspiring and oh, so much like our dear friend Habakkuk. “God has not provided all my wants. He knows my desires and He knows my needs. And though I don’t know why the answer seems to always be “no” I know my God cares for me and will provide for me when He knows the timing is best. I know He has not forgotten me and I know He knows and cares for me. So, I will choose to actively and with the weak faith I have, place my trust and confidence in this God who has never ever ever let me down. I know He never will.”

Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your love. Thanks for “being yourself” – i like you better this way. May you be encouraged today at God’s great work in you, my sweet dear and precious friend. :) I love you… I thank God for you… happy birthday!! :)

p.s. sorry i made you cry!!! (not really… it’s payback!!) :)

this is my sacrifice of praise

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Let them thank the LORD for his stedfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!  And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!  They cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the stedfast love of the LORD.  Psalm 107: 21-22, 28-29, 43

I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined hisear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.  The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me, I suffered distress and anguish.  Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.  The LORD preserves the simple; whin I was brought low, he saved me.  Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.  For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.  I believed, even when I spoke, ” I am greatly afflicted”, I said in my alarm, “all mankind are liars.”  What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.  O Lord I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.  You have loosed my bonds.  I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.  Psalm 116: 1-13, 16-17

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.  I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.  He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me.  God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!  My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery bests – the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!  They set a net for my steps, my soul was bowed down.  They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.  My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!  I will sing and make melody!  Awake, my glory!  Awake, O harp and lyre!  I will awake the dawn!  I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!  Psalm 57

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world!  1 John 4:4

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful.  You adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  1 Peter 5:7-10

It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.  Deuteronomy 31:8

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:6-8

Save me, O God!  For the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.  I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.  My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.  More in number than the hairs of my head are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies.  What I did not steal must I now restore?  O God, you know my folly; the wrongs that I have done are not hidden from you.  Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me.  O Lord…  But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.  Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.  Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.  Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy turn to me.  Hide not your face from your servant, for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.  Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies!  You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.   Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair…  Let their own table before them become a snare, and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.  Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually.  Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them… But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!  I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.  This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.  When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.  For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.  Psalm 69

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth ahs been given to me.”  Matthew 28:18

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:11-14

And he said to them,  “I saw Satan fall like lighting from heaven.  Behold i have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:18-20

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Romans 16:20

I love you, O LORD, my strength.  The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised and I am saved from my enemies.  He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.  He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.  They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support.  He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me because He delighted in me.  Psalm 18:1-3, 16-19

The LORD is my ligth and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Though an enemy encamp against m, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.  For He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.  I believe that I shall look upon the goodnessof the LORD in the land of the living!  Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!  Psalm 27:1, 3, 5, 14

Oh how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you.  Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a beseiged city.  I had said in my alarm ” I am cut off from your sight.”  But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I Cried to you for help.”  Psalm 31:19, 21-22

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before him; God is a refuge for us.  Psalm 62:8

what part?

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over at the New Attitude website, they have posted a portion of my testimony.  In that testimony, I mentioned a spontaneous song sung by Bob Kauflin… here is a link where you can listen to the version I heard that day.

 

Lyrics:

What part of your sin did I not cover?
What part of your guilt did I not take?
You have broken my commandments again and again
But I suffered in your place.

What part of your guilt have I not removed?
And what part of your soul did I not make clean?
Through my once and for all sacrifice
I wholly reconciled you to me.

And don’t let the temporary pleasures of sin
Keep you from what I created you for.
Neverending joy and lasting treasure
In the presence of your Lord.

And I’m the One you were created for.
I made you for myself.
My plans are perfect, my timing’s perfect
I know just where you should be and go
So why would you give yourself to anything else?

For my blood has set you free
Free to worship me
Free to resist the power of sin
That seeks to own your life

My blood has set you free
For you were made for Me.
So live in the good of all that I paid for
Live in the good of what you were made for
Live in the good of the blood shed for you.

grace revisited

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tonight i went to dinner with some friends.  3 of the 5 are people that I don’t know very well… so, near the beginning of dinner, Andrew asked me to share my testimony with them.  

it seems that over the past few weeks God has brought His redemptive story in my life to my mind more than on normal occasions… whether through a post on Josh Harris’ blog or a conversation over dinner. 

when I find my heart wanting to well up with anger against another, or be unforgiving, or simply be overwhelmed with the busyiness of life and my weakness, God reminds me who I really am… the biggest sinner in the room… completely forgiven…a beloved child of God… an heir to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading… in union with Christ, the Strength in my weakness and so much more. 

Once again, I reflect on His grace in my life and am grateful.  What mercy!  To me!  amazing!  That He would chose me, save me and place me in union with Him is such a gift.  I pray for grace to never forget how amazing it truly is.

What about you?  How has God shown you grace and mercy?  What’s your story?

this would not be the way I’d have chosen

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If I had to describe this season of my life it would be with the following phrase “this would not be the way I would have chosen.”  God; however, has chosen this path for me.  He has chosen 10 months of debilitating migraines, crippling food allergies and countless nights of restless sleep.  He has chosen to give me no medical explanation or cure.  He has chosen a path formerly unknown to me, a path of new trials and pain.  

 

My Father has tested my faith over and over again, in many ways I hope never to repeat.  He has pushed me beyond my limits and right into His loving arms of care.  He has shown me my utter inability to change my circumstances, but greater still, He has shown me His love.  

 

I love God more now than before this trial began.  I know God loves me even if this trial never ends.  I plead for it to end.  But I trust His sovereign care.  I trust that He knows what’s best and that His desire is not to harm (Lamentations 3:31-33).  He is not vindictive or harsh.  My God weeps over the pains His children endure, and as one of His children, I know without a doubt that His compassion extends to me (Psalm 103:13).  He hears my feeble cries (Psalm 145:19).  He listens to my weak prayers (Psalm 61:2).  He does not condemn my questions and doubts, but instead He cares and wants me to cast those anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7), He strengthens me with His promises (Psalm 119:25, 28).  He comforts me that I will never walk alone (Deut 31:8, Is. 41:8-10, Matthew 28:20), that nothing can separate me from Him (Romans 8:38-39) and that others have successfully walked this path before me (Psalm 88, 27, 91, Hebrews 11-12).  

 

You see, though in my mind, this is the path less traveled, in God’s eyes it is not.  The way of salvation is hard.  The path is rough and few follow on that path of suffering.  But the joys… oh the joys are incomprehensible.  One day, I will be with my Lord.  I will gaze in the eyes of my Savior that suffered worse pain than I could ever know.  He took what I never will – separation from His Father.  I will see others, like William Cowper, who suffered for years in pain, yet chose despite all odds to praise his loving God.  Oh, I long to talk to him about his struggles… about his many nights of depression and doubts and struggling and to hear intimate encounters between him and his God who lovingly held him through each of those nights.  I look forward to meeting those who died daily for Christ, whether by a martyr’s death or in the daily fight against sin.  I want to hear how God was bigger than each horrible circumstance that men and devils created for them to endure.

 

So, in my weakness, He is proving His strength.  In my despair, He is becoming my joy.  He is fulfilling my longings and providing all the comfort my soul needs.  In my agony, He is reminding me that He bore my eternal agony so I could know joy.  I praise Him for His steadfast love and compassion.  I rejoice, as Paul (sorrowful, yet rejoicing) in my infirmities as I see more of His power displayed through my weaknesses.  And I look to Him in faith, my tender, compassionate Father that has the power to give life to this mortal body (Romans 8:11).