Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Bronte/Austen Standoff

I've been inspired to spew my thoughts on this finally. I wanted to take the
time to re-read and read all the works of Bronte and Austen so that I would be buffed up on my thoughts but I'm a busy homeschooling mom of three and let's face it, there is no time for my literary analysis sessions.

So, let it be said that I'm going from my impression from past reading. Rick and I are in the middle of watching the Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre that just came out. Now, you have to know, Jane Eyre is my all time favorite book in the world next to the bible and C.S. Lewis. I am a hard core fan. So, the movie has to be good, real good. My favorite (as you will see in my profile) is specifically the Timothy Dalton BBC version of Jane Eyre, but yes, it's getting dated. So far, this one has me in Jane Eyre heaven, I LOVE IT! I even love the Mr. Rochester in it, and that's a hard thing to say. Mr. Rochester is to me almost more important a character in the book than Jane Eyre herself, and next to my husband, my biggest heart throb. Forget Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp step aside, Mr. Rochester is the stud of all time (did I say next to my husband yet:). Thankfully, he is not even real, so I'm okay right!? I've been impressed with the character since I first read the book at 14 or 15.

Yet, on to my whole Bronte/Austen comparison. Here is the shocking conclusion ladies and I realize that I may shake up you Austen fans a bit. (Donna, help!?) Especially as Austen has been loved and highlighted in christian women circles. She seems so modest...but is she? Well, yes, but...

Jane Austen is the soap opera of her time. Plain and simple.

Her books are wonderful, and a great read, no doubt, but they do center around a romantic dilemma where Bronte centers around a moral dilemma which therefore effects the romantic dilemma. Many people refer to the Bronte books (by sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne) as "dark". Well, people, life is dark. Life is not all romantic dilemmas of misunderstandings and girly dramatic assumptions as to what the male species is thinking. Life is a moral challenge, a tug at your heart as to what you should do when ethics combat your emotions. Bronte does that, she reaches in and pulls at your heart. That is writing.

Notice that in all three main books "Jane Eyre", "Wuthering Heights", and "The Tenant of Wildfel Hall" there is a moral dilemma that keeps them from their love. In Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester has married a mad woman (oops, spoiler alert a little too late:*) and yet he falls in love with a fresh sweet breeze that is Jane. His dark world is startled by the appearance of bright sunshine and warm breezes, yet, he is legally and morally tied to a woman he cannot love nor receive love from.

"Wuthering Heights" (I remember this one the least) is the moral dilemma of a man in love with a woman who toys with his emotions and marries someone else despite her love for him. What is one to do?!

"Tenant of Wildfel Hall" is about a woman who has married a violent drunk. She and her child have to leave him because of the severity of his problems. In her day and time there were not programs to enter, no support for these women. She was ridiculed and looked down upon and many wondered why she lived alone. To top it all.....she falls in love. I need to read it again really, I was around 17 when I read it last. I remember reading for a whole day to finish it. Gripping!

My point? Austen is great but she is a gentle ride on the drama queen boat. All her main characters are somewhat over-reactors to really quite simplistic situations. Bronte brings depth, she makes you face things you might not know what you would do if it were you.

"Dark" and nitty gritty, compelling, heart wrenching, triumphant, REAL...and that is good literature.

I hope you can get the Jane Eyre Master Piece Theater from's very good, its wonderful! (oh, I have seen part one only...I'm assuming the rest is going to be just as good as part one..I'll let you know...I'm so anxious for it to come!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Let's Talk Food

It's Wednesday and I see no one has a recipe yet for breakfast........
okay, lets just try a favorite recipe. Does anyone have anything that's a favorite they would like to pass on. A great, works every time and brings much happiness to the pallet recipe? Do you guys like to cook? Hmmmm....

I beefed up The Cupboard again. A new look, a little change. Ah, nice.

I love Pyrex so I found a cute pic to top off the new look just right. I was going vintage kitchen...let me know what you think.

So, I want to kick off the site with a bunch of new recipes. I'm going to go by category and I will post your recipe on the Cupboard blog to share with all! If you have a pic paste the URL for it on your comment with your recipe and I will post that too!

So, Let's Start with breakfast. What is one of your favorite breakfast recipes? One of mine is this one. It can be coffee cake, egg bakes, muffins, special pancakes, quiche...whatever!!

Just post your favorite one on comments here or you can email me at

Thanks, I look forward to it!

A Major Blessing For One Little Girl

I have to take a moment to say how blessed we were by our Pastor and his family. Here he was, last sermon before his sabbatical, full afternoon of talking to the church family at a special BBQ for their family send off, and all the way at the end he and his lovely wife Paula had us over for enough time for Princess to ride their daughter Marie's horse Noel. Princess missed out on this when we missed the last ladies bible study because of her sister throwing up. So, it was so wonderful for them to take this time before they will be on their three month break. Thank you Wiemann's!

"Every good and perfect gift is from God. It comes down from the Father."

James 1:17a

On a side note: did anybody else feel the earthquake today? It was 3.9. A gentle jolt. God reminding us how really in control he is!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Springs In The Desert

"but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
John 4:14

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.

more on this later.......

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kitchen Makeover

Okay, I said I was leaving.....I know.

Yet I thought this would be better as it's own post. My friend Karen will find this interesting since she use to live in my house!
Here is the before:
Not bad, just a little too dark for me. It was a deep slate green.

The after:

The lighting makes the first one look much more olive than it really is. The pics below show more if it's sage tint.
Some of you who know me know my passion for Crazy Daisy, the vintage Corell and Pyrex pattern I love and have collected from thifting and gifts. This color is much more on the pallet of the Crazy Daisy. The other green had too much blue and made a clash. I took some pics just to illustrate.

The final results:

And that's my sweet goofy son wanting to be in the picture. :)

I'm OFF!

I'm off to a women's retreat tomorrow! (Here is me doing the "ah-huh, ah-huh" dance:)
So, today that means:
Put together the kitchen I painted yesterday (I'll come back and put pics here when I get it!)
Do all the dishes from not doing them for 24 hours.
Make meals for the weekend for my wonderful husband who does not cook:).
Laundry so I don't go naked (nor does my family while I'm gone!)

I will also be enjoying a stroll to the local little library and park with my sister/friend who had her new fourth baby a month ago. Fun!

I am really looking forward to soaking up even more of what God has for me! For long talks up late like we are all little girls again, early morning devotions and coffee by the running brook, and eating that which I have not slaved over!
I'll be doing the retreat dance in my heart all day joyfully working in anticipation of the break.
See ya'll on Sunday!

I have had a conclusion about the "Juno" poster. It is in the Comments on the "Where have all the little girls gone?" post bellow.

...and thank you Christina for watching my rowdy babies part of the weekend! You are a blessing to serve and I thank God for your willing heart!

