31 Days: The God Who is Holy

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God is Holy

Sometimes, life is more important than getting a blog together.  I wrote yesterday’s post yesterday in my quiet time early in the morning – but the day got in the way.  I had errands to run, we went for a hike as a family, then the gym and church.  I was going to do it when I got home and the boys got to bed.  However, I cooked dinner for my mister and did the dishes only to find out that the garbage disposal was causing a leak. So…it was a longish night, and I didn’t wan to type it up at midnight.

So you will get two posts today on the attributes of God found in Psalm 51.

I’ve learned more about sin, confession, and repentance in the four years I’ve been married and three years of being a mommy than all 34 years of life before that.

Sin affects you and the world around you much more than you think it does.  It breaks relationships and hinders community and the shalom of your life.  Sin damages and sin is at war within you.

I’ve learned my first (and natural, sinful) tendency is to blame shift.  Traffic.  Kids’ temper tantrums. Others’ incompetence. My husband’s sin. But, sin doesn’t wait on other’s sin to be active in my heart.  Sin is deadly.  The Spirit is the best warrior in my life fighting against sin.

Also, I’ve learned to confess to God.  Usually, I’m just a confess to the person I’ve offended type person – and that is something that needs to happen. But, I need to confess to God first.  Because first and foremost my sin is against God.

But, why is that such an important thing to remember?  Because God isn’t like us.  He created us in his image – but He is Holy.  That means he is not dwelling in sin – there is no sin anywhere in him. He can’t sin.  He is perfect.  He doesn’t know sin intimately like we do.

And because He is holy – He can offer the solution for our sin – which He did.  Jesus was completely perfect and He became our sacrificial – holy – perfect sacrifice.

Psalm 51:4

Other: 2 Cor 5:21, 1 Peter 1.13-21

A Christian’s Response to Death

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Christian's Response to Death

There is so much heart ache in this world.  As I’ve been reading the Old Testament this morning, specifically Genesis and Exodus so far – there is much death in those books.  However, one key theme I see run across all those pages – and even the pages of my life today: the faithfulness of God.  There is hurt, there is weeping.  Those are right responses.  Death is traumatic because we weren’t created (in the beginning) to face it.  But…

He promises.

He keeps.

He covenants.

He remembers.

He is the same.

He never changes.

He is the giver of life.

He is the taker of life.

He is good.  He is faithful.  When all else fails.  Including Death.

Hello December 12: Freedom

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Glory Be

I make it no secret that I have two favorite Christian Christmas CDs: Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God and Sojourn’s Advent Songs. I went to Sojourn when I lived in Louisville and loved singing the Advent songs. I could listen to both of these albums year round all the time!
I also have a favorite guitar lick ever – it is found in Glory Be, the second song on the advent cd.
This year, in thinking of the sins that beset each of us, and the reason that Jesus came to earth in the first place, I love this line in that song:
Sing for joy, all the earth, Messiah’s come to set you free.

It is amazing that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, who was the spoken Word of God at creation – came to earth to set me free from the bondage of sin. As Elyse Fitzpatrick says in her new book Found In Him, “He is not shocked or surprised by your weakness or sin.” (pg 30). Isn’t it amazing that this statement is true – and yet God still loves us. And sent Jesus?

What sin do you need Jesus to set you free from this Christmas? Let us rejoice!  And all for His glory.  GLORY BE!

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25a

Thoughts on CFA Day

posted in: World Events | 4

I wasn’t going to enter this conversation, but thought I would after reading a few of the blogs out there on it.

1.  I go to CFA a few days a week.  The town I live in has 2 CFAs and the busiest fast food restaurant in our town is the CFA closest to our home.  I go there because they have CF Diet Coke, a fabulous unsweet tea, and the best chocolate chunk cookies.  And they have free wifi.  They have free refills.  Need I say more?  I don’t go there because the food is cheap (because it isn’t, in fact I think it is overpriced for the most part).  I don’t go there because I will only support “Christian” companies.  I go there because it has what I need and it is convenient.

2.  I love listening to the workers interact with each other and the patrons.  Tony, the manager at the one I frequent, was having a training conversation with an employee the other day and was sharing life-leadership lessons from his own life, not just what was in the CFA manual.  I love hearing management pour into their workers life-long lessons that can be used outside of the workplace.  That’s just good management and leadership.

3.  I have known several CFA employees and I know every CFA is different, but I hear things about what goes on and what is said and there seems to be just as much disrespect for authority in CFAs as there is in any fast food restaurant.  And not every employee they hire is a Christian who lives a Christ-centered life.  They may be the majority – but it isn’t the exact way it should be.

