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anyone else think that slew is the past tense of slay? well, i did … until i googled it.

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slew /slo͞o/

Verb: (of a vehicle or person) Turn or slide violently or uncontrollably in a particular direction.

Noun: A violent or uncontrollable sliding movement.
A large number or quantity of something: “he asked me a slew of questions”.

Synonyms:
verb. turn – slue – rotate – swing – spin – wheel – swivel
noun. mass – turn – slue

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“Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. ” Psalm 78.34-35

i see a direct cause and effect here. when God “slews” us, then we seek him. what is it about slewing that makes us seek him? from the definition above, i see it like this:

– sometimes life is going oh so dandy, and then something comes up. your family member gets sick, somebody wants to “talk” to you, you lose your job. that’s slew.

– when you realize you dont have control over your life, or worse people, anymore, that’s slew.

– when things are not going your way, you know, that particular way that you like to have people listen to you, remember you, serve you, love you, change for you? that’s slew.

basically, when things are spinning, swiveling, turning out of control, that’s God’s MERCY on our lives. he is waking us up, and by his grace moving us to seek him once again. (and he will do it again and again)

we all need a reminder or two, dont you think?

One of my favorite SaturdayNightLive sketches was the Debbie Downer sketch.  There’d be normal, jovial scenes of people hanging out and at every turn “Debbie Downer” would insert a random tragic fact that would completely kill the atmosphere. Her friends would try to bounce back from her buzzkilling comments but to no avail – Debbie Downer always wins.

You think I’m going to ask you to prayerfully consider if you’re a Debbie Downer or not. But i’m not. I’m going to tell you that you probably are one…at least to yourself.  How many times have you found yourself in a good/ok situation only to start wondering “how long will this last?” or “something bad is probably going to happen” or “God is going to break me soon…” or “this can’t be real”? Suddenly our good moment turns sour. Is that surprising?  Debbie’s a ninja.

Instead of fully thanking God for our present moment, we start anguishing over the future. The thought of “let tomorrow worry about itself” is thrown to the curb right alongside “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting” and “this semester, i will NOT procrastinate”.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  We’re not given the option to give thanks always, we’re commanded to do it.  What better way to fight the temptation to complain than to actively give thanks?

In my difficult times, this hymn has helped me to fight my downer tendencies and to remember God’s goodness:

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

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My son’s current favorite toys are kid-sized vehicles: scooters, walkers, cars. He received an array of vehicles for his birthday, so he’s been pushing them around the house, laughing gleefully as he whizzes around.  The problem with this, however, is that he doesn’t want to walk on his own because he is afraid to let go of the vehicles. So, it was a heart-wrenching decision, but my husband and I decided to hide all the toy vehicles so that he can learn to take steps without them. 

 
The funny thing is, I feel really really bad now. I wonder if he’s thinking to himself, ‘Where did all my favorite toys go?” The most sad part to me is that I know how much joy it brings him when he can push the vehicles around, so it breaks my heart that he can’t experience that joy now.  I know it sounds overly dramatic, but I really do feel that bad!
 
As I thought about this, it suddenly hit me – this is how it must feel when God has to take things away from us, for our own good.  Sometimes there are things in our lives that are not inherently bad, but they may be inhibiting our spiritual development, so He needs to strip them from us for a period of time. Once our son starts walking, my husband and I will bring the vehicles back because he’ll have learned to walk without them.  We’ve only taken them away temporarily, but we had to in order to help him grow the courage to walk without them.
 
For the first time, it really hit me how much it must sadden God when He has to take things away from us, even temporarily, because it delights Him when we enjoy His gifts.  I’m learning about God’s father heart for his children, and perhaps next time He has to remove things from my life, I’ll remember the words from Matt Redman song: ‘You give and take away / my heart will choose to say / Lord blessed be Your name.”

During this 40 day period leading up to Easter (or Resurrection Sunday as I like to call it), I’ve committed to several things that will help me focus on Jesus. Aren’t we supposed to focus on Jesus all the time? Well, yes. The truth of the matter is, I need all the help I can get when it comes to following through on my spiritual disciplines. I’m thankful that the tradition of lent can be redeemed to help me draw even nearer to Him.

Though I believe everyone can struggle with these things to some degree, it seems that women are more susceptible to: busyness masked as closeness w/ God, and the lies of the enemy. Typing this as I’m battling the nth cold/sickness of the season, I understand that I am fragile and weak. Satan loves to kick me when I’m down, shoveling in lies upon lies between my coughs and sniffles. In light of all of this, I decided to come up with some commitments to be spiritually/physically/mentally/emotionally healthy.

1) Spending time in solitude for 1 hour before going to sleep (at a set time), spending that time in reflection/journaling/prayer.
2) Memorizing at least one verse from that day’s BRP.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

   41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

To my fellow Marthas- let’s not lose ourselves in the worry and upset of many things. Let’s lose ourselves in the intimacy of our Savior! When Jesus beckons us to come and rest, it’s not a friendly suggestion. It is an imperative choice we need to make, especially in light of the crazy, chaotic, frantic world that we live in. Here we go!

