Thursday, December 29, 2011
What adjectives come to mind when you look at the above picture? What random thoughts does it invoke?
Oh, I love this picture. No, I didn't take it and I have no clue where it was shot. (I found it on Clip Art.) But to me, this picture represents on a small scale what I desire my relationship with Jesus Christ to look like. A place of sweet, unbroken fellowship, filled with the beauty and peace of my Savior! This thought brings such joy to my soul!
Now, what about the picture below? I think of the words desolate, gloomy, forsaken, and empty. The vibrant life that was seen in the first picture does not exist here. What once might have been a place of beauty and grandeur has now been reduced to a heap of rubble and stray twigs.
Unfortunately, this is the condition of many hearts today: ruined, forsaken, and empty. They do not have the joy of the Lord, but instead are ruled by depression, anger, and bitterness.
Why is this? How could a beautiful, fruitful garden like the first picture become so cold and dark like the second?
Neglect. Abandonment. Apathy.
Which garden does your soul compare more closely to?
This was the very thing the Lord convicted me about a couple weeks ago. I was reading Song of Solomon 2 and reached verse 15 where the beloved is talking to his bride. He entreats her with these words,
"Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom."
Just as the bridegroom of Song of Solomon entreats his bride with these words, so our Bridegroom beseeches us to catch the foxes in our lives, the foxes that are ruining our vineyards, our garden, our soul.
I just love the imagery in this verse. Our love for Him being pictured as the vineyard in bloom, preparing to blossom. But just as we are beginning to cultivate our garden, to fall in love with Jesus Christ, the little foxes of this life (our pride, selfishness, bitterness, anger, etc.) come sneaking in and destroy the blossoming vineyard.
How tragic, how devastating! Praise God that we are not powerless against this destruction, that He has given us victory through His blood. That is why He urges us to catch the foxes and remove them. Just as a gardener must stay alert and kill any weed or potential danger invading his garden, so we must learn, through His strength, to watch and completely destroy any sin desiring to creep its way into our relationship with Jesus Christ.
How important is this relationship to you? It will show by how jealously you guard it.
Lately, I have been praying, asking that the Lord would show me any "foxes" that have crept into my garden unnoticed and were ruining the blossom of love between us. Oh, He is quick to lovingly answer His children, is He not?! :)
The Lord convicted me of two areas in my life that I had not guarded and had, therefore, allowed sin to reign. I will address each of these in the next two blogposts.
I urge you, fellow servants of Christ, to go before our great King and ask Him to reveal any area where His garden has been ruined or neglected in your life. The beauty of this truth lies in the fact that not only will He show us our sin and welcome us back to His open arms, but He will clear away the ugly rubble with His own hands and plant seeds of new life and joy within us...to cultivate again a blooming garden.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
"He humbled Himself to the manger,
And even to Calvary's tree;
But I am so proud and unwilling
His humble disciple to be.
He yielded His will to the Father,
And chose to abide in the Light;
But I prefer wrestling to resting,
And try by myself to do right.
Lord, break me, then cleanse me and fill me
And keep me abiding in Thee;
That fellowship may be unbroken,
And They Name be hallowed in me."
Enjoy the rest of your day, my friends, and have a very merry Christmas, rejoicing in the birth of our Savior!
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Oh, isn't this so convicting?! How many times have I flippantly gone before the throne, knowing that I will receive His forgiveness and grace, and thrown a quick, "Sorry Lord. Will you please forgive me?" before Him without any grief or realization of what my sin actually cost Him?! I don't deserve any bit of His grace, yet I have become so accustomed to it that I almost demand it, like Mr. Sproul said. Oh, that He would show me a glimpse of His holiness, that I would forever remember my sin and what I rightfully deserve!
His grace leaves me speechless. Not only has He saved me, cleansed me, and given me the righteousness of Christ, but He has included me into the Bride of Christ and is sanctifying me until the Day of His return. And then, not only that, but the Lord Almighty has adopted me...ME, the worst of sinners, as His beloved daughter and made me a fellow heir with Christ! Hallelujah!
Isn't His grace astounding?!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
A couple weeks ago, I listened to Mr. Eric Ludy's sermon entitled "The Voice of the Lion". Between listening to that and feeling burdened to see the men and women in our generation rise up for Jesus Christ, I was inspired to write this today.
"Men, passionate for Jesus Christ, should possess a lion-like growl, a deep roar of the soul. This growl is aroused when the glory of His King is at stake, quickening the jealous heartbeat of this warrior and calling him to action. It is evident and ever-present in the way he speaks with friends, serves the broken, and intercedes for the lost and dying. We, as women, have been given the great privilege to encourage the men in our lives (our husbands, brothers, and fathers). We are called, not to brag about the fervor of our own growl, but to challenge them to rise up out of the mire of complacency and accept the call of their King; that they would reject the soft-spoken timidity of their culture and embrace the roar of the Lion."
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The past few nights, I've been going to bed pretty late...which has left me feeling very tired today.
Because of this, I have been much more easily annoyed and irritated and have been struggling with thoughts of bitterness and self-pity. (But really, what do I have to feel sorry for myself about? Nothing.)
Oh, I have been trying to do this in my own strength today, struggling against my sinful flesh.
But, I cannot do it on my own. I can do nothing good, apart from Him working in me.
Lord Jesus, I am fighting for joy, but I am not strong enough to fight alone. Please take my emotions, my attitudes, my desires, and mold them into Yours. For the rest of this night, please grant me the joy, Your joy that I need to be victorious. My Jesus, I look to You now as the great Author and Perfecter of my faith. Work in me according to Your will, to the praise of Your glorious Name!
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
As I cross the threshold of this day
I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to thy care;
Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me.
Incline my heart to thy ways;
Mold me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay;
May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound thy praise;
Let those around see me living by thy Spirit,
trampling the world underfoot,
unconformed to lying vanities,
transformed by a renewed mind,
clad in the entire armor of God,
shining as a never-dimmed light,
showing holiness in all my doings.
Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands.
May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain.
In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven,
and my love soar upwards in flames of fire,
my gaze fixed on unseen things,
my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility,
mockery of earth and its vanities.
May I view all things in the mirror of eternity,
waiting for the coming of my Lord,
listening for the last trumpet call,
hastening unto the new heaven and earth.
Order this day all my communications according to thy wisdom,
and to the gain of mutual good.
Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable.
May I speak each word as if my last word,
and walk each step as my final one.
If my life should end today, let this be my best day."
"O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Behold our shield, O God, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!"
Monday, December 12, 2011
"Trust Me, my child," He says. "Trust Me with a fuller abandon than you ever have before. Trust Me, as minute succeeds minute, every day of your life, for as long as you live. And if you become conscious of anything hindering our relationship, do not hurt Me by turning away from Me. Draw all the closer to Me, come, run to Me. Allow Me to hide you, to protect you, even from yourself. Tell Me your deepest cares, your every trouble. Trust Me to keep My hand upon you. I will never leave you. I will shape you, mold you, and perfect you. Do not fear, O child of My love, do not fear. I love you."
-- Amy Carmichael
Oh, why do I forget these truths so quickly? Why do I run away from Him, instead of to Him, when my heart is struggling to obey? Oh, He is merciful, so merciful! May I draw ever closer to my Love and learn to trust Him with a fuller abandon than I ever have before!
O dear reader, run to Him...He is waiting.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Here is a summary of the sermon from his site.
"Few of us were ever trained how to handle our thoughts. In fact, most of us have considered ourselves victims to the random, strange, perverted, and otherwise demonic thoughts that float through our minds. But that should halt today. The thought life of a Christian is not the playground for the enemy, but the stage upon which the Truth of Jesus Christ can shine. Jesus has given the saints of God everything they need in order to take command over their thought lives. The Christian is privileged to think on nothing but that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and of good report. "
This is a very powerful sermon and one that I needed to hear today! I encourage you to listen to it as well! You will be challenged! (Link below)
The Christian Thought Life - Eric Ludy
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
“I may sound old-fashioned, but I want to think all women should be treated like I want my wife, daughters, and granddaughters to be treated. I notice today that good manners—like standing up when a woman enters the room, helping a woman with her coat, letting her enter an elevator first, taking her arm to cross the street—are sometimes considered unnecessary or a throwback. These are habits I could never break, nor would I want to. I realize today a lot more women are taking care of themselves than in the past, but no woman is offended by politeness.”
— Frank Sinatra
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
This morning, the Lord convicted me of the selfishness pervading certain areas of my life. I was overwhelmed to be reminded yet again of how selfish I am. I am so sinful, so unworthy to be called His child! Yet, He loves me?! What grace, what unceasing love!
I will be explaining more about this in my next post, but for now I want to post a song that has been playing in my heart.
Grace - Laura Story
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Why did I feel so dry and distant?
An hour later, I was still feeling tired and had a headache as well. Great. Now I feel even worse.
Where was the usual joy of the Lord?
My sister, Ariana, raced down the stairs and bumped into me. "I'm sure that wasn't an accident," I mumbled to myself, as she made a quick apology and scampered off.
Why was I so bitter?
A little while later, my dog rang the bell to go outside. I threw my coat and some shoes on and plodded out into the frigid air. As I stepped onto the grass, I heard the familiar "crunch" of frosted leaves being trampled on. I looked out onto our yard and noticed for the first time that it was covered with frost. Everything looks so cold, so lifeless, I thought.
Then the Lord convicted me with the same, exact picture. I had been cold and my attitude had not been displaying the life-giving nature of Christ. Instead of looking to Him for strength, I had been focused on my feelings, emotions, and desires.
"Heavenly Father," I confessed, "my heart is so hard! How can I be made soft again?"
Isn't the Lord so good?! At that moment, I looked again out onto the backyard and realized that not all of the leaves were hardened by frost. A bright streak of color revealed that some of the leaves had been softened...by the sun's warm rays.
I then understood the Lord's point. My heart, too, was cold and hard like those frost-covered leaves. But if I allowed the Son to shine His love, His desires, His emotions onto my heart, it could again be used to bring glory to Him. Oh, I have so much to learn! I have so much selfishness still buried deep within my heart. Cleanse me, Lord, cleanse me!
Many times, I wonder how He still loves me after all I do, how He is still patient with His disobedient daughter. But praise the Lord! His love is not like mine and He will never let me go!
How deep the Father's love for us,
how vast beyond all measure,
that He should give His only Son
to make a wretch His treasure!
"If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted."
“If you would live in victory.…you must refuse to be dominated by the seen and the felt.”
Friday, November 18, 2011
This morning I was reading in John 10, where Jesus is proclaiming Himself as the Shepherd of His flock. I love the imagery of this metaphor; us as His precious, yet dumb sheep, Him as our compassionate and all-knowing Shepherd. Isn't that such an accurate picture?! :)
"To him [referring to the Shepherd] the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers." (verses 3-5)
First, He calls us all by name. What a precious Savior we have, that He knows each of us-our joys, our struggles, our dreams, our desires-individually.
Jesus continues by saying that His sheep follow Him, because they know His voice.
Yet, how well do I know my Savior's voice? How well do I follow it?
And then, He adds still more. "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."
How many times do I listen to the stranger's voice, the enemy's lulling entreaties to follow him instead of my Shepherd? How many times have I ignored the loving warnings of my Maker, only to find myself lost and confused in the end. And then, oh how good He is! My beloved Shepherd finds me in my sin, shows me where I was wrong and then picks me up with His gentle, yet mighty hands, the hands that shaped the universe and set each star in its place. He carries me back to the fold, reminding me of His immeasurable mercy, but at the same time of my need for obedience.
Oh, may we keep our eyes fixed on our Savior! In His great mercy, He has saved us, redeemed us, and adopted us into His family! Why would I ever stray from His loving arms? Why does sin ever look pleasurable?
This song sums up so beautifully what I am trying to say. :)
Full Attention by Jeremy Riddle
Monday, November 14, 2011
As Christians, these phrases are well-known as part of our jargon, continually added into our songs, prayers, and speech to one another.
And yet, do we truly realize how important the glory of God and the exaltation of His name are? Are our lives shaped by the truth of these phrases or are they merely something we sing about on Sundays?
About a month ago, my family started reading through the book of Ezekiel. Every morning, we would read through a couple chapters individually and then discuss it that night. To be honest with you, as I began working through Ezekiel, I would often get discouraged reading about judgment after judgment. I know it sounds wrong of me, and it was, but I was struggling with perseverance to continue.
Finally, I asked the Lord to open my eyes to what He wanted to teach me through this part of His Word. Over the next several days, I continued reading Ezekiel just as before, but slowly the Lord began revealing something I had completely missed; something that was found in a small, perpetuating phrase: "So that you will know that I am the Lord."
I know, this phrase seems rather unimpressive. But, it is not just used once or twice. Or even 20 times. This phrase is repeated 53 times throughout Ezekiel! But why is this little phrase so important?
Every time it is mentioned throughout Ezekiel, the Lord had just mentioned something He was about to do in history. Exile of the Israelites. Judgment of the surrounding nations. Restoration of His people. The sins of Israel punished. Grace displayed by the Lord. At the end of the description of what He was about to do, He explained why He was about to do it: "That they will know that I am the Lord."
Let me give you an example of how this phrase is used in just one chapter. Ezekiel 36:21-23 says, "But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went...It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of my great name...Then the nations will know that I am the Lord...when I prove myself holy among you in their sight.'"
Do you see it? If not, let me explain. Throughout the book of Ezekiel, the Lord continually shows us that everything He does is first and foremost for His glory! That is why He says over and over again, "I will do such and such, so that they will know that I am the Lord."
Around the same time that I was reading through Ezekiel, I started a book called Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper. It is a fabulous book on missions, but the first point that grabbed me was not about missions, per say, but the glory of God.
To sum up the first chapter, Mr. Piper explains that God's greatest desire is the furtherance of His glory and the exaltation of His name. And if it is that important to God, it should be that important to us, His children.
As Mr. Piper explains, Isaiah 48:9-11 are probably the clearest verses on God's utmost desire for His glory.
"For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another."
Isn't this so true?! God alone is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and the Author and Perfecter of our salvation. He alone is worthy! He alone should be exalted!
As we see throughout Scripture and history itself, many godly men and women gave their lives for the sake of His name; that was their highest priority! Yet, how much do we care about exalting His name among the nations? Or even within our families? Or our own lives?
1 Corinthians 10:31 sums it up for us, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
Basically, we must be jealous for God, jealous for His glory. In Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary, one definition for the term 'jealous' is this: "Solicitous to defend the honor of; concerned for the character of".
Do we love the Lord so much that we are ready to defend His honor with our lives? Do we cringe when we hear His name being blasphemed or have we become so used to it that we can sit through a movie and not even notice that the holy Name of God was used in vain five times? Are we protective of the time we spend alone with our Beloved or do we just try to get in some Bible reading whenever we have time to fit it in?
O my friends, He deserves so much more! He deserves the unadulterated praise of every being on this planet, yet there are still so many who do not even know His name! This should stir us to action! This should cause us to lose sleep at night, knowing that there is a place on this earth where He is not worshiped!
Does He mean that much to you?
O Father, I know what the response of my heart should be towards You! I know that I should continuously render up praise and glory to Your precious name, for You are worthy! You deserve my everything, Lord. And yet, how many times do I seek to control my schedule, my time, my attitude during the day? My Jesus, I am so in need of Your grace! Make me jealous for the glory of Your name, O Lord! And may You open my eyes to see Your glory shine ever brighter than the day before!
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Tomorrow, November 13, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Please consider joining fellow believers all around the world in prayer, as we lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being harassed, beaten, and killed for the name of Christ.
Here is a short video from Gospel for Asia, explaining some of their prayer requests and hearing from a brother who has experienced persecution firsthand.
In Romans 15:30, Paul entreats the Roman believers to pray for him in his struggle. "I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me."
If one of our siblings or close family members had been beaten for his faith or lived in an area of the world that was hostile to Christianity, how many minutes or hours would we spend in prayer for them? Would we have to be reminded to bring them before the Lord? Yet, how much time do we spend praying for our family members in Christ, who are suffering everyday? May we not just spend tomorrow praying and lifting up the Persecuted Church, but everyday hereafter!