4.  I am not going to CFA today.  I went yesterday.  Does that make me a person who doesn’t believe in what they are doing?  Ha – I support CFA.  But, I just don’t like crowds or bandwagons.

5.  What is this boycott really about?  Here are some ideas: 1.  Some business leaders don’t like the success of other companies above their own.  2.  No one likes being told they are wrong (any one not in favor of biblical family values would not agree with Dan Cathy’s statement).  3.  One leadership of one company should not be able to influence city management on whether or not to have or build new CFAs in their towns.  4.  This whole thing will blow over.  5.  CFA may take some hit on their books for July – but they are still standing behind what they said.  6.  We have no reason to discriminate against gays and lesbians or folks who just don’t like other people telling anyone else they are wrong.  Truth will win out (and that truth is found in the Word of God).  7.  As far as I know and have read Scripture, having unbiblical family values  or a different sexual orientation isn’t the unpardonable sin.  There are many other sins mentioned in the Bible – ones that I do and many other believers who are eating 3 meals at CFA today do: lie, gossip, gluttony, pornography, not go to church, not witness to their neighbors (eating 3 meals at CFA today and not mentioning Jesus is not witnessing in my opinion), debt, consumerism, etc.

6.  If you are eating 3 meals at CFA today, think about these things: what are your motives (is it to be right or is it done out of love and faith – since things done without faith is sin), are you spending more than you have budgeted for your food this week, is it gluttonous for you to be eating 3 meals there, and have you told anyone that Jesus loves sinners.  We were made to glorify God – not Eat Mor Chikn.

Death by Love: Driscoll – Chapter 1

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I took advantage of a free PDF given to blog world by Mark Driscoll for his book Death By Love and read it over lunch at Jersey Mike’s. Good sub: so much better chapter. This book, unlike any recent book in my memory, rocked my world – exactly where I needed it rocked.
The first chaper of Mark’s book is describing a lady’s torment of sin in her past and how she kept living in the daily reminder of that sin even though she now is a believer in Christ. The rest of it – his response to her with truths of freedom and gospel. Here we go. No matter what habitual sin or remembrance of habitual sin you face: Jesus is Bigger. He is Conqueror.
We are to “live a life of repentant holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (38) I often think when I’m doing well in certain areas, that its just that – me. I need to remember that even my good works are filthy rags. I am nothing, Christ in me, is everything.
‘Because you belong to Jesus, you have all authority to rebuke and reject these evil influences in your life.” (40) Again, I think I am reminded in this chapter just how often I try to live the Christian life in my own power. But, throughout the NT we see that we can’t do anything without the power of Christ. Matthew, Acts, Colossians come to mind immediately where it says that Jesus has all authority. I need to walk daily in that authority – not my own. I need to preach this authoritative gospel in my life. (ok, side not, will write blog on authoritative gospel soon). This is a daily active priority. This isn’t just when I’m struggling or doing well. It is minute by minute!
Driscoll quotes Thomas Brooks (a puritan writer): “Our Enemy will bait our hook with anything that we find desirable. This means that He will gladly give us sex, money, power, pleasure, fame, fortune, and relationships. Satan’s goal is for us to take the bait without seeing the hook, and once the hook is in our mouth he then reels us in to take us captive. His gifts are often very good things offered for sinful uses.” (43) I think this is why some sin can have a stronger hold than others. If you have more questions about that, email me. I’d love to talk about it.
“On the cross, Jesus died in your place for your sins. Practically, this means that every single sin you have committed or will ever commit was forgiven, and every sin that was committed or ever will be committed against you was cleansed in full without exception.” (43) This is such a difficult concept and TRUTH to grasp when I sin every day. The gospel isn’t about me, its about Jesus. This promise wasn’t made by a powerless man, but by an all-powerful God.
Colossians 2:13-15 will be going on an index card and hanging in my car, on my mirror, on my fridge, wherever I will see it – on my laptop cover…
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the ruler and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him.”
“Jesus stepped forward and declared that He already paid the penalty for your sins on the cross, canceled any right Satan had to hold you captive, and defeated your Enemy along with his servants and their works and effects in your life.” (45) Do you hear the glorious gospel and hope-giving Truth in that sentence?
Because of this I (we) can:
Colossians 1:10-14 “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. he has delivered you from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
“Either way,you disbelieve in the finished work of Jesus on the cross for your sin, and you will be compelled toward either despair or religion but not toward Jesus. In these seasons, you will find an anchor for your soul by meditating on Romans 8:1.” (50)
Way to combat: “Jesus is your shield. The psalms often speak of God as our shield, remaining under Jesus Christ is your only place of safety. Therefore, the key is to walk continually and closely with Jesus, and if you should stray fro under his shield, return quickly to repentance.” (51).
Pray offensively. This is crucial. I have a weak prayer life, by all accounts.

