So I Press On Toward The Goal

This last week I decided to watch the first episode of Downton Abbey. I wondered what all the hype was about and wanted something to pass the time for the evening. I just wanted to watch the first episode, but of course, one led to two which led to five and then eight…they really know how to hook you, don’t they?!

I am so easily addicted to things like this. And starting from episode 1 of season 1 when there are now 3 seasons out there means I could easily spend a lot of time catching up. I could watch it for hours upon hours! And the temptation is there, no doubt! I found myself meditating on it…thinking about it throughout the day, reflecting on what had happened and contemplating what could happen.

By the end of the week, I felt a little duller toward the things of the Lord. Meditating on scripture? Is that nearly as satisfying? Reading and praying and singing songs to the Lord? It just didn’t seem as attractive or fulfilling to me…but I knew in my heart it is even more so.

Please hear me out that I am NOT saying watching TV or flipping through magazines or scrolling through pinterest and the like are evils in themselves. They can be enjoyable pastimes and can prove beneficial sometimes.

But hear this too: if our faith feels a little dry and our joy is dull, maybe it’s because we aren’t spending time in the Lord’s presence…searching to know Him through His Word and prayer, experiencing the fullness of joy that comes in his presence alone.

Maybe it’s because we feed the lesser desires of satisfying these pastime enjoyments instead of feeding the deeper need of knowing Him.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. -Psalm 16:11

Do we believe that in His presence there really is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore? Have we experienced it?

Nothing else satisfies but everything else promises to.

Everything else promises to: it’s a lie from the father of lies. And so often we buy into it – we spend our time and money and thoughts meditating on that which we are sure will satisfy. It slowly steals our joy, dulls our faith, and we become somewhat complacent with a half-hearted faith…just living day-to-day with no real sense of purpose or joy. Not dead, but not on fire for the Lord in quite the same way.

When I think of the woman I hope to become and what I hope my life will amount to, it’s become so clear to me that spending endless hours passing time was not going to get me there. And yet there are so many temptations to fill time to just pass the time.

I have to ask: What do we hope our life will amount to? And is spending time doing _______ going to get us toward that end-goal? Because if not, maybe it isn’t worth our time. Maybe our time should be more purposeful and valuable in seizing opportunities to know the Lord more and finding out that He really is real and in His presence really is complete fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

It takes discipline. It takes devotion. But let me tell you: it is worth it. When I spend time in the presence of the Lord, learning more about Him and rejoicing in this great God who saved my soul …it is well worth it and I am never left wanting or feeling dull.

So church, press on toward the goal of knowing Him more and making Him known. Resist that which is not beneficial in getting you there. It’s not always a pretty, internal dialogue. Sometimes the temptation is fierce and the flesh seems stronger than the spirit – but stand firm and keep fighting the good fight.

And while there are endless moments to let life pass by, to live for vain pleasures and waste time on unworthy causes, I hope we remain focused, devoted, and disciplined; aflame with a love for the Lord that dims our desire for anything not of Him.

I hope we live a life worthy of the calling which we have received and of the God whom we serve.


He’s Watching Me

I walk around my kitchen and feel the pair of eyes staring at me. Every time I glance over my shoulder, there he is: wide-eyed sucking on his little fingers and watching every move I make. I smile at him and he returns the smile with a half-grin covered by wet, pruned fingers. I continue preparing dinner and washing dishes and he seldom takes his eyes off me.

Here’s some photos of the cute little guy:

A lot has changed in the last four and a half months.

I’m a mom now.

And more than ever before, I feel the influence of my life on those around me. I feel it in the two little eyes staring up at me, watching me, observing me. And as he grows, he’s learning what it looks like to live and be and do. When he sits in my lap at the dinner table, he watches my fork move from my plate to my mouth. He’s learning how to eat. When we do something as routine as walking, he’s learning how to one day do likewise.

And while it’s fascinating how much kids take in, isn’t it frightening? Because he is also learning how to respond to a rough day at work, a disagreement with the spouse, hurt feelings from a friend. He’s learning how to talk about others when they aren’t around, what to do with downtime, and what to watch on TV or the internet.

Our homes are the place where our faults and struggles are most exposed.

It’s the place where we are naked.

