Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

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Its been about a hundred years since I’ve done one of these. But in my defense over the last two months I’ve started pastoral work, fostered two kids, done the back-to-school insanity and took care of my family in the process. It’s been a scene man. This little blog is last on the list when life gets that way. But I’m back now. I think. We’ll see.

Being A Pastor’s Wife Is Good For Faith, Bad For Friendship: Geez, this is sad but true. Speaking from experience, friendship is very hard when your husband is a pastor. It can be a lonely place. The lesson here? Love your pastor’s wife and don’t expect her to be perfect!

Be Patient With Your Slow Growth: If your finding yourself in this place, be encouraged. We value speed today far more than we realize, and that makes the painfully slow process of our sanctification and personal transformation confusing and frustrating.

How Not To Be Led By The Spirit: We all want to be led by the spirit, to only move where He wants us to move. Here are three ways not to do it. They are simple and yet often neglected in favor of feelings. I know this, because I hate to admit that I can so easily fall into these bad habits.

Strahan – Mountain: A dear friend showed me this song awhile ago and it has helped me get through a difficult time. Perhaps you need it too.

Sufjan Stevens – Mercury: And here’s just another song that’s kinda relaxing that I’ve been enjoying.

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Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Let Me Direct You Elsewhere, Ministry, Music, Video's | 1 Comment

The Mystery Of Evil’s Final Mark…

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Theres a lot of discussion about end times these days among Christians waiting and watching for Armageddon. With hurricanes, forest fires and earth quakes the world we love is in distress, and it’s hard not to watch the news and wonder if we are indeed living in the last days. Will Christ return soon? And, if so, what will that really look like?

Scriptures speaks to these questions, and there’s been much exposition written on the topic. Opinions tend to run hot when the conversation comes up. Its been the source of earnestly written fictional christian books and poorly acted films. Yet it all begs the same pondering; when the end comes, what ought we look out for?

Revelation 13:16-17 is a place many Christians put their stake in as one of the main telltale sign of the end.

“Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast of the number of its name.”

John, who received this revelation is talking about a distinctive marker of how the world will respond to the end of all things as we know it. This is apocalyptic prophetic literature given to us to help us understand future realities of Christ’s return and the cosmic war between God and Satan.

And the mark of the beast is clearly an evil mark, symbolizing satan’s dominion with human-kind. No one would argue with that.

However what will that mark be? Is the inspired Words we read in Revelation meant to lead us into conspiracy theories or fear of falling into cultural traps? Often we wonder if this distinctive mark has something to do with modern technology as we see it today. Computer chips are indeed being inserted into wrists at business’s for the sake of convenience. And tattoos are on the rise, even tattoos on foreheads. Is this the mark?

Surely these fads mean something spiritually significant in a world that ruthlessly denies the things of God with great enjoyment. God is most certainly handing us over to the evil things of the world. So this must be a cultural mark we ought to look out for. Maybe even the mark of the beast?

One thing we have to recognize about Revelation first and foremost is that it is a book detailing future events with heavy symbolism. And a lot of the symbolism relates back to Old Testament Jewish symbolism in the Prophetic books. Reading Revelation with that helpful lens will make interpretation so much clearer.

In chapter 13 we see the first beast rising; giving foresight to a future opponent of Christ in the days to come. It’s important to note that this beast resembles the four beasts that appeared to Daniel in a vision (Daniel 7:1-8) and reading those texts gives us insight into the beast of Revelation.

Then in verse 11 of chapter 13, the second beast is revealed and he’s described as being a liar. Often referred to as a false prophet with great influence. This beast even has “signs” or miracles that persuade earth-dwellers into submission. And people will ultimately find themselves branded by a marker, one that express’ their allegiance to this beast. A mark that is specifically said to be imprinted on the forehead and right hand. This kind of specificity requires some digging. Why the forehead and hand?

Now would be a good time to consult Old Testament prophetic literature as an aid to this question.

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is given the greatest commandment that he is tasked by God to share with His chosen people. And it is called the Shema, which became a daily prayer for the Jewish people. It is a beautiful statement about who God is, “Hear o Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” And what that truth means to His people. “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Then Moses goes on to admonish the people to wear these words on their hearts and teach them to their children.

They were also instructed in this way…”You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

The hand and the forehead.

Did this mean they should somehow wear these words on their hand or tattoo them on their forehead? Is this as literal as we think?

No, actually Jews at the time would have known exactly what this means. The frontlets between your eyes (or forehead) would have easily been known to mean your mind. Meaning, what God’s people think in regards to who God is matters. Binding on your hand was known to speak of God’s people’s actions and how their behaviour reveal what they believed about God.

In thought and deed they were to love the Lord their God, and this was a sign of true belief.

With all that in mind, lets look back at Revelation.

