authenticity, comparison, discernment, eternal things, God's word, idols, infertility, self-absorption, transformation by truth, trusting God, Uncategorized

Where does my hope come from?

Jack turned one a few Sundays ago.  My heart was full with thanks, memories, relief that that first month was not to be relived:).  What a beautiful, fun-loving, joyful, strong, funny, determined little one we are blessed with.  In the time of postpartum depression, I could never have imagined the beauty of his life and liveliness.

Sleepless nights, deferred goals, multiplied chores, inconvenient days…all of those are included in parenthood.  I stand today thankful.  I am thankful for this opportunity and humbled by it.  It is so easy to become overwhelmed and forget the miracle and not stop to experience the joy of moments that are racing by.  The giggles, the new milestones and funny tricks, the little mumbles and squeals…all can be easily missed.

You know what I hate, though?  These nagging thoughts that pull on my joy.  I am still trying to figure out balance–time in the word, time to keep house, time to cook, time to minister, time to do business, time to invest in my relationship with Greg, time to teach Jack, time to play with Jack, time to invest in family, time to invest in friendships, time to exercise.  I seriously do not know how to do it.  The thoughts that play in my head include the word “fail” a lot.

We all choose ways to try to make life work.   I have found myself struggling with two things…seeking peace where it is not to be found and comparing my family situation with others.  Everyone needs breaks to regroup.  The Lord has convicted me that I think that breaks and a vacation and date night and quiet times is where I will find my peace…where I will finally rest.  The only problem is I have not been getting any of these regularly or at all.  So, as with every expectation that is blocked, I get frustrated.  I think “if I could just…if they would just…I need more of…”  Until the last two weeks, I have not been diving into the Word consistently.  I have been expecting little breaks and laziness to be my solace.

This backward thinking has been designed in the sinfulness of my heart.  I have been seeking my idols of comfort and ease.  See, I have always sought after them before God.  He has been teaching me for a long time about this, and I always forget and forsake Him to try to be comfortable again.  I then begin to prop up my idols by comparing (coveting) my situation with other parents who are leaving their kids with grandparents a lot or going on vacations alone or even with their family.  See, I have not been joyful for them…I have just been thinking that they have it made…poor old me.

The Lord woke me up to the grossness of my thoughts.  He reminded me that peace is only found in Him.  No vacation or quiet or pampering or girl’s night or date night will give me the peace that passes understanding…only Him.  I have found solace and true joy in His Truth again.  He has allowed me to see where I have allowed these thoughts to take control–the more I have spent time in Him, the more I see the battle for these thoughts of covetousness.

Weirdly enough, I have entertained them much more as a mom than as a woman who struggled with infertility.  In infertility, I spent a lot of time in the word and in trying to guard my heart against sin. I spent a lot of time then reminding myself that the purpose of life on earth is not to be fulfilled with marriage and children and vacations and stuff.  I remembered daily that my hope is found in Christ and in eternity where we will see fully and experience fully His joy.   Since I have less extended time to spend in the word and I have not guarded my heart against sin in this area, it has been covetouspalooza in my mind and heart.  I have experienced amnesia of where my hope is to come from.

I am so thankful that the Lord has graciously awakened me to this sin pattern and the truth of His grace and hope in the midst of this season of my life. I do not come to you today with seven steps to get “cured,” but I come reminded of His grace in the Gospel, the power and efficiency of His Word, the joy that is experienced in Him.  Instead of having a free for all of jealous thoughts, I have been working toward remembering truth, rejoicing with those who rejoice and choosing to be thankful for so many blessings in my life.  It is still a struggle but one that I see the lie in now.

