Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Is Your Family an Idol?

Wrote this devotional for a mom at our church. Hubby said to post it, so here it is :)
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I feel like a lot of motherhood is worry. My son is in the stage where lots of things go in the mouth and lots of exploring happens. Which means anything is a hazard. I told David I feel like my danger radar is just like in the movies when someone has like super technological glasses and when they look around the room they can identify things that the naked eye can’t. Like I feel like I have beams that shoot out to all the hazards so that I can anticipate them and prevent bad things from happening to my wild child. And I'm maybe more prone to worry than other people, having been raised by worriers.

But the thing is, I don’t want to worry all the time. And God says not to worry. Recently, I sent David on an errand with the baby so I could get some work done. And because my brain works the way it does, I thought, what if they don’t return? And my stomach started churning as it does often, and I tried to think what my next steps would be. But then the Holy Spirit stepped in, calmed me, and said “God can be trusted.” Which means, yes, things can go wrong, but no matter what God can be trusted. He holds their lives in his hands. If it’s their time, according to His good purposes, then He can be trusted. If it’s not their time, and he protects them from harm, He can be trusted.

How good it is to have a God like ours who is trustworthy and good ALL THE TIME, no matter what. One thing I pray about a lot is….where does my contentment come from? I pray that my children and my husband would not become idols in my life, taking the place of God.

I want to talk about the story of Abraham and Isaac from Genesis 22:

Abraham Tested

Abraham was a man called by God. God told him he would make him the father of many nations. Flash forward to when he’s 100 years old, his wife finally gives birth for the first time, and they have Isaac. So Abe had been waiting a very long time to have the son that God promised he would have. That’s a very long time. And even though people lived longer then, it was still past their childbearing years to give birth at 90 years old, as Sarah was. So it was truly a miracle that they finally have Isaac. You can imagine how much they loved him and loved his little giggles and loved watching him grow. And they probably watched the sharp edges of their hut or whatever they lived in so Isaac wouldn’t hurt himself. ;)

One day, God says this to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
Pastor Tim Keller writes, “This was the ultimate test. Isaac was now EVERYTHING to Abraham, as God’s call makes clear. He does not refer to the boy as “Isaac,” but as “your son, your only son, whom you love.” Abraham’s affection had become adoration. Previously, Abraham’s meaning in life had been dependent on God’s word. Now it was becoming dependent on Isaac’s love and well-being. The center of Abraham’s life was shifting. God was not saying you cannot love your son, but that you must not turn a loved one into a counterfeit god. If anyone puts a child in the place of the true God, it creates an idolatrous love that will smother the child and strangle the relationship.”

Now, there’s more to this story in understanding why God would call a parent to sacrifice their child. But ultimately what God is doing is refining Abraham. Our God is gracious to us when he destroys our idols. An idol is anything that takes the place of God. And our idols will destroy us. We have a God-sized hole in our hearts that only He can fill. So when we find ourselves searching for something to satisfy, we fill up that hole with success, or we rest in the number in our bank account, or on the scale, or we say “at least I have my family.” There was a commercial for something, I don’t remember, but it basically aired during the Christmas season and said the best thing in life is family, and if we have nothing else, we have family. And my heart just ached every time I saw it. Because the reason for the season isn’t family. It’s Jesus. Your family isn’t the end all be all, and they can’t be. But Jesus is and can be and always was. And His love is better than life itself.

Our children are an amazing blessing and gift. And because they are children, and need constant attention and supervision (at least my son does), they demand a lot from our brains and energy. And it is right to love them, care for them, help them, be their mother. But if they’re the reason you live, and the source of your joy and contentment, you will never be satisfied. Because we weren’t meant to be satisfied by anything other than God himself. I struggle with this all the time. One of my biggest fears is that something will happen to David or Zeke. But God can be trusted. And my contentment must. Come. from. Him. Because anything in this life can be taken away in an instant.

The truth of all of this that we all are more sinful than we know, but loved more than we can imagine. And because Jesus went to the cross for us, we can be saved from false gods and the deception the shiny things this world has to offer.  I pray that God alone would be our deepest longing and greatest treasure, and that we would be able to put our children in their rightful place as wonderful, beautiful, precious gifts that God has given us for us to have for a time. I pray this for you, and for your beautiful family, that you would know Jesus as your one true love, and be able to breathe a little easier because God can be trusted. And he is good ALL THE TIME. NO MATTER WHAT.

Friday, July 8, 2016

2016

The year my son was born. 

Police violence. Crowd retaliation. Racism strong. Two ugly presidential candidates. 

#Dallas
#AltonSterling
#PhilandoCastile
#BlackLivesMatter

A bombing in Turkey.
A shooting in Orlando. 
Two friends with cancer.
A couple at church losing their first born baby. 

How long, oh Lord? How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?

How long must our hearts be heavy with news, with the future, with our presents, with injustice, with sin, with hatred, with sadness and grief and weighed down joy?

Lord, have mercy. You are full of patience, unending patience and mercy. Waiting to rain down. Waiting to draw in those whom You have called. You are patient. Our violence is impatient. We are drowning in it. 

My son was born this year. The year it seems the world is going downhill. It seems it's worse than it has been. The worst presidential race with the worst candidates. Inevitably they beat out seemingly nicer individuals. My heart hurts each time I hear more news. And I find it on Facebook, a platform more and more stuffed with bad news and cries of pain and people crying out for justice. People who don't know You Lord. They don't know only You can restore justice and peace. You alone. 

