Thursday, July 30, 2009

John Piper Video

I wanted to share John Piper's YouTube video: "No, Mr. President." It's a little outdated now, but I find the message to be incredibly powerful even still.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Seek First

Some thoughts on money and needs from Matthew 5-7:

1) Make sure your focus is on Heavenly things
  • Store up treasures in Heaven (6:19-21)
  • Serve God, not money (6:21)
  • Seek His Kingdom, His righteousness (6:33)
2) Ask God to provide for your needs
  • Ask, seek, knock (7:7-11)

Matthew 6:33

Jesus tells us that we aren't to be anxious about anything in this life, but certainly not when it comes to meeting our financial needs. Not only does worrying not add an hour to our life (6:27), but it also displays a lack of trust in the One who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the grass of the fields. Thus, Jesus ends his mini-sermon on being anxious with the command to "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." (6:33)

When I was younger, I remember taking this verse to mean "Seek God," and in some ways, that's pretty close. But having really focused on kingdom principles lately in studying the gospels, Jesus is actually giving two commands:

1) Seek the Kingdom of God

2) Seek His righteousness

The first, I believe, is related not just to seeking "God in Heaven." The Kingdom is now; the Kingdom is here. We are in His Kingdom, with a purpose. I believe that is part one of what we seek--our calling, our place in His Kingdom. How can I serve? How I can I be a witness to those outside the Kingdom? Or, to use the word Jesus had just spoken, seeking the Kingdom of God is simply stating, "Your Kingdom come [here, in this place you've given me to rule], your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven" (6:10). It means not focusing on your problem at all, but focusing on eternal things, focusing on how you can be used, and focusing on how you can be selfless and loving toward others.

The second part, then, goes all the way back to chapter five--righteous living: His righteousness. Jesus gives a new law in these three chapters that steps up the standard. If it seems hopeless and discouraging that we could be righteous, it's not. It may seem impossible, from our limited view, to think that we can be useful in His Kingdom or that we can be selfless and loving toward others--as He has commanded us--but we can. That's another blessing, another gracious act, that Jesus delivered on the cross: "For our sake, He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (1 Cor 5:21).

In seeking the Kingdom of God and in pursuing His righteousness, Jesus promises our needs will be met. But, as we saw from psalm 62, the trust and hope that we must place in Him as our source of security is absolutely necessary.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Psalm 62

I was meditating on Psalm 62, and as my heart this morning was a little overwhelmed with things to do and bills to pay, the Lord just reminded me of who He is and how securely I can trust in Him for all things. I thought I'd share for anyone who also needs to be reminded today...

Psalm 62

1 Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
2 He only is 1 my rock and 2 my salvation;
He is 3 my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.

3 How long will you attack a man?
You shall be slain, all of you,
Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.
4 They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth,
But they curse inwardly. Selah

5 My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For 4 my expectation is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
7 In God is my salvation and 5 my glory;
The rock of 6 my strength,
And 7 my refuge, is in God.

8 Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

9 Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor.
10 Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.

11 God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.
12 Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;
For You render to each one according to his work.


1. My Rock: Figuratively—someone who is strong, stable and dependable.

2. My Salvation: Hebrew meaning—help, deliverance, victory. In the abstract sense it is something [already] saved or delivered.

3. My Stronghold: Literally—fortified place or fortress; place of survival or refuge. A defense.

4. My Expectation: Hope—to have confidence or trust in something with the expectation of its fulfillment.

5. My Glory: Hebrew meaning—weight, honor, esteem, glory, majesty, abundance, wealth. Poetically it refers to a soul or a person.

6. My Strength: The power to resist strain or stress; durability. The state, property, or quality of being strong. The power to resist attack; impregnability.

7. My Refuge: Literally—protection or shelter in times of hardship, a source of help, relief, or comfort in times of trouble.

Therefore I will…

Trust: Hebrew meaning—to attach oneself, to trust, to confide in, to feel safe, to be confident, to be secure, to be careless. The word expresses firmness and solidity. The folly of relying upon another type of security is strongly contrasted with depending on God alone. This type of hope is a confident expectation, not a constant anxiety.

Pour out: Hebrew meaning—to spill forth, to pour out, to shed. Metaphorically, it means to bare one’s soul, i.e. in tears and complaints. This word is used to describe the helpless condition of the psalmist.

My heart: Hebrew meaning—literally in noun form, it is the heart, the center or middle of something, meaning the physical heart, the blood-pumping organ. However, in the bible, the whole spectrum of the human emotions is attributed to the heart.