I want to be faithful…I want Greg and Jack to be spurred on in that…to see the richness of Christ.  That is more important that any momentary comfort on this earth.  I also remember that there is an eternity to travel and rest on the new earth.  Following Christ I lack nothing.

authenticity, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, humility, idols, infertility, poverty and hunger, trusting God

A four letter word…

      Need…that’s right.  I said it.  Need is a word we do not like to say.  I mean need in the true sense.  “I need to go to the grocery store,” or “I need a pedicure.”  This is not the use of the word I am referring.  I am referring to the necessity of a condition in a time of difficulty where you lack something to grow, survive and thrive.  Poverty of situation…whether physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. 

           If you are reading this, you may have never been in need of food–real need.  You may have always had a can or 10 of something you could eat for survival in your pantry.  However, all of us are in real need of something beyond ourselves.  In a cultrue that raises us to be independant and take care of our own needs–be a good American, we are taught to scoff at being in need. 

          This morning, I meditated on one of my favorite Psalms–Psalm 25.  I began to make a list of what our response was to be to God and what His character and response is to us–from the text.  Here is ours:

  • Take refuge in Him
  • Hope in Him
  • Wait on Him
  • Fear Him
  • lift our soul toward Him
  • Put my trust in Him
  • Think on His truth
  • Pray for help
  • Keep our eyes toward Him
  • Fear Him
  • Abide in Him
  • Be honest about all of us in humble need before Him

His Action and character in Psalm 25

  • Sovereign LORD
  • Protects us from shame and enemies
  • Trustworthy, worth waiting on
  • His ways, path and truth are life-giving
  • God of my salvation
  • Leader
  • Teacher
  • Shepherd
  • He remembers
  • Mercy
  • Steadfast Love
  • Eternal (of old)
  • Goodness
  • Upright
  • Instructs sinners in His way
  • Has a Way (unlike any other)
  • Leads and teaches the humble
  • Faithful
  • Has a covenant and testimonies
  • instructs us in choices
  • Giver of inheritance/reward
  • befriends those who fear Him
  • Rescuer
  • Gracious to the lonely and afflicted
  • forgives sins
  • Considers us and our circumstances
  • Our Refuge
  • Our Redeemer

        A recap?  Um, we NEED Him.  He is ALL that we need.  HE IS.  Even in the garden before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve needed God.  He was their creator, sustainer, life organizer, companion, object of their affection, provider.  When Jesus spent his 33 or so years on this earth, He showed us the pattern of need He had with time with the Father.  Read John.  Wow, does Jesus talk about abiding in the Father, needing Him, relying on Him, listening to Him.  He pulled away to spend time with Him sharing His heart, getting directives, fellowshipping.  So, why do we treat need as a four letter word?  It is clear in His word that we are to abide and rely and come to Him in need everyday, every moment, all our lives.  We are to be as children before Him. 

         Reflecting on this before Him this morning, I realize our culture and our flesh war against this.  Needy and weak and dependent are character flaws to us.  We are coached to find ways to provide for ourselves (I am not speaking against being a viable citizen and providing for our families).  I think we take this “provision” to all areas of our lives in thought of our needs.  Independence in praised in all forms.  So, how does that bump up against what God’s word says?

         The very ways we are being responsible to provide we begin to trust in instead of God–the life-giver, the giver of our gifts.  We can easily make idols out of our providers of need.  A few years ago, I quit a job and we had a really nice savings built up.  I felt safe and secure in going into a season of exploration in ministry.  Then, I had back issues and needed a car that would sit differently (doctor encouraged this “need”).  We had a few more bumps along the way, and voila–our savings disappeared.  I was a basketcase.  I realized that I had been trusting in the savings account instead of the Father who is our provider. 

          When in need, we are always looking for a solution–a provider.  Most of the time, we make idols out of those things around us that we feel comforted in.  Job, hobby, marriage, children, escape through entertainment, drink, food, technology, shopping, beauty.  With any of these we are feeding a need in us that we think we have control of filling or numbing.

          Our job?  To need Him and go to Him in our need.  Why does this seem so exhausting to us?  For one, we rebel against not being able to “meet” our need.  We want to be in control.  We feel dumb.  Also, it seems exhausting to go to His word and dig in.  Yes, it is work.  Most of the time it brings life, though.  The enemy wants us to run and find other providers.  There will be push back in your life to keep you from Him–pride, lies, laziness. 

