28 January 2014

stormy wind, fulfilling His word.

first off, can we just acknowledge how amazing Psalm 148 is?? i was so blessed reading through it yesterday. "stormy wind, fulfilling His word" is just a small taste of its "heights" and "depths" [ha ha i love making Bible jokes; those are both in there]!

every single storm [whether literal or figurative] that comes into our lives is from the Lord and He will use it to accomplish His purposes in our lives! isn't that crazy? why are we so stupidly forgetful about that truth? why do we freak out and assume all is lost when our futile attempts don't work out? He is the Lord of heaven and earth, and there is no other God- obviously! He's got a plan, and it's so much higher than ours.

so check out psalm 148, cool kids!

on the current events side of things, we were able to have church on sunday [packed house! such a sweet day!], but the concert got cancelled due to every single road in our corner of the state being closed. haha, that would be a closed door. but the Lord was blessing us even through that [those stormy winds fulfilling His word, right?] by stranding my uncle and a couple new friends from iowa at our house overnight! we had an awesome time laughing and encouraging each other. the Lord knows what's up!

so here's the current "pray-for-me-please" calendar, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise"/the winds don't blow. [this winter has been really intense out here, if you hadn't heard about that/experienced it yet.]

pray with us that the Lord will continue to open and shut His doors in His timing!

tomorrow 29 jan: leading worship with bros/dad teaching at calvary chapel sioux falls, south dakota
saturday 1 feb: youth worship event in windom, mn with bros/other bros
sunday 2 feb: leading worship at our home church, calvary chapel marshall [and youngest bro leaves for CA! so blessed by his time at home this winter!]
monday 3 feb: concert/leading worship at campus crusade in town at SMSU
wednesday 5 feb: concert/teaching on worship/leading worship at shine on, another college ministry in town
saturday 8 feb: concert in tracy, mn
sunday 9 feb: leading worship at our church
tuesday 11 feb: middle bro leaves for italy! so blessed to have him around for all of these opportunities. we're musical kindred spirits/identical twins [well, kind of. not entirely. i have extremely awkward drumming coordination]. good news, all 3 of my bros and i will be playing a show together in june in a barn! EPICCCC. also, can we just acknowledge how awesome my brothers are? cause they are. and i love them a really really lot!

thanks for your prayers, everyone! don't despise those stormy winds, cause they're instruments to fulfill God's word.

For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 
-Philippians 1:19

25 January 2014

lots of good stuff!

well, here we go! the upcoming week is jam-packed full of musical opportunities all across the prairie. leading worship at 4 places, playing a couple concerts, teaching on worship, doing ministry with my family... we have a wide-open door from He Who Holds The Key [check out Revelation 3]!

therefore, we are in need of your prayers! there is an enemy at work who doesn't want any of our ministry to be effective. please pray for our protection, strength, complete reliance on the Holy Spirit, and for opportunities to faithfully plant seeds that will in time bear much good fruit.

also, it is very apparently winter in the mighty midwest these days. we need to ask the Lord to hold back the snowstorms and wind so we can get to all the places we're scheduled to go visit! we totally believe He can and He will. will you trust Him with us?

thanks friends!

now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. amen! -jude 24-25

23 January 2014

psalm 138

So, everything in the Word is blowing my mind these days, [including our ladies Bible study this afternoon- so good!!] but Psalm 138 takes the prize for this morning's treasures unearthed. This is the next section of Scripture I want to memorize.

Lest you get the impression that I am some memorization whiz, let me correct you immediately; I haven't endeavored to memorize anything from the Bible in at least a year. And when I did that a year ago, it was the first time in a long time. But it has been on my heart to be meditating on the Word, and to start to try memorizing Scripture again, focusing some really great passages that have been speaking like crazy to me these days. And the funny thing is, the passage that I'm memorizing in some unfathomable way ties together everything else I'm learning. Seriously. I had no idea this psalm would be so incredibly applicable to every part of my life. So that's kind of awesome.

My current memory project is Psalm 65. I felt like the Lord gave it to me as a promise to hold onto in 2013: "You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance" and "the little hills rejoice on every side" - well, ok! I'll take that as a promise! The promise wasn't fulfilled in the glorious way that my little mind had imagined though; it was an amazing year, and I do look back and see God's faithful hand through every step of the way, and His goodness and sweetness and kindness all the way through rough times and glad times, but it wasn't exactly a year that "went out with a bang," you know? So I was thinking of a verse from it again the other day, nowadays in 2014, and it seemed as though the Lord was hinting at additional yet-future fulfillment. Well, ok! So it's been my 2013 and 2014 chapter, and if it sticks around for 2015 as well, so be it! I love it!

