Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Study. Show all posts

My Simplifying Journey (So Far)

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(How I spent nap time yesterday - making a lemon pound cake from scratch, which I have never done before.  It turned out really well!)


My word for 2015 is "simplify", and truth be told, my year feels anything but simple so far.  We have had so many things happening in our family, and so many things changing, that my life feels more chaotic than it has in a long time.  However, I kind of expected that - simplifying, ironically, is not a simple process.  It takes a lot of work to get to the point where things feel more simple.  My goal is mainly to get to the end of this year and be left with a more simple existence after all my hard work of organizing and getting my act together!

At the beginning of the year I listed three areas where I wanted to improve.  So how am I doing with the areas that needed simplifying?


Belongings 

I actually feel really good about how much progress I have made with cleaning things out over the last couple months!  I have cleaned out most of the areas of my house that really needed it (closets, clothes, toys, books).  I have made at least three fairly large trips to Goodwill since the year began, and I also have been pleasantly surprised at how many books and toys I have been able to sell to local buyback stores.  I've probably made $100 on things I have been able to sell back.  The house is slowly but surely starting to feel less cluttered.

Favorite buy-back stores?  For toys, I have been able to sell a few things to Once Upon A Child.  They don't pay wonderfully well, but it's something!  For books, I have been selling to Tradesmart, and they actually do seem to pay better than a lot of book buyback stores - I have been able to use the money I have earned there for more book money, which is kind of fun!  I wish I could find one that would take my (non-designer) clothes.


Finances 

I have been doing better at not spending so much and staying within my budget, but there is definitely room for improvement.  One thing I have decided that I think will help me is to use cash more often, especially for grocery shopping.  I still use our credit card for gasoline (because it would be way too hard to take all the kids in to the gas station to pay every time), and I was doing really well at keeping track of what I was spending from my bank account for groceries…then Paypal decided to take a purchase out of my bank account randomly (what?), and my account was overdrawn, and I was slapped with a $30 fee.  Not so simple.  If I am using cash more often (and watch my Paypal payment method more carefully), I might be able to avoid this happening again.

Favorite budgeting tool?  The GoodBudget App.  It's basically the envelope system in an app, and it helps me keep track of what I'm spending (and is especially useful for the things I use the credit card to buy, like gas).


Bible Study

I have been able to stick with the She Reads Truth year-long reading plan so far, but until the last couple weeks my quiet time was still feeling stale.  But lately I have started forcing myself to get up earlier, and I have started using a journal.  I think these two things have helped me a lot!  My main problem has been focusing on prayer and Bible study when I have little kids running around, needing me in the mornings.  Waking up earlier has given me a little more time before the chaos starts, and writing in a journal has helped me focus on what I am reading a little better.

Favorite Bible study resource?  I got an inexpensive app that has the Matthew Henry Concise Commentary, and there is so much wisdom in it - I have really been enjoying it, and I write the quotes that especially stand out in my journal, along with my own thoughts.


I think I am seeing slow improvements in each area, and I am starting to feel a little more organized!

What was your word of the year, or what kind of New Year's goals did you set?  How is it going?

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Appropriately, I am also on Tommy Nelson today, talking about the process of spring cleaning - especially for those of us who are sometimes lacking in motivation!  Visit the Tommy Nelson blog to check it out!

HeBrews: A Better Blend Review


Hebrews a better blend review

Last fall I started a personal study of the book of Hebrews - mostly because it was a book I just didn't really understand.  And wouldn't you know, I saw that a study called HeBrews: a Better Blend by Leah Adams was up for review!  It was perfect.

I really enjoyed this study.  Adams has split this study up into eight weeks, and she opens each chapter with a recipe and coffee recommendation, which I love!  I appreciated all of her illustrations and the way she uses Scripture to interpret Scripture.  She references many other places in the Bible for clarification of difficult concepts in Hebrews, and I really liked that.  She also had a really good variety in the types of exercises in this study, and it kept each section interesting!

She did jump around Hebrews a bit, instead of going chapter by chapter, and though I can see how she was trying to address each topic in Hebrews, I still found it a little confusing.  I am also not sure why the publisher did this, but there were two places where an "Editor's Note" was included, and it felt weird to me - like whoever the editor was, they were trying to insert their opinion into a study they didn't write.  I think the intent might have been to add a different perspective so all sides were understood, but it was awkward to me.

The one point I did not agree with the author was when she said that the passage in Romans 8 that talks about nothing being able to separate us from God's love does not include us - that we can separate ourselves from the love of God.  Her point was that we need to cling to the Lord and spend time in Bible study and prayer, but I totally disagree with her thought on that passage - "nor any other created thing" (Romans 8:39) would include us!  We are part of creation, no?  That bugged me.

Overall, Adams has a great, conversational style to her writing, and she has a way of making difficult concepts easy to understand.  Aside from the point mentioned above, I think this study is sound, and I can recommend checking it out.

Note: I received this ebook for free from Netgalley in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

Simplify

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I don't think I can really explain my word for this year without recapping my word for 2014 first.
For 2014 I picked the word "invest", and I wrote about how I wanted to invest my time and energy in things that matter - particularly in people and my relationship with Jesus.

And I have to be honest, I don't think I did that great of a job.

I had all these ideas of things I wanted to do, and relationships I wanted to build, and throughout 2014 I just felt . . . busy.  There were a lot of things demanding my time and energy, so I felt like I hardly had time to really invest the way I wanted to.

When I was thinking about my 2015 word, I just kept thinking that I would like a re-do of the word "invest".  But honestly, I would probably come up with the same result.  That's when my new word came to mind.

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The reason I felt like such a failure with "invest" was because at the end of the day, I had very little left to invest.  My schedule, my house, my to-do list were so jam-sacked that I just didn't have enough extra to give - and I hate that. I hate running myself so ragged that I don't have enough of . . . me left over to spend on eternal things.

So I realized that I got things a little out of order last year.  In order to be able to invest my life in the things that will last, I need to simplify first.

In a way, I am giving myself a do-over on investing, because I want to simplify things in my life so that there is enough of a margin left to be able to invest in things that matter.

How do I simplify and better invest what God has given me?  I want this to be my year to get back to basics, and to do that, there are several areas that need simplifying.  These are a few that I am thinking of right now.


Belongings - By this, I mean my material possessions.  This seems like a really surface level thing at first glance - how can simplifying my belongings help me invest my life better?  I know myself, and I know that when my house is crazy, I can't focus.  I think if I sat down and figured out how much time I spend just taking care of all our stuff, it would probably be really depressing.  I would love to get rid of the extra things that it seems I am constantly battling, and organize the things we actually do use.  My hope is that I can think less about keeping the seen things in order, and think more about the unseen things that really matter.