          The crazy part is that it takes energy to need.  That is why it is easier at first to give in to idols.  At first, they do not seem to take effort or energy.  We just fall in to eating more, drinking more, buying more, spending more money to beautify ourselves to make us feel better.  We just fall in–then we begin serving our idols. 

          Like drug addicts, we structure our life around our idols–feeding it, needing it, serving it by giving our thoughts, money and resources to it.  For example, we spend whatever we have to to get comfort, ease, power, etc–whatever our fix of choice is.)   Like drug addicts, the way we fill our needs only creates an astronomical problem–usually quite evident to those around us–sometimes not.  We are affected poorly in every way, and we become blind to our problem.

        Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden adn I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”   He simplifies this whole need thing.  Come to Him.  Rely on Him.  Do things His way.  Know Him.  Yes, there are times I feel stupid for being in need again.  The truth is, I am His sheep and I need My Shepherd.  I will never grow out of need.  To be needy is the exact place the Shepherd wants us–depending, knowing Him, fellowshipping with Him.  We bring nothing to the table exc ept ourselves–our need.  Blessed are the poor in spirit (who know they have need), blessed are those who mourn (broken over their sin), blessed are the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…see a theme of need?

         In this time of infertility and loss and leading a ministry and being married and being a daughter, friend, sister, I am learning how much I need and how GOOD it is that I do.  I am always fighting my pride to be in control and look strong and show how independent I can be–and then I am reminded usually quite publically that I NEED HIM.   And, that is His good.  In that, He is making me more like Jesus. 

        The best gift I can give to those I lead is to be a broken dependent woman relying on the beautiful Shepherd King.  Then, I am working with His resources instead of mine.  His are life-giving and eternal–mine are the real four letter word…

discernment, eternal things, idols, random thoughts, the gospel, transformation by truth, ungodliness

Simply telling…

I subscribe to Real Simple magazine. Each month, I love getting the sleek magazine in the mail with beautiful colors and genius uses for everyday things. Filled with tips for one’s life including clothing, household tips, life articles, recipes which I never use, and decorating. I would say it is the agreed upon choice of magazine for many women.

The magazine is seemingly benign especially compared to all the other magazines I could be reading–i.e. gossip and celebrity mags (which are tempting to turn your mind away from real world stuff). Somehow, I think Real Simple and the like (watching HGTV, TLC, etc) are more dangerous for me. Why? It tells me–manage your world like this and you will be happy. I am enthralled with wonderful colors and ideas and wants (not bad in themselves).

Many times this does not add to my godliness. Ungodliness is living without thought or reverence of God. These benign things can turn my mind and heart away from the urgent to things that pass away. The desire for this becomes a cancer that devours my soul, and I forget why I am here. The road to hell is not as much sex, drugs and rock and roll as seemingly nice, moral people, taking care of their houses, building their 401Ks, raising their kids, going on yearly beach vacations, and planning for retirement with no regard that God is even there. They live with no regard that they are separated from Him by their hearts that rebel against Him worshipping other things. Things that they (we) treasure are like eating day old McDonalds when He has a feast that is fit for royalty. I can become drunk with colors and tips for my “happy life” instead of sober to the reality of the awesomeness of God and the truth of His word that so desperately needs to be shared. (At this point, you may be thinking, “she’s nuts”-that’s okay.)

