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From This Day Forward

For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live,are wedding vows. My husband I made them to each other almost 19 years ago and by God’s grace we are living those vows out.

When you first make those vows it seems romantic and adventurous. There is an eagerness to make these vows and often the mistaken expectation that keeping them is going to be easy. And then life hits and it hits hard.  An ill- spoken word here an ill-spoken word there, a financial loss, an unexpected health crisis,forgetting to forgive this and that,and all of the sudden all you can do is look to the faithful, never-failing, always and forever love of God and live in light of that. You remember that your right standing before God cost God his only beloved Son. You remember that you owed a debt that was so vast and so deep that there is no way you could pay it; therefore everlasting punishment awaited you. But by the death of the One who knew no sin and became sin for you – an exchange. Your sin for his righteousness. Crazy!

As you see this relentless pursuing and faithfulness to one so undeserving, vows made to God toward the man you married becomes serious gospel business. A picture of the Christ and his Church. No insignificant thing.

Gospel ministry to a disenfranchised, neglected, and impoverished neighborhood is kinda like the beginning of a marriage. There is eagerness to make vows that you will bring the gospel there no matter what it takes. For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as I live! Then life hits and it hits hard. A shooting here and a shooting there. Kids smoking pot in the backyard. Heroin overdoses. Drug dealers next door. Seemingly very little interest in Jesus.

Not so adventurous. Not so romantic anymore.

But what about that faithful,  never- failing, always and forever love of God?

What about that costly, costly grace?

What about the One who knew no sin, but became sin so that we would become the righteousness of God in him?

God is relentlessly committed to his church. He is purifying her, washing her with his Word, and adding to her numbers for the glory of his name.

He has a people here.

He has sheep who will hear his voice.

But, who is committed to preaching and teaching the gospel of God to them?

The church. God’s blood bought bride- that’s who. The groom is always faithful no matter the bride’s wrinkles and blemishes. He continues to wash, mediate, advocate, cleanse, defend, protect ,and sanctify her. And he will keep calling people into her till she is complete.

So, when life hits and it hits hard, we keep pressing into the faithful One and faithfully preach Christ and him crucified in and through the shakey, unromantic, not-so-adventurous seasons.

In season and out of season.

For richer or for poor.

In sickness and in health.

As long as the church lives.

“The church is at the heart of God’s saving plan. His love does not rest on a multitude of isolated individuals, but it calls out and creates a people who can now be called “God’s people” 1 Pet. 2:9-10 ” – Church in Hard Places

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Posted by on July 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Dispatch to the Front and Dispatch to the Back

I love missions. I love that God came in the flesh in real time and space on a mission to rescue his own.

I love that just as the Father sent the Son, we whom he bled real blood for,and breathed his last breath for, and rose to real life to bring us to real life -get sent. We get sent in real time and space. To real places. To living breathing neighborhoods. Some to far off lands-the front line. Some to lands near, like literally next to the the drive-way,across the street, and around the block-the back line.

Jesus is made known to people across cultures,down the street, around the cul-de-sac, in the hood, through the Church. His bride in all her blood bought glory standing firm under the clear authority of God’s written Word which clearly reveals the Word made flesh who made his dwelling among us.

Together we go to places where Christ has never been named, where he has wrongly been named, and where he hasn’t been named nearly enough.

We,together,bow our knees before the Father pleading through his Son that the Holy Spirit would move and blow wherever he wishes all across the land through his church with the Word in hand.

We work and give that hard earned green stuff that buys things that rot, grows moldy, and disappears if you leave your garage open for too long,to that which will echo long into eternity.

We train, disciple, and send. We send our children, our grandchildren, and our friends to foreign lands, dangers toils, and snares, gospel in hand.

We train, disciple, and stay. We move into neighborhoods, farm farms,and set up shop for the long haul right where we are, gospel in hand as a stranger and alien in our very own land.

We, the church, in every tribe, tongue, nation, neighborhood,and table,march together as Jesus’ hands, mouthpiece, and feet.

The church dispatches to the front and dispatches to the back. Either way, our marching orders are the same. If you belong to Jesus, then, Go! Go!(or stay)and make disciples,baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all he commands.

Old, young, rich, poor, the little ones around your table,across the sea board, and next door.

Front to back. Back to front.

