Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Summer Reading List

Crossing some titles off as I make my way through the list...really enjoying Where God Meets Man right now. What are you reading this summer?

Helper by Design - Elyse Fitpatrick I am reading this with a friend and using it as a daily devotion to discuss when we get together weekly
Give Them Grace - Elyse Fitzpatrick
Spiritual Depression - Martyn Lloyd-Jones

How to Get a Job...by Me, the Boss- Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap Because I've heard it is sweet and hilarious and will make me laugh...
Tempted and Tried - Russell D. Moore
Counsel from the Cross - Elyse Fitzpatrick I have already started this and there is nothing more gospel centered, encouraging and comforting than this!
Ecclesiastes - Bible Because my Pastor will be preaching through Ecclesiastes this fall
Where God Meets Man - Gerhard Forde
Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life - Paul Zahl
Not the Way It's Supposed to Be - Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
Counterfeit Gods - Tim Keller

Comforts From The Cross - Elyse Fitzpatrick Because, well, the gospel is comforting

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Father's Love

I am making my way through Elyse Fitzpatrick's book entitled Give Them Grace.
I read this quote this morning:
"The knowledge of God's Father-love is the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in the school of prayer." Andrew Murray
As I contemplated God's love as compared to a father's love I began to struggle a bit. I understand that an earthly father's love for his children will always be imperfect even when poured out in the most lavish of ways. I know that the best father on earth is a mere shadow - a vague reality of the perfection of our heavenly Father's love for us. But in my attempt to grasp this kind of love I reviewed in my mind my growing up years. I quickly reminded myself of the countless ways I did not experience love from my father. I rehearsed the difficulties, challenges and resentment of growing up in a home that lacked love and affection. I recounted the long years of estrangement with my father and in that moment I asked God to show me how I could get a glimpse of His love.

It was then that my heart was moved to recall all the times my father reached out to me while we were estranged. My hardened and hurt heart was closed off, not receptive. Despite my unwillingness to open my heart again, my father pursued me. Letters and cards never stopped coming. I would open them, read them and then tuck them away - and they kept coming...His kindness to me and his love for me made it possible to reconcile - I might even say that those loving actions all those years warmed my heart and compelled my response of love and forgiveness and repentance. In those moments this morning, God showed me His relentless pursuit, His kindness and love, His faithfulness in the midst of my faithlessness. It was not His cold, distant, conditional love that wooed my heart - rather it was His warm, near, unconditional never giving up love for me that won my heart. I have always believed that my experience with my earthly father could never reveal to me the love of my Heavenly Father - I was wrong. My childhood was not perfect - a far cry from perfect actually. But, today I can thank my earthly father (who passed away three years ago) for pursuing me unconditionally - even when I wanted to run the other way.

God demonstrated His perfect love for me through the imperfections of my earthly father. I believe that's called redemption.

God really is in the process of making all things new...
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Revelation 21:1-5

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Grandma was 100...

Seven months ago my family celebrated my grandma's 100th birthday!

This past weekend my family celebrated her life - she died June 6, 2011 - at 100.

I was honored to be asked to give a eulogy for her...something I have never done before. While I was honored, I admit I was a bit intimidated at the thought. How do I summarize in a few brief moments what my grandma meant to me, all of my memories of her and all the the things I loved about her? I prayed that God would give me the right words and above all that those who were there would walk away knowing just how much she was loved. Here are some thoughts I shared at her funeral...

Although grandma was 100 and you could say that she has lived a long life and it is probably “her time”…I think that we just thought she would live forever. I mean, after all – she has lived through 6 wars (WW1, WW2, Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, War on Terror) , 23 presidencies, and the great depression. In her time plastic was formed, a man walked on the moon and the personal computer was invented. She has overcome great hardship, personal loss and battled cancer. She had lived to see the passing of her son, son-in-law and a great-grandchild. Although she appeared meek and mild, she had great strength and perseverance. But that day did come, and she did die, and it was shocking to us because we had come to count on the fact that God was persevering grandma and she would always be with us.

The childhood memories I cherish most are the hot summer afternoons when she would greet my brothers and me on her back porch with a platter piled high with ice cold watermelon; rainy afternoons spent rediscovering every piece of jewelry she kept in her wonderful white jewelry box atop her dresser; and racing my brothers to the front door of her home to see who could get to the green footstool first...the top of the footstool came off and stored inside were all kinds of treasures for us - lincoln logs, coloring books and crayons. We never knew when there would be something new inside that footstool to delight our hearts!

In recent years, we had the great privilege of having her stay with us for weeks at a time. I remember long afternoon conversations - she would sit at my kitchen counter while I would make dinner. She loved to discuss anything - politics, religion, education - but most of all her family! She looked forward to taking drives – just running errands was fine with her. Our trips always included an ice cream cone or McDonald’s fries! She enjoyed sitting on our patio by the pool and “resting her eyes”. Our two dogs, Sash and Cesar loved grandma too! On those afternoons when a snack was in order we would throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave while the dogs waited. She would stand at the counter and put one piece in her mouth and when no one was looking (or so she thought) she would throw a piece over her shoulder as the dogs scrambled to scoop it up!

A most important conversation with my grandma took place several years ago while she was staying with us. One afternoon we were talking about the things of God – with tears in her eyes she spoke of grace and I knew she understood the kindness of the Lord that forgives and loves.

Ephesians 2:4-9
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Chris…For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I think grandma understood this amazing good news: "that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us".

I love you grandma and miss you already...

Mr. Law died...

As hard as I tried, I couldn't be perfect. How about you? Has the treadmill of trying to be everything to everyone worn you out yet? It wore me out...day after day, the slave master of perfection beckoned me, come. "Don't you know there are others all around you who are perfect?" he would say. "Don't you see how their lives are perfectly ordered and balanced? Don't you admire their well behaved children and adoring spouse? If you just got it together, you could have that too. If you could just keep all the rules things would run a lot more smoothly."

As hopelessness gripped my heart and I despaired of ever "having it all together" I fell. I was crushed beneath the weight. It was too heavy. I couldn't carry it.
But, I was never meant too...

Enter grace.

"I know you're not perfect. I know you are worn out from trying harder. I know you don't have it all together. I know it's too heavy." ~ Jesus

Keeping the rules and obeying the law could never save me. But the irony is they are good. If I had never tried to keep the rules, I would never have been crushed. I would never have experienced grace in a bigger and brighter way. I delight these days to confess my imperfection. To admit I'm a mess and I don't have it all together. I don't have all the answers...I never really did. I am understanding more and more that Mr. Law died...Ray Ortlund explains:
Mr. Law died – fortunately. And we remarried, this time to Mr. Grace. Our new husband, Jesus, comes home every evening and the house is a mess, the children are being naughty, dinner is burning on the stove, and we have even had other men in the house during the day. Still, he sweeps us into his arms and says, “I love you, I chose you, I died for you, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And our hearts melt. We don’t understand such love. We expect him to judge us, but he treats us so well.