I am not saying this magazine is evil or taking care of your household and family are evil–but they are not the end all. There is so much more. Anything can become evil when we turn our hearts and minds to think on hope in them and worship them before treasuring Jesus. I am called to help those around me treasure Christ more and more–sharing the Truth of the gospel to wake them from their slumber to the UNIMAGINABLE promise of life in Christ through His blood shed to take our punishment for sin. This is just a reminder that the seemingly benign can kill us with a hidden stealth if we do not examine our hearts and lives.

community, idols

Buzzword: Community

“You need to get in a community group…small group…Bible study, to do life together.” A true statement that is said at churches all across America every week. People seek community in many ways–facebook, twitter, knitting groups, neighborhood bars, Bible studies, families, fishing clubs, sororities/fraternities, Junior League, play groups, etc. We have all seen what we are like with people and have experienced the drought that comes without people. We’ve experienced true friendship that binds and the mere existence of someone just to “do something” with.
I think we all would agree that relationships are enriching and important. They can be so good for us. They take time, commitment, investment and perserverence. They teach us so much about ourselves and about God. But, what if we have made them the “it”, the ultimate?
Making something good ultimate is one definition of idolatry. When we begin to pursue something over our pursuit and worship of God, it is our idol. I think it would be wise to examine ourselves to see if community has become the encouraged and acceptable idol. Does our family take precedence over everything? (That is encouraged to be, but that can subtly become your idol.) Does your commitment to your spouse, kids, friends, small group drive you? (That sounds good, but look at the subtlety of the heart.)
The 1st commandment says –you shall not have any other gods before me. We are all worshipers of something. That is the way we were made. Some worship family, friends, career, nature, leisure, sex, their bodies, food, fun, their church, children, fertility, theology…I could go on. All of those things listed are not bad in and of themselves, but when made the ultimate, we have put them before God and they distract and destroy us.
I think if we really listen that we may have encouraged others to make community an ultimate. Community will not satisfy you. It is hard because people are involved. If you look to it as your object of worship, you will be disappointed and miss the ultimate One to worship. All of our idols leave us disappointed and wanting (and then we blame him for not filling us through them). God does not communicate the commandments to us as some master rules list to smite us. In all his wisdom, he knows that relationship with him is the ultimate fulfillment. He knows that we are satisfied only by loving him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. That is only accomplished through the grace and life of Jesus, for we cannot do that on our own.
Community can enhance our relationship with God–encouraging us, directing us, helping us grow, helping us learn to serve. It is the means by which we may learn more about God’s character, his love, his faithfulness. However, check yourself. Are you in community to serve and help others to grow ultimately to love God or yourself? Are you looking for what it can give you? Are you trusting God in the season you are in or are you questioning him because you are not fulfilled with friends and community? Do you run from people because they are hard and not meeting your needs or are you trusting God and his word and learning to love them as yourself?
When being “intentional” and having in-depth conversation and living together in community is talked about more than the hope of the gospel…more than adoring Christ, more than exalting and knowing him…we have made it an idol. When good becomes ultimate it is time to repent and fall on the grace of Christ.

advent, discipleship, eternal things, idols, self-absorption, sin, spiritual growth, suffering in joy, transformation by truth, trusting God

swirling thoughts

My prayer for today–also the words to a song:

‘Spirit, now living and dwelling within me, keep my eyes fixed ever on Jesus face.

Let not the things of this world ever sway me.

I’ll run ’til I finish the race…’

      These words encapsulate a theme swirling through my head and heart.  The questions at the forefront of my mind:  How can I continue to grow so much in selfishness?   How do I behold Christ and worship the Father with heart, soul, mind and strength through every thought, word, action, purchase, and decision when my culture and my adulterous heart subtly lull me to be enticed by worthless idols?   I am so easily pacified by worthless things.  Comfort becomes the end to which I strive–financial comfort, marital comfort, physical comfort, ministerial comfort.  This morning as I prayed, I confessed that so many times I use God as a rabbit’s foot…”hey, could you do this just enough so I can feel good and be comfortable and then go away?”  How I prostitute my heart to lesser glories–not lasting and certainly not knowing the greatest treasure of all–intimacy with Christ.  

