Overwhelmed? Run to Christ!

Normal 

Something we long for these days.

Our lives have been flipped upside-down.

Emotions are in a vortex.

Frustration

Fear

Discouragement

Anger

Helplessness 

We want things to stop changing.

How do we cope? 

In Christ, our hope!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

In the midst of the storm, let’s calm our overwhelmed hearts in the unchanging One! 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever” – Hebrews 13:8

In the time of restlessness, let’s claim the rest Jesus offers!

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” – Matthew 11:29-30

When uncertain days make us weary, let’s find our strength in God!

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

When we are lonely because we are distanced from our friends and family, let’s find comfort in our God! 

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” – John 14:16-18|KJV

When we are afraid, let us run to Christ and find peace!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

While it is natural for us to want comfort, security and normality in our circumstances, let us anchor our hearts and minds in the solid truths of Christ!

In Christ alone my hope is found,

He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid Ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when striving cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ I stand

(In Christ Alone by Stuart Townsend)

*All verse taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise marked

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To Learn From A Child

Sometimes I wish I could be more like my two-and-a-half year old daughter.

She wakes up in the morning and snuggles up with me on the couch, happy to be sitting on my lap.

She doesn’t ever wonder about where her next meal is coming from.

She plays with her toys, taking joy in the moment.

She trails behind her Papa as he works outside, delighted just to be with him.

She lays her head down at night, closing her eyes and sleeping soundly until morning comes.

As a young child, she is a stranger to my tendency to lie awake at night, worrying about endless ‘what-ifs”, whether or not I cleaned the germs off the door knobs well enough, or the serious-toned conversation that happened at the dinner table.

The Bible calls adults to become like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven; their complete and simple trust in the Father for salvation reveals to us what it means to trust the Father. To take our need to become like children a step further, I would say that children often help us better understand to trust God in other areas as well.

My daughter begins and ends each day with such a carefree spirit because she trusts us, her parents, to take care of her. We’ve cared for her in the past, so why should she fear that we won’t continue to do so tomorrow, and the next day, and the next? As imperfect and fallible as we are, she still trusts us to take care of her.

My daughter has learned that if she needs something, all she needs to do is ask and we will take care of that need. If I, as a frail and limited human parent, desire to care for my daughter’s needs and delight in doing so, how much more should we trust our heavenly Father who is divinely capable of meeting our needs?

Why can we not be more like a child, especially when we have our heavenly Father caring for us?

With COVID-19 at the forefront of our lives these days, it is so easy to allow our fears to overwhelm our hearts and fill our minds with worry and anxiety. However, God has been faithful in the past and will continue to be faithful in the days to come, no matter what they may bring. Can we not trust Him?

Matthew 10:29-31 reminds us that He takes care of the common sparrow and keeps count of the hairs of our head. If He manages such small and insignificant details, how much more will He take care of us, the ones who are made in His image, the ones He gave His only Son for?

Oh to learn what it means to lean completely on the Father’s good and perfect care for His children.

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For All The Extroverts

What have you been up to lately? This extroverted girl has been learning just how hard it is to get along without her routine people around. And I think I’m pretty normal for struggling through this.

God has designed us to need community. If you were to look in scripture you would see over and over that He has not designed us to do life alone. He has created marriage, the family, the church; all different forms of community. And yet, because God has temporarily removed the broader community from my life, I am becoming increasingly convinced of an even deeper truth: He has designed us to need Him more than community. In fact, often the very point of community (marriage, the family and the church) is given to direct us and others back to Him. Any time these relationships take a higher priority than God Himself they are being taken out of context. 

I didn’t realize just how greatly I can depend on these relationships, looking to them for my source of fulfillment instead of God. Can you relate? Have you felt discouraged because you haven’t had a fellow sister to pour your heart out to in person? Have you felt depressed because you haven’t had anyone to do a game night with in order to take your mind off of a stressful life situation? Have you found yourself wishing desperately for a coffee date with your spouse just to get a break from the mundane tasks of daily life? Me too! 

Honestly, as an extrovert, I kind of found myself believing the lie that I can’t/won’t survive this quarantine well, because… I need my people! God has graciously shown me some good news though! People, while good gifts in and of themselves, aren’t my source of satisfaction in life; God is. 

Psalm 107 is just full of all the beautiful things God has done, but one thing in particular that we read is he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” (vrs.9)

What? You mean, it’s not my friends, a good book, projects, Facebook or Netflix? 

Nope. 

And there’s more… 

Let’s keep going.

Psalm 16:11 says “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” 

What good news for extroverts! Even in the absence of friends there is joy for us to find; in God’s presence!

Psalm 62:5-8 says “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.”

These truths do not change, my friends. So, let’s trust Him. When our souls feel empty and we are tempted to look around for something to fill it, let’s run to Him instead.

During this time of social isolation, let’s continue to pursue relationships with people to the best of our ability. Let’s send texts/emails of encouragement. Let’s create unique opportunities to interact with loved ones from afar. God has called us to love, support and serve others and it is a good, good gift. But…at the end of the day, let’s not forget that HE is the best gift of all. And He isn’t going anywhere “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, oh, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name,
I am all unrighteousness;
Vile and full of sin I am,
Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

(“Jesus, Lover of My Soul” by Charles Wesley)

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I Am a Church Member — A Book Review

Not too long ago, I read two fantastic books on church membership: I am a Church Member by Thom Rainer and What is a Healthy Church Member by Tabiti Anyabwile. Until reading these books, I really hadn’t thought too deeply about the implications of church membership except that I knew it was important and that “it is imperative that I be involved and serve where I am able to.” However, after reading these books, I am more convinced than ever of a few things:

Church is a big deal.
Going to church is a big deal.
Being a church member is a big deal.

If these things aren’t a big deal to you, they should be, for Scripture has a lot to say about the function of believers within the context of the local church.

With only 79 pages, I am a Church Member is an easy read and provides a concise and practical discussion of what it means to be a member of the local church and not just a member of the Body of Christ.

But why church membership? Is it just a technicality that really committed Christians do? Is it an admissions ticket to special privileges? Does it bring us greater favor with God? Is this an issue of earning our salvation? Is it just for the sake of the church leaders to be able to report a growth in numbers? In fact, isn’t membership just an old-fashioned idea that people did in generations past?

I would say no, no, no, and NO!! Being a church member isn’t about any of these things!

So then, if it isn’t about any of those things, what is it all about? What are the Scriptural reasons for why a believer should become a member of the local church they attend?

Answering this question is the purpose of I am a Church Member. In this little book, Rainer endeavors to help us gain a better grasp of the importance of membership by discussing what it means to be a member and what it does not mean. In doing so, he outlines six key attitudes every believer should have concerning his responsibilities as a church member.

While clearly this is not an exhaustive list, here are six key attitudes Rainer argues that every church member should have:

1. I will be a functioning church member

2. I will be a unifying church member

3. I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires

4. I will pray for my church leaders

5. I will lead my family to be healthy church members

6. I will treasure church membership as a gift

Key to this entire discussion of being a church member is the passage in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 where Paul lays out how the physical body has different members and then compares this to the spiritual Body of Christ also having different members. Each of these bodies desperately needs every member within the body to do its part so that it can function properly.

While in the broader sense this passage does apply to the universal Church–the collective group of believers all around the world that makes up the Body of Christ–the specific application of this passage seems to be for the local church, for Paul makes mention of specific roles that are set within the local church. While one could argue that “we are all working together, around the world, using our different gifts to further the cause of the Gospel” it truly is in the context of the local church that we see most clearly the various giftings of each believer: Susie loves teaching the children’s Sunday School class; John brings encouragement to the the sick and elderly; Amanda serves in the area of hospitality; Joe is particularly gifted in the area of preaching; Jennifer finds joy in keeping the church bathrooms and foyer spotless.

Yes, God has given each individual believer something to contribute towards the edifying and building up of the body and this happens as we interact on a more personal level.

So wherever you are in your journey, I believe I Am a Church Member will grow your understanding of why the local church is so unique and why every believer should be making it an intentional priority!

(A version of this post was originally posted on Angie’s personal blog)

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Taking God at His Word — A Book Review

Have you ever wondered why it is important that we read the Bible?

Or why we spend so much time at church studying the Bible?

Or why we believe that the Bible is superior to any other book that has ever been written?

Or does the Bible really address all the needs and questions that we may encounter in life?

If you’ve found yourself asking these kinds of questions or have had someone ask you these kinds of questions, Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung would be a great book to read. Having a total of 124 pages, this little book is a powerful reminder of the importance of Scripture in the believer’s life.

To lay the groundwork for the rest of the book, DeYoung starts the first chapter by pointing us to Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is filled with statement after statement about what God’s Word does in the life of the one who reads and treasures it. DeYoung then directs us toward specific attitudes a person should have towards God’s Word: we should delight in it, desire it, and depend on it.

To summarize the objective of Taking God at His Word, DeYoung says that “the goal of this book is to get us believing what we should about the Bible, feeling what we should about the Bible, and to get us doing what we ought to do with the Bible” (pg. 22).

It is with these points in mind then–what we should believe, feel, and do about the Bible–that DeYoung proceeds to walk us through what could be described as a layman’s study of Bibliology. The majority of the book then discusses why the Bible is enough, why it is clear, why it is final, and why it is necessary for life. Or, if you want the more theological terms, DeYoung discusses the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of Scripture.

While the style of this book lends itself to being an easy read, DeYoung does not shy away from digging into passages and explaining words from the original Biblical languages in order to show from Scripture why the Bible is so vital for the believer’s life! For this reason, I would suggest reading this book slowly and devotionally, for ultimately, Taking God at His Word is more about learning to love and treasure God’s Word than turning the last page and having a bunch of facts to rattle off about the Bible.

After my husband finished reading this book, he made the comment that “it would be hypocritical to say ‘that was a good book’ and not proceed to then immerse oneself in the Bible.” And it is true: This little book elevates the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of the Bible to such an extent that we cannot miss the point that the Bible is the Word of God and as such, we would do well to make reading it and studying it an intentional priority in our lives!

As each of us go about life in whatever role God has called us to, may we remember that the Bible is a divine book that God has given for us to love, treasure, and study so that might grow in our walk with the Lord. God’s Word is indeed clear, final, necessary and enough, for our every-day life!

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