Sunday, August 31, 2008


I am always amazed at how true the Bible is. Now, as a Christian, I believe it is true because I have faith in the God who wrote it. But, even without that faith, I think so much of the Bible is obviously true if we simply consider it in terms of life around us. Take, for instance, laziness. I was reading through Hebrews 6:1-3 this morning. Verse 1 says: "Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God . . . ." The verses go on to list other "elementary teachings." Really, what this verse is saying is "stop being lazy." Why does it say to stop being lazy? Because you can't grow if you're sitting still. Is this true everywhere in life? Yes! You can't build a house if you're always focused on pouring and re-pouring the foundation. The apostles could not follow Jesus without first leaving behind what they were doing. We are to leave the elementary teaching about Christ. Notice it doesn't say "leave behind" -- just leave, as in move forward from something. These truths are excellent, essential, foundational - but we can't live our lives simply sitting on them. God is not a "good enough" God! He always wants us moving forward. The next part of the verse says to "press on to maturity." This is not to assume that we will ever reach maturity. But, as Barnes says, "No man accomplishes much who does not aim high." Think about it - if you find something sitting completely still anywhere in this whole universe, you have found something dead! Every action of life is characterized by movement, from our cellular level up to our lungs moving up and down when we breath. The same is true of your spiritual life - if it is still, if it isn't moving, you are dead. So, if you have claimed to believe in the truths about God, get moving! Don't just sit there! Not only is mediocrity not a goal Christ supports - it is dangerous to our souls.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Bible Study site

While reading a friend's blog, I stumbled upon a post about a new Bible study site - it's called Best Bible. As I mentioned to said-friend (!), I wanted to make a shameless plug for this site, and not just because he created it! It's awesome! As the explanation under the title on the homepage puts it (I'm sorry - I know there's a technical name for things like that, and I'm sure I'll be getting an email from my brother, but I don't know what it's called, and if I did, I probably wouldn't remember anyway!) -- "Explaining Bible Translations and Recommending Resources." Now, I love studying the Bible - but I have had to figure out which translation to use and which commentaries to use, and which resources to trust, through trial-and-error! I've stumbled along, and into, a lot of heresy along the way! So, I really appreciate a site (by someone I trust) making recommendations on things such as these. I also love the explanation given under the "Good News" tab -- one of the best presentations of the Gospel I have read. So, if you're looking for a site to help you get started in your quest to study the Bible, check out Best Bible. If you have any recommendations on anything mentioned, too, be sure to make them! [Please note - I was not paid to make these statements! I genuinely like the site! I hope you do too!]

Friday, August 8, 2008

God's glory and our good

This is a thought that has been running through my heart/head a lot lately, as I've been hearing sermons on God's sovereignty and reading about it. I think it was actually a quote in one book in particular, but I've heard it repeated by many people when discussing God's sovereignty. We were actually talking about this whole topic again at Bible study last night, as our pastor has been preaching on God's providence. The thing that came up several times in our discussion, which was very convicting to me, is that we must be careful when talking and thinking about God's providence/sovereignty. It is very easy to come across as cavalier and uncaring when discussing all of this. I think this is something I, personally, can easily fall into. It's not that I don't care, that I can look at every bad situation and just say "God's in charge - deal with it." But, when talking about things, I know I can easily come across that way. I'm sure I've come across that way on this blog! My sweet, well-spoken husband often reminds me that I tend to think out loud, so I have to be careful when talking about subjects like this because I can come across very callous (he doesn't use those words, but that's what he means!). Then, we stubmled upon something in talking last night that made things click, and helped me to better explain how saying God is sovereign does not mean I'm saying "just suck it up and deal with it."
Here it is - just because God works good out of all situations doesn't mean the situation is good in and of itself. Nothing can make murder a "good" thing; nothing can make rape "good"; nothing can make the death of a child "good." But, as the verse in Romans points out, God works good out of all things. We've been studying the story of Joseph. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." The same word is used in this sentence for both the brothers' intentions and God's intentions. The verse does not say "God intended good in the situation." Joseph is referring to all his brothers did to him - they stripped him naked, threw him into a pit (with hard sides), and sold him to slave traders. They very obviously intended all they did to him, and they intended it to harm him. Now look closely back at that verse - Joseph doesn't say "but God intended all those things to be good things, so I've figured out a better way to look at it." No - he says "God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done . . .." The brothers' intentions were simplistic and short-sighted - they wanted to harm their brother, so they took each opportunity that came to them to accomplish this purpose (they didn't start off plotting to sell him to slave traders - it just kind of worked out that way). But God's intentions are much larger - He intended to plant Israel in the heart of Egypt and save "many lives" in the process. He intended, ultimately, to save the world. In order to do this, bad things happened along the way. This does not make the bad things good - to put it bluntly, Joseph's situation sucked! BUT, God planned, from the beginning, to work good out of the situation. This does not mean Joseph can look at his past and say "that was good, what my brothers did to me." Notice he never says that to them! We should (I should!) never expect someone to be able to look at what God has brought about after a situation and say "that situation was good because this happened as a result." A bad situation is bad, no matter what God works out of it. But what we can say, and what we can place our hope, our faith, our trust in, is that GOD WILL BE GLORIFIED and, as a result, we will be changed, for good. In the midst of hard times, we do not put our faith in the resolution of the situation, thinking God will make this situation good. He doesn't promise that - in fact, in the Bible, God tells us that we, as Christians, will have troubles in this world. What we do put our faith in is God, that He is good and that He will accomplish His purposes, and that His purposes are worth accomplishing - even if we don't see the end result. And that last statement could lead us into a whole other discussion, but it's time to get some kids out of bed so . . . that's all for now!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Mother of the Year" Award

