Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Grateful

Its been so long since I’ve written I feel like I’ve gotten a bit out of the habit. But I’m on what feels like quite a long train ride (um, seven hours) from New York to New Hampshire (yeah, I don’t know why it is taking that long either) and the scenery is pretty gorgeous.


I don’t really have anything poignant and important to say.


But as I sit here and I listen to my music and I watch the beautiful, amazing green trees roll by in Vermont I’m just grateful.


I’m grateful because I know God Loves me.

I’m grateful because I in moments of great blessing (like now) and moments where the blessings aren’t so abundant, He is there.

And I’m grateful because He is Home.

He is Peace and Contentment.

He is Beauty and Love and Hope.

He is the key to my Joy. And yours.


I’m grateful for Christ.

I’m grateful for what He has done for my sins.

I’m grateful for my husband and my marriage, my friends and my community, my family.

And I’m grateful because God wastes nothing.

I’m grateful because the wrong things in the world will be made right.


“You will go out in joy

and be led forth in peace,

the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,

and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.

This will be for the Lord’s renown,

for an everlasting sign,

which will not be destroyed.”

-Isaiah 55:12-13


That’s all.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Redemption Vs. Perfection

Beth Moore on how an imperfect past need not burden us:
"We put a higher premium on redemption than perfection."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Man Who Has Left All

"The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ."- Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

I read this quote in the book I'm currently reading, Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, which I would highly recommend. You can download and read FOR FREE. You can read any John Piper book for free at his website. Here's Don't Waste Your Life:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/onlinebooks/bytitle/1593_Dont_Waste_Your_Life/
But be warned, it will probably make you evaluate all of your selfish motivations for any of your life/career pursuits.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Complacent Comfort


"I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he will take away, and every branch that beareth fruit he will prune, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean, on account of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abideth in me, and I in him, beareth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast out, and wither as a branch; and men shall gather it, and cast it into the fire, and it shall be burned." -John 15:1-6

I went to London to do a show and I had a hard time. I missed my husband. I lost my passport. I was around all new people. And I wanted to be home. I wanted what was comfortable. I wanted what was safe. I wanted what I knew. But while I was there, while I was uncomfortable, boy did I pray. I made sure I not only spent time with God but that it was focused, that it was attentive, that I was talking to Him about all of my needs, my concerns, my worries and my fears.

And then I came home. And since I got home, I have been coasting. I'm back to what is comfortable. I'm back to what has an illusion of safety and security. I'm back to not being dependent on God every moment because this illusion of comfort around me makes me feel like I don't need to ask God to help me in all of the details of my day. It deceives me into believing that things here at home are in control and that I have some control over them. As long as I do A, B, and C then D, E, and F will happen.

But when I'm not really pressing in to God, as the verses above demonstrate, I can do nothing. I can bear no fruit. How awful a thought. I can spin my wheels all day long of my own accord thinking I'm going somewhere and thinking I'm accomplishing something. But if I am not abiding in the Lord, if I am not dwelling with Him then my actions will bear no fruit. They are pointless. Because they are for myself. They are self focused and self motivated.

So, I need to be abiding not in my comfortable circumstances but in the True Vine.

I need to fully acknowledge that in my sinfulness and selfishness, I cannot bear any fruit in my day unless I abide in God and in His grace He uses me.
I cannot bear any good thing unless I am in Him.
Nothing.
Nothing can I bear on my own.

That thought should help remove the illusion of comfort. Knowing that nothing good can come without Him should be enough to move me out of a place of compalcency and into a place of Love. A Love that will result in service and not sloth, in passion and not apathy, in peace and not restlessness.
Here's to pressing in, pressing on and pressing upwards.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Paige Benton Brown Video- "But My Coward Heart Fears to Give Up Its Toys"

Found this video of Paige Benton Brown talking about "The Responsive Heart". You have to fast forward through the first bit to get to her.



In the end she quotes the following prayer by A.W. Tozer:
"Father, I want to know Thee,
but my coward heart fears to give up its toys.
I cannot part with them without inward bleeding,
and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting.
I come trembling, but I do come.
Please root from me heart all those things which I have cherished so long
and which have become a very part of my living self,
so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there with-out a rival.
Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine it it, f
or Thyself wilt be in the light of it,
and there shall be no night there.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

But On What Is Unseen


I had to write a devotional for Gotham Fellowship on a passage of my choosing. Thought I'd share it here.

Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


John Calvin’s Commentary on 2nd Corinthians 4:16

"Though our outward man. The outward man, some improperly and ignorantly confound with the old man and others restrict it entirely to the body; but it is a mistake, for the Apostle intended to comprehend, under this term, everything that relates to the present life. As he here sets before us two men, so you must place before your view two kinds of life — the earthly and the heavenly. The outward man is the maintenance of the earthly life, which consists not merely in the flower of one’s age, (1 Corinthians 7:36,) and in good health, but also in riches, honors, friendships, and other resources.

