Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Don't Waste Your Ice-Storm

I'm sitting here at home because there is a bad ice/snow storm outside, and the weathermen are predicting it will get even worse tomorrow. I read through my old journals earlier, which was a very edifying experience, though I should have written more often! I also did some chores around the house, exercised my mind with Jeopardy, and will read Spurgeon on Christ in the Old Testament or maybe a book on John Newton before bed.

What do you do during an ice-storm? If you have kids, do you play in the snow with them? Do you spend the time curled up beneath the covers with a missionary biography or study on the attributes of God? Do you get those things done around the house that you always meant to do but never got around to it? Do you spend extra time in prayer or in singing praise to the Lord?

There are many good things that need to be done and that can be done while snowed in, but sometimes God uses them to grab our attention in a way that He might not have otherwise. I'm not saying that every snowstorm leads to some spiritual breakthrough (like Job, I haven't seen God's snow-storehouses), but in my own life this has happened two times in a very significant way.

The first was around the time of my conversion. It was 15 years ago this past week. In January of 1994, there were 16 inches of layered ice and snow. It kept the schools closed and Louisville citizens snowed-in for the entire week. While I do not know the exact date the Lord saved me, I remember that God showed me two main things that week. First, He showed me His greatness, in that I was truly awestruck by the terrifying beauty of the weather God sent. On the one hand, it was enjoyable and on the other it interrupted the lives of myself and others. I also saw, as the week wore on, my own impatience as well as the impatience of others. I learned the definition of "stir-crazy." I had the time to think about my own impatience and how it was a sin against the God who commands us to be anxious for nothing. I always prided myself in not falling into the "gross sins" but then the law of God, as the Psalmist put it, appeared to me as exceeding broad. That month, I was to start a class that, in the Presbyterian church, we called "confirmation class." A week or so after the snowstorm, I was in that class, and my youth-leader drew two lines on the board, one representing earth and the other heaven. She then started drawing a line to connect the two and told us tell her to stop where we thought we stood. I remember telling her later (I didn't want to do it in class because of my pride, I guess) that I knew God's standard was perfection and that it didn't matter how good I was because I knew anything less of perfection deserved Hell. That's why I needed Jesus to bridge that gap for me by His obedient life and sacrificial death!

The second ice-storm that God used was in February of 2003. First of all, it came just over a month after the murder of my aunt and uncle, which I blogged about here. Plus, my grandfather had died the weekend before (he had ALS, or Lou Gehrig's, for all the Yankees fans). So my mind was already thinking of the Gospel and God's holiness and our frailty. There were three specific areas that I needed to come to terms with (the myth of the carnal Christian, the sovereignty of God in salvation, and the role of women in the church). But they could all be placed under one overarching theme. I remember specifically praying at one point in my studies that week, "Lord, these things are hard for me to come to terms with, but if it is what your Word says, then I must submit to what your Word says. And I trust you will give me the heart to do so." Even as one who, at the beginning of the week, would have called herself an Arminian, I knew it was God who held my heart in His hands and who would turn it whichever way He pleased. I remember thinking about how, if God could shut down the whole city of Lexington with frozen water, He most certainly would display His power for the good of those who trusted in Him. And I thought about Elijah being fed by the ravens, as I too was in a spiritually dry place (University of Kentucky grad school- lots of people antagonistic to the Gospel there). The pastor of the church I attended there preached from Isaiah 6 the Sunday after the storm, and I could say that is what happened to me the week before. In the words of Spurgeon, God showed me myself and then showed me Himself!

So whenever I am snowed in because the roads are impassable, I know that it's because God might be wanting me go a few more miles down the pathway of righteousness!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Evaluating our Assurance

In Sunday School yesterday, Pastor Jim explained four standards that we ought to use when we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Simple and yet so true and so edifying! I strongly encourage you to listen to it here!

1. Am I believing on and trusting in Jesus and His work on behalf of sinners?

2. Am I bearing the fruit of new life in Christ?

3. Do I have the witness of the Spirit of adoption by which I know I am a child of God?

4. Am I persevering in the Way?

Friday, January 9, 2009

The "good" part of motherhood?

You have to watch this to believe it.

The owner of Reborn said this in an interview: "What's so wonderful about Reborns is that, um, they're forever babies," said Moore, who has grown children and grandchildren. "There's no college tuition, no dirty diapers... just the good part of motherhood," she added.

The good part? Um, yeah, uh huh... How could any mom say that? Disturbing!

Of Whom the World was Not Worthy

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A foll'wer of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flow'ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign:
Increase my courage, Lord;
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by thy Word.

Thy saints, in all this glorious war,
Shall conquer, though they die;
They view the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all thine armies shine
In robes of vict'ry through the skies,
The glory shall be thine.

- Isaac Watts

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Sovereignty of God and Suffering

Please listen to this sermon by Dan Cummings, a pastor who is dying of cancer and still is preaching the Gospel and trusting in our sovereign, wise, good, loving, and gracious God! Sometimes God gives pastors great illustrations, other times He MAKES them great illustrations...

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Creation in Christ

Jeremy Walker on "Looking to become a new and better you?"

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Trusting in God's Strength in the New Year

After a lengthy time without updating my blog (December was very busy and flew by very fast!), I wanted to post a few things that have been an encouragement to me, and I hope for you as well.

The first is a sermon my pastor recently preached from Acts 4:21-31. How often do we rely on the feeble arm of mortal man instead of relying upon the all-sufficient arm of our Sovereign Lord! May we be found this coming year looking more and more to the hand of our Master before we do anything else, coming to His throne of grace in time of need with confidence and assurance!

This led me to think about the hymn "Our God Our Help in Ages Past":

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downward by thy flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

Comforting and convicting at the same time!