Friday, October 31


Let’s see if we can catch up with our study using Kay Arthur’s “Lord, Only You Can Change Me.” This is my summary/thoughts/highlights of chapter 4. I’ll try to get chapter 5 done in the next day or two, and see if I can catch us up on chapter 7 before next Thursday (when my group will cover chapter 8).

Meekness. None of the character traits in the beatitudes come naturally, and that includes this one. Part of being meek is in knowing what it really means (it doesn’t mean being a doormat!), and especially in understanding God’s sovereignty. Kay says that meekness “accepts all of God’s ways with us as good… Meekness looks beyond circumstances–no matter how upsetting and hurtful–and bows the knee to the sovereign God.” That’s a tough one. We humans tend to like things to be going well for us; we don’t like painful or upsetting circumstances. But when Jesus instructs us to be meek, he is saying we must trust completely in God, to know that he knows best. The old TV show said, “Father Knows Best” (I love old TV shows!), and our Heavenly Father really does.

Sovereignty means God rules over all. Period. (See Danial 4:34-35) If God is completely in control, however, then what does that mean to free will? Kay address that, too: “To our finite human minds, these twin truths do seem contradictory. If we tried in our wisdom to put them together, we might blow our circuit breakers! That’s why we must always remember one overarching fact: God is incomprehensible. Because God is God, His ways, His character, and His acts are infinitely beyond our own.” I like to know the facts; I do a great amount of research before making any type of big purchase (and even the not-so-big ones like my daughter’s new bicycle). But I’ll never understand all facets of God. If I–and my tiny little brain–could fully understand everything about him, he wouldn’t be God.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are you ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

And can I just say, in regards to the above verse, WHEW! I thank God that His ways are not my ways! If He gave me the reigns over creation for just five minutes, I am quite sure I’d screw just about everything up quite thoroughly, even though I’d have good intentions.

Satan will try his best to make you question God’s goodness, or make you think that He’s too busy doing BIG importantly Godly things to be concerned about the small details of your life. But that’s just not true! God is in the big things and the small things, and he DOES CARE about every detail of your life!

Even when bad things happen–and they will–God is still in control. He sees the big picture that we cannot see or comprehend, and all things will–someday–work for good, but we may not see that happen in our lifetimes here on Earth. God is patient, compassionate, and he is patient even with the most unrepentant sinners he doesn’t want any to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Monday, October 27

Unity in the Church

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:1-6

Grumbling within the church can spread like a cancer throughout the body. But not only that, when we grumble within the hearing of non-believers, we can give them a bad taste of life in the church.

In this passage, we’re called to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” In other words, we must strive to be like Christ. How?

  • Humility: a healthy self-image of our own abilities and inabilities so that we know we will always fall short of perfection, and that is why we need Christ!
  • Gentleness: also translated as meekness (which we’ve been studying in our little Bible study group!). This is not weakness; it is strength under control of the Master.
  • Patience: willingness to persevere no matter what. But we must also be patient with other people.
  • Accepting one another in love: this means not feeling or acting self-righteous!
  • Diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit: unity is something that will never be attained simply by striving for unity itself. Unity is a by-product of growth in Christ, and following God’s will.

Of course, God can accomplish absolutely anything He desires; after all, he is GOD! Ephesians 3:20 tells us that he is able to do far more than we can even imagine, but he chooses to act through us. Isn’t that wonderfully amazing?!

Sunday, October 26

Joy in the midst of trials

In these times of economic difficulties, political issues, and so on, it’s easy to become pessimistic, but if we know Christ, we can keep our focus on the things that really matter.
When Paul wrote Philippians, he was in prison, yet the recurring theme of this little book of the Bible was JOY! How did Paul have such joy while doing through such a difficult time? (You can references to all of these–and more–within the 4 chapters of Philippians.)
  • Paul prayed for others
  • encouraged others
  • focused on God’s point of view
  • saw God at work in his circumstances
  • had confidence in the ultimate outcome
  • remembered that heaven is his real home
  • did not complain or argue
  • knew that everything is rubbish compared to Christ
  • rejoiced
  • didn’t worry, but prayed
  • had peace
  • learned to be content
  • had confidence in the strength God provides

In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul says “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me.” When times of trouble come, will we–like Paul–choose to follow Christ even though it meant all sorts of trials and difficulties? Or will we–like Demas–reject Christ and choose the things of this world?

