W&BT: Found in Him (finale)

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We are truly alive!

This is going down as a very engaging, life-changing book.  It is that good.  I’ve always loved the grace impetus that Elyse Fitzpatrick has in her writing – and this one is no different.

Here are my thoughts on the last two chapters.

One of the most hope-full sentences in the entire book is found in chapter 9 – “No matter how you’ve sinned or been sinned against – your identity is that of a beloved, pure bride.” Often in this world, we are categorized by our sin.  Think of all the “self-help programs” or even in our churches when people know you have committed a sin – that’s what our minds shift to when we see that person in the hall or in Sunday School.  Not so.  This should not be.  We should look at other Blood-bought Christians as Christ would – through His blood.

“We are truly alive.  We are free and no longer enslaved to sin or the law.” (183)  If this is true in our standing in front of a holy God – can it ever be true in the local church?  How can we love each other even though we see their sin – they see our sin – how do we display Christ to ourselves and others?

“What would your life look like if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were loved and that there was nothing you could do to spoil that reality?”  Oh what glorious truth!  How can we again live this out in the local church – in our small groups, in our play dates with other mommies, or in our ministry teams?

“I am free to serve my neighbor because I don’t need to demand to be loved – I have already been fully loved in Christ.  I am free to serve my neighbor because I don’t need to be respected – Jesus knows exactly who I am.” – How much of our lives are lived in front of others, so others will see us, so that we can look good and climb ladders or get pats on the backs?  This is not how the Christian life should be lived.  We are who we are in Christ.  Let us live there – in that reality – not keeping score or a list of things we have done.  Good book on this topic: When People are Big and God is Small – by Ed Welch.

“Idolatry is crushed beneath true worship.”  Oh how true.  If we are focused on the gospel, sin will grow so faint (idolatry is sin).

W&BT: Found in Him

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Wedding Dress

I think I love this book more and more – the further I get in it. Thank you Elyse!

“The glorious incarnation that we’ve been considering means that we will never be alone, never separated from God.” (155)  This is such amazing truth.  When our sin separates us from others: family, friends, spouses – know that because of the grace and the cross of Jesus – we can never again be separated from the One who saved us.

Ephesians 5: we had this passage preached in our wedding by our pastor Andy Davis.  It was an amazing sermon.  You would think I would know it by now – but each time I read it something else amazes me by it.  Here is what stood out to me in this reading.  Listen to how it starts: Christ loved the church.  Do we live by love or by law?  Do we live by grace or by “do this”?

There is a song by the Gettys “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” (that may or may not be the title)… and one of my favorite lyrics: “how great the joy before us to be his perfect bride.”  Every time I’ve heard that song and especially that line I think, man, I want to live a more holy life, more according to the Word of God.  How erroneous of my thoughts to start there.

I have to start where this passage in Ephesians 5 starts: Christ loved the church.  It is Christ’s love that makes me His perfect Bride – not my good works.

“We are Christ’s trophy wife now.” (160).  I’m by no means a trophy wife to Eric. I’m not a size 6.  I’m not the perfect mother for our boys.  I burn food sometimes.  There is dust everywhere in our home.  But, the joy to know is that Christ has made me HIS trophy wife – by the blood – and is continually sanctifying me!

This was a packed chapter.  What did you get out of it?

W&BT Found In Him: Chapter 6

Jesus Reigns

The beauty and glory of the Resurrection and how it impacts every moment of every day we live.  I know, its not even Valentine’s Day and I’m already talking about Easter: but as I sit and watch my littler boy squirm as he tries to take a nap, basking in the warmth of the sun in our master bedroom, I know that the only reason that he is alive and breathing and cooing and sucking on his hand is because of the Resurrection.  All living things found their start in Christ (Colossians 1, John 1)

Love Elyse’s mention of 1 Corinthians 15.  Paul reminds his reads of the GOSPEL.  We stand in the GOSPEL.  And we are growing in Christ-likeness because of the power of the GOSPEL.  All of life, from beginning to end, is about the GOSPEL!

Have you ever thought what it would have been like for Mary to hear her name from the very one who loved her, changed her life – but then had died such a horrific death?  Can you imagine her heart as it started to beat faster and she turned to see the Master?  Oh that we might know the dearness and the nearness of the One who has called us by name out of darkness into HIS marvelous light!