     Yesterday we sang a song that I have sung seemingly a billion times.  One phrase haunted me ‘all of you is more than enough for EVERY thirst and EVERY need–you SATISFY me with your love.’  There have been times in my life where I have been satisfied by nothing else but His love–nothing else.  As I sang, I was convicted that I was relying on lesser things.  I longed for the times of intensity where I had to rely totally on Him (I was also scared half to death longing for those times because they were circumstantially exhausting).   Waning consumer satisfaction is what I am used to–eat this to feel good, attempt this goal to feel good, buy this for yourself or someone else to nurse the ache in your heart, change a room around to feel better about the void in your heart, look good on the outside to forget about the inside.  (The list is practically endless.)  The sick thing is that this is the easy out that people give.  Have you ever heard:  this has been a hard week, you deserve to relax…why don’t you…go out to eat, go buy something for yourself, go do something for yourself, have a few drinks, etc?   When I am meeting with someone in a disciple-making relationship, the temptation is to dole out that advice because it is easy–especially when I want to be liked for my own comfort.  However, that advice is so deadly–it is a lie, counterfeit joy.  The greatest satisfaction comes from knowing God and going to the depths with him.  The greatest satisfaction is to share our hearts in surrender getting past the surface of ourselves and knowing the absolute beauty of why we were created–to behold his glory.  I know that sounds trite or less than interesting to the heart when we are thinking about us, but going there with him is a deep gutteral lasting satisfaction.  He created us and everything in the world–does the creator not know what satisfies our hearts?  This takes commitment and perseverance  to continually lay down ourselves and trust in him.

     As God was working in me yesterday and today to bring me to this conviction, yet again, I picked up a book that my friend, Laura, gave to me a couple of months ago.  The book is called Five Who Changed the World by Daniel Akin.  It is a collection of five sermons about the lives of five foreign missionaries.  Tears came to my eyes and my heart was turned and awakened to greater treasures than the temporal things that tempt me.  So many times we are presented with theories of what we should be and live and do in Christ, but these were fresh, true biographical stories of giving up the temporal for the eternal treasure of Christ.  John Piper and others have also written biographies of the lives of those who lived fully in Christ.  Oh, how much you and I need to be reminded of what it means to live lives of abandon to Him.

    Now, secretly, I think every girl has this fear in her heart of being called to be single and serve as a missionary in China or some tribal land forgotten by God, but I was reminded of what was the heart of the issue in reading this book last night and this morning.  Each of these people were no more righteous or sacrificial than you or I in nature.  The theme of their lives seemed to be that they longed to know and treasure Christ more than anything.  The more they saw God for who He is, the more they longed more for Him.  The sacrifice that to you or I seems incomprehensible was not because it was about Him and not them.  They were each aware of their sin and aware of his holiness.  They also were aware of the state of the human soul apart from God.  They loved people because they realized His love for them.  Their main thrust or worship was of Him and not their husband or wife or family (and, yes, some had these).  The loss and the lack of human comfort in their lives was a stark contrast to our American culturized Christianity.  Whether serving in the 1800’s or 1900’s, these missionaries pointed out the counterfeit that each American was living when getting lulled to sleep in their comfort.  The prayers of Jim Elliot to know Christ–wow.

     In the land of plenty–yes, even in recession, do you know what I see?  A wasteland of spiritual poverty where we prostitute ourselves to so much lesser, temporal desires than living in abandon to know the One who brings us ALL we ever need–a deep soul quenching satisfaction from knowing Him and making Him known.  I am studying Hosea with Laura, and it is ripe with the imagery of adultery, prostitution and whoring, as the ESV states it, of the hearts of the people to false gods and idols.  They were completely about themselves, and yet, God was faithful.  He was warning of his discipline and he brought it.  The fruition of their prostitution was brought to them–yet he was also faithful to bring Christ–the end in which all hope rests.  Why are we playing the whore today when we have so much more than the people of Israel did–the fruition of Christ and his work on the cross?  In this season of celebrating THE HOPE of Christ’s birth, may you and I examine our hearts and repent and cling to His glorious purpose–our glorious hope.

Anxiety, discipline, idols, learning boundaries, trusting God

The financial crunch

Finances. Ugh. They are on the forefront of our collective mind as a nation. Fingers point. People panic. This crisis shows the reality of our hearts. We are constantly trying to get something to fill us up. That something may be a new house, a certain car, miracle make-up, crafty projects, eating out, the newest recipe, new fashions, decorator items. Name the vice and we have tried it.

It is impossible to remain untouched by greed. We think we deserve certain luxuries. We know that just one more ______ will fill us and solve our problems (or at least make us feel better for the moment). Watching TLC or HGTV on certain days can create in me the equivalent of pornography–a lust for more. I can think that I am less than because of the house I live in…or the way I look. Ever use shopping as a way to make yourself feel better? A house or clothing or food is not bad in itself, but paired with the lust in our hearts to fill ourselves with something other than God, they become bad for us. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about those things–we are to seek him first and all will be added to you. Where our treasure is is where our heart is.

Everything meant for good is tainted by sin. So, we have to examine our hearts in the light of our financial decisions.
1. Can you afford what you are buying?
By afford what you have I mean–can you pay all your bills and not have debt? The big problem we have is that we are buying things on credit that we cannot afford or can barely afford. Do not get caught in the trap of keeping up with the Jones’ when you cannot afford what they have. (Hint: You do not even know if they can afford what they have–it may be smoke and mirrors.)
Take time to examine what you are spending, and make decisions with wisdom. If you have not made decisions with wisdom, get some help. (By help, I do not mean a “bail-out.” I mean start budgeting and making cuts of your spending in order to pay down your debt. You do not have to stay in this cycle.)
2. When making a purchase, ask why you need it and why you are buying it. Is this from an emotional need? Have you prayed about it? Is this wise? Self-control and self-discipline are a practice, not a gift. There are some things that you may think you need and cannot afford. This is the place we learn what true needs are and who our provider of true needs is.
3. Do not let the world dictate your decisions.
Just because you “can” do it does not mean you should do it.
For example, the bank tells you you can get a loan of $300,000 for a house. That does not give you a license to spend $300,000 on a house. That is the absolute limit. Think about the future. Think about your goals. You may be making a better decision to buying a $150,000 house so that you may invest wisely and give more money away. Just because you “have” does not mean you spend it all.
We always think, if I just made this much more, then I would be okay. In reality, people who are in debt making $30,000 a year will be in debt making $150,000 a year because they do not practice living within their means. There will always be one more thing to buy to fill ourselves or to keep up with our neighbors if we do not look at our hearts in regard to money and consumerism. This goes back to the ten commandments–do not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, etc. We need to learn contentment in Christ and where he has us. We can learn a plethora about ourselves in regards to how we deal with our finances.
4. Ask, how does this glorify God? Who and what am I treasuring through my financial decisions?
It is not as simple as do this and you are good–do this and your are bad. What is your motive? Where is your treasure?
If your treasure is here on this earth, pile up things and debt. You must get the newest fashions and send your children to the best schools and keep up with the latest housing trends. I will tell you, it is all emptiness. These things will not fill you, but follow your way. Most of us are following it–wide is the path that leads to destruction.
If your treasure is in heaven. Think about investing in people for eternal purposes. Think about how to make the most of God in your finances. It will cost you some here–friends, popularity, momentary pleasures. You will make decisions differently. You will learn that just because you can does not mean you must or will. You will learn that in a moment of weakness you might feel less than–or your children might. You may actually do some crazy outside of the box things. You may not upsize your house every 10 years. We are put here to glorify God and make known the treasure that he is–he is a treasure. Narrow is the gate and the path that leads to life. This is not easy. In fact, it is a constant battle, but it is a battle that brings true peace to the heart. Use the lack or plenty that God gives you for his glory–learn to trust.

This crisis is an opportunity for you to examine the path that you are on and what that path says about your heart. May we learn to treasure the Almighty God through his son, Jesus Christ, more than ever in this time.

