Saturday, April 23, 2011

easter thoughts: the glory of it all

The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
Isaiah 59:15b-16

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:9-10

Praise God that He was pleased to stretch out His own hand to save sinners that could not and would not save themselves. Sinners like me. Praise God for His grace... I do not deserve favor or forgiveness but I have it in Christ because of His sacrifice. Praise God that He can change hearts that are bent toward sin, and woo them and sanctify them according to His goodness and faithfulness. What a comfort that is...

I am moved by these words to this song tonight.

The Glory of it All
David Crowder Band

At the start
He was there
He was there
In the end
He’ll be there
He’ll be there
And after all
Our hands have wrought
He forgives

Oh, the glory of it all
Is He came here
For the rescue of us all
That we may live
For the glory of it all
Oh, the glory of it all

All is lost
Find Him there
Find Him there
After night
Dawn is there
Dawn is there
And after all
Falls apart
He repairs
He repairs

Oh, He is here
With redemption from the fall
That we may live
For the glory of it all
Oh, the glory of it all

After night
Comes a light
Dawn is here
Dawn is here
It’s a new day, a new day
Oh, everything will change
Things will never be the same
We will never be the same

Oh, everything will change
Things will never be the same
We will never be same

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

dying to myself

Right now I am going through a study called Her Hands by Heather Hendrick with my mentor and some other girls in my Life Group. It is a study that takes God's Word seriously about what it means to be a godly woman. Here's an idea of what it covers: "Although not an exhaustive list, some of the things we cover in this class are biblical womanhood, purity, submission to authority, dating, marriage, motherhood, debt, and how the Bible, the gospel and God's grace molds our thinking in each of those areas." You can read more about it here. Traditionally, Her Hands is a class that Heather teaches at church but, the Hendricks are now living/ministering in Haiti, so we are doing things a bit differently. We are going through the book steadily as a group and trying to finish before the summer.

There has been, and continues to be, so many times in this study that God has revealed areas of my life that have been set in their ways for a long time and then confronted me with the truth of His Word to transform those areas. Today, praise God, this happened to me again. And it was not a nice, quiet Kumbaya moment, but more like a ton of bricks hitting you... in a good way.

Dying to myself.

Now I know there are many ways this can impact our lives as Christians, but today I was challenged in how it should dictate the way I interact with others. Here is the quote that really got me:

"...being a believer means we have thrown away the idea that life should be fair, that life is all about 50/50. Being a believer means we have been crucified with Christ. We no longer live. Our circumstances and the behavior of others around us do not have to dictate our response or our behavior. In other words, my behavior as a believer is contingent upon NOTHING else besides the Word of God. There is no place for "If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" in a believer's train of thought. That thought process was derailed when we were crucified with Christ. As a believer, we must realize that we are called to keep scratching someone's back even if they NEVER turn around and scratch ours or say thank you. Ouch."

Ouch, is right. My natural response (in my flesh) when things don't go my way or when there is conflict, is to get hurt, angry and/or disappointed. And all the people involved in whatever that thing is, feel the effects of my response. We cling to the fact that "we don't deserve this!", our personal "freedom" (not the freedom we have in Christ), our reputation, or whatever else we use to justify being self centered. As long as we are doing that, we cannot be quick to forgive or love anyone; that is, anyone but ourselves. And there is the problem.

The only way to stop this pattern is to stop looking at me and start fixing our eyes on Him.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11

Paul says tells us to grow in love and unity as believers, and then he shows us how (through humility) and then he shows us why (because of Christ). God who is completely holy and all powerful, became a servant to sinners and was obedient even to death on a cross. That is almost incomprehensible. That is Real Love. The reason why we can die to ourselves is because of the gospel; because "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). In all my wretchedness and wickedness, God moved toward me and made me alive (Colossians 2:11-14). I did not deserve any favor from God, in fact I deserved punishment, and yet He freely gave me grace and life in Christ Jesus.

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

How many times am I quick to anger because things didn't go like I planned them to go? How many times do I put conditions on serving people? How many times do I justify sinful behavior/emotions because I have been wronged?