Ladies, Family Life is excelent today. It's about the Titus 2 Woman. It's encouraging if you are feeling thin and stretched as a stay-at-home mom.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Light Load of Random Thoughts

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light" Jesus

Oh, you can tell when you are taking on something more than God wants you to. You start to feel heavy. You start to feel burdened. You start to feel like you are pulling a load that is too much even though you may be as determined as can be to get to the place you want to go. Yet the fact is (1) That may not be the place God wants you to go, (2) Your not meant to carry that load, and (3) You're a stubborn ox who God loves enough to let you know it.

For me, the door is closing on a lot of theological issues brought up on the blog lately. Why? Because I think the answers have been complete and biblically based (in fact they have mostly been scripture itself). I am thankful for all who have been discussing on both sides of the issue. I will continue to pray for God's glory in all of your lives.

More importantly the Lord is telling me to be still and know that He is God. He is also reminding me of this passage:
Colossians 3:12-17
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

These discussions on God are very possible even though we disagree at times. This is all because of Christ though. His love in us is our only way to not become defensive, proud, and accusatory. Since I feel that all has been covered I now lean on the need for the attitude developed and consistently showing in me that is commanded of me in the verses above. I will be thankful for the Lord for this time and I know that because He is faithful it will bear fruit in season.

I look forward to May. Because of the anniversary of my dad's passing I have decided to visit the wonderful and encouraging topic of heaven. I will be going back through Randy Alcorn's book "Heaven" and sharing thoughts along the way. My life forever changed because of the things I learned from my dad's death and the reading of this book by Alcorn. I hope to encourage others and have everyone ready and eager for our future to come. I know that remembering these things will keep my heart steady on through the emotional month.

I painted my kitchen today! I also scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. I even mopped the floor under my fridge...yuck. The grease in the stove vent, the muck on the top of the cabinets. As I scrubbed I remembered a similar story our pastor told about cleaning out sewage with a neighbor and commenting to him over and over "oh, this is so like our hearts!" I was convicted today to be always aware of my need for Christ to clean out the muck of my heart.

1 Cor 13:2
"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

I got a note from Amy that she was sad to hear the discussion was ending since she felt we were just getting to the heart of the issue. I realized that I may have not been clear above. I will not be going on with it. Anyone wanting to continue is more than welcome to keep discussing on the post comments. I would never keep anyone from saying whatever they needed to or to ask what they needed to ask. If there are more questions, I would be happy to seek biblical answers. I feel that all topics that have been presented all ready have been fully explained in a biblical way. I encourage myself, and others to seek the word and pray.

Where Have All The Little Girls Gone?

Feelin' some righteous anger.

I'm in Walmart this week and there is a display for the movie "Juno". Haven't seen it, don't' know much about it except from this experience. All I know is that the cardboard display has a girl looking about 13/14 (and a very young version of such) with jeans, converse shoes, stripped t-shirt, with little piggie tales. Her feet were turned inward to present a feeling of awkward careless youth. In her hand is a large fountain soda and the straw is in her mouth. She is a busting 8/9 months pregnant. On the other side is some awkward boy with a bewildered face wearing his basketball uniform.

I hoped my ten year old didn't' see it. I knew she would be asking why and how the little girl was pregnant. If she had, I would have considered it God's timing to dive into these things but I was not happy for the exposure.

What is happening to our culture when we are not shamed to display a life size image of a little girl bursting with child?

So, I guess what I'm wondering in my head is whether this is something worth calling my local walmart about. The display I mean . Right out in front as you come in the door. Should I expect it? Should I just be okay that me kids see these things? Are we not subliminally changing what is normal in children's minds? Especially if they don't have God's word fed to them and truth shown to them through their parents. Is my trip to the store something I have to worry about now? I know the magazine isle is always a worry but walmart has been pretty good about that. I know this is not por*, but it is disturbing in another way. It is a vulgar blur on girlhood.

What do you think? Have you seen it?

Ironically my ten year old is the same height as the cardboard prego.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

God Intends Trials for Good

What is a trial?

Dictionary definition: Subjection of a person or thing to a test, to determine something in question; a test of one’s virtue or faith, or patience, by affliction or temptation; process of trying or testing; proving, to check, examination; trouble, hardships.

Concordance - to test, prove or examine. A putting to proof, through adversity, temptation, a testing.

Psalm 139: 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

A trial is anything of any size that tests your faith in God.

It’s anything that puts your faith to the test by making you come face to face with what you believe about God and His sovereignty, power, faithfulness, love etc. And then you must choose between doubt or believing. We make our choices based on what we believe about God. God faithfully bring us into situations that are designed to stretch our faith, otherwise our faith would stagnate. Making the right choice increases your faith. We might doubt and be afraid, but faith is forged through doubt. When in doubt, trust and obey and your faith will grow!

According to scripture trials come with a purpose... notice the intent of trials in the following verses...

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

1 Peter 1: 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in ALL KINDS of trials. 7These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

2 Corinthians 4:16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 1: 8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia . We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Romans 5: 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

The Word shows us that God uses trials to test and increase your faith. And as God gives you insight to understand the incalculable value of faith you will begin to understand why God tells us to, “Count it pure, joy for trials.”

There is nothing more beneficial in the producing of faith than trials because trials expose doubt more than the good times. Therefore since the most glorious thing in the life of a believer (after salvation) is to have their faith increased, then trials are to be counted as pure joy.

But this is only possible for those who desire their faith to grow and it is only possible for us to desire this because God has placed the Holy Spirit in us.

The Refiner's Fire Story

Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to read the scriptures and make them the subject of conversation. While reading the third chapter of Malachi they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse.
"And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

One lady's opinion was that it was intended to convey the view of the sanctifying influence of the grace of Christ. Then she proposed to visit a silversmith and report to them what he said on the subject. She went accordingly and without telling the object of her errand, begged to know the process of refining silver, which he fully described to her.

"But Sir," she said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" "Oh, yes madam, " replied the silversmith, "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression,

"He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

Christ sees it needful to put His children into a furnace. His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; "the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

As the lady was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back, and said he had still further to mention, that he only knows when the process of purifying was complete, by seeing his own image reflected in the silver.

