Category Archives: New Attitude

NEXT recap

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this past weekend, I had the privilege of attending and serving full time at the NEXT conference in Baltimore MD.  I had a great time and came back completely exhausted yet so incredibly refreshed…

Looking back, here are a few of the top highlights … (I’m sure I’ll be delving into more of the details at some point in the future but for now my brain is too tired to do so!)

1.  God seems to have a tradition of using worship during the conference to teach me a lot and this year was no exception.  There were several new songs and we actually recorded a live album during the conference (I’ll post a link to it when its available… I think they said that it will be downloadable for about $5).   Every worship set seemed to have the same theme … God’s unchanging, overwhelming, undeniable love for sinners like me. 

God seemed to impress on my heart even before the conference to pray for physical healing in my body.  As I began thinking through this, I met a powerful feeling of guilt… how can I ask God for such a gift?… knowing that He has already given me so much?… knowing that His glory is more important than His gifts?… knowing that ultimately it is He, not a body of good physical health, that will satisfy. 

He used the worship sets to reveal that my desire not to pray for this was pride… that I wanted to somehow earn it, yet instead He is holding out an open hand of love and favor freely to me…  “But God, don’t you see there is still so much sin in me?  Don’t you know I don’t deserve such a gift?”  “Yes, my child, but I love you…I sacrificed my Son and He gave His life for your freedom.  I desire good gifts for you.  And I may not heal you but I want you to know I love you and I delight in you asking and looking to me to be your gracious Provider.”  

I had some sweet times of prayer, just crying out to my God for mercy.  I know that He wants my good.  And at this point I don’t know if that involves physical healing, but I’m asking for it and hoping and praying that in His mercy the answer to this prayer would be a “yes.”

2.  Since I was ushering and working through portions of every main session I was not able to really focus on the sermons like in years past.  I wasn’t able to take any notes (that being said, I’m really glad they record the main sessions).  So during each sermon, I found myself just trying to grasp for just one drop of truth in the midst of the deep theological current that was being shared with us. 

I think in many ways this was helpful for me where I’m at right now in my life.  I didn’t leave the conference overwhelmed with a million things I need to learn and apply and change.  I left the conference with one overwhelming truth… my God is full of love and rich in mercy and that truth brings freedom. 

One quote from the final sermon was the main quote God used to remind me of this.  Sinclair Ferguson was speaking on the return of Christ and His ultimate control over the world.  He made the comment that “if God had returned 18 months ago, some of you here would be in hell today.”  My mind immediately went to the book of Revelation and the persecuted saints crying out “how long, sovereign Lord will evil go unpunished?  How long until you avenge our blood?”  It hit me with a blood-curdling reality and overwhelming pool of mercy that if God had answered those many prayer even only 5 years ago, then I would be in hell today.  That if God had not withheld his anger and had not shown patience that I would be in hell.  It was just an amazing reminder of God’s mercy to me. 

That quote allowed my faith in God to grow… to grow in seeing that He is sovereignly in control, even when it seems He is delaying unnecessarily.  Often I see a delay in answered prayer as either indifference or anger (in a “get it together and then I’ll answer your prayer” kind of way).  I’m grateful He opened my eyes to see the mercy behind what doesn’t make sense to me. 

…stay posted for more thoughts…  :)

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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.

what God has done … He said to me “live.”

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During one of the worship sets at Na05, Bob Kauflin sang a spontaneous song entitled “What part of your sin did I not cover?” This song was specifically for those who had turned from a past of sexual sins, yet continued to battle condemnation and guilt for their choices. I was a new Christian, and God had graciously redeemed me from the world’s pit of empty promises in sex, drugs and partying.

God spoke to me so gently yet powerfully through this song. “Emily, I love you. I know all your awful sins and I died to forgive each and every one of them. Not one escapes the power of the words uttered on the cross “it is finished.” All your sins are paid, your condemnation is washed away and your guilt is fully atoned for.”

As Bob kept singing, I was on the floor, weeping. Weeping that my Jesus would die for me. Why? What love is this, that He, the sinless one would lay down His life willingly for this, for all my sins that I had chosen? What amazing love! What undeserved favor!

