Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The idea of worship took on a whole new element in my life a few years ago when the Lord opened my eyes to the reformed doctrines of grace. Worship saturates your life in one way or another, it isn't just Sundays. This thread of worship has continued over the last few years in my mind and thinking......seeing God behind everything and giving Him the praise and thanksgiving. One aspect has been walking and hiking and being outside. Instead of viewing it just for exercise as I once did, it has become worship. Seeing God behind the sunsets that we experienced at our old house, the nature He created in the woods, the fresh air, the moon and stars all points to His handiwork. This has also been a wonderful time to teach Justus of God's awesomeness. Even down to spiders and bugs and snakes!! Yikes.
Being together as a family as nourished us in worshiping the Lord not just in church but by being in His creation as well. At my NANC (biblical counseling) classes, the pastor of the church, Bill taught our theology classes and he gave an example about going hiking with his kids and reading a scripture on the mountain top. So we tried this reading Psalm 104 because it mentions how great God is through the world He created. It was powerful to say the least and a rich time. This is just an example of how worship has influenced my thinking in this area of life. My worship changed when God opened my eyes to the truth and so therefore my life is constantly changing as I learn more of God. Even being gospel oriented is worshiping our God because it reflects praise for Him. That's why I can on a warm day open the van windows, sing songs about Him and cry. It can be emotional not in a charismatic way but by the enlightenment of the truth. This worship mentality becomes who we are in Christ and I believe it aids in family worship specifically in church. As we teach our children to revere, respect, have awe in God, we must have it ourselves from the heart. I've been thinking about this thread of piety in the home, at church, in public. Being worship minded, God becomes the answer to why the sky is blue, God is behind everything and giving Him the glory and stopping to be thankful for the simple pleasures in life is worship. Because we moved out of the mountains to the flat lands in SC, we got to experience terrific sunsets and see more stars than before and we would be out in the evening walking or sitting on the porch. My heart was encouraged when Justus would pipe up and say look at the sky. My neighbor and I would text when we saw something wonderful in the sky like an interesting cloud formation or something. My dictionary on theological terms defines piety as "devotion and commitment to God expressed in the Christian life through a variety of actions." You know those times when you're in the midst of teaching your kids about something and you're not sure how to say it with a biblical emphasis that they will understand...not long ago, we went through this idea of doing things when we don't feel like it. It was a common response from Justus when asked to do something and I would say the typical you need to obey because God says so. But one day, God brought to my mind to use Him as an example in another way....I asked Justus did Christ feel like dying on the cross? Which that went into a teaching tangent but it somehow brought a new perspective on the situation. These opportunities teach me as well and keep my thinking where it should be. I'm amazed at how my "religion" used to be a separate part of me and now by God's grace it has become who I am entirely, influencing all my thinking and will continue to shape my roles as mom, wife, friend, teacher, sister, daughter, etc. God's grace is incomprehensible and truly amazing.
According to the Baptist Catechism:
What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. I Cor 10:31, Ps 16:11; 37:4, 73:25-26, Isa 43:7
Glorify means to reflect as glorious or display as glorious. When we worship, we are giving God glory for what he has done or made. I’m beginning to see where enjoying God forever is through worshipping Him forever. The two go hand in hand. “The basis of worship is the covenant relationship whereby God has bound Himself to those whom He has saved and claimed. The spirit of covenant worship…..is a blend of awe and joy at the privilege of drawing near to the mighty Creator, with radical self-humbling and honest confession of sin and need. Since God is holy and man is fallen, it must always be so in this world. Worship will be central in the life of heaven…..” excerpt taken from the Reformation study Bible. Worship stems from the gospel. If we live gospel oriented lives, we will also love worship filled lives. The more the gospel is manifested in my life, the more my heart worships the Lord in thanksgiving for choosing me out of His sheer grace and absolutely gives me no room to boast.
