Monday, April 25, 2011

Visionary Monday: Of First Importance

An old writer well said, “A family without prayer is like a house without a roof, open and exposed to all the storms of Heaven.” All our domestic comforts and temporal mercies issue from the loving-kindness of the Lord, and the best we can do in return is to gratefully acknowledge, together, His goodness to us as a family. Excuses against the discharge of this sacred duty are idle and worthless. Of what avail will it be when we render an account to God for the stewardship of our families to say that we had not time available, working hard from morn till eve? The more pressing be our temporal duties, the greater our need of seeking spiritual succor. Nor may any Christian plead that he is not qualified for such a work: gifts and talents are developed by use not neglect. ~ Arthur Pink

Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!
~ Psalm 66:20 everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ~ Phil 4:6

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
~ Col 4:2

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"wimpy theology makes wimpy women"

I love what this photo captures. It is earthy and real, yet incredibly radiant! It shows the joyful heart of Christ through a young woman wholly devoted to her LORD! There is a divine glow to this kind of womanhood, and Miss Kate is filled with it.

I was reflecting on womanhood earlier this afternoon and I recalled a sermon that John Piper had preached on this topic. I remembered his bold assumption that wimpy theology makes wimpy women. This is an ancient truth! True, Biblical womanhood has always been under attack since the creation of mankind. However, in our modern day, it is being stripped of its strength even by the Christian industry, which is probably the saddest and most frustrating reality of all! This stripping is very subtle, but it's present and powerful because it is causing women to draw their eyes more to themselves (their needs, wants, "self-esteem" messages, etc) than to the glory of God, His purpose for the universe, history, and our lives.
John Piper began his message with some powerful examples of women committed not to self, but to the glory of their King. I just included my favorite passages from this sermon, but I would encourage all to read/listen to the full thing from the link that I posted below. I think he does a wonderful job at drawing all of this out from Scripture in his sermon notes.

Marie Durant

The opposite of a wimpy woman is not a brash, pushy, loud, controlling, sassy, uppity, arrogant Amazon. The opposite of a wimpy woman is 14-year-old Marie Durant, a French Christian in the 17th century who was arrested for being a Protestant and told she could be released if she said one phrase: “I abjure.” Instead, wrote on the wall of her cell, “Resist,” and stayed there 38 years until she died, doing just that (Karl Olsson, Passion, [New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1963], 116–117).

Gladys and Esther Staines

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Gladys Staines who in 1999, after serving with her husband Graham in India for three decades learned that he and their two sons, Phillip (10) and Timothy (6), had been set on fire and burned alive by the very people they had served for 34 years, said, “I have only one message for the people of India. I’m not bitter. Neither am I angry. Let us burn hatred and spread the flame of Christ’s love.”

The opposite of a wimpy woman is her 13-year-old daughter Esther (rightly named!) who said, when asked how she felt about her father’s murder, “I praise the Lord that He found my father worthy to die for Him.”

Krista and Vicki

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Krista and Vicki who between them have had over 65 surgeries because of so-called birth defects, Apert Syndrome and Hypertelorism, and who testify today through huge challenges, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”; and this: “Even though my life has been difficult, I know that God loves me and created me just the way I am. He has taught me to persevere and to trust Him more than anything.”

Joni Eareckson Tada

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Joni Eareckson Tada who has spent the last 41 years in a wheel chair, and prays, “Oh, thank you, thank you for this wheel chair! By tasting hell in this life, I’ve been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy” (Christianity Today, January, 2004, 50).


The opposite of a wimpy woman is Suzie who lost her husband four years ago at age 59, found breast cancer three months later, then lost her mom and writes, “Now I see that I have been crying for the wrong kind of help. I now see, that my worst suffering is my sin—my sin of self-centeredness and self-pity. . . . I know that with His grace, his lovingkindess, and his merciful help, my thoughts can be reformed and my life conformed to be more like His Son.”

