Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Living Grace

In his Bible study manual, Living by the Book, Hendricks suggests writing verses in your own words for further cement their meaning into your brains.  This week I am studying and memorizing...

Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Here's my version:

At the moment I placed my trust in Christ, I became a participant in His crucifixion with Him.  Therefore, I no longer strive for righteousness through my works, my puny efforts at pleasing God, but I accept the gift of righteousness offered by God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Yes, my flesh is still at work, I still sin, but I am able to rest in the grace of God.  I trust that the sacrifice Christ made, the sacrifice that demonstrated His great love for me, is enough. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"I am God who makes you holy"

Back in January I began reading through The Message/Remix, which is a one-year devotional using the paraphrase of Eugene Peterson.  I made a spiritual goal to actually read through the Bible this year, not just start and then give up around Numbers :)  Today's reading was from Leviticus 21-23 regarding the priests and festivals God ordained for his people.  Over and over again, God reminds the people that He is God and He is holy and He makes them holy.  It is easy to get bogged down in all the laws and regulations in Leviticus.  As a new convent believer, one who is no longer under the law, I begin to ask myself what relevance do all these laws have in my life.  Why read about them, why study them?  Well, I think today I received at least a preliminary answer:  it is impossible to miss the holiness of God as He gives His people His laws.  His standards are so far above ours, His laws barely touch on the holiness actually necessary to be in relationship with Him.  Interestingly, even then, it is God, not the law, which makes the people holy.

Another spiritual goal I have is to memorize scripture, to firmly implant God's Word into my brain.  I am using the Topical Memory System by Navigators.  While memorizing, I will also be practicing Bible study methods from Living by the Book by Howard Hendricks. 

This week I am memorizing 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, new things have come."  I spent the past couple days observing the context (2 Cor 5:14-21) around the verse, trying to glean all the information I could and looking up things I didn't understand using the NET Bible Study online tools.  This is what God taught me:

  1. Old Self's relationship to
    1. God
      1. lives for self (v15)
      2. enemy (opposite of v 21)
    2. People
      1. judges other based on human outward appearance (v16)
      2. compelled/controlled by love of self (opposite of v14)
  2. New Self's relationship to
    1. God
      1. lives for Christ (v 15)
      2. reconciled to God (v 18)
      3. righteousness of God (v 21)
    2. People
      1. sees others with spiritual eyes, looking beyond outward appearances (v 16)
      2. compelled/controlled by the love of Christ (v14)
      3. ambassadors/promoters of God's word of reconciliation to the world ( v 18-19)
My application questions for myself today is :  Am I living like my old self, or my new self? The old has passed away, but am I dredging her up?  Do I look at people with spiritual eyes? Or do I see them through merely human eyes?  Do I allow Christ's love, demonstrated through His death, to control me, to motivate me in my relationship with others?  I have been given the ministry/word of reconciliation....am I keeping it to myself, or sharing it with others?  Am I presenting non-believers with the opportunity to be reconciled to God? 

It is God who has made me holy!  Nothing I have ever done, or ever will do can make me holy!  Only through His reconciling, His not counting my sins against me, did I become the righteousness of God.  And yet, I find myself taking pride in this holiness, puffing myself up as though my responding to God's call somehow makes me better than another who has not.  I am smarter, wiser, more "spiritual".  Wow!  My pride is amazing...and I don't mean in the wonderful sense. 

Father, I seek humility.  Press upon me the fullness of Your grace towards me.  Open my eyes to my weaknesses, so that I might realize my utter and complete need for you.  I praise You for Your holiness! Your standards are so high, higher than anything I could attain to.  Thank You for Your grace, Your desire to reconcile the world to Yourself.  May the love Christ showed on the cross control me, may it compel me to act as Your ambassador, to see people with spiritual eyes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mercy and Justice

In April, I began reading through the Psalms during the early hours of the day when no one else is awake. I am now through Psalm 31, and cannot help but see the reoccurring themes of mercy and justice, fear and trust. God is merciful and just, and holy beyond our comprehension of the word. Because of His holiness we are to fear Him, and because of His mercy and justice we are to place our trust in Him.

Now, I know that fearing the Lord is not the same as being afraid of Him, but I often wonder if I truly grasp His holiness. And can I fully understand the depth of His mercy if I ignore His justice?