Grace and love brought Christ to earth to pay for our sins that deserved anger and punishment. Love is from God, as He loved us first so we could love Him and others. Loving others as God loves us is worship. If Christ lives in you, then so does His love and you are able to love the unlovable as Christ does. Living a gospel driven life weaves the thread of worship in my life. It manifests itself in daily piety those actions and attitudes derived from my devotion to God.
It is the flame of my life to worship Thee, the crown and glory of my soul to adore Thee, heavenly pleasure to approach Thee. Give me power by the Spirit to help me worship now, that I may forget the world, be brought into fullness of life, be refreshed, comforted, and blessed. Give me knowledge of Thy goodness that I might not be over-awed by Thy greatness; Give me Jesus, the Son of Man, Son of God, that I might not be terrified, but be drawn near with filial love, with holy boldness; He is my Mediator, Brother, Interpreter, Branch, Daysman, Lamb; him I glorify, in Him I am set on high. Crowns to give I have none, but what Thou has given I return, content to feel that everything is mine when it is Thine, and the more fully mine when I have yielded it to Thee. Let me live wholly to my Saviour, free from distractions, from carking care, from hindrances to the pursuit of the narrow way. I am pardoned through the blood of Jesus-give me a new sense of it may I come every day to the fountain, and every day be washed anew, that I may worship Thee always in spirit and truth. Valley of Vision
I am indeed grateful for the truth in my life and God’s grace enabling me to experience it. I am a whole new person, the new creature that God has replaced from the old creature. In Him alone, hope is found through the gospel.
With a worshipful heart,
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The current trial in our life has been losing a job in a hard time economically. This is not what I consider a "good" time in our lives, but God in His providence means it for our good. It's been miserable at times, not fun to say the least. I say that not out of bitterness lest I begin to despise this time that the Lord has ordained to happen for His glory and my good. James 1:2-3 reminds us that trials test our faith to produce steadfastness. Any of us that have suffered a trial know that in the beginning our faith seems weak only to come through with a stronger faith that the Lord graciously produced in us.
The Lord has provided through many of His people to minister to us. Many of these ways unique and quite amazing to us. Only God's kindness working through people have made this happen. I was reminded of the story of the Israelites in Deut. 8 that were starving in the wilderness and God supplied manna only enough for that day. They became dependent upon God for their food. Moses told them God was teaching them that man doesn't live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of Lord. They were humbled to a conscious dependence upon the Lord's daily provision. We have become acutely aware of our utter dependence on Him during this time. Later in the chapter 8, Moses says to remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth. This was so the Israelites would not depend on their own farming or hands when the Lord would bring them into a land where they would lack nothing. (vs 9) We are crying out to God for His provision right now during this trial but are we not just as dependent on God when the paychecks are coming in and all seems fine?
God's love for us has been a constant comfort. Psalm 145:8-9; Psalm 103:11 We are His own and His love for us is as high as the heavens. We are united with Christ so we must see our trial through our union with Christ. "God's love to us cannot fail any more than His love to Christ can fail." Jerry Bridges.
Psalm 131....I have calmed and quieted my soul....
I have learned that to trust God you have to know Him. This makes sense when you think of friends, we trust those we know much easier than ones we hardly know. Spurgeon said "Honor God by trusting Him." I believe I have learned more of Him so my trust is even deeper and the more I know, the more I trust. The Bible is our handbook for life, how to live the Christian life. It's also a comfort written for our encouragement to learn from those before us that also struggled and to see how faithful God is to His own.
I recommend the book "Trusting God even when life hurts" by Jerry Bridges. Above are just a few of the things I've learned, the book is full of scripture and truths. I wouldn't wait until life hurts to read it. Read it now and then pick it back up during a trial. You always see something new the second time through a book.