Cant wait to finish the book.

Grateful FX – Thanksgiving 2010

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My friend, Jennifer, over at Cornerstone Church of Knoxville (fabulous Sovereign Grace church, if I had to live in Volunteer country – this is where I would go) asked me to guest post for their singles’ blog for Thanksgiving. Here it is: enjoy!

Thanksgiving. Publix commercials of big turkeys perfectly roasted and stuffed with bounty from gardens (or the grocery store). Football games and parades on television. Long-lost relatives offering much advice on the state of our dating lives (or the lack there of). Most of us cook or eat way too much food only to nap on the couch and eat more for dinner. Unfortunately, the “thankful” part is a two-minute grace that we say before the meal. Really? Is that was Thanksgiving boils down to? Don’t we have so much more to be thankful for in our lives than turkey, cranberry sauce, and pecan pie (and the correct pronunciation can be debated by all southerners).

Colossians 3 is a reminder of what our lives should look like in response to the gospel of God in Christ. We can’t live out the end of Colossians 3 unless we start at the beginning of the chapter. Paul exhorts the Colossian believers with this: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-4) If we claim Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we should be dead to the things of self and flesh. This includes but is not limited to: quarreling (which occurs in most American homes at ALL holidays), ungratefulness (are you really going to argue about who gets the last crescent roll or the turkey leg), and bitterness (are we bitter that we aren’t married YET and may even still be eating at the kiddie table?) Oh, that our hearts may be changed because of the Gospel.

Colossians 3:16 tells us how we should live our lives in light of being raised with Christ. Hint: the gospel should compel us to live like this: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” This doesn’t mean that we have to break out in songs as we pass each other on the street, in the church, or in our homes. But, the gospel should set the tone for our hearts and our lips. The Gospel has provided us so much. We were dead; but, God. God showed his immeasurable goodness and grace to us by sending His Son to save ungrateful people who cared nothing for the things of God. We now have the opportunity to sit and dine with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, with the Bread of Life, with the Living Water.

As we sit down to the Thanksgiving table with family and friends this November, let us remember that we deserve death. We don’t even deserve a turkey, or ham, or stuffing, or a home, or anything. But, in God’s kindness we can sit and dine with friends and family and have way more than we ever should have. Let our hearts and minds and lips reflect the goodness of our precious and abundantly-giving gracious Father who saved us in Christ.

Relevant Magazine on Gluttony

posted in: sin | 2

Oh, everyone’s favorite topic – including mine unfortunately (as I ate way too much on vacation this past week). Relevant Magazine tackles it here
Thoughts:
1. “Most people don’t believe eating too much is a crime against anyone or anything.” This is so true. Most pastors don’t preach on it. Most people don’t like to talk about it in their accountability groups. Why is this? Debt is talked about (spending too much money). Alcoholism is talked about (drinking too much beer). But, why not gluttony. I don’t know why that is…it just is and needs to be addressed. Why don’t we think it is a sin? It is. There are plenty of Scriptures that talk about taking care of our body, moderation, idols, etc.
2. “Nearly all religions have sanctions against gluttony, still, data indicate that those who claim to observe organized religion are more likely to be overweight than other Americans.” I am a Southern Baptist, and unfortunately I think we are the worst. We live in the south (most) and we have 5th Sunday dinners, BBQs, Pig Pickins, donuts in SS classes, (we can’t meet without having food). We take our youth to camps that serve camp food (which equals unhealthy for the most part).
3. “If we are truly living a godly life, wouldn’t we be treating our body as a temple and avoiding the burden of body fat?” I am working on a book that will discuss this in further detail (give you something to look forward to). But, isn’t this true? We work on other aspects of our Christian life, but don’t necessarily want to work on this? So much enjoyment – so much hard work.
4. “Christian philosopher Thomas Aquinas equated gluttons to children, since they are governed by pleasure from appetite and their behavior is ruled by it. Gluttony transcends eating and relates to material goods and other physical pleasures. “-Aholic” is the suffix attached to the glutton’s “meal” of choice.” Love this. This wknd, mine would have been dessertaholic. Blamed it on vacation – but when can I take a vacation from obedience?
5. “As our culture evolved, gluttony went from a sin to a badge of honor. Over-consuming meant we were better off (at least monetarily). We’ve become a society that rejoices in over-consumption, yet denounces those who put on weight, get a DUI or gamble away their life savings.” Wow. This was harsh – and true. And this effects how we look at the world and missions too.

