Monday, April 29, 2013

Talk to me, Abba

We were driving out toward east Texas on my birthday last week and I happened upon a verse on my drive that changed the way my whole trip would go. That verse would be on replay throughout our drive.  

"It is God who clothes the wild grass." 
Matthew 6:30

You know the section where we are told not to be anxious because God cares for the lilies of the field. It goes on to remind us that God cares greatly for simple grass. Of course, He will care for us. I know that He hears my desperate plea. Every flower and stalk of grass remind me.

Humble Orthodoxy

I recently had the opportunity to read Joshua Harris' new book Humble Orthodoxy. It has it's roots in a section from his book Dug Down Deep. He was told over and over how deep, profound, and needed this section was in that book. He was often told that it should be a book in itself. I would have to agree. He expounded and expanded the topic of much needed humble orthodoxy.

Reading through the text was akin to breathing fresh air for me. There is such division and judgmental mudslinging in the church that it grieves the soul. This book addresses the fact that we don't need to get carried away with inconsequential arguments, but we do need to stand firm for the gospel. The fact is that we are all wrong on some things, but we must all be right on one thing, Christ.

I want to encourage you to pick this up and learn to engage those around you with the grace that exalt Christ. We must focus on important truths and the blood of Christ making atonement for sin. We must not tear apart our brothers in this process. Our goal is not that we are right. Our goal is to lift high the name of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Talk to me, Abba.

I have been overcome with the stories of those serving West in the aftermath of tragedy. The gracious behavior and the servant's hearts are on full display. People in the media are all abuzz about the Southern hospitality they are encountering. It is shocking them. I think Christ is being represented in the Bible belt right now. His people are stepping up.

There is another group in the Bible belt right now. The ungracious. The hate-filled attackers. Honestly, I saw a picture of one of them on social media and I felt like I was staring a demon in the face. The folks are from Westboro. These are the people who picket funerals because they see this disaster or the death of a soldier as God's judgement. They own a website called godhatesfags. No, really. I keep seeing the campaigns to refuse them service. Now, I am all for shielding those who mourn. I am just wondering what kind of reception Westboro is getting in the Bible belt. 

Oh, Jesus, remove the scales from their eyes. Move on their hearts. Where there is hatred, sew love. Whatever happened to them in order for them to see you like this, I ask that You would redeem it. May they find grace, repentance, and soul resurrection in the Bible belt right now. May You be glorified in this unique opportunity for Central Texas' Christians to love their enemies and bless those that curse them. Shine Your light, Abba. May we not respond with wickedness. Let us love our enemy with the grace that we show the wounded. Amen.

People are being set free from among them. See this article.

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must beperfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Signs, Wonders, and a Baptist Preacher by Chad Norris

Well, I read this book. When, I saw the title, I said, "Okay, I'll bite." I must say that I am not in any way a cessasationist. I believe that healings occur by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, with that said, I struggled through this book. My quick rundown would be angry rant, how he met his wife, angry rant, contradiction, weird connections, short exhortation.

First off, Chad goes on with some bitter diatribe about someone telling him that God took his grandpa home to Heaven so he thought God was mean. His rant was about people tell you that your suffering is for the glory of God. Skip past the nice marital story and Chad himself tells you that God uses suffering for your good. Which is it? He does or He doesn't. Perhaps Chad should write about forgiving the person that gave him the message he misread and repenting before God of how he viewed Him. 

Chad tells us how he doesn't like big showy healings, but most of the people he reference in his book are into that very thing. It is quite confusing. The end was a good exhortation in trusting God to be what He is, supernatural. As a whole, I didn't really enjoy it. I found it to be a muddled bunch of confusion. I do agree that God can do much more than we are asking of Him. On that, Chad is right. We should challenge ourselves to do what Christ told His disciples to do.

This book was graciously provided for review by Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Walking in High Cotton.

Let's see here, y'all. I am trying to remember all of the wonderful things that have occurred since my last update. Denbigh went to Arkansas and recorded a cd for a Christian camp. He was gone for 3 days. Hopefully it will turn out to be fantastic. He leaves for a summer of worship leading in East Texas in about a month. Were we not just there?
 We released our butterflies.