I can't imagine living without God's grace in my life to sustain me. This trial has humbled me in realizing God's care of His own and how I don't deserve it. It reminds me of how all of life points back to the cross and the gospel. There is my hope, He chose me, He died for me, He loves me, and He will take care of me. God is glorified when we trust in Him. Others see this trust and God is glorified. Because He is seen as worthy to be trusted. I am thankful for the grace to trust Him and the grace to see His blessings of provision. It's only by His grace that we don't become hardened or bittered when our faith is tested. Even when we can't see what the Lord is doing, pray for grace to trust Him knowing that it is for your good and His glory.
Trusting in Him,
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
The Gospel-Driven Life is the thesis of my life. I will spend the rest of my life writing the paper that supports that thesis. To clarify, writing the paper is meant by living my life driven by the gospel. After reading "The Cross Centered Life" by C.J. Mahaney, I knew my heart was changing, my life would be transformed by this gospel.
Pride is so subtle sometimes in our lives that we don't even see it. The opposite of pride is humbleness. So how do I put on humbleness and put off pride or self righteousness? By beginning to see yourself the way God does. Eph 2:1 says "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked....and were by nature children of wrath: vs3 BUT GOD being rich and mercy because of His great love for us even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved. Is it not humbling to think God loved you and chose you while you were dead in sin and made you alive unto Christ by salvation. We cannot boast in this vs9, it's completely the grace of God. If it's only by God's grace that we have salvation, then it's only by God's grace that we can live the Christian life. Where does pride fit into this? It doesn't and we can fight pride by hiding this Scripture in our hearts. The gospel shows us how pervasive pride is in our daily life. It's the transforming power of the gospel that replaces pride with humility.
Have I mentioned before how contagious joy is as the result of this power of grace? Because we can only boast in Christ alone, we cannot maintain pride in ourselves. The joy flows from the pursuit of Christ and the resulting transformation of a humbled heart.
Consider making a life resolution to be Gospel-driven and then seek out what this means. The passage mentioned is a good place to start. Get on your hands on books written about the cross, listen to music about what Christ has done. Read the lyrics to hymns. Absorb all you can, saturate your life with Christ, rest in His love for you, pray for grace each day, and know that you didn't deserve to be justified nor sanctified, as God only sanctifies those He loves, BUT GOD chose you anyway. Understanding the gospel is the key to the Christian life. It's humbling, convicting, transforming and it's my heart's desire to stir your heart to thirst for Him, to search for Him, to make Christ real in your life.
I recently came across this song and I read the words nearly every day. It speaks to my heart.
IN CHRIST ALONE my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!
Thank you Lord for choosing me, that I am now Yours and You are mine.
Undeserving of His grace, Jen
Thursday, November 29, 2007
What I believe about God, or my theology, affects how I handle life situations. Even what you don't believe about God still is reflected in how you handle life. What I mean by life is the everyday things that God has called each of us to do or what God has graciously blessed us with, or what God allows for us to go through for our sanctification. Let me explain a situation I'm dealing with currently, that's an everyday, in your face kind of thing.
It's called "sanctifying morning sickness". At the beginning, I knew this was par for the course and sought to deal with it as best I could. But then as I was laying on my bed crying out for mercy to stop the vomiting so I could get up to take care of Justus, my thoughts turned to my theology of God in a most sweet way that I can hardly explain it. What I do know is that God will never leave me nor forsake me, that He allows this to happen for a reason and that His grace will be sufficient every step of the way. So, how does this help in the midst of raging morning sickness? I have a calm joy, a holy joy in my heart because I am experiencing God's grace in a most unique way that I didn't every other day before this started and eventually the sickness will subside. What I believe about God must be applied to every detail of my life or rather the truths from Scripture must penetrate my thoughts so much that they guide my response to life and in this particular case, morning sickness. God has drawn me to Himself so near through this experience, that I often cry tears of thankfulness for his grace and mercy. We must experience the truths of the Scriptures in our lives so that we live and breathe Christ.
Psalm 81:10b says "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
Comment from John Calvin: The majority of mankind, either from disgust or pride, or madness, refuse all the blessings which are offered them from heaven. Others, although they do not altogether reject them, yet with difficulty take in only a few small drops, because their faith is so straitened as to prevent them from receiving an abundant supply.