Have you even thought about how your over-consumption of food is telling of how you think about the world? Hunger? Needs in impoverished societies? Wow. More to think about than just what is on your plate and in your stomach.

Thoughts?

DeYoung on the Heidelberg Catechism

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Kevin DeYoung definitely has been the author of the hour the past few years.  He is the Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in Michigan.  His books, such as Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church have received many accolades and awards and are widely read – mainly among seminary students and ministry teams.

This book, The Good News We Almost Forgot, takes a pastoral spin on the 16th Century Heidelberg Catechism.  If I were learning catechisms, or wanting to teach them to my children (if I had them), I wouldn’t start with this one.  It is wordy and long (breaking 129 Q/As into 52 Lord’s Day sections).  And I am not in agreement with everything that it says. 

But, this book is full of pastoral theology and is quite readable (broken into small chapters).  And my copy is underlined well.

“From what I’ve seen and read, the interest in missions among young people is trending away from saving souls and toward saving the world.  The interest is too often social to the exclusion of spiritual.  The two don’t have to be at odds with each other.  Those who deal with the spiritual must not ignore the social and those who engage the social must fully embrace the spiritual.  Every Christian engaged in mission – be it medical, educational, agricultural, or just plain being a good neighbor – should care about real-life pain and long for opportunities to share the good news that every person needs to hear.” p 37

“Jesus saves us from our sins.  The point of the gospel is not that Jesus saves us from low self-esteem, or from singleness, or from our crummy job.  Sin is our deepest, most fundamental, most pervasive problem.” p 64

“We’d probably sin less if we spent less time thinking about our sins, sexual or otherwise, and more time meditating on the love and holiness of God.” p 196

“Perhaps the biggest reason why God has us pray is for His own glory.  God is glorified when He is seen clearly to be the giver of what we asked for in prayer.  If we didn’t have to ask, we might not notice the answer, and we might forget the one who gave us the blessing.  God is glorified in prayer by the expression of our dependence on Him.  He is glorified by the faith we put in Him to ask for things.  He is glorified when we learn to recognize that every good gift comes down from our Father of Lights.” p 212

Day and Night

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Something new…being obedient to all the Psalms that command us to meditate both day and night on the Word.
Psalm 1 is a good place to start.
Well, I am finally obeying it. In his strength, for His glory in my life, mind, heart, and then eventually hopefully in the lives of others, in my writing, and in the world…the Word takes root.
Here is the plan: simple. I read a Psalm before going to bed – helping me rejoice in the day and worship the One who made it. A proverb before going about my day – wanting wisdom, practical ways I can live in obedience today.
Random ways this has been good: day 1 I was able to text a verse to a friend who is praying through many different options for her life right now. It was a good verse for her – Prov 1.33. Psalm 1 helped me remember why I needed to do this in the first place. Ps 3 – last night I fell asleep on the couch and I dreamed about people being able to break into my screen door from my porch. I woke up, went to bed, reading Ps 3 about dwelling in safety and Him providing sound sleep. God is wonderful.
This morning: feeling horrible from my Italian dinner last night both in mind and in body – I read Prov 3. I thanked God for his mercies, grace, forgiveness, and a new day. Here are some wys that is evident to me in that proverb:
1. Do not forget teaching (mind, I know what I need to eat, not eat to live my body in a way glorifying to God), but heart keep commands (but I crave in my heart things that aren’t good for me). But I need to remember that the heart is deceitful and above all desparately wicked.
2. Steadfast love and faithfulness need to be how I relate to everyone I come in contact with: to find favor and good success with men.
3. If I turn away from my own wisdom (and worthless rationale) and seek the wisdom that comes from God (which is found in this Book), then it will bring healing to my flesh and refreshment to my bones. Do you take the Word literally. Most people claim that the Word has nothing really to say about health and our bodies and what we do we them or how we treat them by what we intake. We live this out in most of our churches actually. In most of our homes. But, this passage: Prov 3.7-8 speaks to just that. If we turn away from seeking our own wisdom and evil things (over eating, indulgent and seeking our worth in food) then it will bring healing to our bones, refreshment to our bodies. I love that promise!
4. Honor the Lord with your wealth…here is a recapture of Mal 3. God is blessing me in many ways and I’ve seen the truth of this played out in my life. Neat how God says He will reward obedience – and He really does. When He tells us to “test him in this” (Mal 3) He actually will come through. That is the amazing God we serve.
5. Do not grow tired of His reproof: I even was so glad He gave me an upset stomach this morning and wiggly vision last night (after eating so much white pasta and white bread). This is part of his reproof in my life for overeating and not heading my body and how He has made it. I want to be obedient in this way. I desire the Lord’s correction in that.
6. He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. This last proverb in chapter 3 brought to mind two others. Often times we’ll see signs that “Bless This House” – sorta the welcome sign on most southern doors. But, do we think about this verse. He blesses the home of the righgteous. I think in light of Proverbs and preceeding verses he is talking about those who make righteous choices and seek wisdom and understanding. But, also and most importantly…our righteousness is found in Christ – we must abide there. If we abide there, part A will come.