Reminding myself of that today as a disciple who is a parent, a wife, a daughter, a friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Then BOOM! Just Like That…

We work, we plan, we pray, we play, and then…BOOM! just like that, life changes. You don’t foresee it. Never planned for it. And certainly have no real idea what to do with it. You just receive it from the hand of God. That’s where we are at right now.

Our troubles are light and momentary. My husband and I really believe that. Which makes hardship bearable, but not pleasant. It makes you hopeful because the One whose hand dealt it out, is a good hand – a trustworthy hand that our names are written on. So we rest or at least strive to rest.

My husband was pretty healthy (rarely got sick and had no known diseases), hard-working, leading, teaching, and doing. Then BOOM! just like that he’s in the hospital with so many things wrong with him the doctors don’t know what to do.

He gets out after 8 days with a pharmacy full of meds to live and a life vest on to make sure if he goes into sudden cardiac death that he has a chance to be revived so we can make it to the hospital. We thought life would return back to it’s normal rhythm quickly. Then BOOM! just like that his eyesight gets worse (from strokes and diabetes), we see he cannot drive for long periods of time (his job), he can’t look at a computer screen for long periods of time (computer guy by trade), and he can only do so much before being completely exhausted.

What is the next step?

Frankly, we do not know for certain. So we take it one day at a time, praying, planning,  and working on what we can moment by moment, coming to God for what we need.

As I was thinking today about our family, church ministry, and neighborhood ministry, it is striking how much and how fast that is changing.

He is finishing out his term as a shepherd in our church…BOOM! huge change.

New next door neighbors. The kind that broke into a boarded up house,smoking crack, acting crazy (some believing themselves to be aliens from another planet), causing us to be more vigilant than usual. BOOM! change.

My husband is home way more. I do most of the driving. Doctors appointments and blood draws are constant. We have “older” children….need I say more? BOOM! major change.

How do I, as a wife, mother, servant, neighbor, friend, adorn the gospel in such a way that Christ is made much of in the midst of several major changes at once?  When his limitations and my limitations are so clear? When weakness and need are all that seems to exist at this moment and time?

I remember.

Remember my God who has no limits.

Remember my God who did not spare his own son but willingly gave him up.

Remember that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Remember that an eternal weight of glory awaits.

Remember that I have been born again to a living hope.

Remember that the Holy Spirit is keeping an eternal inheritance for me in heaven.

Remember that though all things in this life can be taken away, nothing and nobody can touch what is mine in Christ.

Remember that every good and perfect gift comes from my God who does not change.

Then, BOOM! live!

Love (Philos) my husband.

Intentionally develop affection and friendship and intimacy in every way I can as unto the Lord.

Drive him to appointments gladly for the Lord.

Pray for him consistently.

Hold him tight as often as possible.

Help him serve others in our church and in our hood. (Even if it doesn’t look like it has in the past).

Encourage him as a father.

Love (Philos) my children.

Cultivate faithful tenderness in my words to them.

Spend time laughing with them.

Work alongside them.

Correct them with the Word.

Confess sin to them.

Bring them in on some of our plans.

Keep teaching them even when I think they aren’t hearing it.

Serve my church in whatever way possible.

Keep our table open.

Pray earnestly.

Come alongside the mission and vision whenever and wherever we possibly can-together.

Submit.

Forgive.

Forebear.

Hope all things.

Believe all things.

Keep lovin’ our neighbors.

Visits have been a little less frequent, but we are committed to neighboring with gospel intentionality. With my husband’s new limitations and frequency at home we can possibly do more together!

I must live as one who has received this from the very hand of God-because I have. Our limits and weakness are set by him and with them we must be content and find our happiness and worth in him alone!

It is a fight of faith to rest in His goodness- so we fight. We rest in His strength and boast in our weakness to make much of Him!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Perfect Courtesy, Meet My Hood

Sunday we were challenged from Titus 3to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. All because of the goodness and loving kindness of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

So, perfect courtesy, meet my hood….

“I’m moving this afternoon”, she said as I opened the door. We knew it was coming. This woman lives in the drug house next door. Everyone has been evicted. There are rumors that the house will be boarded up soon. The realization that this could be it with her sink in at her words. One more ride. One more conversation. One more chance.

I thought to myself, as hard as we have worked to love, honor, and care for this particular neighbor; we do not seem to have had much of an effect on her life. We pray over her and proclaim the gospel in faith that the Holy Spirit would use it to enlighten her darkened mind and transfer her from the domain of darkness into his marvelous light. We invite her in and feed her, encourage her to dress and bathe,and take her to get her medication every week. And…nothing.

