Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snowflakes and Prayer

I woke up this morning to a few snowflakes falling, now they have multiplied and looking out the window in our living room I feel like I am inside one of those old snow globes you shake. This seals the deal, it finally feels like Christmas is coming :) I don't know what you have been experiencing this month as you prepare for Christmas time. Perhaps, stress with work or school, sadness over a loved one you miss being with you during this time of year, busyness with buying gifts and attending Christmas parties, or even numbness to it all, just-not-feeling-it this year. For me, I have been experiencing a few weeks of disappointment. A few "didn't see that coming" unexpected circumstances have made me distracted during what has always been my favorite time of the year. For any of you who may be feeling disappointed or distracted today, I encourage you to seek God in the midst of your experiences. I have found joy in long prayer times lately. Sharing with God all the questions I have, all the whys and whens and wheres. As much as these past few weeks have been a struggle at times, the times of peace I have found have been in focused prayer pouring out my heart to my Heavenly Father in tears, with smiles, in joy and confusion. God hears us when we pray.

In Romans 12:2, God tells us to be faithful in prayer - "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer."

In Ephesians 6:18, the Apostle Paul encourages the Ephesians to pray in every situation/cirumstance - "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. with this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord's people."

In Philippians 4:6-7, we are encouraged to pray when we are anxious - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says that we should, "Pray continually..."

James 5:13 says we should prayer in trouble and joy - "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let him pray. Is anyone among you happy? Let them sing songs of praise."

In Psalm 17:6 David prays to God with faith that God hears and answers prayer - "I call on you, my God, for you will answer me, turn your ear to me and hear my prayer."

In Matthew 6:6 Jesus teaches us how to pray, not only continually throughout our day, (I pray in my car, the grocery store, anywhere as people come to mind and as I need God's wisdom/comfort) but also, in quiet moments where we can focus all our attention and affection on God - "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

There are many more verses about prayer in the Bible and if you want to look them up I encourage you to go to and do a keyword search on "pray."

Bottom Line: God desires us to call out to Him. He desires our praise for who He is, what He has done & can do (Mark 10:27 "...with God all things are possible"). And to pray for our requests for others and ourselves.

Whatever you are facing this season, remember the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, who came as a Savior for all who would believe in him, who demonstrated His great love for us by dying for us on the cross, who showed his great power to conquer sin and death by His resurrection, and for all these reasons deserves our praise and prayers.

Enjoy the snowflakes :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I am...

I had to write an "I am" pattern poem for my grad class this week. Here's what I came up with.

I am reflective and out-of-control
I wonder what the future will be like
I hear Josh Wilson singing “I refuse”
I see only my next step forward
I want to be devoted
I am reflective and out-of-control

I pretend that I don’t care what others think about me
I feel like a mystery about to be unveiled
I touch freedom briefly
I worry that I will disappoint you
I cry when I think of the loss of anything or everything
I am reflective and out-of-control

I understand that I will not have all the answers
I say, “God won’t break his promises”
I dream of a perfect world
I try to break free from the opinions of others
I hope to be faithful
I am reflective and out-of-control

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The beauty of redemption

Tonight I read in Colossians 1:15-24 about how Jesus is the "image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation" (v.15). How "by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him (v.16). How amazing. Here was my favorite part:

Colossians 1:19-23 "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated fom God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish, and free from accusation- if you continue in your faith, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you have heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which, I, Paul, have become a servant."


I need to read this passage everyday! How thankful I am for the good news of the gospel, that though undeserving, Christ did all the above for me and for you.

Oswald Chambers in his devotion, "My Utmost for His Highest," wrote a devo for today on verse 24, "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church."

Chambers encourages Christ-followers to live in a way that displays God's redemption, that God alone saves, we do not save ourselves/others. Chambers says in regards to this, "We have to see that we are in such living sympathy with God that as we proclaim His truth He can create in souls the things which He alone can do."

Chambers also says this, "If a man attracts by his personality, his appeal is along that line; if he is identified with his Lord's personality, then the appeal is along the line of what Jesus Christ can do. The danger is to glory in men; Jesus says we are to lift Him up."

That gives me lots to think about.

Have a wonderful night :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Love your neighbor, can we define that please?

In college I used to use Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost for His Highest" for my bible study time. Chambers gives a verse and explanation/his thoughts for each day of the year. Today I decided to check out what scripture he had chosen for today. The scripture was Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect." Upon first glance I find this verse all kinds of overwhelming and confusing. If you could have read my thoughts earlier today when I reading this verse you would have heard something like..." Wait a minute, be perfect? Isn't only God perfect? A perfectionist at heart, I've been told it can be more of a bad quality then a good quality,,,,hmmm...." After thinking about it and checking out the good old ESV study bible notes I have different take on the meaning :) A pleasant switch in my thought process.

Here's what the ESV study bible notes have to say to confused readers like me:

"Scripture is a reflection of God himself as He has made his will and character known to his people. As Christians seek to live in conformity to scripture, they are in fact pursuing the very perfection of God."

Here's the breakdown: As we live our lives getting to know God through the Bible and learning how to live a life that honors God we are taking steps toward God-likeness. As Oswald puts it, "The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness." This verse isn't about perfectionism as we typically see it, it's about pursuing an understanding of who God is, how he commands us to live and then obediently following his commands and putting the truths of the Bible into practice in a way that shows others a point of difference in your life. You're not just living to be "perfect" as our society defines perfection, the dream house, dream car, dream job, never making mistakes, being revered by everyone who meets you, having the perfect body, etc. You are living to be seen as perfect in your pursuit of knowing God (what he commands, who he is, his love for you, what he's done for you and promised you) and displaying who He is in your life so that when others see you they don't see you as having some movie-come-to-reality life, they see God making a difference in your life, they see God making you more like Him in the way you love others, the way you face hardship, etc.

God's love for us has never been based on how good or perfect we are, otherwise, who could ever approach him? He takes away our guilt, He doesn't want us to live in it! We all do things we know we shouldn't. No one is perfect. This is the beauty of the gospel/ God's love shown for us. We are not perfect and can't save ourselves from messing up, hurting others, etc. we will always mess up this side of heaven but God in his love sent Jesus to die for us and be raised to life so in our imperfection he could see us as perfect by the blood of Jesus. What does that mean? It means that when we repent (confess what we have done wrong, that we do wrong and need God's forgiveness and then turn our lives around seeking God instead of sin) God doesn't see our sin anymore, He sees Jesus who took our sin away on the cross. He sees us as His children. He sees us as perfect. Now does this mean we keep sinning and living a life that's not in obedience to the bible? NO! Paul says that in Romans 6:1. It means we now commit ourselves to striving to obey God's commands (created for our good, out of great love for us!) and showing his character through how we live with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. We will mess up, trip up, etc. but we're forgiven for sin so we can walk in grace knowing He forgave whatever we did and we can keep staying the course with His help.

This was supposed to only be a side note, what I really wanted to blog about was what it means in Matthew 5 when it talks about loving your neighbor as yourself and loving your enemies. However, I am going to put that on pause and go for a run with the hubby... more later (and when I say later I mean hopefully before the end of the week :) )

Running time here we come :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blogging time delayed...

About 20 min. ago I was sitting on our living room couch finishing reading Acts 9-11 and preparing to blog about some of the things I learned this morning about the early church. However, my doorbell rang and to my surprise when I opened the door there was a man and his son at the door dressed in dress shirts, dress pants and ties with magazines and a small bible in their hands. The boy (about 12-13) asked if I would have a few minutes free for him to share with me something on his heart about the end times and if he could read me a scripture. I told them I was a believer and that my husband and I attend McLean Bible Church and that I would welcome him to read me the scripture. He read me a scripture from Psalm 104:5-9 "He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth." The boy assured me to not fear the end of the earth, that the things the world is saying about end times aren't true and that God doesn't want us to fear. His dad chimed in with words of encouragement, that God will establish a godly kingdom here where there will never be fear again.

Now this is an encouragement and Revelation does speak of a time when there won't be fear/suffering. And in Revelation we are told that when God establishes the new Heaven and New Earth "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." What an amazing truth and certainly a comfort these words are for us. I shared with the father and son that I believed in Revelation's account of the end times, that of course there are questions for those who have premillennial and postmillennial views of Christ's return (a theology lesson in itself I'm not ready to explain in depth here, but seek biblical resources and check this out on your own or ask a Pastor), however, the earth will someday be restored by God (Rev. 21:5 "Behold I am making all things new") and God will dwell with his people (different from how he dwells in us now through His Spirit) He will live among the saints who are his children who have committed their lives and souls to Him. The dad was encouraged I knew scripture and thanked me for chatting. When I got inside with the magazines I was searching for the differences between what Jehovah's Witnesses believed vs. what Bible-believing Christ followers believe. It didn't take me long to figure it out (there was an FAQ section, that always helps).

Some of the basic differences are these:

1. "Jehovah's witnesses are Christians, but they are not Protestants for the same reason they are not Catholics- they recognize certain teachings of those religions as unscriptural. For example, the Bible does not teach that God- the very personification of love- tortures people forever in a fiery hell."

They also claim in their magazine that "Jehovah's witnesses built their system of belief and practice from the raw material of the Bible without predetermining what was to be found there. They align their beliefs with the Bible; they do not interpret it to suit themselves."

**However, these statements are contradictory, the Bible does speak of the reality of hell for those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the only Savior and Son of God, that He died for the sins of the world as an atoning sacrifice for all who would believe and that he was resurrected on the third day conquering sin and death so that those he created could be rescued from the eternal death (hell) caused by the fall and have eternal life. Many people, like Jehovah's witnesses, who profess our God is a loving God deny that there could be a hell because they believe it contradicts His character and makes God unloving. However, this isn't true. God provides salvation for humanity that has been affected by the fall/sin. That shows His love! Hell is not a place God desires for those he created to go, however, for those who reject the truth, forgiveness and grace of Jesus and never repent of their sins there has to be punishment because God is loving, He disciplines, He is just. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:15, "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation" and 2 Peter 3:9 "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God wants to be "right" with the human race He created in His image. However, to be righteous (right with God) repentance is required. The early church in Acts proclaimed the truth of Acts 3:19, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord..." God loves his people, which is why He sent He only son to suffer the sins of the whole world to save them. All people have this life to commit to Him, to repent, to live in his forgiveness, grace and love. God is loving; He is also a just Judge of the living and the dead (spiritually dead) (Acts 10:42, 2 Tim. 4:1).

**Also, God's word is true as it is, no where in the Bible does it say that we should pick and choose what we want to believe because it makes us more comfortable. God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) and God has much more wisdom than we do for He is God and Sovereign over everything and we are not (Job 38). The Bible tells us that His word is true as it is. We can't choose to fudge over certain parts of scripture so they say what we know people will like more, etc.

2. Jehovah's witnesses also deny the trinity using inaccurate biblical support to say that God the Father is above and not equal to the Son and Spirit as the rest of the Bible proclaims (Genesis 1:26 "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...", John 14:23 "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me He will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.")

There's a lot more detail that can be given, however, I just wanted a cover some of the key differences I recognized in my interactions with the two people I met this morning. They were very sweet, it was super cool to see a 12-13 yr. old boy at my door sharing from God's word, however, we must be aware of what people really believe and how it may be similar and different from what the Bible teaches is truth.

I know this was a pretty heavy blog, I encourage you to think through some of the scriptures and ask questions and talk to people in your life you know love God and know the Bible and teach it as it is without adding their own interpretation.

For my friends in VA I encourage you to check out McLean Bible Church or Reston Bible Church if you're not part of a community or have questions about Jesus, salvation, end times, etc.

For my friends in New Jersey, I encourage you to check out Emergence Church in Lincoln Park (a multi-site of Jacksonville Chapel) or Cornerstone Bible Church in River Vale to hear some true completely scriptural teaching about who God is, what He commands, what the Bible really says, etc.

Know today that God has created you in his image and loves you, He sent his son to suffer on the cross for you and to conquer sin and death through his resurrection so you may not have to fear what the world fears but may have eternal life, hope in hard times, peace in the midst of suffering, unconditional love from a holy God and so you may live an abundant life on earth having all you need in Jesus.