Wimpy theology makes wimpy women. That’s my assumption that I bring to this evening. Wimpy theology simply does not give a woman a God that is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and good enough to handle the realities of life in away that magnifies the infinite worth of Jesus Christ. Wimpy theology is plagued by woman-centeredness and man-centeredness. Wimpy theology doesn’t have the granite foundation of God’s sovereignty or the solid steel structure of a great God-centered purpose for all things.

God’s ultimate purpose for the universe and for all of history and for your life is to display the glory of Christ in its highest expression, namely, in his dying to make a rebellious people his everlasting and supremely happy bride.

God has created man as male and female because there are aspects of Christ’s glory which would not be known if they were not reflected in the complementary differences of manhood and womanhood. Therefore, true womanhood is a distinctive calling of God to display the glory of his Son in ways that would not be displayed if there were no womanhood.

Married womanhood has its unique potential for magnifying Christ that single womanhood does not have. Single womanhood has its unique potential for magnifying Christ which married womanhood does not have.

So whether you marry or remain single, do not settle for a wimpy theology. It is beneath you. God is too great. Christ is too glorious. True womanhood is too strategic. Don’t waste it. Your womanhood—your true womanhood—was made for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Excerpts from The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood

Monday, April 18, 2011

To praise You forever...

A musician's random musings upon some weighty reflections. Sometimes, we're apt to burst.

To praise You forever
A weight to bear;
To sing Your affections
A tension, divided.
In fading fervor,
And straying fancies,
Still, this ache,

Eternity's light
Is as a devouring flame,
An ever abounding work,
To place Thy Spirit
At the root
Of every pursuit.

Love is not to burn,
Though, in heat it delights.
No, love prospers in
It deepens in
The silence.
It matures in

To praise You forever
Fruit of broken ground;
To sing Your affections
From refined devotion.
In the quiet,
Through the waves,
Now, Thy love,
Ever-present, upheld,
Flourishes within my heart.

By, yours truly, Spring 2011.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth. ~ Psalm 34:1

By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. ~ Psalm 42:8

Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. ~ Psalm 145:2

I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. ~ Psalm 146:2

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Reflections ~ Excerpts

I told myself, "No more. Wait awhile." But, I cannot convince myself to stop reading missionary biographies and accounts for too long. Besides, it has been more than several months since last I picked one up.

The selection? The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson.
Oh my...upon reading the first chapter, the excitement washed over me again! Now, these are the stories that I love to hear - stories where the Spirit of the Lord is triumphant in the darkest of places! David Wilkerson records a moving account of the Lord's particular call on his life, during his early years as a husband and father, to reach the teenagers on the streets of New York. These were teenagers involved in violent, fighting gangs, homosexual gangs, Lesbian gangs, sadist gangs, and are all enslaved to pornography, heroin, various narcotics, obscene sexual acts, prostitution, etc.
I'm not yet done with this book, but I'm savoring every chapter of this incredibly miraculous story that occurred on the streets of New York about 50 years ago.

"Angelo," I said to him one day as were walking down a Harlem street together, "what would you say was the greatest problem have in this city?"
"Lonesomeness," said Angelo quickly.
It was a strange answer; lonesomeness in a city of eight million people. But Angelo said the feeling came because nobody love you, and that all of his friends in the gangs were basically very lonely boys. The more I came to know New York the more I grew certain that Angelo was right.
(pg 48)

Strangest of all, they were afraid that something...might make them cry. Bit by bit I came to realize the horror these young people have of tears.
What is it about tears that should be so terrifying? I asked them again and again, and each time got the impression that tears to them were a sign of softness, of weakness and childishness in a harsh world where only the tough survive. Yet I knew from my work in the church how important a role tears play in making a man whole. I think I could almost put it down as a rule that the touch of God is marked by tears. When finally we let the Holy Spirit into our innermost sanctuary, the reaction is to cry. I have seen it happen again and again. Deep soul-shaking tears, weeping rather than crying. It comes when that last barrier is down and you surrender yourself to health and to wholeness.
And when it does come, it ushers forth such a new personality that, from the days of Christ on, the experience has been spoken of as a birth. "You must be born again," said Jesus. And the paradox is this: at the heart of this newborn personality is joy; yet the joy is ushered in by tears.
What instinct was it that told these boys and girls they might have to cry if they came into contact with God? They had their own way of expressing this fear, of course. I paid return visits to the gangs I had met, the Rebels and the GGI's, the Chaplains and the Mau Maus, inviting them to the rally, and everywhere it was the same. "You're not going to bug me, preacher. You're not going to get me bawling."
Everywhere the same fear of the unknown, the same clinging to the familiar no matter how wretched, the same resistance to change.
(pg 67-68)