By God saying I will fill your mouth, no matter how large a desire is, we will not be left wanting, He will be our satisfaction. This has become endearing to me that God will be my satisfaction if I open wide and put aside my pride in thinking I can find joy on my own.
Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink...
God will pour water upon him that is thirsty. Are you thirsty for Him? God used my morning sickness to make me thirstier for Him. He has poured His water upon me and I am thankful, humbled and amazed at God's grace to me who doesn't deserve to even experience His grace. "If any many thirst, let him come unto me and drink". Many of His cures were intended to win the hearts of these burdened souls. (Robert M'Cheyne) My heart has been won, I needed His cure. Thirst will lead you to the secret well, where you may draw unseen living Water. (Robert M'Cheyne)
If you open your mouth wide, God will fill it. He will bring things into your life for your good and sanctification that you might not have thought of in that way before and make you become more thirstier for Him and He will pour out His living Water upon you. Oh, how inadequate I am in trying to make this understandable, if only you could see my tears, feel my awe, sense my passion.
Remember the gospel, it's the only foundational truth of our faith. "Christ died so that sinners would be reconciled to God and forgiven by God." (C.J. Mahaney) Our theology must be based on the gospel alone. The cross has saved and transformed my life. The cross must be the centerpiece of our being. Some of us may need to rediscover the truth that first saved us. It's the key to joy, to growth, to passion. It's always been right there. It's not too late, look to the cross and become thankful. Build you life around the cross, the gospel will give you unspeakable joy. Joy is contagious and that is why I must write to whomever will read my refreshing ramblings.
Because of Him, Jen
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Do you ever stop and “smell the roses” literally? I just love going to the Fresh Market or someplace where there are lots of fresh flowers and absorbing all their splendor of color, shape, and smell. They are complex yet simple. Complex in the making perhaps, but simple to stop and enjoy them. You could say the same for sunsets; leaves as they change color and fall away in the wind. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night-to-night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun.
Excerpt taken from John Calvin’s Heart Aflame on Ps 19:1-4.When a man, from beholding and contemplating the heavens, has been brought to acknowledge God, he will learn also to reflect upon and to admire his wisdom and power as displayed on the face of the earth, not only in general, but even in the minutest of plants.
As we enjoy the earth and the vast beauty it contains, we need to acknowledge God even more so in our hearts. It’s a form of worship that took on a whole new element for me when I began to find contentment from things that money can’t always buy.What artwork is free these days? As you drive around, notice the leaves, the breezes, how trees stand, how they grow. Have you ever noticed the flowers on the interstate or at rest areas? Everything that God created is “good”. Gen 1:25b.It’s not that I never enjoyed God’s handiwork before, but that’s as far as it went. Take it deeper, reflect on God’s glory and acknowledge Him as the Architect.
Once we acknowledge Him, our minds must necessarily be ravished with wonder at His infinite goodness, wisdom, and power. After this latest epiphany, I noticed a change in my heart, a yearning to get my mind uncluttered so I could reflect more on God. This is what I call simplifying my life so I can enjoy God’s Simple Joys of His handiwork. We have too much stuff that gets in the way of worship, then we have to maintain it and whatever energy we have left, then we may go outside and look at the moon and stars. By the way, it’s awesome to watch a moon get fuller each night until it becomes full. I just don’t understand evolutionists. So getting back to my thought, I started getting rid of extra things in the house, in my life to make way for time and energy to spend enjoying God mentally and physically. Walking and hiking are wonderful ways of exercise for stewardship of the body, but what about it being worshipful as well? Oh my, the countless ways just walking and hiking outside has affected me spiritually. Next time you’re out breathing in fresh wonderful air, take your Bible and read Psalms 104. It’s exhilarating to read Scripture outside in the quiet creation.