But we're talking about Psalm 138 here. While on a completely different line of thought this morning, I recalled a phrase that said, "In the day when I cried out, You answered me." So I did a little literal searching followed by a little Bible app searching, and eventually it appeared: Psalm 138:3 - "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul."

And then look! Verse 8 is one of my other all-time favorites [I have about 4 million other favorites, give or take a few.]: "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the work of Your hands."

Yes and Amen to both of these. I quickly finished my initial train of thought, then read through the whole psalm, first real fast, and then again more slowly. The gist of this psalm goes exactly along with my thoughts from the other day, on how to get joy; remember? When we choose to put our trust in the Lord and love His name, He fills and overflows us with His Holy Spirit's fruit of joy. It can't not happen. So thankful for that, because it's just too easy to run out of circumstantial, emotional happiness!

So here again, we see the Psalmist making some deliberate choices, based on his previous knowledge of God, and completely in spite of overwhelming circumstances or any of his present feelings. [This is important; there is no other way to deal with things Biblically than to put our trust in the Lord and hold fast to His Word. Speaking of that, this week I've been listening to Levi Lusko from Fresh Life Church in Montana teach through the book of Philippians, in his series called Rampart. We have an unshakeable rampart for our souls, despite anything the devil or the world can throw our way: the joy of the Lord. Seriously guys, check this series out! There's even an app for it so you can download them to your phone! Ok, that's the end of the commercial; I didn't get paid for that, I'm just really enjoying this study!]

You can read the whole Psalm 138 here, but I'm going to just give you the two lists that were jumping off the page at me this morning.

The first list is about us: what we choose to do, and what happens to us because of it. The second list is about God: Who He is, and what He does. Ready?

Psalm 138: The "Us" List // what we choose to do, and what will happen:

  1. I will praise You with my whole heart
  2. I will sing praises to You
  3. I will worship toward Your holy temple [incline my heart Your direction]
  4. I will praise Your name
  5. (On the day when) I cried out
  6. All the kings of the earth shall praise You
  7. (when they) hear the the words of Your mouth
  8. They shall sing of the ways of the Lord
  9. (Though) I walk in the midst of trouble
Praise, wholeheartedness, singing, worship, praising His name, crying out to Him, more praise, hearing His Word, singing of His ways, and just plain old-fashioned walking. Even though I walk in the midst of trouble. The circumstances do not determine our response. Knowledge of God's character and His ways and His word and His goodness cause me to rejoice, nevertheless. Even though I will certainly walk in the midst of trouble. That adds up to eight choices to trust God, and one lifelong fact that we can't change; "in this world you will have trouble, but take heart; I have overcome the world." Jesus said that.

Look at how easy this is: basically, praising and worshiping and singing to Him, crying out to Him, hearing His word, and just walking through the midst of trouble [did you catch that? We won't die in the midst of trouble.. just keep walking, one step at a time; we can do that!]. Can I pull a preacher-man alliteration right here?? Worship - hear His Word - and Walk right on through. My dad's gonna get a kick out of that one. And don't forget to cry out to Him- tell Him all of the everything that's going on, let your requests be known, and cry out in thanksgiving because He is your God! Philippians 4:6-7 all the way, baby.

Ok, so here's what God does. See how there are nine things on the "me" list, and they can even be condensed into a few really simple choices to make and responses to have? There are 17 huge and awesome things on the "God" list!