God alone. How long, oh Lord? Have mercy on us. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Our God is Love

Let’s hear it from God’s Word.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 

We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and He in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Lord, make me perfect in love. Because I fear. Finances, death, disease, my plans not going my way, babies coming too soon, babies not coming at all, what if this happens, what if I don’t want it, what if God is out for me, doesn’t really love me. God is love. 

Not that we loved God.

But that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 

And so we know and we rely on the love God has for us. 

Lord, help me rely. 

Lord, help me know Your love. 

Lord, help me love.


Lord, be my love. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

LENT



I have felt so dry for so long. Too many things, too many plans, too busy, too rushed, too tired, too ready for wedding planning to be over, too much wavering from my God. Too much doubt about how much He loves me. Too much grumbling and discontent and rudeness coming from my mouth. My grumbling and giving in to distraction have kept me dry and cracked my heart.

But the Lord is mighty, and answers my heart’s longing for more of Him. 

It started with Colossians. A refresher into the supremacy of Christ. If we have hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that His blood covers our unrighteousness, then the LORD considers us holy and blameless in His sight! Finally a desire for the Word! Finally, my heart is soaking it up.

And a change in my job has given me time (finally!!!) to go to BSF. And I read Matthew and Isaiah and Romans and Corinthians and am reminded that JESUS HAS CLOTHED ME WITH SALVATION. It is because of HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS that I am SET FREE from sin. Hallelujah!!!

And I know I need two things. In this season, in my waiting on wedding and working on packing and living in transition and unraveling the busy, I dedicate this Lent to 

1.       giving up complaining
2.       practicing being present

I have grown into the type of person I don’t like being around. I complain way too stinkin' much. Icky. And I have allowed it, planted it, watered it, added Miracle Gro—you get it. So enough.

And presence. I have a journal I use for BSF. I was reading some notes I took back in 2012, of a teaching leader I greatly admire, who knows the Lord and does what He says and I want to be her. In some notes on Philippians from February 15, 2012, she said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Wherever I am, I’m in a million places at once. Wedding details, job stuff, babysitting, feeling tired, don’t have time for myself, grumble grumble, more wedding planning, did I pay that bill, what do I need from the grocery store, what are we doing this weekend, when am I going to have time for myself?! I need to meet with this person and this person and skype and catch up and clean and launder and clean again and wedding plan some more and oh yeah I’m supposed to be working. You get it. 

I need to slow down, be in the present. I want to practice contentment. I don’t want to be a mother who is flustered all the time and annoyed at her kids. I want to joyfully lick the jelly of their little fingers and laugh at how cute they are and BE in that moment with them. Peaceful. Present. In this season of my life, before marriage, before kids, in this time that I have, I want to practice contentment. 

 Last night I picked up One Thousand Gifts after way too long away from it, and Ann Voskamp quoted Elisabeth Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there.” My heart flipped, because I know that was God, getting it into my head: “I love you. Be present. Be still. Give me your weary and I will clothe you with joy.”

LENT.

Monday, December 9, 2013

We Call it "Blessed"



Today, I am grateful. It has been six months since I have last written, and much has happened since then! I am engaged to a man who is incredible, intelligent, imperfect, and impeccably perfect for me. How great is God’s faithfulness! There is nothing better than to be close to this God. His love is better than life. This love He has given me is a gift that I do not deserve, and is far better than I imagined. He is a snow-shoveling, early-rising, hard-working, book-loving, selfless man who seeks the Lord and loves His Word. This is the one I have waited for :) 

My mom calls me a lucky girl. We call it blessed. More to come…

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hudson Taylor

I am reading "Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission."

I am astounded. Convicted. Heart stirred. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China, and lived every moment in surrender and service to Christ. I am not revering him, but Christ's power in him. It's funny, I read maybe just 6 pages and had to stop. Wanted to digest it slowly and savor the goodness of the power of Christ in this man's life. It all points to Christ. And He is so good. And 20 pages later my heart is burning for the unsaved, and for all the ways my life should change to be of greater service to Christ Jesus. And I felt like I had to tell someone, and so I am telling you.

You should read this book. Even just read the first 26 pages.

It. is. that. good. Because He. is. that. good.

Now go buy it, amazon it, google it, library it, find it, read it. For the sake of the Kingdom of Christ and because of our duty in the Great Commission by the Lord Jesus himself, "Go ye into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."

Amen and amen.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How Mercy Frees Us to Worship


Nature Love 

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

How great is Your faithfulness! Knowing where I stand, I look to the sky. And in a moment I am at rest. I breathe deep.  The tops of trees, the wind and the clouds capture me to Worship. I am in love with the Lord, and I smile. I rest and worship and keep taking in breaths too big for my lungs because I want it all, and I want to keep smelling the air’s flowers. And the pine trees make no sound but move, and they remind me of Michigan, where the Lord brought me to rest and trust, where I laid to sleep on a pillow with sailboats, and dipped beneath a blanket and breathed deep and knew it is well and caught sleep in the afternoon. Any time I look down, I think of the world. But when I look up—I breathe in instinct and, intending to do nothing but stare at the clouds, I worship. Everything in me sings a silent praise. My sin is great, but my heart is stirred, for the Truth He brings to my heart—that I look up, read and declare—saves me. His mercy frees me to worship. And I will worship forever.