There is a whole blog post coming on our “believing God” but I wonder if the disciples fully believed Jesus?  Often He had told them of his resurrection, still they doubted up until the time they saw Him that Easter Sunday.  Do our actions do the same?  We say believe God – but we worry, we are anxious, we don’t like correction, we mourn as those who have no hope.  I know we live on this side of the empty grave – but still I wonder how our actions speak of our doubt – not our faith – in God and in His Word.

I had opportunity to share this one thought with a friend this week: we worry and become anxious over practicalities.  We don’t actually believe God at his word that our worry can do nothing for the event – and our worry actually tells of our disbelief – not out belief.  Mary and Martha – we see this.  This speaks to me often.  I worry about getting some place on time.  If we are later or I don’t have everything in control – this is when my non-gentle and quiet spirit appears.  And in reality it is always there – and I long for the Lord to re-create this part of my heart.

Do we let Jesus reign on our every day life – not just on Resurrection Sunday?  How have you seen God reign in your every day?


W&BT: Found in Him Chapter 5

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Humble Obedience

I love small, simple reminders and this week I have definitely found them in Chapter 5 of Found in Him.  Life is at times completely overwhelming.  I don’t mean the big picture life – I mean the every day, every moment, will my husband ever get home, when will nap time come, can I please go on a walk and not freeze life.  Do  you know the one I’m talking about?

Then I read this.  Calm enters.  Waters still.  Life becomes unhazy (though I might still need a nap).

The reminder that Christ died for me.  That’s all.

The Gospel is not about self.  Much of this world is – but the gospel isn’t.  If you start with self – you’ve started in the wrong place.  Start with God.  That’s the best place to start.  If you need a Savior (which all of us do) – you can’t start with yourself.  That road will lead you wrong every time you go down it.  “Take off all your self-protection, self-righteousness, hollow pride, excuse making, self-pity, and crass unbelief.  This gospel, the true gospel, is not about you. (pg 96)

Another book I’ve been reading is the Maximize Your Life 31-day Devotional (online) – by Brian Houston (Hillsong pastor).  I’m loving it so far.  There was a sweet little time that these two books married for me this week:

“Rise my friends.  Rise from your sleepy dreams of grandeur and your troubled nightmares of loss.  Rise from your unbelief and from your guilty knowledge of your continual failure.  Rise out of your doomed lineage and exiled wandering and stand with me.  I am the new man.  I have won.  I will stand.” (pg 100)

One way we can learn to be like Christ is walking in humble obedience.  Oh, this is very difficult.  I want to cry and complain, or sit on my bed all day, or not pick up the toys.  But, that is not like Christ.  And I need the reminder.

W&BT Found in Him: Chapter 4

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God loves sinners

When you see the word “sinner” do you readily consider yourself among those who sin? Do you consider yourself a sinner? Not “I’m a sinner and Christ died for me – a theological statement”. But, “I’m a sinner and Christ died for me – position of the heart and truth statement”.

When I first read the title to this week’s chapter I immediately thought “God does love sinners.” Then I thought “No, wait…he loves me. I’m a sinner too.” This is a very hard theological truth to come to. To realize that sin dwells within us – me. You. Not just in people who cut us off in traffic or get our order wrong in the drive-thru line or those really bad sinners who are on those “said” reality shows that we would never consider watching (hear tone of voice here). No, we have to come to know that we are sinners, too. And Christ died for us and is in the work of daily sanctifying us!

And what is our response when we are sinned against? Whether it is our husbands, children, strangers, friends? Personally for me, irritability. I get irritated at them. I don’t think “Lord, work in me as I am in relationship with them. Shape all of us according to the image of Christ and your holiness.” No, I usually sin in response.