Psalm 138: The "God" List // God's character [who He is] and works [what He does]:
  1. Your lovingkindness [oh, so thankful for this! Both loving and kind. I need these so bad, even when I won't admit it.]
  2. Your truth [He's got the corner on the truth market, and we've got His word, which IS The Truth.]
  3. You have magnified Your word [HE magnifies it and makes it so we can see and understand its depths, by His Spirit!]
  4. (above all) Your name [which is pretty awesome and powerful on its own- do you know His names?? do you use them? And He says knowing His Word is even more important than knowing His name! They really go hand in hand, don't worry.]
  5. (in the day when I cried out) You answered me [notice the timing! no delayed response action going on here; TODAY!]
  6. You made me bold with strength in my soul [perfect love casts out all fear, because I trust that He's got me]
  7. The ways of the Lord [so much higher than ours!]
  8. Great is the glory of the Lord [revealed in creation, in our hearts, and most importantly in the face of Jesus Christ]
  9. (though) the Lord is on high [The King; the One God and there is no other; and again, way higher than our ways and thoughts and time/space/matter continuum!]
  10. (yet) He regards the lowly [I want to be one of these! Oh how blessed are the meek- God regards and truly cares for them.]
  11. (but) the proud He knows from afar [oh He knows, all right. He sees it all, and they're going down if they don't humble themselves]
  12. You will revive me [You restore my soul..! "Quicken/revive me, O God, according to Your word!"]
  13. You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies [not my hand! Vengeance belongs to Him alone]
  14. Your right hand will save me [the hand of His favor is going to save me]
  15. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me [HE will bring it to pass! HE will make it perfect! All of it!]
  16. Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever [new every morning, and enduring forever. Good thing, because we need it real bad!]
  17. [You] do not forsake the works of Your hands. [we are the works of His hands! He does not give up on us! He will finish what He has begun in us. Philippians 1:6]
We can do all of the "us" list [all 3ish things on it], once we start to get these huge, marvelous, tremendous truths about God into our hearts and minds. If God is for us, who can be against us? Know the Lord, my friends. He does not forsake the works of His hands, and we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Just walking. Just one step at a time. Not seeing the whole picture, but having a listening heart and a willing mind to trust Him and obey Him and praise Him because He is so good, always.

Now isn't that a great Psalm?? "Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts." (Jeremiah 15:16)

22 January 2014

streams just nailed it.

Do you ever read Streams in the Desert? I do, and I have read it off and on for several years of my life. It always ministers to me, in a quiet and restful way. The past couple weeks it has been speaking every single day to me, but this morning it spoke clearer still: as if this was written particularly to me. Don't you love how the Lord does that? He so faithfully sends those "words in season to him who is weary." This devotional, which I have typed out for everyone's enjoyment and so that I do not easily forget it, tells the tale of the last year of my life, and how the Lord is taking me out of a long rest, in which He truly restored my soul, and is renewing once again the music within my heart. "For I know whate'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well." -a.

Streams in the Desert
January 22

"Into a desert place apart."  (Matthew 14:13)

"There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it." In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by "rests," and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune. God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the "rest"? See him beat the time with unvarying count, and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between.

Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the "rests." They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. If we look up, God Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear. If we sadly say to ourselves, "There is no music in a 'rest'," let us not forget "there is the making of music in it." The making of music is often a slow and painful process in this life. How patiently God works to teach us! How long He waits for us to learn the lesson!  -Ruskin.

Called aside - 
From the glad working of thy busy life,
From the world's ceaseless stir of care and strife,
Into the shade and stillness by thy Heavenly Guide
For a brief space thou hast been called aside.

Called aside - 
Perhaps into a desert garden dim;
And yet not along, when thou hast been with Him,
And heard His voice in sweetest accents say:
'Child, wilt thou not with Me this still hour stay?'

Called aside - 
In hidden paths with Christ thy Lord to tread,
Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead,
Closer in fellowship with Him to roam,
Nearer, perchance, to feel thy Heavenly Home.

Called aside -
Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone;
In secret oft His deeper love is shown,
And learnt in many an hour of dark distress
Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.

Called aside - 
We thank Thee for the stillness and the shade;
We thank Thee for the hidden paths Thy love hath made,
And, so that we have wept and watched with Thee,
We thank Thee for our dark Gethsemane.

Called aside - 
Oh, restful thought - He doeth all things well;
Oh, blessed sense, with Christ alone to dwell;
So in the shadow of Thy cross to hide,
We thank Thee, Lord, to have been called aside.

20 January 2014

I Could Never Outgive You

I could never outgive You
No I could never outgive You
All the earth's riches are stored up in Your house
And I'm about as consequential as a mouse
Pounding at Your door for a morsel

No, I could never out-take You
Yeah, I could never out-take You
Cause You said to ask but I'm always hanging back
Just wishing for the tiniest drop of a drink
Even though You told me to come

Cause You said come, ask, take, eat
Drink deep and be made new
And I'm always stopping, fretting, starving, stewing
What am I doing? But holding back in misery
Cause I could never outgive You, take You
You're right, You're God, You're strong, You are enough
And You've got some really, really big hands

I could never outdo You
No, I could never outdo You
My feeble attempts at counterfeiting effects
Are as a drop compared to the seas of Your might
If I'd only admit that I'm weak, and let Your strength be mine

Oh I could never outlove You
No, I could never outgrace You
I'm still wearing beggars' clothes when I've been given a throne
In Your house, by Your side, at Your word, through Your life
You'd think I would've realized it sooner

Cause You said, "Come to Me, all you weak
And dying under burdens that I never bestowed"
And You're ever taking, caring, holding, bearing
And giving me more than I could ever ask or imagine
Cause I could never outdo You, love You, grace You
No I could never outgive You, take You
By Your word and command You have stretched out Your hand
To the least of these and said,
"Come, come, come to My feast."

-akj, 17 January 2014
(new song, ask me and I'll email you the demo!)

Freely you have received; freely give.

I’ve been thinking, learning, pondering, musing, mulling, considering and being challenged on the topic of giving lately.

I’ve always been a saver. I make money and never spend it all. (I was close to empty at the end of one semester; it’s only happened once, and like 30 bucks still remained.. I’ve literally never been without, and I’ve never been in debt.) I’m not necessarily cheap, and no, my parents aren’t loaded (although they do let me live in their house, and they are very generous!), but the simple truth is that I live in the middle of the prairie, and I hate going to Walmart, so my options for unloading cash are very few and far between! (Hash tag, plane tickets)

So I’ve been home, working part time for 3 and a half of the past four years (through specific circumstances I was able/told to quit work for a while in July, and I haven’t been back again yet. The job is still available, but I’m not called there at this point). I had twice as much saved last year as I have now, but I’ve still got more than plenty. Last year I paid doctors more than I actually made. Oh well; get over it, a-team!

The Lord’s been teaching me to just let go. Pay the bills. Don’t fret. You actually have enough for them, and it hasn’t entirely depleted your savings. I’ve been so richly provided for, even by just faithfully going to work 3 or 4 days a week for nearly four years.

So that was a big step- just being willing to let go and not hold my “security” tightly. It’s His money, and He’s capable of providing SO MUCH MORE than I could ever possibly need, ask, or want.

This applies also to personal, physical resources. I quite literally exhausted all that was within me last year, and was forced to take a 6-month break from life because of it. I had to learn to say no, to leave margin in my life, to create balance, to not be an incessant giver and doer for everyone. “Only that which is necessary.” That’s a hard lesson to learn, and they’re tough habits to break, but absolutely essential if we’re going to serve the Lord and His people in His way. Not in our own strength, not our will, not our way; just, all, only His.

About a week ago, I was reminded of a hymn that I knew but had forgotten, called He Giveth More Grace. Check out the second verse, which stabbed me right to the heart [yep, still camping out on this hymn]:

"When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.”

Youch. The end of our hoarded resources. I have resources but I don’t ever want to run out, because who knows what will happen once they do, and He’s telling me the only way to get His full giving is to run completely empty of whatever I’ve got left to offer. Oh friends, this applies to so many areas in life!!

So I’m currently on the potter’s wheel, being reshaped, having my understanding renewed and transformed these days. Being generous is one of the huge lessons being learned. “Meet urgent needs.” Not hastily or rashly or in my own strength; but as the Spirit puts needs on my heart, I’ve got to choose to obey Him and act on it. Check out these verses from the Amplified Bible that I read this morning:

Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)

Proof of fellowship! Even just being a contributor, not an all-star pioneer! Pleasing to God! Don’t forget or neglect this! DO kindness and good! This is important.

Therefore, MY brethren, whom I love and yearn to see, MY delight and crown (wreath of victory), thus stand firm in the Lord, MY beloved. And I exhort you too, [MY] genuine yokefellow, help these, for they have toiled along WITH ME in [the spreading of] the good news (the Gospel), as have Clement and the rest of MY FELLOW WORKERS whose names are in the Book of Life. (Philippians 4:1, 3)

Can we just stop a minute and marvel at how unnecessary it was for Paul the Awesome (my personal opinion of him) to recognize other people as being his fellow workers? He clearly out-worked everyone he ever met! “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (see 1 Corinthians 15:10) And here he is, calling them his fellow workers, his crown of victory, his genuine yoke-fellows. Amazing. Let it be not overlooked, however, that his “fellow workers” are the ones “whose names are written in the Book of Life.” Folks, we are saved to serve, not by our own strength, righteousness, wisdom, glory, or awesomeness, but by the grace of God which mightily works within us. If your name is in the Book of Life, if you are saved, are you doing anything about it to show yourself an approved workman and a genuine yoke-fellow of those who are already serving the Lord? Remember, even “she who stays at home” or “he who keeps the baggage” shall “share the spoils.” (Read the OT.. It’s in there. Living pictures of God’s truth!)

Get involved, somehow. Pray for people, pray for missionaries, support missionaries, pray for your pastor, ask how you can be a blessing, look around for obvious needs and ask the Lord to enable you to fill them in such a way that will please Him and bless His people. (People in ministry will quote the above verses about you, like Paul said about his supporters!) And don’t fret. God will show you how! Ask Him!

Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon]. I HAVE strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I AM ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I AM self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. (Philippians 4:5, 13)

There’s a couple more verses in case you’re still feeling clueless. You shouldn’t be feeling so anymore with a promise like that to believe!

So yeah. That’s one way the Lord is teaching me and changing me these days. I’m blessed to just do it because I know it is His will for my life! But He is so sweet and kind and good; He’s been dropping sweet blessings, amazing opportunities, and practical material necessities into my lap this week too. I’m up to my eyeballs in goodness here. And somehow, I knew that He would. His blessings weren't my motivation, but He’s pretty consistently the best gift-giver ever, so I knew He would “not leave me without support” (Hebrews 13:5-6 amplified, check it out!!).

In closing, the moral of the story is: trust God, seek to please God, and enjoy the life He has laid out for you when you do. You can never outgive Him, out-take His resources, outdo Him, outgrace Him, outlove Him. Just go ahead and try.

"He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again."

18 January 2014

how to get joy.

One of my favorite parts of the Bible is the book of Psalms. One of my many, many favorite, underlined, circled, and scribbled-around passages is Psalm 5:11-12:

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

The other night, my mom and I were watching a DVD of a message from a women's conference. The passage the speaker [Lenya Heitzig] was teaching on was, "Lean not on your own understanding" [Proverbs 3:5]. The biggest thought that I held onto for further pondering was concerning our will. We all have a will; we are able to make choices. Each individual personally decides whether or not to entertain each tiny thought that passes through our minds; we have the ability to take our thoughts captive. I suppose we generally take the easier path more often than the right path; wouldn't you agree?

Here's the way she put it: How you choose to think about something [you do decide what to do with it, whether you realize it or not, by keeping it or tossing it out] determines how you feel about it; how you feel about something determines how you act upon it; how you act upon something forms a habit; and your habits determine your character. Got that down? 

Will/Choice --> Thoughts --> Feelings --> Actions --> Habits --> Character.

It's interesting; I've been thinking all fall about the role our will plays in making decisions and forming habits, after reading some really good stuff on the whole process. I've also been thinking about "taking thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ" as well; we all know how quickly our minds can escalate a situation when we're dwelling on negative things. To that, the Lord had already spoken this word to my heart: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." [Philippians 4:8] Boom. There's the answer. That's what we're supposed to think about. If we use those guidelines as our filter, the superfluous surplus of unnoble, unright, ungood [oh yes I did, I just said ungood] thoughts will be deflected right out of our heads. If you don't know that something is true [ahem, motives of other people's actions or words], then don't dwell on it. I can attest to this verse's validity and applicability in my current life. It works.

So, having been pre-processing these ideas for a fair amount of time, I came across these verses in Psalm 5 a few days in a row, and the lesson was ripe for the picking.

Joy. We all want joy, right? We all get really sad when it feels like our joy has disappeared [because it is gone, and because we are sad it is gone]. So we, if we are trying to be faithful Christians and have a bit of a conscience, realize that it must be our obligation to be joyful. Except... isn't joy a fruit of the Spirit? Doesn't fruit grow on trees, and take time, and take absolutely zero effort of said tree, apart from the very simple function of being a tree? Yeah, thought so. Case in point: we can't force joy any more than we can force fruit to grow. We think that we can merely choose to be joyful. I think choosing joy sounds like it would work, but I'm not sure it does. And I will tell you why I think so.

Why are the righteous in the above verses [Psalm 5:11-12] rejoicing? Did they just up and choose to rejoice? It seems like more of a effect of something than the cause/means/end in itself. There was a choice involved, however; did you notice it??

"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You. Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them. Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You." I helped you with the bold letters, in case you missed it. The righteous chose to do two things: put their trust in the Lord and love His name. It's that simple! 

But how did they know they could trust Him? That, dear reader, is where the promises of God's Word come into play. Do you know God's promises? Are you holding onto them tighter than anything else in this ever-shaking world? Because they'll be the only thing that remains standing after all else has been shaken. If you know the promises, do you believe them? We've all got a choice here. We have the Word. If you can read English [which I assume you're probably doing right now], then you have the Word of God abundantly available to your eyes, even on the Internet. But do you actually believe that what God says in His Word is true? Because if you don't, it holds no power for you. In the letter to the Hebrews, it says that the word not mixed with faith does not profit. It cannot. God's Word is true, whether you choose to believe it or not. But the beauty of believing that God's Word is true, is "taking the promises to the bank" and watching Him do exactly what He said He would do in our lives. If you choose not to believe it, you guarantee that you'll miss out on a whole lot of really good goodness.

These righteous ones in Psalm 5 chose to put their trust in God, and to love His name. Trust and love, hmm. Those are both matters of the heart. But do you know what else I learned from this message? That when the Bible says "heart" it doesn't mean that thing that ideally had better keep beating inside your ribcage, or the seat of your emotions [which happens to be your soul, actually]; it literally means your mind! Your heart is your mind! Once you choose to trust or choose to love, you do it and your soul/feelings get to come along for the ride; but it all starts with your will. Are we going to choose to trust in God and love His name? Here's what will happen when we do.

God gave promises, by His Word and His already-proven character, and these righteous people saw them happen. Here are the incredible benefits of choosing to believe God, put our trust in the Lord and love His name [and these are only the few listed in these two verses]:
He will defend us.
He will bless us.
He will favor us.
He will surround us.
He will protect us [as our shield].

Uh, I want/need/would do anything to get those things. So to get them, we just choose to trust Him and love Him and believe His Word. And bingo, there they are, the blessings of God's presence, exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we could ever ask or imagine. They're ours. Do you want them? Do you have them?

Ok, so we put our trust in Him, and we love His name;
He defends, blessesfavorssurrounds, and protects us;
And the outcome? [It's something like a mathematical equation, because God's promises are consistent, just like math ought to be!]
Here's our response, which is going to burst forth from our innermost being in such a way that no onlooker can deny it:
Let all those rejoice
Let them ever shout for joy
Let those also...be joyful in You.

Maybe you've previously heard this, but when the Bible says something three times in a row, it generally means PAY ATTENTION. Rejoice, shout for joy, be joyful in You. One, two, three. This is a promise. It's gonna happen. We don't just choose to be these things; these things are the fruit, the effect, the intended and promised result of trusting and loving God. And He makes them happen, simply because He has promised to do so. Easy, huh? Check out how easy it really is too: "Let those also... be joyful in You." Hmm, being. Not doing. Just being. Funny, did you ever realize that we're human beings, not human doings? [Heard that one the other day; pretty good, huh?] The French verb ĂȘtre means "to be." That's what I want. I don't want to keep striving and struggling and coming up not quite hitting the mark/extremely impoverished and incapable in my own strength, and fried and burnt out and discouraged and wanting to give up because I have basically proven that I can't do it. I want to just be, and the only way to contentedly, effectively just be, and to be joyful at that, is to put our trust in the Lord and love His name.

The proven character of God is already revealed in His Word; will we believe it? Will we choose to believe it even when we don't feel anything at all about it? We've got to trust the Lord with our eyes wide open; it's a black and white choice. Either trust Him with it all or don't trust Him at all. Trusting God is not about feelings. But I can guarantee you this: If you will choose to trust God and love Him, He'll put that joy inside of you that nobody can steal. You will be joyful. You will have those promised blessings, and ten thousand besides. You will know Him, best of all. He's the only one who satisfies. And to be in Him is completely, consistently satisfying, regardless of our emotions-of-the-minute status. Yes, please! That's why joy doesn't fade away or get stolen like happiness; it's implanted within us by the work of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Nobody knows how He does it. But everybody who has it knows that He really did do it. If you're not in that camp yet, all you have to do is ask Him. He loves to give His good gifts to His children. So get asking! ["Come boldly before the throne of grace" definitely applies here.]

