Thursday, February 7, 2013

10,000 Reasons (Plus Some)

So excited my favorite band covered one of my favorite worship songs!

Relax and enjoy...and picture yourself around a campfire with ukuleles and bagpipes and cool Irish people. :o)

The Story of the Little Red Bible

He'd been in the established church all his life, but he never understood God until this moment...

Picture a young law student in 16th century Germany poking his way through his local library.  His eyes are taken with hundreds of books, each with it's own story to tell....

Suddenly he spies a hint of red among the blacks and browns and grays surrounding him.  Upon closer examination, he discovers it to be a little book...but not just any book.  It turns out to be a Bible...but not just a few of the chapters favored by the local priest that he had heard read countless times.  It's the whole thing.  And it's lying in his feverish grasp, waiting for him to devour it.

Thus began his quest to truly understand this familiar yet mysterious Book.  Hours and hours were spent mining it's contents.  The young man found himself enthralled with stories and ideas he'd never heard before, and slowly but surely the truths he was reading worked themselves into the very fabric of his being. 

In his quest for more of this truth, this young man opted out of law school and became a monk.  Seeing his unique passion and potential, the head of the monastery directed him to pursue a doctorate in theology.  As he began his course of study, his little red Bible was taken from him.  It was not thought appropriate for monks studying theology to have unsupervised access to the Scriptures .

But it was way too late for this eager student.  In his devotion to his treasured possession, he had memorized all the Psalms and most of the New Testament.  He was so familiar with the Old Testament that he was able to outline the form and content of nearly every his head!

With so much Truth swirling around his head and heart, the young man was primed to identify serious errors contained in his "theology" books.  He found himself disturbed at how the Word he knew and loved had been shamelessly twisted and molded to fit the beliefs and customs of his generation.  The young monk began to dream of what could be if his world were to embrace the Truths of Scripture and reject the lies of what was considered right and true. 

But this man wasn't just a dreamer...he was a doer.  The fire burning in his soul couldn't be contained in just himself, or his monastery, or his church, or his nation.  Before the world knew what was going on, this fire became a raging inferno of Truth that blazed through souls so long held captive to Satan's schemes.

Did it start when this monk nailed the words written on his soul on the front door of his local church?  Or was it when he debated some of the leading minds in this conspiracy of darkness?  Maybe it was when he translated the words of that little red Book into the heart language of his people. 

No.  These are merely the evidences of a deeper work, the fruit of a Seed planted long before.

It started with a little red Book and a hungry...and ultimately satisfied.... soul!

This young man's power wasn't in his intelligence or his ability to communicate, but in those hidden years of searching and studying and embracing the words of Truth. 

So when God went looking for an instrument to use bring the Words of freedom to his captive children, it's no surprise that he chose Martin Luther.   *

I love this story, because it shows me that God isn't looking for the strong and fearless to accomplish His work.  He just wants simple hearts placed in His hands to be made strong and fearless through the power of His Truth, and then He uses them as His messengers.

If God came looking for another reformer, would He find you?  Would He find me?  Are you so entwined in and surrendered to His Truth that He would choose you?

Because our God is looking!  His eyes are running throughout the earth searching for hearts that are completely His....hearts willing to be broken and molded. 

 Historian D’Aubigne said about that little red Bible, “In that Bible the Reformation lay hid.”

Reformations begin when the Truth is embraced and lived out!

* A big thank you to my lovely friend Grace, from whom I first heard this amazing story. :o)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Joy (The Real Thing)

This post was on the Desiring God blog awhile back, and I was so tremendously blessed by it.  I thought I'd share it with you all today. :o)

Five Promises for Your Bible Reading and Prayer
Steve Fuller

Do you consistently seek God in the word and prayer? Or have you tried again and again, become discouraged, and given up? We are deep enough into January that this is the story for many us. Resolutions have began to stall. And even if you do get time with God, is it life-giving? Or is it just going through the motions, reading an assigned passage, praying through your list, and being relieved when it’s over?

It's not too late to make some good changes. So if you are struggling to spend time with God, here are five promises that can help:

1. God Is My Exceeding Joy

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me … Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy. (Psalm 43:3–4)

God promises to be your exceeding joy, not because of what he gives, but because of who he is. When we behold and worship him we have infinitely more joy than we have in anything else.