Finances - I think this topic deserves a post in itself, but I have been really convicted lately that I have not been handling my finances well.  Budgeting is not something I am great at, but it's worth the work to improve, because I so want to be a good steward of the resources God has given me.

Bible Study - This past year I have not been doing well with managing my time, and in particular, finding time to spend in God's Word and prayer.  I can't adequately invest in others when I am not continually being filled up with God's grace and truth, and for that I need time every day to read my Bible and "come boldly to the throne of grace".  To do that, I may need to sacrifice some things - sleep, "me time", or something else, but I think this is more important.


I am not good at keeping things simple - I complicate things.  I make things overwhelming, and then I end up not doing the things I want to do because it's all just too stressful.  So this year, I want to simplify and refocus on unseen things.  I am not expecting to immediately feel successful, because the truth is, simplifying will take a lot of work.  I am not expecting to get to the end of 2015 and look back at a simple year.  But I am hoping that by the end of the year, I am left with a simpler existence that will allow me to have "extra".  Enough extra that the next time I choose "invest" as my word, I will already be set up to be successful.

Do you pick a word for the year?  I'd love to hear yours if you want to let me know in the comments!

Thankful For The Bible

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It is Thanksgiving week, and like everyone else, I want to focus on being thankful for all the things God has given me!  I have a couple more posts coming on the topic of being thankful, but one thing I wanted to focus on today is God's written word - the Bible.

I believe the Bible is God's Word, written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Every word of Scripture is directly from God.  I feel like sometimes Christians can even get confused on the inerrancy and all-sufficiency of the Bible (which is another topic, for another post).  But over the last few months I have been thinking a lot about the Bible, and what a blessing it is.  God gave us this manual for our lives, and everything we need to know for life is in there.  It is also through the Bible that we are able to know about Jesus and come to know Him personally!  All are reasons why this book is precious.

One thing that amazes me about God's Word is how deep it is - I could study it for a hundred years and still learn new things.  I've been learning that lately as I am continuing to study and memorize Hebrews.  I never realized how much about Hebrews I didn't know, and it makes me wonder what I'm missing in other books of the Bible as well!

All that to say, a love and thankfulness for God's Word is something that I want to impress upon my kids.  I think there are a few keys to doing that.


1.  You have to read it yourself, and let them see you reading the Bible.  This is something I need to get better at, because my kids are not going to realize the Bible is important if they don't see me reading it!

2.  Read the Bible to them regularly.  We have mostly been doing storybook Bibles with our kids, but I want to start reading them chapters.  I think it will be good practice for them at listening, and once again, I want them to realize how important God's word is.

3. Talk about how blessed we are to have God's Word any time we need it.  God really did think of everything.  We don't need to sit around, wondering what God thinks, or waiting for some mysterious new revelation.  If we want to hear from God, all we have to do is crack open the pages of the Bible.

4.  Memorize Scripture.  We've been doing much better at this lately - I have memory verses I help Wyatt with, and then I've been working on memorizing Scripture myself.


For the rest of this post I wanted to focus on that last one, because I feel like a great way to teach young children to appreciate the Bible is memorizing Scripture.  As they commit verses to memory, it is easier for them to see how these words apply to their everyday lives.

Even as an adult, as I have been trying to get back into memorizing Bible verses, I have been re-discovering how beneficial it is.  I think about God's Word much more throughout the day when I am actively memorizing a portion of it.  (Which reminds me, I am up to chapter 5 of Hebrews - I will try to do another verse-reciting vlog soon!)

Tommy Nelson has provided a great resource for finding verses to help your kids memorize - a book called I Can Learn The Bible, which is the kid's version of The Joshua Code.  I had never heard of The Joshua Code, but I have started reading through it, and I love the concept.  It is based on Joshua 1:8, which talks about keeping God's Word in our mouths and meditating on it.  We can't do that if we don't memorize Scripture.

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Both of these books take a single verse per week to memorize and think about, over the course of one year.  I have only read part way through the books, but so far the commentary on each of these verses seems accurate, and provides some good insights (if I find anything that concerns me in either book I'll update this post, but so far so good).

I Can Learn The Bible includes a verse for each week, taken from the International Children's Bible version.  I have never read through this whole version, but the language of the verses is easy for kids to understand.  I am rather traditional, so I'll probably have my kids memorize the verses in the NIV or NKJV since that is what I usually read, but so far the ICB seems like it would be a good supplement for explaining some of the more difficult verses.  I like that the gospel is explained clearly through these pages.

We've been skipping around in the book a bit, and this week I wanted to find a section that would be appropriate for Thanksgiving - then I realized that children are encouraged to thank God throughout this book, which I love!

One chapter I thought was good for the concept of thanksgiving was the chapter on being filled with the Holy Spirit, whom every believer receives when they trust in Jesus.   John MacAruthur has said that being filled with the Spirit is "living every moment as if you are standing in the presence of Jesus Christ".  I like that.  If we are filled with the Spirit we will be continuously praising God and thanking Him for all things (Ephesians 5:18-21).

Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?  The Thanksgiving holiday is about thanking God for Who He is, what He has done for us, and what He continues to do in our lives.  His Word is one of the most wonderful things He has given us, and I want to talk to my kids about that this week.

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What are your favorite resources for inspiration to memorize Bible verses (and for getting your kids to memorize Scripture as well)?  I'd love to hear any other recommendations below!

If you are interested in checking out either of these books, I have good news - Tommy Nelson is offering one of my readers a chance to win I Can Learn The Bible and The Joshua Code!  I think it would be fun to read these books side by side, and do a study together with your kids each week (in fact, I'm not sure why we haven't been doing that already).

Enter below for a chance to win!  I'll keep this giveaway open (to U.S. residents) through Black Friday!

Note: I received copies of "I Can Learn The Bible" and "The Joshua Code" for free in exchange for a review.  The above paragraphs about the books are my honest opinion.

Jesus Is Better | Hebrews 1-2

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(I originally took this photo for The Peony Project's Instagram feed.) 

I have decided to do an in-depth study of the book of Hebrews - to read why, check out my first post in this series!

I think the main thing that I have learned so far is that if you don't understand the Hebrew culture and traditions, you are not going to understand Hebrews.  Which totally makes sense since this is a letter to Hebrew Christians.  I thought I knew a decent amount about Judaism, but there are so many subtleties in the Hebrew traditions, and knowing those subtleties goes a long way in understanding where the writer of Hebrews is coming from.

The main point of chapter one is that Jesus is better than Moses and the angels.

As a modern day Christian I was thinking "Well, of course He is!  Why are we reading about this?"

I learned that this was not actually a given for the early Hebrew Christians.