O Lord, give us hearts to love our brothers and sisters around the world with Your love and may our eyes see them, not as strangers, but as our beloved siblings.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Yes, I had to begin this post by showing off some pictures of my beautiful little sister! Ariana took these pictures at our new house and I thought she did a fabulous job.
Oh, how I love that little girl! She has brought such joy to our lives; more than we could ever imagine! It's little things she does, like randomly walking over and plopping herself in my lap or belly-laughing while I spin her around the room, that steal my heart away.
I am just starting to be reminded of this truth again: how precious she is to me. There are times when I allow my schedule or the busyness of life to push away my desire to play with her, dance with her, and laugh with her. Father, forgive me for losing sight of the more important things of life!
As I sit here typing away in the new bedroom Ariana and I share, I can't help but be amazed at the Lord's goodness!
Yes, he provided a perfect rental for my family, in His perfect timing...just like He always does. :) The house sits on the edge of gorgeous woods, complete with several trails and a rope swing! Oh, He is good! And oh, how I love Him! :)
How I love fall!!! The brightly-colored leaves gliding to the ground. The pumpkin pie. The hot cider. The sound of leaves crunching under my feet, as I walk the trails in our backyard. Wearing scarves again. The crisp, refreshing air that just smells like fall. I am so blessed to live in an area where I can enjoy this special season!
Well, this has definitely turned out to be one random blog post!
Ah yes, one more thing. I've been reading some good books lately, challenging and thought-provoking. I'm learning a lot! :) But that will have to wait for my next post....
Friday, September 23, 2011
Today marks the one week time limit before we have to be out of our current rental. One week.....and we don't know where we're going.
Depending on how well you know my family and our story, you are either thinking, "Oh my goodness! What are they thinking?!" or "Oh ya. That's always how it is with their family."
Many of our past moves have been trials of faith. It seems like the Lord loves to bring us right to the last hour and then show us the next step. Or in this case, the week before. Times like these bring up to the surface our true attitude toward the Lord.
Yes, it is confusing at times, it is hard. During these times, I often feel like David when he said, "To You, O Lord, I call; my rock, do not be deaf to me...Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary." (Psalm 28:1-2)
Each move, each test of faith, is an opportunity to learn to trust Him more. And yet, so often when it gets down to "crunch time", we start to worry or grow anxious about the Lord showing us where to go. In those times, we're reminded why the Lord continues to bring us through this same thing over and over again...we are so quick to forget the lesson He just taught us.
This morning, I was reflecting on the Lord's faithfulness during times when it seems like He is absent, and was reminded of these precious verses from Isaiah 43:
"But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you."
What a blessed promise to know that our God is with us, bringing us through the trial every step of the way.
"But Makenna, why doesn't the Lord just show you? Why is the Lord not listening to your prayers?"
Those are questions I can't answer, except that by not showing us until the last minute, He is receiving more glory, somehow. At the end of each move, I'm reminded of the song Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns. Here are some of the lyrics.
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
Over the past couple weeks, I have been convicted of wanting the Lord's will in my timing. By His grace, my prayer has changed from "Lord, please show us a house now" to "Lord, show us a house in your perfect time". Yes, we still desire to know soon and we are still looking at houses, but God's timing is perfect and He is faithful, no matter the circumstance.
"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord. I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand." (Psalm 31:14-15a)
"You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. 'I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.'"(Psalm 32:7-8)
"'Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'" (Isaiah 41:10)
The Lord will provide for us, even if it's not how we would think or hope. He will strengthen us, as He upholds us with His hand. We do need your prayers though. Please pray for us, that the Lord would give us the faith to trust Him and the strength to praise Him. Thank you so much!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
The weather here in Washington has been very interesting this summer. It seems that every other state has had very hot weather, whereas we're having the opposite. But, whatever the weather is, we can still praise the Lord for a new day! And this past week has been absolutely beautiful!
I want to start by sharing some pictures that my sister, Ariana, took. I love to show-off her pictures, since I think she's so talented with nature photography!