So why would we rather sleep in than seek God? It’s because we’re not trusting that God is our exceeding joy. So what can we do?

Don’t just grit your teeth and try harder. Do what the psalmist says — ask God to send you his light (the heart-enlightening work of the Spirit) and his truth (the Word of God). Then pray over promises describing God as your joy, like Psalm 43:3–4; Psalm 16:11; Matthew 13:44; and 1 Peter 1:8.

As you do, God will send his light and truth so you see and feel that he really is your exceeding joy. Then, when you see that infinite joy is found in him, you’ll want to spend time with him.

2. Hearing God’s Word Will Increase My Faith

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Many mornings I’m tempted not to seek God because my faith feels weak. But that’s like not going to the doctor because my body feels sick. Just like doctors heal sick bodies, so God strengthens weak faith, as we hear his word.

Weak faith is like a weak battery. But God’s word is a battery charger. So when your faith is weak, open his word, and plug in your weak faith. God promises that as you do that, he will recharge you.

3. God’s Word Is the Only Perfect Source of Guidance

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

The world is like a pitch-black cave in which we can’t see anything. But God has given us the high-powered flashlight of his word.

So if we head into our day without pondering God’s word, it’s like stumbling through a cave without turning on the flashlight.

But starting the day in God’s Word is like turning on the flashlight, so we can see the crevice to avoid, the rock to duck under, the turn we want to take. Don't head into your day without turning on the flashlight.

4. When You Pray, God Will Answer

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

One reason we don’t pray is because we believe Satan’s lie that prayer does nothing. But that’s not what Jesus taught (Matthew 7:7).

Jesus promises that every time we pray, God will answer. He will either do exactly what we ask, or something even better, which he would not have done had we not prayed.

So if I start the day praying about my heart, marriage, children, work, and ministry, then God will do things in my heart, marriage, children, work, and ministry that he would not have done had I not prayed. Trust Jesus’ promise about prayer — and pray.

5. This Is the One Thing Which Will Not Be Taken Away

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)

Martha had busied herself in the kitchen, while Mary sat at Jesus’s feet, listening to his word. And Jesus said Mary had made the right choice, because she had chosen the one thing which could not be taken from her.

Everything else can be taken from you. But time with Jesus will never be taken from you, because the heart you nurture for Jesus now will bring you increased joy in him forever. And ever. And ever.

So if you haven’t spent time with God, and you are tempted with the newspaper, Facebook, or a phone call, stop. Ask yourself: what will bring me joy that will never be taken away?

Then set everything else aside to join Mary at Jesus’s feet, listening to his word.

Tomorrow Morning

The alarm goes off.

I’m tired. Maybe just a little more sleep. But wait. . .

  • God is inviting me to exceeding joy.
  • His word will strengthen my weak faith.
  • His word will shine light on the darkness around me.
  • When I pray, God will work.
  • This is the one thing that can’t be taken from me.

I think I’ll get up.

Pretty good, huh? :o)

When you're tempted to pursue satisfaction in something other than Jesus, ask yourself:

"What will bring me joy that will never be taken away?"

And then go and run after that Him!

Embrace Your Target

 “God makes us an arrow with the purpose of shooting us in His strategic moments. Each person is uniquely shaped by God as an arrow aimed at a specific target.
We must embrace the target God created us for." 
- Mike Bickle

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Greater Still

These words have been floating through my head and heart.  It seems like every time I think I have a handle on who my God is, He laughs out loud and blows me away with yet another revelation of His awesomeness.  I have so much left to fact, eternity alone won't be enough time for me to fully grasp the greatness of my God.  It's so cool to worship a God that can't be exaggerated!

Right now I'm reading Romans 1-8 for 30 days, every day.  I've only been going for 6 days now, but already God is showing me so much of who He is and what He has done for me through the cross.  So much doctrine and so many gifts are packed into those 8 chapters that I'm absolutely positive that 30 days....a whole lifetime....could never be enough time to absorb it all.  I'm blown away every day reading how God loved me and chose me before I was ever thought of...of the freedom and victory He has purchased for me to enjoy... of His perfect wisdom in designing this whole, amazing plan of redemption.  I so want to grasp it all, but "it is high, I cannot attain it." 

So I've been praying that God would give me eyes to see His greatness.  I've learned the hard way that I can stare Truth in the face indefinitely and not see the beauty and freedom found in it.  But I've also learned that my God specializes in opening blind eyes.  Only He can reveal Himself to a longing soul, and that's something He delights to do!

