pexels-photo-26695

God Will Not Be Used

Most people know when they are being used. It’s obvious. A friend likes the perks of being around you because you can afford to pay. A family member emotionally manipulates you to get their way. A coworker sticks close because you do the better work.

We dislike being used. It feels slimy. We can see through a person’s attempt to keep us near, right to the heart of their agenda. But God’s ability to look on a person’s heart far surpasses our own. He can clearly discern that what we often want isn’t him, but what he gives us.

The good news? The gospel is for users like you and me. But first, a story.

Continue reading

shutterstock_267395483

Five Reasons You Desperately Need Your Bible

Why is Bible reading important? Most Christians know they should read their Bibles. But often, our Bible reading can feel dry and insignificant. Why is it so important for us to read this book? What’s the urgency of it?

Ruth and Naomi’s story in the Old Testament reveals some urgent truths through illustration about why we need our Bibles right now and every single day. We should not bypass these truths because they are the difference between spiritual life and death; between conviction and apathy; between joy, peace, and strength and discontentment, anxiety, and fear; between knowing some things about Jesus and knowing Jesus intimately.

Here are five reasons that you desperately need your Bible, as illustrated in the book of Ruth.

Continue reading

pexels-photo-29748

Three Ways to Welcome Others as Christ Has Welcomed You

 

Another ministry year has begun. Our small group kicked off last week with good food and discussion around the purpose of our time together. In preparing for the women, and in adding some new women to the group, the idea of “welcoming warmly” has been on my mind.

This morning’s sermon drove these thoughts home, as the pastor asked us to consider how Christ has welcomed us. Christ’s welcome and our ability to welcome go hand in hand:

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)

In what ways has Christ welcomed us, and how does this enable us to “welcome one another”? Whether you’re leading a small group, hosting friends and family, pastoring your flock, or getting to know your neighbors, consider a few ways to welcome, based on how Jesus has welcomed you:

Continue reading

pexels-photo-94581

When God Feels Far Away

It seems to be one of the most common experiences of the Christian life. God feels far away, like he is hiding himself, or at least withholding his reviving presence. We feel destitute, spiritually dry, and desperate for a sense that he is still there, still listening, still caring. But we can’t seem to eke out a prayer because even our prayers feel empty, and they seem to return to us with an echo of defeat.

Where are you, Lord? Can you hear me? Why are you hiding yourself from me? I am your child, so why, Father, does it feel like you are ignoring my cries? How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will I seek you, only to find that the silence remains? I am languishing, O Lord. Do not delay, O my God…

If this sounds like the cry of your heart today, be comforted that you are not experiencing anything new or abnormal. You are in the same boat as your brothers and sisters in the Lord, as your forefathers, as a multitude of other Christians who have gone before you and who now walk beside you. There is some comfort in this reality.

But it cannot fully cradle our fragile hearts because feeling far from God can be a frightening experience.

Continue reading

book-1210030_19201

15 Bible Verses for Every Christian to Memorize

Memorizing God’s Word is a vital, joy-producing discipline of grace for every Christian—but where to begin? With so many thousands of verses to choose from, memorization can feel overwhelming, and we often don’t know where to start.

Why Memorize Bible Verses?

Many of us have asked several clarifying questions about this grace-filled discipline, like:

  • “What’s the point of memorization?”
  • “Why should I take the time and effort to memorize the Bible? Couldn’t I use that time to read it more deeply, or to pray?”
  • “If I can simply open my Bible and read God’s Word, then why should I memorize it?”
  • “If I’m bad at memorizing in general, should I still consider this an important pursuit?”

I’ve asked all of the above and have been deeply convicted by what God himself has to say about the vitality of his Word being sown within the believer’s mind and heart. Here are just three important reasons he gives us to memorize his Word:

Continue reading

chicago-690364_1280

The Nation That Tries to Heal Itself Can Only Destroy Itself

One thing after another. That’s the way it’s felt this past month, as acts of terrorism and violence have escalated and followed on one another’s heels. I find myself waking up each day wondering what the headlines will say, wondering what happened while I was sleeping or moving about daily life…

Violence is starting to feel normal and, though no believer should be surprised at evil’s presence, we are becoming freshly sensitive to its increasing prevalence. If I’m honest, I’m afraid, baffled, ashamed, and sad all at once.

Certain headlines and official statements haven’t helped. News headlines like “Who can heal America?” and remarks from our President read, “Only we can prove that we have the grace and character and the common humanity to end this kind of senseless violence.”

The worldview behind such thinking is even more saddening because we cannot be the solution when we are actually the problem.

Continue reading

prepare-suffering

The Secret to Preparing for Suffering

“It feels like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

I sat on the edge of our bed with tears in my eyes, attempting to describe to my husband the silent, simmering fear that had been plaguing me. I was in perpetual dread of the possibility of getting re-injured and of the new pains that so easily come to those recovering from chronic Lyme disease. After my body had been weakened for years upon years, it would now be left vulnerable to even the slightest stressors. When would the next ache come? When would the other shoe drop?

As physical discomfort seems to be my constant companion, I wrestle with what it looks like to be ready for it, rather than worry about what the next pain will be. So I’ve wondered, What makes the difference between preparing for suffering and anxiously fearing it?

Continue reading

pexels-photo-112989

God Be Glorified in Me

“God Be Glorified in Me” was written for a project created by The Orchard Songwriters, called Give Us Words. I hope you enjoy it!

God Be Glorified in Me

More of You, and less of me
This is my heart’s cry
May You increase, let me decrease
You alone be lifted high
Your name be praised
Your name be praised 

CHORUS
God be glorified in me
In my waking and my sleeping
In my thinking and my speaking
You alone are worthy, Lord
Fix my eyes upon Your greatness
Humble me to Your holiness
O God, be glorified in me.

For Your glory, not my own
My life an offering
Here I kneel before Your throne
Remove the veil, let Your glory be seen
Your name be praised
Your name be praised

CHORUS

(Copyright 2013, Give Us Words by Kristen Wetherell)

glory-not-independence

Glory Not in Your Independence

I love playing the hero.

And when I say “love,” what I mean is that I simply cannot resist the tendency to do so. To appear weak before other people, to admit that I cannot perform certain functions or that I’m at a loss, often seems like the worst kind of failure.

So I pull up my bootstraps, wipe the sweat off my brow, and pretend I’m Miss Independent.

The last time this happened in a grand scale was not my proudest moment. A significant foot injury had landed me in a hard cast for six weeks. The doctor’s instructions were to “take it easy” and elevate my lower half as often as possible.

Somehow, in my unspoken desire for independence I interpreted those instructions as, “Go grocery shopping, even though your foot hurts, and don’t bother to ask for anyone’s help.”

Great idea.

Continue reading

strengthened-by-grace

Be Strengthened by Grace

While I often know that I am weak in the light of God’s strength, it is a very different matter when I taste this reality. It is in these moments that God breaks me of selfish pride and carefully crafted plans that are rooted in the false belief that I somehow have control over my own life. I am challenged with the question, Do you really trust Me, even at the end of your rope?

When my answer wavers, the temptation is to despair for lack of faith. How can I continue to trust him if my faith is so weak in the first place? I wonder. Then, the gospel. It is in the confession of our weakness that our Father humbles us through his reminder that even faith in Christ is created and upheld by him, that salvation comes from the Lord and not through our own efforts.

Continue reading