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.

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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.

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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.

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Learn, Then Teach Contentment…

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Last week my kids came home from school asking…no not asking…begging in verbal-diarrhea form to go out and buy one of those new and exciting fidget-spinner’s. I’m sure you’ve heard of these, they’re all the rage and absolutely taking over the lives of kids everywhere. At first they were advertised toward kids who struggle with fidgeting in class as an aid to help them concentrate. Sure, ok. But then the appeal spread like pink-eye from child to child and school to school and now so it seems, home to home.

So there I was, listening to my kids talk about how Robbie has one and Abby has one, and this kid and that kid….and “mommy can we go get one”?…

All while I was internally raging.

Not because my kids were enphatically asking me to spend money on something I deem kinda silly, but because as I stared into their covetous little eyes, I saw myself.

Our children are little mirrors, aren’t they?

What they didn’t realize is that before they had come home, I had just been on a little website called Pinterest. It’s a place I frequent when I need a break from laundry and floor mopping. Its harmless right? I just scroll through picture after picture of homes that look more on trend than mine, and photo-shoots of families that are cooler than mine, and meals that are more scrumptious than mine and moms who are skinnier and hipper than myself.

And none of it has any effect on my soul.

Right?

Wrong.

No actually, slowly and with time, my soul suffers. And the burrowing roots of discontent grow deeper and with great force.

All of a sudden, when I look around the home that God has graciously provided for me, I believe I have more important needs that God has not provided, and I want them now. I want a different couch and new TV, a new body and an exotic vacation. All of those things I suddenly believe I deserve.

In the same way, my kids went off to school with every need met, then came home with a nagging desire they truly believed they deserved now.

Why? Because so-and-so had one. They looked in their neighbor’s yard and saw something they wanted.

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:10-13

What is Paul saying here? He’s speaking to the Philippian church who is facing persecution and he’s encouraging them in faith to stand strong. As well, he’s thanking the church for their care for him when they heard of his suffering and were concerned. He’s rejoicing in their love. But then he goes on to explain why they ought not be concerned for him, because in all the ups and downs of life he has found contentment.

And is he content because contentment just comes natural for him?

Of course not. He’s content because he learned it.

As humans we don’t have a default of contentment. It’s quite the latter. In our sin, we love to covet. This is why the tenth commandment is, You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s. Because although we may not envy ox’s anymore, our hearts will surely find something to itch for and we’ll fool ourselves into thinking our joy will be made complete when we get that new car…or that house…or those shoes…or that new toy.

We are wired to covet first.

So we must learn how to be truly satisfied in Christ alone. Not in the stuff He gives us. Paul repeats the word learned twice in these verses because he’s making an important point that in our circumstance God is teaching us, if only we would heed his instruction.

Paul learned the secret to enduring suffering and that big secret is…wait for it…relying on Christ to strengthen him. Because all things can be done when Christ is our strength. And by those “things” he doesn’t mean winning a basketball game or getting that promotion. He means in regards to what he just said, in enduring suffering, resisting the desire to covet and finding contentment in Christ alone.

You see if I never fully get this, I will always rush to fulfill all my kids covetous desires…because I will rush to fulfill mine also.

How many of us parents fight the battles of good manners and good grades in our children but never address the battle of materialism driven by their covetous hearts?

We work really hard at providing good nutrition, we pick the best schools, we expect good grades and a proper attitude all while spoiling them with every single toy, gadget or video game they want. Our homes are piled with stuff for our kids. But how often do we concern ourselves with the big green monster they have inside of themselves?

Rarely, if ever.

But first, we must learn ourselves. It begins with us. I have to learn when to exit Pinterest and walk away. I have to recognize when envy is invading my space and causing me to sin against my neighbor and God. I have to learn contentment in Christ by remembering what I deserve in judgement that was paid at the Cross. And in light of that great news, I have more than I will ever deserve, because what I deserve is death and judgement.

So therefore I am rich and in need of nothing more.

And it’s with that understanding that I can begin to teach this to my children. Then when I see the tenth commandment beast growing hungry in their little hearts I won’t want to feed it.

As tempting as it was for me to shut up the noise of jabbering children and go out searching for a good deal on fidget spinner’s, I did not. Because it wouldn’t have mattered if they were 50 cents a pop…it wasn’t worth the toll on their heart.

Contentment grows only in gratefulness and its right in that space that I want to live.

And I sure pray, my kids learn to live there also.

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Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

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Grace And The Non-Instagrammable Church: This is true. When we can get over the fact that the church isn’t Instagram-ready, something amazing happens. When we own up to our messiness, we actually open the door for real, undiluted, unadulterated grace. I mean, the mess is exactly what grace is for! You wouldn’t need grace at an Instagrammable church.

Too Young To Cross A Street But Old Enough For A Sex Change: Goodness gracious, its a wild world out there. A new research study conducted at the University of Iowa has determined children younger than 14 do not possess the cognitive skills and judgment to safely cross a street. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published an excerpt of the study in its Daily Briefing, a nod some physicians found ironic, given the organization’s support for transgender treatment.

Barcelona – Get Up: Its a very old song and super random…but I’ve been into it these days. So there. 😉

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Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

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What Can The Church Learn About Sexual Harassment: The recent Bill O’Reilly scandal has opened up an opportunity for the church to think through how we respond to these matters. And this article is a great starting point to this conversation.

Beware Of Broken Wolves: Wow. Yes, this is sooo out there and extremely important to know how to spot. These are the false teachers who use their own authenticity, pain, and brokenness to attract believers who are also suffering and broken—and then using their “brokenness” to lead the sheep to turn away from God’s Word and embrace sin.

How Brainy Women Benefit The Church: In response to gendered notions of intelligence, it’s easy to overcorrect with celebrations of “girl power.” While buying my daughter’s spring wardrobe, I came across T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like “It’s cool to be smart” and “Epic and smart… like my dad” and shockingly, “Smart is the new pretty.” These celebrations of female intelligence are not a form of overcorrection so much as mis-correction, a superficial response to a much deeper problem. While meant to affirm women, such tropes simply replace one form of hierarchy for another and all too quickly, being “not like other girls” means being superior to them.

Why Christians Should Support Religious Freedom For All: This is so important for our current times and we really need to know why we are for and not against religious freedom. Since the freedom to know and follow God is foundational to our humanity, it belongs to both Christians and non-Christians alike.

Gospel Reflections From The Mountaintop: Its been a couple of weeks since the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s death, so this is late. But please still watch this very powerful video remembering his work and his last speech. Let us never forget that racial harmony is a gospel issue.

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