Wednesday, October 22

The Debt

I just finished reading The Debt by Angela Hunt; this is now one of my new favorite contemporary fiction novels. I want to share a few brief exerpts:

“Unfortunately, even in the church love is often in short supply. Christians who forget that Jesus calls us to give up our rights to ourselves are prone to wanting their own way. And where selfishness abounds, love withers.”

“I’m learning to be extraordinary in ordinary things, to be holy in unpleasant circumstances, surrounded by confirmed sinners.This is where faith sustains me.”

"Another paragraph from Chris’s journal replays in my mind: 'The things that tempt me from following God daily aren’t sinful things,' he wrote. 'They’re good things–duty to my family, to my father’s company, to the people at my church. But if I am going to devote myself to following God, I must be willing to leave the good things behind as I seek the best thing–total submission and obedience.'”

Granted, these are probably not as profound taken out of context, but this book touched my heart. I love a good read, and I love it even more when the Holy Spirit uses a good book to speak to me.

Saturday, October 18


Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God,
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be,
And let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The reference to an Ebenezer stone comes from 1 Samuel 7:12-14, when Samuel set up a stone as a reminder that it was God who had helped them defeat the Philistines. The word Ebenezer–or Even Haazer, in Hebrew–comes from the words for “help” and “stone”, so it’s literally a “stone of help.” An Ebenezer is anything that reminds us of God’s faithfulness.

Even though I know that I have come this far only by God’s help, my heart is still prone to wander. I pray that God would bind me to himself, fetter me so I cannot stray. He sought me and saved me, and I never want to forget that.

Thursday, October 16

Studying the Beatitudes - Week 3

“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.”
~ Matthew 5:4 ~

My summary and thoughts on week three of my group Bible study using Kay Arthur’s “Lord, Only You Can Change Me”…

Seeing our own sins as God sees them will most certainly bring mourning. There is a big difference being remorseful and being repentant. Remorse is being sorry we got caught; repentance brings with it a change of heart so that we turn away from that sin. Kay calls this “worldly sorrow” vs. “godly sorrow.” A few years ago, I learned to pray that God would give me godly sorrow about my sins, so that I could see them the saw he saw them. It was a scary thing to do, and I began reluctantly. Since that time, God has opened my eyes to show me sins that I didn’t even know were sins, and so show me deeper depths of some of my past sins. (Just be careful not to let this become Satan reminding us of sins God has already forgiven us for!) Realizing the depth of our sins is a great thing to happen to us. In 2 Corinthians 7:6-13, Paul speaks of these two kind of sorrow. Kay says, “Godly sorrow causes us to run to the arms of God, weeping, confessing our sin. And He meets us in that moment, just as He has promised.” Our hearts ought to hurt in realizing how we’ve hurt God. As King David said, all our sins are really against God. Taking that to heart will really change a person’s perspective. No more rationalizing about the reasons why it wasn’t our fault, or the other person did such-and-such first… God has never sinned against us, and it is God we hurt when we sin. We hurt ourselves, too, for sin is what puts distance between ourselves and God.

What about sin within the church? Yes, we are called to love and to forgive, but we often cross the line into enabling sinners to keep on sinning when we look the other way. Kay points out that “…God cannot forgive what we will not confess. And we cannot experience His comfort as long as we walk in rebellion.” Sometimes God calls us to speak the hard truth in love in order to help another believer stay on the narrow path God has before him. Verses Kay quotes on this topic: 1 Corinthians 5 and Matthew 18:15-20.

This week’s study taught me to pray that God would break my heart with the things that break His heart, as I mentioned a few posts ago. Do we weep about the sins of the world, or do we joke and laugh them? This makes me think of television shows, movies, etc–the things that mainstream media seem to think worthy topics for entertainment purposes. Do we laugh along with the world and think lightly of lust, adultery, and the like? Think about how heartbroken Jesus must’ve been as he walked the streets during his time in an earthly body, seeing such pain and heartache and sin all around. “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried…” (Isaiah 53)

Wednesday, October 15

Day of Remembrance

Today is the National Day of Remembrance for pregnancy and infant loss. This includes all babies who have died because of miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or any other infant death. Please take a moment to pray for all those who have experienced through this tragedy. If you’d like to have some names to pray for specifically, Angie at Bring the Rain has literally hundreds of women who have already shared their stories over on her blog today. Or you can visit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep for more stories from familes who have experience this kind of loss.

