Saturday, May 3, 2008

Recipe Swap

In the same spirit of the "If God gives you time" posts, I also thought it might be nice to help you and help myself. Ever get really, really sick of eating the same thing, week after week? I think I get this from my mom. She's a great cook, but she's also a great collector. She's got a cabinet in her kitchen which is filled with papers...stacks and stacks of papers. Some cut from magazines. Some printed off the internet. Some from friends. All recipes that she just knows she'll get to one day. She also loves to try new things which did mean that we had some "amazing" combinations as I was growing up. (Was that nice enough, Mom?!)

It's also one of my greatest joys in being at home with Mom that she lets me cook! What's so special about that? Well...1) Mom and Stan buy the ingredients and they really love good food. That means I get to cook cuts of meat that I never even see at HEB! 2) I get kitchen prep help. Well, that's what I call it. Mom and Paula (my baby sister!) call it slave labor. 3) I don't clean. And any day without cleaning a kitchen is a good day. Especially after I cook. (I tend to make a bit of a mess.)

So, here's what I was thinking...I'll share a recipe each week that our family loves and that's easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner or toss together for a quick lunch or whip up for dessert when company's coming. Many of these recipes are from y'all anyway! In return, though, I'd love to hear back with more from you.

I'm going to start with a chicken salad recipe that is similar to one I saw my sister-of-my-heart, Katharine, make when she hosted a luncheon in her home. The only thing that's missing is the YUMMY dressing that she drizzled on top of it. She served it with cornbread muffins and fresh strawberries. And served fresh Georgia peach ice cream for dessert. It was so pretty and delicious. We made it the night before and plated it in no time as they sat down.

So, Katharine, in between feeding Lauren, chasing Henry and running with Emma Kate everywhere, think you could share the honey, poppyseed stuff with us? Hugs to everyone in GA, by the way...we're working on coming back!

Lemony Chicken Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 sour cream
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
3 to 4 cups fruit: red and white grapes, crisp apple
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 bag salad greens

Stir together mayo with next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Cut grapes in half and dice apple. Add chicken and fruit to sauce. Toss well, cover and chill 1 hour. Stir in toasted pecans just before serving. Serve over salad and drizzle with a light, sweet dressing (Hopefully Katharine's!) like a poppyseed dressing or honey based.

Notes: Light ingredients work well, too. Instead of using just cooked chicken breasts, I usually roast a whole chicken that's been basted with lemon juice and also stuff the cavity with the lemons. Salt and pepper liberally then bake at 350 for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on how big the chicken is.

Got another salad recipe you'd like to share? Look to the right side of the blog. You'll see a heading that says "Contact Me". Use that address and once I have a few, I'll post them all together.

Friday, May 2, 2008

If God gives you time

I think this may be the start of a weekly Friday posting called, "If God gives you time". Here I'll point out sermons that I've loved recently, books I've read, blog postings that I think are worth reading, news worth get the picture. I hate having to sort through everything to get to the good stuff. I love it when people I know or at least trust from past readings give me a clue to things that have benefited them. You'll notice that I've given you a listing of who I go to most often on the right side of this blog, but they are a prolific bunch! There's too much here for one sitting, but maybe you'll come back a few times to catch up!

Here's my start this week! Let me know if you find this helpful.

Matt Chandler is a guy that even Brennan will listen to everyday. The pastor at the Village Church in the Dallas area, he's energetic, funny and sound doctrinally. He did a sermon series in 2007 called "The Cross". I would highly recommend listening to all 6 messages which you can get to by clicking his name on the right side of this post and then clicking the 2007 tab. You'll see the listing by title. But here's the first one for you to try out called "Glory Thieves". (You can right click on it and then click "Open Link in New Tab" if you want to listen while you continue reading here.)

C. J. Mahaney
has a book coming out September 2008 called Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Crossway). He's giving us a preview over at his blog by looking at a chapter on modesty. Good for all of us and our daughters!