For the first time, I knew God died for me because He loved me. He died to make me His beloved bride. He died to show me a love that no man ever could.

The song ended with a challenge to “live in the good of all that I paid for. Live in the good of the blood shed for you.” As Ezekiel 16 puts it, God passed by me, saw me wallowing in my blood, and in His compassion said to me “Live.”

God used that specific moment at Na05 to show me that my soul was already free from the condemnation of my sin. I praise God for His amazing love. He doesn’t view me as a “second-rate” Christian because of my past – He views me in union with my Savior. He has now said “live.” “Live a life of devotion to me. Live learning what it means to love me deeper and know me greater. I’m the greatest joy you’ll ever know.”

new mercies

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i’m grateful for new mercies every morning.  most mornings, i wake up simply longing for another 5 minutes of sleep.  and most mornings, though in my laziness, i give in to that temptation i always find myself still longing for another 5!  :(

 

i’ve been staying up too late this week… reading a new book.  The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun.  As one man stated “you may begin reading the book on your couch, but you will finish it on your knees (source).   Halfway through the book, I have found that to be true. 

 

This man, Yun suffered greatly for his Lord.  He endured many crosses of persecution.  in God’s kindness, the more I read stories like this, the more I am encouraged with the kindness and sovereignty of my God… a God that did not forget Yun in a horrible prison with day after day of torture beyond what my american mind is able to comprehend… and a God that has not forgotten me through my “light and temporary afflictions” that tend to dominate my thoughts, desires and days. 

 

Yun rejoiced when paraded through the streets as a criminal.  What was his crime?  He preached the gospel… that his hope was found in the blood of Christ.  as i’ve read of his joy, i’ve sat on my bed often thinking of the phrase “rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible.”   my faith in a powerful God, a God that restores, a God that saves, a God that redeems and calls my life from the pit… my faith in that God has seen growth this past few days as a result of this testimony.

 

specifically what has been a challenge to me was a period in Yun’s life where he was imprisoned.  He spent months with no access to a Bible, yet he recounts scripture after scripture that that the Lord used to minister to Him during that time.  I’ve been reminded again of the message from Na* this year.  I want to value God’s Words like that.  They are my life.  Yet often I look to them as mere advice or rules.  Do I treat God’s Word with such delight that it is my joy, like this servant of God, to memorize entire books of the Bible and then share them with friends?  Or do I look for my “nugget of the day”?

 

God, i pray that you would show me yet again the feast you’ve given me.  Please don’t let me be satisfied with the little “bites” i’ve been chewing on lately.  Give me more of a hunger, more of a desire, more of a desperate need.

Cool Artwork – Josh Harris, John Piper, CJ Mahaney

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my friend Jessica is a very gifted artist.  check out her blog here

the following pictures were created as a result of the 2008 New Attitude conference.  all lines in the pictures are quotes that were given during various sermons.  (double click on the picture to see a larger version)

*update* I have now included the links to each sermon that the drawing is based on.  The quotes will become much more clear and helpful as you listen to the sermons.

Josh Harris:

Ripping, Burning, Eating: A Right Response to God’s Word: Listen or Download HERE

John Piper:

Fighting for Faith with God’s Word: listen or download HERE

CJ Mahaney:

The Troubled Soul: God’s Word and our Feelings – listen, watch or download HERE.

the God of Narnia

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I started reading a new book today. Its a book I’ve had for a few months and have read snippets of, but today, I actually started on page one (a very good place to start…).

Since Na, I have been struggling with fear. Fear to approach God. Fear because I know He’s not safe, though I do believe Him to be good. Fear of submitting. Fear of sacrifice.
I long for the day when my sin does not cause me to want to hide, but instead when seeing that makes me run unhindered to the cross. Yet, still I desire to hide. And still, my Father, is calling to me. My Jesus is not saying “get away” rather “get back in line.”
I can feel the cords drawing me back to the cross. I can hear the voice of my Savior saying “come home.. ye who are weary come home.” Softly and tenderly, not harsh and angrily, He is calling. “Emily, your heart is longing. What you don’t realize right now (or what you in your anger are not wanting to admit), is that what your heart is longing for is me.”

