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Worship Wednesday: Thoughts on Lent

One reason why Melissa and I have not been writing Worship Wednesday posts is because it had become routine, and we both at times posted something just to say it without really caring about what was said. Today’s post is a flashback of sorts. Just imagine it’s Wednesday. ;)

This year is my first time to participate in Lent. Growing up, Lent was not practiced in our faith family, though some of my friends participated in it in the past. I was never drawn to it, though. Until this year.

This year, after reading Ann Voskamp’s pre-Lent post, I knew it was something that I needed to do. The night before Ash Wednesday, I found myself wondering what to give up, deciding on sodas, a huge weakness of mine especially since I stopped eating dairy and soy. And then I realized there was something else: I needed to pay more attention to what God is telling me. Listening. Not just hearing, but doing. So I’m giving something up and taking something on.

Here’s the thing, though: I thought I was giving up sodas to show my devotion to God. I thought I was listening to show my devotion to God. But I wasn’t.

I gave up sodas, and a week later I caught a cold. Which I normally use sodas to break up. Caffeine and carbonation are a beautiful thing. But not this time. I fought it. Hard. And through the fighting it, I started listening more.

Again, I thought I was showing my devotion. I thought wrong. Through the listening, I found several songs that have lifted my spirit. And through them, I found audio recordings of George Muller’s thoughts on prayer. His experiences have not only encouraged me but also others- and always at the perfect time.

The most recent change that Lent has brought this year? I am working harder on putting Romans 1 to memory. I had decided to put it to memory this year, but I did not have a very good plan. So now? I’m keeping the first 10 verses at the forefront of my memory, reciting them over and over at times when I would have previously looked at my phone. Over and over, the words are changing the ways that I think of myself and my “job” as a mom. They are changing me.

So here, just over halfway through Lent, I’m realizing that it’s not about me showing my devotion but about God showing me just how desperately I need Him. And when Easter morning rises this year, I will be celebrating more than just the end of Lent. I will be celebrating the end of the burden of the Law, the end of the guilt and the shame that comes from not being able to keep it, and I will be celebrating with more enthusiasm in many years the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Do you participate in Lent? What are you giving up/taking on?

 

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Worship Wednesday: Made New

I’ve mentioned a bit on Twitter and the Facebook page about my eight year old daughter breaking her leg in August. She wore a full leg cast for several weeks, and then a short leg cast for another three weeks. There were some very hard, trying moments as we figured out a new normal with a wheelchair, and the challenges that come with a member of the family needing lots of extra care.

Our family leaves Friday to go to Florida for a two week training with Wycliffe, and we have been praying since my daughter broke her leg that the cast would be able to come off before our trip. She had an appointment yesterday, and I literally cried tears of joy when my husband sent me the text letting me know that the cast was coming off! Unfortunately, last night and today have not gone quite the way I expected. After months of being in a cast, my daughter is convinced that she’s forgotten how to walk. Her muscles are stiff, her ankle is weak, and she is scared. She also doesn’t trust my husband and I when we remind her that her leg is healed. That she is allowed to walk on it. That the doctor told us she was fine, and just needed to walk on it slowly and build her strength back up.

After months of longing for freedom from the wheelchair and cast, my daughter is crying out for the familiarity they offer. They may have been bondage, but they had become normal, and freedom is scary, and walking forward in it is hard.

To say that I have been frustrated would be putting things far to mildly. I have offered calm encouragement, but I have also gritted my teeth, rolled my eyes, and felt like a complete failure as a parent for my daughter’s horrible attitude about things. To see her hobbling around hopping, insisting on using crutches and refusing to use the leg that we have so long prayed to be healed, feels like a mockery and insult to the gift she’s been given.

But tonight at church, we were talking about sin and man, and we read these verses:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

As a believer in Christ, my body of sin has been brought to “nothing” by Jesus’ work on the cross, in order that I might “walk in newness of life.” But how often do I walk as though I am still enslaved to sin? Defeated? Scared? Clinging to various “crutches”, like my pride, attempting to be good enough or do enough in my own strength and power, hobbling around, limp? When God has given me not just a new leg, but a new body? What a mockery I make of Jesus abundant gift on the cross when I fail to present myself “to God as those who have been brought from death to life….”

I was immensely humbled and so thankful for such a gracious Father who not only purchased me and made me new, but loves me despite my failings, and who deals with me patiently and lovingly! I pray that I will walk in the freedom He has given me, and that I will be able to model His grace with my daughter as she goes through the next several days.

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Worship Wednesday: Man-Made Rules

“And so the LORD says, ‘These people say they are Mine. They honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. And their worship of Me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.’” Isaiah 29:13 (NLT)

“Man-made rules learned by rote.” I’ve been in church since the Sunday after I was born. I don’t say that to brag. It’s just the way it is. My parents brought me to church every single Sunday unless I was sick, which was rare. We even went to church when we were on vacation. Because of this, I learned a lot of man-made rules before I learned anything about a relationship with God.

Even though I started searching the Bible as a teenager and re-imaging what I had been taught, there are still traditions that I struggle with. I don’t have a problem refuting the “don’t run or eat or drink in God’s house” mentality, but many traditions do cloud my heart. When I fail at them, I feel like I’ve failed with God. One example is reading my Bible daily. Some days, it just doesn’t happen, and even though I have spent time in the presence of God, I still feel like a failure because I haven’t read His Word. At other times, I have sung worship songs and not really worshiped God through them.

While the man-made rules I’ve learned aren’t as extensive as the ones the Israelite priests were expecting others to follow, they still keep me from truly worshiping God. Sometimes it’s the shame of not doing what I “should.” Sometimes it’s because I get so caught up in the things I “should be” doing that I fail to do the things that lead me to a closer walk with my Lord.

I honor Him with my lips, but my heart is far from Him.

Micah 6:8 is such an awesome reminder of what God requires of us.

“No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (NLT)

May I walk ever-closer and ever-lower with Him!

 

 

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