God has not used us to bring about reconciliation in her relationship to God, herself, others, and the rest of creation through Jesus. God doesn’t need me or my family to do that. ( We do want to be found faithful when our gracious master returns, though.)He may use someone else, or another gospel-centered church. But God has used her to change us.

Our sense of urgency to proclaim God’s truth has increased significantly. We see that time here on earth is limited and our time with people is limited. Another friend and neighbor recently died. My own husband was on the brink of death recently and is still at risk for sudden cardiac death. The truth that it is appointed for man to die once and then face judgement is in our face.  This particular neighbor is still not in her right mind and is addicted to drugs- her life is always hanging in the balance. There is nothing on any of our calendars that marks the day of our death. God has marked it. Our only hope is that God really did make him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  Because of this we keep speaking, living, and loving.

Our compassion has grown over the past year. Our eyes were opened up more to the reality of broken and sick minds-people held hostage mentally. Our hearts are more knit toward them and we have an increasing desire to see them cared for and taught the word of God. Through her God brought forth clarity on the biblical truth that only the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit can break the bonds that enslave that mind.

Conviction over sin is growing. We have been confronted with ways we fall short of treating all people with honor and dignity. I’ve rolled my eyes more than once,laughed at her expense a time or two, and felt irritated at her knock from time to time. Jesus isn’t like that with me. I cast myself on his mercy and am grateful that I am covered in his righteousness.

Through this woman we are being taught to treat all people with dignity and honor in the name of Jesus whether they respond to it or not, because she has given us daily – even hourly practice.

She has been God’s kindness to us in training our children how to care about people who cannot pay you back, are not thankful, and are so different from you it hurts when you remember you bear the same image and at the same time reflects back to you what your heart really looks like to God apart from the life transforming power of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

For the last time, at least for now, I gave her a ride, I prayed over her, I pleaded with her to believe the gospel, poured a cup of coffee, and sent her on with some left overs. Her social worker will come and take her out of the neighborhood. Permanently or not, I don’t know. But I pray that God will lavish his grace on her,that her captive mind will be set free, and that she will find herself among God’s people wherever she goes who will treat her the way he has treated them- in the words of John Calvin with a “gratuitous grace.”

…Of course, I could be having the same conversation with her tomorrow, because this whole moving thing could all be in her head.

Either way, I pray that God keep teaching me and my family to show perfect courtesy to all people because of the mercy he has shown us in his first appearing and in light of his glorious future appearing.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Sweet little girl,I Like, Really Believe This

Last week I was teaching about Jesus healing the woman bleeding and bringing a dead little girl to life. I love it! I get excited at the prospect of having the privilge of teaching that Jesus is the Messiah- the One promised to save his people from their sin. I love teaching through a passage like this where God the Son displays his power over sickness, sin, and death. When I have to work through it to teach to little ones, I have to ruminate in it, and consider its implications in my own life. It is a beautiful gift given to me to be able to do this. And last week was special. For the first time the k- 2nd grade group asked lots of questions, not your standard raise the hand because I’ve just been waiting this whole time to tell you something, but questions about what it means to believe in Jesus, why get baptized and what is baptism(not sure where that one came from that day), how do we know it’s true, and so on.

Then one little girl raised her hand and asked,” Have you seen God and were you there when Jesus was here because, like, you REALLY believe this?” The question was genuine and filled with excitement.

I was struck by how she expressed it and rejoiced that I know this is true and that I was able to communicate it in that way.

It set me into self examination this whole week. I do really believe this. I believe the Bible to be an accurate,God-breathed, living and active, historical document. I believe what it says. And though I have not seen Jesus in physical form, I believe I will see him face to face someday. I have tasted forgiveness and life. His spirit testifies with my spirit it is true. I believe scripture that says,……

1 Corinthians 15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

But do I? Do I, like, really believe this?

The Jesus who simply took a little girls hand who was dead and said, “little girl get up”, is still raising the dead to life. He is still making those dead in sin alive to God through the proclaiming of his gospel. We speak it in his name and people wake up and follow Jesus!

If I believe this my lips would flap more.

I’d parent in faith, not fear. If this is true then I can faithfully rebuke, correct, train, and teach the bible to my teenager boldly. I can bring the death and resurrection of Jesus and call him to repent, to believe, to trust in his saving work and follow him. I have hope because I can’t make them follow Jesus but God’s living and active word can bring them to the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. If I believe, I won’t give up on the most difficult of my children, nor will I coast by with my easiest. I believe in the one who raises people to life and who healed a woman instantly when in faith she touched the hem of his robe. So I need to parent hard, parent long, parent in hope and reap a harvest at home.

