Tuesday, September 28, 2010

God is Love

Sunday night I felt like crying myself to sleep.  I just felt sad & overwhelmed by life.  Yesterday, on the phone with Mama, I finally did cry.  Ginger's cancer is back again.  My answers to a family member's questions could damage the relationship.  Another person in my life is too much for me to deal with.  We have so much stuff to move out of our little home to declutter it.  I'd love to sell it, but there's another headache.  Our LA home is still being readied for the market, so we're still paying two mortgages.  Sigh.  Overwhelming & sad sums it up.

Then, J.I. Packer steps in & reminds me:

     "Every single thing that happens to us expresses God's love to us, and comes to us for the furthering of God's purpose for us. Thus, so far as we are concerned, God is love to us--holy, omnipotent love--at every moment and in every event of every day's life. Even when we cannot see the why and the wherefore of God's dealings, we know that there is love in and behind them, and so we can rejoice always, even when, humanly speaking, things are going wrong. We know that the true story of our life, when known, will prove to be, as the hymn says, "mercy from first to last" -- and we are content."  Knowing God p. 123

Suddenly, all is right with the world.

Thank you, Lord, for being love to me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recipe of the "Week"

Well, I didn't think it was possible, & it happened completely by accident. I wish I could say that I had some part in it, that I was ingenious enough to improve on an already wonderful thing, but that would be a lie. Nope, it all happened simply because I didn't have the right kind of flour & because I cracked open a double-yolked egg. And because my bananas were super-duper disgustingly ripe. Thus was born. . .

Best Ever Banana Nut Bread Made Even Better
(I've got to think of a shorter title)

Dry Ingredients:

-1 3/4 c. self-rising flour
-1 1/2 c. sugar
-1/4 tsp. cinnamon
-1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:

-3 super-duper disgustingly ripe bananas, mashed

-1/2 c. oil (I used coconut oil & loooooved it! Just a hint if you do this, too: get your milk & eggs to room temperature or the coconut oil will solidify on you. Not fun.)

-1 tsp. vanilla

-1 c. buttermilk (I make sour milk with lemon juice & milk)

-3 eggs

-1 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped (not "wet", I know, but it still goes here)


-Thoroughly sift together dry ingredients in large bowl & make a well in the center.

-Combine bananas & wet ingredients (minus walnuts) in medium bowl.

-Add banana mixture to the dry ingredients & mix together thoroughly.

-Fold in walnuts.

-Line 9"x5" loaf pan* with foil & spray with cooking spray.

-Pour batter into loaf pan & sprinkle with Streusel-Nut Topping (optional, but highly recommended).

-Bake @ 325 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown & a fork comes out clean when inserted in the center. (This will largely depend on your oven. If it needs to bake longer, cover with foil to prevent burning.)

Streusel-Nut Topping

-Combine 1/4 c. brown sugar & 3 T flour. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in 2 T butter (not too soft) until coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/3 c. chopped walnuts. (You'll need one recipe of this topping for the bread & another for the muffins.)

*This honestly makes too much batter for the loaf pan. It fits initially, but as it's baking, it will overflow. Trust me; learn from my mistakes. So, I pour the batter into the foiled/sprayed loaf pan, & then dip out ladle-full amounts to pour into sprayed muffin pans. Just fill 6 muffin cups ~ 2/3 full; this is perfect for preventing loaf pan overflow. Sprinkle with streusel-nut topping as well. Bake them along with the bread for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven). And how do the muffins come out? Moist, fall-apart, eat-with-a-fork fabulous! See?!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Walk in the Forest - Brian Crain

I love how the piano & cello seem to dance, almost like Fall leaves swirling in the breeze.

Ch. 3 - You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

Confession time. I've been avoiding writing this chapter's review. This chapter makes me angry. Why? Because it's about the "f" word: feminism. Don't get me wrong; Mary Kassian does a beautiful job explaining the foundational beliefs & resulting consequences of feminism. These two things are what make me angry. They're why "feminism" is a four-letter word in our home.

Oh, that I had the time or ability to comprehensively delve into all of those beliefs & consequences. For that, you must read the chapter*; Mary does a far better job than I could ever hope to. But, I will highlight what I think is of utmost importance & point out some truths that I think are foundational for both men & women to understand.