Newest web toy
...for those of us who walk, jog or even occasionally run (like from rabid dogs or small children) the website Map My Run is a pretty neat tool. You can enter your starting address and then click on the map that comes up to mark out a route for you to take. It will not only calculate mileage (Much better than driving around like before, esp. with gas here at $3.57 a gallon!) but there is also a calorie counter, other people's maps and much more.

In the time-saver category, I love that I can now view all the blogs I enjoy with my RSS Reader. Your what?? Exactly. Which is why you need to click here and get on board! (Yep. The same Piper family. Abraham is John's son.)

Can't let you miss Cassie's new blog (my oldest daughter), "Let Love Be Genuine" which is from Romans 12:9. She's a good friend to have and truly sets herself to love others without asking for a return. I'm so proud of her. They're testing at school so posts may be slow at first, but you can click here to see what she's up to and give her some feedback! (Picture is from prom night... sigh...yes, she's really that old now.)

And in the "grab a tissue" column comes this great video which reminds me why I love sports...

One of my favorite blogs is Between Two Worlds. Justin Taylor gives a great daily roundup of what's going on out there in the Christian world. You'll get updates on conferences, great messages to listen to, great new books to read (he works for Crossway) as well as discovering what controversy is brewing! One great link today from him tells us about a book series for kids entitled "Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers". It sounds like an amazing set of books for kids ages 4-8. Click the link above to read his post.

And finally, I read this Spurgeon quote also at Between Two's something for us all to think on...
"Would it not be a great degradation of your office if you were to keep an army of spies in your pay to collect information as to all that your people said of you? And yet it amounts to this if you allow certain busybodies to bring you all the gossip of the place. Drive the creatures away. Abhor those mischief-making, tattling handmaidens to strife. Those who will fetch will carry, and no doubt the gossips go from your house and report every observation which falls from your lips, with plenty of garnishing of their own. Remember that, as the receiver is as bad as the thief, so the hearer of scandal is a sharer in the guilt of it. If there were no listening ears there would be no talebearing tongues. While you are a buyer of ill wares the demand will create the supply, and the factories of falsehoood will be working full time. No one wishes to become a creator of lies, and yet he who hears slanders with pleasure and believes them with readiness will hatch many a brood into active life" (Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, p. 328).
Happy Weekend!

Encouraging you as if your my Mama

Part 2

In 1 Timothy 5:1-3, Paul exhorted Timothy to encourage older women as if they were his mother. He also told him in the very next verse to honor widows. I want to do both today as we all strive harder to obey His Word. I talked last time to younger women. We need to do better at showing that we really are in need of training as God's Word says in Titus 2.

Today, I'd like to speak to those of you who are a little older. If you are like me, you may find yourself somewhat in both camps. I hope that you might find this helpful if your stage of life has no kids because they've moved off or if you have your kids in high school or even if like me God has put women in your life who are significantly younger than you. For example, I have one friend, Laura, who has college kids into her home each Sunday night. Though her oldest child is 8 (right, Laura?), she has been granted others around her that she must be purposeful to train up.

But I really think that mostly it's the oldest "older" ladies who may feel the generation gap the strongest and therefore may be most reluctant to fulfill God's mandate to us. So, what do I want you to know about this younger generation? What would make you understand them a little better so that you would know how to approach them?

The ladies I was with Wednesday talked about this generation as though the younger women had no need of them. There is a perception that this generation can just google any answer to their problems. They are always on the move somewhere, rarely taking time to slow down. This can give the illusion that they've got it together. They don't look lost as they zoom through their life from school to soccer to ballet to Bible study to the store. What can I give them that they can't look up or buy online?

What you need to realize is there is a reason that self-help books and TV shows like Oprah and Dr. Phil make huge money. These younger women are in need...especially of knowing God's way of living in their homes. They are bombarded by messages from these sources which tell them the "healthy" or "successful" way of living. But no one, no one, comes to Christ knowing the way to go that would bring glory and honor to God. It doesn't matter how they appear to you. You have to know deep in your heart that they are lost and in need of help. But self-sufficiency has been drilled into them. Be all that you can be. Just do it. Life is what you make it. These are more than just ads to them. They are the way they think they're supposed to be, but are missing what it is that God wants them to be.

