19 June 2018

Happy Birthday to Two Faithful Preachers

Though a version of this post was originally published five years ago, it is undeniably still relevant today. Birthdays don't change, after all!

Today, two prominent preachers in the history of the Church celebrate their earthly birthdays. One of them has long gone to glory with his Savior, while the other faithfully continues his call and commission to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).

15 June 2018

This 'n' That

Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.

Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent. Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal.
Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits. Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:1-14)
Saul was impatient, putting it mildly, and it cost him dearly.

I don't know about you, but I can be fairly impatient at times, about big and small things. My impatience has never cost me so much as it did Saul, but it's unbecoming nonetheless. And while I believe it is possible for us to be antsy for a resolution without actively sinning, ultimately, our impatience betrays a bigger issue, namely lack of trust in God. Once we are at this point, we are most certainly in disobedience.

God is sovereign over all things. This means that, not only are circumstances ordained by Him, so also is the timing of those circumstances. Since God is perfect and good, His timing is perfect and good and far better than whatever we could design (cf. Isaiah 55:9). Better still, His outcomes are always for the good of His children and for His glory, no matter whether they bring sorrow or joy (both of which are temporary anyway). So, when I find myself growing impatient, I find myself subsequently turning to Christ (see how He's already worked that out for my good and His glory?), for it is when my eyes are turned away from myself and my circumstances and are instead fixed on Him that I find that peace and joy prevail, regardless of the outcome, or lack thereof, of my situation.

Still, I know that most of you have probably been growing a little impatient for your weekly roundup (who wouldn't?!), so I hope that you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

08 June 2018

This 'n' That

In the context of a conversation this week, I found myself saying, "that's because God's faithfulness isn't dependent on our obedience." Then I found myself saying silently, "Amen, and thank you, Lord."

Later that same day, I was listening to a sermon on Esther, and was struck by the demonstration of God's faithfulness in spite of Israel's disobedience . Indeed, is that not a recurring theme throughout the Old Testament? And what grace to know that He will still fulfill His promises to His people!

God's faithfulness astounds me. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can—and does—look back on her life and see His guiding and protecting hand in even the most minor, seemingly insignificant situations. I'm also confident that I'm not alone when I confess that reflection on this reality is deeply convicting. Why should God be so faithful to me when I fail Him so consistently? Friends, this is our amazing, loving, kind, generous, forgiving, faithful God. What a privilege it is to serve Him. His lovingkindness certainly spurs our desire to grow in sanctification so that we may serve Him well. And just think, someday we will no longer have to grieve over our lack of faithfulness, or our lack of trust in His, when we are with Him forever!

I hope that brings some encouraging thoughts to fill your day and take you into your weekend as you set out to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

02 June 2018

Equipping Eve: Who Sanctifies?


Sanctification is a lifelong process that begins at the moment of salvation and will not end until we are called home to glory. As new creatures in Christ, renewed and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we are called to live lives of holiness. As Christians, we must be active in our sanctification, seeking to please God, choose righteousness, and mortify sin. But we are not called to do this alone. Christ does not save us and then leave us to pursue and achieve sanctification on our own. Let us never forget the precious gift of the Holy Spirit, who indwells us and enables us to pursue the things of Christ and live in a way that honors Him!

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

01 June 2018

This 'n' That

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to take a walk in the evening after work. It's a nice way to calm down and clear my mind of the nonsense that has consumed the day. Yesterday, I was looking forward to an early walk. I sat down to tie up some loose ends at work before logging off, and noticed after just a few minutes that the room was suddenly much darker. Suddenly, the whole house was creaking. I looked outside and my neighbor's tree was practically bent over sideways. Yes, a storm was a brewin'!

Grabbing my phone, I opened the weather app (what did we do before technology?). Sure, I knew a storm was coming, but would there be a tornado risk? Thankfully, there was only a severe storm warning issued, which was certainly bad enough considering the high winds and risk of hail. "Change of plans," I thought, "no walk tonight."

The sky had darkened so quickly and the winds had appeared out of nowhere, that it served as such a vivid reminder of God's sovereignty over all things. "Who is this, that even the wind obeys Him?" the disciples asked (Matthew 8:27). Yes, even the stormy wind fulfills His word (Psalm 148:8).

Even more amazing is that this powerful God is our Father, if indeed we belong to Him. So the One who commands the wind, hail, and lightning, is also the One to whom we cry out in times of distress, worry, and even joy. The reality of our God's greatness never ceases to leave me awestruck. It makes me thankful for the storms, both literal and figurative, for I know that they are only one more way that He may—and will—display His glory.

Well, the storm is nowhere to be seen now, so it seems like a good time to relax and enjoy the week in review (kind of):

28 May 2018

Memorial Poppies


May 25 was National Poppy Day here in the US. Perhaps you noticed some veterans in your grocery store this weekend, handing out little paper poppies. If you didn't, you either did not notice them, or they simply weren't there because, as has happened in some communities, they weren't allowed to hand out poppies. I fear both of these scenarios are due to a lack of knowledge of and appreciation for our history.

As a child, I remember approaching the veterans and receiving a little red poppy. I'm sure my mother had given me a dollar to put in their bucket as well, but I loved that little poppy and looked forward to seeing those men and their poppies every year. As an adult, in one city where I lived, the veterans would stand on the street corners with their poppies. I would pull up on my way to work and get my annual poppy.

The poppy means something, and the fact that we overlook this day, and that our children are completely ignorant of it, is a  terribly sad commentary.

25 May 2018

This 'n' That

The Lord is teaching me patience. He's also teaching me, in interesting ways, how it is that He answers prayer. I'll reserve the details for another time (perhaps), but suffice it to say that, I can unhesitatingly say that if you pray for Him to show you what He's doing, He will. Oh, He may not show you the entire picture, and what He makes clear may still cause things to look a bit muddy to our finite eyes, but He does still answer. Bit by bit, we gain clarity—in His time, not ours.

I was a patient child. An extremely patient child, in fact. I often feel as though I used up all my patience before the age of 12, because I certainly struggle to demonstrate it as an adult! And then I am reminded, and convicted, of the fact that patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and so I pray for more. Unfortunately, God doesn't answer that prayer by *poof!* magically granting me patience. No, instead He ordains circumstances that require patience and, thankfully, has granted me the enabling power of His Holy Spirit to help me through those situations. What a good and patient Father we have! That He would help us grow, even if by baby steps (or so it seems sometimes), to look more and more like His Son, our Savior.

Well, I hope you haven't been impatient for this holiday weekend, but it is finally here, so before you fire up the barbecue, take a few moments to first enjoy your week in review (kind of):