What we see now is that the mark of the beast is more likely to look like people living an evil life in thought and deed. They will have put aside the great Shema, for the folly of the beast.

People of every wage bracket, and socio-economic category will fall prey to a debased mind and sinful action. This will be a sign unto us that the beast is at work. This will be the revealing marker of whether someone loves God.

So the real question now is, does the Shema live inside your mind? Is it engraved in the frontlets between your eyes? Do you think about who God is; His oneness? How’s your affection for this God? Is it ever present in your heart, soul and might? Are your actions a reflection of this unbridled love?

Jesus reaffirmed this great commandment in Matthew 22:34-40, giving relevant emphasis to this command as still being priority to Christians today. This command is all-encompassing and requires total devotion to God, which includes obedience to the rest of the commandments. Heart, soul, mind means complete allegiance to Christ and loving your neighbour as yourself (which Jesus adds in 22:39), is the embodiment of head and hand love for the Lord.

The end is indeed near. We will never know the day and moment of its finality as we know it, but we should take notice of what’s happening here. We should recognize that this world is not merely physical but deeply spiritual. All around us a war wages for our soul.

And now we know just how important our love and belief of God is crucial to where we will stand on that last day.

Will your head and hand be marked by the beast, or by the Shema?

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Theology | 5 Comments

When Pride Does So Much Good…

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Everyone comes hard-wired with the ability to bear loads. Some have an endless ability to sustain under numerous amounts of people’s burdens. Other’s have a lower capacity in terms of this call. And yet we’re all called by God to bear each others burdens. Galatians 6:2 says,

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

This is a call, a law and the will of God.

But what happens when we try to bear too much? Does God have any categories for this? Or is it our Christian duty to encumber ourselves relentlessly with other people’s distress’? Is this what makes God happy? Or is it possible, that He allows us the grace of having a limit?

My husband and I have been experiencing a season that has tested our understanding  on this matter. We live in a world with so many burdens. And for a long time I’ve believed that the only measure of a true Christian is their ability to bear every piece of other people’s heavy and dysfunctional cargo with ease, because that’s God’s revealed will for us to do. We ought not complain, as this is what makes Him proud.

Is this true though?

I’ve always despised the old-adage God will never give you more than you can handle, because often it feels like that’s exactly what he’s doing. It’s not helpful; it’s overly-simplistic “wisdom” that doesn’t allow for the nuance of how suffering works in our lives. And at times, the only way God can actually work in us is to stretch and mold us by symbolically holding us directly over the fire.

With that said, we must never believe that God is a mean-spirited Father who gets His jolly’s piling upon us burdens we genuinely can’t bear.

So, what is it then? Are we intended to be burdened, or not?

My husband (who has handled our circumstances about 100 times better than I have) helped me with an illustration. He said, would you get mad at your kid if you handed him a bag that was too heavy for him to carry, that he had to put it down? To which my reply was, of course not.

And here’s how we know my husbands analogy is true. God’s Word.

Directly after the above verse in Galatians, comes some much-needed clarification. It goes on to say,

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

What does all this mean? What does bearing other’s burdens have to do with thinking too much of yourself?

Paul is giving us categories that we need here. He’s saying take care of others, but don’t do it out of prideful self-reliance. Don’t think so highly of yourself. God has called each and every one of His children to fulfill their work within the body of Christ. And it’s our job to be faithful in those tasks. If your called to be the feet, do so with endurance.

What pride does, is insert’s itself into those roles by either elevating its role above the others or by trying to do the others also. Pride isn’t satisfied with the feet and wants to be the hands, eyes and mouth also.

Romans 12:4-6 explains this…

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.

Here’s the thing. The needs in this world are too many. And I believe these texts are helping us understand that we ought to do our part. Whatever God has called you to do, do it faithfully. It may cause many burdens, but Christ will supply the strength to do the task, if its for you to do. But sometimes, you may be trying to do too much. And it’s likely a God-complex type pride that is adding that unnecessary burden.

Believe me, it’s painful to realize a limitation you may have. Most Christians want to do all the good things they can. But God isn’t always asking us to do them, even though we know they’re good. Sometimes He see’s it’s too heavy for us to carry. Sometimes we’re driven by compassion and other times it’s just plain pride.

But this is why the body has so many parts. All the needs that are close to the heart of God are not meant to be met by just one part. It takes us all.

I wish I could say that this lesson has been fully learned on my part, but it hasn’t. I’m still very much wrestling with this reality. My pride has roots too deep for a quick turn-around. My heart was wrapped up too much in this one. And the guilt of not being able to carry the burdens we carry at this moment long-term feel like a millstone around my neck, pulling me deep into the cold waters of confusion. This suffocation gives satan an ability to whisper lies into my ear about my lacking usefulness, that he otherwise wouldn’t have.

And yet I know those whispers are not God. Or at least, that’s the truth I keep preaching to myself.

