Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Do you ever have those times when you just need to get alone with your Savior and commune with Him?  I have need of these times daily, but some things call for more significant effort in getting alone with Him.  I had the blessing of being asked to lead worship on Sunday and was thrilled to do it, but it is such a huge responsibility to lead His people in worshiping the Lord.  While everyone is responsible before the Lord for their hearts, being a leader holds extra responsibility.  The weight of wanting to say and do the right things was heavy upon my heart on Sunday morning.  I drove to church about 40 minutes early and parked around the back where I could have some of that much needed alone time with the One who deserves all praise and glory.  I was reading different passages along the lines of what we were singing and what the message was going to be about and praying that the Lord would work in my heart to first prepare me for worship and then enable me to lead His people in worship.  He graciously reminded me that it only matters that He is glorified... if He is glorified, that is enough!  That is the purpose of worship.  Yes, I want to say and do the right things, but it isn't about me--it is about Him!  He must be my full motivation for wanting to say and do the right things.  By His grace and help, I believe I was at that point when I went up to lead worship, but I was reminded once again about just how dependent on the Lord I am.  I can't stir within myself the desire to please Him.  Only He can do that.  I can't even breathe apart from God enabling me to do so... every breath is a gift from Him.

This morning was another one of those mornings.  I had a lot on my mind and really needed to hear from the Lord.  I set my alarm moderately early (considering we were up pretty late the night before) and read through four or five passages that were very much applicable to what was on my mind and just asked the Lord to show me what He wanted me to get from His Word. Well, you know... He is in the business of doing just that and I found myself very encouraged through the Word.  One of the passages I read was Romans 12.  Verses 1-2 and 9-13 jumped out at me.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect... Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

We prove, or demonstrate what the will of God is by letting Him renew our minds.  When God is at the center of our attention, we think the things that He would have us think.  When we think the things that He would have us think, we do the things that He would have us do.  By this, we "test" His will to see just how perfect it really us.  It goes along with the concept of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.  It is not enough to stand and look from the outside.  He must change us from the inside out so that we experience His goodness as we trust and obey Him.  Paul gives us some specific ways in which we can do this in verses 9-13... to be devoted to one another in brotherly love--this is pure undefiled love and he explains further what that looks like:  giving preference to one another (seeing others as more important than ourselves), being diligent and literally "boiling hot" in the way we serve the Lord, rejoicing in hope (the eternal hope we have in Christ), persevering under pressure and opposition, devoted to prayer (recognizing that we are dependent on Him for all things), meeting the needs of the saints (being the hands and feet of Jesus), and practicing hospitality (specifically to those that are strangers). 

May God conform us more into His image this Christmas as we focus on Him and let Him change our hearts through His Word.  May He give us a tender heart that needs only the slightest nudge to run after Him without looking back. May He grant opportunities to apply His Word and help us to see and act on those opportunities.  And may He give us the humility to come before Him in fervent prayer for all things.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

That God May Be Pleased

Life can be so full and so busy at this time of year.  It seems like everyone is in a rush for everything and as much as I'd like to exclude myself from that, I feel more busy than most at the moment.  I like to plan ahead... buy Christmas presents online, etc.  We try to be very generous, but also very practical in our Christmas giving (school supplies, clothes, etc.).  This year more than ever, I feel like we all more than everything we need.  We are so blessed!  There are still things that will be needed if they aren't needed at the moment... but I have yet to buy even one Christmas gift apart from a gift exchange gift which my brother graciously picked up for me. 

Life has been busy!  I have been doing some remodeling in my room thanks for the gracious help of some talented friends.  I also had the blessing of having one of my best friends over for the weekend.  Work is crazy busy with the end of the year and the increasing immediate needs of our clients before the end of the year.