Nowadays, if you denounce feminism, you will be accused of relegating women mute & subservient to the back of the room; I speak from personal experience. But that's a skewed caricature at the least. It is a common (& pervasively perpetuated) belief that men want nothing more than this very thing, even (especially?) Christian men. But did you know that "when the Bible is actually properly taught, history shows that women's status improves" (Radical Womanhood, pg. 38)? Bearing this out is the fact that in Hebrew society - where Scripture was highly valued & taught - women "had a status equal to or greater than the status of many men" (RW, pg. 101). Furthermore, "women were also educated. . . . Because female literacy rates are often a window into the value of women in any given culture or society, it is a reflection of their essential equality in worth & value that Hebrew women were literate & bore the main responsibility for educating their children" (RW, pg. 101). I'm pointing this out because "an adherence to orthodox Christianity leads to oppression of women" is a commonly believed falsehood that must be debunked. As must the belief that women & men who oppose feminism hate women. That's simply not true. We don't hate women; we hate opposition to God.

Feminism is a dominant (if not the predominant) belief held in our culture that has spread its tentacles into every facet of our lives. You see it in the way women live their lives (both professionally & personally), in the way they dress, in the way they speak about & interact with men, in the way they bear & rear children, in the way they relate to God. No area of life remains untouched by this poison. And it's unquestioned by the vast majority of people; it's taken for granted as truth. Therefore, "it's important to understand that feminism encompasses much more than the cultural phenomenon of the women's rights movement. . . . Feminism is a distinct worldview with its own ideologies, values, & ways of thinking" (pg. 56). So, back to the foundations of feminism. Did you know that feminism was born out of one woman's (Simone de Beauvoir) staunch belief that "women needed to get out of the home & intentionally deconstruct Judeo-Christian ideas about marriage, motherhood, & morality" (pg. 58)? Her beliefs were wholeheartedly embraced by Betty Friedan who "suggested that in order to find fulfillment, American women should begin to question, challenge, & rebel against the accepted roles of wife & mother & traditional thoughts about morality" (pg. 59). This was during the 50s, when these predominant "traditional thoughts" were guided by Scripture. It doesn't take much to see that this exhortation to "question, challenge, & rebel" was directed at nothing less than God's holy Word. And her coup de grace, the statement that sums up the core belief of feminism: "We [women] need & trust no other authority than our own personal truth!" (pg. 59)

Some women espouse a "Christian feminism". Read the last paragraph, particularly the last sentence, & tell me if you see anything wrong with that. Feminism is built upon a foundation of tearing down biblically-based beliefs. It's built upon ripping apart Scripture. It has as its main goal the shunning of any authority over our lives save our own. Each individual person decides what is right & wrong, what is truth & error. Not Scripture, not God, not God-ordained human authority. We, & we alone, determine ultimate truth. "What's true for you may not be true for me."  How many times have we heard this?  How many times have we actually believed it ourselves?!  If God's Word is not our guide for marriage, motherhood, & morality, then we are nothing more than rafts at sea sporting a broken sail & bereft of a compass, "tossed to & fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." (Eph. 4:14) If Scripture isn't our foundation, then we're easily swayed by our own emotions; by the advice of friends; by commercials, TV shows, movies, & magazines; by false prophets who tickle our ears with what we want to hear. There is pure folly in following this path. You will find no wisdom, no truth, no salvation on this road. Sadly, it is the road oft-traveled.

Feminism's stranglehold on society found an initial foothold because there was a legitimate issue. Women were not held equal in society. There was discontentment; women were feeling unfulfilled for a reason. But because the diagnosis was in error, the treatment resulted in death, not healing. Women weren't unfulfilled because they were "trapped" at home. They weren't unfulfilled because they couldn't vote. We know this to be true, because women got everything that feminism promised. . . except that ever elusive fulfillment. We can vote, we can work any job a man can, we make equal wages, we have economic & sexual freedom. And women are even more dissatisfied & discontented (& debased, I might add) than ever. Women were (& are still) unfulfilled because they didn't have a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Feminism is a deliberate turning away from God, His Son, & His Holy Spirit toward self-determination & self-reliance. It is a lie from Satan himself. It is the way of death. We need to turn from ourselves, turn from our sin, & cry out to God for salvation that only comes from Him. Only in Him will we finally find true fulfillment.

The thief comes only to steal & kill & destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~John 10:10

*For more resources, read The Feminist Mistake & Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild by Mary Kassian; Radical Womanhood by Carolyn McCulley; Lies Women Believe & the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss; & Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney.  These are my favorites, but if you know of any others, please let me know.

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Answer to My Doubts

Would I know the fullness and completeness of the salvation God has provided for sinners? Where shall I see it most distinctly? Shall I go to the general declarations in the Bible about God’s mercy? Shall I rest in the general truth that God is a God of love?

Oh, no! I will look at the crucifixion at Calvary. I find no evidence like that: I find no balm for a sore conscience and a troubled heart like the sight of Jesus dying for me on the accursed tree. There I see that a full payment has been made for all my enormous debts. The curse of that law which I have broken, has come down on One who there suffered in my stead; the demands of that law are all satisfied: payment has been made for me even to the uttermost farthing. It will not be required twice over.

Ah, I might sometimes imagine I was too bad to be forgiven; my own heart sometimes whispers that I am too wicked to be saved. But I know in my better moments this is all my foolish unbelief; I read an answer to my doubts in the blood shed on Calvary. I feel sure that there is a way to heaven for the very vilest of men, when I look at the cross.

~J.C. Ryle, "Calvary"
Of First Importance

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Prayer Warriors

"It Began with Bale" from Drawn From Water on Vimeo.

There is a faithful group of believers living in rural Africa who are fulfilling a mission - a calling - to be tools in the hand of Almighty God to save children from being murdered by their tribes.  These are children who have been deemed "mingi" - unclean - & sentenced to death by the tribe elders.  A designation of mingi can come about by means of a number of routes, including pregnancy out of wedlock or their teeth coming in on the top before the bottom.  The instrument of death is usually, as far as I can tell, drowning in the river.  This group of believers seeks to save these children from death &, when successful, bring them to their orphanage where they are loved, clothed, fed, sheltered, protected, & taught about Christ.  They're not always successful; Satan has a hold on these tribes & is not going to give that up without a fight.  Lately, several children have been killed before they can get to them.  This is why I'm coming to you today to plead with you to join in as prayer warriors.  This evil must be fought on our knees.  Please visit Drawn From Water & lift these believers & the tribes up to God in prayer.

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." ~Eph. 6:11-13

Friday, September 10, 2010

Recipe of the "Week"

There seems to be a lot of confusion, so I'm going to set the record straight.  Yes, I am from Louisiana. No, I am not Cajun (that's south LA), which is why I just have a typical Southern accent.  No, I don't eat seafood (or pondfood or riverfood or any kind of swimmingfood), & I don't like spicy (as in "hot") food. Well . . . okay, that's somewhat untrue, because I have taken quite a liking to salsa in the last couple of years. But generally, spicy foods & I are not on speaking terms, simply because when we do talk, they're mean to me. This jambalaya is the epitome of spicy, though, if by that you mean "flavorful". And I'm all into that! And I don't even need any Tabasco. Or seafood.

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya


-2 stalks celery
-1/2 bell pepper
-1-2 onions
-garlic (I just shake in enough to cover the top)
-1 c. rice
-2 c. chicken broth
-1-2 packages smoked sausage (we use turkey sausage & love it)
-1-2 lbs. chicken breasts
-1-2 cans Rotel
-1 small can tomato paste


-Slice & brown the sausage & chicken, then set aside.

-Mince & sauté the celery, bell pepper, & onions.

-Combine all ingredients in a large skillet or pot & simmer until liquid is gone & rice is tender.

This is just a basic recipe, without bells & whistles. If you want something more, try this recipe; it looks fantastic, & I'll probably throw in some of those ingredients the next time I make this. For our recipe, use 2 packages of sausage if you want lots of sausage or 2 lbs. of chicken if you want lots of chicken (in the pictures you see 1 package of sausage & 2 lbs. chicken). If you want it spicy (as in "hot"), throw in 2 cans of Rotel. I just used one & it wasn't spicy in the least.

That's it! It's so simple & so good. Michael refused for more than 3 years to let me make this, but one taste & he begged me to make it regularly. Serve it with garlic bread & a salad.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Christ the Manifestation of the Father

“We have only to track the divine footsteps of the Redeemer on earth, there to behold ‘as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.’ What do we see?

A Being, indeed, of infinite holiness—unsparing and uncompromising in His rebuke of iniquity, sternly denouncing sin in all its forms, driving with a scourge the sacrilegious traffickers from His Father’s house, proclaiming the impending and certain doom awaiting incorrigible sinners, the workers of iniquity; even predicting by discourse and parable the dreadful verities of a judgment-day, and pronouncing everlasting doom on the impenitent and unbelieving; on all traitors to their trust, on all neglectors and squanderers of committed talents; thus repeating, in words not to be misunderstood, the very truth which fell on the ears of Moses in his Rock-cleft, as the sublime voice and vision were dying away—’And that will by no means clear the guilty.’

But yet, in combination with this, we are called to contemplate one of infinite purity, beneficence, tenderness; whose delight was to feed the hungry, to heal the diseased, to help the helpless, to comfort the bereaved; feeling for them; weeping for them-—in His parables, giving a welcome to the Prodigal; in His daily communion, never scorning a suppliant’s request, or a penitent’s tears; listening, even in His expiring agonies, to a cry for mercy from a felon at His side; accepting the widow’s mite; making generous allowance for the lack of watchfulness at His own greatest crisis-hour on the part of trusted disciples; pardoning, with the tenderest of rebukes, the aggravated sin of a faithless follower; the prayer, trembling on His dying lips, of forgiveness for His murderers.

Reader! take in, at a glance, this wide comprehensive view of the Savior’s life and ministry, and in it you have a picture and impersonation of the character of God. ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men.’ ‘From henceforth,’ says Christ, pointing to Himself, ‘You know the Father, and have seen Him.’”

~John MacDuff, Clefts of the Rock
Of First Importance

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Update on Ginger

It's been 2 months since my last update on Baby Girl, & I'm happy to report that she's still in remission!  She looks good (although she's stinky from needing a bath) & is eating well.  And if all of the rough-housing with Jake is any indication, she feels great, too!  All in all, everything's going well.  I'm thankful for this & for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My State Before God

“When thinking of my state before God the question is not, Am I perfect in myself before the law? but, Am I perfect in Christ Jesus? That is a very different matter. We need not enquire, Am I without sin naturally? but, Have I been washed in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness? It is not Am I in myself well pleasing to God? but it is Am I accepted in the Beloved?”

~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, Sept. 6 devotional
Of First Importance

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Humble Orthodoxy

Before coming to the Reformed faith, I lived my Christian life pretty much like I suppose a lot of Christians do. I went to church on Sunday, listened to my CCM radio station & CDs, & read my Daily Guideposts . . . well . . . daily. I loved God & longed to worship Him. Even to this day, death seems so joyful to me, because when that moment comes, I will see my Savior face-to-face. . .& that is a glorious thought! Since I was 15, I've had a true faith in Him, but it was seriously lacking in true knowledge of Him.

Enter Reformed theology. The first sermon from a Reformed pastor that I listened to was on expiation entitled "Jesus Died to Cleanse Our Filth" by Mark Driscoll. I remember cleaning my house while listening to it & having to sit down several times to just listen & cry. The second sermon was "15 Words of Hope" by John MacArthur. I listened to it on the way to AL to meet Michael's family, as well as on the way back. That sermon was my first exposure to expositional preaching, & it felt like breathing for the first time. I'd never heard anything so magnetic in all my life! I had no idea that sermons could bring about such deep understanding of Scripture. In that moment, I realized that the sermons I'd been hearing all my life had only scratched the surface of God's Word. For a few years, I had felt like something was missing in my church's worship service as well as in my own walk with God. I knew instantly that this was it. In short, I'd been drinking milk while unknowingly craving meat. And, boy, did John MacArthur serve up some steak! There was no going back for me.

I wholeheartedly believe Reformed theology to be true to Scripture. I've searched out God's Word & have found all of the Reformed doctrines to be biblical doctrines. But a problem soon arose in my zeal. I became brash & abrasive in defending Reformed theology & correcting erroneous beliefs. Michael has said that those who are new to the Reformed faith need to be locked up for a couple of years until their zeal mellows. This was SO me! It didn't matter who it was, if they espoused a belief that I knew to be unbiblical, I set them straight right fast! Now, there's nothing wrong with correcting error - in fact, it's wrong not to - but it does matter how you do it. And the only word for my manner of correction was harsh. Completely unloving.

It's been more than 3 years now since coming to the Reformed faith. I'm glad to say that God did convict me of my unloving attitudes. I realize now that I don't have to nitpick what people say, & if they are in error that loving correction is godly correction. I also came to the understanding that there are true believers in unreformed churches. None of us have it all figured out, & when we die & join our fellow believers before the throne of God, we'll see just how much we got wrong in this life.  We'll also see the one thing we all got right, by the grace of God:  trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone as our atonement for sin.

So, here are my three main admonitions to my fellow believers:

     1.) Search out the Scriptures & place yourself under men of God who dedicate their lives to presenting God's Word to the flock truly & accurately. (At the top of my list of well-known pastors are John Piper, John MacArthur, & David Platt.)  Commit to holding Scripture, not your personal opinions or feelings, as your measuring stick.

     2.) Be humble. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do for someone is to show them their error. But, if you do have to correct someone who is in error, do so gently & lovingly, remembering that God is gentle & loving with you & such a spirit honors & glorifies Him. In this same vein, evaluate your own beliefs in light of Scripture, being humble enough to admit when you're wrong & change accordingly.

     3.) Remember that it's okay to disagree as long as both parties support their views with an accurate interpretation & application of Scripture. Just because someone doesn't believe something just exactly as you do doesn't mean they aren't true believers.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. . . . Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. ~ 1 Cor. 13:1; 4-5a

P.S. For anyone not familiar with Reformed theology or the Doctrines of Grace, I will be writing posts on this topic sometime in the near (hopefully) future.  Feel free to ask any questions you may have, though.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Serious Indeed

“Our sin must be extremely horrible. Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. . . . It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed of ourselves. . . . For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed.”

John Stott, The Cross of Christ
~Of First Importance

Friday, September 3, 2010

Recipe of the "Week"

Who doesn't love their own personal pizza? I do, but I'm a complete novice at dough-making & am easily intimidated. But even if you're a pro, there are surely times when you just need something quick & simple. Enter Mama (mine) with the great idea to make pizzas on canned biscuit dough. You should totally try this on for size:

Personal Pizzas


-1 can Pillsbury flaky biscuits
-homemade pizza sauce (it's super easy. Promise.)
-mozzarella cheese
-pepperoni (we use turkey pepperoni, & it's awesome.)


-Line a pizza pan or cookie sheet with foil & spray with cooking spray.

-Make your pizza sauce (see below).

-Lay out the canned biscuits a couple of inches apart & flatten them with the palm of your hand.

-Spread the pizza sauce on each flattened biscuit.

-Top the pizza with cheese & pepperoni. Pepperoni is our choice, but you can obviously make it to suit your taste.

-Bake the pizzas according to the biscuit directions, just make sure to keep an eye on the "crust" to make sure it doesn't burn.

-Let the pizzas cool slightly so you don't burn your mouth.

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I failed to make note of where I got this from & all of my searching hasn't turned it up.)


-1 15 oz jar/can tomato sauce
-2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
-1 tsp garlic powder (I used dry minced garlic)
-3/4 tsp onion powder
-1/4 tsp oregano
-1/4 tsp basil
-1/8 tsp black pepper (just sprinkle some in)
-1/2 tsp honey (optional; I've made this twice & haven't added this yet.)


-Mix all ingredients together & let it sit while you "make" the dough, then make your pizzas.

-*Hint: For 8-10 personal pizzas, half this recipe.

And just so you know, my sweet husband - who is a pizza connoisseur - said this was the best pizza he'd ever had & didn't see any need in ever ordering from his favorite place again! I have no doubt that the sauce had everything to do with it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ch. 2 - From Him, Through Him, To Him (Part 3)

Okay, so there were several quotes that I wasn't able to fit into the last 2 posts that I simply must give to you!  These are my favorites, that were not only the recipients of highlighter vomit but also received stars:

"And regardless of how complex, convoluted, or impossible your situation may seem or actually be right now, the wisdom of God is much more than adequate to walk you through it.  'For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, & the weakness of God is stronger than men' (1 Cor. 1:25)."  (pg. 33)

"But we stand in this line with the Lord Jesus, for whom the ways of God meant divesting Himself of His rights, experiencing rejection & ridicule on a scale never known by anyone before or since, then ultimately enduring a cruel death on the cross.  'How inscrutable.'"  (pg. 37)

"The appropriate response to the fathomless depths of God's wisdom & ways is to step out of the spotlight & turn the spotlight on Him.  It is to say, 'Amen!' - wholeheartedly affirming our agreement with the Word of God."  (pg. 39)