The Hebrew Christians that are addressed in this letter came out of the Old Covenant of sacrifices to cover their sins.  In the Old Covenant, the High Priest would sacrifice a bull to atone for the sins of the people, as well as his own sins, and he had to do this year after year.  This was a system passed down through Moses, and it was given to Moses by God, through angels.

But then God became a man (Jesus) and brought about a New Covenant that changed everything.  The Hebrews weren't sure how much of the Old Covenant they should keep.  They didn't understand the sufficiency of the New Covenant that Jesus brought through sacrificing Himself for our sins.

The writer of Hebrews was trying to show them that this New Covenant was fully sufficient and superior to the Old Covenant.  It replaced the Old Covenant, because it was better.  In order to show them that the new was better than the old, he needed to show them that Jesus is better than Moses, and the angels who they believe passed the Old Covenant to Moses.

I think my favorite aspect of chapters one and two is that the writer shows with Old Testament scriptures why Jesus is better than Moses and Angels - it's such a smart way to do it since the Old Testament scriptures obviously carried a lot of weight for the Hebrews.

The author of Hebrews goes over so many ideas through the scriptures he quotes.  Jesus has inherited a more excellent name than angels because He is called Son. He made the worlds.  All things are made by Him and for Him.  All things will be put in subjection under Jesus.

And then after all that, Hebrews reminds us that even though Jesus is so much better than everyone and everything, He is not ashamed to call us brethren.  We are His children.

As His children, He holds us in His hand, and through his death and resurrection He releases His children from bondage to sin.

As His brethren, He was made like us in all things.  He was tempted like we are.  And He can aid us because He overcame those temptations and lived a sinless life.

He doesn't give aid to angels, but He does give aid to us.  He became a perfect sacrifice for our sins, and we are His children when we believe in Him.

What a beautiful thing to belong to Jesus.

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In addition to studying Hebrews, I have decided to try to memorize it as well.

I'm not sure why, but I recently picked up a book that has been sitting in my shelf for years, called His Word In My Heart by Janet Pope.  It is all about memorizing Scripture.

I used to memorize chapters of the Bible as a girl, but I haven't memorized any new verses in years.  This book really made me want to start memorizing Bible verses again - if you need some motivation, I definitely recommend it.  The whole thing was very timely, because I started reading this book right as I started studying Hebrews - so it only seemed natural to start my memorization with Hebrews.

Ever since I decided to memorize Hebrews, I've been hearing about the importance of Scripture memorization everywhere, so I think it's just a confirmation that this is a good thing to focus on right now.  I've also realized how much more I get out of Bible study when I memorize the verses that I'm studying!  It makes a big difference to me in remembering the context, and I understand the subtleties of each verse so much better when I can remember all the verses around it.  That is especially useful when studying book that is as complex as Hebrews.

So all that to say, my goal is to memorize a chapter a week.  I've got the first two chapters of Hebrews down.  I'm falling a little behind in my memorization schedule, but I'm working on chapters three and four now to try to catch up.

I recorded a vlog of me saying Hebrews 1-2 from memory, because knowing I have to record myself saying the verses is good motivation!  Here it is - I'm reciting from the NKJV if you want to follow along, though I know I mixed up a couple of the words in this video.


If any of you want to join me in memorizing chapters of the Bible (whether it's from Hebrews or a different book), I'd love it if you'd post a video of yourself saying your verses - then come back here and let me know so I can check it out!

Oh Hebrews, You Puzzle Me

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Earlier this year I bought a Bible Study guide for the book of Hebrews.  I bought it because I thought it would be good for me to do a more in depth study on my own, since I usually only do studies like that in groups.

I stuck with it for several weeks, but then I kind of tapered off, for one main reason.

I don't get Hebrews.

I think I originally picked Hebrews because I like Hebrews 11 - the "faith chapter".  I had it memorized as a girl, and it is always inspiring to me, so I thought, why not study the whole book?

Which was good in theory.  But then Hebrews goes into a whole bunch of deep stuff about angels and sacrifices and Melchizedek . . . and I just didn't get it.  I'm not a newbie when it comes to Bible study either - I've been listening to sermons on this stuff since I was born, and I've read through the Bible several times.  But I found myself reading about concepts that I had never really thought through on a deeper level, and I was just confused and not getting a lot out of it.

So instead of trying harder, I just stopped.  I guess I got discouraged.  But every time I heard something about the book of Hebrews over the last few months, it niggled at my brain.

Recently I found my Bible study book stuffed under my bed.  I have been reading more theological books lately, books that make me stop and think - so when I saw my old Hebrews study guide, I decided that if I really apply myself, I can figure this book out.  It might require me to take a little more time to stop and think, but I don't want to abandon it just because it is not an easy book to read.

Not a single word in the Bible is wasted, and God put everything in there for a reason.  I know Hebrews has some deep truths that will be applicable to me.  I just get this feeling that if I dig into it, I'll find something valuable.

So over the next few weeks I'm going to buckle down and really apply myself to the book of Hebrews - and things tend to stick better when I know I have to write about it, so I will post updates here.
These are the study tools I am planning on using:

John MacArthur Study Guide - I have been listening to John MacArthur sermons for years, and I really respect and generally trust his interpretation of Scripture.  I like his study guides because he includes the complete scripture passages with commentary on the key words and phrases, plus questions for reflection.

The Mounce-Reverse Interlinear translation on Bible Gateway - I did a little search on "hermeneutics" (which basically means interpretation of Scripture), and I realized that Bible Gateway has a version of the new testament that allows you to see what each word of a passage is in the original Greek - and if you click on the words it gives you a definition, plus other places where the word is used!  It's pretty spiffy, and as someone who does NOT know biblical greek, I'm kind of excited to get my feet wet with this tool.

My good 'ole NKJV Bible - I've had it for years.  

Notecards - I have decided that I don't just want to study Hebrews - I want to commit as much of it to memory as I can.  I have been reading "His Word In My Heart" by Janet Pope, and it has really been inspiring me to memorize more Scripture, and part of my process is writing out my verses on cards - so there you go.

I'm excited to start this study!  Like I said, I have been in the habit of reading the Bible daily for years, but this is probably the first time I have chosen one book and really studied it in depth on my own.  I'm going to try to do a post every week or two about what I'm learning, so stay tuned!

Have any of you ever studied Hebrews?  Any resources you have used (I know She Reads Truth just did Hebrews, so I might look at that too)?  What resources do you use for personal Bible study?

The Book Of Revelation Made Clear + Printable



The book of Revelation has always been one of the most interesting books of the Bible to me, ever since I was a child.  The imagery is just so colorful, and I love the end when Christ conquers and creates a new Heaven and earth!  It never fails to make my heart jump, and reading through Revelations always puts the day to day struggles into perspective - it reminds me that we are all part of a bigger story, and it makes me want to live more for Jesus, because someday He is coming back!