And perhaps it’s frightening that as they watch us, they learn from us, and one day, they’ll imitate us. It’s frightening unless…unless we are imitating Jesus. In which case, it’s discipleship, and perhaps the sweetest form.

Because it’s in our homes that true discipleship happens best.

In the context of vulnerability and honesty and love and grace, we learn our great need for Jesus and his great power to save us and transform us even in especially in our weakest moments. And our kids get to see this every day…and let’s be honest, several times a day.

This is as raw as it gets, friends. And what an opportunity it is to show that the gospel transforms our entire life and every day and every moment is an opportunity to LOVE JESUS.

Not to confuse that with being perfect. Or not sinning ever. But I’ve heard parents say that parenting is sanctifying…amen to that one.

So as those little eyes observe me day in and day out, on days when I am sleep deprived and on days when I feel a little more put together, I hope he observes really imperfect people who really love Jesus and really follow Him in the nitty gritty of everyday life. I hope he learns to love and follow Jesus in his own marriage someday, in his relationships and church family and work, with his money and time. I hope he sees the power of Jesus to save and believes it by faith.

And to that endeavor, I rest on the hope that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2nd Peter 1:3), which means that He is able to transform me more and more into His likeness (for his own glory!) as I submit to Him. Seriously…so thankful for this hope! Because without His help I am helpless and so are my kids!

Who is watching you?

We are all being watched and followed. It may be your own kids, or perhaps other kids who look up to you, or maybe it’s your friends, or your siblings, or your coworkers, classmates, enemies, or cousins. This day in age, maybe it’s your twitter or blog followers. What are they learning from you?

What’s Your Response?

A sower went out to sow his seed. The seed was the Word of God. As the sower spread the seed, people heard the Gospel!

Yet many who heard the good news chose not to ground themselves in it and lived a life outside of His will. The result? Some fell away from temptation. Others were consumed by the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life, which overtook them and they yielded no fruit.  

How have you responded? Where are you on this chart?

If you find yourself believing with joy for a while, but falling away in temptation, root yourself in His Word. Commit yourself to being watered and fed daily by His Word, plant yourself in a church and have community with other like-minded believers, and put into practice what you read.

If you find yourself consumed with the cares, riches, and pleasures of life, remove yourself from the sin that so easily entangles (Heb 12:1), deny yourself and follow Him (Mark 8:34). You may be hearing the word, but you are not yielding fruit because you continue on in the cares, riches, and pleasures of life. This world will pass away – live wisely!

Regardless of how we’ve responded in the past, I pray that we will become hearers and doers of His Word, keeping it and bearing much fruit for His glory and kingdom! Because when we all stand before His throne at the end of our lives, faced with the reality of how we lived in response to His Word, I want to be found in His truth, clothed with the righteousness of Jesus, living and remaining in His grace. And you will too.

Keep the faith, brothers and sisters, Jesus is coming soon!

Let’s Eat!

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” –John 6:35

Jesus compared Himself to a staple food in our daily lives: bread. He also compared Himself to water, a substance we cannot even live without for more than three days. I know this. I’ve heard it before, but yet I don’t meditate on the implication of this comparison enough. Food and water are two essentials to sustaining our daily, physical life. In essence, Jesus was saying that our spiritual survival and our spiritual growth are dependent upon Him just as we depend on food and water daily for strength and growth, and for our mere existence.

How is it that we want to grow and be strong in our faith, and yet we’re not willing to feed ourselves with His Word? I hear it all the time: I just wish I could have faith like _{spiritual hero #1}_, or that I could be as wise and insightful as _{ spiritual hero #2}_. Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. We starve ourselves spiritually and impede our spiritual growth if we do not live from the substance of His Word.

Do you want to be strong in your faith? Do you want to grow spiritually? Jesus is the Word of God, and He is the bread of life. Feed yourself with His Word daily and watch as your spirit is strengthened and as your faith grows.

Is Your Faith Stale?

Our churches are full of people who hear the Word of God, but do not always walk in it. And our churches are full of people who feel dead in their faith.

I’m sure all sorts of names and faces just flashed through your mind. But don’t be too quick to point fingers. We’ve all been there, even us weekly church-goers and Bible-readers. At times, our faith seems dead, boring, and fruitless; and consequently, our God appears dead, boring, and spiritless. How can this be? What do we do when our faith seems a bit stale?