So, in the same style as the last post, here are a few things I think we can do to get ready to be there for the next generations. Since we're the older ones, I've added a couple toward the end. There should always be more responsibility on the elders of the community!
  • Speed up. Get on board with least somewhat. If possible, get a computer. Get an email account. Ask them to share with you some of the stuff that they love to look at online. Browse around and find something you want to share. (Yes, I know that you're thinking...Hello? Uh, Kim? If they're reading this, they have a computer. Actually, not necessarily! The one lady who might have one will print out copies for everyone! The one who is reading this needs to encourage her friends to jump in!)
  • Coo over their babies. There's nothing to break the ice better than a baby. And there's nothing a new mom wants to talk about more than the one that's consuming her life. Let her know that you've been there. Ask her how she's doing in specific ways like: What's the best thing you've seen so far about having a toddler this age? What's the hardest thing to figure out right now with him?
  • Let them hear about your struggles. I know many of you feel like you don't have a lot of "how-to's" to share. We learn as much from your "how-not-to's" as anything else. Tell us where you've been, what God has shown you as you've lived these years with Him.
  • Be where they are. Go to the studies they are going to. Sit by them at church. Walk across the street. Go outside in the evenings and encourage their kids to play in your yard. Be available to them. Have a kid friendly home: protect your valuables, keep some baby toys around in a bin, ask them if you can watch their kids while they go to the store or meet a friend for coffee.
  • Believe that God would not command of you what He does not supply in you. If He says: Older women, train the younger. You can do it. He will give you the power of His Word applied by His Spirit to their lives.
  • Take seriously the warning that if you do not get this, the Word of God's reputation is at stake. Listen again to the words above. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women 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. You must care so much about the Word of God not being despised and scorned that you try and try and try again to reach out to the coming generations.
  • Have a humble attitude. Be willing to serve, to spend yourself for the gospel, to obey the great commandment to teach these younger generations to obey what He command us all (Matt. 28:18-20). We all need to do the hard work of passing on what God has gifted us with. We have not been gifted for ourselves but to build up the church until we all attain to the unity of the faith (Eph. 4:11-16). Ask them. Seek them out. Give it a try.
  • Finish strong. You've struggled hard, but you are not done. At the end of his life, Paul wrote that he had fought the good fight. He had finished the race. He had kept the faith. Did that mean that he had given up pouring his life and ministry into the next generations? If he had, we'd never be reading those words because 2 Timothy would not have been written. Paul would have been sitting in that jail cell just waiting to die. But he didn't. He passed on instructions to the one he was leaving behind. That's your charge.
  • You're right. They don't understand where you are. Why do you expect them to? You are there to serve them, not be served by them. You have not paid your dues. You never could because you are serving the Savior not man. What could He ask of you that would be too much for you to do? At what point could you look at Him and say that you are beyond that kind of service? Or that He has asked of you more than He has a right to?
  • Know that it's easy to love them! They will bless you. They are so kind, so loving, so encouraging, so willing to learn. I'm sure there's a few out there who will think they know if all, but you know what? If she lives a couple of more years, she'll find herself in a place where she's lost and stumbling. God loves to oppose the proud.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

With love from Brennan

This is my little girl, Brennan. She saw a TV spot for Locks of Love a while back and then was inspired by our friends in GA last summer. So, she's been growing and growing and growing her hair out.

Last night was the night! Once again, I'm so taken aback by how their looks change when their hair is cut. She doesn't look like a little girl in this shot to me. Good news is that she loves her new "do"!

We're all so proud of her and so very grateful not to hear the words that greeted us each morning..."Could someone help me brush my hair??"