The Book Of Revelation Made Clear by Tim Lahaye and Timothy E. Parker is a great guide to Revelation.  When I first picked up this book I thought it was a regular chapter book, but I would call it more of a Bible study guide.  Each section opens with a short quiz about the Scripture text.  Then it gives you the actual Scripture, along with a short commentary about the verses, and the section finishes off with the answers to the quiz questions.  Every verse in the book of Revelation is covered in this manner.

If you have ever wanted to do a personal Bible study on the book of Revelation, this book is a great place to start.  I also think it is ideal for those who have never read Revelation before - it makes each verse easier to understand.  For those, like myself, who have studied Revelation before, I'd say this book still left me with a fresh perspective and brought attention to some things that I had never thought about.  The quizzes were also fun for me to test my memory of the specifics of each verse!

I also have to say, one of my favorite parts of the book was the appendices - Apendix A covers everything Christ says about Himself in the first three chapters of Revelation, and I liked reading through it and seeing that focused picture of Jesus that is presented in Revelation.

Apendix B is a list of all of the Lord's names throughout Scripture - I have been wanting to find a complete list like this, so I loved that a list of His names was included.  It inspired me to make this printable - click the link below to view and download it!

NamesofJesus

(Note: For Personal Use Only)


I'd definitely recommend this book for anyone who is interested at taking a deeper look at this interesting and mysterious book of the Bible.

Note: I received this book for free from BookLook in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

The "S" Word



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I like baths more than showers.  Normally my bath time routine involves filling up the tub with the hottest water the spout will give me, soaking and reading for a while, then blow drying my hair.  Then I either watch something short on Netflix or listen to a podcast while I straighten my hair (if you haven't guessed, I have to work this in while the kids are napping!).  It's my "me-time", my favorite way to relax.

The other day after I finished drying my hair I decided to listen to a Focus On The Family podcast, and they opened the program with the question "What do you think of when you think of submission?"  Some women came on and talked about masters and servants, being a doormat, and one woman talked about Christ submitting to the Father, but she didn't like the way it applied to marriage as much.  I paused the podcast for a minute and thought through my own "definition" of submission, and this is what came to mind:

I think submission means being willing to take a step back and let your husband be the leader.

This is going to look differently and vary in difficulty depending on the situation, and I'm also not going to pretend that there aren't men that sometimes abuse this concept (which is probably why this is such a sticking point for so many Christian women).

There are a few things I think submission does not mean.  I don't think submission means that you never state your opinion.  Being a submissive wife doesn't mean you have to roll over and be a doormat.  It doesn't mean you do something morally wrong or questionable in an effort to be submissive.  It doesn't mean your husband controls your every move.  It definitely does not mean you remain in a dangerous or abusive situation in an effort to "submit".

As for what I do think submission means - I think when this aspect of marriage is done right, the wife and husband are both able to discuss and express their thoughts on a situation, and the husband will listen to what his wife has to say.  A man who loves his wife and who is wise will not dismiss his wife's thoughts or disregard her feelings on a matter.

For the wife, submission means being willing to let go - not always insisting on having things "her way".  It means actively letting her husband lead the family, even in those times when she disagrees, even sometimes when the husband may not be handling the situation in the best way.

Submission doesn't mean that marriage is not a partnership - both people's opinions do matter, and options should be discussed!  But no organization works well without a head.  If a business has two presidents and the presidents disagree on a big decision, things could get ugly pretty quickly. The business might split.  There has to be a head leader, the one who makes the final decision when not everyone is in agreement.  As Christian wives we are called to step back and let our husband be in that position.  He'll be the "president" of the family.  It doesn't mean the wife's thoughts and opinions don't matter, but the "business" of the family needs an official leader, someone who has the final say.  There can't be two "heads" if things are going to run smoothly.

This isn't easy!  I think it's a natural tendency for a lot of women to want to control things (especially our husbands).  The Bible even tells us that women will struggle with this.  We want that control, and that's why submission is so hard.


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(Derek and me, goofing off at our 5-year anniversary session!  This is Derek's brooding model look.  Actually I'm not sure what we were doing here, but I'm sure some joke was involved.   Derek is hilarious whenever we try to take pictures together.  It's a wonder we get any good ones.)


I can say all of this with my head as I sit here typing, but it's a lot harder in practicality.  I am a bit of a control freak myself.  I direct too much.  I demand my own way too much.  I get angry when Derek disagrees with me.  Even when I do the right thing and take the step back, I am definitely ready to jump right back in and remind him of what I said if it later becomes apparent that I was right.

I am not "good" at submission - I'm still working on it, but I want to improve because I want to obey God here.  I want to make Him proud of me.  When I let my husband lead, without any ulterior motives, without trying to manipulate or control things, without looking for my chance to show the superiority of my position later, I think God smiles down at me.

I think it's important to also recognize that submission doesn't just involve your relationship with your husband.  It involves your relationship with God.  He is the one who tells us that the man should be the leader of the family.


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For some reason the culture has us thinking that it is a sign of weakness to be the one to concede the point, the one to "give in" when there is a disagreement.  I would beg to differ.  I think it takes a pretty strong, secure woman to realize that God has organized the family this way for a reason.  When we allow our husbands to lead, we are ultimately not choosing to "obey" our husbands - we are choosing to trust and obey God.

That is not weak.  That is brave.  It is strong.  Even though it might be scary, and things might not always turn out like we want, God will reward us in the end for following His word when it comes to submission.  I don't know about you, but I want my reward, and the thought of that is what keeps me trying to do better. I think those treasures in Heaven will be worth not getting my way sometimes while I'm here.

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Politicallyincorrectwife


For more good insights on submission, including the biblical basis and practical encouragement, I highly recommend this book (and I'm not being paid to say that)!  I grew up with the idea of submission, and I still got a lot of new thoughts out of it, so I think it would be helpful for women of any background who want to study this subject more deeply and get a biblical perspective on it.

For all you Christian ladies out there, is this an area in which you struggle?  What has helped you with the idea of submission?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Discouragement


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(On the road to our home.)


Sometimes things in life do not go according to plan.

Right now I feel trapped by certain life circumstances. And it's upsetting, because all I really want to do is enjoy this pregnancy, the feeling of new life growing inside me for what could be the last time, but instead I have so many stresses and burdens to bear right now.

I have to believe that there is relief right around the corner, that God has a plan. But all I can see right now is the sameness. As Katherine says in the Anne of Avonlea movie, there is no bend in my road - I can see it stretching on to the skyline.

I don't like this road. I feel like its the wrong road and if I keep going I'm just going to get lost.

