Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Growing or Withering?

Are you growing or withering?
If you are my age you are probably thinking, Yep, I have reached my full physical potential. It is only downhill from here!
But what about spiritually? Are you growing or withering?

Jesus asked this same kind of question through the parable of the Seeds in Matthew 13.1-23.

The "Wayside" Hearer

This first seed never even makes it to the plot of soil. They fall by the wayside on the way to the planting. This person has a closed mind about Jesus, faith, maybe even religion. They may be callused to it or jaded by someone who called themselves a Christian. For whatever reason, they only let the Gospel of Jesus only touch the surface. Then, like the birds, Satan takes that seed away so it never goes more than skin deep. He does this by making the world look more favorable than Jesus. Or he plants his own seed in its place called Guilt, Shame, Unworthiness, or Cynicism. 

The Emotional Hearer

This seed is gladly planted within the soil, but no roots are ever created. There is no growth. The Emotional Hearer is excited about becoming a believer, but because all human emotions ebb and flow, they lose their fervor for the Lord. Did you ever go to church camp as a kid and you left feeling so spiritually high like you had just touched heaven, just to return to the "real world" and fall back into spiritual apathy? This is because no roots had taken hold to ground you against the wind and rain that will surely come in any believer's life. The earth you are planted in is stony, meaning the soil is shallow. When life gets deep and serious, you wither instead of grow. 

The Hearer with the Wandering Mind

This Hearer heard the Good News and accepted Jesus as his Savior, and his roots ran deep. There is so much potential for a beautiful flower because of the strength of the roots, but nothing is springing up. This believer is burdened with unsure how to be a Christian in a non-Christian world, pulled between pleasing both, so they are stagnant in their growth. But like any flower, they aren't really stagnant, they are withering. 

Everything is either growing or withering. You, me, the flowers. When we think we have reached our full potential and don't feel the need to grow and learn more, we begin to slowly wither. 
But our spirit has the capacity to grow and grow, unlike our physical bodies or the flowers. We can't know our Lord well enough, until we see Him face to face. He gives us an endless flow of Grace and Love that abounds more and more. So far, these Hearers did not understand that, but the next one did. 

The Hearer with the Understanding Mind

"The seed entered the whole soul, filling the mind, heart, conscience, and will."* This Hearer understood God's invitation and His call. He fully received it. Their roots are deep. Their flower is in full bloom soaking more of the Light and blessing others with their beauty. Their spirit is in communion with God's, which by the way, is how we were all created to be - in communion with God. You will never be complete without that. 

One of these seeds chose to follow the lies of the devil.Three out of four of these seeds accepted Jesus as their Saviour. But only one of these became fruitful and fulfilled. 
Jesus came so that we would have life, and that we would have it more abundantly. There is no safer place than in His will. There is no better place than growing in His grace. 

Everyone, believer or non-believer, falls into one of these categories.
The one who rejected Christ.
The one who received Him, but never really knew Him.
The one who received Him, but tried to please everyone.
The one who received Him, and lived abundantly beside Him. 

I can identify with all of these at one point in my life. Maybe you can too. But the Lord has graced me with very real moments in His presence. I have known perfect Peace. I have felt His Love. And I pray that you will know Him too. 


* Quote and outline from Dr. Herbert Lockyer's, All the Parables of the Bible. (1963)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Your Heritage and Mine

Hey girls, 

What is your heritage like?
Mine is multi-faceted. One of my grandfathers was a Filipino doctor while the other came from a self-made southern family of farmers and landowners. Now I can relate to my Filipino grandfather in that I am the newest doctor (of physical therapy) in the family. And I have always related to my Grandpa since I grew up living on our family's land, exploring the woods and fields, even picking our cotton. There is a respect and love for land that runs in my blood, and one day I will own a part of it.
It seems the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to know their stories. The more of a connection I feel with them, the grandfather I never met - though he impacted most of the small town in which I grew up - and my Grandpa with whom I spent countless hours and still visit when I go home to the family farm.

Grandpa and me on the family farm.

Maybe you have had a cherished connection to your past as well.

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles..."     - I Corinthians 12.13

But did you know that, as Christians, we have a spiritual heritage as well? One that spans even a greater gulf of time, with an even greater Founding Father?