Driving home one day, a Mark Shutlz song about Christ's return and the end of sorrow started playing on the radio..the chorus goes like this:

Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
That God is love and love has come for us all
Every heart set free, everyone will see
That God is love and love has come for us all

While listening to this, a thought struck me: for some, Christ's return will not be an occasion for joy. For some, Christ's return will mean final judgment and eternal separation from God. For those who choose not to bow now, bowing then will not be voluntary. Everyone will see, but not everyone one will be set free; some will be eternally bound. God is love, yes; however, God is also holy and if we refuse His provision for our own holiness, well, we are on our own. So, for some, on that glorious day, sorrow will not end, it will just begin. Do I get that? Do I really get that? And if I did, how does getting that change the way I see people, especially those who have not yet chosen to bow? If I'm not that concerned about them, or it doesn't seem that I am, does that mean I really don't get it? And if I am concerned about them, do they know and what am I doing about it?

Friday, June 18, 2010

What I was doing a week ago....

Stingray City!  Can't wait to go back with the kids in about four years!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Introducing Bella!

I always said I wanted four kids....just didn't know two of those would be canines! (Sheena is in there....the black speck between Kayleigh and I)  Poor Bella really wants to be on the couch with us, but there's a big difference between 7 lbs and 60 lbs!

Bella is two years old and mostly Lab, with some Dane and other stuff, according to the DNA test her previous owner had run.  She's super sweet and just wants someone to rub her belly all day long. Her only flaws are:  she's not leash-trained, so walking is a bit of a workout right now and she tends to bark (in an excited way) when she sees other people and dogs while outside. She knows sit, down, off, and stay and will do them on command without fail.

I am so excited!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hard Knocks of a 3-year old

In case you ever wondered......
January 2010
This is what happens when you run down the hall and fall into a table, even a table with smooth, round edges.  Apparently moving the furniture around in the playroom was not such a good idea!  Better still, this happened the day before my brother's wedding!

April 2010
And this is what happens when you're swinging and run into the head of a 4-year old!  At least it was the other side this time! 

Friday, April 09, 2010

Sleep...who needs it?

Oh, boy....this doesn't bode well

First off, I couldn't sleep last night and when I did, crazy dreams ensued. Then my alarm goes off at 5am, yes that's 5:00 AM, and I re-set it, only to remember I had set the timer on the coffee pot last night, so I might as well get up since there will be fresh coffee and, realistically another hour and 45 minutes won't make any difference in my overall feeling of tiredness. I get up at 5:00 AM so I have time to spend seeking the Lord and get my time on the elliptical in before the kids wake-up, but I don't think the elliptical is happening today. I'll do it later....maybe during rest-time...or maybe William and I will go for a walk or something.

Twenty minutes later I hear a door open and Kayleigh walks into the living room. Why in the world is this child up at 5:20 AM???!!!! I sent her back to bed, but I doubt she will fall back asleep and if she does it will be somewhere around 6:30 and then I will have to wake her back up at 7:00 to get ready for school. She just walked out again...it's now 6:14....I sent her back with a piece of bread and jam. Now she using the bathroom which will probably wake-up her brother....ugh! Don't these children understand that I drag my booty out of bed at some insanely early hour, so I can revel in the quietness???!!! Well, I don't hear boy yet, so maybe he slept through the slamming door and toilet flush.

New Topic---Totally unrelated!

I'm reading Julie and Julia by Julie Powell mostly because I loved the movie, although now I find myself wanting to cook everything with loads of butter; this is not exactly on the Zone Plan, and by "not exactly", I mean totally not. Julie and Julia is the kind of book that makes one want to write, or at least it makes me wish I could be witty and clever like Julie and come up with some project that all of America would be interested in. Julie Powell is not a believer and she is pretty candid about her views on faith...it's not her thing and she makes no apologies, nor is she diplomatic about it (Please forgive the lack of references, the book is in the kitchen and I don't feel like getting up). I kind of find this to be refreshing, though a little offensive at times. Yeah, I get that it is her right to not believe, but to minimize the importance of and poke fun at certain things, like the Word of God, for those of us who do? Not exactly necessary. But then again, if she isn't a believer, for her the Bible is just a collection of really old writings and so poking fun at it is okay. This reminds me that for the unbelieving in the world God's Word does not hold weight and is not enough to convince them of the truth. Now, I am not saying unbelievers are not held accountable to the God's Word, they are, but most do not accept this and quoting verse after verse in an effort to convict someone of its truth is kinda futile if they believe it is just a bunch of writings by men who lived a long, long time ago. Although, interestingly, some of those same people live by the laws of other books written by men a long, long time ago.

Well, it's now 6:50 and Kayleigh never did go back to sleep. She's sitting next to me reading---a chapter book of all things! I have spent the better part of this year trying to convince this girl to start reading chapter books and finally she is! Yea! Guess it had to be her decision...she is so my daughter!  Oh great...Kayleigh is yawning like crazy...this is going to be a long day for her :(