"The way God goes about redeeming this broken world is so very different than the way we would do it.  So when we can't understand what He's doing or why He's doing it, it's not our place to challenge or dispute, but rather to humbly bow before His sovereignty, His goodness, His mercy, & His greatness - 'the riches & wisdom & knowledge of God' - & to align ourselves with His purposes, embracing His will."  (pg. 42)

Remember the third point in Part 2, about us saying, "Yes, Lord"?  Well, Nancy also shows that saying "Yes, Lord" will mean that we say "no" to some things & "yes" to others.  Would you like to know what these things are?  Buy the book! ;-)  Seriously, you'll be glad you did.

God Moves

This is a poem by William Cowper quoted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Voices of the True Woman Movement.  You can find this song at Sovereign Grace Music on the Worship God Live CD, which I highly, highly recommend!

Ch. 2 - From Him, Through Him, To Him (Part 2)

Today, let's move to the so what of Romans 11:33-36 as laid out in Voices of the True Woman Movement. We all know, or I hope we do, that we don't come to Scripture just to gain knowledge. We don't read Scripture just for the what, right? After all, the heart of Scripture is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it's all His story & we all know that there's both a what & a so what. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, died the only sin-atoning & wrath-absorbing death, rose again from the grave, & ascended into heaven where He reigns at the right hand of the Father. There's the what, & the so what is that we are now children of God & co-heirs with Christ who have been commanded to love one another, serve & worship God with all of our hearts, & make disciples of all nations. Scripture influences our lives. It doesn't just work that way with the Gospel. Since all of Scripture is about Jesus - either in foreshadowing, in consummation, or in expectation of His return - then all of Scripture has so what applications for our lives.

I have to say that, although I thoroughly enjoyed this whole chapter, I particularly relished this "response" portion. The fact that my highlighter threw up all over this entire chapter bears this out. Everything in me shouted, "YES!" as I read Nancy's 3 main responses of a true woman to the truth of God's Word.

     1.) A true woman lives a God-centered life. (pg. 40) "She lives to reflect the beauty & wonder of His ways & to join every created thing in heaven & earth in glorifying & worshipping Him eternally. This is her reason for living." A true woman realizes that her life is not about her. It's not about her comfort or her discomfort. It's not about her realizing her dreams or seeing them dashed. This life is not about us. It's all about Him. Our every desire should be wrapped up in seeing God glorified, however that may come about. And when - not if - our path leads through suffering, we must remember that "our greatest problems, no matter how enormous & unsolvable they may seem, become puny when measured against the vastness of God." When we stay focused on God, our lives are put into perspective. And, not only this, but focusing on God inevitably gives us hope!

     2.) A true woman trusts in God. (pg. 41-43) As we all know, suffering is a part of life. We are told time & again in God's Word that trials will come our way. And sometimes, we can feel so overwhelmed that we lose sight of God. We sometimes even feel like He's not there. Sometimes, we become very afraid by an uncertain future that is completely out of our control. "But the true woman doesn't give in to fear. . . . She knows the One in charge of 'all things' can be trusted to know what He's doing. He has a plan we would not have scripted, a plan we may not understand, but it is His plan, & His plan is good, wise, & can never be thwarted. So a true woman accepts His plan as good, though it may not be the way she defines as good. She knows it's God who defines good, so she leans on Him." One thing that struck me in reading this point is that God has shown Himself trustworthy through the ages by keeping His promises. Each time I see a rainbow, I am in awe that a biblical promise is being kept right before my very eyes. Praise be to God, that He kept the ultimate promise when He sent His Son to be born as one of us as our perfect sacrifice! He has shown Himself faithful. We can trust Him completely.

     3.) A true woman says, "Yes, Lord." (pg. 43-45) The focus of this chapter has been Romans 11:33-36, but if you read Romans 12:1 - which directly follows this passage - you find that Paul appeals to the brethren "by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, living & holy & acceptable to God." In writing this post, it's occurred to me that these points all really flow into & overlap each other. The theme that runs through them all is that God is in control & we are to respond to Him in worshipful submission. We are to sacrifice our plans, our desires, our will to His plans, desires, & will out of a heart that has one overarching goal: to bring Him glory. I mean, we absolutely could push to live our lives our way to achieve our purposes; many people do. But if we do that, we must remember that we are then living for that which is passing away. This world will end. But the Word of God endures forever. Don't be foolish & toss aside the imperishable for the perishable. Listen to my favorite paragraph of all: "[The true woman] lives intentionally, not just drifting from one meaningless activity to the next, letting the circumstances of life pull her along. She's willing to be like a salmon, swimming upstream, living a counter-cultural life in an unholy world for the glory of God. She's willing to make personal sacrifices, not constantly asking, 'What will make me happy?' Rather, she wants to know: 'What will please You, Lord?' 'What will further Your kingdom?' 'What will display Your glory?' Her heart attitude is, 'If it pleases You, it pleases me.' The true woman reflects the spirit of Mary of Nazareth when she said in response to God's calling, 'I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word'" (Luke 1:38).

Before we leave this chapter, let us remember that we can't be this "true woman" on our own. It's tempting to read these points with a self-reliant attitude, but that's exactly the opposite of what our attitude should be. We must remember that we can't "succeed" at any part of the Christian life apart from the grace of God. It's right & good for us to want to be this kind of woman, to want our desire to be solely for God & His glory. But it's wrong to think we can do so without His help. So, as we ponder "the depth of the riches & wisdom & knowledge of God" & seek to apply His Word to our lives, let us also remember the cross of Christ where we laid down our selves & were clothed with Him.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ch. 2 - From Him, Through Him, To Him (Part 1)

Oh, the depth of the riches & wisdom & knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments & how inscrutable His ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?" For from Him & through Him & to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. ~ Romans 11:33-36

These verses - & the chapter that expounds upon them - are a mountaintop experience. As Nancy Leigh DeMoss states, this doxology connects the what of Romans 1-11 to the so what of the rest of the book. And when you stop to behold the transcendent beauty inherent in these verses, it simply takes your breath away. It did mine. In order to give you the same sense of awe as I gained in reading this chapter, I'm going to devote 2 posts to it - one for the what & one for the so what.

"This passage . . . gives us a perspective - a grid - for responding to His sovereign choices in our lives, especially those we cannot understand." (pg. 29) And aren't there a lot of those? There are a lot of circumstances in our lives that we just simply can't understand why they're happening the way that they are. If we were in charge, we would orchestrate things in a much more painless way. Why is God doing it this way? Why do I have to experience strife in family relationships or discontentment in my job? Why is it necessary to go through a spiritually dry season? To put it bluntly, as these very verses show, because He has a depth of wisdom, knowledge, & judgment that is beyond us. We can't search them out. We can't easily understand them. We have to get it through our heads that our way is wrong & God's way is right. . . & we don't have to understand it. He is wholly other & completely above us in all ways. Unlike us, He has no lack of wisdom or knowledge. Nothing escapes or surprises Him. He knows everything about the momentous events of history all the way down to the minute details of our every day lives. He not only knows them, He's in control of them. And this brings immense comfort to His children because we know that no matter how out of control we are, He never is. Nothing ever happens to us apart from His will. And because "God works all things together for good for those who love Him & are called according to His purpose", we can rest assured that when we get that dreaded diagnosis or lose our job or face infertility or any other crisis, He is taking care of us. His plans are for our good, not for our demise. Even when - especially when - it hurts, we can know that He's working His sanctification in us, so that we will be like Him. How can we know that? "For from Him & through Him & to Him are all things." All of the circumstances in history & in our personal lives happens in order to bring Him glory. When evil occurs, He receives glory in His wrath toward that evil or in bringing the evil doer to repentance & forgiving that evil in His mercy. When one of His children suffers well, such as Rachel Barkey, trusting in Him come what may, He receives immense glory! When one of His children gives up a comfortable life to spend their lives living out & preaching the Gospel, such as Katie Davis, God receives glory! When parents joyfully raise their children in the fear & admonition of the Lord, faithfully going about their daily duties out of love for God, He receives glory. What in the world makes such people trust & serve a God they cannot see or touch? Faith. Faith that God's "riches & wisdom & knowledge" are of such unfathomable depth that we can never know them fully. Faith that lets go of having to know everything God knows for one simple reason: He knows it & that's enough. Faith that knows that God is good & only gives the best gifts to His children. Faith that knows that even when it hurts, God is there, He's working out His plan - again, for our good - & in the end He will get the glory & we will receive immense blessing. This faith is not of us. It's of God alone. To Him be glory forever. Amen.