a directed heart

a glimpse inside


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No Wonder My Life is Out of Whack

I spend more time taking in the “noise” of the world (aka Twitter/ Facebook/ Pinterest/ Blog-Reading) than taking in God’s Word. No wonder I feel out of balance, unfocused, and suffocated by worldy delights.

Eric Samuel Timm shook Milligan College’s chapel today by calling us out on a problem we know too well: we spend so much time eating up what the world says and then wonder why we don’t know anything about God. Not a revolutionary idea, but an impactful one nonetheless.

His call to get in the Word partnered with actually reading the Word during lunch today pretty much kicked me in the stomach. I read Matthew 18:21-35 and had to face the facts. Who am I to have ANY right to hold a grudge? Against anyone?

I don’t.

Not when God has forgiven me infinitely more than I have forgiven anyone. Not when my wrongs against God, which I commit every day, have been wiped clean because of Jesus’ clean slate. No, God didn’t hold a grudge. Instead he sacrificed his own son to make right MY wrongs against him. How backwards is that to the way I think of grudges?!

God, thank you thank you thank you for mercy. Thank you for loving me steadfastly even though I haven’t read my Bible in a week. Thank you for loving me steadfastly even though I forget about you and spend more time thinking about the shape of my body than the shape of my heart. Thank you for loving me steadfastly and prickling my heart with convictions that lead me into repentance. Thank you for your Word, which sheds light onto you, your nature, and your desires for us. I love you, Father. I need you, Father.

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learning

God has been teaching me a lot over the past two days.

1. I am prideful and quick to point my finger at everyone else.
2. God is patient with me.
3. Reconciliation is a sweet, sweet thing. Both with God and with others.

Here’s what I read in my Old Testament Images of God class today (not exactly at all what we were talking about, but this passage formed the theme for the rest of my day):

“For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’

Now, in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source… Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-11, 14-18).

What a wonderful Savior we have! God, thank you for your mercy on us through Christ. Thank you for our merciful and faithful High Priest, who atoned for our sins and set us free from slavery. Thank you for our High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses and yet is without sin. Jesus, thank you for suffering to destroy the power of death. Thank you for the gift of reconciliation and for your example of humility.

Today God reminded me of my sweet reconciliation with him through Christ, and today I learned humility from a friend who chose reconciliation. Today I’m overwhelmingly thankful for the gospel and for forgiveness, despite my sinful tendency to hold a grudge. God, break me of that and teach me your humility.


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Christian hope in sexuality, singleness, and marriage

I listened to this sermon by Tim Keller this morning and was so encouraged by the truths unveiled in it. It pertains to anyone–single, dating, engaged, or married–and is something worth spending some quality time listening to and talking about.

“The gospel says that human sexuality is a dim reflection of what it is going to be like to fall into the arms of the Lord on the final day–that’s the Lover we need. That’s the closure we need! Even the foretaste of it now, if you have it, and you have some sense of His love on your heart, that radically frees you and puts sex and love in the right proportion in your life.” -Keller

“Unless you make me your One True Love, Jesus says, you’re either going to be too desperate for romance and you’re going to put all the deepest hopes of your heart in finding that one true love, which means you’re going to be desperately looking all the time and you’re going to stay with the wrong kind of people too long. And if you do get married, you’re practically going to smother the person under your expectations and no human being can do that. OR, you’re going to be so scared of it. You’re going to avoid it. You’re going to by cynical about love and marriage. Make Me your one true love or you’ll never know it.” -Keller

Those are just some tidbits that got me thinking.

Please, listen. Look into your heart and analyze what’s going on. Be encouraged by the hope and the freedom we have  in Christ.


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give me Christ

Gracious Lord, incline thy ear;
My requests vouchsafe to hear;
Hear my never-ceasing cry;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Wealth and honor I disdain,
Earthly comforts, Lord, are vain;
These can never satisfy;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

All unholy and unclean,
I am nothing else but sin;
On thy mercy I rely;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Thou dost freely save the lost;
In thy grace alone I trust.
With my earnest suit comply;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

Thou dost promise to forgive
All who in thy Son believe;
Lord, I know thou cannot lie;
Give me Christ, or else I die.

All unholy and unclean,
I am nothing else but sin;
On thy mercy I rely;
Give me Christ, or else
Give me Christ, or else
Give me Christ, or else I die.

To listen to this song, look up Red Mountain Church on iTunes. I hope it stirs your heart like it does mine.


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a briefing that’s not so brief

An update on life in JC, TN:

-School is going surprisingly well… the past week I’ve pretty much had a break from homework, so much that I’ve already finished two assignments that are due next week. I’ve been taking a reporting & writing class, which has brought me serious headaches as well as some joy. It’s been fun to explore that facet of writing and experience the thrill of getting articles published, even when it’s just to our college paper. I don’t want to do reporting post graduation, but this class has certainly stirred my love for writing….. so, we’ll see where that leads.

-Redeemer is gearing up to celebrate our 5th anniversary! The staff is putting together a video celebration where all the members (no matter how long you’ve attended.. from 3 weeks to all 5 years) are invited to submit short videos describing what Redeemer means to them/ how they’ve grown through Redeemer/ etc. I’m pretty excited about it. They’re putting all the videos up on youtube, so I’ll link the page when it’s finished (around Dec. 3 I think).

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of seeing my uniform in person, here is a sneak peak:)

-I’m still working at the Firehouse, usually only 2 shifts a week, but sometimes 3 if I can squeeze in an extra one. Although the work gets redundant (I wait tables… there’s only so much potential variation), it’s been great to see more depth develop in my relationships with my coworkers. I can DEFINITELY see more openness and I’m finally starting to make real connections with people. Be praying for fruit in those relationships.

-Jacob and I are struggling through what is definitely the toughest season in our lives (his schedule is much crazier than mine, granted)… but we have a lot of church family who are embracing us, building us up, and encouraging us. My friend Brandy tells us, “You are the blessed ones!” We are blessed to have the opportunity to rejoice in this suffering, since suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and our hope does not put us to shame… because our hope rests in Christ alone. We’re learning a lot about who we are and the depth of sin, but much greater than that–we’re learning the depth of the gospel. We’re learning that it penetrates, heals, and casts our eyes away from empty worldly hopes and back onto Christ, our real hope.

-I’m on duty for Thanksgiving break, so this will be my first Thanksgiving ever not in Ohio with my family! I’m glad Jacob’s family lives so close, though, so I’ll get to celebrate with them this year. I’m making this delicious recipe I found off of Pinterest for Cookies ‘n Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies… maybe I’ll take some pictures of the process and blog about it next week.

-To wrap this up, I’ll end with a little summary: Jesus reigns, even when I feel stressed, angry, unsupported, weary, and like all odds are against me. Christ reigns, Christ is being made much of, Christ is worthy, God is for me, and God is still sovereign above all. I am prone to selfishness, deceit, anger, ill thoughts, and speech that tears down, but Christ reigns. He has rescued me from the pit of despair and ransomed me from those futile ways with his very own and precious blood. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This Scripture has never been more real to me than in this season of my life–Christ, you are our hope, you are our joy, and you are our strength. Amen.


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And so we are, saints.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1.

Father, thank you.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2.

Amen.

 


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flannelgraphs revived

Jacob and I taught lower elementary (grades 1-3) at Redeemer yesterday… and I must say, it was a serious blessing to serve the parents at our church in that way today. We taught 1 Kings 18:1-39, the passage where the prophet Elijah holds a contest with King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. The Lord sends fire to the altar Elijah built, even after water was poured over it, to convince the prophets of the false god Baal that the Lord is the one true God. The point of the lesson was that our God is the one true God, and we are to follow him alone. We made this awesome flannelgraph yesterday for the lesson:

Turns out, just like when I was in 3rd grade, the flannelgraph was just what we needed to keep the kids in tune with us. They responded so well and were very engaged in the lesson. (I know it wasn’t just the flannelgraph… it must have helped that the Lord has seriously gifted Jacob in teaching and connecting to kids.) We took some time at the end to talk with the kids about the “false gods” of today, and they brought up great examples, such as videogames, money, fame, famous people, toys, and one boy even said we can be our own false gods. Wow. I left church yesterday very thankful for the gospel and very thankful to spend time investing in 1-3 grade kids… kids who are learning the gospel today and who are seeing what idolatry can look like even in their own 7-10 year old lives. That is just crazy to me… and a huge huge blessing. Lord, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for being the one true God, and thank you for teaching me through the kids yesterday morning. I want to love you, know you, and believe in you with the same strong assurance some of those kids have.

How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him…