Friday, June 6, 2014

Pull Up a Chair

Can I recommend some reading for that lawn chair near your chilled iced-tea glass?

(If you are a mother of small children, use your imagination….)

Mom/Wife/Hospitality Focus:
Glimpses of Grace, Gloria Furman
This is a practical yet substantive look at serving God in your everyday calling as wife, mother, and Chief Do-Everything-Else. How does my life as God’s child flesh this out? How do my frustrations and flops fit in? The author uses transparency and truth to encourage and provoke thought.  Easy-read chapters.

Devotional thoughts to push you beyond your own four walls:
 Gospel Meditations for Missions

With the same gospel meatiness as their other devotionals, the authors  provide a passage of Scripture, then briefly draw truth, insight, and conviction from it text.  If facts and Biblical information are all you want, look elsewhere. But if you want a heart-impacting yet simple selection that compels response from Biblical truth, this devotional offers an oasis.

Parenting Mindset + Method: 
Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of God.    Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
I hope to offer this book in our Fall ’14 Ladies Bible Study,  especially for our young moms.  What is so significant about this book is the strikingly different perspective from which parenting (and all its requirement) springs.  The chapters answer these questions, Why do we insist on obedience? What is the purpose of good behavior? How does correction and training fit into the paradigm of the gospel (children’s sin + God’s grace)?  This book is engaging and thorough and  practical all stirred into one refreshing drink.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How Do You Wake Up?

The Alarm. A big yawn.  The pillow-adjustment that begs, please….just let me stay a few more minutes!

It’s morning.

How do I live in the gospel for today?

In a conversation with a friend recently, she shared her “first-thing-after-waking-up” question that she ponders silently before getting out of bed.

How does the gospel impact this day?

Literally, she asks herself and then answers (not out loud, of course).  And it sets the tone for her day.
This practical, ‘gospel-focused’ strategy intrigued me, and I’ve been trying to do it each morning, too.
Sure, the truths of Christ’s death and resurrection provided my entrance into the Christian life. But how do these same truths impact my day-to-day routines, my ongoing responsibilities,  and my responses to all that life throws me (the good & bad)? 

 How do I live in the gospel  for today?

I’ve thought of (and pondered in the early morning in my own head)  at least four  ways:

1.       Gratitude. Jesus died for me so that I now stand (or lie, at this early morning point) as His chosen child, adopted, rescued, and completely righteous in his sight. Wow! What a reality to wake up to! It gives me hope and joy.

2.   Purpose. My identity as God’s child pushes me to think past the dirty sink of dishes, the extra pounds that make me feel unattractive, the grudge that I was nursing from yesterday’s offense. It beckons me beyond the to-do list that turns me into a nazi, and points my gaze past the call of this world’s pleasure cruise of entertainments, Instead, the cross winsomely beckons me to think BIG, to look LONG, to consider my part in what God might be doing in my world.

3.   Provision. For responsibilities that seem impossible, unpleasant, or just mundane & wearisome, the gospel points me to reliance on God, to His power through Christ. The impossible becomes possible because of supernatural power. He can enable me. And so as I mentally inventory the day’s callings for me, I ask for God’s provision and help. I claim his promises of strength and power. And I plead for his wisdom and enablement. Then I walk forward in faith-driven obedience.

4.   Power. I have ongoing sin struggles and temptations that loom large. Will I ever gain victory? Self pity (why is it always so hard? ), obsessive thinking (paralysis by analysis), and discontentment (where is God not enough?, let me count the ways…) are my regular companions. Yet, before I slink out of bed, I remind myself of truth: Christ has already won the battle over my sin, and He can empower me to live in this reality. It begins with one Spirit-dependent choice at a time.

And so as I lie in those first moments of waking up, I pray:  God, give me a view of the Cross and all that you provided for me that connects directly to this day.

Enable me to live in the gospel.

How does the gospel impact the calling of your day? 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grace, part 2

What does grace look like when there is no acknowledgment of wrong, no admission nor repentance?
Do you have relationships (or offenses from the past) that reflect this reality?

Ephesians 4:32 gives insight.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
We are to forgive as God forgives.

But how does God relate to those who do not acknowledge their offense?
Some thoughts:

1. He loves the offender, while he is wicked, still an enemy of Himself.

2. He extends common grace (benevolent circumstances and favor) to those who haven’t yet accepted his offer of salvation.

3. He leans with a posture toward reconciliation and forgiveness, with no bitterness or “holding it over” the offender.  He extends the gentle invitation to reconciliation, even though the love is clearly undeserved.

4. Motivated by selfless love, He initiates the offer of forgiveness and pursues the offender, even though this comes at great cost (his life), and some will never seek his merciful pardon.

5. His grace never minimizes the injustice of the offense, nor eliminates the consequences of the wrong. Instead the weight of these is taken on, and is fully borne,  by Himself.

To translate that into our lives, in the hard, painful, unfair situations of our suffering,  it is….well, impossible.
Apart from God’s enabling power, that is.
(And there may be caveats of wisdom to consider in the individual situations of wrongs and offense.)

But to the degree that I image God’s forgiveness, I image God, speak His message, display His grace.

The same grace He showed (and continues to shower upon) me.