P. S. from Brennan...Hi, Nana! Love you!

Titus 2:3-5: First, for us young folks

Part 1

What a blessing at 40 to say that I am young! But there is nothing like entering a retirement home to get a little perspective! Yesterday I was the young'un who was privileged to be invited by my friend Nancey to talk to her group of ladies. They share the common bond of all being widows...some for months, some for years. They also share the bond of being over...well, let's just say Social Security has been going for a while and they know the ins and outs of Medicare. I came to answer some questions they've had as they've been studying together. Actually, I think I came to take any heat away from Nancey! She's a smart woman. Get the stranger to tell them what they don't want to hear!

They were kind, attentive, questioning, receptive to what I was saying about topics from fear to knowing the will of God to loving the unlovely to being confident in God's eternal plan not just for us, but sometimes especially for others. If they learned anything from me, we all understand that it was the grace of God!

But as I prayed about going, I thought about the mandate given to us as women in Titus 2:3-5...
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women 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.
Shouldn't the older woman have come to a younger woman's group to talk? Lord, please, may it be so. But that doesn't mean that I couldn't go to them to encourage, hopefully edify, build up and equip those sweet women. It did, however, start me thinking about why it can be so hard especially in the church to have this seemingly natural process of older training the younger. In talking to them today, they affirmed some of what I've been thinking so I thought I'd share some of it with you all.

Today I want to talk to the younger women...anyone, say, who's either pre-children in their home or still has kids at home...we need to understand the generations above us a little better. They were raised in a different world from us in so many ways, but one of the most impactful for this situation is that they were raised not to put themselves out there. They were taught the blessing of modesty, humility, not to think you know better than others and certainly not to put much stock in your own opinion. As they said yesterday to me: You were taught to save the best for never take the last piece of meat from the mind your own stay out of it until you were asked into it. They would never dream of walking up to someone and saying: "You need me. I can help you." They were taught that women, especially good southern women, waited until they were asked.

I can picture my Mama T (Mama's mom) here so readily. I see her in her Sunday skirt and jacket with the bow tied under her chin. Smile in place. A widow when her youngest child was in his teens. Then the pastor's wife. Perfect attendance in Sunday school as a child. Can you imagine all that she knew? All the wisdom from not only life, but in hearing the Word Sunday after Sunday? I can't remember her ever talking to me deeply. Ever even hearing her story. How did she come to Christ? (I hope Mom knows!) I was struggling sometimes when she saw me. I don't remember her ever pulling me aside to find out why the hurt was in my eyes or what had made me so happy as I ran through her house at Christmas time.

But you know what else I know? I know I never went up to her to ask. I never sat beside her to see what she might say. I never dreamed that what might be holding her back just might be the training as a lady that her mother had passed down. I never felt the lack of those discussions either, of course, until I was much older. She died the same week I gave birth to Aisley, our middle daughter, twelve and a half years ago. But we lost her in so many ways years before that to Alzheimer's. I was in my teens when I remember things seeming different in her. What teen is smart enough to sit at the feet of their elders? (Okay, Jesus was twelve, but you know what I mean!)

