Posts tagged ‘God’

June 12, 2013

A thousand times, “Yes.”

So much has gone on lately.  The ups and downs of life have been in full force and I find myself clinging to Jesus.  Holding onto Him with everything that I have because I know it’s the only safe place.  In the good and in the bad, Jesus is constant.  And, oh, how I need Him.

God is good.  He never fails.  He is sovereign.  These are the truths that I am coming to believe more fully than ever.  That everything is grace.  His ways are not my ways.  I can’t always understand.  But I will trust in the goodness of a Savior that died to give me life until the day I breathe my last on this earth… and I know that on that day I will enter into glory, eternally in the presence of the Almighty God, the One whose love is better than life.  In His presence is fullness of joy.

I’ve found myself staring difficult questions in the face lately.  Could I accept all that God gives?  Could I continue to praise Him in the face of loss, death, cancer, blindness?  Could I?

And the answer is, “Yes.”  A thousand times, “Yes.”

I’ve come to realize something: it always happens to someone else.  Until… it doesn’t.  Until it’s you.  Until you’re picking up the phone receiving horrible news.  Or you’re sitting in the doctor’s office hearing what you never imagined you’d hear.  And you cannot control it.  We don’t have control.

God does.

Now, I can’t get into all the theological implications of what that means in one post.  I know we live in a world saturated with sin.  A world that has so often run from God instead of to Him.  And God does not force us to worship Him.  He desires honest, heartfelt worship; not robotic religious “devotion”.

I know that Jesus promised us that we would have trouble in this world.  But he followed it up with some wonderful truth: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  I know that He is no stranger to our trials, temptations and sufferings.  I know that He spoke of storms coming and that the house built on the sand fell, but that the house built upon rock was able to withstand the storms (Matthew 7:24-27).  And Jesus has proven to be my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.  I will not be greatly shaken.

Whatever the coming weeks, months and years bring, I will choose Jesus.  I will take heart, because He has overcome the world.  And I will fix my eyes upon Him, the Author and Finisher of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).  And in Him, and in the truth of His word, I will find hope, strength, rest, peace and joy.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.  Amen. (Romans 11:36)

June 10, 2013

What are we missing out on?

Lately I’ve noticed something in myself.  Some sin in my life.  It was something I swore that God had dealt with right out of the gate when I surrendered my life to Jesus.  But that old sin is poking and prodding and I’ve allowed it to creep up in some rather unexpected ways.  God has begun to convict me of it and to reveal how it has permeated so many areas of my life.  Through this process, I’ve come to more clearly see one of the reasons God deals with those sins in love– it has been robbing me of my joy in Him.

Have you ever come across a portion of scripture and been so filled with joy and gratitude that you just love Jesus all the more?  I love those moments.  His love, His worth, His power– they just become so clear that the only way to respond is with praise and adoration!

There are passages that I believe should be stirring that up in me.  The very word of God should be capturing my affections and drawing me nearer to Christ.  These passages should secure me in my identity in Jesus and remind me of the overwhelming, all-encompassing, mysterious love of God.  And yet… they don’t.  Instead I find myself nitpicking.  I’m trying to figure out what it “means”, when what it means is plain.  It just makes me uncomfortable.

You’d like an example, you say?  Let’s take a look at Ephesians 1:3-12:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

There is so much there to rejoice in.  So what’s the problem, you ask?

The problem is that when I read this passage I see certain “buzz words”: chose (v.4) and predestined (vv.5,11).  While these certainly won’t be a problem for everyone, they have been for me.  Why?  Because immediately my mind thinks: Calvinism and/or Reformed Theology.  Having been heavily influenced by Arminians (see: free will) for much of my early Christian life, I have a tendency to respond poorly to these words instead of rejoicing in them as I ought.  But why? (Hint: here’s where my sin comes in)… I’m fearful of what others think of me.  I’m fearful of being caught up in the “us and them”.  I’m fearful to be labeled as something or someone without even fully knowing or understanding all that lies behind that label.

Labels can be dangerous.  Not just in the church, of course, but I would say especially in the church.  I’ve become so fearful (in my sinful desires to be accepted by my peers) of labels that I’ve disregarded beautiful truths in the Bible!  These aren’t extraneous words that someone added later, and they certainly aren’t heresy.  I may not fully grasp all of the implications behind those words but here is what I know:

I am chosen.  I am predestined.  I am adopted.  BY GOD!

Isn’t that incredible?  That is really good news.  And the craziest part?  Paul says in Ephesians 2:8 that I have been saved by grace through faith– not that of myself, but a gift from God.

When I fear the label and the potential alienation that comes with it, I miss out on joy.  I miss out on the gift.  I elevate the opinion of man and minimize the opinion and truth of God.

No matter where we stand on the spectrum from Calvinism to Arminianism and everywhere in between, we should never shrink back at the incredible truths in the word of God.  May scripture lead us to know God more fully and rejoice in who He is and all that He has done.

Christian, you are chosen, predestined, adopted.  And it is a gift of God, not of yourself.  Rejoice!

January 3, 2013

Our Hope.

I have not blogged in a long while.  That seems to always be the case, and then I show up with a random blog post every now and then.  What I’m about to share with you is something I wrote at the beginning of June and wasn’t sure I’d ever share.  Today is a heavy day, and I feel compelled to share.

For those of you who do not know, at the end of this April, Adam and I learned that we were going to be parents.  This is something that I had dreamed of for as long as I can remember.  We were both so thrilled and couldn’t keep it to ourselves.  We started telling our family immediately, and slowly began letting our friends in on it as well.  It was certainly an exciting time.

Just after Memorial Day weekend, we learned that I had miscarried.  In a lot of ways I’d braced myself for the worst news, and then it came.  No matter how much you brace yourself, it’s a blow you never want to have to take.

Through grieving the loss of our child, I have experienced the peace of God in a very real sense.  It wasn’t just an idea or something I talked about, it was my reality.  Friends and family who have also miscarried shared with me and it helped to feel less alone in my grief.  The following are words I wrote just a few days after my miscarriage, and words that I pray will bless and encourage whoever may be reading this post.

For those of you who are friends and family and who are learning about this through my blog post, I feel the need to apologize.  I’m sorry that this is the method through which you are finding out.  Honestly, it was hard for me at the time to even have to tell anyone, let alone have to tell people who hadn’t even known I was pregnant to begin with.  I so appreciate your being gracious to me in this, and I hope that you can understand.  Thank you in advance.

Today would have been my due date.  Instead of welcoming Baby Robles into the world, I will go back to a normal day at the office.  It is, as Shauna Niequist calls it in her memoir, Bittersweet, “the day of what might have been.”  And yet what is, is.  This is my life, and it is a gift, hard things and all.  God never promised that I would be exempt from suffering.  But (and what a “but” this is), He has promised to be with me always.  He has promised to never leave nor forsake me.  He is near to me now, and for that I am incredibly humbled and thankful.  Only Jesus.  He is our hope.

Dear Family and Friends,

I wanted to take a moment and thank you all for the incredible amount of love and support you have offered Adam and I in the past few days.  They have not been easy, and I’m still not sure how best to process the fact that we will no longer be welcoming our little one into the world at the beginning of the new year.  We were both more excited than we can say, and were so anxious to share that joy with each of you.

I don’t know why God allowed it to happen and I refuse to plague myself with the questions we will never know the answers to this side of heaven.  I don’t pretend to know the mind of God.  So during this time, we are instead choosing to meditate on what we know to be true of God.  We know that God is good, that He is a loving, gracious and unfailing Father.  We know that He promises to work all things together for good for those who love Him.  We know that He is able to do ALL things, including that which we deem impossible.  Yes, we do know that He had every ability needed to allow our baby to grow and be healthy and to come into this world as we expected.  But we also know that God, in his infinite wisdom and love, did not allow for that to happen.  We rejoice in the midst of our suffering because we trust that His plans for us are good, even when they are not easy.

Jesus is not far off.  He is with us.  And beyond that, He is no stranger to our suffering.  God’s word says that Jesus was a man of sorrows, well-acquainted with grief.  We believe and trust that as we grieve, He grieves with us.  I’m reminded of when Lazarus died and Jesus came to his friends who were mourning their dead brother.  The shortest (and one of the most profound) verses in the whole Bible: Jesus wept.  He wept then, and I believe He weeps with us now.  We live in a world that is broken, suffering the effects of sin and death.  But we know that sin and death will not reign forever.  We look forward to the day of Jesus’ return, when the wrongs are put right again, and we reign together with our glorious King.  I, for one, am comforted by the promise that He will wipe every tear from our eyes.  That’s good news for a crier like me!

I believe that God uses all things for our good and His glory.  I believe that, though I may not see it now, this time in our lives is no different.  Our prayer is that God would use this to draw us closer to Himself, to root us more deeply in the truth of His word, and to do the same for each of you.  If any one of us might taste again (or for the first time) the goodness of God in Jesus, then this time and our pain are not in vain.  Our ultimate joy, and the reason for our hope, is Jesus.  We continue to rejoice in Him, and invite you to do the same.

We love you all and pray God’s blessing over each of your lives.  May you know how deeply God has blessed us in you.

Grace and peace,
Brittany and Adam

February 2, 2011

Depraved Indifference.

No words necessary.  Please, just watch:

 

July 28, 2009

God doesn't owe me anything.

I’m going to start by simply saying this:

God is not Santa Claus.  He does not owe me anything.

Actually, scratch the latter.  He owes me something, but it certainly isn’t presents or blessings.  He owes me His wrath.  I have sinned against Him more times than I’m even able to count.

I was listening to a message from Tim Chaddick (Pastor of Reality LA) entitled “Boasting or Believing” (you can get it on iTunes and I really encourage you to do so!)  He was talking about how we feel entitled to receive something from God and that so many people demand their wages from Him.  But it is by God’s grace that He does NOT give us our wages.  The Bible says the wages of sin is DEATH (Romans 6:23).

Not only does God not give us that which we deserve, but He blesses us.  At the end of the day, God does not bless us because we deserve it, He blesses us because of His love and grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.  God help us if we ever attribute it to our own goodness.  Our righteousness is as filthy rags compared to the holiness of God (Isaiah 64:6).  It is only because of Jesus that I’m even worthy to come before Him.  It’s not because of who I am, but because of who Jesus is and the price He paid on the cross.  And because of His sacrifice and His great love, God owes me nothing because He’s already given me everything in Christ.  And it only feels right that I now give Him everything I am (Romans 12:1).