"The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places. Yea, I have a goodly heritage."     - Psalm 16.6

You know that feeling of pride as you hear about an ancestor who accomplished something great? We should feel the same swelling of pride in Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she was "highly favoured" and blessed among women for her unfailing trust in her Father. Hey girls, we have the opportunity to stand out among women, too, for Mary was just like you and I, a daughter of the King.

Have you ever been told that you remind your family so much of great-aunt so and so, and though you have never met her, you always wish that you had? Sometimes I feel this about the woman at the well. There is so much about that nameless, fallen, courageous woman that I relate to and I can't wait to meet her one day in heaven.

Maybe you have experienced the feeling of an immediate and unbreakable bond with a stranger the moment you realize that they know Christ like you do. That's the Holy Spirit speaking on a different level to your souls. As Anne Shirley would put it, you have found "a bosom friend, and intimate friend... a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul." This is the same spirit in which we can read about and connect to our spiritual ancestors in the Bible.

Dear Sister, you are not just a creation anymore, you are His child. Since you were saved, you now have a different perspective on the Bible. It is now your family tree.

"God setteth the solitary in families..."     - Psalm 68.6

Women in the Bible may not be our earthly heritage, but they are our spiritual heritage.

As you read of these women, imagine you are standing beside them. Imagine you are seeing what they see and feeling what they feel. Look at the context of their lives. How is it similar to yours?

What can you learn from their mistakes, from their triumphs, from their worship of Jesus Christ?

They also knew nothing of Jesus at one time. They stumbled through day 2 of their Christian walk just like we have. The Lord carried them through seasons just like He has for you, even if all you knew was that you were not walking on your own two feet, not recognizing that you were safe in His arms the whole time.

This is your heritage, girls. Take ahold of it. God inspired these Words, these stories, He created these women for "such a time as this" (Esther).

Keep this in mind as we get to know these women of the Bible in the next few weeks and as you study His Word on your own. Don't stand in the back of the room like an outsider, but sit at Jesus' feet yearning for more (Mary, sister of Lazarus) and glean the fields of these stories for sustenance to get you through the day (Ruth).

Stop reading as an outsider & start reading as an insider.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Confessions of a Big Mouth

Hi Ladies,

Growing up I often heard phrases like "If you can't say somethin nice, don't say nothin at all" (Thumper) or "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt" (Abe Lincoln?). I was known for speaking too often, too quickly, and with too much of a Southern twang.

And I say what I feel. Which I always thought was a strength of mine. But sometimes my words are TOO strong. Even for my 6'2" 200 lb husband with enough grace to fill a football stadium. I don't know about you, but a lack of Wisdom has caused me everything from embarrassment to regret on quite a few occasions!

Wisdom. This word has taken on a new and personal meaning for me, especially since I became a wife. It's no longer a "church word" that's kind of abstract and ambiguous.  Wisdom is what I plead for everyday when I commune with my Father. This word has become beautiful and sacred to me because I know I can never attain Wisdom in my own strength.

I have memorized specific verses for different phases of my life. Our next verse in Proverbs 31 has been my latest mantra...

Proverbs 31.26

She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness.

Oh, to have the spiritual discipline of our Virtuous Woman! Good news is, she is just an example of perfection and we serve a gracious God who calls for a pure heart, not perfection!

She opens her mouth with Wisdom. Not only is there Wisdom in the words she says, but in when she says them. And the -eth on the end shows that she continually thinks before she speaks.
We all know that the first step in putting our foot in our mouth is actually opening our mouth.

In her tongue is the law of Kindness. The phrase "in her tongue" means in her everyday conversation, daily interactions. She is not putting on a show here. Every time she speaks to her husband, her mother, her coworkers. Even her best friends that don't mind if she doesn't filter her thoughts. Her communication is for one purpose, to show love. It's so important to her that it may as well be a law.

I find it interesting that the word "law" is used. This means that there are consequences for "breaking" this law. But how often do we feel guilty for "victimless crimes" like gossiping or being brutally honest to the point of pain?

Lord, I pray that we would feel the gravity of our words the way others do, the way You do. 

What would our lives look like if we lived by a "Law of Kindness"? Remembering that this is a hypothetical embodiment of Godly perfection, we know it would be impossible to never speak anything unkind. But if our goal was to show Love every time we spoke? We could change the tone of our home, the strength of our relationships, our outlook on life! Maybe we could even lead to people to Jesus.