Tonight in LIFE group, we were sharing our reasons for why we had trouble believing in & experiencing God’s power to heal our wounds:

  • Does God really care enough for me?
  • Do I want to go back to that place of hurt that I’ve spent all these years running away from?
  • Is it really necessary? I’ve already figured out how to “manage” with this pain.
  • Is it even possible to heal my problems?

I thought about my life and all the areas I’ve experienced freedom and healing, and then all the areas in my life that still need to be addressed. I suddenly felt so overwhelmed by the sheer weight of it all and remembered Christ’s command in Matthew 11:  28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God heals. What is your testimony of healing?  What is your prayer FOR healing?

Do you believe that there’s power in the name of Jesus?

A few months back when I first got my braces a lot of people asked me why got ’em. In their opinion they didn’t see anything wrong. I think what they really mean is it wasn’t THAT bad. My teeth weren’t so bad that every time I opened my mouth to speak or laugh that it was unbearable to look at. But once I began to explain that well I used to suck my thumb when I was little and so my two front teeth are not aligned with the rest of my teeth, and how it’s so obvious when I look at pictures of myself, then they say okay okay I get the point.

The connection that I’m trying to make here is that sometimes we treat our sins and others’ sins that way too. Yes, I see that something is not quite right, but we shrug it off or even intentionally categorize it as “not a big deal”, meaning we can live with it. (But how can we live with it, if Christ died for it ?? ) We think :

Everyone else struggles with it too, or even worse !
I’ve tried and tried to conquer this area but I have just accepted it as part of who I am.
How can I point this out to others when I’m just the same?

Most Christians would publicly agree that “they are bad” (which is why they first accepted the Gospel) but also silently applaud themselves in not being “that bad” (and now the Gospel doesn’t apply to them anymore). Let’s not settle for “not that bad”. As I’m keenly aware of my physical imperfections, I hope I can be just as aware of the imperfections in my heart and seek perfection. And by Perfection I mean Jesus Christ, seeking repentance and forgiveness from Him. (oh, so we do need the Gospel again …)

A missionary couple came to share God’s Word and God’s heart with us in Ann Arbor last weekend. Out of the many testimonies and powerful things that God did during the revival, the most impressionable thing that I remember is the time that they spent with our leaders. As they were sharing from their humility and own brokenness as parents, the pastor’s wife said something that really sank deeply into many hearts- “On behalf of your parents, I wanted to say that I’m sorry- we’re sorry for our mistakes and shortcomings.” We had spent a mere .75 days with them, and yet their surrogate apology was medicine for a lot of aching hearts in that room. I could hardly contain my tears as I thought about my own struggles with my parents.

Coming out of those few days, we headed into our One Desire Fast. Oddly enough, God laid a lot of burdens about my family on my heart, which led to some very long, hard, yet rewarding conversations with my mom that week. I grew up having to get used to not having her around a lot. She was always working to provide for our family, coming home for a late dinner, often without sufficient energy to spend time with us due to her failing health.  It wasn’t until college that I started building a relationship with her over the phone (text messages will never replace a good old fashioned phone call!) Even over time and distance, I realized that she had always been my advocate, my friend, and someone who was able to show me grace in the midst of all of my rebellion and waywardness during my teenage years.

 

This past week was no different. I felt so ashamed as I painfully delivered yet another confession of my failure in an area of my life that God has been trying to correct. I didn’t want to tell her because I didn’t want to disappoint her, but I realized that it was not honoring to them to try and deal with this situation on my own. I feared the wrath that I thought was sure to come, but was instead met with a humbling response of rebuke, grace, and love. The main thing she wanted to know was why I hadn’t told her sooner. She didn’t hide her disappointment in the poor decisions that I had made, but she was also unwavering in her commitment to helping me in my situation. Her sacrifice to make up for my mistake was a tearful reminder of the gospel message. While they aren’t perfect, I’m thankful for my godly parents. I am finally understanding the truth and wisdom in this:

Ephesians 6:1-3 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.2 “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise–3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Perhaps you don’t have godly parents or maybe grieve over a broken family. May I encourage you to remember that you are rich in Christ through the spiritual family of believers? Has God placed anyone within your church community that plays the role of a spiritual mother, father, sister, or brother to you? Indeed, I’m more thankful that my parents are my spiritual family more so than that they are my earthly ones!

Coming back full circle, I think the way that this missionary couple ministered to us specifically in a “parental” manner really made this passage come alive for me:

1 Timothy 5:1-21 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

I’m praying for more inter-generational relationships to be built within our church community. I believe that we can be a powerful demonstration and vehicle of redemption of what it truly means to be a family- the way that God meant for it to be.