If I really believe, I’ll look at the woman next door to me who is both manipulative and straight up outta her mind walking around the street topless and sometimes bottomless,who rarely knows what day or time it is and is sent home to come back when we are actually awake- with hope and compassion. I’ll let her sit at the table with us even though our noses burn with the strong smell of urine and my house wreaks of it well after she’s gone,simply because she was created in the image of God and Jesus saves! He has power over sickness(even of the mind), sin, and death! If he can speak the world into existence, say Lazarus come out and he does, days after he’s been rotting in a tomb, touched lepers and they became clean, and turn a persecutor of the church into who we believe to be the greatest of the Apostles – the one who says , “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation”- he can put this image bearer next door to me in her right mind, resurrect her dead heart to rise forth and follow him. I am free to love her and speak God’s word to her in faith.

If I believe, I will keep calling the children and families in my neighborhood to Jesus,and keep driving my big old van down the street each Wednesday to gather children to church, and bring them on Sundays to be knit to Gods people and hear the gospel again and again in faith.

I can love my brother’s and sister’s in Christ and faithfully build into my church in faith that we are being built into our head, Jesus, together.

Sweet little Girl, I like, really believe this!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Word-Soaked Mamas

I love this illustration. It is so helpful to me and I hope helpful for any mama’s reading this.

Mama’s, I know that as one who is in Christ you want your babies to know Jesus, you want them to love him, you want them to follow him. You pray and beg God to intervene and save your little ones or your not so little ones. But, how are you going to lead them to him?

I think of the story from the life of Timothy from the Bible. He is a young elder who has been discipled by Paul the great apostle. Two letters are written to him from Paul. And this stands out to me in the second letter:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

We get a glimpse into Timothy’s childhood. It is revealed that he learned these things from his mother and grandmother and it lead him to faith in Jesus.

Mama’s, do you know God’s word like that? Does it drip off your tongue when you are lying down, when you sit at the table, and when you walk by the way….or drive through the Mickey D’s drive thru to get that big beautiful 1 dollar coffee on a rough day?

Does God’s word guard your heart and control your tongue when your beloved teenager is having a real struggle with his attitude and you for real just want to punch him in the gut with your words or worse, wish you could wring his neck with your hands?

Does God’s word keep you in perfect peace because it stays your mind on God as you face an arduous day filled with unexpected drama and heartache after a sleepless night with a fussy baby or sick toddler?

Does God’s word transform your mind and heart as you look at your house that looks totally trashed by mid morning?

It will only be that way if we actually pick our Bible’s up, or open up that app, or listen to the Bible read to us from our device as we fold that 15th load of laundry. It will be that way if we make every effort to be workman who need not be ashamed studying God’s word in faith that this is how the Holy Spirit works in us conforming us to the image of Jesus.

In being saturated in the word, we saturate our children in the word, and in that, we lead them to the Living Word.

So Mama’s, don’t let lack of sleep, a busy schedule, and bad day keep you from your source of life to be able to bring eternal life to your children. We cannot feed our children and lead them to eternal life and live in light of eternal truth if we are not feeding ourselves.

I know it’s hard. I know what a sleepless night or several looks like and feels like. I know that life is busy and messy. But, time filled with God’s word is worth the sacrifice. God’s word is living and active, it is what God the Holy Spirit uses to cast light on our own sin and bring conviction so that we can confess, repent, and return to God in it. It is what encourages us and spurs us on to growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is what nourishes us and gives us strength to obey. It instructs us as to how to live and what to obey and what to forsake. And it spotlights Jesus and leads to us him over and over and over again.

So ladies, it’s worth rubbing the sleep out of our eyes and opening up our Bibles, or our Bible app, or listening to Max McLean read to us. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love to hear Max McLean or James Earl Jones read the Bible?https://i1.wp.com/girlspotblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/bibleapp.jpg

It may take laying your Bible open on the kitchen counter to the spot you are reading in. It may mean you walk while you read, or listen while you shower.

Instructing your children may mean sacrificing extra curricular activities. It may mean doing what my husband does rounding up 6 crabby kids and a crabby wife bright and early in the morning to sit around the table to read God’s word and pray together. It’s not always fun and you won’t always feel like it, but you know that in the word Jesus is found, life is given, and you are able to interpret the world around you from God’s view. It is so worth it.