Have a great Saturday!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clinging to the One who Saves

1 Samuel 12: 20-22,24

"Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil: yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own...But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."

Notice the words that are emphasized through repetition within these verses: "do not turn away," "useless", "all your heart," "serve."

Todd Phillips, the Young Adult Pastor at MBC, has been preaching on idolatry/idols the past 3 weeks in a sermon series called "No Other Gods." Studying what God has to say about idols, identifying idols in my own life, seeing the destruction they can cause in our lives and how they can impact those around us and learning ways to turn away from them has both humbled and challenged me personally as a Christ follower. I read these verses this morning and was refreshed by their truth. Before I share my heart with you, let me give you Todd's definition of idols:

Idols: Anything that takes the place of God on the throne of our lives
My Extra Cliff Note: An idol is anything that steals our focus, attention and affections away from God

Background: As Todd mentioned in his sermons, idols are what our hearts wander to when/if we are not focused on the LORD. We were created to worship God, therefore, when we are not worshipping God we will be worshipping something else. The people have been described in previous verses as those who "forgot the LORD their God" (v.9). The text goes onto to tell us that b/c the Israelites forgot God and turned to idols "he sold them into the hand os Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the King of Moab, who fought aganist them" (v.9). In v. 10 the people repent saying, "We have sinned, we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies and we will serve you." Notice the compassion of the LORD in the next verse, "and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies on every side so that you lived securely" (v.11). But soon the Israelites once again turn their attention and affections away from the LORD demanding they have an earthly King rule over them like the other nations, forsaking God as the only King they need. By the time we get to v. 20-22, 24 the people of Israel have once again recognized their wandering hearts and are now pleading with Samuel to pray to the LORD for them for they are afraid of what the consequences of their disobedience will be. Samuel's reply is what we will focus on for the remainder of this post.

Let's break down 1 Samuel 12:20-22, 24 using the phrases and words we highlighted above.

"Do not turn away" - The Israelites have already seen the wickedness of their human hearts and how they are prone to wander through their disregard for God delivering them from their enemies and then looking for fulfillment in idols instead of God. Twice, Samuel reminds them "do not turn away." This is significant because it is a reminder to them of what they should do, however, it's also significant because it is warning them of the destruction of turning from one idol to another idol, rather than turning from one idol to God! In your life, have you ever experienced this path of misdirection like the Israelites? I know I have! But here is the beauty in this warning/reminder, God is ready to deliver you! He desires for you to turn to Him! He will fulfill the void in your heart longing for satisfaction and security! Notice v. 20 " ... do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart." On the map of life for Christ-followers we must turn away from dead ends and steer toward God. *Turn away from idols, not God."

"Useless" - This is not the only time idols are mentioned as useless. In my studies I have found that there are MANY times when the terms "idols" and "useless" are used together. Why? Probably because we need the reminder that idols profit us NOTHING! That's right friends, 0 profit from trusting in idols. Bottom line: trusting in idols is not just a waste of time, it's a waste of life! Notice what v. 21 says, " Do not turn away after idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless." Read that again! Let it sink in! They do you NO good, they CANNOT rescue you. For me I struggle with idols like control and safety. I can become self-reliant in times of fear. I look toward a sense of control and safety to rescue me, however, this is not true! It's not trusting in my own control&safety that will rescue me from fear/anxiety, it's trusting in GOD! He is the ONLY deliverer, the ONLY Redeemer, the ONLY God. Many times when we trust in ourselves more than God the reality is we are saying, "I am my own god, i.e. I have more control then God." Let's not let ourselves be deceived!

"All your heart" & "Serve" - As we seek to turn away from idols and the uselessness/destruction they cause in our rel. with God (notice how the Israelites asked Samuel to pray to the Lord for them b/c they felt distant from him in their disobedience) and our rel. with others, we must serve God with all our hearts. HOW? v.24 mentions one way to begin this process, " sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; *consider what great things he has done for you.*" One way to turn away from idols in our lives is to remember what God has done for us. How has God shown you you can trust him? How has he shown you that HE IS the ONLY one who satisfies? How has he shown you that he ALONE rescues you from harm?

