Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dealing with Despair

Check out this sermon by Paige Benton Brown called "When Despair Invades Gospel Work: Learning from Elijah". It's also a great sermon just to listen to when dealing with your despair in general.

And at the end she quotes Joni Eareckson Tada:

"Jesus didn't pass me by. He didn't overlook me. He answered my prayer, and He said, "No," and I'm glad. A "No" answer has purged sin from my life. It has strengthened my commitment to Christ and forced me to depend on his Grace. It has bound me with other believers. It has produced discernment. It has disciplined my mind and taught me to spend my time wisely. It has stretched my hope, increased my faith, and strengthened my character. Being in this wheelchair has meant knowing Christ better--feeling His strength every day...The Lord brought me here that I might thank Him for the wiser choice. The better answer. The richer path."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Inmost Heart- From The Redemptive Pursuit

Hello Blog Readers!
I am a contributor to a series of devotionals for women called The Redemptive Pursuit. If you would like to receive our once weekly devotional in your inbox sign up here.

This is my first devotional from the series.

The Inmost Heart

"Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart."
-Psalm 51:6 APM

Since it is Lent, I have been thinking about the contrast between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion, the crowds shouted praises acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah from the lineage of David:

"Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, 'Hosanna!' 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' 'Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!' 'Hosanna in the highest!'" - Mark 11:9-10 NIV

And then, six days later, the crowds shouted that they wanted Jesus to be crucified:
"'What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?' Pilate asked them. 'Crucify him!' they shouted. 'Why? What crime has he committed?' asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, 'Crucify him!'" -Mark 15:12-14 NIV

This got me thinking, how am I similarly two-faced toward God? In what ways do I praise God with my mouth, acknowledge Him as my Savior and my Provider and then turn around and crucify Him with my behaviors and my actions?

My pastor is often saying that you can intellectually believe something but until "the penny drops" there is no way to know if you believe it in the depths of your heart. What we believe in our "inmost heart" (Psalm 51:6) is revealed through our behaviors.

I am an actress. After performing in a play recently, I received an unflattering review. I was devastated. There, in print for all the world to see was someone's opinion that I had not done a good job. And even though it was someone I did not know personally nor had ever met, their criticism rang truer in my ears than God's truth that I am fully loved by Him.

I know intellectually that God loves me. He calls me His own. Because Christ has paid the price for my sins, God looks on me the way He looks on Christ. He sees me as His beloved daughter in whom He is well pleased. If the creator of the Universe has this view of me, then the criticism of other people should be easy for me to take. It should not devastate me. And yet, it does.

The truth of God's complete love for me has not been worked into my "inmost heart."

Getting my actions and attitudes to match God's truth is going to be a process. But it starts with recognizing the disparity that exists within my very self. Every time I become aware of a way that my actions are not matching up with what I know to be true about myself or God, it is an opportunity to repent and be made new.

Thomas Chalmers says, "The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one." The only way to get rid of my desire for the approval of others is to replace it with the knowledge that I am approved of by God. God loves me not because of anything I have done on my own accord but rather because Christ has paid the price for me to have it. He took on the separation that was caused by all our sin, a cosmic disapproval, so that we could be approved of for eternity.

If I allow the beauty of that kind of love and sacrifice to work itself into my heart, then my two-faced nature will begin to fade. The deeper I grasp the full weight of the love that exists for me from Christ the more my actions and my faith will intersect.

Lord, we praise you with our mouths for what you have done for us, but our hearts are hard towards you. We say we believe you are in control of our lives but we spend time consumed by our worries, fears and anger. We say we believe you love us, but we look to others for approval. We say we want you at the center of our lives, but we push you to the periphery. Reveal to us the areas in which we are not living out of your Truth.
Forgive us for our hypocrisy and help us to know your wisdom in our inmost hearts. Help us to be so captivated by your beauty for us that our actions and attitudes flow from a place of love for you.

Psalms for the Depressed and Afflicted

Got this list of psalms from a class I'm currently taking. If you are feeling depressed or afflicted, give these a read. The bold ones are considered to be particularly valuable.

Psalms for the depressed: 6, 13, 18, 23, 25, 27, 31, 32, 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 46, 51, 55, 57, 62, 63, 69, 71, 73, 77, 84, 86, 90, 91, 94, 95, 103, 104, 107, 110, 116, 118, 121, 123, 124, 130, 138, 139, 141, 142, 143, 146, 147.

Psalms for the afflicted: 22 44, 55, 71, 73, 79, 88, 102, 109, 118, 123, 124, 130, 139, 141, 146

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Where's the Joy?

"Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. The joy our Lord experienced came from doing what the Father sent Him to do. And He says to us, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you". "

-Oswald Chambers- My Utmost for His Highest

Friday, July 22, 2011

You Will Be Clean

"For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God." - Ezekiel 36:24-29

I love the promises in these verses.
He will bring us back into our own land, our true home.
He will make us clean, cleansing from us all impurities so that we are fully sanctified.
He will give us a new heart.
He will remove the heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh.
And He will put his Spirit in us.
We will be His people and He will be our God.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Love Right There

There are days when God feels far away even though I know in my mind He is not. Yesterday was one of those days. But I went to the park and I listened to this song and suddenly God felt much closer. This song always reminds me that nothing I can do can make me lose God's love. It's always there even when I falter and fall. His love sustains and is always present even when I can't see it or feel it.

You Cannot Lose My Love by Sara Groves:

You will lose your baby teeth.
At times, you'll lose your faith in me.
You will lose a lot of things,
But you cannot lose my love.

You may lose your appetite,
Your guiding sense of wrong and right.
You may lose your will to fight,
But you cannot lose my love.

You will lose your confidence.
In times of trial, your common sense.
You may lose your innocence,
But you cannot lose my love.

Many things can be misplaced;
Your very memories be erased.
No matter what the time or space,
You cannot lose my love.
You cannot lose,
You cannot lose,
You cannot lose my love.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Endless Want

The Redemptive Pursuit devotionals this week featured an amazing piece by Laura Ziesel on endless want.

Check it out here:

If you like what you see you can sign up to receive the devos on a weekly basis here:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weekly Devotionals for Women

Hello Readers!
I and a few other lady friends including will be starting a series of women's devotionals that will be sent out on a weekly basis. They will be sent out beginning Monday. If you would like to receive them in your inbox you can sign up for them here:

You can also visit our website here:

And follow us on twitter here:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spirit Filled

"To begin praying for the operations of the Holy Spirit is not simply a matter of scheduling more time for it! We have to repent for the reasons we haven't been praying for them. We must reflect on biblicl passages, recall the strongest works of the Holy Spirit in our lives and consider the lives of men and women in history or the present that show us what the Spirit can do in a human life. We have to stir up a vision in our minds and a passion in our hearts for what the Spirit can do in us, and then pray with energy and endurance for the Spirit to come."
-"Prayer" A Bible study by Tim Keller

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Your Clay Pot Assignment

"And why have I called you for this work?...I called you by name when you did not know me. I am the Lord; there is no other God. ...Destruction is certain for those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it saying, 'Stop you are doing it wrong! ' Does the pot exclaim, 'How clumsy you can be!'" -Isaiah 45:4-5, 9 New Living Translation

I came across these verses this morning and it spoke to me about how much of a mental complainer I often am about the assignment God gives me. Whether it's a long term assignment like the job I am holding for a season or a short term assignment like the way I am forced to spend my weekend doing chores I'd rather not, I often find myself frustrated by the tasks I have to complete.

But these verses remind me that God created me. And because He created me, He's the best one to dole out the assignments.

When the potter sits down at his wheel, he knows if he is molding the clay into a pot to carry water, a pot for decoration, a cooking pot, etc. The clay is being shaped by its creator for the purpose it will serve.

In the same way, I am being shaped by my Creator. My view of the purposes and plans God's has for me are confined to the past and present of my life. They do not take into account a Creator who stands outside of time and sees how my life intersects with the others He has created to unfold His plans for all time. And the more I try to live my life grumbling and moaning about the assignments He has given me for the here and now the more selfishly I am living. The more I am living outside of the design He has for me. And the more I am, essentially, arguing with my Creator.

And who am I as the clay to argue with the Master Potter?

P.S. Original photo link here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pastor Tim Keller on the Current Political Scene

Pastor Tim Keller on MSNBC on demonization in the current political scene and how it stems from idolization.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


his article "Backlash and Civility" about the current political atmosphere and where we should stand as Christians:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Practicing the Practical

I have been reading through Proverbs this week and it has been incredibly refreshing. I have always gravitated toward the Psalms when I just flip my Bible open but reading through this book has reminded me how much practical truths can inform the things I believe which in turn informs my attitude and my behavior. Some that stuck out to me on this read through (all in New Living Translation)

"Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel."
-Proverbs 11:17

"A worthy wife is her husband's joy and crown; a shameful wife saps his strength."
-Proverbs 12:4

"Those who control their tongue will have a long life, a quick retort, can ruin everything."
-Proverbs 13:3