Mama’s, too often my words are dripping with sarcasm, criticism, and complaining. I’m banking on 1 John 1:9 – totally banking on it! Remembering, and knowing, and experiencing 1 John 1:9 makes me want God through his word more. And you know what? I really am seeing it transform my mind, my heart, and my words.

Mama’s, get intentionally word-soaked.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Risky Business

Hebrews13:12-13 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.

This passage flashed through my mind several times when reading David Platt’s book, Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age.

Following Christ-real gospel life, is risky business.Counter Culture, Softcover edition  -     By: David Platt

God’s people are blood bought. We have been given new life in his name. And this is given apart from any good work or good thing in and of ourselves. It is an utter and complete work of sovereign grace in our lives. As Colossians puts it, we have died with him and have been raised with him and are new creations. Ephesians tells us we were dead and now we are alive. It says we were children of wrath -children of disobedience and now we are children of obedience.

This means we have been graciously given new affections and a brand new allegiance. We no longer walk according to the course of this world and the principles of this age. In the power of the Spirit we align our lives fully and completely with the will and way of God. This is a miracle we cannot manufacture in ourselves, but a gift graciously and lavishly given to us by God through his Son by the work of his Spirit. And it came at great cost to his Son and will cost us in this life.

That is what this book is all about. The risk or the cost of following Christ our Savior rather than the course of this world. Platt says it like this, “…risk is what this book is all about. This book is about encouraging and equipping followers of Christ to counter the culture around us, even when that inevitably and inescapably means cost in the culture around us.”

If our lives are in line with the gospel, they will look totally different from the world. We will look more like Jesus, and the world hated Jesus and it still hates Jesus. So it will hate us too.

Platt breaks his book up into 10 chapters and they are all incredibly gospel-centered and word-driven. In fact, each chapter is labeled, the Gospel and…..

The Gospel and Culture.

The Gospel and Abortion.

The Gospel and Poverty.

The Gospel and Orphans and Widows.

The Gospel and Sex Slavery.

The Gospel and Marriage.

The gospel and Sexual Morality.

The Gospel and Ethnicity.

The Gospel and Refugees.

The Gospel and Religious Liberty.

These chapters are filled with the glorious good news of the person and saving work of Jesus and filled with scripture giving us God’s view on each of these things.

He ends each chapter with how to pray to God,how to participate with God, and what truth to proclaim from God’s word in regard to these things. It is theology with hands and feet.

This book is a rich equipping tool and a very clear call to follow Jesus whatever it costs. And it is guaranteed to cost us something. Aligning our thinking, affections, actions, and words with the gospel-with God’s word is going to put us outside the camp with Jesus.

I think this will happen in three areas in particular here in America. Whatever church and people hold tightly to biblical views in sexuality, marriage, and abortion, and faithfully proclaim truth in these areas, will suffer just as God says we will. Only the true church will stand because it will be too costly in our personal lives to boldly proclaim the truth in these areas and live them out loud in our society.

We may be applauded for our views on sex slavery, refugees, and ethnicity-what holds us back in these areas is that it will cost us our idols of comfort, money,and the American dream, but it most likely will not bring on persecution. The three I mentioned above are the real hot buttons in our society that have far reaching consequences. But we must not waver because we are not of this world and this is no longer our kingdom. We are citizens of another kingdom-one that shall not be shaken and never ends.

This book did 3 things for me.

1.Built clearer conviction in all 10 areas he deals with based on God’s word,

2. Stirred me to pray deeply with groanings that I cannot explain, for myself, my family, my church, and this nation.

3.Has become a tool in engaging my children, brothers and sisters in Christ, and neighbors in discussions on these subjects.

This is a must read for those who claim to follow Christ in an age that is increasingly anti-Christian.

For me, it has become a much needed parenting tool in instructing my children as to what God says about these very real issues in our time and culture, and helps me in encouraging them to live boldly in light of the gospel.

May we be found faithful because we see the glory in bearing the shame of being counted too much like Jesus-the one who bought us with his own blood.

Following Christ is risky business. Proclaiming the gospel and living God’s truth leads to risking, as Platt put it,”family, future,relationships, career, and comfort in this world.” But it’s not near as risky as gaining a world that is passing away quickly and losing out on eternal joy with our eternal savior in his eternal kingdom.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Uncategorized