I'm praying that the depths of God's character that He reveals to me will expose and overpower any doubts and anxieties in my heart.  It's so easy to become introspective and focus on you...your failings, your inadequacies, your concerns...and forget all about the surpassing greatness of Christ power to the believing soul.  Soaking my mind and heart in these truths are serving to make any doubting and worrying out to be utterly ridiculous...which they are!  This is who I am, who Christ has made me to be.

A few years ago I saw how pathetic and inadequate my own view of God was that I found myself wishing that all knowledge I did have of Him could be obliterated and replaced.  I longed to learn Him all over again, because what I did know was so small.  I'll always be thankful  for that day when God broke apart my castle of sand and began to show me how to build a fortress with His Truth!

Because my God  is greater still!  The universe cannot contain His glory, and the petty little doubts in my heart cannot restrain who He is. 

We could never, ever fully comprehend how utterly amazing He is, and if we ever think we're starting to, He blows us away.

I want spend my life being blow away continually!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Islam: The Challenge of Frontier Missions

Islam intrigues me.

Muslims are amazing people, really.  I respect them highly.  Their devotion to Allah puts most Western Christians' commitment to Christ to shame.  They gladly give their lives for their faith while the majority of Christ-followers are seeking to preserve theirs in every way possible. 

Muslims pursue their agenda with reckless abandon.  Nothing stands in their way.  If the cost of victory is their own life, they gladly pay it.  While their infidel opponents shrink from martyrdom, they embrace it as the highest honor.

I'll admit I've learned much from Muslims.  I'm been convicted and inspired to examine the depth of my devotion to Isa - Jesus Christ. Since I know the Truth, how much more fearless should I be in my commitment to Him!  Muslims pursue devotion to Allah out of slavish fear and a desire to secure a place in Paradise...yet they have no assurance that they will gain what they seek.  I know I have eternal life.  I don't serve Jesus out of fear, but out of love.  I press on to make this calling my own, because Christ has made me His own.

So while I admire the adherents of Islam, I also deeply pity them.  My heart is broken when I think that all their toil and sacrifice will get them nowhere.  They are headed to hell no matter what they do...and so many of them don't even know that.

Lately, I've been reading Dalton Thomas's book Unto Death (which is fabulous, by the way).  In his chapter "Martyrdom and Islam", he gives some sobering statistics:

- The population of the Muslim world is 1,537,185,000.

- Within that population, of 1.5+ billion people are 2,840 different unreached people groups.

- 87.4% of those 1.5+ billion people have yet to hear the Gospel.

- Or, to say it another way, 1,343,613,000 Muslims have yet to hear the name of Jesus.

Read those statistics again.  They aren't just numbers.  They are eternal souls.

You would think that in the face of such overwhelming need the Church of Jesus Christ would be rising up to reach Muslims for Christ.  But in reality, this really isn't the case.  Look at what Joshua Lingel has to say:

"Only one percent of all Christian missionaries go to do direct ministry amongst Muslims (1,800 missionaries total).   That's one missionary for every 550,000 Muslims!  For every Mormon you have ever met, there are 130 Muslims in the world.  That's equivalent to having about five churches and 150 pastors for all of North America.  Said differently, it would be like having the option to go to church in Texas (if you're fortunate to be that close) or say Boston perhaps, and three other locations in the U.S. on any given Sunday morning."

When I read this, I could hardly believe it.  The stark reality that most Muslims have never even had a chance to reject the Gospel sunk in with a crushing weight. 

I hope these facts break your heart.  They should!  These are fellow creations of God that are dying without Christ.  But I hope more than anything that they urge you to pray.

Jesus tells us that the harvest is great and the laborers are few.  And so He tells us to pray earnestly that He would send forth laborers into the fields of the world.  So I encourage you to pray towards that end, and also that God would open the eyes of Muslims to see who He is and how much they need Him.

And lastly, ask the show you if YOU might be one of the laborers He is calling. 

Imagine the joy of looking into a Muslim's eyes and seeing the them light up with Gospel wakefulness for the first time.

There could be no greater privilege!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Live in His Smiles

"Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief! Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in his almighty arms. . . .
". . . Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him. Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh."

- Robert Murray McCheyne

Be filled with Him!