The enemy lurked in the social conditions that make up the slums of New York, ready to grab lonesome and love-starved boys. He held out easy promises of security and freedom, of happiness and of retribution. He called his promises by innocent names: Clubs (not murderous gangs); Pot (not narcotics); Fish-Jumps (not an anger-filled, unsatisfying sex stimulation); and Jitterbugging (not a desperate fight to death). He built in his victims personalities that were almost impossible to reach. He threw around these boys a walk of thick, protective hardness; he made them proud of being hard.
Against his strength, I considered my own weakness. I had none of the usual weapons. I had no experience. I had no money. I had no organizations backing me. I was afraid of the fight.
...Perhaps there was a curious paradox in my lack of strength. Perhaps in this very weakness lay a kind of power, because I knew absolutely that I could not depend upon myself....perhaps God would choose just such a palpably ill-equipped person as I, so that the work from the very start would depend on Him alone. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
(pg 52, 54)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

God’s Love: Blocked, Then Accepted

by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

May His love triumph us in this way.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Visionary Monday ~ A Glimpse

I have felt inspired to chronicle bits from my journey as a stay-at-home daughter. While I hope these evidences of God's grace in my life serve as encouragement for others, my primary reason for wanting to journal these things is to remind myself of the LORD's calling on my life. These posts will serve more to direct my thoughts and heart towards His divine and faithful purposes in my life. I love searching for the beautiful traces of His fingerprints in what I once, in years past, labeled as the 'monotonous drone of every day life.' As a die-hard idealist and dreamer, I once rejected the home as training ground for the LORD's work in my soul and foolishly spent myself upon other pursuits. But the LORD in His mercy saved me from my path of self-destruction and clearly revealed Himself to me in such a way as I shall never forget! And, in that revelation, He granted me such a clearness of direction as to His specific plan for me. In His answer, I found a peace that completely washed away all my questions. He called me to return home to my family (not just in body like so many times before, but in heart!). So, here's a glimpse into what I have been learning and remembering at home as of late...

Calvary Love

Yesterday, during the service at the church that my family and I go to (Heritage of Faith Family Church), one of the elders gave a sermon on Colossians 4 and spoke specifically on the LORD's purpose and vision for the family. He discussed the different, but complementary roles of each member of the family and gave a very rich, detailed picture of family life. However, there were specific selections from it that I was challenged by. These Biblical principles have been re-occurring themes in my life, and so they win a special emphasis for this post.

1) When your family is ministered to, then you will be fulfilled.

2) While a spirit of independence remain in the home, unity cannot be maintained.

3) Selflessness is what makes a family work.

Almost immediately, I was reminded of Amy Carmichael's "if's."

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting, “Who made thee to differ? And what has thou that thou has not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love

If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any; if I can speak in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I find myself half-carelessly taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I have not the patience of my Saviour with souls who grow slowly; if I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing) till Christ be fully formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

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 by doing some work which the undiscerning consider “not spiritual work” I can best help others, and I inwardly revel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me and the little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am inconsiderate about the comfort of others, or their feelings, or even of their little weaknesses; if I am careless about their little hurts and miss opportunities to smooth their way; if I make the sweet running of household wheels more difficult to accomplish, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient; if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joy’s mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I avoid being “ploughed under,” with all that such ploughing entails of rough handling, isolation, uncongenial situations, strange tests, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

...the list could continue on and on.

How often it is that I miss opportunities to further minister to my family because of that spirit of independence. While I may be fully present at home, my heart and mind often drift elsewhere. Not committed, focussed, or devoted to my family. Then, that spirit of independence becomes a spirit of discontentment. I become tired or weary of the daily hum of life, or disappointed by those around me, rather than increasing in the affections of Christ. I often have thought to myself, "Oh, I just don't love my Jesus enough! If I loved Him more, I would be so focussed on Him that my heart would be pouring itself out in love for others." While this may be true to an extent, I have been convicted that one can love Jesus very much and yet still be acting independently of Him because they have not submitted to His full reign. The reason why I am not always and fully available to minister to my family is due to the fact that I am not, first and foremost, always and fully available to my King. Yes, the spiritual disciplines of daily prayer and reading/meditation of the Word are spiritual disciplines that I live upon; however, am I communing with my LORD throughout the day as I tend to chores, running errands, projects, school, et? Or, am I subject to every stray thought and emotion of mine, and, on stressful days, walking through the events of the day in a fluster? So often it has felt more like the latter.

Gentle & Quiet Spirit

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. ~ 1 Peter 3:3-6

I never realized until earlier today, as I was thinking over this passage, the connection between a gentle and quiet heart hoping God and submitting to their husbands. While this verse refers to Sarah's submission to Abraham, I believe there is something even more significant to be said for the submission of a woman's heart to her soul's first Love.

A young and immature love is prone to act upon emotions and thoughts rather than from a broken will and a heart that is fully ruled by the One who holds all its affections. Wife, mother, and author, Nancy Wilson, paints an accurate picture of the 1 Peter 3 woman.

"Some people mistakenly think that a gentle and quiet spirit is displayed when a woman never speaks. This has concerned some of the outgoing personalities because they don't know how to be a silent lump. This is merely looking at externals. Certainly sometimes a quiet spirit will be exhibited by silence, but not always. And a quiet person can be all worked up on the inside. This is missing the point. A heart that is resting in the faithfulness of God is gentle and quiet; it is not stirred up with worry and anxiety. This gentle and quiet spirit is a calm, peaceful spirit. It is a tame spirit, a gentled spirit. I have often compared this kind of spirit to a glassy lake, not turbulent or troubled, but hardly showing a ripple. In contrast, the anxious spirit is like a stormy sea with whitecaps whipping along the shore. This of course brings to mind our Lord calming the troubled Sea of Galilee. Likewise, He can calm our troubled spirits when we look to Him."

To become that glassy lake that is as still underneath as it is on the surface, takes daily dying.

To Wait. To Hope.

We are not ignorant of the straying thoughts and emotions that dwell within us moment by moment. We are exhorted to take them captive. We are not unable to dispel that cloud of frustration or discontentment. We're told to "give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess 5:18). We are not to be weighed down by the heaviness of unexpected circumstances or difficulties within our family relationships. We are called to cast off all such burdens onto Him (Psalm 55:22). Christ prayed for us, "Father, sanctify them in Thy truth; Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17). We have access into the transforming work of His truth by His Spirit. The Word of God does not return void, nor does He ever lie (Num 23:19). For He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it (1 Thess 5:24).

Maybe it feels like the Word of God isn't practical enough for a particular situation or issue. Maybe it doesn't always bring immediate results. But the Word is not based upon what we're feeling or wanting. Just allow yourself to meditate on His Word and allow the Spirit to minister to you throughout your day.

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! ~ Psalm 105:4

"For this is how holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves..." The key word there is hope. Hoping implies that there is a process of waiting daily before Him. Hoping implies that one is seeking Him continually.

I write all this to conclude that the strength of a family is determined by the level of each member's givenness to the LORD and to each other. This is essential to a completeness of unity and love amongst each family member. May we ever seek to grasp the fullness of this vision for the family!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Melody of You

You're a painting with symbols deep, symphony
soft as it shifts from dark beneath
a poem that flows, caressing my skin
in all of these things You reside and I
want You to flow from the pen, bow and brush
with paper and string, and canvas tight
with ink in the air, to dust Your light
from morning to the black of night

This is my call I belong to You
This is my call to sing the melodies of You
This is my call I can do nothing else
I can do nothing else

You're the scent of an unfound bloom
a simple tune
I only write variations to sooth the mood
a drink that will knock me down to the floor
a key that will unlock the door
where I hear a voice sing familiar themes
then beckons me weave notes in between
a tap and a string, a bow and a glass
You pour me till the day has passed....

~ By, Sixpence None the Richer

I love you, O LORD, my strength. ~ Psalm 18:1

O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells. ~ Psalm 26:8

Monday, April 4, 2011

Visionary Monday ~ A Glimpse of Spurgeon Family Worship

I just happened across a very incredible post through The Resurgence website on Charles Spurgeon and family worship. It's so timely and perfect for 'Visionary Monday' that I am compelled to share it! The post is called, A Glimpse of Spurgeon Family Worship.

We have all likely heard of the public ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. However, his private ministry in his home may be even more compelling as he gives a profound example of what it means to pastor your first church body—your family.

Spurgeon says:

“If we want to bring up a godly family, who shall be a seed to serve God when our heads are under the clods of the valley, let us seek to train them up in the fear of God by meeting together as a family for worship.”

Susannah, his wife, describes the nightly scene at their house:

“After the meal was over, an adjournment was made to the study for family worship, and it was at these seasons that my beloved’s prayers were remarkable for their tender childlikeness, their spiritual pathos and their intense devotion. He seemed to come as near to God as a little child to a loving father, and we were often moved to tears as he talked thus face to face with his Lord.”

A visitor tells of his evening in the Spurgeon home:

One of the most helpful hours of my visits to Westwood was the hour of family prayer. At six o’clock all the household gathered into the study for worship. Usually Mr. Spurgeon would himself lead the devotions. The portion read was invariably accompanied with exposition. How amazingly helpful those homely and gracious comments were. I remember, especially, his reading of the twenty-fourth of Luke: “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.” How sweetly he talked upon having Jesus with us wherever we go. Not only to have Him draw near at special seasons but to go with us whatever labour we undertake... ...Then, how full of tender pleading, of serene confidence in God, of world-embracing sympathy were his prayers... His public prayers were an inspiration and benediction, but his prayers with the family were to me more wonderful still... Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding thousands spellbound by his oratory. Spurgeon, despite a schedule that would crush most and physical ailments that would cause the rest us to tap out, maintained this time with family regardless of his circumstances or company. It was his great joy to do so. May it be the same with us.

Last, but not least, I found this nugget of truth from a post by Blessed Femina, whose blog I absolutely adore!! Thank you, Miss Jen.

"Every Christian family ought to be a little church,

consecrated to Christ and wholly influenced

and governed by His Laws."

-Jonathan Edwards

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Reflections

There is joy, joy found nowhere else, when we can look up into Christ's face when He says to us, "Am I not enough for thee, Mine own?" with a true, "Yes, Lord, Thou art enough."

He will be enough for you. "Shall never thirst" is a true word, and whatever His thoughts may be for your life, He will satisfy you. "Thou, O Lord, art the thing that I long for." And to you He says, "I have longed for thee." That deep, wonderful word amazes me again and again. Psalm 132:14 Prayer Book Version: "For the Lord hath chosen Zion to be a habitation for Himself: He hath longed for her."

This morning I read the two letters to the Thessalonians. Don't you think it is lovely that "the joy of the Holy Spirit" should be mentioned in connection with suffering? You are now in a very good position to prove that gift of joy. It is easy to rejoice when everything is as one wishes it were. But when things are exactly as one wishes they were not, it is not so easy. Then is the time to prove the things we believe. Your whole life now is a proving of His power to enable you to do anything. You will never be able to fear again, I think, after all this.

~ Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark