Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year--> New Blog

Out with the old and in with the new!
(If you follow my blog via email or reader, check out my new design.)

Christmas 2011


Friday, December 30, 2011

Throw Down Your Nets


"He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break." (Luke 5:3-6)
~~~
I've probably read this 100 times, but something new grabbed me this time.  (Isn't it so cool how scripture has that power?)  These men, these fishermen, had been working so hard to catch something!  They were following all the rules, doing exactly what was expected, yet still they couldn't catch a single fish!  It didn't make sense, I'm sure, why they weren't having any success.  
Enter Jesus.  "Throw your nets down, Simon."  Simon must have thought Jesus didn't have a clue about fishing, but maybe he humored him nonetheless.  Obviously, they'd been doing that very thing all day long!  Simon basically tells Jesus it probably won't work since their efforts haven't done any good, but he will do it because Jesus asked him to.  
And what do you know, they caught so many  fish that their nets broke!  Were they doing anything differently than they'd been doing all along?  No. So what was the difference?  Why were they able to catch so many fish this time?  
Faith. Simon decided to have blind faith in Jesus and do what He said. He stopped trusting in himself for a moment and placed his trust in Jesus Christ.  He stopped trying to prove himself by following the "rules" and working hard to "get things done."  
I'm a doer.  I'm one of those "good girls" who thrives on following the rules. I like to make sure things happen and I'm a planner. (Did somebody say control freak?) I would probably have been standing next to Simon saying, "You're crazy. We've done everything we can and it hasn't worked.  This isn't going to work either!"  I tend to trust in what I can see, what I can accomplish on my own.  But this isn't what Jesus asks of me.  He doesn't want me to accomplish things the hard way-- without Him.  His call is simple and clear- "Throw down your nets and see what I can do!"

All it Took Was a Little Butter...



















Look!  ACTUAL Snickerdoodles!
(If you missed the cookie disaster, click here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Lately I am...


lately i am:

missing: the friends I spend way too little time with lately

listening: to David Platt (pastor of The Church @ Brook Hills).  Just finished a year-long sermon series called "The Chronicles of Redemption."  I have an entirely new perspective on the story of redemption and the Bible now.

eating: cookies.  Trying all kinds of recipes.  

exercising: I've hit 3 miles.  Working toward 4 and then onto 5.  I crave running!

studying: God's Word.  Have you actually read Obadiah?  Just started it.  Reading the Bible through chronologically.  

singing: "I Love Your Presence" by Bethel Live. "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman

laughing: at my hubby.  He makes me giggle all the time!  Also, my 8th graders are purely awesome.

drinking: water, of course!

thinking: that I'm continually amazed at the protection and love of my Savior.

wearing: new jeans from Belk (Red Camel) and awesome workout pants from Kohl's (Tek Gear).  Needing new running shoes.

excited: to be home for the holidays!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Unto Us

~~~
For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

[isaiah 9:6]
~~~

My Cookie Disaster

Last night I decided I would make these lovely little snickerdoodles from In the Little Red House. Don't they look so yummy and full of cinnamony goodness?  Mmmmmm...  I can just smell them baking now...

I grabbed all the ingredients and started to put together my dough.  These were going to be the best cookies I'd ever, ever, ever made!  Well, it didn't turn out exactly as I'd planned.  This stuff ended up looking more like cake batter!  I needed to thicken it up, so I, of course, sought wisdom from... Google.  I read that if I added flour and left it in the fridge overnight, it would be just fine.  Yes!  A recovery plan!

The next afternoon I pulled my batter out of the fridge, and it seemed fine.  So I preheated the oven and started to form my little balls of dough.  Well, as it turns out, they were still soft and runny!  At this point, I was determined to defeat these little things, so I started spooning them onto the cookie sheet.

Don't they look awesome?!  HA!  Biscuits!!!!!  Geez.

After being cut and scraped from the pan, this is what I ended up with.  I have dubbed them Cinnamon Cornbread Cookies.  They're so light they could float up to the ceiling!  But what else would we expect with all that extra flour!?


What did I learn?  If the recipe calls for butter, don't use margarine!!!














Also, you should cook them long enough...

It's ok.  You can laugh at me if you want.  I know I did!







Saturday, December 03, 2011

Man of Sorrows


Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
-Phillip Bliss (1875)

Friday, November 18, 2011

500 Years

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zech 9:9 (538 BC)

Matthew 21:2-7-saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "Say to Daughter Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"t The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.
500 years before Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey, Zechariah was prophesying about it!!!  God's plan was in place from the beginning.  So cool!

Here are some others.
  • The Son of Man. Jesus is Joshua the High Priest and Zerubabbel the King at the resurrection. (Zechariah 3-4)
  • The Branch. Jesus was the Branch who was cut off at the crucifixion but sprang to life at the resurrection. (Zechariah 6: 12-13)
  • King on a Donkey. Jesus rode into the east gate of Jerusalem on a donkey during His final week. (Zechariah 9: 9)
  • Valued at 30 Shekels. He was betrayed for 30 shekels of silver. (Zechariah 11: 12-13)
  • The Pierced One. He was pierced by a sword. (Zechariah 12: 10)
  • Two Streams. Blood and water flowed from His side. (Zechariah 13: 1)
  • A Sword Strikes the Shepherd and Scatters the Sheep. The disciples scattered at His arrest. (Zechariah 13: 7)
  • Wounded by Friends. He was killed by Israel. (Zechariah 13: 6)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Under New Ownership



The secret to the true Christian life is exchanging our own lives for the life of Jesus Christ; allowing our bodies to be completely overtaken by a foreign power – the very Spirit of Almighty God. And declaring along with Paul, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” 

Most of us stand in the way of letting Christ truly live in and through us.  

Instead of giving Him the ownership papers to our home – our body, mind, and spirit – we treat Him like a hired servant.

We come to Him when we need answers; we expect Him to provide us with quick solutions to our problems; we demand that He meet our needs and follow our self-made agendas. And when He doesn’t respond, we quickly dismiss Him and take matters into our own hands. We are led by our own whims and desires. We make our own choices, and then ask God to bless them.  

We often believe we are submitted to God’s will, but in reality we expect Him to bend to our own plans. We follow our own hearts and desires, and then ask God to make our spiritual lives vibrant in the midst of it all.  

But the true Christian life doesn’t work that way. When we exchange our lives for Christ’s, we lay our own agendas, dreams, desires, and plans at His feet. We get completely out of the way, and allow Him to live His life through us in whatever way He chooses.  

This is a difficult life-change to make. For our entire lives, we have been the sole rulers of our internal home. We are used to making the decisions. We are used to calling the shots.  But now we must take a lower position.  

Our entire home – our body, mind, and spirit – now belongs to a new Ruler. We turn the ownership papers over to a new Master. He is not our servant; we are His servant. We come and go as He commands.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Continually

I Thess 5:17 NIV
"Pray continually."

Two words, full of power.  When we see those short verses, sometimes we tend to skip right along, holding out for the longer, more meaningful verses.  But let's stop and take a look at this little one.

"And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."
Jesus gives us the perfect example of praying continually.  He often went off by himself to pray to his Father.  

Should we plan times to pray?  Absolutely.  Should we pray at mealtimes, thanking God for His provision?  Of course.  But is there more than that?  Should words for our precious Jesus always be on the tip of our tongues?  At the forefront of our minds?  

Psalm 62:8 NIV
"Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

There is nothing more fulfilling than ongoing conversation with our Lord.  He promises to listen and He ALWAYS answers.  Even if we don't feel His clear guidance, though we pray and pray about something, He IS answering!  Sometimes His answer is "Hold on, I'm not finished with __________ yet."  That's tough!  We can't control the outcome.  We can't make things happen any faster.  Instead, we are told to wait.  

The reason?

When we find ourselves in complete dependence on Him, and we can't do anything to effect a solution, the end result is glory for ONLY GOD!  

Sometimes God has to teach us to wait.  
Sometimes God simply wants to make His power and glory known.
Sometimes God says no.

But He always answers.  Always.  

And many time when He does, we are blown away by his perfect timing and solution.  

Psalm 27:8 NIV
"My heart says of you, 'Seek his face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Alone, yet not alone!

"I climbed into the tree and was left there alone in the bush.  The hours I spent there live all before me as if it were but of yesterday.  I heard the frequent discharging of muskets, and the yells of the Savages.  Yet I sat there among the branches, as safe in the arms of Jesus.  Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among these chestnut leaves, and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone!  If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Savior's spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship.  If thus thrown back upon your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?"

- John G. Paton, missionary in the South Pacific, having lost his wife and child and surrounded by hostile natives as he hid in a tree

Friday, November 04, 2011

Save Yourself

"America today is a 'save yourself' society if there ever was one.  But does it really work?  The underdeveloped societies suffer from one set of diseases: tuberculosis, malnutrition, pneumonia, parasites, typhoid, cholera, typhus, etc.  Affluent America has virtually invented a whole new set of diseases:  obesity, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, strokes, lung cancer, venereal disease, cirrhosis of the liver, drug addiction, alcoholism, divorce, battered children, suicide, murder.  Take your choice.  Labor-saving machines have turned out to be body-killing devices.  Our affluence has allowed both mobility and isolation of the nuclear family, and as a result, our divorce courts, our prison and our mental institutions are flooded.  In saving ourselves, we have nearly lost ourselves."

- Ralph Winter, "Reconsecration to a Wartime, Not a Peacetime, Lifestyle"

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Compromise

The mixing and mingling of the holy with the unholy is a temptation God's followers still face today.  It just doesn't work!  Not because God is unreasonable in His demands, but because He knows such compromise will eventually destroy not only us, but everything He wants to do through us.

Whatever you allow into your life will eventually be revealed- both the good and the bad.

James 1:21- Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the Word planted in you, which can save you.

Proverbs 14:12- There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.

(adapted from Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

How Does One Gain the New Birth? (Part 3)


Work #3 of God in the New Birth:
God called us into new life through the living and abiding Word.


"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct," (I Peter 1:14-15)


There is a general call and an individual call.  Why do some hear and see while others do not?


The internal effective call creates what it commands.  When Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth," Lazarus came forth!


"His internal heart-call opens the eyes of the blind heart and causes Christ to appear as the supremely valuable person that He really is. So the heart freely and eagerly embraces Christ as the treasure He is."


The gospel makes no sense to people who are dead; they must be made alive to see!


"For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (I Corinthians 1:22-24 ESV)



(Adapted from Finally Alive by John Piper, available free on Desiring God)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

How Does One Gain the New Birth? (Part 2)


Work #2 of God in the New Birth:
God raised Jesus from the dead.


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you." (I Peter 1:3-4)


"The new birth is something that happens in us when the Holy Spirit takes our dead hearts and unites us with Christ by faith so that His life becomes our life.  So it makes sense that Jesus must be raised from the dead is we are to have new life in union with Him."



(Adapted from Finally Alive by John Piper, available free on Desiring God)

Monday, October 31, 2011

How Does One Gain the New Birth? (Part 1)

Work #1 of God in the New Birth:
God ransomed us by the blood of Jesus.


"Eternal life isn't possible for enslaved sinners without a ransom being paid."

"knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." (I Peter 1:18-19 ESV)


The wrath of God must be satisfied; God sent Jesus to do that.
"...by sending His own son..." (Romans 8:3)
"Christ redeemed us..." (Galatians 3:13)


The ransom is imperishable; it can never lose its redeeming power.



(Adapted from Finally Alive by John Piper, available free on Desiring God)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How Does One Gain the New Birth? (Introduction)

How does one gain the new birth?  First of all, something has to happen TO us.  John 3:3 says we must be born again.  We are dead and must be made alive.  So "the Spirit of God supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith."  New birth and faith happen at the same time.

Although God makes us alive, we still play a part in it.  An example of this is found with Lazarus.  In John 11:43, Jesus tells Lazarus to rise from death, and he does!  The moment Christ commands him to rise, he does; the moment the Spirit produces faith in us, we do the believing.

There are three works of God involved in the new birth:
1) God ransomed us by the blood of Jesus.
2) God raised Jesus from the dead.
3) God called us into life through His living and abiding Word.

Over the next three days, we will unpack those three aspects.

(Adapted from Finally Alive by John Piper, available free on Desiring God)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Water

More thoughts on yesterday's post:

(borrowed from David Platt)
Seeking satisfaction from the wrong source (the world) is like drinking ocean water when you're thirsty; it will only make you MORE thirsty!  The salt is hidden from our view, but once we start to drink it, it becomes clear that this water will do more harm than good.

Things of this world may look good and feel good, but in reality, they are never, ever going to quench your thirst.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Springs

"Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory
for that which does not profit. 
Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord,for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:11-13).

~~
The Lord accuses His people of two evils.  Two sins.  Two things that He abhors.  One, that they have left Him, their first love, the giver of all life.  And two, that they have replaced Him with things they've created themselves, things that can't hold water in the first place!  


C.S. Lewis quotes, in The Weight of Glory, that "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."


We think that all the lovely things this earthly existence offers us are enough.  After all, they provide temporary pleasure, and what more is there, really?  This skewed thinking comes because we've given up on finding the true satisfaction, glorifying Christ Jesus!


In John 4:15, a Samaritan woman has come to the well to draw water.  She says to Jesus, after they've been speaking for a bit, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water."  She asks for this special water (which she does not yet understand, by the way) because she doesn't want to have to keep coming back to the well only to become thirsty again later.  


Do you keep having to seek after more pleasure in the world because the water you're drinking isn't truly quenching your thirst?  "All my springs are in YOU" (Psalm 87:7).

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