Our family went camping for Justus’ birthday and in the morning we all sat around the fire to keep warm and trying to make coffee in the middle of the woods. It was early and crisp and cool, and the men all took turns reading a passage of Scripture. The fire was cracking and it was still and peaceful. It made sense, Jesus went up in the mountain to pray and have quiet solitude, so why shouldn’t we? It is worship for the soul totally uncluttered, totally energetic towards the things of God.
Psalms 143:8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Have I stirred up some thoughts in your mind? I sure hope so, mine are always stirred up when I stop and smell the roses literally.This idea of simplifying my life is a process; there are always things to change as the Lord sees fit to show me. It’s a mindset, a heartset to unclutter my life and mind and take notice of things I generally took for granted.
It’s not just “knowing” God made the earth, but “living” it out and teaching our children to observe and take joy in God’s handiwork. At this time of year, look at the pumpkins, the mums, all the fall décor that grows in nature. It’s beautiful, how sharp the colors contrast with the leaves changing and falling. God had a plan and an order to His creation. We are to enjoy it by glorifying Him in it. I haven’t mentioned everything wonderful in the world to observe like the animals, mountain lofty views, waterfalls, landscapes, snow, rain, storms, cornstalks, the list could on forever, but I wanted to give you a glimpse, a taste, for you to discover your own joys in living out a simplified life. A wonderful date is to watch a sunset together and read Scripture. There are simple low cost ways of enjoying time together with our Lord. Only by His Grace, Jen
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Take Time to Be Holy
2 Peter 1:5-11
2Pe 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
2Pe 1:6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
2Pe 1:7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
2Pe 1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Pe 1:9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
2Pe 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
2Pe 1:11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
These qualities that the verses mention keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful. Specifically knowledge of the Lord struck a cord with me. The more I read, the more I realize how much I don't know and the more I want to know, to dig, to understand, to have more striking moments in my mind. By making the effort to be diligent in our study of Him and making our calling sure, we will never become blind to what Christ did for us. In fact, we are more humbled, more thankful, and more frustrated at our own sin. We must take the time to become Holy. This has been a revelation in my life, a molding, a process, by this, I mean, the time I spend in secret with God. It has changed the more I understand and see and taste! It's hard to get up early for me, but I woke up this morning thinking "Take the time to be Holy" and I rolled out and had a hour to myself. I've been doing this for a few days now. Before, I had some time in the morning to read and pray, but for me there is something still about being up in the quiet of the morning. (with my coffee) =)) All the while this has been going in my mind and I came across this quote on the bulletin:
The one true victory over inward sin is a trusted Christ, in all the Divine simplicity of those words...However, the rest of faith is anything buy a way to contrive for us a safe "slackness" in the Christian course. Rather, the promise of it is the greatest possible stimulus to diligence. For it is an assurance that real diligence, applied at the right point, is immensely worth the while.
What is the highest and at the same time the simplest purpose of the means of grace-secret prayer, self-scrutiny before God, the Holy Scriptures, the sacred Supper of the Lord, (the Lord's Day), the public worship, family devotion? Mainly a twofold purpose, two aims converging into one; a growing knowledge of our need, and a deepening and ever-developing sight of our Lord Jesus Christ as "all our salvation and all our desire," so that we both love His will and rely upon His power. If we neglect "all diligence" in the spiritual life, then, let us be sure of it, we shall decline in the deep desire to be conformed to His image and follow His steps. Further, we shall decline in the conscious activity and persistence of the faith which rests in Him for peace and power. Handley C. G. Moule
When I read this, it just summed it all up for me. The clicking was going off in my head and I was exhilarated. It made me yearn for the next morning when I could get up and spend time in secret with my God. It's becoming easier to get out of bed no matter what time I went to bed. One more thing to chew on:
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God's children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
This familiar song became real to me in light of what I've been thinking and reading. The Lord in his Grace has given me an understanding, has turned the light on in a dark place. Can you feel my joy, do you follow my thoughts? Perhaps you know exactly what I'm talking about and can be encouraged. Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts with me too.