29 November 2015

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1:26-38)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

27 November 2015

This 'n' That

Looks delicious. (Source)
Well, I hope all of my US readers enjoyed a restful and blessed Thanksgiving yesterday. Are you full yet? Or do you need just one more piece of pie? After all, pie is by default a very healthy food. Fruit filling? Check. Fruit is healthy. Whipped cream? Check. Healthy bones need calcium. Perfectly flaky pie crust? Check. Because such a nutritious dish deserves a proper and pretty presentation. And let's face it, a little flour and Crisco never hurt anyone, no matter what those wacky, go-gluten-free-before-your-insides-explode blogs tell you.

And now it's on to shopping…right? Oh dear, Black Friday. I do not understand Black Friday. Perhaps more specifically, I do not understand those individuals who actually venture into stores on Black Friday. Why are we shopping for more stuff? I get it, we all need material things to survive, and sometimes we need big items, like appliances or electronics, and these are undoubtedly cheapest this time of year. But these can all also be purchased online. Please, don't let this happen to you. Black Friday truly is a horrible, awful commentary on mankind. Total depravity never shines more brightly than in the electronics department at Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving, I guess.
No. No, no, no, no, no.

My suggestion for today? The holidays are a busy time, so why not pause now to deliberately nourish your spiritual life? Many of us spent yesterday filling our bellies, but what priority do we give to the nourishment of our soul? Let the world act like the world, but let us be different, especially in this season when the "love of stuff" reigns around us. Let us love Christ and put that on clear display, for His glory, not ours.

So today, perhaps you might want to relax with your Bible. Or listen to a few good sermons, or read a good theologically sound book. And of course, I fully expect that you'll want to sit down with a cup of coffee or cocoa and a piece of leftover pie while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

26 November 2015

Worthy Is the Lamb

Thankful for family. Thankful for friends. Thankful for a warm house, clothing, food, and a job that provides the income for each. Thankful for safety and good health. Thankful for the birds that sing a good morning song outside the window each day. Thankful for beautiful sunrises and faithfully vivid sunsets. Thankful for a purring kitty. Thankful for memories both pleasant and painful. Thankful for lessons learned and trials overcome. Thankful for each breath, each tear, each laugh, each smile. Thankful for an abundance of brothers and sisters who share in the inheritance of Christ. Thankful for a local church home where the Word of God is faithfully and boldly proclaimed every week.

Yes, there is much for which to give thanks this day and everyday. The list of transient, tangible blessings could go on and on for pages. And while these are all amazing, gracious, beautifully wonderful gifts from a loving and generous God, ultimately, there is only one gift worthy of our wholehearted, overflowing thanks.

22 November 2015

Equipping Eve: A Blessed State of Affairs

The idea of "blessing" has been hijacked by the prosperity movement, but the reality is that those who have been saved are blessed by God. But how is this blessing determined? How is it measured? What does it look like? Is blessing a state of mind, or a state of affairs?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources used in this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: What Happens at Small Group

Sunday Morning Praise

Thanks to God

20 November 2015

This 'n' That

Look, I get it: you like to be comfortable. Hey, I like to be comfortable! It's one of the reasons I'm thankful my workplace has a casual dress policy. Let's face it, we ladies especially are going to be more productive if we aren't tottering and freezing in heels and hose, respectively.

I'm also thankful that I live in a town that isn't, for lack of a more respectable term, stuck-up. Been there, done that. I've lived in those places where you feel as though your hair and makeup must be impeccable before you can even run to the store for that one forgotten dinner ingredient, lest someone glance at you sideways with that judgmental, fashionista stare. Yes, I like comfort.

I do not
There is a line, however, that can be crossed. And that line begins with pajama pants…in the grocery store. Yes…pajama pants. I do not understand. Can you not at least grab a pair of sweatpants? Do I really need to see you in your fleece jammies with your favorite childhood character splattered across them? Have you no dignity at all? Yes, there is a point where one can be too casual and too comfortable, and jammie pants at the grocery store is that point.

And if we're going to take away a lame sermon illustration from this little discussion, let it be this: do not allow your time in the Word and in prayer become too casual or comfortable. Do not let it be an afterthought, and do not forget the One whose Word you are reading and the One whose throne you are approaching.

All of that being said, there is no required dress code for your weekly round-up. So get comfy and take some time to relax as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

19 November 2015

Vessels of Mercy

Like every potter he first of all makes the outlines in the clay. You may have seen a man at work executing designs in glass. Perhaps at the very first moment you may form a rough guess of what the whole thing is to be, though the ornament and elaboration which constitute the main part of the beauty you cannot yet discover.