Do you meditate on Scripture day and night – do you see it impacting your day?

True Woman Chattanooga: James MacDonald

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I’ve long been a fan of James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word on radio. Even though I’ve lived relatively near his church in the Chicago area for almost 3 years now, I’ve yet to be to his church. He preached tonight on trials – to go with his life of the past 5 years and his new book, When Life is Hard.
James 1
1. Consider your trials joy.
Trials are going to come. We are called to be joyful – not happy. If you have been riding the roller coaster of happinesss – you don’t get what James is saying here. Joy: supernatural delight. Joy is from God. You can’t do this for yourself. Joy is:
1. In the person of God. Who He is – in His attributes – we are called to delight in the person of God. Your heart will be restless until you rest.
2. In the purpose of God. God has a purpose. There is a God who rules the universe.
3. In the people of God. You can’t just get “a thing” going on with just anyone – it is found in the body of Christ. There is a joy in relationships.
Trials obliterate happiness, but they enhance joy. Consider it joy when you “fall into” “various” (same word for Joseph’s coat of many colors) – all shapes and sizes, different for each person. Our God is marking our steps. Consider it – count it – you can’t come to the conclusion that trials are a joy if you don’t think about them. Consider is translated “to press your mind into”. Get a pen and paper the reasons why I can think about trial as a joyful thing. A helpful thing to consider is why we are put here on this earth. The reason I get to draw another breath is so we can display the life of God. That is why Christians go through trials – people can see something different.
God’s love isn’t a pampering love – it’s a perfecting love. Your Mom may be like that, but God’s not like that. God is not interested in putting a smile on my face by Friday. God stands outside of time – He sees the end from the beginning.
You can’t come to the joyful conclusion about trials filling your face with food to dull the pain; by filling your mind with entertainment to dull your pain; by filling your heart with anger about the wrong that has been done to you to dull the pain; by filling your body with substance abuse to dull the pain. You can only come to the joyful conclusion of trials by counting it, by considering it. You have to right size your trials. Big God, small trials. Not Big Trials, Small God.
2. Trials produces staying power. 1.3. Ps 27.13. You have to get the part that God is trying to get to you. Most people don’t like tests. But, we must know that the TESTing of your faith produces “hupo mene” – under remain. Testing produces “to remain under”. Here are three questions that we must answer.
a. Do I believe that God is in control?
b. Do I believe that God is good?
c. Am I willing to wait by faith until the darkness becomes light?

The first thing we want to do is get out of our trials. There is no exit ramp. God is trying to grow in you the ability to remain under. Name 4 things we want to do instead of remaining under:
1. We complain.
2. We lash out.
3. We bail.
4. We fold or despair.
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God so that he might exalt you at the proper time. You can’t make it through trials without a deep, abiding sense of your partnership with the God of the Universe.
3. Trials produce life transformation. 1.4. “Under remain” leads to transformation. Some of us have been going through the same trial for years because we don’t “under remain” the trials we receive. Let these trials be the avenue of impact to others. “Under remain’ so that you will be perfect, complete, lacking in nothing. Suffering refines and grows us – if we “remain under” the pressure.
4. If you lack wisdom about your trial – verse 5 – ask God for it. He’s not going to answer the existential why, the ultimate why, the ultimatum why, the observation why. He will answer the why this in my now. What are you trying to teach me, God? You have to ask in faith without doubting. God wants to work on my heart. God starts with the blind spots. Make sure you really want to know. You will be complete – lacking nothing.
I can’t honestly say I’ve experienced “heavy” trials in my life; God has been overwhelmingly good to me. But, in the few “little” ones I’ve dealt with in life – my peace remains by holding firm to the Word of God. That is my voice of hope – because it is the voice of my God who loves me. That is my prayer for you: whether your marriage is hard, your children aren’t believers, finances are small and inadequate, your health is under fire – TRUST. Believe. Walk bold in the truths of God’s Word. Obey. Love Him.