Believe me, a feat this huge requires more than just a New Year's resolution. It takes holy encouragement and surrender to God on a daily basis. King Solomon, the receiver of the words in Proverbs 31, was the wisest man on earth. But it wasn't just his awesome Mom that passed along these words of Wisdom that got him where he was, he prayed diligently and fervently for Wisdom. Instead of riches and fame and power, he asked God for Wisdom.

I want to be like Solomon. I want to set aside my pride and allow God to inundate my communication with Wisdom and Kindness.

Lord, You said in Your Word that Wisdom is prized beyond rubies, and so is a Godly woman. I pray that You would replace my words with Your Wisdom today and to speak kindness over each day for Your glory. Amen.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Sunday - Where Hope Meets Hate and Humiliation

So many people today are "waiting for a miracle." Some refuse to believe in a higher power unless they see a miracle for themselves. Sadly, the biggest critics are the ones who don't believe, even when presented with the most convincing evidence. Others are whole-heartedly awaiting a miracle, searching for something real in this world.

I believe that the enemy has used amazing advancements in the movies and technology to desensitize us to  the "unbelievable" and "impossible." Think about it. We are not amazed by the special effect dinosaurs in Jurassic World (don't get me wrong, I saw it twice in theaters and now own the DVD.) Even Bryce Dallas Howard referred to this when she explained that children aren't scared of their attractions anymore, so they need something bigger and scarier. We watch horror movies and we are not horrified. Five minutes into a thriller, we can foresee who will die first. We are becoming harder and harder to impress. And we know that behind every impressive thing is a catch, or just really advanced CGI.

Everything nowadays is being sold to us, and many times we reject things just on this principle.

I challenge you to recognize this fact, and shed the effects that this world has on you for a few moments. Because if you handle Jesus like you handle Jurassic World (again, one of my faves...), you will miss the out on the greatest miracle in history, the most important dose of reality.

On that first Good Friday, Jesus was brutally executed.

I remember watching The Passion of the Christ as a 14 year old. I had to leave the theater, overcome with emotion. I have gone back and forth on how I feel about that controversial film. Is it healthy to attempt to portray the greatest and most complex murder in history? Should I appreciate the outreach to a generation that craves wow factors and sensory overload? Either way, it's important that you read the story of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection with a prayerful heart. Asking the Lord to reveal the truth, the depth, the importance, and the emotion that surrounded His death, burial and resurrection. Because only Jesus can fill that void in your spirit that craves to be astounded. 

He was buried. The most final act in a person's life.
But, remember, Jesus wasn't merely human.

His life ended with the most humiliating of deaths - death on the cross. He was killed by those with nothing but hatred in their hearts. But the humility and hate was the key to the next part of the story. Nobody wanted Him dead as badly as those that killed Him. That made His resurrection from the dead that much more impressive! They made sure His body was mangled and torn before nailing Him to the cross. This was proof to the many, many people who met Him after He arose, untouched except for the piercing in His side and the marks in His hands and feet. There was no mistake that He was the same One who was hanging almost unrecognizably on the cross three days ago.

Hope was given, not just despite, but because of the hate and humiliation. 

If you live in shame, Jesus can give you hope, not just despite yourself, but all the more because of what you have suffered. His hope is designed for that purpose.
If you have hate in your heart and desire something bigger than you to overcome it, Jesus died just for that purpose. He wants to give you the same hope. Yes, you.

We all want to see bigger dinosaurs. We want to be awed. We even want to be scared and taken out of our comfort zone. My challenge for you is to go to the Bible instead of the big screen. Believe me, it can be scary to step out of your comfort zone and follow Jesus. But He has already experienced everything you will ever experience, so take ahold of His hope and prepared to stand in awe.


"In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead. And, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee. There shall ye see Him. Lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring His disciples word."     - Matthew 28.1-8

"And very early in the morning on the first day of the week, they came not the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away, for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment, and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted. Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified. He is risen. He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him. But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee. There shall ye see Him, as He said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed, neither said they any thing to any man, for they were afraid."     - Mark 16.2-8

"And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found no the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. As as they are afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seeketh the living among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen. Remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered His words."     - Luke 24.2-8

Friday, March 25, 2016

Seeing Love Through the Eyes of a 7 Year Old: The Story of Good Friday

I was 7 years old, doodling on a piece of scrap paper as I listened to my Sunday School teacher talk about Jesus. Yes, even the 7 year old Caitlin had trouble focusing on just one thing. I always enjoyed going to church. But something was different about this Sunday.
7 year old Caitlin on Easter Morning

He was describing God's love for His children. It's easy enough to explain love to a 7 year old. No one experiences love as purely and completely as a young child. But putting the love of our Lord, the Creator of the universe, into words is a daunting task regardless of your audience. So he got on our level and compared God's love for us to our parents love for us - "You know how much your Dad loves you? Jesus loves you EVEN MORE!!!!!" What?! No way. Not possible.

Maybe he noticed in my facial expression how my mind was trying to contain that thought, so he asked me how my Dad shows that he loves me. I told him about how Dad always kisses us goodbye a million times and tells us he loves us over and over again, even when we are just going to Walmart! "Can you imagine God loving you even more than that?"

That is when I decided to give my life to Jesus. To become a child of God as well as His creation. I became a Christian.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."     - John 3.16

I know why that is such a popular memory verse for young children. Kids know Love. They get Love. Somehow the older we get the more abstract and complex Love becomes. And that's sad.

Maybe you were not given the opportunity to experience the genuine love of a father, or even a mother. Can I invite you to lay aside the conceptions you have of earthly Love, even those that are buried deep in hurt or shame or guilt? If you will, I can tell you a story of Love that can heal all your wounds and replace them with your own personal story of the moment you met Jesus.

Jesus had just come into Jerusalem, and was teaching the people the Word of God. The Passover came, then Jesus went to the garden where he prayed and cried and sweated drops of blood in deep agony, knowing what would happen a few hours later. He prayed first for God to find another way, but finished His prayer by asking for God's will to be done.

See, Jesus was completely human. Remember this as you read the story of His arrest, torture, and crucifixion.

As He looked up at the Cross, He could have said no. If He were merely human, He would have said no. But just as He experienced all the humanity that we do, He was also fully God, full of Love for each one of us that we can never understand. No matter how purely we have experienced Love. No matter how damaging worldly love has been to us. But aren't you glad that the depth of His Love for us is not dependent on our capacity to understand it? 

He died on the cross so that our sins would be forgiven. Without forgiveness of our sins, we can never go to heaven. Now the price is paid, all we have to do is pick up that payment. Receive it. Pray and ask the Lord into our lives because we believe He paid our penalty.

You don't have to understand the extent of His Love. And praise God it's not based on our ability to reciprocate it. Because as humans we fail. But Jesus paid the price knowing all of this, didn't He?

What's your story? How did you come to know Him?
You don't have a story yet? Jesus began your story on the cross on that first Good Friday. Take His hand and complete that story. I can't wait to see how it ends :)

Happy Good Friday! 

My Challenge for you is to read the story of Good Friday - Matthew 27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, John 13-19 - and put yourself in the shoes of a disciple. What do they see? What do they feel as they watch Jesus being crucified? Look out for the next post on Easter Sunday - Where Hope Meets Hate and Humiliation.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

How To Make History: The Story of Palm Sunday

They found a young donkey, just big enough to carry one man. With no money to purchase a saddle for their Guest of honor, they placed their own coats on the donkey's back. The streets of Jerusalem were dusty, so the crowd placed their garments on the ground to make a suitable path for the procession to come. They waved palm branches, an ancient symbol of victory, to show their loyalty to the King who would soon enter their capitol and restore their kingdom...though this victory would take a very different shape than they imagined. 

They couldn't have had less to offer, but no one could have offered more devotion than these disciples.

Jesus rode through the streets of Jerusalem to the tune of the Israelites crying "Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!" Then His disciples came to the realization that they - these poor men who just months before were fishermen, lawyers, and sinners - had just made history!

These things understood not His disciples at the first, but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him (the prophesy that Jesus would come to the Jews in a humble way, riding on a donkey), and that they had done these things unto Him.     - John 12.16
At the time, His disciples were just doing what they were told. But after the fact, they realized they had actually helped fulfill the Jewish prophecy that their nation had been awaiting for hundreds of years! All because they were willing to give their time... and their coats.

This is a significant point since these were not guys who had a coat to spare. Jesus told them to "Take nothing for your journey... neither have two coats apiece." (Luke 9.3)

So, what if they had not been willing to give up their coat??
They would not have had the honor of being part of God's perfect plan.