This is all very vague, and right now I'm afraid it has to be that way. Suffice it to say that I'm just struggling with a lot of discouragement this week.

I got so down the other night that no verses would even come to mind, so I actually sat down and googled "verses for discouragement". Yes, I did. I'm kind of embarrassed to even admit that, because I feel like God's word should just flow from those hiding places in my heart up to my mind at moments like that. Everything was cloudy though, and I couldn't think, so I googled and clicked on the first link that popped up.

I read through the verses, and by the fifth one I was tearing up. It is like water to my soul, and nothing anyone can say, none of the reassurances I can think up in my own head, compare to God's words. It is like He spoke them directly to me.

Trust in The Lord, Callie, and He will make your paths straight (sometimes straight roads can be good things too). (Psalm 3:5-6)

There will be trouble in your life, Callie, but He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

You do not know how to pray as you should, but the Spirit intercedes for you with groaning too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  (Joshua 1:9)

Be strong, take courage, Callie, while you wait on The Lord. (Psalm 31:24)

If God is for you, who can be against you?  (Romans 8:31)

Everything I needed to hear. Proof that He knows what I need, not just in a moment of discouragement, but in my life too. The waiting on The Lord is hard, but because He knows what we need (even when we don't) we can be strong. We can take courage. He'll guide us, He'll go with us, He speaks for us, He overcomes, and who (or what) can really be against us? GOD is for us.

You can't beat that.

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This post is part of a new Friday series I'm starting, in which I'm going to try to bring a little more of my "real life" back to the blog. Real life stories, real life happenings, real life struggles, real life lessons. Because these are the things my kids will want to read someday, and these are the things I will want to remember.

Verses For Labor [Printables}

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Last December, before I had Gwen, I spent one afternoon looking up verses that I thought would be encouraging to me for when I was in labor.  I had seen a post on Faith's blog on her verses for labor, and I thought it was a great idea to focus on God's word during labor and delivery, so I got out my Bible and concordance and went to work.

I wrote my verses on little 4x6 inch notecards, and I even used colored pens to make them all fancy.  Little did I know that things would move so fast that I wouldn't even have time to use them!  
I do plan on keeping them and using them for my labor with my next baby (assuming we don't have another ambulance incident), but in the meantime I thought I'd share them here!  The first two are from Faith's list, and the rest I picked out for myself.

Feel free to steal these and use them for your own labor (or just anytime you need some encouragement).  I found that some of my favorite verses for life in general were also ones that I would want to focus on in labor, so I also suggest just grabbing your own Bible and going through all the verses you've highlighted in the past - you'll be surprised how many can be appropriate for labor!


















  






If you want to use the images I made here, I sized them so they will fit on 4x6 cards.  Just click on the images you want and save to your computer!

Chosen

 

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I'm about to get all deep and theological on you, so be prepared.

I've been wanting to write about this subject for some time, because it plays into my testimony, but for some reason I haven't.  Maybe because it seems like such a huge topic.  But I feel like the time has come for me to tackle it on here.

As most of you know, I grew up in a Christian home, and we went to church every Sunday.  I heard so many sermons about what it took to be saved that I could preach one myself probably (which is a good thing, because every Christian should know how to explain how to be saved!).  God paid the penalty for our sins when He gave His son to die on the cross for us.  Salvation is a free gift for us, and we just have accept it.   All we have to do is believe in Jesus and we will be saved.  All true.

 

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But when I was about 16{isn}, something came up which I had never heard before.  We made some friends who were hardcore Calvanists, and they got pretty fired up about predestination.

Just in case you aren't familiar with this topic, there are two camps on this issue - one is the "free will"  camp, which believes that every person has free will and chooses whether they will believe or not - and if they choose not to, they will go to hell because God isn't going to force them to believe in Him.  He wants us to follow and love Him willingly, because love isn't really love if you force someone to love you, so that wouldn't make sense.  This is what I heard mostly when I grew up.

The other camp is the predestination side, which believes that God predestines some people to believe in Him.  Because God is sovereign over everything, that means God is also sovereign over who will choose to believe in Him and who won't.  If He is not in control of everything, including who chooses to believe in Him, then the parts of the Bible that say God is sovereign would be wrong.  And that wouldn't make sense.  

This "predestination" is the new concept that was presented to me when I was 16{isn}.  Just one little theological issue, but it rocked my whole world.  I have never doubted my faith as much as I did then.  All this time I had been believing that all a person had to do was believe in Jesus, and they would be saved (still believe that, just to be clear).  If they wouldn't, they would spend eternity without Jesus.  Cut and dry.  Easy peasy.

 

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But all of a sudden I was presented with all these verses about the sovereignty of God, how God has chosen, predestined, called certain individuals to believe in Him.  And it was complicated, and I was confused - because if God chose, then was He choosing to send some people to hell?  That wasn't the God I knew.  The God I knew was "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance".  

But if it's all up to us to believe to be saved, then that would mean that God isn't in control of everything.  He isn't sovereign.  And that wasn't the God I knew either.  The God I knew was all powerful, sovereign, in control of everything.

I struggled to reconcile the two, and I couldn't.  I cried.  I felt shaken, and I didn't know what to believe anymore.

 

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I have a very wise mother.  She told me at the time that it was okay to doubt.  That every Christian doubts at some point, but we can chose to turn to God with out doubts, or let our doubts turn us away from Him.  She encouraged me to just pray and tell the Lord how I was doubting, and ask Him to make things clear to me.

And I read verses.  So many verses.  Verses regarding our faith to believe in Jesus.  Verses regarding God's sovereignty.  Free will.  Predestination.  And I was confused, because I saw the two concepts both presented in the Bible, yet I didn't see how they could work together.

 

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I remember especially one verse in the Bible where it says that God chose to love Jacob and hate Esau.  And I remember praying over that verse, asking God why, because it didn't seem very fair to me.  But there it was in ink, in my Bible.  And I was struggling.

And somehow, in the midst of these struggles, I feel like God opened my eyes, and spoke to my heart.  Because what it boiled down to was whether I really believed that God was good.  

 

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I realized that I did - no matter what, I did believe that God was good, and that what He did was always right.  I cried and told God that I believed that He was good, and that His Word was true, even if nothing made sense.

And in the moment when I accepted that, I think my faith deepened, and truly became my own in a deeper way.  Because in that moment when I didn't understand, I chose to hold fast to the fact that the God I served was a good God, and even if I didn't understand Him sometimes, I could trust in that.

After this realization, I felt like the issue cleared up for me.  Both concepts were in the Bible.  I didn't understand how they could work together, but they were both in there, and I trusted that God's Word was true - so somehow they must work together.  

My mom told me something that someone had told her, and it was like a light dawned.  Why can't God know something that we can't?  And I realized that of course He can!  If I knew everything God knew, then God would be too small.  And I don't serve a small God.  

