Thursday, July 28, 2011

Inescapable Grace - Part Three

So Ninevah repents.

On Sunday, Calvin described what kind of people these Assyrians were and it wasn't pretty. He told of the horrific torture methods they used before killing their enemies, and without going into detail I can summarize by saying they were ruthless, godless and fearless.

Until God warned them and they repented.

It's as if they knew they were horrible people and as long as they could get away with it, they would. But as soon as God spoke into their lives, they knew their time was up and then turned from their wickedness and repented.

So why do you think God bothered with the Assyrians? Why was their wickedness worth His attention, more than, say, the Babylonians? Why would God go outside the borders of His chosen ones and warn the Assyrians?

Well, it is far from me to claim to fully understand the mind of God, but I do have a theory that I want to share. You see, about 30 years after this story, God is going to use the Assyrians to take the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity because of their rebellion and sin. The captivity itself will be painful enough, but when a ruthless, godless, fearless nation takes you, then you're really in trouble.

Perhaps God brought these people to repentance so that when they took Israel captive they would be less ruthless, a bit more god-fearing and civilized in how they treated the chosen people of God.

Is it possible that God thinks that far ahead?

What a ridiculous question...technically He's already written the end of the story...of course He plans ahead...

Just a thought...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm All In

Just a quick head's up, friends:

My nephew, Robert Pierre, just released his third CD today, I'm All In. He is a Christian recording artist, and I've heard this CD and it's great! He is really developing as a singer and song writer, and this album has several of his original songs on it - I am sure you will enjoy it! It is very uplifting, Christ-centered and worshipful. He is only 18 years old, so if you have a high school or college-aged kid in your life, this would be a great gift for them!

(If you were at Harvest Bible Chapel Spring Lake this past Sunday, he was on the worship team...)

So, this is just simply shameless promotion for my family - please go and buy one of his CDs at the local Christian bookstores or you can check out his website and purchase a CD here:

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More than Omniscience

"O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You know my thought from afar."
Psalm 139:1,2

Sometimes I think we take God's omniscience for granted: "Of course He knows me. He's God. He knows everything, that's why He knows when I'm sitting and when I'm standing. No big deal - it's what an omniscient God does."

When we think of God, we think of a being in outer space that looks down upon the earth with complete knowledge and understanding of everything that is happening. He hears all prayers, He knows the hearts of all men and He's everywhere all at the same time.

But the psalmist gives us insight to a more personal God. As this Psalm goes on to say, He is "intimately acquainted" with all our ways. He uses words to describe God's actions like searched, known, understand, scrutinize, intimately, enclosed, and the wonderful promise of protection in the phrase "You have...laid Your hand upon me."

I was meditating on these two verses above and came up with these questions/thoughts:

*Why does an omnipotent God have to search me to know me?

*I sit and stand 50 times a day. Does He really keep track of that?

*Not only does He know what I am thinking, but He understands it. Hmmm...

*Why does He use the words "from afar"?

Now, these are just the beginning of some great pondering and meditating on a portion of the Word of God which pertains specifically and intimately to me. This is a phenomenal passage that has overwhelming truths and insights, but I have to admit, often times I end up with more questions than answers.

But that's okay - I'm fine with not having complete understanding of God.

I do trust what He reveals of Himself to me. For example, His Word says that He is omniscient (I John 3:20 - For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.) and yet He searches and scrutinizes me to know me (Psalm 139:2,3). How does that work? I don't know but I believe it.

As for the "understand my thought from afar," the closest example I could come up with for this is my knowing what my husband is thinking with a single glance from across the room. I can tell when he's ready to leave a party, I can tell when he's hungry, I can tell when he's tired, I can tell when he's fired up - just by the look on his face. How do I know? Because I have searched him and scrutinized him and spent so much time with him, that I really know him.

On a much larger scale, this is what the psalmist is saying God does. He knows us so well that He doesn't have to be standing next to us (though He actually is within us) to know what we are thinking - He can see it from afar, He knows us so well.


That's all for today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Inescapable Grace - Part Two

This week, Jonah finds himself in the belly of a great fish. Now I agree that the story of Jonah is not the story of a fish - the fish is a supporting character. But I do want to look at the two verses where the word "fish" is found in Jonah's story, because I believe in his supporting role, this great fish rightly so gives us insight into the main character.

"And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights." Jonah 1:17

"Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land." Jonah 2:10.

Do you see it? Our supporting character completely and submissively obeys the lead Character. He doesn't try to upstage Him. He doesn't catapult himself from the water, do a flip or two before obeying to draw attention to himself. He simply does whatever the Lead tells him to do and then quietly slips back into the darkness of backstage.

So if the fish isn't a big deal, what about the Lead? God is a big deal. He appointed and commanded and the fish responded.