So, ladies, here's some thoughts for what we can do to kick start us all.
  • Slow down. Smile warmly at them. Pause when you pass them in the hallway or in the aisle. Comment on something they are wearing or something you see in them. Delight in them. In other words, act like they are coming into your home and be hospitable in attitude. Make them feel welcome in your day.
  • Let them coo over your babies and ask them about theirs. They've got lots of them to talk about...6 kids, 17 grandkids and do you want to see the newest great-grandbaby? What do you know? They just happen to have a picture right here.
  • Let them see you struggle. Oh, how these present generations of us love to be self-sufficient, independent, fine. And if not, we'll just google the answer. But by doing so, we are choosing to bypass the very means God commanded we use to learn. There is an inference in that verse above that if they are to train us, we must be trainable by them. So open up. When they say some thing like: How old is he? Don't just say: 6 months. Say instead: He's almost 6 months. It's been a blessing, but parts of it have been so hard. Was it like that for you? They will know immediately that you are doing more than just passing on information. You really think they have something to offer.
  • Be where they are. Go to the studies they are going to. Sit by them at church. Walk across the street. Go outside in the evenings and play in the yard with the kids. Be available to them.
  • Believe that God would not command of them what He did not supply in them. If He says: Older women, train the younger. They can do it. He will give them the power of His Word applied by His Spirit to our lives.
  • Take seriously the warning that if we do not get this, the Word of God's reputation is at stake. Listen again to the words above. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women 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. His Word must be of utmost importance to us and we must see that what happens in our homes matters greatly to the gospel. We often wonder how our day-to-day lives make a difference. Here's a huge one.
  • Have a humble attitude. See all above, right? But seriously, we all need to do the hard work of not passing by what God has gifted us with. Wisdom and faithfulness are theirs. They've been there and truly done that. Admit that you don't know and that asking a peer can often lead to two blind people stumbling around. Or worse it leads to us leading each other with experts who don't love us or our families. Ask them. Seek them out. Give it a try.
  • Know that it's easy to love them! They will bless you. They are so kind, so sweet, so helpful, so encouraging. I'm sure there's a grumbler in the bunch, but you know what? If she was born in the south, she was raised to be a lady! She'll act right when she needs to!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are you sure that's not just a strong suggestion?

(Why are you so afraid? Part 4)

Our original question was what can we do in times of fear? When situations run way past what we can handle? When we feel like our disciples felt, like we're drowning? And what happens when, even worse, it feels like Jesus is asleep? Seeming not to care that we are perishing?

The first answer to our question was to see that fear is not wrong. It's just usually misplaced. We are not to fear the storms, not to fear what life, people, money might do. We are instead to fear God and to serve Him only. And when we doubt that He even cares? We're to look to the cross where for once and for all God proved the depth He was willing to go to get us to Him. To give us all other good things? That's nothing. We got the treasure.

Then there's the understanding that fear is all based in the future. It's questioning whether God is really steadfast and faithful in His love and care for us. Sure His grace is sufficient for me now, but will it be if ______ happens? If he hurts me...if she dies...if the money's not there...if they really go...if the test is positive...if we say yes...if they say no... It's then that we must continually turn to His Word to see God. We must see Him clearly so that we can follow Him without fear. The verse that should help us (If God is for us who can be against us? Romans 8:31) is only helpful if we really see Him clearly. Otherwise, He looks weak, distant, uncaring, absent...asleep.

There's one thing that we must keep in mind in order to battle against fear. It's been implied throughout these postings, but I usually need things completely spelled out for me. So, here's the bottom line:

Fear God alone. All other fear is sin.

Those calls for us to "fear not"? Not suggestions for living a more peaceful life...not just ways for us to be happier...and certainly not ideas to be brushed off as if I can see so much better than God can and have a better grasp on this situation.

There is a book I read and have been going back to again and again as I struggle. (So, yeah. It's well worn.) It's called Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. If the guy had a website, I'd have a link for you to the right. God has gifted him to us to penetrate both hard questions and hard hearts. In chapter eight, "Anxiety and Frustration", he points out that worry, fear, anxiety are sins for two reasons: Fear is a distrust of God and also shows a lack of acceptance of God's providence in our lives. We've talked about the first one. The second is rooted in our looking more to the immediate causes of situations in our lives rather than remembering that all of those immediate causes are under the sovereign hand of God.

But it's his pointed words in the final paragraph of that chapter that I want to leave you with as you continue to fight the good fight of faith. Listen closely and test your heart to see where, like me, you have been making peace with your fear rather than seeing it as an offense to our Holy God.
Let me repeat, however, what I have said or implied throughout this chapter. Both anxiety and frustration are sins. They are not to be taken lightly or brushed off as common reactions we have to difficult events in a fallen world. Can you picture Jesus ever being anxious or frustrated? And whatever in our lives is not like Jesus is sin. Granted, we will never achieve complete freedom from anxiety or frustration in this life (at least I don't expect to). But we should never accept them as just part of our temperament any more than we would accept adultery as part of our temperament. Keep in mind that even though anxiety and frustration may not [seem] as serious as adultery, they are still sins. And all sin is serious in the eyes of a Holy God. (emphasis mine)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's a Girl!