 

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Of course He can know something I don't know, and I came to realize that this was one of those things.  The mind of God is so much greater and higher than our minds - so even if I don't see a way that both sides of the predestination issue can work together, God can.  And I can't, because I'm not God.  I don't have to know everything He knows, and my tiny, three dimensional brain probably couldn't handle it anyway.

I learned to be okay with the not knowing.  Because even though I might not know all the answers on the predestination debate, I know what kind of God I serve.  I know Him.  

In the midst of that struggle, I feel like I also received a gift.  Because while I do believe both must work together, I've also come to see the beauty in a truth I hadn't really thought about before - that God chose me.  And it's a blessing to my heart - to be chosen by a God like that.  

When I get to heaven I might ask God to explain this whole thing to me.  Because I still don't get it, and I don't think I ever will unless God Himself explains it to me.  

But until then, I know that however it works, He is good and His Word is true.  And that's enough for me.

 

Hellomynameis

 

Linking up with Kerrie.

Fatal Distractions Review

 

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I'll be honest and say that when I first requested Fatal Distractions by Kay Arthur and David and BJ Lawson for review, I thought it was an actual chapter-book.  When I got it I realized it was a Bible study guide, so it wasn't exactly what I was expecting.  

However, I went ahead and did the study, and I have to say I thought it was really good.  This is a study guide that covers six of the seven deadly sins - pride, anger, jealousy, gluttony, slothfulness, and greed.  When I first saw that list I subconsciously checked a few of them off in my head as things that wouldn't really be applicable to me.  

But Arthur and the Lawson's do a great job of putting together Bible passages and questions to really make you search yourself to see if any of these sins might be something that is sneaking into your day-to-day.  I found so many practical applications and challenges through doing this study, so even though it wasn't what I was expecting when I first ordered it, I ended up getting a lot out of it.  

I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a personal Bible study, and I do think it would be great as a group study too, because as the cover says, it really is a "no homework" Bible study guide.  I just wish I could have spent a little more time on it!  I had to read it in a bit of a hurry so I could post this review.

Note: I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multonomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

Banned Book

I live in a small town with a tiny library. For most of my book reading needs, I go to a larger library in a neighboring city. But recently I discovered that our tiny little library that’s just a few minutes from my house actually has a pretty good movie selection.

I made a trip to library recently to get a couple movies, and as I was waiting for the librarian to check them out for me, I saw written on a board behind her that September was Banned Book Month. The library is encouraging people to read books that have been banned.

I’m not exactly sure what I think of this, because a lot of those banned books are banned because they are inappropriate. But as I thought about what books they are encouraging people to read, I began to wonder about the greatest book that has ever made a “banned books” list – a book that is banned in 52 countries today, because it tells the Truth.

I wonder if the Public Library system included the Bible on their list of recommended banned books?

I guess I inadvertently may have participated in Banned Book Month in September.

How about you?

Two Midwives

Do you ever read a story in the Bible and just wonder if you've ever even read it before?

I'm not lazy in my Bible reading. I've read through the entire Bible several times. So I know, no matter what story it is, I've read it before.

But it's amazing to me how different stories and different verses stand out to me each time I read it. I think it has alot to do with my life situation - I pay attention to certain stories more depending on where I am in life.

This is why it says that God's word is "living and active". The Bible will never become obsolete, and there will always be something new you can take away from it! I love that.

Oh, yes, but back to the story I'm sure I've never read before (that's not true, I vaguely recall it, but it never stood out before).

You know in the Old Testament, when the Hebrew people are in Egypt, and they become a great nation, and the new Pharaoh, who did not know Joseph, enslaved them? Then he decided he needed to start getting rid of the Hebrew boys that were born?

Well, his first plan to get rid of the baby boys was to tell two of the Hebrew midwives (whose names were Shiphrah and Puah) to go ahead and help the Hebrew women deliver, and then kill the new babies if they were boys, but to let the girls live.

I don't know what made him think they would actually obey those orders. I wonder if Shiphrah and Puah were Egyptian or Hebrew themselves? Anyway, the Bible says they feared God and did not do what Pharaoh ordered. (Can you imagine actually obeying an order like that? It makes me shudder.)

So Pharaoh called them and asked them why they didn't obey his orders (that would be so scary - after all, he could order that they be killed).

And they said something along the lines of "Oh, Hebrew women aren't like Egyptian women - they have really fast labors, and we don't get there in time to kill the babies."

Sounds a bit like a lie to me. But the Bible doesn't specify, so maybe that was actually true. Regardless though, Shiphrah and Puah didn't obey Pharoah's orders because they knew it was more important to obey God's orders.

Amazingly Pharaoh did not kill the midwives, the Hebrews continued to multiply, and God was pleased with the midwives because they feared Him and chose to obey Him over Pharaoh.

In fact, God rewards the midwives by giving them families of their own.

Now, isn't that a happy story?

I know the rest of the story goes on and horrible things happen before God delivers the Hebrews out of Egypt. But I like that in this facet of the tale, we have a happy ending on our hands. It's comforting to me to hear another example of God rewarding those who fear Him.

And He does reward us when we choose to obey Him - sometimes we can see those rewards here on earth, and sometimes our rewards don't become evident until eternity, but they are there nonetheless.

Are there any stories or verses that you've read lately that you had forgotten about?




P.S. The above is just a paraphrase of the story in Exodus 1. You should go read it yourself if you're interested.

The Older I Get

I feel as though the older I get, the more I appreciate the Psalms. When I was young they just seemed like alot of poetical words put together, but not alot of them seemed to apply to my own life. But as the years go by, I find can relate more to David's struggles and problems, and the Psalms become ever more meaningful to me.

Now, whenever I'm facing a tough situation or trouble of any sort, I find myself flipping open my Bible to Psalms and just scanning. It usually doesn't take long to find something relevant and comforting. One of my favorites for times of trouble is Psalm 37. I thought I'd share a few verses from that Psalm today (Note: I picked these verses randomly from the entire Psalm, there are more verses in between the ones I'm sharing here).

Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;

The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.

I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.

The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.


So many good verses in Psalm 37! What a comfort to know that even when everything is against us, if we are doing what is right, the Lord is on our side! I hope you are comforted by the Word of God today.


A Scared Man, An Argument, And Barnabas

I read a funny verse a couple months ago.

I was reading in the gospel of Mark about when Jesus was betrayed and arrested. And these two verses caught my eye:

"A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind."
Mark 14:51-52


I believe every verse in the Bible is in there for a reason, even the ones that don't seem to fit - we just have to figure out the reason why. So I found myself wondering who that young man was, and why it was important for him to be mentioned there.