We also have the opportunity to contribute to the fulfillment of the next prophesy.  Jesus is returning for His church, just like he returned to Jerusalem to save His chosen people.
... and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.     - Luke 21.27
We also have the opportunity to spread our coats on the ground, preparing the way for Jesus to enter in. We can do this by sharing with others the truth of who Jesus is. Showing them what He has done for you.
Just like the Israelites who were looking for a powerful political figure to save them from oppression, our friends may be looking in all the wrong places for the peace that passes all understanding. They may be working their way to heaven instead of simply giving their life to Jesus. We can wave our palm branches by telling others of the victory we have found in Jesus, the gift of eternal life.

As His disciples, it's our honor and privilege to pave the way for Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 31.25 says, "Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come." 

Let's be willing to give of our time and even our material possessions. Let's be known for the strength our Lord gives us and the honor we bestow on Him. Because we have a reason to rejoice in time to come!

Happy Palm Sunday everyone! Let's make history!

My palm branch cross given to me by a homeless man in exchange for  a bag of grace.

My challenge for you this week is to read the accounts of Jesus' entrance and ministry in Jerusalem  in the gospels: Matthew 21-26, Mark 11-13, Luke 19-21, John 12.

Watch for blog posts on Good Friday and Easter Sunday!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Desires of Your Heart

Hi Ladies,

Happy  (late) Valentine's Day!

The husband and me celebrating Valentine's Day by target shooting on the family farm!

I heard someone talking about "Love" and all the clich├ęs that go along with it. And I thought about this question...

Who or What is at the center of my relationship?

After a poll of friends and family, I found that these things have the ability to become the center of our relationships:
Money - the desire for or obsession over. 
Career - when it's prioritized too high. 
Kids - who doesn't love them? But, it's damaging for the world to revolve around a child. 
Future plans - living for later instead of taking advantage of today. 

"Things" (yes I just referred to children as inanimate objects for the purposes of this illustration) should never be the center of our marriages or relationships, though they are very important. 

So that leaves the questions of Who is at the center?

If I put myself in the center, I am telling my husband that his opinion doesn't hold as much weight as mine, or that my happiness is more important than his, etc. 

If my husband puts himself at the center, I'm left on the outskirts.  For any woman who has been on the outskirts of her own relationship, you don't have to be told about the feelings of inadequacy and self-preservation that are battled. 

If I put my husband in the center, I'm depriving myself of the potential I have as his wife. I should be beside my husband, not behind him. 

If my husband puts me in the center, I may find myself on a pedestal that is dangerously high and lonely. 

All of these scenarios will lead to resentment and defensiveness at some point. 

It doesn't work for one half of the scale to become lighter or heavier, there will not be balance. 

But there has to be Someone in the center so that we can build around it and upon it. A sturdy framework on which we can grow together. That's Jesus Christ. 

My husband and I are by no means perfect, but we are blessed. God brought us together with the same drive to know Him better. This will change your interactions with each other and the world. 

When we got engaged we chose this as our marriage verse...

Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.     - Psalm 37.4

This means that when we find our joy in Jesus' presence, our desires align with His and all the "things" in life will align. 


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hot Pink Lipstick & Old Testament Law

Hey Ladies,

This weekend we went out with some of our amazing friends, two of which are my cherished girlfriends I don't get to spend enough time with. I was feeling fancy enough to wear this hot pink lipstick my makeup artist sister-in-love gave to me (spoiler alert: I don't wear it nearly as good as she does.) By the time I got done with my tacos, I looked like a child who just finished a strawberry popsicle in the middle of summer. No matter how nicely they tried to direct me to the hot pink smudges, the situation could not be mended. Both being mothers, their Mom lightbulb went off, they dug for a baby wipe, & sent me to a mirror. Though seeing the disaster for myself made me feel even more like a 5 year old, I was able to wipe away the impurities and start fresh.

Fast forward to tonight when I heard Dr. Justin Cooper speak at our church. This wasn't even his main point, but it struck me because it reminded me of my lipstick disaster...

The Law of the Old Testament is like a mirror given to show us our sin, our impurities so that we see our need for Grace through Jesus, the only thing that can take our sin away and make us clean.

Whoa, I know. That was a big jump.

Let's back up with a Law v. Grace crash course.

God gave the Israelites laws that would serve to...

A) set the Jewish people apart so that others would see God's presence in their lives.

B) lead them to recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, along with the prophecies given throughout Jewish history.

For example, the Passover symbolized the night the angel passed over every Hebrew home that sacrificed a lamb & covered their doorpost with its blood, sparing the first-born from physical death. Almost 1500 years later, Jesus would sacrifice His life, shedding His blood so that we would be spared from a spiritual death.