Rachel Renee Ansley is here! She was born this morning at "8 something" (Of course, the lack of precise detail is just one indication that she's not their first child!) and weighs in at 8 lbs. 15 oz. She's a whopping 1/2 inch longer than her sister was, coming in at 19 inches. Monica is much better now! Dad (Barry) is reported to be taking stock out in anything related to epidurals.

Welcome Rachel. We've loved you for a while now!

But what if...

(Why are you so afraid? Part 3)

It occurred to me while writing this that I'm starting to see that all fear is future fear. Hard to fear for your life when your dead! It's not what is, really, that has us all turned inside out. Those emotions are more like grief, anger, relief, happiness, hurt. Reactions to what is, right now. In a sense I guess we could say that all fear comes from what we don't know. (It's an anticipatory emotion, right Cass?!) It's rooted in the future. Of course, it's not necessarily in the real, God-ordained future. It's in the future of our imagination.

This reminded me of a quote by Elizabeth Elliot:
There is no grace for our imaginations.

Grace is given for what we will have, what we will do, what will come. There is no faith for what will not be. Our fear comes from wondering if that future faith, that future grace, will be sufficient for what we see might be.

But what if my daughter _______ ?
How can I live without _____?
What will happen if _____?
If he really does ______ again, I don't know if I can forgive him.
But what if I see her and she _______ . I don't think I can stand it.
How could I cope if my son _______?

How do we battle back? The answer's not different than the last post, just applied a little further down the road. Is the God I know, love and serve today going to be there tomorrow? Will the power of the cross diminish tomorrow? Will He who began a good work really be faithful to complete it?

In case we were wondering and needed a little reminding, God gave us His Word...

But it doesn't seem like God loves me. It seems like God is punishing me.

Consider Romans 8:32...He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things.

But it seems like this is destroying my life, not helping.
Consider Romans 8:28...And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

But what if I don't have what it takes to keep going?
Consider 2 Corinthians 9:8...And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

But what if I lose my ______?
Consider Colossians 1:16-17...For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Also, consider Philippians 3:7-8...But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

No matter where we are, no matter what life brings, no matter who remains with us, God's faithfulness will endure forever. And in case we need a little repetition to remind us, consider Psalm 136!

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

Get the point??

Monday, April 28, 2008

Took me a little longer than it took Paul Harvey

(Why are you so afraid? Part 2)

I know he only made us wait until the end of the sales pitch to tell the rest of his story, but at least I'm not trying to sell you a Bose radio...(FYI for the younger crowd: old guy, storyteller, radio man...never mind...I bet he's not on iTunes.)

I almost titled the posting from Mark 4:35-41 "Two Stories. One Theme." But that would have been a little premature. A couple of days later, it's now "Four Stories. One Theme." I know that this is only the tip of the iceberg and many more women are a lot like me and a lot like our disciples...afraid.

Afraid of what is.
Afraid of what will be.
Afraid that what is will always be.
Afraid that what was will be again.

That's the four stories I heard in the last four days. Doesn't it seem like we just jump from one to another and back again? But the lesson in our story isn't the one that I usually see. I usually just think: They shouldn't have been afraid. They should have just trusted Jesus. I think that though that's close, it's not quite it. It's not enough to say to the disciples and to each other: Fear not. But if not fear, then what? It's actually easy to see how we all get so confused. Do you know what the most repeated command in the Bible is? Good guess! Yep, it's "fear not." But notice these verses:
Deuteronomy 6:13: It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
Ecclesiastes 8:12: Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him.