Friday, May 16, 2014


I’ve been thinking about grace a lot lately.

Not the high brow grace of theological lingo or religious liturgy (though those kinds are not invalid), but the kind of everyday grace that reaches out to each other in compassion and forgivenesss, and that is essential to grab hold of as we relate to each other.

What does this grace look like?
And how is it played out in messiness of sinful hearts and individual choices?

1. Grace sees the sin of another through the lens of the ugliness of my own heart.  Both of us are equal debtors to God’s mercy and forgiveness.  Grace does not mean we dismiss nor ignore the consequences of sin, but it does resist the natural bent to hold some kinds of sin to a higher “yuck” factor status in our own minds.  We are all broken.

2. Grace looks forward instead of looking back. It is easy to rehearse the evil. It can feel good to nurse the hurt. It can feel righteous to spotlight the offense. But God promises forgiveness that is complete and final. If our holy God can promise ‘no condemnation’, than we have no excuse not to do likewise.

3. Grace relates through the hands and feet of active love that isn’t afraid of the mess. Or more accurately, grace moves toward people,  despite one’s own fear!  I don’t always know how to relate to the one who has messed up, who has apologized but it is still awkward. What can I offer to others who may be hurting in the situation?  I don’t always know what to say.  But I resist the tendency to withdraw, to assume someone else will speak. Instead I put 1 Corinthians 13 in “drive” and accelerate appropriately.

4. Grace prays and strives for the unity of the Gospel in all things.  There is someOne bigger than the offense, ---even the deep hurt of what it may cost me personally, and the desire for His glory unifies us. We all kneel in utter desperate need equally at the foot of the Cross.  Grace reconciles. Gathers together around the gospel.  Grace grabs the other’s hand and affirms, Christ has already won the victory for both of us. Let’s march forward to pursue His fame.

These are statements in the context of acknowledged wrong and repentance.  How does grace look when these items are absent?
Let’s look at that in another post….soon.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

In the Middle of Your Day....and Mine (edited)

If you read to the end of the previous post, and you read about the parking ticket by unnamed "Child"

This was an APRIL's FOOL joke on gullible parents. 

Whew....sidestepped that parenting dilemma!
And enjoyed a really good laugh from a well-thought out prank

Chuckle. Chuckle. 
 I DO love my kids...each one a unique gift!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In the Middle of Your Day....and Mine

For those in a life season filled with sticky toddler hands, early mornings (or late nights), battles with little wills, and lots of “take care of me” tasks, I offer this encouragement:

God sees, knows, and smiles 
at your life of love. 

He is pleased with every hour, minute, and mundane, sacrificial chore.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”. Heb 13:16
Perhaps even more importantly, this calling is connected to the grand gospel enterprise;
Titus 2
“…train the young wives to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (vs 4-5).
.so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior (vs 10)
The way you respond to your defiant two-year old, react to the broken dishwasher, deal with the temptations to be discontent, and even how you choose to handle a request by your husband is meant to reflect the glory of God.

Wow. High calling.
And it is yours.

You can adorn the doctrine of God in the daily grind of caring for your husband, children, home.
Because, all of the menial responsibilities of your life are ultimately given for a grander purpose:
“Keeping a home, serving strangers, “settling down”, raising a family—none of this was ever about us. It was always about the sake of the gospel,”  (Furman, Glimpses of Grace, p 96)
Our behavior is to confirm, not contradict, the message of God’s great love to mankind in Christ.

Several practical truths flow out of this:
1. My life is a display to others and to God himself. This makes ‘small tasks’ big, and heightens the mundane into ‘bring glory to God’ opportunities.  He sees. He knows. He is pleased with my faithfulness. And so I can rejoice in the every-day sacrifices as they allow me to honor God and show my love for him.

2. The gospel that I am to live out is the same gospel which I live in. I cannot live righteousness on my own (not kind words, not patience toward my toddler, not selfless love for my husband, not industry toward my housework, not interest in my neighbor). I need God from the moment I awake to the moment I fall into bed at night. Any reliance apart from this is a false gospel.

3. This is a gospel of grace.  This means I offer forgiveness, mercy, rescue and love to others in my life, and I run to Christ for these same things myself, as I fail often and regularly

4. This gospel-focused approach poisons my attraction for all the decoys:  the perfectly decorated home, organized schedule, perfectly behaved kids, cute FB photo overload,  my childrens’ perfect education, preoccupation with my fitness/looks, family picture-perfect vacations, even healthful menus and balanced schedules…none of these take prime emphasis.  Oh they are appealing…but instead eternal pursuits take front & center focus. I continually ask, What am I doing today that will count for eternity?

Let’s encourage each other. Let’s engage our thoughts and move our conversations in ways that spotlight God’s wonderful design of bringing his glory to the daily callings of our lives

Today  I need to respond to a child who just got a speeding ticket: how will I adorn the gospel in this? (I’m pretty sure raised decibels and shipping him/her to the middle of Alaska is not the answer. )

What is your calling today? How will the gospel meet you there?
He. Is. Enough.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Trials that Bow to His Gospel Purposes

The gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me. 

When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuine good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials. 

The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.” 

-Milton Vincent

(Thank you, Mr Vincent)

How is God using trials in your life to do good unto you?