Hence, according as we suffer a diminution or loss of these blessings, which are requisite for keeping up the condition of the present life, is our outward manin that proportion corrupted. For as we are too much taken up with the present life, so long as everything goes on to our mind, the Lord, on that account, by taking away from us, by little and little, the things that we are engrossed with, calls us back to meditate on a better life. Thus, therefore, it is necessary, that the condition of the present life should decay, in order that the inward man may be in a flourishing state; because, in proportion as the earthly life declines, does the heavenly life advance, at least in believers but without anything to compensate for it. In the sons of God, on the other hand, a decay of this nature is the beginning, and, as it were, the cause of production. He says that this takes place daily, because God continually stirs us up to such meditation. Would that this were deeply seated in our minds, that we might uninterruptedly make progress amidst the decay of the outward man! "

Reflection:
Two things hit me good about this passage.
The first one I discovered through Calvin’s commentary on it. Calvin says that the “outward man” is referring to every part of our earthly life on this earth. Not just to our health and bodies, but to our “riches, honors, friendships, and other resources.” Our careers, our relationships, our status, etc. But then Calvins says that the Lord takes these things away from us “by little and little, the things that we are engrossed with” in order to bring us back to meditate on a better life. And therefore, it’s NECESSARY for these things to decay in our life, for them to pass away, for them to not satisfy or even to totally disappoint us in order that our inward man to “be in a flourishing state.”
The second thing is the phrase “Therefore we do not lose heart.” The New Living Translation of this phrase is “That is why we never give up.”

If I truly grasped the idea of how temporary this life is, if I truly understand that it was the building block of a life to come then I would THEREFORE “not lose heart.” What logical argument. This life (what is seen) is temporary, the Kingdom to come (what is unseen) is eternal and THEREFORE we just don’t lose heart. We do not allow the things of this world that we see to discourage us.

Prayer:
Dear Lord,
I pray that you will show us how to fix our eyes on what is unseen. I pray that you will help us to focus far beyond ourselves and so much on the Beauty and Sovereignty of who You are and the promises of the Kingdom to come that we will not lose heart. I pray that we will experience being inwardly renewed day by day as the things around us that are not meant to satisfy us continue to waste away. You are telling us these things will waste away so I pray we will not be surprised, bitter, anxious, sullen or fearful when they do but instead we will fix our eyes on what is unseen. That we will fix our eyes on what Jesus did on the Cross for us and that this example of Love will be the catalyst for our not losing heart.
P.S. Photo by tanakawho on Flickr.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Supremely Satisfied

Listened to this by John Piper today:
(Full text is here: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/AskPastorJohn/ByTitle/3419_Why_does_God_allow_Satan_to_live/

"Why does God allow Satan to live?"

"The Bible doesn't answer why directly, so we have to go on inferences. But here is my best shot:

God has ordained that Satan have a long leash—with God holding onto it—because he knows that when we walk in and out of those temptations, struggling both with the physical and moral effects that they bring, more of God's glory will shine in that battle than if he took Satan out yesterday.

There will be evidences of God's patience with us and of his mercy towards us as we struggle with sin. And there will be evidences of his sustaining grace as we go through horrific physical suffering that Satan was the immediate cause of (as it says in the Bible: "This woman . . . whom Satan bound for eighteen years" [Luke 13:16]. She had this bent-over back, and Satan was doing it, and God was ordaining that he be allowed to do it). God ordains all of these things so that his glory—his mercy, justice, grace, wisdom—would shine more brightly....


Perhaps the other thing I should say is that he sent his Son right into the middle of this satanic warfare. It was Satan that put it into the heart of Judas to betray him. So Jesus exposes himself to the horrors of Satan's deceit and lies and murder—"He was a murderer from the beginning . . . [and] a liar" (John 8:44)—and dies, in order to make a public display of the principalities and powers in his defeat of them (Colossians 2:15).

There is more glory that will come to Jesus Christ by his suffering to destroy Satan than by powerfully shooting Satan in the head. And there is more glory that will come to Jesus Christ by our sharing in the sufferings of Christ—holding onto his supreme value—than if we had been able to say, "Satan, Depart!" and never have another problem.

And I think the reason for that—this is my ultimate final answer—is that the glory of God and Christ shines more brightly when we are seen to be supremely satisfied in Christ in spite of Satan's torments, rather than if we had his torments removed and liked Jesus because of it.

It's when you love Jesus in spite of Satan's torments and through them that his glory shines most brightly, rather than when we have life made easier for us by Satan's removal and we like Jesus because of it. " -John Piper

Listening to this got me thinking, as always, about whether or not I really love Jesus for Jesus sake. Do I love Him because He has poured out His blessings upon me or do I love Him truly for His own glory regardless of what that means for how privileged and blessed I am in this lifetime? If everything was taken from me, like Job, if I had no family, no husband, no stability, no career, no income, no opportunities would I really love Jesus? Probably not. I get fairly pouty with Him even when things are inconvenient.

Thank God for grace. I don't have to love Jesus perfectly and maybe I never will in this lifetime. But, it is not my love for Him that saves me. It's His for me.

"My faith is like sinking sand, changed by every wave.

My faith is like sinking sand, so I stand forever on grace."