“Love sinners? Me? Hardly. Sometimes I don’t even like them, but He never let the coldness or puniness of my heart stop Him from loving me.” (pg 78)

One of my favorite stories from the Bible is that of King David and Mephibosheth. Mephiba-who? 2 Samuel 9. Go read it. It will rock your world in terms of grace. We, just like Moses and Elijah (two Biblical rock stars) are “redeemed sinners welcomed into the fellowship of the Son.” (pg 81)

Having lunch with a friend today we were talking about glory seeking. So easy to do in this world of social media, blogging, etc. But, isn’t this the exact opposite of what Christ did while he was here on earth? And on his second return trip to earth (in the future) he won’t need to promote because the whole earth will be full of his eternal glory (Philippians 2).

Do we really think about the “condescension of our Christ” (pg 87)? That he stooped low, that he was a carpenter, that he served lost people, that he ate dinner with sinners (some of those people that he ate with surely wouldn’t be allowed in our churches today, right)? Sinners wouldn’t look like us, would they? What if Jesus had had dinners with impatient mothers, stubborn wives, over-the-speed-limit drivers, time wasters, gluttonous people? Then could you relate? I could definitely relate more. I’m not a tax-collector. But, I’m all of the above. And Jesus provided a way for me to have a banquet meal with him. For this, I’m grateful.
Jesus was everything we didn’t know we needed. I love this thought that I wrote in margin. He is good, isn’t he!

W&BT Found in Him Week 3

Moms, the Word, and Worship

This is a little late in coming because we were trying to get our home back in order after being gone for two weeks.  Its gets harder when you have more clothes to wash (2 little boys and 2 weeks of travel).  I definitely thought this was the richest chapter yet and it met the rest of my life as I was reading it.  Here are my top thoughts from reading chapter three.

1.  Sometimes I wish I had said something.  I would never think to refer to the Incarnation – and all the parts of the whole – as an “exquisite mystery”.  Maybe this is why I like Elyse so much.  She knows how to pen her thoughts in beautiful packages.  I was telling my Mister tonight about how the Incarnation seems to be getting more mysterious to me the more I read this book and think upon that doctrine.  What parts are more of a mystery to you?  The fact that he was God?  Or the fact that He was human.  For me, its that He was human.  But, for me, all I need to know is written in the Word so that I might know Him – and in eternity I will know Him more.

2.  This is specifically for moms: do you ever feel like no one knows what your days are like?  Like no one really knows you or your trials?  Like no one knows what you go through loving on your kids each day (and pulling bubble gum out of hair and peeling spaghetti noodles from the wall and scrubbing marker off of the baseboards?  This was very encouraging to me: Jesus lived his whole life in faithful obedience – all 33 years – not just the three in public ministry.  “if our understanding of his work pauses after a brief celebration in Bethlehem to resume only at his baptism in the Jordan, we rob ourselves of the comfort that his whole life of isolation, obscurity, and obedience are meant to bring us.  Generally ignored, he toiled without complaint, suffering humbly.  He wasn’t merely treading water.  Jesus’ life of ordinary (yet spectacular) obedience changed everything.  He needed to live a full life of joyous obedience in order to save us.  He grew from blissful innocence to tested holiness in the crucible of daily life.”  How is God shaping you and perfecting you in the crucible of daily life.  My mentor and I have been talking about this the past few days.  Knowing there is great reward in the daily – seek faithfulness and the glory of God.

3.  God’s Word is reliable.  Elyse says that – we can believe it.  We can believe in the Bible’s reliability not because Elyse says it – but because God says it.  Jesus knows the Word.  He spoke the Word while He was on earth.  God-breathed was the Word that he was quoting in the wilderness – and in many other instances in his earthly life.  God gave it to us as a means to know Him – let us love this reliable word.

4.  “The Lord Jesus had a practiced habit of exclusive worship of his Father.”  Another one of those quotes I wish I had penned.  What do you in the ordinary?  How do you live your life daily?  Do  you wait for a trial to come before you pray?  Do you wait until you need an answer before you read the Word?  Do you wait till you have a Bible study lesson to prepare before you dig into the Scriptures?  When trials come – what do you have to cling to?  If you are in the practiced habit, like Jesus was, of daily walking with God, His and our Father, then your life will demonstrate that as you face the trials that all of use are going to face in this life.