If you are one of those families, I hope you will find comfort in knowing that many, many people are praying for you today. And please remember that God cares so deeply that he even knows how many tears you’ve cried:

“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.”
~ Psalm 56:8 ~

Monday, October 13

Studying the Beatitudes - Week 2

This is a summary of our second week of the study our group is doing: “Lord, Only You Can Change Me” by Kay Arthur. (I’m a little behind on updating!) Much of this is just my own thoughts on the book we’re studying, and some things are paraphrased, but I’ll use quotations when specifically quoting the author.

What does it take to make us happy? I’m pretty sure you’ve either known or been the person who always has a “I’ll be happy if/when…” Fill in the blank with just about anything: …my husband/wife would change; …I get these bills paid off, …I had a better job; …I had that new house; …I lived in the country/city. The list could go on and on.

But these things are all so temporary, so prone to change! If we’re basing happiness on circumstances, it will NEVER last. The world says that happiness is a feeling, or emotion. But what the world calls happiness is really a craving for ”a sense of God’s approval”, which comes from being right with God. My thoughts go back to my sweet friend Nita, who has peace and real joy despite the most tragic of circumstances. Though she doesn’t always feel the emotion of happiness in dealing with the grief of losing a child, she does have the true inner joy in her relationship with her heavenly Father. (She has recently started her own blog, and I know her words will bless many.)

“Blessedness is found in who we are… it comes from being poor in spirit, mourning, being meek, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, being merciful, being pure in heart, being peacemakers, and even from being persecuted.” These things aren’t qualities that we have naturally, of our own human power. Far from it! We must be poor in spirit and realize our great need for God, and realize just how flawed we truly are. Apart from God, we will never be happy. “To be poor in spirit is to abandon all pretense and to acknowledge your TOTAL dependence upon God…”

Kay’s testimony has many similarities to my own. She grew up as a Christian, but didn’t come to a real relationship with Christ until adulthood, after she realized the depth of her own sinfulness and finally surrendered to Christ and began to truly follow him. She–and I–had to become broken before we let Christ take control of our lives. I love this verse she quotes, because it echoes my own sentiments:

“…I found distress and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I beseech Thee, save my life!”
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate.
The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For Thou hast rescued my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling.”
Psalm 116:3-8

Something that really spoke to me in this week’s study was what Kay Arthur said about the way we tend to evangelise. Our society tends to think more about whether or not God pleases us, rather than whether or not we please Him. I think of people in my own life who have rejected God because they do not see their own great need. Their hearts are stone. But it’s easy even for believers to fall into the trap of thinking that God’s pretty lucky to have us working for Him. ”Poverty of spirit is… a whole way of life… continually realizing that in and of yourself, you could never please God [or] meet His standards of righteousness. Only by God’s gift of His Spirit and by walking in the Spirit can you please Him.” A few great verses to contemplate in this chapter: Romans 10:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 10:17-25; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Isaiah 6:1-8.

Every one of our thoughts, words, and actions should be directed by the Holy Spirit, who is our comforter, helper, teacher, and guide. (Eph 1:13-14; John 14:16.26; John 16:13) The only real wisdom is the kind that comes from God. We’ve got to let God be in control of every part of our lives.

Thursday, October 9

Break My Heart

Sometimes a song sticks in my head just because it’s a catchy tune, but sometimes I think God puts in there, over and over, to remind me of something He’s been teaching me. The last few weeks, this song keeps popping back in my head, particularly these lines:
All those people going somewhere,
Why have I never cared?
Give me your eyes for just one second,
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.
(I hope you’ll take a minute to watch the video & listen to the words.)

How many times do we just keep our heads in the sand, oblivious to the need all around us? Every day I pray that God will use me to touch someone in some way, that He’ll use me to show His love to someone. But only recently have I begun to pray that my heart would break for all the things that break God’s heart. It feels safer to live in my own little insulated cocoon, but it’s only when I allow myself to feel other’s pain that I’ll be motivated to do anything about it. It’s only then that I’ll let truly God use me any way He sees fit.

There’s a t-shirt I saw once that said, “Be the moon; reflect the Son.” In the same way that the moon, which is incapable of producing any light of it’s own, reflects the great power and light of the sun, I am incapable of anything good of my own power. I want to be the moon; I want to reflect Christ.