Wednesday, January 27, 2010

That He May Work In Us

It seems the Cloud is on the move again. Not to a new geographical location, but in a spiritual sense, for certain. It's like God is saying, "Don't get too comfortable. Remember, you're a pilgrim, just passing through this life" (Psalm 84:5). There are some big changes happening at Walnut Hill--and they're great ones! But as the new girl just getting settled, change is rocking my world a little.

Without getting too introspective, I just want to share a thought. I'm learning, in the midst of all this change and upheaval, and through some other circumstances as well, that God is far more interested in doing a work in me than He is in my doing a work for Him.

When I type it out, maybe it sounds almost haughty, but bear with me for a second here. If we really believe that God wants to use us as His instruments...If, as Eugene Petersen puts it in His translation of 2 Corinthians 4:7-8, He wants to use "the unadorned clay pots of our very ordinary lives," then the work has to start in us. We must be emptied before we can be "filled to the measure with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). I think I can get so sidetracked by ministering to others, by trying to accomplish something weighty for the Kingdom that I miss the point...

With this Father God who offers His Son to redeem and His Spirit to regenerate, it's the heart that matters most.

My young adult girls' Bible study had the most precious time of confession last Thursday. The Lord had been impressing the importance of confessing sin on my heart since Advent, and as we girls talked two weeks in a row about the things we let distract us from pursuing God, I was convicted that corporate confession was essential. Let me tell you, it was beautiful! There's something so humbling and yet so uplifting about laying down idols and burdens in the midst of community. And it's addicting--as I've gone through my week, I've been painfully aware of more junk in my life that is keeping me from being more intimately identified with Christ.

And isn't it good of God, isn't it just so like Him, to meet us in that place of deep conviction and show us the places that need healing, the things in our lives that must be dealt with? It's in the wake of (and really, in the midst of) confession that I'm recognizing His concern with my heart, His desire to work in me in fresh ways so that I'm not the same person I was yesterday or last year. He is the One who is faithful to finish the work He has begun (1 Thessalonians 5:24, Philippians 1:6).

So here's the Scripture I'm clinging to as things around me are changing:

"May the God of peace, who through the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Christ Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Friday, January 15, 2010

True Masculinity

Both of the Bible studies I lead in my home are studying Paul's letters. In the high school girls' group we're doing Romans (their choice--can you see why I love them so?!) and in the young adult girls' group we're going through Ephesians. In both studies, we're nearing the part about "wives submit to your husbands." Uhhg--that is such a hard part, isn't it? I find myself just needing to be reminded of what masculinity and femininity are supposed to look like, so that I can maybe make just a little sense out of these hard passages that speak of gender roles.

As if on cue, I came across possibly the best sermon I ever heard on masculinity the other day. This was the very last sermon I heard Carter Crenshaw (my pastor at West End Community Church in Nashville) give before I moved from the Music City to New England. West End is now posting Carter's sermons online, which is great news for me because I love to listen to him!

Before I ever visited West End, my sweet friend Shelley told me how Carter performed her brother and sister-in-law's wedding service, and how it was beautiful and poignant, and how Beth Moore (a friend of theirs through LifeWay) loved it so much that she endorsed it on her blog! (I later read the blog post--you can check it out on the Living Proof blog here. I can just picture Carter being "up in their stuff" and patting Rich on the arm over and over...he's so dear.) I attended West End for the better part of a year, and people from other churches would often tout Carter as the best pre-marriage counselor in Nashville. When I met with him one-on-one a couple of times, and especially when I heard this sermon on masculinity, I began to see that they weren't just being gracious. This guy means business!

The message is taken largely from a book by John Piper (one of my favorite theologians) and Wayne Grudem (the guy who wrote my 1200+ page Systematic Theology textbook). But Carter lends his wonderfully enthusiastic and studied flavor to it.

So the point is, listen to this sermon. If you're a dude, it will make you want to shape up and be a real man like Jesus. If you're a girl, it will make you want to quit flirting with fire and find a guy who seeks after Jesus with his whole heart. Seriously. It's good stuff. And if you struggle at all with Paul's telling the saints that wives should submit to their husbands, and husbands should lay down their lives for their wives, maybe it will bring just a little clarity to the whole messy issue.

Click here for the audio file.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Salute to My Friend Walter (and other random thoughts)

Confession: I am procrastinating.

I'm supposed to be writing my next freelance article, a little piece on how to spice up your prayer life. When I say it like that, it sounds kind of cheesy and culturally Christian, but I'm hoping it will be neither in the end. You can read it next month and tell me what you think...)

But instead of writing the article, I'm sitting in bed trying to get over my writer's block and listening to Christmas music.

You caught me. I'm still listening to Christmas music. It's just that this Indelible Grace album, "Your King Has Come" is so dang good! I know it's January, a new year and all, but I'm trying to get inspired here.

Anyway, I digress. As long as I'm procrastinating, I thought I'd share a link with you. One of my dearest friends from high school youth group, Walter Jennings, is just about to finish his time in the Marines. He called the other day to say that he made it back from Afghanistan safely! I'm super proud of him, of course, and I was especially excited when he told me that his picture made it in the Washington Post--I just love the Post--and CBS News, as well as Bloomington's local paper, The Pantagraph. Apparently Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 5th Marines had an incredibly successful mission. Pretty cool stuff!

Check it out!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New article about adoption and my friend Svitlana

My latest article is posted at You can read it here.

This month, I got to write about my friend Svitlana, who has an amazing testimony. Svieta grew up in an orphanage in Ukraine and was later adopted--by not just one, but TWO families, one of which is the Causey family, dear friends of mine from Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville! Svieta is leveraging all that God's given her in some pretty cool ways. She will inspire you!

And as always, if you know women in their 20s and 30s, let them know about My Mission Fulfilled!

Thanks for reading!