Like Jill in the Silver Chair, I am thirsty. Thirsty, yet full of fear and so aware of my pride and sin (the following is an excerpt from The Heart of the Chronicles of Narnia: Knowing God here by finding Him there by Thomas Williams)

In the Silver Chair, the schoolgirl Jill finds herself alone and terribly thirsty in an unknown woods. She comes upon a stream, but between her and the water sits the great Lion. Though her thirst is overpowering, she stops in her tracks, too fearful to advance or to run.

“If you’re thirsty, you may drink,” says the Lion.

The terrified Jill wants assurance that she will not be eaten. “Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” she asks.

“I make no promise” the Lion answers.

“I daren’t come and drink,” Jill replies.

“Then you will die of thirst,” the Lion tells her. When Jill says she will go and look for another stream the Lion responds, “There is no other stream.”

In the end, Jill musters up the courage to step forward and drink, though it is the hardest thing she has ever done. The God of Narnia cannot be manipulated by human wants. The Lion knows that Jill needs water, and he wants her to have it. But she wants it on her own terms, which means avoiding him and getting a guarantee of safety.

Aslan knows that Jill’s terms for happiness will not achieve her ultimate goal. She wants fulfillment without encountering God, and her fulfillment on those terms is possible. Aslan ignores her desire for comfort and safety, insisting that she take the necessary risk of encountering God as the ultimate satisfaction of all needs and desires.

I was created to find my happiness in Him alone. God, please grant grace to turn away from my fear and self-gratifying desires and idolatry. Help me to see You as the joy for which I was created. Grant me the gift of humility and repentance to run to You as the Source of my only strength. I can’t do this on my own. I am weak, needy and distracted. But I am grateful I have a God that is strength in my weakness, that is sufficient to meet my need and that can focus my distracted heart on Him alone.

When God Waits – Na* Recap

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Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
Isaiah 30:18-20


This passage would be a good description of my journey this year at Na 08. Isaiah 30 talks about the rebellious children of Israel. It talks about their plans and steps that they take which are not guided by the Lord. It speaks of self-sufficient children. It speaks of me.

I approached Na this year expecting a refreshing time with God, expecting to glory in Him greater by seeing Him work in amazing ways (expecting Him to answer my prayers because I had “asked correctly”). Instead, He showed me my sin. He showed me my utter inability to change myself and He showed me my hopeless state when I’m left to my own legalistic ability. He waited to be gracious. He waited in order to humble me. He waited as I grew angry. He did not cast me off; He waited to show me my great need. And when I cried to Him to be my hope, He graciously heard my cry.

But even there, the answer was not as expected. I thought I’d see a feast, yet I found an answer in the form of “bread of affliction and water of adversity” (Is. 30). Instead of “rest,” His response to me was simply “Emily, be faithful in the little things I’ve called you to. Don’t be so tied to expecting great blessings that you miss my hand working when you cannot trace it. I’m working now too, don’t be so proud that you miss it. Repent of your legalism and pride, and keep walking in faith, looking to Me as your support.

Na 06 and Na 07 were “rooms.” I walked into those conferences and was overwhelmed with what I saw and felt and tasted – I was overwhelmed with who my God is. I left those rooms changed forever by what I saw there. I have spent 2 years gleaning from those experiences. This year was radically different. I expected a room yet encountered a door. I expected power in “earthquake-like” ways, yet I was simply reminded of the truths that I had become familiar with.

At first glance, it did not seem as impressive or even an answer at all. But I believe that God will use (and is using) that door to open up a deeper longing for Him in the coming weeks and months.


He is my answer. His Word is what brings life. His Spirit brings my dead heart to life. He loved me first.


Enter through that door and find life and rest. Bask in the greatness found there. Rejoice in the patience of the Savior.
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I ask’d the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and ev’ry grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.

‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust has answer’d pray’r;
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hop’d that in some favour’d hour,
At once he’d answer my request:
And by his love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this. he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev’ry part.

Yea more, with his own hand he seem’d
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Cross’d all the fair designs I schem’d,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cry’d,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way,” the Lord reply’d,
“I answer pray’r for grace and faith.”

“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou mayst seek thy all in me.”

John Newton