As I may have mentioned before, and for those of you who don't know me, I'm a rules follower. I am always on a quest to find the set of "rules" I need to follow in order to be the best I can be in any given situation (I know, I have problems!). This has been a big challenge for me in my faith because I'm constantly trying to reduce the Bible to a set of rules, and it just doesn't work that way! In fact, most of life doesn't work that way! But for some reason I'm hard-wired to think that way, so it's an on-going challenge for me.
Today I was looking up a book on learning styles on, and the write-up about the author said she was the 2007 Mother of the Year award recipient for her state. That caught my eye - the Mother of the Year?! You have got to be kidding me! As if I don't have enough issues with feeling adequate as a mother and a wife, now you're telling me there's a set of criteria people use to decide what mom is the Mother of the Year?!!! Ahhh. I don't need that kind of pressure! I did research it a little to see what exactly they were referring to -- apparently, an organization known as American Mothers, Inc., puts on the official competition each year, and there are fairly stringent requirements. For those of you out there who have known about this before, please don't read me wrong here - I'm not knocking the women who have won. I'm sure they are well-deserving - probably the types of women I would like to be mentored by. But that's not the point - the point is that rule-followers like myself do not need to be considering what exactly would qualify a woman for Mother of the Year. Because then I'll decide those are the things I need to be focused on. Sheesh. For the record, I'm not bookmarking the site!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ponderings . . .

In the past week, we have learned of two tragedies in the lives of old acquaintances -- one, the death of a marriage, the other, the death of a father, husband, and friend. This got me thinking, once again, about God and His sovereignty, even in times of suffering and tragedy. In our Bible study last night, we were discussing (on a wonderful tangent!) the verse in Romans 5:9 - "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." I have never considered all that verse entails until our discussion last night (thank you, Chris!). Think about it - the verse is saying that God decided the best way for Him to demonstrate His love to us was while we were still sinners. Not after all suffering had been removed. Not after He had removed all sickness, bound up all the brokenhearted, eliminated evil, and solved global warming (!) - but now, in the thick of things, while we are still sinners. I listened to a series on Christ and Suffering by John Piper, and one of the things he pointed out was that God demonstrated His love and mercy to us through the single most horrific event of suffering this world has ever seen. I know what you're thinking - how could he say that, when so many other horrible things happen every day. But, truly, the murder of Jesus Christ, the only perfect man to have ever walked this earth, by nailing him to a tree between two petty criminals so that He could die an excruciatingly slow and painful death . . . that is the most horrific act of suffering this world has ever seen. So, consider that in light of Romans 5:9 -- God demonstrates His love to us while we are sinners, through all our fallenness and depravity. He does not work despite our sin - He works through it. Our pastor, on Sunday, noted at the end of his sermon that the greatest message of the Gospel is that God is a redeeming God. He is always at work redeeming all of creation. In what clearer way do we see this then through suffering, through tough times, through painful circumstances and trials? Through sin? God, in His infinite and unfathomable greatness, has decided that the best way for Him to demonstrate His love to us is while we are yet sinners. I can't say I fully understand this (I know, dear friend - "what about . . . ?") - but I can say that God is way more sovereign than I have ever given Him credit for!
Here's another thing to consider -- Hebrews 4:3-5 says:
3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: "AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS"; 5 and again in this passage, "THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST."