Books, discipline, eternal things, idols, the cost of discipleship, transformation by truth, trusting God, Uncategorized

Ease

Have you ever learned or grown from things being easy? I do not think I have, yet I tend to strive for it and listen to voices that encourage ease. I spend a lot of money for ease and comfort, and yet, I have nothing to show for it.
The most fruitful parts of my life have been because of hard work and struggle and suffering. Pain is not easy, but it reminds me of what is true, important, good, lasting. Struggle causes me to look to the source of life, God. Struggle and pain and adversity stretch me beyond my limits to see that I need to depend on Christ and let go of things that I have valued above Him.
This week I read a challenging book and listened to a challenging sermon that have stretched me to think beyond comfort. The book is written for teenagers, but it is really for all of us! It is called Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. They have a website called The Rebelution that encourages teenagers to rebel against low expectations. I read it to check it out as a resource, and I was challenged with a fire lit inside me to do hard things.
They begin the book by addressing the concept of adolescence that began over a century ago. They proceed to show how adolescence has become a breeding ground for low expectations. I was convicted how I, myself, have encouraged teenagers to relax and not push themselves too hard. I have adopted a worldview of our culture instead of a biblical worldview about adolescence. I see even how I struggled in my early twenties with what I wanted to do. I stretched my adolescence out a lot. I see young adults do it all the time. We want to live as long as we can for pleasure when there is a lot of work to be done. We are created to live and work and be productive–as Christians for the glory of Christ.
The book shares many stories of teenagers who are pushing themselves to do hard things. They share their struggle and enjoyment in it–and their failure at times. They point out five things that one needs to do and be aware of when tackling the goal of doing hard things…they include: how to do hard things that step out of your comfort zone, how to do hard things that go beyond what is expected or required, how to do hard things that are too big for you to do alone (need for collaboration), how to do hard things that don’t pay off immediately, and how to do hard things that go against the crowd.
Reading this in light of my current path in life, I was challenged, encouraged and fired up in a way I have not felt since I was 18. I guess in my own way, I am a person of adventure, but I still struggle with fear. The older I get, the more safety becomes an idol in my heart. I am in the midst of working towards forming a non-profit, and before I left for the beach, I spent a week researching all I needed to do. I was what you call—overwhelmed and scared and intimidated. This book reminded me of hard work, trust in God, collaboration with others and perseverence. I felt energized after reading it. God also reminded me that this venture is not about me…it is about His kingdom and His gospel. It is about fighting the good fight by investing my life in teaching Truth. He can do it without me, but I want to surrender in obedience to the life He has called me to. I do not want to miss out because I want a nicer, newer house or a respected reputation or a heftier 401K. My friends, I want to live for the furthering of His kingdom through the good news of Jesus Christ. It is not a mere whim of faith. I was reminded that it will be hard…hard work. There will be times it feels or maybe is impossible, and then I am reminded that in God all things are possible.
The culmination of my week was listening to a John Piper sermon driving back. In his famous fashion, my heart was wrenched as I listened to Him speak on a Living a Radical life for the Supremacy of Christ. He reminded that the comfort that we worship is nothing. He reminded me that God calls us to meet Him (Christ) outside of the Gate (comfort and safety) (Hebrews). He spoke of suffering with Christ. My heart welled in me…my spirit soared because safety and comfort and new curtains do not bring joy–knowing and following Christ does. I have experienced it time and time again in the hardest parts of marriage and friendships and sickness and death–my Hope and life and joy is in Christ. I get sick and saddened when I see myself and friends and family living just like the world when we have such a higher hope.
I listened to two more sermons yesterday that reminded me, with clarity, of the gospel–our hope. My prayer is to remember these truths–this purpose. My prayer is that I store up treasures in heaven. My prayer is that we would sharpen one another toward this end. I am reminded of His grace that calls me to truth, gives me strength and courage and gently reminds me I am not alone. I am reminded that it is not my own power that I rely on.