"Each heart knows its own bitterness and no one else can fully share its joy."
-Proverbs 14:10

"We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps."
-Proverbs 16:9

"A cheerful heart is a good medicine but a broken spirit saps a person's strength."
-Proverbs 17:22

"Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out."
-Proverbs 17:15

"Haughtiness goes before destruction, humility precedes honor."
-Proverbs 18:12

"A fool is quick tempered but a wise person stays calm when insulted."
-Proverbs 12:16

P.S. Winter can end now please. :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Loving Into Lovability"

I was reading this blog post by John Piper called "Consider Loving Someone Into Lovability" where he discusses that God justifies His people as righteous before they demonstrate any goodness. God loves them and then, after such love, their heart is changed.

Piper then poses the question, "Can we do the same? Can we, by God's grace, love someone into lovability?"

What a difficult task. It's so much easier when someone is hard to love to just walk away. It's so much easier to make our relationships consumer like and avoid those are not very fun to love and serve.

When I read Piper's blog, two things came to mind:

First, if God looks upon me as now sinless because of the sacrifice that Christ has made, it means He also looks upon the person I find difficult to love as sinless perfection as well. Those I am frustrated or angry with are perfect in God's eyes. They are made in His image. They have been perfected by Him and His sacrifice. If we are both on the same plane in God's sight, then finding myself superior to someone is not a possibility. And if I do not feel superior in any way to that person, they become much easier to love.

The second thing that I thought of was how very gracious God is with us. We find it so difficult to love those around us who we feel don't "deserve" our time, effort and energy and yet we are unphased by the amount of sacrifice that has been poured into us when we were considered unlovable. We are so hard hearted that we look upon Christ's blood and sacrifice as cheap. Christ believed that in our totally depraved and sinful state, we were worth dying for. Yet we have difficulty extending grace, patience and love to that family member who is overly opinionated. To the checkout lady who we feel always gives us attitude. To the friend who always complains.

We know that love is supposed to be sacrificial but we often find it harder to make the small day to day sacrifices of loving those we find "difficult" than to make big sacrifices for those we feel are serving us well.

But the more we meditate on 1) our lack of superiority because of the Gospel and 2) the abundant Grace that has been given us by Jesus, hopefully(!) the easier it will become.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Warrior Women

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper
suitable for him."
-Genesis 2:18

A friend of my husband’s asked us if we would be willing to host a Bible study using our church’s study entitled Sex, Singleness and Marriage. It was a seven week study that unpacked some of the baggage surrounding all of these topics and, undoubtedly, brought up a lot of questions while it was answering others.

One of my favorite things that I learned, however, was regarding the above verse. I had perused several marriage books/articles/sermons about this verse and the verses surrounding it and listened to various opinions about what it all meant. What does it really mean to be someone’s “helper”? And am I only supposed to be a “helper” if I’m married? And frankly, being a “helper” sounded a bit boring.

From the Redeemer study:
“The English word “helper” is, unfortunately, a rather weak word. It connotes an “assistant”—
someone who is less capable and who simply runs errands and does menial tasks. However, the Hebrew word “ezer” is used in the Bible almost every other time to describe God himself, in a military context. For example in Deuteronomy 33:29, we read: Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places. All the citations of “ezer” (helper) in the Bible (including this one from Deuteronomy) illustrate that a helper is someone who helps out of strength, to fill up a need that is lacking in the other. And the Bible’s consistent use of “ezer” with a military reference has led to a consideration of women as warriors working alongside men to bring about God’s kingdom here on earth....

“For example, a broad interpretation of v. 18 is that:
God created the woman to be a warrior alongside the man in advancing, God’s kingdom throughout the earth. This is every woman’s calling, regardless of her age, marital status, or circumstances. Every woman is an ezer from birth to death. We are warriors for God’s purposes alongside our brothers in Christ. (Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth, 211)”

If “every woman is an ezer from birth to death” then I should be a warrior for all of the men in my life. My husband, my brother, my father. The men in my life and at my church.

Around the same time that we were going through this study, I was reading through The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. It made me think that the greatest way I can be a warrior for my spouse and the other men in my life is to be a prayer warrior. To take very seriously my role and responsibility as someone who is to be fighting for them…. And to fight with prayer.

I’m now trying to develop a habit of praying for the men of my life with a warrior mentality. With a mentality that acknowledges that part of the reason I was created is to fight for them in the battle of life because they need the support of their warrior wife, daughter, sister, friend.

They need the support of an Ezer.

(P.S. The picture is of Joan of Arc.)