If you need any more proof that choosing equals trusting which equals joy and God's blessing upon your life [God's blessing; not the things you tell Him to give you; His way trumps ours always, guys!], check out the other choices the righteous are making, regardless of feelings, and quite in spite of extremely pressing circumstances [read it! it's not pretty!], in the rest of this short psalm:
v2- for to You I will pray
v3- my voice You shall hear in the morning
v3- in the morning I will direct it to You
v3- I will look up
v7- I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercies
v7- in fear [reverence] of You I will worship toward Your holy temple
v11- [I will] put my trust in You
v11- [I will] love Your name

That looks like an act of the will to trust and cry out to God, if I've ever seen one! And it looks like they've experienced how well this process works, so it's become their habit to run to the Lord first and last and always. They know what's up. They know their insufficiency in their own strength, and they know God's proven power. They know the promises and they know the Promiser Himself. Let's be like this. I don't think life is going to get any easier [hard truth right there], and the sooner we realize all this, the sooner we'll run to the only One strong enough to see us through it all and bring us forth with shouts of "Grace, grace to it."

I quoted this entire hymn in a previous blog post, but look at a bit of it again; it has totally grabbed my attention in the past week:

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

I'll try to write more thoughts again soon; I've been thinking a lot [because of this hymn, and other things] about how "we have not because we ask not." We have the infinite riches of Jesus at our disposal, the very same power that rose Jesus from the dead, and yet we feel so poor and depleted in almost every way nearly all the time. Friends, these things ought not be so. Let's put our trust in Jesus, and love His name, and as surely as God is God and His Word endures, we shall yet rejoice.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 43:5

17 January 2014


i had the privilege to attend a week-long missions conference in southern california last week, and i came back refreshed and renewed and full of appreciation and gratitude for the little happenstances and particular goings-on which surround me. here are a few.

the morning frost on my windowpanes, and winter itself. it's gorgeous here, truly. i've got eyes; can i see it?
the unique humor and characteristics of each member God has appointed to my family. these people are the best.
the myriad instruments in our house, and all the people who play them in many different ways. it's a whirl of delight and inspiration.
the songs which are, for this season, flowing freely through my pen and voice. i write myself in knots and have to untangle it all again.
the friends and the greater community of believers to whom i belong. no, no, He has certainly not left us as orphans.
the ability to awaken before my alarm and calmly commit the day to my Lord, by the power of His indwelling Spirit. waking up was impossible even a month ago.
the Word, so living and active and piercing and purifying and strong and steadfast and pure; the power of fellowship around it.
the fireplace in my living room, which very nearly scorches me day and night as i linger in dangerous proximity to its brilliant warmth.
the hope and the calling and the expectation which belong to us who belong the Lord: to apprehend that for which we are apprehended.

"the work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever." isaiah 32:17

15 January 2014

He Giveth More Grace

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father's full giving is only begun. 

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

-Annie Johnson Flint

24 December 2013

christmas eve gallivants.

well, today's christmas eve. i guess i only update on holidays! after a slow cozy morning, snowflakes softly began to drift from the sky, and as the temperature has warmed significantly since yesterday [all the way up to 19F baby! windchill has improved by 32 degrees, but -1F windchill is still a bit brisk], i bundled up and set my face toward the great outdoors for a trip trap through the fields and woods.

first i looked for a perfect charlie brown christmas tree. alas, i did not bring my handsaw.

alas, i also did not bring my snowshoes. we'll use them tomorrow.

spoiler alert: we're celebrating Wilderness Wednesday tomorrow. as a whole family. 

best christmas ever. pretty extremely excited about that.

so i walked and walked, through meadow and forest, finding this and admiring that, and ofttimes sprinting across the drifts to combat that awful wind, and eventually my extremities began to warm themselves.

i especially appreciated the dinky little trees. can you tell?
and then i beheld a haywagon ripe for the picture taking, and/or a blustery ride. so i ran across the snowdrifts to investigate.

and, of course, i promptly photobombed it for posterity's sake.

eventually i found the river, and watched the snow ice-skate across it.

found another charlie-esque evergreen, and headed back into the woods.

my face was frozen, but heart was happy and hands and feet were quite cozy.

which was good, since i promptly got lost in the woods. 
i guess sometimes taking the "path less traveled by" makes a different sort of difference...

well anyway, i eventually found the right path, found the car, cranked up the christmas tunes, got home, got warm, and sat down by the fire to enjoy the beautiful day.

happy christmas to all! [don't get lost in the woods.. for too long.]