I have to believe in God’s good sovereignty although this world produces so much need and heart-ache. Though innocent ones suffer and sin seems to prevail. I sing..

This is my Father’s world, oh let me ne’re forget, that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet…

I sing it in my head to battle the thoughts that cloud truth.

I remind myself Jesus wins in the end. His grace covers a multitude of mine and so many others sin, short-comings and limitations. He’s even generous enough to use those things for good and for His own sovereign purposes.

As absurd as that feels right now, I know its true.

Posted in Christian Living, Devotional, Life, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Stand Directly In The Path Of His Majesty This Summer…

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This post was originally written July 25, 2016.

You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds,
his ministers a flaming fire.
Psalm 104:1b-4

From the Genesis of time His splendor has been present. Now it’s held in His tent – His heaven. A place beaming with a magnificence too glorious to know on earth.

But we still see it’s glimmer. The magnificence of our Creator.

The summer sun rays shoot between branch openings and glowing leaves made to sway involuntarily from gushes of wind. Warmth in the rays and refreshment from the wind bring soul care and spirit strength. He’s in them all.

Peering up at the sun and its beams of light, we see His garment. It fills and covers the earth. Falling in and through every opening of cloud and pouring over the tops of mountains. His majesty present in all of Creation shouts of His grandness and beauty.

The foundations of His chambers sit on the crashing waves of the sea as mighty pillars of strength. Great bodies of haphazard and rushing waters – where men find fear – the capable and secure hand of God calls to His order. Using this place as the bedrock and infrastructure to His Holy heavenly quarters.

The clouds billow and ripple with movement in great glides across an endless sky as His chariots.

Chariots that hold the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Out of reach of any opposition, as He hovers in governance over every detail of the earth. These chariots are moved by the winds of this great King.

And as He walks atop the hasty element of breeze with contentment we see His deity and grand control over all things. He’s in every unpredictable gust. Whispering to us the deep things our hearts already know; that He loves us, made us and created us for His glory.

And so we must experience this glory. We must touch and feel, taste and see that it’s good.

Do not let this summer go by without standing directly in its path. Staring up at the artistry of our Creator. Do not let the wind fill your home without notice. Observe and cheer at the rushing waters that are His footstool.

His dominion over all that we see – take time to savor.

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Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

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Altar Of The Feels: I need this reminder as a parent, and maybe you do to. Feelings aren’t the most important thing. They were never meant to be. Don’t teach your children otherwise by trying to validate unreasonable feelings, and don’t let the way you feel rule the way you live your life. Feelings come and feelings go. But, the truth is always true.

How To Make A Pro-Life Argument At Google: I love that a room full of pro-choice people at Google invited a Pro-life speaker to come talk to them. And she didn’t disappoint in her presentation. Give this one a watch!

Should I Feel God’s Presence In My life?: This is an extremely helpful answer in the form of a story. It’s yet another post about how we mustn’t let our feelings rule our lives. And I believe God may be trying to tell me something.

Public Reading Of Scripture: Do yourself a favor and start watching these Bible Project videos. Keep reading your Bible, but use this as an aid of understanding. Its maybe the one thing that you don’t have to feel bad for binge-watching. This video I found helpful.

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Devotional, Let Me Direct You Elsewhere, Theology, Uncategorized, Video's | Leave a comment

6 Reasons I Value Shepherding Women…

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A few weeks ago I accepted the position of part-time Women’s Ministry Pastor at my wonderful church. My husband has been serving as a Children and Family Pastor there for about two years and ministry to this church body has been a joy for us. I can’t express how much I love my church. It is home and family for us. And now I get to serve in a new and exciting way.

However, I did not expect this. I never would have imagined myself filling this role. I feel the weight of the task at hand as James’s fiercely convicting words (James 3:1) ring in my mind, reminding me of the harsher judgement placed on spiritual teachers. Yet over the last few years God has placed inside me a deep desire and passion to see women embrace the great assurance and hope of their identity in Jesus Christ. Which is something that involves biblically saturated teaching and discipleship, which are two things often missing in Women’s Ministries across the western church.

Nonetheless, I’m so energized to see this trend beginning to change and it’s my hope to faithfully be a part of that change. So here is a list of just a few reasons why I think ministry to women is important and why I value it greatly for myself and others:

1) Jesus Loves Women: This is obvious. And of course Jesus loves men too. He doesn’t have a favorite gender (phew). However, the affections of Jesus shown towards women of all demographics in the four gospels of the NT is a picture of how Jesus values women. It’s poignant and beautiful and I desire to see women find their identity right in that place. Too often we try to find our value in being a good wife or in our motherhood or in our job. Even worse we search for value in how we look or present ourselves, and all it does is leave us feeling defeated and anxiety-ridden. But when we see Jesus more clearly, we distinguish that He alone is where our identity is found.