I have often wondered about this idea of God's work being finished. A commentary I read (sorry I can't remember which one it was!) pointed out that, in John 5:17, Jesus says "My Father is always at his works to this very day, and I, too, am working," when questioned as to why he was doing things on the Sabbath. What these verses suggest is that God's creative work was finished on the 7th day of creation (note, in the creation story, that Moses does not say there was an end to the 7th day - so God's work is still finished, and He is still resting). However, His works of compassion, of grace, of mercy, are still happening. God is still "loving on us" in all our sinfulness. But - notice this big point - He work is finished. All God was going to create and accomplish throughout human history is done. There is nothing He gets "surprised" by, nothing He has to "fix" as a result of our sinfulness. In fact, our sin is not a "stumbling block" for His plans -- it is the very means through which (not BY which) He accomplishes them . . .
So, how does this all relate to trials and tribulations? God will use even these trials to demonstrate His love to us. And, not only that - this is the best way for Him, in this situation, to demonstrate His love. I do not completely understand all of this . . . but I know God is sovereign, and He will bring love, peace, healing, and a deeper vision of His glory, through all of this. Even trials such as these, which seem senseless and incomprehensible. Again, I am thankful to serve a Sovereign God.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

God's work in me - and my "Israel in the desert" response

I was talking with a friend recently, bemoaning the fact that I don't feel like God is changing me "enough" (I know, pride of all prides!). I have finally realized that, not only do I not "save" myself, I don't sanctify myself either. Having realized that, my constant prayer is now "Lord, please don't leave me as I am." I am seeking God more fervently than I have in a very long time, if ever. But, there are days when I look at my own sinfulness, and I say: "God, why is this still an issue? Why do I still struggle with this? Why aren't I perfect yet . . . ?" (Ok, I don't ask that last question, but that's essentially what I'm wondering!). I suppose I'm in good company when I ask these questions - Paul asked the same things in Corinthians. Sin is, indeed, still at work in me, and God is still at work even stronger, changing me. God's timetable and processes are much longer and more complex than I will ever realize. often His greatest works are done when I don't even realize something is happening - it's only after the fact, when I notice a new response coming out of me, that I realize God has refined another jagged edge. And that's probably the best way - if I was more actively involved in this whole sanctification process, I'd probably try to "take it from here on my own, thank you very much." I caught the headline of an article on a Christian study sight and stopped to read a little further - it was called "How to Whine Effectively." While the article didn't actually teach me how to whine, it did point out a major conviction point for me. God got angry at the Israelites in the desert when they whined and complained about Him - "why did He take us out of Israel to die in the desert?" Think about it - here was Israel, having been set free from slavery, oppression, beatings, and death, having been led through the Red Sea, being given a place to sleep every night, and having food and water delivered to them (supernaturally, I might add) every day . . . and they were complaining about God! God got angry with them because their whining was an indication of their pride. That's the part that got me. Ouch. Here I am living in America; I always have food on my table, a place to sleep at night, clothes to wear; I have a wonderful husband and two precious, healthy children; I have never been abused, mistreated, maligned, etc, in any real meaning of the words . . . and yet, here I sit complaining about what God is doing in me. Please excuse me while I step out of the way of that lightening bolt from heaven . . . Father, forgive me for my pride. Can we add that to the list of things that still need to be changed in me . . . ?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


This is something that has been on my mind a lot recently, and it keeps popping up every where I look so I had to share it here. Been working through the book of Hebrews with some dear friends, and came across the following verse: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." - Hebrews 3:13. When reading this and discussing it later with Dave, it hit me that one of the key ways the enemy tries to attack us is by making us feel like we're "alone." Have you ever noticed that? And have you ever noticed that the "alone" feeling seems magnified when we're in the throes of a trial? Perhaps it's because we DO need to encourage each other daily! When left to our own devices (and left alone with our own thoughts), we tend to stray, to wander, to lose our focus. But, when we encourage each other (and allow others to encourage us), we walk closer to the truth. And notice the key thing we're supposed to do - we're to ENCOURAGE each other, daily. Not just talk with each other, not just vent - encourage. The Amplified version of the Bible goes on and says we should warn, admonish, urge, and encourage one another to guard against " . . . the fraudulence, the strategem, the trickery which the delusive glamour of his sin may play on him." (his sin, meaning our own sin). Part of God's plan for our sanctification is that we live our lives with other people, encouraging each other lest our hearts (which are, as Jeremiah says, above all, deceitful) become hard and we are deceived by sin. One commentator I read (David Guzik) points out - we do an awesome job of judging and criticizing each other, but how good are we at seriously encouraging each other - and receiving it from others? That's my "life lesson" right now -- I need to encourage others, and I need to be encouraged daily . . .