One other way to begin the process is in Nehemiah 4:14 (one of my favorite verses!) "Don't be afraid of them. (this is referring to the people plotting to attack the Jews b/c of their efforts in rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem) Remember the Lord. Who is great and awesome..."

When we choose to remember the Lord and seek to know him more intimately we will find the truth, that worshipping Him is what we were created for and what will fulfill us and that idols will only leave us empty.

Remember the Lord (who is he? why can you trust him with every area in your life?) & Consider what he has done for you today!

Praise Him for HE IS great & awesome & worthy of our lives!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

When we throw tantrums

It's time to confess, we ALL throw tantrums. I imagine if you are reading this blog you are older than toddler age, unless you are a child prodigy who stumbled upon it. Those of us in our teens, twenties and older have experienced this ongoing temptation to tantrum. If you are reading this and thinking, "No Kristin, I disagree, maybe you still throw tantrums about things but I am certainly above it," let me give you some examples to test your humility in this area. If you're in middle school or high school have you ever thrown a fit because your parents wouldn't let you go see the movie "everyone is going to"? What about when your parents want you to be home at 11pm when "everyone else gets to choose their curfew"? How about when your friends get new cars and you have to work three jobs just to try and buy a used car off craig's list? Adults, how about when you receive an assignment for work that you weren't expecting when you are already working overtime? How about when you hit traffic on the only day all week you get out of the office on time? How about when you ask God for something and it doesn't go your way? This last question is what I want to focus on. Often we throw tantrums because things don't go our way. As I read Jonah today I was reminded of my own pride, God's grace on me and the need to embrace his ways over my own.

In Jonah 1:2 we see God calling Jonah to go tell the people of Nineveh of their wickedness and God's righteous anger toward their sin. In v. 3 we see that Jonah jumps ship to Tarshish blatantly running away from the Lord's command because God is asking him to do something he does not want to do (isn't this where all our tantrums start too?). We know this is never a good sign, so what happens? The ship Jonah is on encounters a huge storm. Jonah acknowledges the storm is from God who is trying to get his attention and soon we see that he is cast into the water and swallowed by a whale. While in the belly of the whale we see Jonah humble himself before the Lord thanking God for saving him from drowning in the sea and confessing that it is better to obey God then run away from him in disobedience. Jonah 2:8-9 says "...those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs," then he continues, "But I...will sacrifice to you." Jonah recognizes in his humility that depending on anything other than God is a waste of time so he now decides to obey God's earlier command (Jonah 3:3). Then in chapter 3 we see that things don't go as Jonah expected. Instead of punishing the people of Nineveh for their wickedness God has compassion on them because of their repentance. The book ends with Jonah throwing a tantrum because things did not go his way.

Often times we act like Jonah. We only want to obey God when he asks us to do something that sits well with us. However, when he asks us to do something that we don't want to do, don't understand, or something that ends up not turning out as we had expected we become angry with him. And in turn God says to us in these moments the same thing he said to Jonah, "Have you any right to be angry?" (Jonah 4:4).

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says the LORD, "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher then your ways, and my thoughts then your thoughts." We must remember this truth and embrace it instead of viewing it as a stumbling block. The "my way or the highway" mentality doesn't sit well with God. It's not about us! Life is not about everything going my way. Our purpose in life is to bring God glory. Colossians 1:16b says, "we were created by him and for him."

He is all-knowing, we are not. He knows what is best for us, we do not. Maybe what Jonah needed to see was the beauty of God's compassion (Jonah 3:10 "When God saw what they [the people of Nineveh] did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened."). But Jonah missed out on rejoicing in how compassionate God is because he was throwing a tantrum over not getting HIS way (seeing Nineveh receive the punishment he thought they deserved).

Praise God for his compassion on Nineveh and His compassion on Jonah and us when we are prideful (insisting on our own way) and disobedient.

Let us live out Jonah 2:8-9 ""...those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs... But I...will sacrifice to you" not expecting to get what we want from God, but expecting to receive what God knows is best for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future."

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Psalm 9:10 "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Praise the Lord that we have the gift of freely reading the Bible everyday so that we may know His truth and be encouraged by it daily!