I told Derek about that verse and my puzzlement over it, and he whipped out his Life Application Study Bible and looked it up for me. Then he told me what his footnotes said, and the story started to make more sense.

In the footnotes, it noted that Christian tradition says that the young man in those verses was Mark, the author of the gospel of Mark. He is also known by the name of John Mark.

Well, that caught my attention, because I remembered that John Mark was who Paul and Barnabas argued about when they parted ways in Acts. I never fully understood why Paul didn't want John Mark to come with them on the missionary journey, and I never understood why Barnabas was so adamant about defending him. It always seemed like such a shame to have them separate over something like that.

So Derek did a bit more digging for me and this is what his Life Application Bible had to say about John Mark:

"Mistakes are effective teachers. Their consequences have a way of making lessons painfully clear. But those who learn from their mistakes are likely to develop wisdom. John Mark was a good learner who just needed some time and encouragement.

Mark was eager to do the right thing, but he had trouble staying with a task. In his Gospel, Mark mentions a young man (probably referring to himself) who fled in such fear during Jesus' arrest that he left his clothes behind. This tendency to run was to reappear later when Paul and Barnabas took him as their assistant on their first missionary journey. At their second stop Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.

It was a decision Paul did not easily accept. In preparing for their second journey two years later, Barnabas again suggested Mark as a traveling companion, but Paul flatly refused. As a result, the team was divided. Barnabas took Mark with him, and Paul chose Silas. Barnabas was patient with Mark, and the young man repaid his investment. Paul and Mark were later reunited and the older apostle became a close friend of the young disciple . . .

. . . Barnabas played a key role in Mark's life. He stood beside the young man despite his failure, giving him patient encouragement. Mark challenges us to learn from our mistakes and appreciate the patience of others. Is there a Barnabas in your life you need to thank for his or her encouragement to you?"


I really loved reading that explanation, because it explained a little better the decision of both Paul and Barnabas to part ways, and it gave such a happy ending to the whole story.

Paul didn't want John mark to come because he had proved himself unreliable before (Acts 13:13). I always assumed Paul was right, Barnabas was wrong, and John Mark must not have been a very good guy. But after reading this commentary, I was able to see the story in a new light.

Paul had good reason to be hesitant about bringing John Mark - he had left them on their first journey (Acts 13:13). Barnabas saw Mark's potential - he wanted to be an encouragement to Mark by giving him another chance and helping him to grow, and that's why he was so insistent on bringing Mark. Mark wasn't a "bad guy", but just a young Christian who needed some encouragement and a second chance.

I liked reading about this, because it made me realize that neither of them was necessarily wrong in the argument - Paul had a good reason for not wanting Mark to come, and Barnabas had a good reason for wanting him to come. And a good thing came out of their decision to split - not only were they able to spread the gospel to two different parts of the world, instead of just one, but Mark was encouraged and grew through being allowed to go on the journey. Paul comments later on how Mark became helpful to him in his ministry (2 Timothy 4:11), even calling him "my son Mark" (1 Peter 5:13).

This wasn't the first time Barnabas encouraged someone. He was such an encouragement to the early church that they started to call him Barnabas, which means "Son of Encouragement" (his name was Joseph originally - Acts 4:36).

When Paul first became a Christian, the church in Jerusalem didn't believe that he was really a believer (Acts 9:26), which was understandable because of how he had persecuted them before. It was Barnabas who took him under his wing and introduced him to the apostles (Acts 9:27). Barnabas opened the doors for Paul to be accepted in the church at Jerusalem by being an encouragement to Paul and accepting him.

The quote that I shared above about John Mark asks if you have a Barnabas in your life that you need to thank for encouraging you, and I would encourage you to do that. But I have another question for you - can you think of someone in your life to whom you could be a Barnabas?

Barnabas is one of those quiet heroes. Those who encourage others aren't in the public eye - if you choose to step out of your comfort zone and encourage someone, you probably won't be recognized for it.

We'll never know what would have happened to Paul and John Mark if Barnabas wasn't there to encourage them. And you may never know the difference you make in someone's life just by being there to lift them up when they are down, by being their Barnabas.

At least you won't know on earth - but I think there must be great rewards in Heaven for those who choose to encourage others. I hope you step out in faith and choose to be an encouragement to someone today. It could make all the difference in the world.



Trump, Candy Corn, And Boo

I found a stray dog last night. As soon as I got home from work I saw this little black dog playing with Quincy and Harvey. His name is Boo. The owner's number has been disconnected. I called the veterinary clinic that gave him his rabies shot, hoping they could find the owner, but no call back as of Thursday night, which is when I'm writing this. Boo just may be having a doggy sleepover with us until I can call again in the morning.

In other news, I'm dying for some Zachary Gourmet Candy Corn. Remember, the kind I included in that giveaway last year? Boy, it was some good stuff. I went on a candy corn hunt at Walmart, but they don't have it one the shelf yet. Boo! Boo as in I don't like that, not Boo as in the dog.



I heard on the radio yesterday that Donald Trump is trying to buy out one of the real estate investors that owns that piece of land at Ground Zero that they want to build a mosque on. If he gets it, he'll require that the mosque be built five blocks away instead. I hope he gets it - I think that would be a nice peaceable solution to the whole problem. Go you, Donald Trump! I'm definitely watching The Apprentice this year. Always kind of liked the Donald. Here's an article about Trump's effort at settling the Ground Zero Mosque debate.




Oh rats, I just read some more news, and the guy declined Trump's offer. Boo! As in, I don't like that. Oh well. It was a good effort.

Derek has had to work late all this week (budget season), so I'm left home all alone these evenings. How depressing. I think I'm going to watch a girl movie and eat some fudge tonight.

I just bought an ESV Bible, and I'm super excited about it! Why? Because according to John Macarthur (who I happen to trust as a Bible teacher), the New American Standard Version and the English Standard Version are the most accurate translations of the Bible (meaning, the most accurate to what the original Hebrew and Greek were saying). He also gave the New King James Version an honorable mention as an accurate translation too, which is the version I currently use. But I'm excited to be able to compare in the ESV now. Which Bible translation do you use?

I'll close this totally random post now. Please proceed to leave me any totally random comments that you may desire to compose.

Idle Words

I was reading in Matthew the other day, and I came across this verse:

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word that men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words your words you will be condemned."
Matthew 12:35-37


That's a pretty scary passage - I shudder to think of the words I will have to give account for on the day of judgement. I'll be forgiven for them, because Jesus' blood covers all my sins, including my words, but I'd rather keep the list of things to account for short, wouldn't you?

It's so easy to say things we shouldn't. When you're angry especially, but I'm not talking about just that. Notice the verse doesn't say that you will give account of just every hurtful word, or every word spoken in anger. It says we will give account of every idle word.