Author Unknown

(all of the above from Tami Rutledge)

Monday, April 21, 2008

How Do We Glorify God? (and more)

My blessed friend Amy has been a delight to me. She is an avid seeker of truth. Oh, that we would all follow her example of searching after God and the answers he wants us to have!
I have been nursing a sick seven year old all day and yet really wanted the bottom line answers to these wonderful questions. We can ALL benefit from these reminders!
(Personally I have to say a funny. I've had the words on my heart of Jesus the past two-three days: "If you love me, you'll keep my commands" which is referred to by Tami here in this post. God in his goodness allowed me to see myself through my son. Superkid was making an "I love you" sign and picture for me. It was so sweet. Then he smiled and said "And I also did that" He had drawn a smilie face and something else on my candle centerpiece on the table that is white. I had no anger because there was no room when the Holy Spirit spoke to us both through my mouth "Yes, but if you love me, you will keep my commands!" )

Amy's comment was on the post linking to a wonderful conference session by Piper
She wrote:
So the next question...
"God does everything for His glory and I'm commanded to join Him in it",
1. How do we do this?
2. How do I know if I have done it right or enough today?
3. How do I know if I've satisfied or pleased Him in my glorying?

From Tami Rutledge: (thank you dear friend you have been so kind to serve with your time:)

What glorious questions!

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

First we must never forget that positionally God is pleased with us because He sees us through His Son, He sees us as perfect. Nothing I do or don’t do will change that!

We could never please Him more or less in that regard because it has nothing to do with us. That was accomplished through the precious death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Glorifying God is an honor and a privilege and one that should consume our thoughts.

Glorifying Him is how I demonstrate my love for Him

The desire to love God flows from my heart because the Holy Spirit lives in me. Our hearts cry is to please Him, to hear Him say, Well done. Not because we have to, but because we can’t bear not to!

Psalm 34:3 Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 86:12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

Romans 15: 5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2 : 1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

But, God wants us to live our lives in such a way that we please Him. This is not about our position in Christ, it is about our condition. It is about what we look like to this world. We are to be reflections of Christ. We are to be “little Christs” to this world. We are His ambassadors.

Romans 8:6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

Colossians 1:10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

God’s desire is to continue to do a work in us so that we look less and less like those who live according to the patterns of this world and we begin to look more and more like a reflection of Christ Jesus. This is the process called Sanctification.

Colossians 3: 5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

So, to answer your questions… How do we do this. Many ways… our giving of money or time with a cheerful heart, using our spiritual gifts, praying, witnessing, raising our children, cleaning, driving, ….

We glorify God / please Him when by faith (which comes from God) we put to death our sinful responses and instead out of love for God we obey His word.

For example, someone is unkind to you and you desire to be unkind in return, or think unkind thoughts, or talk about them to someone else, or withhold kindness or forgiveness. That is the patterns of this world. But God calls us to take up our cross and follow Him. That means… put those sinful responses to death and instead obey what God has called us to do in scripture.

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Colossians 3:12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

How do you know if you have done it right or enough for today.

You know you have done it right when you have the joy of the Lord instead of anger, resentment, bitterness and no peace. You know you have done enough for today when you fall into bed and go to sleep. Because you see, glorifying God is what we do when we make choices. All day long you will find yourself making choices… what do you listen to, what do you think about, what do you do with your time, how do you respond to this person, how do you respond to some news you heard, how do your respond to your child, how do you respond to split milk, broken washing machine… etc etc… all day long. It is in our thoughts, our words, our facial expressions, etc that we glorify or grieve our precious Lord and savior.

Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

1 Thessalonians 4:1Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.3It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 4:1Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

How do we know if we have satisfied the Lord… number one thing to remember is that He is the one helping us do this, it is a process. The deceiver (Satan) would love us to always feel as though we have fallen short so that we give up trying. But God is delighted in our hearts desire to please Him. It is the same when a child is learning to walk, when he takes his first faltering step we as parents are delighted, we call grandma , we write it in the baby book!! PROGRESS! That is how our loving heavenly father is, our daddy. He delights in our progress. He sees our hearts.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Personally I never knew until I was in my 30s that my purpose for existence was to please God.

When we glorify God we are eye pieces to this world and they look through us and see JESUS!!

It is not and never can be about duty or earning something. It is out of love, like in a marriage. I am married and nothing will change that, but the more I know my beloved the more I desire to please him. I delight in getting to know him so I know what pleases him and what doesn’t please Him.

I am God’s child, he is my daddy, nothing will ever change that. But my heart desires love the Lord my God with all my heart soul mind and strength. And I can do nothing on my own. Anything I do that is good, glorifies God because without Him I can do nothing!

I love Him.

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

John 14:23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 14:24
He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

John 15:10
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.

1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 John 2:5
But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:

1 John 5:3
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

Why is obedience so key to loving God – because His commands are written for our good and when we trust and obey we are saying, God I believe you, I believe that obedience is what is best for me. You sent your son to die for my sins, I don’t want to sin against you any more. (But God knows I will, but what delights Him is that I don’t want to, I want to repent and never ever do it again, because I love Him and hate to grieve Him.)

Ephesians 4:30
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

This is not about the law, it is about love!

Providentially Session 2 of Piper dealt with the above and as I'm making chicken pot pies, I'm listening. It's great. I think God is so good to walk me though all this with my friend Amy, with Tami, and it is a set of pieces that he seems to want to just have fall into place. Listen and be encouraged.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mommy, Did You Hear Me? Hello, Mommy!?

I've been hearing that a lot today. I find myself spacing. Spacing when I'm driving (thank the Lord for angels), spacing when I'm shopping (thank goodness for the list),and spacing while eating. The kids must think I'm pretty strange because I'm always having to be pulled back from far and away somewhere.
What have I been thinking about? Well, today mostly the Glory of God. No, I'm not trying to be spiritual. You know that hard wrestling match I went though with the Lord last week? I see now that He was preparing me for some great feasting at His table. He was wiping me clean of all else around me so that I was at His feet, empty and ready to listen. Little did I know I was there to do some major intaking.
I sat in the Walmart McD's and as we were all munching on a dollar double cheeseburger (do you know how yummy those are when you have been dieting? Wow. I ate real slow) and as my kids chattered I could not help but notice every face walking by. The different ethnic groups, the old and the young, the light and the dark. All in the image of God. How little I think I must know of Him! I was most captivated though by the fact that the very things of his mighty hands give no thought to Him. Perhaps this is because my head has been so constantly on seeking the Lord this week that I wondered for a moment what it would be like to lack that Joy. I don't know, I don't ever want to know, but God used it to give my heart burden. Piper says that we should ask the Lord to grow our burden for the lost. Just by recognizing who He is causes that to grow naturally. He is so great and being given the privilege of participation with Him as He achieves the goal of His glory is so fulfilling and satisfying that when I am filled with it I hurt for them. Oh, that they would taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, that they would drink deeply of the water of Life for their thirsty souls. Oh, that the light would shine of His glory in the darkness of their hearts.
Why is this amazing? Well, as a mom at home with three kids I kind of forget there is anyone beyond my neighbors. I just let myself absorb how many people are really out there, made by God, unknowing of Him. Notice it when you are on the freeway, just let yourself absorb that those cars are full of people. Most of them don't know the Lord. What are their lives like? What idols have they run to to fulfill themselves? Food? Sex? Money? Beauty? Fame? TV? Work? How has it left them empty?