5.  “Recall the perfect obedience of the Son in your place and go on your way in faith.”  There is an age old discussion about faith and works.  What the Bible clearly says is that salvation comes through Christ alone – by faith alone (and that faith is a gift not of ourselves) and then we are to walk in the good ways that God has for us.  So often though as believers, when we are failing and struggling in sin, our minds battle with our assurance of salvation.  If we constantly look inward and look to ourselves and our good works as a measure of our salvation – we will never be sure of it.  Because we will always be failing.  We must look to, rely upon, and rejoice in the perfected work of Christ.

Happy reading!

W&BT: Found in Him Week 2

God had to breathe

Since being married, I’ve learned to love reading aloud. Often, the Mister and I will read a book as we travel. He knows that I get more out of it (reading comprehension) if I read – and most of the time he is doing the driving as I read.

Here are my thoughts (and some of the Mister’s) on this week’s readings (chapter 2) in Found in Him:

1. Love it when you read books and they make you think of other books you need to read. “In His humiliation, God had to breathe, eat, drink, and sleep. When cut her blod. He longed for companionship and truly suffered when his friends deserted him.” Jesus was willing to come be in relationship with us – knowing full well that his friends would hurt him. Our response often to relationships is that if they hurt us – get out. This is very hard for me. Friendships are very special to me, and I take them very seriously – so when hurt comes along, which if often does, I am weary of the journey continuing. Thankful for Jesus’ example. Oh, and the book I need to read…Relationships: A Mess Worth Making.

2. What is your favorite Christmas song? One of mine is Passover Us by Andrew Peterson. It is a masterful weaving of the passage of the Israelites and a glimpse into the beautiful gospel of Jesus. How does your favorite jingles help you experience the Incarnation?

3. We talked in the car on the Sunday on the way to church about Psalm 1. There are many Psalms, including this one, that compare and contrast the life of the blessed vs the life of the wicked. One of the missing of the life of the wicked is the smile of God. Jesus dwelled under the smile of God. “He knew what it was to live with the light of God’s countenance upon him. He grew to sense God’s smile upon his life. He did know that pleasing The Lord was the most important activity he could pursue.” What do you pursue with that kind of determination? What needs to give in your life so you can know and live in the smile of God. And the good news – if you are in Christ – God does smile on you!

4. “Will you rejoice exceedingly with great joy and fall down before the child along with the magi?” My Mister is a worship pastor, so often we have conversations about corporate worship. And something I have learned is that every church has its corporate worship style. The only thing I have total control over is my own personal worship and how that will affect me in corporate worship. So, how do I answer the above question that Elyse asked? How would you answer it?

What did you learn from this week’s reading? I’m enjoying this book – and I hope you are too.

W&BT: Found in Him (Week 1)

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Loneliness and the Incarnation

Here we go again, ladies! I’m excited for those of you joining me in on a journey to read and discuss/study through Elyse Fitzpatrick’s new book, Found in Him, with me.
What I have found wonderful about this book is it takes the last season: Christmas, the Incarnation, and makes that doctrine come alive in our lives and our relationship with God the rest of the year.
So, let’s embark on this together. Each Monday I’ll post my thoughts on the chapter (this week is the introduction and chapter 1), and then comment, whether here, on fb, or anywhere else.
1. “Everyone struggles with feelings of alienation and isolation.” (pg 17) You always think that when you grow up and get out of high school, you’ll leave feelings of the “first day of school” behind. But…it doesn’t happen that way. You think that when you get married or have a family, that you’ll leave those feelings of isolation behind. But…you don’t.
Elyse has definitely written to people and counseled with ladies who need help handling feelings of loneliness. Lonely can happen at any stage of life and in whatever season of life you are in. Psalm 25.16 is an amazing verse. The Psalmist asks the Lord to turn to him and be gracious for he is lonely. The Lord is gracious in answering: friends, family, love. But most of all – He gives himself.
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”
2. The mystery of the incarnation: we are not alone. We have the God of the Universe. Literally. God sent His Son – the One who was the agent of creation – to earth to become a man. He came so we would NOT be lonely. Do you recognize this? Do you recognize this as an important part of the incarnation. God with us. The Word Became Flesh. Did you take time over the Christmas holidays to experience this wonderful aspect of the Christmas season?
3. Would you say you are stubborn? My husband would probably say there are things that I am stubborn about. But, do we allow the softness and the penitration of the Holy Spirit to soften our hearts? Do you desire to be like the Israelites who wandered in the desert all those years because of their stubborness? Or do you want to be a woman of God who God uses because of your soft heart toward Him and His correction? I hope I know the answer for myself – and for you!
4. Do you often read the OT in light of the NT? Do you read the Creation account and the flood and the psalms and the laments and the history found in the Bible all in light of Jesus and the incarnation and the fact that He died on the cross? The whole Bible reveals Him. I am going through the OT this year learning more about God – and keeping my eyes and heart open to seeing salvation on every page. I challenge you to read through the Scriptures that Elyse has in this book – and read the OT in light of the knowledge of the Resurrection. Oh, how that will radically change your view of the OT.