2) Women Have Brains: For too long women’s ministries have operated in such a way that only a woman’s emotions are appealed to in biblical teaching. Yet, when we’re told that our minds matter and how we think matters, we discover that God gave us Scripture not for us to feel things, but for us to know who He is. And that knowledge will surely at times evoke emotion and most certainly bring affections, which is wonderful. However, knowing takes purposeful work. Which means we have to study the Word, and we are absolutely capable of doing so. We mustn’t just let Beth Moore or Kay Arthur do all the hard study for us. We must learn how to do the work for ourselves. I wish to see women love their God with all their heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Which leads to number 3.

3) The Bible Is Not A Blue Book: It’s not just for men to study. I’m so passionate to see women study the whole counsel of God. That means not just reading Proverbs 31 and Esther, but all Spirit-inspired Scripture. Why? Because all humans desperately need it. I want to see women face some of the challenging Scriptures that require us to wrestle with God. It seems men are generally more willing to read those texts. Why is this important that women do also? Because this leads to further understanding and depth of faith. Yet too often women avoid the provoking or unsettling Scriptures in order to keep things positive and encouraging. However, if all Scripture is breathed-out by God and profitable for teaching to make us complete and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then women (not just men) should be privy to all of God in all of Scripture.

4) Women Need Their Minds Renewed: Women are up against a destructive culture that is directed right at them with bloggers, authors and memes. Case and point this unfortunate meme…

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These are the kind’s of messages Christian women are being fed everyday through social media and blog posts, that so many of us fall prey to. In stark opposition to this meme, Christianity is all about self-denial and finding joy in Christ, not in another person’s ability or lack-there-of to make you happy. It’s a luring world-view and I see it constantly. Christian women like and post memes like this with poor thinking and anti-biblical messages almost 100% more than men do (at least in my experience and assessment). So why is this happening? Sadly, discernment has taken a back seat to pop-culture’s positive thinking…even in the church. For this reason, discernment needs to be intentionally learned in order for anyone to see through the faulty thinking that pervades a generation of “me first”. Biblical discernment is taught, not caught. Which makes it extremely important for us to grasp in a culture where unsound theology and a broken world-view is more often caught then taught.

5) Women Need Spiritual Friendship: Persevering in the faith is a challenge at the best of times, let alone when things begin to fall apart. Good, gospel-centered, spiritual friends become the hands and feet of Christ in times like these. Although these kinds of friends can be hard to come by, we sure need them. Without each other the race of faith becomes long and unnecessarily arduous, making perseverance seem bleak. We veer off the path so easily when we don’t exhort one another everyday (Hebrews 3:13) in true friendship. Even better, when we congregate around the Word with our eyes fixated on the grace of Christ, we can hold each other up and love each other as Christ loves.

6) Women’s Greatest Need Is The Gospel: So often as women we focus on our felt needs assuming their our greatest needs. We show up to “bible study” for the purpose of unloading our woes about wayward children, struggling marriage’s, or a particularly rough day in order to receive therapy. This is not a bad impulse, and the church should be a hospital for these needs. Too often, though, we feel that this is more important than the Scripture being studied, and that impulse is false, because the Scripture is the medicine for these very problems. Our greatest need is our need for God. The gospel brings us back to the most important tenants of faith and reminds us of what we’ve been freed from. Which doesn’t change life’s difficulties, but puts them in much-needed perspective.

So many of these challenges effect both men and women. And most pastors desire to see the church see a revival in these areas. My hope is to help see these things begin with women.

There are so many reasons ministry to women is important and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it in my local church. It is why I pray for the Holy Spirit to go before me in all these ministry goals. For I know that what’s most important is that God be glorified in all I do and in all female’s everywhere do in His name.

And it’s for these reasons, I value shepherding women.

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Life, Ministry, Uncategorized, Womanhood | Leave a comment

Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

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Race, Political Partisanship, And The Unity Of The Church: This continues to be an extremely important conversation and it would do us all well to listen to these wise men speak about it.

Bed Sheets, Calendars And Prayer: Yes, yes more prayer!!! “When our churches become havens of prayer, our bone-dry world comes back to life. So do we. Our bed sheets and full calendars lie to us. But the believers’ reality? A room full of praying people – in duty and privilege – has the power to change the world.”

How To Teach Your Kids About Sex: Are you there yet in the world of parenting? I’m getting close and I hate how much it terrifies me. But these kinds of aids are very helpful to ease us fearful parents.

You Have On Life – Don’t Waste It: Its a constant battle in my soul this concept. I often feel like I’m wasting my life and it makes me sick. But I desire to be used – not greatly in some self-centered glory way – but in whatever big or small way God chooses. However it takes me stepping out. Anyway this short clip just helps me stay focused.

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Let Me Direct You Elsewhere, Ministry, Parenting, Prayer, Theology, Video's | Leave a comment