1 Peter 2:17: Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
The truth about the disciples fear is that it wasn't wrong. It was just misplaced. We're commanded to fear. Fear was given to help us in our lives here and in our worship of God. The disciples certainly should have feared. But not the storm...not for their lives...they forgot to fear the Lord. How like them I am. The wind blows. My life begins to sink and I cry out. Not only is that not a sin, it is the very definition of faith. I hope in God. I trust Him. I know that He is more powerful than the storm. I know my God is able. He is Sovereign Lord. And I know that because of the blood of my Savior, my God is willing to help me because I trust in Him alone. So, of course, I cry out to my God, my Savior and call for help.

But when He doesn't make the wind stop? What's my temptation? It's then I turn against Him. I doubt not that He can, but that He is good...that He is doing me good...that He knows what's best. I doubt His character. So, what now? What do we do when like the disciples we cry out to Him: Don't you even care??

The Bible tells us to look again at the cross. The cross is the mark of His love for us. Ephesians 2 tells us that we were not good people who needed a little help. We were enemies of God. We were children of disobedience who followed the prince of the power of the air. We were dead in our sins and trespasses. And while we were cursing God, belittling His name, scorning His path...He gave up the treasure of heaven for us. Jesus died for us, to reconcile us to God and to open up heaven to us that we might be with God.

The cross proves the worth of God's glory and the depth of our sin and is the greatest act of a loving, caring, compassionate God who delights to bring His children good things. But when we want what we want more than we want God, we fear the wrong things. Isaiah 8:13 tells us: But the LORD of hosts, Him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

And when He is then He is not only LORD God Almighty, but Sovereign Lord over all my life. What He deems for the day is good for the day. What He withholds is a marvelous grace. That which I thought was so valuable is now seen for the cheap trinket it is compared to the treasure of knowing Christ and being found in Him. (Phil. 3:8-9) My life is not my own to worry over (Matt. 6:25-27), but a gracious opportunity to serve Him and show Him off to the world, whether by life or by death. (Phil. 1:19-23)

My fear is rightly placed. My mind is rightly ordered. My emotions settle. My body glorifies the Lord. May it be today for us all.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How 'bout we jump ahead of the curve?

Most of you know that the ESV (English Standard Version) Bible is my absolute favorite. But in October my Christmas list gets a little longer! The ESV Study Bible comes out! Great men like J. I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, John Piper (you knew that was coming, right?), Thomas Schreiner and Mark Dever are all contributors along with so many others. There's even a website you can look at now for those of us who are just geeky enough to do so. (Click here and make me feel better about my own level of geekiness.)

But now a challenge has been issued...Ray Ortlund wrote this recently about the upcoming release:
I have met people who knew a lot about baseball, a lot about oldies rock and roll [oops], a lot about computers, a lot about a lot, but I have never met anyone who knew the Bible too well. Not one person. Ever. Especially not in these times.

The ESV Study Bible comes out this October. I see an opportunity here. Could we all give ourselves ESV Study Bibles for Christmas and then set 2009 apart as "Our Year of the Bible"? Could we all give less to other things so that we give more to the Bible? Could we bore down together and discover the wonders of this holy Book as never before? Could we acknowledge our spiritual hunger, and thoughtfully, carefully, attentively, daily feed our souls? Could we shut off the noise and listen? Could we re-set our focus from the voices inside our heads to the Voice in the Book? And if we did, is it even conceivable that we could then come to the end of 2009 and say, "Dang. I could have done more TV and more computer and more video games and more dumb stuff. What a loser year 2009 has been! Next year, man, it's going to be different. No more of this Bible-focus for me. I'm going to LIVE again"? Is there any chance, any chance at all, that could happen? Or might Jesus become more real to us? Might the Holy Spirit be poured out? Might we look back on 2009 as our turn-around year?
So, I was would it be if we all got started a little early and then just hit the ground running come January 1st? What's one way you can think of to give a little more time to that which you will never regret doing?