I have been working on the guest room floor still. I am finally a third of the way done with filling the cracks with string and putty. I started top coating the dining room table that Stephen made for us. We wrote a check for a countertop. YES! a HUGE check for a countertop. Thank you to everyone who bought something in my Etsy store. Because of you, Gomer is getting a $3,000 countertop. Can you imagine not having a countertop for four years? We're walking in high cotton now.

Someone accidentally sat a bottle of stripper onto the buffet and ate a hole through the stain so I am trying to fix that. I wanted to cry when I saw it because it took me six months to do that and about 20 hours. I decided instead to preach the gospel to myself and remember that even if I have to strip it all the way down and re-stain it, that the Kingdom of God is about people (not a buffet). May we all enjoy God and glorify Him forever.

The Kingdom of God is about people.
 Britney, a volunteer from Sam Houston State University, held the last butterfly to be released. This guy wanted to hang out with us for a while.
 Our neighbor, Richard, popped over to mow our field. What a gift.
 This is Chayah hard at work while we had the seven volunteers here for the weekend from Sam Houston State.
 These guys were installing the trellis for the grapevine.
 They cleaned and weeded beds for us. If there was yard of the month in Fentress, we would surely have it.
The vineyard is steadily coming along. Three grapevines now. Wowsa.
 There is my beloved getting his lawnmower towed to be worked on, again. Somebody buy this poor man a John Deere.
 Grace was stripping paint inside in the dining room.
 Britney was using the heat gun to strip paint as well.
 Our chairs got their yearly scrub down and paint job. Anybody want to come paint anything around here? We have several more painting projects.
 Using orange stripper to get the paint off the house. 
 Killing Ants.
 Burning trees.
 Isn't it looking lovely?
Here is the side and my cool minivan in the background.

A huge thank you to the students from Sam Houston State that volunteered here and went to church with us. It is always encouraging to everyone to see the people who come and show the love of Jesus among us. Thank you.

I received a donation this week. It was EXACTLY what was needed for food and supplies. Thank you, Jesus.

Support Gomer's House.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Talk to me, Abba.

Last week, I wrote about the butterflies we had been watching emerge from their cocoons. You can read about it here. I had also found myself struck by the realization of the shedding of the exoskeleton. It is one thing to hear the terminology and another entirely to see it unfold. I was staring at the caterpillar begin to spin it's silken cocoon. It began a shaking that appeared so violent as it made a point and attached itself in order to hang down. A third of it's body fell off. I just stood there stunned.

I was stunned because Christ in the tomb was fresh on my mind that Good Friday. I was stunned because Galatians 2:20 is always fresh in my mind. This falling away was not some calculated effort on the part of the caterpillar. It was a natural response to God creating it and calling it forth in it's time. There was a shedding of self, a shroud of paper thin mystery wrapped around the Chrysalis. Then, there was quiet. 

When it had all fallen away and there seemed to be no activity, our Master Creator was doing something in that darkness. We are never alone. We are never left to ourselves. God pursues us. By the grace and the blood of Christ, we become wholly different. We are no longer forsaken. We are His delight. (Isaiah 62:4)
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Galatians 2:20

"You shall no more be termed Forsaken,

    and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
    and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
    and your land shall be married."

Isaiah 62:4

For Brennan.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Talk to me, Abba.

Over the last few weeks, I have watched a caterpillar wrap itself in a cocoon and then emerge a butterfly. Today, I stared deeply at the wonders of God as the orange color slowly filled its brown wings with bright orange as if it had been injected with paint that slowly crept through it's veins.

I think about one line I heard on Sunday morning. 

You will be made whole. 

Isaiah 53. You will not be made whole like when you were a caterpillar or a chrysalis. You will be whole as a new creation, one that gained the strength to fly through struggling through the cocoon. Dark, tight death wrapped the body and you had no idea if you would ever make it out alive. Then you emerge, barely there. Searching for strength. The color of dirt. Slowly, the color, the spirit of life, starts to fill you. You are alive. You are whole. You are what you were always meant to be. You are because of the struggle.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons

You know, I look forward to each book I crack open. It is like getting to peer into the beauty, the glory, the pain of who the author is. Such as in life, our experiences with people and their stories change us. Sometimes, we learn from the author's mistakes. On occasion, we may be led astray. Hopefully, we are made more fully alive by entering into the written relationship. Books change us.

I have never read anything that Rebekah has written and I didn't know exactly what to expect from her. So much of our Christian bookstores are lined with embarrassingly shallow tales of self-pity. I was delighted to see that this was not one of them. This is a memoir of a truly difficult time. I was honestly surprised and encouraged by how much candor Rebekah shared with us. She laced her lines with the truth about her fears of mental illness, dealing with a special needs child, and feeling wholly lost in New York.

This journey towards life and meaning was not lost on me. It seems that much of what I have been reading lately has been centered on this topic. Our author takes us through a series of creative exercises to help bring to the surface our latent creative gifts. It truly made me feel more alive to go through them. Her work and thoughtfulness are refreshing.

This book was graciously provided by Tyndale Publishing for review.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Delighting in the Lord

Hello, y'all. I am still recovering from my concussion, but I am slowly starting to feel better. So, I got back to work. Well, I did a little work. I have been filling in the floor cracks. It's tedious to be sure. I may be done by 2015 and you can come revel in my craftsmanship or floormanship or whatever might be the appropriate wording here.

You can see that my man filled in a hole of drywall for me. That was amidst Holy Week. It was crazy. It's kind of like the Superbowl of church events. There is something to do every single day and night. It's a flurry of activity leading to the cross and the resurrection. He still accomplished one thing and I will revel in it and hold on to joy. May God be glorified in that tiny slab of drywall. 

I hope you know that I make light of things in order to stay sane in the midst of an insane remodel while parenting small children. I mean, I plant a head of lettuce and I'm a farmer. We have to laugh at ourselves or our perfectionism will drive us to being ungrateful for what God has accomplished.

I am an incredibly private person. I process life alone in the quiet with the Lord. When I felt like He wanted me to start blogging our life journey, I was a bit hesitant because I am resistant to letting the judgmental, the critical, the self-righteous, & the ugly into my deep emotions and struggles. I knew God wanted me to be vulnerable and expose myself to their callous nature in order for them to see a heart yearning for Christ instead of comparing to each other. I also knew that God wanted me to write this journey out for me. It's how I process.

It is hard to share our struggles. I have learned to share them because I think that denying their presence steals glory from God. If no one is aware that they are there, the fact that God lifted you up and delivered you from them every single day is never seen. 

It's the same with success. It might even be more difficult. I find that when you share a great joy, there are embittered people who come along and negate the beauty of it. They steal joy. This is so painful to me because the Lord has implanted this delight in His provision deep within you and they want to take that delight away. The gift you revel in is too short or dusty or not sturdy enough for them. The thing is, I keep hearing the softest voice reiterate to me,
"Share joy anyway."

We are waiting for the butterflies to emerge from the cocoon here in homeschool. I have had so many epiphanies during this whole thing. Stay tuned for a future blog. Love y'all.

We are trying to pick out a countertop. Which of these do you like? 
I am leaning toward Blanco River, Giallo Nova, Lagoon, or Lyra.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Talk to me, Abba.

I have been completely undone remembering the death and resurrection this year. The grief of the loss impacted me in a new and powerful way. I was overcome with despair at the thought of losing Christ. That mourning propelled my spirit into this grateful place of health and delight in Christ come Easter morning. Christ is risen in my heart. That freedom, that rising has made me want to sit and bask in the beauty and radiance of my Lord. I am sincerely in awe of what He has come and done in my heart. 

God allows us to love others like that. We can move forward in such grace and without reacting to petty concerns. We can reveal Christ to everyone around us in the simple, every day actions. We can be hospitable with our very lives, welcoming others with a warmth unparalleled. Christ wants to use our physical bodies to meet the spiritual concerns of others. If we only concern ourselves with others first. 

Let me show others your mercy, Abba. 

  1. At Calvary

    Years I spent in vanity and pride,
    Caring not my Lord was crucified,
    Knowing not it was for me He died
    On Calvary.
    • Refrain:
      Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
      Pardon there was multiplied to me;
      There my burdened soul found liberty
      At Calvary.
  2. By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
    Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
    Till my guilty soul imploring turned
    To Calvary.
  3. Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything,
    Now I gladly own Him as my King,
    Now my raptured soul can only sing
    Of Calvary!
  4. Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
    Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
    Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
    At Calvary!

William R. Newell

Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope

I encountered Jesus as a young child in a church pew in the balcony of an old country church. Through a lifetime of trial, I knew he was the...