Many Jewish laws were a foreshadowing of Jesus & the deliverance He would bring.

When Jesus came He fulfilled every prophecy. He followed every Jewish Law because they were given by God. But the Jews had gotten so preoccupied with the act of carrying out the Law that they forgot the point of the Law. Now that Jesus was here, they didn't have to sacrifice animals to have their sins forgiven, He would soon give the sacrifice of His perfect human life. The religious leaders saw Him as a Law-breaker, but He actually fulfilled the Law perfectly so that Grace could enter in.

We as Christians are saved by Grace, not the Law.

The Law serves as a mirror that shows us our inadequacies. It reveals our need for Something stronger. How can we fix something that we cannot see?

Grace, the avenue through which Jesus bestows salvation to all who believe in Him, is what wipes away all the stains that are revealed by the Law.

... Just like my hot pink makeup disaster would have never been controlled without, first, a mirror. & then a good cleansing.

The old hymn says...
Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow. 

When we receive Him as our Savior, we are pure. He doesn't see our sin anymore, we are spotless.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.    - John 3.16-17 
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.     - Romans 5.1 
For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.     - Ephesians 2.8-9 
Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.     - Jesus, Matthew 5.17

None of us are perfect, no matter how closely we follow the rules. We need His Grace.
Have you let Him cleanse you today?


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

To the Men...

Hey Guys (If there are any guys out there reading this...),

Proverbs 31 is not just written for the ladies, you know. It's important to remember that this particular proverb was given from a loving queen mother to her son, King Solomon. Yes, she was instructing him on the virtues that comprise a priceless woman, but she was also speaking between the lines a little. She had a special point of view and a unique audience with the king of Israel. She was reverently implying that her king was to be the sort of man worthy of standing beside the Virtuous Woman. She was leading her son to the conclusion that, in order to attract the attention of this woman who was continuously seeking the Lord, he too must be looking upward.
"A virtuous woman, who can find?... Will it be you, Solomon?"

In verse 23, she plainly states that the husband of the Virtuous Woman will be a respected leader.

Proverbs 31.23

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

In the context of the Jewish nation, the gates were where courts were held, judgment was executed, and important decisions were made. Elders were respected leaders who worked together to maintain harmony through God's law in Israel.

So even though he isn't getting as much screen time as the Virtuous Woman, God has spoken through Solomon's mother to give truths about the Virtuous Man as well!

The Virtuous Man is known in the gates. Those who really matter know this guy's names.
The Virtuous Man is known when he sits with the elders. They know his name for the right reasons.

In order to have this reverence and position, he holds the things of God as a high standard. He is a gatekeeper both in his vocation and in his home.
A gatekeeper allows in what is needful and refuses to let in what is harmful, praying for discernment to separate the good from the evil. 
A gatekeeper protects the things he loves from the unknown in times of darkness, utilizing sound judgment that is based on absolute truths. 

The Virtuous Man is also accountable to other men who have a relationship with God.

My husband does not have the ability, or the desire, to spend five hours talking over coffee about every aspect of life like I do with my girlfriends. What's spiritually renewing to me oftentimes makes him want to throw up. But somehow he and his guy friends find ways to edify each other through fishing, going to the gun range, or biking 80 mile trails. Weird, I know. But somewhere between all the manliness, my husband gains insight from a Godly friend, or gives wisdom to a growing Christian. Christian counsel is so important to everyone, especially to the spiritual leader of the home.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.     - Proverbs 27.17

Here is what our Lord has to say about good counsel, spoken through King David, Solomon's father...

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.     - Psalm 1.1-3

If we desire God to permeate every corner of our lives, why do we take advice that is contrary to God's Word? Why do we desire to look like the world who doesn't have God's peace? Why do we seek a higher position and more respect from those who do not respect our Father?

David's delight was in "the law of the Lord". As Christians, we now have grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That should be our delight. We can't help but delight in the freedom we find in Christ! 

He meditates on God's Word constantly. There is no separation between job and church, family and personal life. Our lives are most cohesive when we allow the Lord into every compartment.

When we live like this, we will succeed. If God is for us, who can be against us?

Even Solomon in all of his wisdom sought advice from his Godly mother. We all need someone to go to for our spiritual questions. But ultimately we need a personal relationship with Jesus in order to bring forth fruit and prosper.