My gracious father, once again I have neglected to remember who you are and who I am in you. You are my rock. You never change father. You are constant and dependable. You will not fail me. Your promises are true. You are stable. You are my salvation. I am depraved apart from you. I was in need of a savior, and you saved me. You are my help. You have delivered me. You are my defense. You are my stronghold—my refuge in time of need. You are the place that I can run to—my shelter. You are my glory. This means that you are my esteem, my honor, my wealth, my abundance, my happiness—you are, Jesus, my soul. All of me! You are my strength. “The rock of my strength.” You give me the ability to restrain, the ability to resist strain or stress, and the power to resist attack. And because you are my rock, and the rock of my strength, this strength is dependable; it is a constant source. You are my refuge—my source of help, relief, aid and comfort. You are my protection—my shelter. I am reminded of Colossians 2:10 “You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” You complete me father, nothing else in this world. You are better. “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” You are all these things and more. Your very character and nature is indescribable…there are not words enough to cover your attributes. I will meditate on who the word says you are when I am at a loss. And I am reminded that you demand preeminence in my life. You are to be first, “for the Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously.” (James 4:5). But so often I fail you Lord. Instead of surrendering to you, I try to reign and control. Instead of trusting, I worry. Instead of resting, I move. My heart, Lord, my motive, truly is to please you in all things, to glorify you in everything I do. But I don’t trust. I don’t rest. My flesh wins, and I end up grieving your heart. I am sorry. I can say it no other way. I will pour out my heart before you. I will give you my complaints, my tears and all of me. If the heart is the whole spectrum of human emotions, then I will pour out to you my whole heart. You are a refuge for me. And I will place my trust—my hope—in you. In nothing else. For you never fail! You never waiver. I will attach myself to you and confide in you. In you I can be secure. I can be careless—I love this. It means that I can be without a care—without a worry. You supply every need of mine. I will not want. In you, I have a confident expectation—NOT a constant anxiety. You are sufficient. You sustain. You are faithful. Give me these desires of my heart—may they be truths in my heart. Your love for me is irrevocable. It is unchanging. May I always trust in that. May you strengthen my Spirit—it is willing, though my flesh is weak. I need you father. Remind me of who you are, when I am weak and forget. Be that still soft whisper in my heart, to take refuge in my confidant, in my rock. I love you. May my life be a reflection of that. Continue to teach. Continue to grow. In Jesus’ powerful name—let it be so!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A new house; a faithful God

Well, I am going to "brave" adding pictures to a post....

Here are a few pictures from our new house:

We love our home, and feel absolutely blessed to have it. God is so good!
Sometimes, when you ask God for something, it takes a little patience. Always, it requires faith and trusting in Him...and releasing control. But, in the end, He is faithful. When I think about the last semester, and our "house hunting" experiences, I am overwhelmed to see how God's hand has guided us in all things. First, He guided us financially to save, and to be good stewards of His money. He taught us to trust Him, which was a lesson more than needed in the final few weeks of getting the house. Second, He guided us to wait for His best. At one point, we almost bought a house that we really thought we wanted. When I look at this house that He gave us, I see not only what he kept us from doing, but also that in waiting, His greater blessing was yet to come! Finally, He guided us to trust Him and lean on Him, rather than ourselves. There were moments I thought we'd never find a house. Then, when we found this house, there were moments when I thought it wasn't going to work out. But He'd gently nudge us, and say, "trust me." And we did. What a wonderful way to see in reality the meaning of Proverbs 16:9 come to life!
"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."
p.s. I won't go into the details for how long adding pictures took me to figure out! :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Faithfulness of God

Today is mine and Hal's 11 month anniversary! And I know that soon we won't be counting "months" anymore (pretty much after this month...), so I wanted to mark this day as important. We have seen God's faithfulness in incredible ways these last 11 months. Marriage has been fun and exciting-- like everyone said our "honeymoon-first-year" would be. We've laughed a lot. Taken a lot of road trips. And enjoyed our "quality time," that is essential to the function of our relationship! But it's also been a learning curve... learning about grace and forgiveness, learning to love someone more than yourself (!), which also means learning to be selfless. I think the greatest lesson in these 11 months though is that I feel like Hal and I have taken everything that has been thrown at us this year--and walked through it together. God has shown me what it looks like to become one, and even though I think "becoming one" takes a lifetime, I think it's an amazing feeling to know that no matter what I face or what he faces (or what we face), we will go through it together. If I've learned anything in these 11 months it's that our hearts have been bound, and even when I want to be mad or if I want to be hurt, I can't stay disconnected from him because we're one.

We closed on our first house on Monday. I can't really describe the feeling that gives me-- accomplishment, pride (in a good way), and yet humility (at God's goodness). To drive up to our home, I was overwhelmed with joy at God's faithfulness in working everything out. I know that Hal and I won't spend a lifetime here, but this will always be our first house. We'll always come back to Lubbock (if we ever move away ;-)) and say "That's the first house we ever lived in." And then we'll have a bunch of stories to tell (probably beginning with Riley did this and Charlie did that--and remember how we used to always do this or that). I just think that's an amazing beginning. And even though Hal and I's "beginning" began August 2, 2008-- this is another beginning. A new chapter. And I feel very blessed to be turning the page, as we continue to grow and mature.