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)

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)

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!

Learning to Number Our Days

A few weeks ago, we took down the 2019 calendar and hung up the 2020 calendar. We began a new year and a new decade.

Shortly after the New Year, I began to do what many of us often do at the beginning of a new year: my mind’s eye saw a brand new calendar, open for new goals and opportunities. However, my heart was simultaneously weighed down with question marks about what these new goals and opportunities should look like. The uncertainties of the upcoming months caused me to feel like I was literally carrying around a physical burden on my shoulders.

Perhaps some of you can identify with such emotions as you look at 2020, and you, like me, have wondered how to deal with them. Do we just try harder to “make our goals happen”? Do we give up before even trying because it is just too overwhelming?

Soon after the New Year, as I was pondering these things and feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty, I read Psalm 90. As my eyes read the divinely-inspired words of Scripture, my heart was encouraged by the chapter’s reminders of how we should approach our day-to-day life; consequently, these reminders also serve as timely instruction for how we should view our goals for this year.

God is everlasting
Verses 1-2 depicts God as everlasting: from being our “dwelling place in all generations” (90:1), to being God “before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world” (90:2), God always has been and always will be. He is everlasting.

Man is but dust
Verses 3-11 then remind us of who we are: we are but dust. God is in control of man and has power to return man to dust (90:3); thousands of years are but a short while in God’s eyes (90:4). In comparison, our years are limited–seventy, or maybe eighty–and filled with toil and trouble (90:9-10). Compared to God, we are but a vapor, an early-morning mist that vanishes when the sun’s warmth wraps around it.

But that’s not the end of the story…
It is easy to follow the tension in the Psalmist’s line of reason. The first part of the chapter outlines who God is. He is great and powerful, outside of creation for He is Creator, from everlasting to everlasting, He is God. In contrast then, the Psalmist portrays who man is: man is a vapor, subject to God’s wrath and anger; our iniquities are exposed to the light of His presence. A fearful thing indeed.

After reading these verses then, one could easily succumb to a fatalistic mentality: “Well then, what’s the point in life? What are we even doing here on earth? Our lives are just a blip on the radar of time, only to be soon forgotten. What does God even care about what we do from day to day?”

The Psalmist seems to anticipate such a response, for the final section of Psalm 90 gives us the answer to these very questions. In response to who God is and who man is, the Psalmist makes several requests of the Lord:

“So teach us to number our days” (90:12).

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love” (90:14).

“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us” (90:15).

“Let your work be shown to your servants and your glorious power to their children” (90:16).

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us” (90:17a).

“Establish the word of our hands upon us” (90:17b).

While each of these requests remind us of the reality that God is eternal and man is dust, they also point towards the reality that man has a purpose here on earth!

As I read these verses, my heart that had been weighed down with question marks about this coming year was encouraged by this reminder to live life purposefully and intentionally for God’s glory. No, I may not have all the details figured out, but I can have my heart focused on glorifying God’s with each new day, come what may.

So as we head into 2020, may we keep these verses in mind as we go throughout the year.

As we begin each day, may we number our days and be mindful that our time here on earth is, indeed, short.

When life feels like it is filled with toil and trouble, may our hearts turn to His love for our satisfaction. May we then rejoice and be glad in Him, praising Him even in the midst of affliction.

As we go about each day, may our lives reflect His works and His power so that all may see.

When we consider the responsibilities that lie ahead of us and our dreams and goals for the year, may we desire that the work of our hands be established by Him.

Resources for Kids

Pointing children to Christ should be part of our normal routines. However, we can easily lose sight of the fact that parenting is so much more than just keeping these kids alive and eventually launching them into adulthood. God wants us to be teaching our children of Him and encouraging them to know Him more deeply on a regular basis. In order to help us in the pursuit of intentional discipleship we’re sharing a list of some kid-friendly resources that we’ve enjoyed and found helpful for starting conversations that ultimately point us all to Christ.

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  • Tiny Theologians 

Young children are able to learn a lot more than we realize and Tiny Theologians capitalizes on this reality. With beautiful flashcards that have brief definitions and a verse or passage on the back, Tiny Theologians provides some excellent tools for teaching theology to children. Their flashcard sets include A-Z Attributes of God, the ABCs of Theology, and the ABCs of the Names of God. 

http://tinytheologians.com/

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  • Getty Kids Hymnal (CDs or Youtube)

Kids engage in song on a whole new level when they hear other children singing! The Gettys have put out a great collection of hymns (new and old) featuring children, for children! You can buy these CDs on Amazon or just listen through YouTube.

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  • Leading Little Ones to God

Leading Little Ones to God is an old one but still a good one as it works through basic Bible Doctrines on a child’s level. Both my husband and I grew up with this book in our homes and are now using it with our girls! 

Find it new or used on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Little-Ones-God-Teachings/dp/0802851207/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2QPWQ2TUXB6HA&keywords=leading+little+ones+to+god&qid=1579122551&sprefix=leading+little+ones%2Caps%2C479&sr=8-1

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  • Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible 

This story Bible has become a favorite around our house. With bright and bold illustrations and simple narratives, it is geared towards toddlers. We especially appreciate how closely it sticks to the Bible narrative and doesn’t add lots of extra details to make the story more exciting. There is also a brief application section at the end of each chapter that touches on a broad range of topics to help drive home gospel truths in the hearts of our little ones.. 

https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Gospel-Story-Bible/dp/1945270047/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=MSLPJK3UFFG9&keywords=beginners+gospel+story+bible&qid=1579120965&sprefix=beginners+gospel+st%2Caps%2C509&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExSDU4WVlLRkRLMzUyJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMzI5NDU2MzVaTThGNU4wTTU5SyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMDEzOTMwMzhIMlAyUTk5TFRGJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

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  • The New City Catechism Mobile App 

While this app is aimed at adults, this free app also has a children’s mode that provides songs to go with each question and answer. These songs are short and fun and help young children learn important doctrines without even trying! Every night before going to bed, our 2-year-old insists on singing the song for question 3 that asks “How many persons are there in God?” Even though she doesn’t fully understand now the concept of the trinity, the song will undoubtedly stick with her for years to come and remind her heart of the reality of the Triune God!  

http://newcitycatechism.com/mobile-apps/

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  • The Big Picture Story Bible

I’ve really enjoyed sharing this story Bible with young children. The vivid illustrations help to hold their attention as they listen to foundational truths about man and God. And I love that this book shares both the bad and good stories, showing both the depravity of man and in turn, the loving-kindness of our God.

https://www.amazon.com/Big-Picture-Story-Bible-Book/dp/1433523914

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  • The Big Picture Bible Crafts 

This is a new resource for us, but it looks promising! For parents with children always wanting to make crafts, this book has 101 crafts to correspond a wide range of Bible stories (and also correspond with The Big Picture Story Bible.) With reproducible pages and multiple levels of difficulty for each craft, this craft book is ideal for multiple age groups! 

https://www.amazon.com/Picture-Bible-Crafts-Reproducible-pages/dp/1433558696/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3993CV43A5RP0&keywords=big+picture+bible+crafts&qid=1579122675&sprefix=big+picture+craf%2Caps%2C220&sr=8-1

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  • Bible Visuals International Family Format Series

Bible Visuals International has recently taken some of their short missionary visual stories and turned them into a book format for the whole family to enjoy together. They have ones on John Newton, George Mueller, etc. Our family has really enjoyed the one on the life of Martin Luther and have found it to lead to great engagement and conversation. 

https://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Martin-Luther-Family-5760-CS/dp/1933206934/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=bible+visual+martin+luther&qid=1579054470&s=books&sr=1-2