Certain it is, that the moment a man begins to be prepared for heaven by the grace of God in his soul, you may see the outlines of what he is to be, although it is but the bare outlines. Shall I tell you what those outlines are? There is first of all in him—faith in Christ; a simple, child-like trust in him that did hang upon the tree. There is next in him another mark of the potter's hand—that is love to Christ—a love that is strong as death, though sometimes it seems to be feeble as a worm. There is in him also a hope that makes not ashamed, and a joy which makes glad his countenance. It is but the bare outline, as I have said, for the glory which excels is not there. The vase is only in its embryo, but yet sufficiently developed to give prophecy of its finished form; as for the pictures that shall be inlaid, as for all the many colors that shall be used on it, you cannot guess as yet, nor could you, unless you could climb to the potter's seat and see the plan upon which he looks as the clay revolves upon the wheel.

Dear brothers and sisters, have you anything in you as yet of the great outlines? Can you say in truth, "I believe on the Lord Jesus?" Fear not then, my hearer, you are a vessel of mercy.

— Charles Spurgeon
And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:23-24)
Further Reading
The Veil is Not Rolled Up, but Rent
Resting in the Immutability of God
Christ is All

13 November 2015

This 'n' That

Is it weird that I get excited when the new Menards ad arrives each week? Am I the only one who thinks that Menards is the greatest home improvement store of them all?

I love the smell of sawdust and I loved
watching my grandfather in his workshop.
It's true, this may seem like an odd store for a woman—a woman blogger, no less—to enjoy, but I have a good reason. Menards smells like sawdust. My grandfather's workshop smelled like sawdust. My grandfather loved Menards. For me, Menards = memories of grandpa.

I think of my grandfather a lot at this time of the year. With Veteran's Day, I remember his curious and interesting stories of life as a Navy "Seabee." With hunting season in full swing, I remember the many years growing up and making molasses taffy for him to take along for his hunting trips. As December approaches, and as I anticipate the joy-filled season of Christmas, a somber cloud looms as I recall that December 21 many years ago, the day my grandfather died. I miss my grandpa. I look forward to seeing him again one day.

The moral of the story? Do not mock my love of Menards. Also, cherish the memories you have with loved ones, but do not cling too tightly to those people. Our lives here truly are but a vapor. Like the grass that withers, we too will one day die. And yet, while this body dies, our soul does not. Whether we have been brought to repentance and faith in Christ, or whether we spend this earthly life at war with God, we will live forever. If you have been saved, do you long to see your Savior, or do you think to yourself, "I still want to see/do/experience ______ in this life"? This life is not forever, and it could end far more abruptly than you anticipate. Are you ready to meet Christ? Please, dear Christian, pry your fingers from this world, and pray that God might help you place your hope in and focus on the One who is, who was, and who is to come, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So...while I highly recommend you do some Christmas shopping at Menards, I don't recommend that you traipse off to the store without first enjoying your week in review (kind of):

06 November 2015

This 'n' That

I have to admit, there are a lot of weeks that I struggle to compile this post. Time constraints aside, these days I simply am finding less and less of interest on the internet. I don't think I'm alone in saying that many of us are weary by now of all the discernment blogs and their tendency to act like the proverbial dog with a bone. Yes, we get it, it is a bad idea to listen to so-and-so. Let's move on, shall we? As for so-called "Christian" media, well…one look at The Christian Post tells you that it's simply a waste of time. Not to mention that, for some reason, every time I visit The Christian Post website, my computer basically freezes and remains utterly useless until I can finally close out of the page. It's a sign. Clearly that website is possessed and is trying to possess my computer. Thankfully, my electronics are safeguarded against such demonic possession by means of Osteen-anointed holy water (and on that note, this article from 15 years ago is mildly hilarious).

I couldn't have staged this
photo better myself.
And forget about finding anything of import on Facebook. This week I posted on Facebook and Twitter: "Honest question for all of us: Does your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram timeline scream, "Hey, look at ME!"? If so, it might be time to reassess." It's true, isn't it? Nothing feeds our narcissism like dozens of people "liking" a picture of us, our children, or our latest achievement. But…that topic is a soapbox for another time...

But don't worry, I've not yet acquired the opinion that the internet is downright evil. It is, after all, my primary forum, so I best not bite the hand that feeds me (even though it doesn't actually feed me). Further, there are bits and pieces of interest floating about, as evidenced by this list each Friday. And let's face it, it just wouldn't be Friday without it, would it? So as you welcome autumn into your home, why not grab a piece of pie, a cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa, and sit back to enjoy your week in review (kind of):