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Consider him

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted… “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons… For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:2,5-7, 10-11)

Reading this Scripture jolted my attitude about working today. I arrived at work a little early and spent some time reading at the employee table. I realized my current season of running around, working somewhere I don’t want to work the rest of my life, waiting to get married, and trying to finish college is training me. It’s an endurance race and I’m in it because God loves me and he sees it’s for my good–my good is that I can share in his holiness. Sometimes it really seems painful. It seems painful to go to work knowing I will come home smelling and feeling disgusting, knowing I’ll have to get dirty working in food service. It seems painful to wait another year to be a wife, a role I’ve been looking forward to my whole life. It seems painful spend my next two years in classrooms when I’m ready to have a job and be out in the world now. It seems painful to financially survive as a married couple the first few years. These disciplines seem painful because my eyes aren’t on the true prize… they’re on fake earthly prizes like comfort, rest, independence, worth, money, and marriage. None of those things are bad until they take the place of my true prize, Jesus Christ. The prize is being made more like Jesus. The prize is eternal life with my King. All these tough circumstances and jobs are good because they’re training me to look at Jesus for my comfort, my rest, my worth, and my marriage.

So all that to say, reading the above Scripture today gave me renewed vision at work and in this period of waiting. I’m trying to soak up this season and be serious about this training that I’m enduring. For this is the will of God, your sanctification (1 Thess 4:3).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (heb 12:1-2).

 

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L is for the way you….

I’m learning about love.

Maybe that seems a little cliche, but in a world where love is a quick-fix word used to describe shallow nights and selfish intent, I think it’s a good word to study.

1 John 4:8 says God is love. Verse 19 says that we love because he first loved us. And God’s love was made manifest to us in Jesus–he sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (vv.9-10).

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (v. 11). What does loving one another look like? Since God is love, and we love because he first loved us, we should study God’s love and God as love, as well as what the Bible clearly outlines for us as love.

Here are some truths God has been teaching and humbling me with so far:

1. Love others as I love myself. And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matt 22:37-39). Whoa… love my neighbor as I love myself? I orient pretty much everything I do around myself: I sleep when I feel tired, I eat when I feel hungry, I buy clothes when I feel I need or deserve them, I do nice things for people so they will think better of me, I work hard to make a name for myself, etc. The root of pretty much everything I do is to please myself or meet my own needs. That’s loving myself. But I’m called to love other people as I love myself! That means renouncing my selfishness and caring for their needs when they feel a need, not just when I feel like serving them. That means renouncing my sinful desires for recognition and popularity and sharing the Gospel even when I might not feel perfectly prepared or at ease, etc. I’m called to look out for others the way I look out for myself, and to care about others’ salvation the way I care about mine. I think truly loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind is the key, though. Loving with all my heart, my soul, and my mind is not a love that is shallow or fleeting, but a devoted love. You can’t love like that without it being a deep and penetrating love… and that kind of love for the Lord can result only in serving others and ministering to them. Loving Jesus like that puts all of the world’s delights in the shadows–there’s nothing more I could wish for others than to know and love Jesus themselves. And sharing him with them is the best way I could love them.

2. God’s love is sacrificial. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16). In love God sacrificed his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” We are to imitate God and love one another sacrificially. Philippians 2:3-4 says I must count others more significant than myself and look not only to my own interests, but to the interests of others. I must sacrifice my own wants to meet others’ needs and even sacrifice things that are in my interest in order to look out for the interests of others… I need to renounce my selfish heart and cling to God’s sacrificial, generous, and merciful heart.

3. Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor 13:4-7… this is humbling just as it is. Read those verses again. Lord, grow this love (your love) in me!

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:1-8)

Father, I want to have this same mind of Christ. May I not count equality with you a thing to be grasped… I so often worship myself as if I were you. I’m sorry, Lord… my tendency to worship myself just proves how much I need you. I can’t save myself, but praise be to YOUR name because you have already saved me with the blood of Christ! Thank you, Father. Thank you for your patient, unending, all-bearing love. Thank you for your Word, which teaches me more about you and stirs my heart to worship you more richly. Spirit, move in me and capture my heart; make it like the Father’s. All this in Jesus’ name and for your glory, Amen.


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imma imma imma be a skipper no more

I kind of failed #20 on my 20-while-I’m-20 list. (Sorry, Dr. Abner… I really did enjoy your class, but it was at an extremely inconvenient time for me… :/) HOWEVER, I figure since I still have my Fall 2011 semester, I still have half of the year to improve!

Here’s my vision for fall semester (yes, I am planning a little in advance, but I’m trying to get in the right mindset):
1. Go to class, no matter what. When I’m tired, go to class. When I’m hungry, go to class. When I feel pale, go to class. When I don’t like any clothes in my closet, suck it up, settle on something, and go to class.
2. There is NO REASON for being too tired to get up for a 10 am class. So I scheduled all my morning classes for 10 am (except Tuesdays, on which I have an 8am.. it’s good for the eyes to see the sun out at that time on occasion).

To prepare myself for waking up well in the fall, I’m going to start by waking up well in the summer. I’m planning to continue the 8 o’clock club (it’s #3 on my 20wi20 list, but I got the idea from these lovely ladies), although I honestly might move it to 8:30. After all, it is summer, and unless I work a morning shift (and have to get up earlier), I don’t see any problem with an 8:30 rise and shine.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Hello, discipline. My name is Lauren. :)


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for his sake, not mine?

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

How different would my life look if I lived for HIM rather than for myself? 


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reflections on my wise[fool]dom spring semester

It’s my last week as a sophomore. 

In the middle of the crazy semester, everything seems so hectic and stressful… All my commitments and responsibilities feel burdensome, and I forget what is most important.

And then I remember it all at the end of the semester, when everyone is about to leave for the summer and things start to calm down for finals week.

A trivial example:
-My Psalms journal… I put off an assignment for my Psalms class that seemed burdensome on top of everything else I had to do each week throughout the semester. But if I had worked a little at a time, I could have learned and applied so much more from my class about the Psalms. About prayer in the Psalms (something on my 20 while I’m 20 list). I guess this shows that I’ve failed #8 so far this year.

A much more crucial example:
-Time with Jesus. In my day-to-day for this past semester, it has been so easy to forget Jesus and to run around with my head cut off all day long. How does one last all day without her head? Many days I attempted to make it. I look back now and see how pitiful that picture looks. I look back with sadness that I didn’t sit at the feet of my King every morning in worship and in eagerness to learn. Instead I woke up late, got ready, sat in class, met with so-and-so, went to class, went to work, met with so-and-so, went to my evening commitment, met with so-and-so, ate, did homework, went to sleep too late, and woke up again to perform the same routine.

Jesus, I am sorry that I am so quick to forget how much I need you. I’m sorry for my arrogance in thinking that I don’t need to sit at your feet. Even more than that, I am broken by the thought that my heart wasn’t enthralled by, longing for, and clinging to the sound of your name over the past 4 months. Instead I occupied my affections with sleep, food, my appearance, and others’ approval and attention. I spent time crying over feeling left out and unwanted by people instead of rejoicing that I am unconditionally loved and cherished by my Father.  I devoted so much of my thoughts to critiquing my body and my friendships and my abilities and my lack thereof instead of reminding myself that my time here is fleeting, my home is in heaven, and I am made new, whole, complete, and perfect in Christ alone. I let my hope be spread across so many shallow channels instead of pouring everything that I have into the deep well that is You, Jesus Christ.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. [Psalm 130]

In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace… as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. [Eph 1:5-8,10]

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. [Ps 116:7-9]

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! [Ps 139:23-24]

Father, all I have is yours, and all I want is you. Thank you for your abundant mercy every day. Thank you for knowing me and allowing me to know you. I want to know you so much more deeply. Amen.

Now it’s time to stop living with my face in the future, but rather with my mind in the now… focused on Him and what he has for me here, today, now.


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the quality of owning

A special thanks to my boyfriend Jacob for sharing these wise words with me this week. I hope they can be as heart-stirring and thought-provoking for you as they have been for me.

“If there’s any order and discipline in your own soul, the doings of the other people won’t surprise you or put you out. If you are fond of interfering, to that extent you will always be faced with difficulties and distractions; if you were alright in yourself, if you’d really been through the process of purification, you’d be able to turn anything to good account, and profit by it.

Why is it that such a lot of things get on your nerves, and are always disturbing your peace of mind? Because you’ve never really died to self, never really weaned yourself away from earthly things. The unchastened love of creatures–that’s what disfigures and entangles a man’s conscience as nothing else does. If you refuse all outward consolation, heaven will come into your view, and fill you, again and again, with spiritual rejoicing.”- Thomas A’Kempis


Jesus, you are infinitely more worthy of my praise and contemplation than the earthly possessions, achievements, and titles on which I set my gaze. Forgive me for my quickness to hijack what rightfully makes up your kingdom and call it my own, stealing credit that belongs to you alone.

Father, wean me from earthly things; teach me to train myself in such a way that my own possessions become blurry in my peripheral vision, and instead you and your desires encompass the sole purposes and drives for my life. May my understanding and experience of your love deepen, and may that depth flow into my relationships with my fellow brothers and sisters. May I truly desire to lovingly have everything in common with my brothers and sisters–may my hesitation to share decrease and my eagerness to meet others’ needs increase. All of this for your glory, Jesus, not for my name’s fame. Amen.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. Acts 4:32.


And a word from Mr. Steinbeck:

The quality of owning freezes you forever into “I,” and cuts you off forever from the “we.” –Grapes of Wrath.



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Lent?

The season of Lent starts today–the 40 day period of fasting and prayer when Christians fast from certain foods, all food, or habits in order to remember and meditate on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. This fasting and prayer also ties with giving to charitable purposes, a tangible way to illustrate God’s mercy by pouring out mercy to others.

I’ve fasted from something during every season of Lent for the last 5 years, but, to be honest, I’m not sure why. Many people will ask this time of year, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Then someone will respond, “Chocolate,” or “Soda,” etc… and then the conversation ends. But is that really where the season of Lent ends? We just give something up for 40 days and that’s it? I know there’s something more here.

I did a little internet research and discovered some helpful information in this article from the Resurgence, called Why Bother With Lent. (I found the sections “Confusion Regarding Lent” and “Fasting and Prayer” to be especially helpful.)

An important thought from the article to keep in mind this season:

Any special attention to the Lenten season that honors God must include heart-level repentance and real faith, not external obedience to church tradition.

Here’s some of what Elliot Grudem and Bruce Benedict had to say about fasting:

We fast (not just during Lent) because Jesus told us to do so (Matt. 6:16, Mark 2:20). We fast because we continue to see the pattern of fasting practiced in the church (Acts 13, for example). We fast because it is one of the means God uses to break the power of sin in our lives, prepare us well for prayer, and humble us before him (for unlike God, we need food to live).

The act of self-denial can be a helpful tool in your Christian growth. There is nothing magic about it; however it can be a helpful reminder of your deep need for Jesus and the way that Jesus meets and satisfies your every need. [emphasis mine]

Lord, use this Lenten season to break the power of sin in our lives, prepare us well for prayer, and humble us before you. Break us of feeling enslaved to a law of fasting or abstaining, and instead bring our hearts to repentance and humility. May this season be a reminder of our deep need for your Son and a reminder of the way Jesus perfectly fulfills and satisfies our every need. May our desires for what we’re abstaining from point us to you and lead us to meditate on your provision.

Romans 14: 5-9
In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

God, thank you for this season of Lent and for the new life we have through your Son. May those of us who decide to practice the disciplines of Lent be fully convinced and thankful. May those of us who decide not to practice the disciplines of Lent also be fully convinced and thankful. May we not condemn one another for eating or abstaining, and instead remain focused on bringing honor to your name and being thankful for your provision. Thank you for sending your Son to be our redemption. Protect me from becoming hardened to that truth and soften my heart to be molded into your likeness. Move us to be merciful to others as you are merciful to us. So thankful, Lord. I love you, Father. Amen.