Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Prayer Is About Love

Oh that God would give us this understanding of prayer! May we be ever on our knees.

"Prayer is about love not about lists. It is about drawing near to God, not about impressing God. It is about enjoying His grace not enduring guilt. In fact, our genuine guilt for loving something altogether more than we love the Father is gone in Christ. God so loved us that He sent His only Son to be cut off in death so that we might be wonderfully united with Him in life. Prayer is a response to the Father and the Son; it is a warm reaction to what they have together done for us. Prayer is communion with God, a cementing of souls together in a common delight, in this case, a delight in God and His grace towards us in Christ. It begins and continues with honest words about our loveless lives, our guilt-ridden approaches to prayer, and a shameless embrace of God's reckless love and grace." - Jonathan Dodson


I was singing today as I was starting to clean up lunch, which I don't often do. It caused one of my five-year-olds to stop what he was doing and just stand there for a minute. Then he said, "Miss Katie, that voice doesn't look very good from the outside, but, wowzers, it sure is pretty on the inside!"

It was all I could do not to burst out laughing. Not sure if it's really a compliment or not, but I'll take it. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekend Links 5/26

Raucous Joy - "As I was enjoying life with them, I was struck by the fact that sometimes Christians - who have the most reasons to enjoy life - enjoy it the least."

As Good as It Gets - "'This is as good as it gets' the man assured me. I was initially shocked, but then deeply saddened by his statement. It was an astonishing statement - but there was no doubting the sincerity with which he was speaking."

That Lovely, Lovely Man - An older post, but one I go back to time and time and again.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Mercy of Jesus

After this there was a ofeast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem by pthe Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic1 called Bethesda,2 which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and qparalyzed.3 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, r“Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” rAnd at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
sNow that day was the Sabbath.
As I was reading through John 5 this past week, I found myself struck by the beauty of Jesus that is displayed in His healing here.  I thought that I would share some of my thoughts.

First, there were many who were sick; Jesus chose to heal one. Why He showed such compassion to only one, I do not know, nor do I pretend to understand. But His compassion for the needy (and perhaps even for those who need Him most, as this man had been waiting for thirty-eight years) is displayed regardless. There was nothing in this man to cause Jesus to look at him and want to heal him. But He did anyway. And just as He chose to heal this man, He has chosen to heal me, not of my physical problems, but of my sin problem, not because of who I am, but because of who He is. Truly, His mercy is very great!

Second, Jesus saw and knew (vs. 6). This man didn't have to explain all of his problems or how long he had been waiting or why he even needed healing. Jesus knew. He knew it all, and He had mercy. And He knows me and my story just as well. What comfort is found in that thought!

Finally, when Jesus asked the man if He wanted to be healed, the obvious answer was yes! And yet the man didn't even have enough faith for that answer. He stated only the obstacles to his healing. But his lack of faith would not stop the glory of God from being displayed in this man's life. In His great mercy, He healed this broken man. Though I often lack the faith that my Savior deserves, His glory is displayed in my life anyway because of the gracious healing I have experienced. Because of his healing, that man stood and walked. And because of my healing, I stand boldly before the throne of grace.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spurgeon on the Love of Christ

"If there is one subject more than another upon which I wish ever to speak, it is the love of Christ. But if there is one which quite baffles me and makes me go back from this platform utterly ashamed of my poor feeble words, it is this subject. This love of Christ is the most amazing things under heaven, if not in heaven itself." - Charles Spurgeon.

Monday, May 21, 2012

They Knew

Yesterday, as I was reading through the beginning of the book of John, right after Jesus turned the water into wine, I realized I had never thought about verse 9:

"When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew)..."

The servants knew. They had seen the miracle, and they had seen the work that Christ had done. This is indeed a privilege that we have been given as Christians, to know where the wine came from. Though to everyone else the miracle may appear commonplace and ordinary, we know the truth; we know and see the One from whom all good and perfect gifts flow. This is a precious thing, to see where the miracle comes from. May it lead us to greater worship of and desire for Him who does wondrous things!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekend Links 5/19

A Critical Mind vs. A Critical Spirit - Convicting thoughts from Trevin Wax. "What concerns me today is that in our celebration of the critical mind, we may be indulging the critical spirit. There is a difference. A big one. And it’s largely one of the heart."

His Grace Has Provided  - "But blessed be His name, that which His holiness demanded, His grace has provided in Christ Jesus our Lord. Every poor sinner who has fled to Him for refuge stands 'accepted in the Beloved' (Eph. 1:6). Hallelujah!"

Brushed Your Teeth Today?  - "A question that puts things into perspective is: Have you brushed your teeth today? You probably wouldn’t consider leaving the house without brushing your teeth, applying make-up, and spending some time on your hair. You’re probably not spending the day in your pajamas, either! Daily Bible reading doesn’t require a dramatic life-change."

Free People Rest - This. "The problem? I don't act like a free person. I act enslaved to my schedule, my to-do list, my agenda. And if I go a little deeper, I realize that my frenetic pace has everything to do with my perception of worth."

Full of Just Ordinary - "God exists. There's no such thing as ordinary. This awareness of Him in the humdrum of life - it changes everything."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

I came across this hymn when it was quoted in a sermon that I was listening to a few weeks ago. Since then, I have had Jeremy Riddle's version on repeat. What a captivating reminder of the sovereignty and good purposes of God over all situations! May we find rest in that truth. Here are the lyrics:

God moves in a mysterious way
His Wonders to perform
He plants His Footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm
Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright Designs
And works His sovereign Will

And ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break 
In blessings on your head

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His Grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face
His Purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding ev'ry hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flow'r

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His Work in vain
For God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain

Monday, May 14, 2012

Abundant Grace

The other day when I was leaving the grocery store, I realized that I couldn't find my keys. That was the first time that I've lost my keys, and it was a terrifying feeling. When I walked back in the store and asked if anyone had turned in a set of keys, mine were quickly returned to me. I left thanking God for His abundant grace in allowing me to find my keys. Truly, it is more than I deserved.