I was convicted by a DVD sermon I watched while walking on the monster (I have been forgetting to update my miles and have lost track. I know I've met me 150 goal so I'll be starting over at zero soon). He stressed that the glory of God is the "good" part of the "good news" and that if people don't see it, they will not understand the whole purpose for all other components of the gospel and why Jesus came, died, rose, forgave etc. I have never realized this before. Yet it says in scripture (2 Cor4:3-7). It has caused me to ponder it all day today to the point that I cannot seem to stop. This glory of His, when revealed to us is the essence of our captivation in Him. I have certainly been captivated today.

Practically I would like to say that I was convicted by Tami's comment on my Part 2 post. She mentioned that these truths were good for my children (I'm paraphrasing). That hit me like a rock. I have been so caught up in my searching and it was so hard for me to think through these things, that I never once considered them things I could teach my children. Yet, I knew she was right! They need to know that these choices are theirs as well. Choices to trust God or focus on themselves. I began to pray that day that God would show me how I can shrink these truths down and apply them, and teach them in a nutshell to my kids. After all if truth is unable to be applied, what good is the truth to begin with?

I had a break through with Princess today. It was very related to what we have also learned from Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. Yet, it was related to the issue of getting down to the motivations we have that seek self.

I was in the grocery store (don't all mommy adversity moments happen at the grocery?) and Superkid was in the large part of the cart sitting down (he stopped fitting in the kid seat ages ago). I put the first bag in the cart. He began to fumble through to see what was in there. Princess told him to not mess with the bag. Now, this has been an ongoing issue with she and I that she is not to "Mommy" them unless I'm asking for her help or I am not there.
Long story short she told me she was trying to help. Since her tone was not very nice when she told him, I was pretty sure her motivation was control. Yet, how would I get her to see the bottom line of where her heart was? I said an inside prayer for wisdom.
"Princess," I said. "You may very well be right. You may very well have been wanting to help. However, I would like you to know right now so we are clear, that when I am there, this is not a help to me or Superkid. Superkid does not need that help because I am here to deal with anything that comes up and to make the judgement as to whether he is in trouble or not. So, in the future you now know that that is not a help I'm needing from you. So, if you find yourself tempted to boss him, you need to consider that your sin nature is causing you to want to be in control. If that is your motivation, then you need to stop. When you boss your brother and sister out of a selfish spirit that longs to be controlling for the sake of your own feeling of power, you are in sin. If you want to help with a serving spirit, that is wonderful, but you now know this is not a help need that mommy has."

She seemed to totally understand the difference. I thought "Lord, if I could live in a shack and never have a frill in my life to speak of, yet my life was full of those clear and precise moments with my kids, I'll take that again and again."

I'm still praying how to apply these truths specifically.
I'm blown away with the flood of thoughts on God seeking His glory. You know the amazing realization is that He will have a passion to fulfill it and I am part of that fulfillment.
It makes the end of the story that I've always known to be a victory, all the more glorious. It makes Him SO BIG! It makes me so amazed to be on His mind. It makes me thankful. It brings me joy.

Just a Bunch of Clangin' Clay Pots

I hope you all go to read the these two posts: Christian Women and Depression (written by Tami Rutledge) and it's Part 2 (which I wrote with excepts from "Desiring God" included in blue text).

In relation to Part 2 I read this morning some words from 2 Cor. 4:7-18
So in case you read that and find inability in yourself thinking "how can I do that practically?" here are some encouraging words from Paul:
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels (the treasure of the glory of God through Christ), so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death works in us, but life in you.
But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE', we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
for all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not loose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
for momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

These are certainly words for the depressed, discouraged, and frustrated. They speak encouragement of an on going work that God is doing in us. They speak of that large lens of perspective. I hope they add something for those of you who read. They spoke to me and I only come to share.

I think if I ever were to have another blog it would be called "The Clangin' of a Clay Pot".
Anything I bring here to this blog is from a Clay Pot. It's amazing to me that God has chosen to house his very glory in these pots. Yet, the very fact that he does allows him to shine all the more because there is no beauty in us, yet what we can pour out is the very treasure of heaven. The more I understand this, the more I forget myself. Perhaps instead of wearing a cross necklace, we should all go out and get one that bears a clay pot. (no, there is nothing wrong with a cross, that's not what I'm sayin' here people:) The Lord is really showing me I need to more and more back off trying to be a be a shiny vessel and just be happy being a pot. The more unastounding (did I just make up another word?) I am, the more amazing He becomes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Polls Are Closed

Well, that was fun.
I learned some things:
-Most of you visit every day or every other day...hey, thanks! I love visitors! It makes me feel like I've had company without the drive (which is even long for my closest friends:).
-The majority of you don't like the music on the blog (42%). This one is the hardest for me...I love music! However, I know where you are coming from, I have to hit pause many times myself. I may compromise with you and put on some quiet tunes.
-You all seem encouraging about the range of blog material. Not to be mean on this one but I was just trying to get your thoughts, I had no intention of changing anything! Oooooooo......
Actually I feel I have to apologize to those of you who hate a long blog because the material the past few days has been massive! Yet, if you read it all the way through, I think you will see why it was all important. That one person who said they liked lots of deep reading is probably my happiest visitor this week!
-Most of you (68%!!) only comment when you have something to say. If you were all me, there would be endless comments on the blog, I always seem to have something to say. Am I surrounded by that many quiet women!? Just so you know, and many of you do, I LOVE COMMENTS! Just for the mere fact that I get thrilled when people participate with the topic whatever it is and I don't have to have a one sided conversation with myself! You are my visitor but I don't know you are here if you don't talk. It's like someone coming over, sitting on your couch, listening to you, and then leaving w/o a word. You have to understand I am just strangely conversive (and no that is not a word, I just made it up) . So, you are not wrong to be silent, and I don't hold it against you (though I may sound like I have an attitude) it's just that I love to hear from you. You know what's not about me and I'm okay with that. :)
I'm just glad you enjoy stopping by.

So, like I said that was fun, and thank you for your votes. I will have new ones soon about new things. Glad to know your paying attention.

The Hard Truth That God Exists to Glorify Himself

The issue came up in the comments on this post about the fact that God exists to glorify himself.
I was amazed to be listening to the first message from John Piper our Pastor linked from his message (Piper that is) here close to us recently.
It addresses 3/4 the way through the EXACT issue of God existing to glorify himself. It helps sort it out. I'm amazed at the clarity!
It's tough, but good to my soul.
It speaks to EXACTLY what some concerns were expressed on the kidding....EXACTLY!
WOW God you are so determined , aren't you!? Thanks.

