May Your Weekend…

Be full of rejoicing and resting in knowing that God is near. His presence is greater than His presents.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.


A Poem

“Give me the Love that leads the way

The Faith that nothing can dismay

The Hope no disappointments tire

The Passion that’ll burn like fire

Let me not sink to be a clod

Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God”

— Amy Carmichael

The Truth of Joy

Christmas is over, but I’m still singing the carols of the season. I’ve got one particular song stuck in my head and heart for good. Oh, I’ve sung it a million times before, but something about this Christmas made it different.

You see, God is good all the time, I just don’t always notice it. And the pessimist in me fails to open my eyes to the amazing wonders of all that He has done. Sadly, I notice what’s missing. What’s gone. What’s lacking. What’s wrong. Living like this sooner or later catches up with you, and this fall, it got the best of me.

I found myself lost and in a bit of a spiritual crisis. “Where is my joy?” I wondered. I can read about it and sing about it, but I realized that I wasn’t preaching the truth of joy to my heart and certainly wasn’t living it.

Until one Advent Sunday this past Christmas. Singing the old familiar carol {how many times have I sung it, really?!}, I heard the words for the first time.

“No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground,
He comes to make his blessing flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found.”

Suddenly, an image flashed through my mind of ice-covered Narnia thawing out as majestic Aslan arrives to usher in the life and hope of springtime. How had I missed this? This is the blessing conquering the curse. This is the picture of redemption and restoration. Where there once was curse, now there is blessing. Where there once was brokenness, there is now healing. And where there once was darkness, there is now light. Aslan is on the move, and he is reversing the curse everywhere. In focusing on the deadness of the winter of my life, I had almost missed the glorious renewal of springtime blessing and joy! The truth of joy is that when we finally notice His infinite blessings all around us, He sprouts new seeds of joy in our hearts.

It’s a picture of my Savior swallowing up sorrow and sin, and yes, all those nasty, prickly thorns of the brokenness of life this side of eternity, and making all things new now.

And once again I am captured by the wonders of His love and can finally sing again this New Year, “Joy to the World, the Lord has come!”

Remind me of this truth of joy each day, Jesus!

Happy New Year 2012

“And he who was seated on the throne said,
‘Behold, I am making all things new.’
Also he said, “Write this down,
for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:5

I love the beginning of a new school year and the beginning of a new calendar year. Something about setting the “reset” button that gives me new hope and gladness.

And since it’s been a bit of a crazy fall, I especially appreciate the chance to start again this New Year. To push the “reset” button of my life and get some priorities back on track.

So what am I looking forward to in 2012?

This year I want to…
laugh more….
build better relationships….
trust deeply….
dream new dreams….
and rest evermore in my changeless God who gives good gifts to His children.

What about you? What are you looking forward to God making new in 2012?

In a Nutshell…

“The Bible is God’s story of what he is doing in his world. It is the story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. We learn from this story that God created us to have fellowship with him, to serve him, and to glorify him. We learn that Adam, our predecessor, failed in carrying out his role, plunging himself and us into a new world order of sin and death. We learn that God, even in his giving of the curse for Adam’s disobedience, offers the hope of redemption through the seed. That seed, as the story unfolds, turns out to be his Son, Jesus Christ, the God-man.

Through Christ’s work on the cross, he undoes what Adam did. Through his perfect obedience he makes a way for us who were cut off from God, alienated from him, to be brought near, to be reconciled. We also learn that Christ’s work set in motion not only the redemption of sinful humanity, but also the restoration of all things, that someday the new heavens and the new earth will come to pass and the curse and night will be no longer.

This comprises God’s grand story that pulses through the pages of God’s Word to us, the Bible. It is also the story that God invite us to participate in. He created us in his image and gave us a mandate to subdue and have dominion over his creation. He has called us to work, to cultivate, his world. He also calls us into fellowship with him by taking us from being “in Adam” and placing us “in Christ.”

And we are called to a life of transformation into the image of the Son. We bear Christ’s image as we proclaim, both through our words and our actions, the gospel, the story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.

This is the greatest story of all time.”

excerpt from Welcome to the Story, by Stephen J. Nichols

Today is brought to you by the letter "P"…

…and a really cool guy with a great name and a great story.

Tullian Tchividjian, pastor and a regular contributor at the Gospel Coalition, writes about preaching the gospel to yourself daily. He’s got a lot to say about relying on Christ’s performance rather than our performance. Good stuff, I say! Check it out…

“We no longer need to rely, therefore, on the position, the prosperity, the promotions, the preeminence, the power, the praise, the passing pleasures, or the popularity that we’ve so desperately pursued for so long.

Day by day, what we must do practically can be experienced only as we come to a deeper understanding of what we are positionally—a deeper understanding of what’s already ours in Christ.

I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking. To really mature, I needed to find a way to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on.

Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation, but Christ’s external substitution. We desperately need an Advocate, Mediator, and Friend. But what we need most is a Substitute. Someone who has done for us and secured for us what we could never do and secure for ourselves.

The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more of Jesus and his performance for me.”