I like life being so full.  I wouldn't want to keep it at this pace forever, but going to bed absolutely exhausted at the end of a full day is actually quite a good feeling.  I am thankful for God's grace in enabling me to be full of joy, giving me desire for the Word and desire to be changed by it while still physically exhausted.  I have felt such incredible peace and joy from the Lord these last several weeks.  Certainly times of life tend to be more joyous than others, but it is the kind of joy that can't be driven just by circumstances.  I have gone to bed so many times over the last few weeks saying to God... "O that You would be pleased with me!  It is enough that You would look on me and be pleased.  What can I give You that hasn't been given to me by You?  But if I could just please You with every part of me... that would be the fullest joy!"

This desire to please the Lord with all of me is not something that I can derive on my own.  It is not something that I can convince myself of.  It is the gracious, merciful, and loving hand of God working in a heart that is desperately wicked. 

I am reminded of Psalm 51:15-17.
O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

God's pleasure in His children is not dependent on how much money we put in the plate... how many homeless we feed... how many Bibles we hand out... (though all of these things are part of living life as a Christian), but rather His pleasure in us is based on a heart that if fixed on Him.  A heart of humility and submissiveness to the Lord is what He desires.  If we has us "sell all we have and give our money to the poor and come follow Him", may we be submissive in doing exactly that.  If He calls us to go to a foreign land to preach the gospel, may He give us a heart of submission to do exactly that.  If He tells us to stay in the hard situation we are in... by God's grace, may He gives us that heart of submission to stand firm through the fiery trials of life.  I've had so many friends get married in the last several weeks, it's been pretty crazy... and you know, it is sobering to consider the amount of trials and temptations that each of those individuals will face during their marriages.  May God give them grace to cling to Him and submit to Him within their marriages.  It's exciting, but what a responsibility they have before the Lord in portraying an image of Christ's love for the church!  May His glory not be marred by our lack of submission.  Christ said, "I did whatever pleased the Father."  May we be able to say the same for the days ahead, by His grace.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

One More Day

Far too often, I take the time God has given me here on earth for granted.  I was just talking with a friend yesterday about how events in life can spur us on to loving the Lord more and making the most of the time God has given us.  I didn't realize that one of these events would happen to me today.  I have the blessing and privilege of working with the high school guys in Awana on Sunday afternoons... my brother helps out as well and mom is a leader for the high school girls.  We were on our way there this afternoon and there was a big pickup truck going about 45 mph in the 55 mph zone on a two-lane road (one lane each way).  I turned on my left blinker went into the oncoming lane since there was plenty of room and passed the truck.  I was about 5 feet in front of the truck and turned on my right blinker to indicate that I was going to come over soon, but was planning to be 20 or 30 feet in front before actually merging.  At this point, the driver of the truck sped up so that the front of his truck was a foot or two in front of my back bumper so that I was unable to merge back onto my side of the road.  I hit the gas some more to get by him and he continued to speed up to prevent me from merging.  I hit the brake and he did as well.  By this time, a car was approaching at a closing speed of 110 mph (55 mph each way).  I was unable to merge.  I moved to the right as much as I could... somewhere between 6 inches and a foot from the side of the truck and by God's grace, the driver coming the other direction went partly into the very small shoulder that he had available to him and squeezed by.  I was able to merge after the truck sped away and we called 911 and provided the police with his license plate number and description of the vehicle. 

God was so gracious to us.  We prayed and thanked the Lord for His protection.  Of course, we wouldn't have minded being with the Lord tonight, but apparently the Lord has more for us to do here on earth and I am thankful for that.  I think the rest of the family is thankful as well. 

This even certainly causes me to ask myself some questions:  Why did the Lord allow it to take place?  What does He want me to learn from it?  What areas of life am I not living to the fullest for Him?  How can I make the most of my time on earth for His glory?

I do not know all the answers to these questions... in fact, it may not have even been primarily for my sake, but I am a strong believer that God didn't have me there for no reason and I would do well to consider what He might be wanting to teach me through it.  I am thankful for His protection... for His grace... for the security of my righteousness being found in Christ alone... for one more day to live no longer for myself, but for Christ who died and rose again on my behalf.