-Caedmon's Call

Monday, March 8, 2010

Please Read


Dear Friends,
Last year in March, I went on a mission trip to the Village of Hope Orphange in Morocco where a group of Christians took care of orphaned Moroccan children and raised them as their own.

Today, I received the news that the Moroccan authorities are forcing these foster to leave the country and abandon the 33 children they care for.

Please pray and spread the word. Feel free to cut and paste the below email I received from the Village of Hope. These children are being taken away from the only parents they have ever known. They are being taken away from foster parents who have moved to Morocco and completely devoted their lives to caring for these children.

Thank you.
Lauren


March 08, 2010
Village of Hope News
Dear friends,
We have just been called together by the authorities and told that all 20 foreigners at VoH must leave the country. They have not told us how long we have left, but it will be between 1 and 3 days. The reason given is that the abandoned children in the care of VoH have been proselytised to by us, that we are trying to make them Christian. This is despite the fact that we have always been open about our faith to the authorities, and for 10 years they have allowed VoH to take in and foster children abandoned by this society, children who would otherwise be killed or placed in state run ‘mega’ orphanages.For us we leave friends, memories, hard work, but we leave with our children William and Samuel. For others it is not so easy. 33 children have just been abandoned again by the actions of the Moroccan state. Their foster mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, must now leave them in Morocco and return to their home countries. These 33 children have never known another mother. Some of them have been here for 10 years, since the start of VoH.

One of the older children just said to Tina, ‘Why couldn’t I have real parents’. Watching the children be told by their parents that they had to leave, that they would maybe never see them again, is the most painful thing I have ever witnessed.

Feel free to circulate this to everyone you know, churches, media, officials, MPs, everyone. This is a shame and a disgrace to the leaders of Morocco. They will answer to God.Please pray for the children of Village of Hope, and for their parents and foster siblings who they must now farewell. And underneath are the everlasting arms.

Yours faithfully,
Chris Broadbent Chris BroadbentHuman Resources ManagerVillage of Hope/Village de l’Esp√©ranceAin Leuh, Morocco.p: +212 650 731 307 f: +212 535 569 183 e: kiwimaroc@gmail.com m: BP1124, Ain Leuh 53050 Maroc w: http://www.voh-ainleuh.org/
MoroccoVillage of HopeB.P. 1124Ain Leuh 53050MOROCCOWebsite: http://www.voh-ainleuh.org/Email: village@voh-ainleuh.org

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Love to Pray"

"My secret is very simple: I pray. Through prayer I become one in love with Christ. I
realize that praying to Him is loving Him. In reality, there is only one true prayer, only
one substantial prayer: Christ Himself. There is only one voice that rises above the
face of the earth: the voice of Christ. Perfect prayer does not consist in many words,
but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus.

Love to pray. Feel the need to pray often during the day. Prayer enlarges the heart
until it is capable of containing God's gift of Himself.
Ask and seek and your heart
will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.

We want so much to pray properly and then we fail. We get discouraged and give
up. If you want to pray better, you must pray more.
God allows the failure but He
does not want the discouragement. He wants us to be more childlike, more humble,
more grateful in prayer, to remember we all belong to the mystical body of Christ,
which is praying always."

-No Greater Love by Mother Teresa
P.S. Photo by tanakawho on flickr.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Idolatry of Being Known

Last weekend I went on a retreat with the Gotham Fellowship. And as I was sitting in a small group of women discussing my desire to have relationships always be comfortable and family and friendships feel always close (obviously not good or realistic) , one of the women said to me, "It sounds like a desire to be known."

As soon as she said it, I knew that she had hit the nail on the head.
And as soon as she said it, I immediately became frustrated.

I saw a play last year (Uncle Vanya) and one of the characters performed a monologue about how she despearately needed the man she was pining away for to see her because then he would love her in spite of the fact that she was physically not as attractive as another woman he was falling for.

I later self righteously proclaimed (to multiple people) that the monologue had struck me because she had such a desire to have a man see her, to have a man know her in order to be fulfilled. And that I was so glad that I (being so obviously sophisticated in my faith, just kidding) only needed God to see who I am, to know who I am.

And then, almost exactly a year later, I realize how deeply I was blind to how deep such a desire ran in my own heart to be seen, known and heard by all of those around me. And how I put that pressure onto them.

Sure it's nice in theory to say I only need God but really, come on, who was I kidding? I needed PEOPLE! People to make me feel loved and appreciated but most of all, I needed people to make me feel KNOWN.

Later, though, I knew God was telling me:
'I do know you.
I do see you.
I know you better than you know yourself.
I know you better than you can even begin to articulate yourself to another person.
And that is enough. To be known by Me is enough.'

And so now, I just need to internalize that truth in such a way that it changes what I believe about myself. And that changes everything. It changes the way I live.

Because if God knows me, sees me, gets me and loves me...
If He sees all the ugly thoughts and selfish motivations and everything and loves me..
Then I really don't need anyone else for approval or comfort.

Just another example of how much freedom the Gospel can bring.

"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
"


-Selections of Psalm 139