But as I was driving away, I was so convicted by a thought. If I had not found my keys, it would have been just as much by the grace of God. He is good and He does good (Psalm 119:68) and because of Christ's finished work on the cross, He has promised that everything He does is for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28). As a result, I experience nothing that is not given to me by the sovereign grace of God. And yet, I often give Him praise only for what I consider "good" things that I experience.

The good things in life, like finding my keys or a getting a new job, are easy to give praise for. I'm grateful for the Lord's provision. But when I lose my keys for real or am faced with anything else that was not in my plan for my life, I often resort to crankiness and frustration and ask the Lord why He allowed that to happen. The truth is, though, that even those things that frustrate my plans are by His grace because of Christ.

If He is indeed sovereign, He is not just sovereign over the "good" things in my life but also over the "bad" things. And though I often have a negative perspective of so many things I experience, I think that if I really and truly understood what I have gained in Christ and what the sovereignty of God actually means, I would see everything that I experience is by His grace, and by His grace alone. The bad things that I experience are actually good things in light of these truths.

Because all of my life is under His loving rule and reign, every experience is by His abundant, extravagant grace.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weekend Links 5/12

The Heart Sings Unbidden - Ray Ortlund shares a wonderful quote from C.S. Lewis about theology.

Why We Got Married - The story of Ian and Larissa. "We know that we have made a covenant to each other, just as Christ made to the church. The church that He made that covenant with is so imperfect, and sorrowful, and disabled. Just like our marriage. This church, and this marriage, are hemmed in by Jesus and eagerly long for heaven. He is their author and sustainer." Part 2 and Part 3 of the series are both also worth your time.

Forgive Us Our Student Debts  - "You're going to love college. Think hard. Think to the glory of God. And think before you sign those loan papers."

Heavenly Mindedness - Randy Alcorn on looking forward to heaven. "If you lack a passion for heaven, I can almost guarantee it’s because you have a deficient and distorted theology of heaven (or you’re making choices that conflict with heaven’s agenda). An accurate and biblically energized view of heaven will bring a new spiritual passion to your life."

Blessed to Not Be Blessed  - "God withholds NO good thing from those he loves.  So if God does withhold something from us, we can know that it must not be a good thing for us.  We might think it would be a good thing, but we need to trust God’s wisdom."

Success that Exceeds Sanctification  - From Tim Challies. "As we discussed envy I found myself challenged by a thought which became a prayer. It was something like this: Do not allow me success that exceeds my sanctification."

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Never Made a Sacrifice

Such a precious reminder of what is truly important. 

“If you knew the satisfaction of performing a duty as well as the gratitude to God which the missionary must always feel in being chosen for so noble and sacred a calling, you would have no hesitation in embracing it.  For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office.  People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment.  All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us.  I never made a sacrifice.  Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made, who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.” - David Livingstone

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Baby Ducklings

A few days ago at work, one of my three-year-old's came into the classroom looking like she was about to cry. So I picked her up and asked what was wrong.

"Well," she said, her bottom lip quivering, "We're going to have baby ducklings at my house soon, and they're gonna be so cute I'm gonna cry."

Oh goodness. Melt my heart. I love this job!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fixing My Eyes on Jesus

Sometimes, I have a hard time with perspective, when it seems that all I can see is storm of my circumstances. Though whatever I'm experiencing may be small, I cannot see that if I only look at the rain.

And so today I practice, practice fixing my eyes not on what I am experiencing, but on my glorious Savior who withholds no good thing, for He is where true peace is found.

"And in the fourth watch of the night He [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, 'It is a ghost!' and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.'

And Peter answered him, 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.' He said, 'Come.' So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, 'Lord, save me.' Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'"
- Matthew 14:25-33

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I Graduated!

My face when I caught a glimpse of dear friends. More pictures to follow...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekend Links 5/5

Today I officially graduate from college! It is an exciting day. So without any further ado, here are some links that blessed me this week.

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist - "As a recovering perfectionist, I sometimes confuse holiness and perfection. Rather than try to reflect on God’s grace or allow its natural compelling work in my life (holiness), I try really hard to do godly things, produce spiritual fruit, and live a neatly tied-up life (perfection)."

A Herniated Disc, a Three-Year-Old's Stiches and the Love of the Father  - Reflections on suffering and the love of God from the perspective of a father.

A Mother's Call to Worship - Though I am not yet a mother, I was led to reflect on the daily calls to worship that I experience. Precious moments.

Leadership Core: Talents - A theology of talent.

Jesus Is What the Old Testament Promised Him to Be  - Kevin DeYoung walks through the Old Testament and shows how Christ is the greatest fulfillment of it all.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Unlimited Wealth

As I read this quote from Charles Spurgeon, I'm reminded not just of the physical provisions we experience (though they are by no means a small thing), but of the spiritual provision that we have in Christ. In either context, there is much peace in remembering who we serve.

"Jesus is the Son of the Highest and has unlimited wealth; it is shameful to doubt omnipotence and distrust His sufficiency. The cattle on a thousand hills will be enough for our most hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating."