Sunday, October 31, 2010

Christ's True Freedom

"If you do not begin with utter freedom from the law, if there is one iota of the law where you are not free, you live your whole Christian life in fear of that one rule. Yes, fearful. Fearful that God will not accept you if you fail at that one point. There can be no exception. If you are free of the law, then you are free to be the Lord's. Only then are you utterly free to be the Lord's. All law. All rules. All rightness. All."

"Isn't that dangerous?"

"Dangerous? Perhaps. But to present anything that could take you out of His grace  ... that is dangerous. A gospel that presents as a solution Christ, plus one iota of law - that is far less than an uttermost solution. His solution is an uttermost solution. If it is Christ and the dot of an i, then Christ died in vain, for then His deliverance is not utter deliverance.  My Lord's solution, my Lord's salvation, is utter. A freedom that is freedom from every possible prohibition does not cause a believer to sin. It is a freedom that sets the believer free to love Him - with all the others in the church - to love HIM with all their hearts."

-Excerpt by Gene Edwards from his book, 'The Silas Diary.'

"For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself... This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh... If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
Galatians 5:13-18

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Week of Firsts

It all started out pleasant enough. Very pleasant, actually. This Canadian that I've grown quite fond of decided to come down and spend the weekend, and his stay was beyond delightful. :-) Joel booked two tickets on the Avalon - a old-fashioned River Boat cruise complete with with a meal on board suited for kings.

I had dreamed for some time of taking a trip on one of these boats in this Mississippi town, and Joel make this dream a reality! So fun!

I also tried my hand that weekend at making a pumpkin chiffon cheesecake. Another first for me, but one that turned out tasty!

Whether it was that rich meal aboard the riverboat, this cheesecake, or the home-made pizza that also made it's way to the table that Sunday, or simply a compounding of problems that had been building for about six weeks, Wednesday evening found another first for me.

My first trip to the emergency room.

The next three days were lots and lots of firsts. First IV. First two nights in a hospital. First ambulance ride. First morphine ever - five doses just initially to get my extreme stomach pain under control. First CT scan. First ultrasound. And eventually, my first surgery.

I now have four little incisions in my stomach and a missing gallbladder as proofs of what occurred Thursday afternoon. My recovery has been slow and painful, and quite a bit harder than what I anticipated, but I rejoice to say that these last two days have been huge stepping stones to a state of normal I'm looking forward to returning to. Through the ups and downs, the Lord has been extremely faithful, and I've learned again what precious, precious friends and church family I have.

I was blessed today by a quote a friend shared with me. Ponder these words with me.
Could it be that [Jesus] came not to wave the magic wand and make the cancer go away, but to enter into our sufferings? Could it possibly be true that the best show of faithfulness is not the healing or the unexpected check, but the unthinkable truth that God has chosen to be with us through it all? Could it be that the greatest miracle is not provision, but presence?" - M. C.
God's presence has been sweet, and I love to see His faithfulness through the hard things in life, and the sweet things. Jesus truly doeth all things well...

All the way my Saviour leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?

Heav'nly peace divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
-Fanny Crosby

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The beauty of love...

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren (and sisters!) to
dwell together in unity!"

"...and these words shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt
teach them diligently unto thy children..."

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the
greatest of these is charity."
" love, serve one another."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bowling Memories.

It was a summer evening about six weeks ago when I was waiting for one of *those* phone-calls. It was hot. Smotheringly sticky. We all were just sitting around, no energy to do anything, and the hours were dragging by mercilessly for me.

Out of the blue, as is just like my Dad, he popped out the question, "So, who wants to go bowling?" In short order, we jumped into our van with no air conditioning except the classic 4/55 kind, (four open windows at 55 mph) and headed to the deliciously cool bowling alley in town.

I will admit, I'm not a huge fan of bowling. It's alright, but perhaps it's some of my early childhood memories that taints this sport for me.

I was a bit younger than this littlest sister, when I went bowling with my family and our church for the first time. Don't ask me why, but I was bowling in my socks instead of the required clown-shoes, and I dropped that unbelievably heavy ball on my tender five-year-old toes. Yeah. It left quite an impression there, and in my memory.

It obviously left an impression in my Dad's mind too, as he frequently cautioned me that evening to hold onto my ball tightly. Though I don't think he needed to worry about comforting a sobbing little girl, he couldn't resist the teasing remarks throughout our time there.

I will admit, I enjoyed taking pictures a bit more that evening than actually hurling that wobbly ball down the lanes and continually cringing as it hit the gutters, but I couldn't help but be just a tad bit pleased when I managed two or three strikes that evening. I won't shock you with my score. :-)

Later as we enjoyed ice-cream and other tasties at McDonald's, I had to confess that the evening with my family was priceless. Even as I got a little anxious to get home to *that* phone-call, I was glad I came.

Family is precious and memories are priceless. Even if those memories involve a ten-pound bowling ball on top of five-year-old toes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hide Me Behind the Cross

I've been meditating a lot on Phillipians 2 lately, doing some memory, and basically trying to wrap my mind around the concept of making myself of no reputation, being consumed with the things of others rather than myself, and what lowliness of mind looks like lived out in flesh and blood. It's been a challenge for sure!

The other evening, I found myself in a very rare situation. Home alone at night, with no one but my kitty to keep me company. The dark, quiet house was such a strange contrast to the normal hustle and bustle of nine family members, so as I tackled a pile of dishes, I stuck in a CD that belonged to one of my brothers. I had never listened to it before, and many of the songs were completely unfamiliar to me. One jumped out in particular, though, and as I listened to it over and over again, the impact of what this men's quartet was singing about struck a chord with my recent ponderings. 

Lord as I seek to serve You, 
  May You find in me what's pleasing to Your heart. 
I leave my will at Calvary, 
  Taking on a nature humbled by Your scars. 
For I know it's only through Your love, 
  That who I am is hidden by Your grace. 
Let my desires be overshadowed, 
  As I recall the purpose of that place.

That sweet place of the cross. The cross that seeks to hide us - not only our sins, failings, and stumblings as fallen human creatures, but those fleshly human achievements that would seek to blur the glory and splendor of Jesus Christ in us. I found the prayer that rose from this truth so precious... 

Hide me behind the cross, 
Where my gains become as loss. 
And only Your glory is in view. 
Your power will be revealed 
The more that I am concealed. 
Hide me behind the cross 
So the world sees only You. 

I have to think of what our number one goal needs to be in life. That goal which Paul so aptly puts into words in Phillipians 3:10 ~ "That I may know Him...." That all else in my life becomes as loss and worth nothing in the light of this higher priority.

What is the fruit of this heart?

If I rely on my strength 
To be a source of hope for those in need, 
The only profit I would gain 
Would be the empty honor of my deeds. 
But with all of self behind Your cross, 
The splendor of Your love stands free to shine
Illuminating with Your power, 
Reaching souls so You alone are glorified.

Truly and honestly, is there anything is life worth living for more than this? My desire is to keep this focus always in the forefront of my vision. Hiding behind the cross of glory, so that His glory is revealed, the more I allow my self to be hidden behind Him... 

Saturday, October 02, 2010

What is our focus?

I was pretty blessed the other day by an article over on YLCF. Though directed to single girls, the principles this young lady touches on are applicable to anybody, at any season in life. She basically challenges her readers with the question, "What defines you as a person?" Along with that question, others are begged. What is our true, root, and prevailing priority and goal in life? Marriage? Planting a church on a foreign field? Raising a family? Serving with some ministry?

If so, you've got it all wrong.

The most important detail of my whole life is that I am a child of God. Wherever I go, whatever the color of my skin happens to be...I am a Christian, bought with the priceless gift of Jesus blood. That means, I am not my own.  I am called to serve the Lord, with all of my talents, all of my being, all of my desires and wishes.  I am called to throw myself into the front-lines of spiritual battle, praying when I can do nothing else, working when and where that is possible, pouring my life out for the One who bought me.  My life right now should be pretty much like my married life will one day be: a life with Christ as it’s focus, it’s aim, it’s glory.  In that respect, my physical conditions on earth do not alter who I am, and what I am called to do.  

Whatever place in life God has called us to, this girl got it right when she said that life is meant to be fulfilling. 

Fulfilling, because I am actually doing what I was meant to do: serve Christ. If I were a married woman, and NOT serving Christ, I would feel as unfulfilled as it is so easy to feel now, while I am single.  Because marriage is not the thing which feeds our souls.  Christ is.

If you were blessed and want to read more, the entire article is available here