Chrisitan Women and Depression Part 2

A Breakthrough
This morning I woke to read more of the article referred by Tami on the Desiring God website. The writing is found here. I highly suggest printing it and going over it again and again and again. Pray for the Lord to complete our understanding. However, be joyfully patient that He is working. It's some deep stuff. Some of it goes against what we like to think about God. Praise the Lord that He is not defined by us!
From my reading I was giving a revelation of truth.

Our emotions are effected by what we focus on as truth.

I received a revelation from the Lord. Not through a dream (I wish, that would be more dramatic), and not through a vision ( I should not be surprised because God uses mostly his word to reveal himself in our time). This revelation was through prayer and faith in Matt 7:8 "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." I believed that there IS an answer to this mystery of depression for the christian and that God wants us to know it.
As I went about my day yesterday I pondered ALL day on the subject of happiness. I took John Piper with me to the Children's Museum and realized that a misunderstanding of happiness would indeed translate his teaching (and God's word) in a way he did not intend. Christian Hedonism (and more importantly, the gospel) is all about happiness IN GOD.
I felt a little insane trying to think so hard this week. I felt the limits of my finite brain. Yet, in understanding that we are finite and therefore unable to comprehend even a morsel of the wisdom of God he still asks and commands us to seek. He would not ask us to seek if He did not intend that we should find. This does not end at any point in our lives however, it is a continuation and a link to our sanctification.
I first thought our problem was in our definition of happiness, and I still think it is to some degree. Happiness is a sister to peace and Jesus says "My peace I give to you, not as the word gives give I unto you." Though this is not exactly the same, the Lord kept running the verse through my mind so I am certain there is a correlation.
So let's just for understanding sake, take away the saying that joy and happiness are different, because by definition they are similar. Let's just use the word happiness as Piper does. Even when we do this we find that there is a worldly happiness (let's call this "temporal happiness" meaning happiness here on earth) and godly happiness (meaning what some would call "joy" but more importantly defined as the happiness found in God alone from his working and with the goal of eternity).
When we are in Christ our godly happiness begins and starts it's sanctification process. It is the happiness so firm in Christ because HE does not change, His plans do not change, who we are in him does not change, and his promise of eternity does not change.
Our temporal happiness comes and goes so fast and is determined by our circumstances ( i.e hormones, trials, adversity, pms, pms,wind up to pms, wind down from pms, did I mention pms? Yet not exclusively so!). It is not to be trusted and it is the happiness focused on self instead of God. It is the happiness God wants us to discontinue our striving for. Yet, He encourages that we, infact demands that we, pursue happiness that God gives us.
I felt like much of the discussion was good on the post comments but I could not get my head to the root of what is happening to us as we slip into depression, frustration, discontentment, and temporal unhappiness.
The fact is there are many types and forms of depression. So we have to get to the root of them all at once.
I found the answer in the article referred by Tami, on page 6.
Piper starts by getting us to see that God is happy and always seeking his happiness. Then the question arose...

How can God be happy and decree calamity?

Consider that he has the capacity to view the world

through two lenses.

Through the narrow one

he is grieved and angered at sin and pain.

Through the wide one

he sees evil in relation to its eternal purposes.

Reality is like a mosaic.

The parts may be ugly in themselves,

But whole is beautiful.

Many of us have gone through a period of deep struggle with the doctrine of God's sovereignty. If we take our doctrines into our hearts where they belong, they can cause upheavals of emotion and sleepless nights. This is far better than toying with academic ideas that never touch real life. The possibility at least exists that out of the upheavals will come a new era of calm and confidence.

It has happened for many of us the way it did for Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was a pastor and a profound theologian in New England in the early 1700s. He was a leader in the first Great Awakening. His major works still challenge great minds of our day. His extraordinary combination of logic and love make him a deeply moving writer. Again and again when I am dry and weak, I pull down my collection of Edwards' Works and stir myself up with one of his sermons.

He recounts the struggle he had with the doctrine of God's sovereignty:

From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God's sovereignty.... It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God....

But never could I give an account, how, or by what means, I was thus convinced, not in the least imagining at the time, nor a long time after, that there was any extraordinary influence of God's Spirit in it; but only that now I saw further, and my reason apprehended the justice and reasonableness of it. However, my mind rested in it; and it put an end to all those cavils and objections.

And there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense.... I have often since had not only a conviction but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God. But my first conviction was not so. 3

It is not surprising, then, that Jonathan Edwards struggled earnestly and deeply with a problem that stands before us now. How can we affirm the happiness of God on the basis of his sovereignty when much of what God permits in the world is contrary to his own commands in Scripture?

How can we say God is happy when there is so much sin and misery in the world?

Edwards did not claim to exhaust the mystery here. But he does help us find a possible way of avoiding outright contradiction while being faithful to the Scriptures. Putting it in my own words, he said that the infinite complexity of the divine mind is such that God has the capacity to look at the world through two lenses. He can look through a narrow lens or through a wide-angle lens.

When God looks at a painful or wicked event through his narrow lens, he sees the tragedy or the sin for what it is in itself and he is angered and grieved. "I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the LORD God" ( Ezekiel 18:32).

But when God looks at a painful or wicked event through his wide angle lens, he sees the tragedy or the sin in relation to everything leading up to it and everything flowing out from it. He sees it in all the connections and effects that form a pattern or mosaic stretching into eternity. This mosaic in all its parts-good and evil-brings him delight. 4

"It was the will of the Lord to bruise him."

God willed the crucifixion of his Son.

The sin and pain

he abhorred

(through the narrow lens).

The sin-covering, death-conquering obedience

he delighted in

(through the wide lens).

So it is with all pain and sin:

Grievous in itself, it does not thwart his plans,

or diminish his deepest delight.

For example, the death of Christ was the will and work of God the Father. Isaiah writes, "We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God.... It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief." Yet surely, as God the Father saw the agony of his beloved Son and the wickedness that brought him to the cross, he did not delight in those things in themselves (viewed through the narrow lens) . Sin in itself, and the suffering of the innocent, are abhorrent to God.

Nevertheless, according to Hebrews 2:10, God the Father thought it was fitting to perfect the Pioneer of our salvation through suffering. God willed what he abhorred. He abhorred it in the narrow-lens view, but not in the wide-angle view of eternity. When the universality of things was considered, the death of the Son of God was seen by the Father as a magnificent way to demonstrate his righteousness (Romans 3:25-26) and bring his people to glory (Hebrews 2:10) and keep the angels praising forever and ever ( Revelation 5:9-13).

Therefore when I say the sovereignty of God is the foundation of his happiness, I do not ignore or minimize the anger and grief God can express against evil. But neither do I infer from this wrath and sorrow that God is a frustrated God who cannot keep his creation under control. He has designed from all eternity, and is infallibly forming with every event, a magnificent mosaic of redemptive history. 5 The contemplation of this mosaic (with both its dark and bright tiles) fills his heart with joy.

And if our Father's heart is full of deep and unshakable happiness, we may be sure that when we seek our happiness in him we will not find him "out of sorts" when we come. We will not find a frustrated, gloomy, irritable Father who wants to be left alone, but instead a Father whose heart is so full of joy it spills over onto all those (Christian Hedonists) who are thirsty.

God's Happiness Is in Himself

God employs his sovereignty to display

the great object of his delight,

his glory,

the beauty of his manifold perfections.

He does all that he does to magnify the worth of his glory.

He would be unrighteous if he valued anything more

than what is supremely valuable,

namely, himself.

I began this chapter by saying the ultimate ground of Christian Hedonism is the fact that God is uppermost in his own affections:

The chief end of God is to glorify God
and enjoy himself forever.

What we have seen so far is that God is absolutely sovereign over the world and that he can therefore do anything he pleases, and is therefore not a frustrated God, but a deeply happy God, rejoicing in all his works ( Psalm 104:31), when he considers them in relation to redemptive history.

What we have not yet seen is how this unshakable happiness of God is indeed a happiness in himself. We have seen that God has the sovereign power to do whatever he pleases, but we have not yet seen specifically what it is that pleases him. Why is it that contemplating the mosaic of redemptive history delights the heart of God? Is this not idolatry-for God to delight in something other than himself?

So now we must ask: What does make God happy? What is it about redemptive history that delights the heart of God? The way to answer this question is to survey what God pursues in all his works. If we could discover what one thing God pursues in everything he does, we would know what he delights in most. We would know what was uppermost in his affections.

This exploded my thinking.
Like God, we can see through these two lenses. HOWEVER, w/o Christ the large lens doe not exist and with Him we cannot see the picture of the large mosaic but we see that it is there through faith in the sovereignty of God. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I Cor 13:12
We cannot see the picture of the large mosaic but we learn to trust that it IS THERE and that IT IS BEAUTIFUL! This large lens as Edwards calls it, is for us a knowledge and a work of faith in the sovereignty of God.
When God looks at the dark specifics of the mosaic he experiences grief and anger (this is a recognition worth noting) but amazingly ( and because of his nature) it is an observation alone and does not taint his happiness. He can at the same moment flip to the big lens and see (or perhaps does this simultaneously since he is not bound by our natural limits) the work as a whole. He has immediate satisfaction that even the dark hue is made beautiful in relation to the whole.
It's like looking at that mosaic ( or tapestry, or painting...) through a microscope and saying that hue is black- it is not pretty but then stepping away from the scope and seeing the TRUTH that the whole piece is in fact a masterpiece of art.
Here is where we struggle. We, in our sin focus in and stay there. This is the root of depression. We are affected in our emotions by what we believe to be true. If we are focusing on that tiny dark hue, we will be depressed. We are not given the privilege of the full view, but we are given Christ. Through His salvation we are given faith. Faith is seeing what is unseen, it is falling on what God sees and knows. Through faith we can choose to focus on the greater truth of God's sovereignty.
In between one lens and the other, we make a choice. We can choose to focus on what is looking dark to us, or we can ask this question: "What, oh Lord, are your desiring to accomplish in me for your glory through this dark hue?" This is our transport to living life through the big lens.
This question, through the power of the Holy Spirit and made possible by the salvation through Christ, allows us to focus with the large lens of God's sovereignty. Whenever we choose to obey and look through that lens, we are changed. Because we are focused on a NEW AND GREATER TRUTH that even our emotions are effected by.
We are emotionally effected by what we focus on as true.
God is perfect, he does not sin. He can see the pain and dark but not sin in his reaction to it. We are the srugglers. Christ is our salvation, and in Him we are sanctified as we choose more and more to obey and look through the lens of his son. This is our service to him, this is our pleasing of God. Works are an outpouring, a fruit of this faith. This how a missionary can serve his whole life and say it cost him nothing.
Let's look at this practically and test it!
You meet up with a friend at the park. She is down, she is depressed. First you need to know why (and if she does not know, you can ask to pray for her that the Lord would show her). Depression is always our emotional response to the dark hues. Let's say she is tired of dealing with and is discouraged by the disobedience of her children. She does not feel happy as a mom. These kids are messing up her temporal comfort and happiness, they are also messing up her confidence (therefore temporal happiness again) in herself as a mom. How does she respond biblically and come out of this? First she has to realize that God is not in the business of creating her temporal comfort and happiness (If this was Gods goal through Jesus then the very first Christians were abandoned by God because their faith brought them nothing but temporal unhappiness and even death in the most brutal ways. Therefore if this was the goal, then the gospel failed and is failing still), but in her godly happiness (and this may also be called holiness or a product of God working our holiness through sanctification). She has a choice to continue to look through the tiny lens or to ask of God what he seeks to do through her and her children through this dark time. This sounds simplistic but it is not. Through the question above she will see the truth that this trial is not about her, but about God (as are all things), and the goal of His glory that He strives for himself and that we have the most satisfaction from when we strive with Him and for Him). It is also about getting her mind off of how this trail effects her and onto the greater truth of how it will sanctify her. This is where the finished work of Jesus becomes the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:6) from the starting point of justification.
When she chooses to look in faith (for she cannot see fully) through the lens of God's truth and sovereignty she will find the open door out of depression. This does not mean she will not recognize the dark hue of trial for what it is or convince herself it does not exist, rather she will choose to remember it is not the lens that sees fully and truthfully. This process is not done instantly as it would be with God (or with no time at all as it may be with Him) but with the time he has ordained that it should take for us. However, if we seek him fully through it, then we are in obedience until the deliverance comes from Him. Once it comes, we are prone to slipping once again and the harsh truth is that this makes us CONTINUALLY dependant on God's truth every moment. We forget as quickly as we remember.
The dark hues are willed by God. Their greater purpose is woven into the mosaic of his plan for His Glory. Truth is the revelation of the greater work He is accomplishing in us. The dark hue, though real, is not the truth he wants us to focus on because it will be all we see.
So, yes, in a sense like Tami said, we are depressed when our temporal world is not happy. Holiness comes, sanctification comes, when we move from that moment (of recognition of the dark hue of temporal unhappiness) through a step of obedient faith to focusing on what God is wanting to teach us around this dark time. This is where the godly happiness explodes, and let us now call it JOY! For He can be trusted to deliver, fulfill, accomplish and reveal all that is good in us and in all things. This is the finding of joy. This is seeing the full mosaic through the eyes of faith. This is a gift of God to us to help us through this life. This goal of His puts us back in line with His will, and gives us the perspective to see the eternal goal and sink in us the godly happiness (ah, here is joy!) this brings. We sin when we choose not to obey but remain focused on the dark hue itself and how it makes us unhappy instead of what God is going to do through it.
More boldly, temporal happiness is when the small scope cheerful hues (this is when things even in our temporal world are going well) and we define our happiness by them. Even in these we need to remember to keep in mind the bigger lense of truth and God's soverignity so we do not get building our idols and focus on that one happy hue.
When it is dark, temporal unhappiness, we do the same, focus through the big lense.
If we can learn in each case to focus with the big lense of truth we will always have godly happiness (Joy) and our emotioanl life will be more and more in submission to Chrsit. Our spiritual muscles will stregthen and we will see change. Not perfection as oly the Father can do this temporal to eternal focus change purely (and I think that really is what these lenses are, the tiny one being the temporal and the larger being the eternal). We get caught in our sin nature that longs to focus on the temporal which is all about us (me) and the eternal (all about God) is only doable by the finished work of Jesus.
We have the opportunity to obey God in our choice of lenses (perspective). This is not a discipline of the will (therefore a work action), but rather it is a fruit of the heart focusing on God fully. The key is being eternity minded like God. Through Christ alone can we do this. God wants us to please him from our heart. Works is a performance alone if it is not a fruit of our obedience from the heart.

I know this is a lot to read. Please ask any questions or feel free to pin point something I've said if you feel it is contradicting scripture. I would certainly like to know if I am off base anywhere or if I have failed to include even more that God wants to be said and brought to light.

(there are probably lots of typos in this, i'm out of time so please just fill in the blanks:)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Simple Joys

I would call today refreshing if I could shrink it into a word.
Simply daily chores...
Simply open books...
Simply glue sticks and crayons...
Simply fractions and Equal Common Denominators...
Simply pictures that rhyme all colored in one color..purple...
Simply paper piles shoved to the end for lunch...
Simply hot artichoke spinach dip and potato ham chowder made from leftovers....
Simply warm air and breezes great for bike riding....
Simply Superman jamies and red rubber boots all day long....
Simply clean laundry piles on the couch...sitting...
Simply a little time to walk on the monster in the afternoon....
Simply a word with a sister or two pointing me to Him...
Simply a call from a husband to say when he'll be home...
Simply learning the hard and soft sounds of g and c...
Simply drawings of big and little Supermen...
Simply cutting them out upon request...
Simply a warmed up cup of coffee and some reading in truth...
Simply the echo of children outside with the neighbors...
Simply goodness handed down from the Father above....
Simply his reward that I even noticed it.
Could it have been packaged up and wrapped with a bow it could not have meant more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Refiners Fire

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;"
Luke 22:31

I feel as if I have been in the wrestling ring with God this week. I cannot begin to tell you all that has happened to give you a clear idea of my "there and back again" journey. Nor do you probably want to take the time to hear it all. So, I come only to share what I learned from this time of testing from God. I felt like when it was over, that Satan himself had come before God and asked permission (same as he did with Job) to sift me. I came to moments of tears, yelling out to God (in the quiet of my room, not in front of my kids), and even difficulty breathing at times when I felt I just could not be tried anymore. It has been humbling, graphic, and yet, I find myself bursting forth from this time of pruning with a permanent change that only this pain could bring. What an amazing God that he will use what Satan means for bad, to be my very outgrowth of joy. That is the epitome of awesome.

Here are my notes from my notebook:
-Is my desire to draw close to God and honor him, or is it to be the spiritual mommy who has it all together?
If it's the first, I can rejoice because I know from God's word that my very failings are being used for God's glory. (My pastor's wife lead me to 2 Cor. 12:7-10: 7Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!
8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
9And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. ")

If it is for the second, it is motivated by pride and for the purpose of feeding my pride. I will constantly be frustrated as well (we do this in parenting as well when we are motivated for our children's behavior to change for our pride rather than God's glory).
- Am I willing to be humbled by my failings if God needs them to make my children who he has willed for them to be?
This is not to say that I become lax in my behavior but that I instead be willing to be humbled.
-My fear in my failing (My reaction is so ungodly when it's charterized by fear and pride. It's amazing that we can have both at once).
This is the fear of my children turning from God because they saw my failings as hypocrisy. I want to be the perfect image of Christ to them(and in this I bounce between a pure heart and a prideful heart as well in my motivations).
Jesus does not need me to be a flawless testimony or representation of him (John 2:24-25) to my kids. Yes, I need to strive for His glory in all things but I do not need to carry the burden of perfection. His testimony is from the Father and completed by His work, (on the cross) not mine.
-I feel the pain of being emptied out. It hurts my pride in every way. I was tempted to feel that God was toying with me. Why would he ask great things of me, and then make me so unable to fulfill them? Why do I get up and fall smack down on my face again and again? In other words, and more understandably...
Why do you ask me to race like a Nascar pro and yet take all the gas from my tank?!
This is not nice LORD! This is not fair! Why do you create man knowing he is born unto trouble as sure as the sparks fly upward? (Job 5:7) Why bother? Why put us through the misery of knowing there is a perfect way and yet making us struggle in the journey to reach it? Why put a desire for Christ likeness in us knowing beforehand that we cannot touch it?
Why? Do you not know how frustrated we will be with this? Can you not see our desire to be holy? Are we not more to you than those who reject you? Have you brought us to this point of realization of what our lives CAN be only to deny us?
The answer:
No, you have brought us to the place of great emptiness so that nothing but the power of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit can obtain these goals in our lives. My pride must be stripped entirely so I am not able to wear the "I got it now!" super-spiritual mommy shirt. I wear the work of Jesus-his blood shed for me.
My fear must be stripped so I can trust him completely to work through me the completeness he intends to. He will do it either way. My fear must go because it robs me of the blessings that come from trust. It feeds a frustrated and discouraged mothers heart.
All this to conclude that God does not intend to "fix" me. He does not intend to remove my weakness but to use it (again II Cor. 2). Through leaving it w/ me I am humbled and emptied out. One day he may give me relief from it- when the work he has accomplished in me through it is done. Then, there will be another trial of weakness he will use.
My weakness now is being an over reactive mother. A frazzled and frenzied mass of emotional minefields. So what am I to do?
1- Recognize that I am motivated by pride most of the time. That because I'm not shinning as the spiritual guru mom at that moment, THAT is why I 'm mad at myself. Repent of pride and find Joy that the Lord is sifting me like wheat, refining me like fire, stretching my spiritual muscles all of which involve pain.
2-Become friends with humility. Humble myself before the Lord and cry out to him (Psalm 50:15 has been on my lips and in my prayers). Even if I have to do this over and over and over. I need to fill my heart w/ passages from His word about Christ work and my need for Him.
3-Pray for deliverance from fear. (2 Tim 1:7) The enemy delights that I carry this baggage. Right now he has been winning but I'm aware of Christ's demanding victory on this issue because I belong to him.
-Train my mind to immediately replace guilt with repentance. Renew my heart w/ scripture about my sound position in Christ.
- Don't try to hide my struggle completely from my kids. This is not to say I display my lack of self control, no, but that I let them know that I am trusting God for my weakness and repenting. Humble myself in front and to them. Get use to that.

Well, that is the end of my notebook stuff.
It has been a very hard road to travel. Perhaps some of you have traveled it too. I hope you can be encouraged that these rough roads the Lord let's us go down are able to bear fruit in us. Pruning is painful and uncomfortable. This last week I felt that God not only pruned me, but that he chopped off a log sized section of me that was distracting me from bearing fruit. It took a long time for him to hack it off. I screamed and cried through the whole thing. Yet, the burden of my heart has been lifted. Oh, the joy that comes from his pruning. The weight that is lifted. More of him and less of me......
May I shrink so He is huge....
May I be humbled so he may be glorified...
May pain bear fruit in joy and faith...
In the midst of it all may I fall on grace.

Side Note: I'm adding this later. It's interesting... I watched "How Should We Then Live" by Francis Shaffer this morning while walking on the treadmill. It was the episode on The Revolutionary Age. Interesting quote from Shaffer:
"The men of the Enlightenment thought man and society were perfectible". This was, as Shaffer says, the base of the Humanistic Enlightenment.
It's amazing that me being caught up in the pride of striving for perfection can slip me quickly from Biblical thinking into Humanist thinking!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Christian Women and Depression

First of all, thank you to you who have done my polls. It's fun to geat feel for some of your thoughts when you come to SFE. I have taken the music off for now and may find a happy compromise of easy listening since you seem to be in somewhat of a tie on that issue. More on that when the poll closes.
My friend Amy at The Word Works posted a blog post that was quite short but to the point. Please go here to read it so you understand the following in context.
I felt for her, I understood the impression she was getting about women in our stage of life being depressed/depressing. I have been learning a lot about trusting God from Jerry Bridges book "Trusting God Even When Life Hurts". However, my prayer even this morning was that the Lord would show me how these truths meet with my emotional life. Again, more on that later.

For now I have a treat for you. I asked Tami Rutledge for her quick take on the post from Amy. So, I come here to just share what the Lord gave her. I would like to thank her for taking the time and getting back to me so quick. Tami, feel free to add if you have any more thoughts.

Tami Wrote:
I looked up the synonyms of “Depressed”
to get a feel for the emotion it is meant to portray. Here are the words my computer gave me.
down in the dumps
the dictionary definition is sad and gloomy; dejected; downcast.So on that note….

The scripture quoted on the blog was from Luke 1 and the version is The Message.
Luke 1:67Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel ; he came and set his people free. He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives, and in the very house of David his servant, Just as he promised long ago through the preaching of his holy prophets: Deliverance from our enemies and every hateful hand; Mercy to our fathers, as he remembers to do what he said he'd do, What he swore to our father Abraham— a clean rescue from the enemy camp, So we can worship him without a care in the world, made holy before him as long as we live. And you, my child, "Prophet of the Highest," will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways, Present the offer of salvation to his people, the forgiveness of their sins. Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, Shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, Then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.First we must make sure we understand what those verses are telling us. This section of scripture is a prophecy about Jesus Christ.Jesus saved us from the hand of our enemies (“clean rescue from the enemy camp”) we were under Satan’s spell so to speak but God saved us from his grasp.“ So we can worship him without a care in the world, made holy before him as long as we live. “This passage … in the NASB says 74To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteous-ness before Him all our days.This means we are saved, and are His. So when God looks at us He does not see a sinner, He sees us as “holy and righteous,” This is of course because Christ’s blood covers us! even though we still sin God does not see that He sees us as pure and holy. We get to serve Him with out a care in the world… that simply means we don’t have to worry that salvation depends on our efforts! Our salvation is secure not because of what we do or don’t do, our salvation is secure because of what Christ did.This doesn’t mean we are carefree and happy flitting around like butterflies in a meadow!
The following quote is from the blog post…..
When I read "without a care in the world" it makes me think of someone
happy, laughing, smiling, energetic, child-like, lovable, creative, hands lifted
high and twirling!!

This joy that God is offering us is something far better… this is salvation from eternal hell, eternal separation from God. we should dance with joy.But if you think the abundant life looks like the happy life then you will continually be frustrated with God. Because God does not pursue our happiness He is in pursuit of our holiness. Happiness is temporal and based on circumstances.Joy is based on faith in the God of all circumstances!Happiness is the emotion you experience when things go your way.Joy is what you experience when you know that He who began a good work in you is doing it! Everything God does is for your good and His glory.The following quote is from the blog post.
We are to be living exceeding abundant lives, full and HAPPY! Lord,
how do we get there? What's the root and hold of this sadness... I'm
really burdened by this and expecting Him to guide me in this truth so
He can set me and others free!!

The abundant life is the life that has joy and peace no matter what the circumstances. This person rejoices in everything.Remember Joy and happiness are different. God doesn’t call us to be happy in the midst of trials He calls us to rejoice.Now to the point – why are women so depressed? It is simple. The goal they are I pursuit of is being hindered.We are born convinced that our happiness, comfort, security, ease of life etc is what will bring us the most fulfillment and satisfaction in this life. But the truth is… our greatest joy and fulfillment is found in serving God and pursuing the goal of pleasing God.We consider things to be “bad” if our pursuit of happiness is thwarted in any way. We live depressed because things do always go according to our plan. Husbands don’t romance is – kids don’t consider us – people don’t honor us as we would like to be. We are so self focused that we constantly see where our pursuit of ease of life is thwarted and we become resentful, bitter and full of self pity.Trials you see are vast – from spilt milk to cancer and God uses them to increase our faith in Him so we can live the abundant life – the life that is so convinced that God’s word works that we simply Trust and Obey and it is there that we find the abundant life – the life that is at peace at all times because it is resting in the Lord…. Not a care in the world.The abundant life is not about happiness it is about joy!
The following quote is from the blog post.
Lord, how do we get there? What's the root and hold of this sadness... I'm
really burdened by this and expecting Him to guide me in this truth so He
can set me and others free!!

You will be set free when you begin to clearly focused on the goal … the goal we pursue must be to please God, this brings us joy. If you read John Piper the happiness he talks about is JOY.When you are in pursuit of the goal of pleasing God the you will see that in everything God is working to increase your faith so you can please God more.When you are in pursuit of happiness you will grow weary and discouraged because God won’t be seen as faithful.Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek himI was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when I was 39 – and other than my salvation it is God’s most precious love gift to me. Why? Why so much joy? Because it helps me in pursuit of my goal… not happiness but holiness!