Friends, let's be honest with God and with ourselves about sin in our lives and repent and depend on Him to continue to change us. It is really freeing when you meditate on what Christ has done and who you are because of Him... Let's rejoice in that freedom and let our lives and our relationships with others be a beautiful picture of the gospel.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Monday, March 7, 2011

sweet to my soul

I am so thankful for music. God creates beautiful things, and music is one of them. It can be such a beautiful vessel of worship--our response to the goodness, majesty, and glory of our God, nothing less.

I love this song right now.

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
But fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely You've bled for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but heaven's will
No scheme of hell, no scoffer's crown
No burden great can hold You down
In strength You reign
Forever let Your church proclaim

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He's alive! He's alive!

Those words are sweet to my soul. My heart is full; praise God, He is perfect and so good.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:7-10

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

bless the Lord, O my soul

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103

I am weak... but He is strong. His power is made perfect in my weakness, and His grace is sufficient for me. More than enough. His love is incomprehensible--as high as the heavens are above the earth. He has washed me clean and removed all my iniquity from me--as far as the east is from the west. And he shows compassion to me--like a father.

What a wonderful Father we have.

And to think, "now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12).

I hope this passage of Scripture is as encouraging to you as it has been to me...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

a post about scripture

Please, please watch. I was so challenged and encouraged by this. I know it is 45 minutes long, but it is way worth it.

The Lord has been teaching me lately about Scripture. Just like food sustains my physical body, His Word, along with time spent in prayer and fellowship with Him, sustains my spirit. It is that important. It is just as fundamental and essential to my walk with Him, as nutritional sustenance is to my physical body.

His Word is truth, and I need truth every second of the day--to fight temptation, to discern what it is right, and to be satisfied in my Father and not seek other things to satisfy me. One of the primary ways God communicates to and sanctifies his children is through His Word. My mind and heart are prone to distraction and discontentment, and His truth is the one antidote. It is pure, satisfying, and sanctifying.

Write it down. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Surround yourself with it. Let it move you, captivate you and change you.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
Psalm 119:9-16

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I am heavy today. Heavy with my sin and with my past and with things that I regret. Shame is constantly there to steal my joy and lie to my heart. The gospel is always sweet to me but on days like today I am reminded that it is the one thing that is certain, the only thing I can cling to and the only thing that satisfies me.

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 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 rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Colossians 2:11-14

God made me alive. God forgave all my trespasses. He completely cancelled my infinitely large debt of wickedness that stood between me and Him--all the sins I would commit before I trusted Him as my Savior, and all the sins after. My whole life of sin was nailed to the cross and set aside. A just God put all of His righteous wrath that should have gone towards me, onto His beloved Son, who was perfect and without sin.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus, who knew no sin, became my sin for me.

And because of this and only this, can I stand justified before a perfect and holy God; clothed in the righteousness of His Son, because of His great mercy and steadfast love and because He is good.

Clinging to the cross is all I have, and all I need.

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

I am His, and praise God, that is enough.

“There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel.”
–Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer

Saturday, February 5, 2011

...With all of your heart, soul and mind.

I was having a conversation about singleness, dating and marriage with my mentor today and I realized a lot of things (Chelsea you are great) but most of all I was reminded of something really important: I already have a first love. The Lord of heaven and earth is my first love.

I feel like God has laid this verse on my heart today:
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
Matthew 22:37-38

Its humbling to think that I have and can become apathetic to this verse and its implications. It is a verse that many people can quote quickly, almost mechanically. But this verse is not mechanical at all. It describes how my relationship with God should be; it is real, living and dynamic. I must love Him with all of my heart (my emotions, passions and pursuits), all of my soul (who I am at my innermost being), and all of my mind (my thoughts, intelligence and decisions). With my entire being that He created, I must love Him.

And He loved me first before I loved Him.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:7

The gospel changes everything doesn't it? Ultimately, I am fully justified, fully loved, and fully secure in Jesus Christ. May I never look elsewhere for any of those things... and may I rest in the perfect character of my God and trust that He holds my future. Singleness, dating, or being married is not what defines me, and it is completely secondary to my relationship with my first love.

In C.J Mahaney's words:

‎"Your greatest need is not a spouse. Your greatest need is to be delivered from the wrath of God-and that has already been accomplished for you through the death and resurrection of Christ. So why doubt that God will provide a much, much lesser need? Trust His sovereignty, trust His wisdom, trust His love."