These verbs brought my mind back to our John 15 memory work from this last year's study:

"You did not choose Me but I chose you and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit..." John 15:16

"This I command you, that you love one another." John 15:17

Do you realize that if you are in the LORD, you have been appointed and commanded, just like the great fish?

Herein lies the problem. As supporting characters in a great story, we have decided not to submit to the Lead and bring Him glory, but rather we try to steal the scene. We don't obey and then step back and let the story flow about Him, but rather we rob the center stage and do our own thing.

Why do we do that? The fish didn't and don't you think if anyone could rob the story, it would be the fish? I believe the only characters in this world who refuse to play second fiddle are humans and we're the ones created in His image.

Sad, isn't it?

Well, today I want you to remember your appointment - just as God chose the fish to do His work, He has chosen you to be a light in this world, to love others with His love, to bear much fruit. This is a divine appointment, so friends, don't drop the ball. Play your role and bring glory to the Lead.

There is nothing worse than a supporting character who veers from the script and ruins the plot...don't be that person!

Have a great day!

Friday, July 15, 2011


to give evidence
as a witness in a law court

At the end of John 15, Jesus tells His disciples that He will send the Helper, or the Spirit of Truth, to testify about Him, and then He adds, "and you will testify, also, because you have been with me from the beginning."

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to the deity of Jesus Christ. That, in and of itself, could be a long post, but I want to look at the added statement.

The definition of testify shows us that the word is a legal term, as if someone has been accused and you are there as a witness to the truth. So when Jesus says that you will testify also, it means that the disciples would be a witness to the truth about Jesus Christ, because they had seen Him and known Him first hand.

This firsthand knowledge, this eye witness experience, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit, is what launched the church into existence. The disciples gave their lives because of their eye witness account - their testimony about Jesus Christ put their lives at risk, and in John 15, Jesus tells them that they will be called to testify.

This concept translates into all believer's lives. We are called to testify about not only God's goodness, but also to the person and character of Jesus Christ. Today, the world is all about God and not so hot on Jesus. A simple sentence can ignite a positive or negative response depending on whether or not you use the word Jesus. For example: I thank God for this award or I thank Jesus for this award. Everyone thanks God, but when Jesus is put in place of God, people find your comment judgmental and exclusive.

So watch yourself this week. Do you speak openly of God or do you speak of Jesus by name? And go even one step further - are you an eye witness to the character of Jesus Christ so that you would actually be a reliable witness? Is He alive and active in your life? Does He make a difference in your decisions? Do you consult Him and His Word for all you do? Or are you testifying on heresay - you've seen it in other's lives but haven't experienced Him for yourself?

Big questions to ponder, but our calling to testify is equally as big.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Inescapable Grace

This summer, our church is doing a series on the book of Jonah. Actually, we're only two weeks into it, but it's powerful. Last week Chris Moeller (our worship pastor) preached on the great storm and one of his main points was that our sin is not isolated. This has hung with me for the past couple of days - just the simplicity of this truth and yet most of us have no clue of its depth.

Jonah had been a successful prophet of the Lord. I use the word "successful" because although any prophet who faithfully brings the message of God to the people would be a good prophet, he actually saw a response to his message that was positive for Israel (II Kings 14:25). So with that success under his belt, he most likely also had some popularity behind him.

But we all know the story. When Jonah receives the instruction to go to Ninevah and rebuke their sinful rebellion, he decides he's had enough of this profession and hops on a boat going in the opposite direction.

God then brings a storm and that's where we clearly see the truth that our sin is not isolated. The sailors on the boat - big, burly, experienced, tough guys - they are terrified and quickly identify that this storm has supernatural origins. Their lives are in danger and we know it is because of Jonah's sinful decision to ignore the instruction of God and do his own thing.

A simple truth - our sin affects those around us - and yet it is so rarely considered when we choose to sin. Let's look at a two real life victims of another's sin:
  • Today cheating is rampant in high school. This cheating affects not only grade curves for any particular test, but GPAs and college admissions are impacted, as well. The student who chooses not to cheat is placed at the disadvantage because the cheaters are not earning their scores.
  • The husband who chooses to walk away from his family - well, this one is easy. Look at how it affects his wife and children - I was chatting recently with a young couple who is engaged and both of their parents are divorced. Planning the wedding with all the step parents and step siblings and trying to please all the extended relationships is a nightmare for these two people. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine having to go to court and tell a judge which parent you would want to live with - all because one of the parents was unwilling to stay faithful to his vows and decided his happiness was more valuable than a stable home for his children.
These are obvious ones but the truth stands when it comes to sin's affects. So here's my question for you today: Who is feeling the effects of your sin?

It's that simple. It's time to stop thinking that you alone can bear the consequences of your sin and look around you, because your sin is having an affect on others. This is where my mind and heart have been dwelling since Tuesday and you know what, it's not easy to look at yourself so honestly, but it's necessary.

The good news is that the story doesn't end here, but let's at least begin with a good look in the mirror...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Which Lens Do You Use?