I think that includes the times when we inadvertently say something hurtful, or don't think about the other person's feelings. The times that we let something slip that we shouldn't have. The times when we don't say as much as we should, or don't speak up when we should. All the times that we don't think before we speak.

See what I mean? That's scary.

Thank the Lord that even though we may have to give an account of every sin at the day of judgement, for those of us who are Christians, our Lord Jesus will step in. We may feel unworthy, because we are, but all He'll have to do is to reach out His hands and remind us again that He died to pay for that - and we'll never have to think about those sins again. His blood has already washed them away, and He claimed us as His children from the beginning of time.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


-Robert Lowry, from the hymn Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus



Spring Part Two. I Think I Understand.


So I've been trying to determine if there is anything good to say about Spring. I started my musings yesterday with the post "Spring. Bleh." I feel like it must be a little ungrateful to despise one season so much when the Lord made each season for our enjoyment, so I'm determined to find a good thought in my head about Spring.

I guess it's kind of fun, because it's a time for things to be born. I have a friend who ranches, and the baby lambs are absolutely adorable. So I guess that's one thing.

I suppose Spring is a time of rebirth. Seeds that have been lying dormant since they fell off of dying plants last Autumn are starting to crack open and send out little shoots (even though here we don't actually see those shoots until May or June).

Birds are flying in again after being gone for so long. We did see a bluebird the other day. That was pretty exciting.

The most significant positive that I would give Spring is that it's the time that we celebrate the Resurrection of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus.

I wonder what it's like during the Spring in Israel. What is it like in the country where it all happened at this time of year?

I know the Lord purposefully planned to be crucified and resurrected during Passover, because He is our perfect Passover Lamb. He is the final sacrifice to cover our sins, for those of us that believe in Him. Since He did sacrifice His life for us, so that our sins would be paid for once and for all and it would never be necessary to sacrifice another lamb, it would seem appropriate for Him to give Himself to atone for our sins during Passover.

But I wonder - I think the Lord must have purposefully planned Passover to occur during the Spring. And if He purposefully planned Passover to occur during the Spring, He purposefully planned for His death and resurrection and to occur during the Spring.

I wonder - do you think He chose Spring because it is a time of rebirth?

But then He created Spring too. He created the whole idea of rebirth.

Maybe He created Spring to be the time when He would rise from the dead.

Maybe He decided that the seasons would happen the way they do - with things dying in the winter and being reborn in the spring - to be a reflection of His death and resurrection.

Even though Spring starts as such an ugly season, it ends with glorious new life. Just as the ugliness and seemingly hopeless situation of His death ended in the glorious event of His Resurrection from the dead.

Maybe I don't mind Spring quite as much as I thought I did. Because the Lord obviously chose this time of year for His supreme act of mercy and grace to save us to take place, so there must be something special about it.

The Lord created everything in this world for His Glory. Absolutely everything. And I think He must be happy when we look a little deeper at everything in His creation, even when certain things may seem ugly or unnecessary at first, to find His glory in the things He has made.

Because His glory and eternal attributes can be seen in all the things that are made. Even in the ugliness and subsequent beauty (yes, I suppose I admit it - there is beauty) of Spring.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Romans 1:20



"The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said."

Matthew 28:5-6A



Finally Enjoying Spring, The Season Of Our Lord's Resurrection,

If He Couldn't See Your Heart . . .

As I've said multiple times before, one of the things I love about having an iPod is the podcasts. I love being able to subscribe to podcasts and listen to them anytime I want. I enjoy listening to music, but I get bored of music after a little while and I just like to listen to other radio programs. Hence my obsession with talk radio.

Well, right after I got my iPod for Christmas I also subscribed to some Christian radio podcasts. I love listening to certain Bible programs or the Focus on the Family radio program, but they're never on when I can listen to them - but now I can listen whenever I want!

I have about a forty-five minute drive to work each way, so it's the perfect time to listen to my lovely podcasts.

One of my favorite sermon programs is Grace To You, which is John MacArthur's ministry. I think he gives good, solid, biblical teaching in his sermons.

This past Friday I was listening to a sermon series by John MacArthur called "God, Satan, and Angels". You can download that series for free at John MacArthur's website, or subscribe to the Grace To You podcast - it aired in 2009 so you can sync the episodes of this series to your iPod that way as well.

I just finished the part of the series on the attributes of God, and in the last sermon I listened to, John MacArthur said something that really hit home for me.

He was talking about one of God's attributes - His Omniscience, meaning that God knows absolutely everything. He knows what we do wrong and what we do right, He knows our motives, He knows everything that's going on in the world, He knows how things are going to turn out in the end, He even knows how things would have turned out if we had chosen to act differently. He is absolutely all-knowing.

To illustrate the point that God knows what's going on in our hearts, John MacArthur told the story about the Lord Jesus asking Peter whether Peter loved Him. After Jesus asked Peter several times and Peter told Jesus that he did love Him, Peter finally said "Lord, You know all things; You know I love you."

MacArthur then went on to say that it's a good thing the Lord is omniscient, because if He wasn't omniscient there are some days He might not even know that we love Him, because it wouldn't be obvious.

Wow.

I was really convicted by that. I had never thought of that before, because obviously the Lord is omniscient and even though I mess up and do wrong things, He can see my heart and knows that I still love Him, even though I'm not acting like it. But I shouldn't just rely on the Lord's omniscience to give Him the knowledge of my love for Him - I should show it. It breaks my heart a little bit to think about the days when there really is no outward sign that I love the Lord - that I belong to Him, that I follow Him, that I serve Him.

How ashamed I am when I think of my behavior in that light! Because if the Lord couldn't see my heart, much of the time He might not be able to see that I love Him.

No one is omniscient but God. No one else can see my heart. No one else can see my heart. They can only see my actions. What a sobering thought. If there are days when the Lord might not be able to see my love for Him if He wasn't omniscient, how can I expect anyone else to see it?

I need to live my life with one constant question in my mind - if the Lord couldn't see my heart, would He be able to tell that I love Him right now? When I'm in the middle of an argument I need to ask myself this. When I'm having a bad day and feeling grumpy I need to ask myself this. Whenever I'm just living my daily life I need to ask myself this.

Because I belong to Jesus, God chooses to see me in the light of the righteousness of Christ, and not in the light of my own sins. He chooses to look past my daily failings and see my desire to follow Him and serve Him - what mercy He gives me, to choose to look past the obvious sins and consider my heart instead! In the light of such mercy it is such a little thing to serve the Lord through my daily actions - but how hard that little thing is at times! But He only asks that I continue to try - that I never stop trying.

No one but You, Lord, can see my heart - they can only see how I live my life. Help me to show them my love for You through every action.

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