God tells us in James 2 that faith without works is dead shortly after He tells us in James 1 to be doers of the Word and not just hearers. Our faith must be exemplified by doing God’s Word. And the result? As we step out in faith, God’s Spirit works in us to produce fruit in our lives and to awaken us spiritually.

If you are feeling stale in your faith, go and be a doer of God’s Word. If you don’t know what to do, ask God and wait silently for Him to respond. Oh, trust me, He will respond. And then you must act. It may be sharing the gospel with a stranger, friend, or yes, even a family member; bringing a meal to someone in need; or showing sincere kindness to that person who wronged you. Sometimes I go downtown and ask God who I can serve, pray for, or love on, and He faithfully shows me the person in need. Then He enables me to do that which He has commanded me to do. As we step out in faith, it is exciting to see God work in us and through us, even in the most simple of Biblical commandments.

Being a doer of God’s Word is really being a vessel for His Spirit to work through us to do His will and His work on earth. And as you become doers of His Word, your faith will be alive and active, and you will be blessed in what you do[1].

[1] James 1:25

A Nameless Face

She had been bleeding for 12 years and spent all of her money on doctors, yet she remained unwell. Because of the state of her bleeding, she probably had no children, no family, no identity. Society considered her “unclean,” which left her with no social networks, no friends to hang out with in the evenings, no real relationships. Her story is summed up in a few short sentences in Luke 8:43-48.

Jesus was on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter. Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue – an important leader within his community. His name is mentioned in the passage, as well as his prestigious title. But as Jairus led Jesus to his dying daughter, a woman reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. What was her name? It is not mentioned. The only thing she is identified by is her illness…that is, until the King of kings identified her as a daughter of God[1]. Jesus stopped for her, acknowledged her, healed her, and  then commended her for her faith. He did more than just heal her body: He gave her a valuable identity; He honored her in a society that would have criticized her desperate act of faith; He redeemed her.

You may not be a leader in your community, you may not be rich, and few may know your name. Perhaps you feel like a nobody; a nameless face disregarded by many. However, the God of the universe has called you His own. He has called you as His son or His daughter. And as an heir, you have access to touch the hem of His garment; you have access to approach the Throne of Grace. No one is more important to Him than you. Though the world may disregard you, He knows your name and He calls you His own.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb 4:16

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Is 43:1

[1] Blue Letter Bible

The Hard Questions

Have you ever faced a question that challenged your faith? Have you ever been faced with a circumstance that was so horrific, you didn’t know where it fit into your Christian world? If you haven’t…you will. We live in a fallen world full of pain, disease, and depravity. If we don’t ask the questions, someone else will ask them of us.

We can deal with these questions of faith – or even crises of faith – in three ways: 1. Shrug it off too fearful it would challenge our faith and leave us hopeless 2. Deny God’s existence because of the world’s depravity or 3. Ask God the questions and go to His Word for His response. So what are these “hard” questions? Here’s a few that are bound to come up:

  1. Why does God allow pain and affliction?
  2. Is God really good and does He really care?
  3. Is God even real?

I’ve faced some of these hard questions myself recently while reading a book called Half the Sky, a book about the horrific oppression women face worldwide. Specifically, why does He allow this pain and affliction? I’ve also had these questions asked of me from a woman whose friend was just diagnosed with cancer. How are we to respond?

When I need to know the truth, I go to the Truth. When I need peace from the storm that rains havoc in my life, I go to Him who is Peace. When I struggle with the character of God or doubt His sovereign wisdom, I go to the testimonies of people who had all reason to struggle and doubt, and yet who personally found Him to be faithful and sovereign.

Asking Him the questions allows our faith to grow. We become confident in His Truth and in His perfect character as His Word validates that He is a good and righteous God. When you face these life-altering, faith-challenging questions or situations, ask God and then go to His Word for His response. Seek out the Truth and be in continual prayer. He speaks through His Word to bring light to the darkest of situations, to give wisdom to those who ask, to bring peace and increase faith.

“He is the Rock, His works are perfect, for all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He”. –Deuteronomy 32:4

“But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” –Psalm 73:28