We all view life through a filter - a lens that helps us understand and respond. For most, the lens of personal experience rules our comprehension. If we had an abusive father, the way we look at men is tilted to match our understanding. If we were raised with divorced parents, our view of marriage is different than if our parents had a strong marriage. If we were raised in a legalistic church, our taste for church is different than the person who steps in the door for the first time.

Experience tends to rule the day.

As believers, however, we are given a new lens through which we view life, called the Word of God.

Now, some of you wrinkled your nose at that comment, as if to say, "What does she mean?" or maybe even, "Oh, brother - here comes the super-spiritualized analogy." If your response was the second one, it's probably because you've had some bad experience in this area. But don't move on...hear me out.

God gave us His Word so that we could know Him. It reveals His character and gives us hope and peace when life is difficult to understand. He is consistent, unchanging and eternal. Upon salvation, Jesus trades identities with us, takes on our sin, pays the price for us and gives us His righteousness. We are no longer the same person, nor do we view life through the same lens.

Because of the flesh, our natural response is a sinful one. But in Christ, we have the ability to respond in righteousness. Unfortunately this transformation, though immediate as far as our position before God, is not a magical, blink-your-eyes-and-you-sin-no-more kind of transformation. It's called sanctification and it takes time and effort.

We do not naturally think like Jesus. Now that we have His Spirit, we are able to but we need to be in His Word in order to understand Him better, to know His character and to see life the way He sees it.

When we grow in Christ, our past experiences will no longer rule our understanding and comprehension, but God's Word will. For example, if marriage is unattractive because of your past, let God show you His design and purpose for marriage - it's beautiful, it's respectable and it's life-long. If your father was abusive, learn about fatherhood from our heavenly Father. If church is a frustrating memory for you, read His Word and find out why God loves the church so much. View life from the lens of scripture.

Why am I pondering on this today? Because there have been a lot of emotional responses to the current events of the day. Everybody's talking about it. Some believers are condemning Casey Anthony and angry that she will be released a free woman soon. Others are declaring that as believers, our sin is as heinous as hers and we are children born of mercy and grace - how dare we condemn her?

Well, what should our response be? As you formulate your response, let me encourage you to look at this event through the lens of scripture. What does God's Word say about sin, mercy and reaping and sowing? Having a balanced response will bring glory to the Lord, as He will give us opportunity to speak of His righteousness because of this very sad situation.

And I daresay, if we view this through the lens of His Word, our response will actually surprise us.

"What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Know this first of all...

...that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation?" For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water." II Peter 3:3-6

I found this little mockery of creationists while I was looking for a picture for this blog. It's rather fitting because it fulfills the verses above. You see, Peter warns his audience that one of the signs of the last days is the rejection of God as Creator, as well as the rejection of a worldwide flood.

However, rejection does not equate to truth.

Both the verbal creation and the destroying of the world through a flood are true events and both are mocked today. The sad thing is that the mocking is not limited to the world. The church today has bought into the humanistic, evolutionary mindset that the Bible is fable and science theory is fact. Hell is no longer accepted as literal, so why would the creation account be literal? Universalism is the emergent mindset which frees us up to be as tolerant of personal beliefs as the next person. Whew! What a relief, right?

In my heart, I think I am beginning to understand Jesus' tears when He looked at Jerusalem and wept. The church today is as unfaithful and rebellious as Jerusalem was to her God. Matthew 24:10-12 comes to mind: "At that time many will fall away...because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." I used to read those verses and it was difficult to imagine the day when the church would turn it's back on God so easily. But folks, we're not that far away any longer.

Matthew 24:13 gives me hope, however: "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." Endure. Overcome. Hang in there. Hold to the faith. Stand strong. Be steadfast. Nike.

God is the God of hope and despite the mockery of the world or the faithlessness of the church, God still reaches out His hand to offer hope to the weary. Don't lose faith, He tells me, stay in My Word and stand on the truth.

Jesus never lost hope because He knew the end of the story. Well, guess what? We know the end of the story as well and God wins. So endure the mockery, study the Word, believe the unbelievable, keep your fingers in your ears and trust that God's Word is not lying but is trustworthy, faithful and true.

Just because the world says so, doesn't make it true. Just because God says so...does.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

This Might Be My All Time Favorite Picture

How cute is that??? Katherine took these four pictures up at our cottage yesterday. I just love this one!

This is Norah with her Mommy - love it!

And this is my precious Ashley - the girls' skin are so white, they have a slight pink tone to them. They are not sitting up yet, but have so much personality!

This is Ashley again - she loves the Johnny Jump-Up. I have another thing she sits in and looks at the toys in front of her - she can't really play with them yet, but she stares at them and is in deep thought when she's in it. She was learning how to make herself spin...

And Grandma and Norah - as you can tell, we're all very happy when the twins are visiting!

Have a great holiday weekend, friends!