What did you get out of the Introduction and the first chapter? I look forward to interacting with you and hearing your thoughts on this book.

Women & Books Together 2: Found in Him (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

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Favorite author.  Great gospel topic.  10 weeks.  Women studying, growing, and learning together.

Starting January 6, we will begin the second installment of Women and Books Together.  A weekly blog post where we discuss a chapter of a book together.  Doesn’t matter where you live, how fast you read, or what church you go to.  Thankful for blogs to do this – and the book!

Elyse Fitzpatrick’s latest book (came out in October) is Found in Him.  All about learning and celebrating  our belonging to Christ.  This is a marvelous aspect of the Gospel.  One that as women we should know and celebrate.

So, we will start on January 6 with discussing chapter 1.  I will post my thoughts and some discussion or thought-provoking questions.

If you don’t have the book yet, put it on the Christmas list or buy it with gift card money!

W&BT #1: Name Above All Names Week 7

We come to the final chapter of the Begg and Ferguson book on the names of Jesus.  I hope if you have read this book along with us (or just read it in general) that it has been a great encouragement to you and given you new eyes with which to see your Savior.  And if you haven’t read it – I pray that you will soon pick it up and renew or get a fresh glimpse of who Jesus is.

The authors have chosen to end this book with the last book of Bible: Revelation.  Don’t let this book scare you – but allow it to show you the true and glorious look at Jesus as the Lamb on the Throne.  Here are some thoughts I took away from this chapter:

1.  Will we ever be like John the Revelator?  As the authors talk about John – he is one who was faithful to the gospel as it had been revealed to him – and he was in trouble with the law for it.  As we continue in a time of a governmental structure and world who don’t see the supremacy of Jesus – let us be bold in our sharing and believing of the gospel.  We don’t have to go look for ways to be persecuted and imprisoned or exiled, but let us also be faithful to the gospel of Jesus.

2.  Jesus’ whole life was in accordance with the Scripture.  As Begg and Ferguson have pointed out many times before in this book – Jesus isn’t just a NT star.  He is the agent of creation and continues His work all the way through the remainder of the Bible even to His supremacy in the book of Revelation and throughout eternity.  I love how the Word is not contradictory or going in all different directions!

3.  “Weep no longer, John!” (pg 165)  The idea of no more tears or weeping in the presence of God is an overwhelming thought to me – especially right now as my hormones have me crying at least once a day!  But, we usually think that there will be no more pain or sin, so that is the reason there will be no more weeping.  And that is correct.  But, another reason – maybe more of the central point to no more weeping – is that Jesus is doing what He was given power to do: reveal, open scrolls, defeat sin, and all in the presence of His Father and the saints who have been saved by His blood.  There is no more searching!

4.  “God is much simpler than all that!” (pg 171)  The authors illumined something very important about the reading and understanding of Revelation and prophecy and the time to come.  We don’t know for sure.  We can think, scrutinize, be obstinate about our beliefs, or refuse to hear any other way of thinking.  Books have been written throughout the modern era that all look at the end times and heaven and prophecies in a different way.  We don’t know.  What we do know: God will be there.  He is good.  Jesus and the Spirit will be there.  Let us focus and hold to what we do know for sure.  The authors have declared Jesus to be beautiful and worship-worthy – but sometimes we get so focused on the unimportant stuff that we will never figure out that we forget to look at the One for whom all is due: Jesus.

Let us focus on Jesus – the author and perfecter of our faith – as the writer of Hebrews says!