Tag Archives: Gospel

Singing in the Fire

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As previously mentioned, Susannah Spurgeon is my new bff. 

Here’s a snippet from her biography Free Grace and Dying Love (which I cannot recommend more highly). It’s long but one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever read. Wherever you are and whatever season you’re in, I hope it ministers to you too.

At the close of a very dark and gloomy day I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on, and though all was bright within my cosy little room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the hand which I knew held mine and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked, ‘Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’ These fretful questions were quickly answered, and though in a strange language, no interpreter was needed for the conscious whisper of my own heart.

For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of an oak log burning on the hearth. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window. ‘What can it be?’ I said to my companion, who was dozing in the firelight; ‘surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night!’ We listened, and again heard the faint plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke for a moment our undisguised wonder. Presently my friend exclaimed, ‘It comes from the log on the fire!!’ and we soon ascertained that her surprised assertion was correct. The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart. Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all went well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold; but he had grown old since then and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness and the vehement heat of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice.

Oh! thought I, when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed are we purified and our God is glorified! Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log–cold, hard and insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds were it not for the fire which kindles round us, and releases tender notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will. As I mused the fire burned and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set before me. Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard, apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.

-Susannah Spurgeon

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How to Suffer Missionally

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Broken relationships.
Cancer.
Sickness.
Death.
Loss.
Tragedy.
Grief.
Loneliness.

What if Scripture tells us God is a divine multitasker and that this hurt doesn’t only affect us? What if we aren’t suffering because God is cruel but because He’s equipping us to help others in ways we couldn’t without it?

We all suffer. What separates Christ-followers from the world is the way we respond. And with hearts and ears anchored in the Gospel, we can hear the sermon suffering preaches.

Suffering tells us we’re all groaning for full redemption and that we’re not alone because no life is untouched by difficulty. The poison of sin has slithered into the DNA of every human and with it comes suffering—the proof of our brokenness.

Perhaps God walks us down roads filled with potholes and trials and grief so we can learn the streets and one day drive others down them, helping them to navigate the curves to get to the finish line.

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2017: Leaning in Because Jesus is Better

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My “Jesus is Better” bracelet is tarnished and worn.

I think that’s appropriate.

It’s had to be repaired four times in the last month.

I think that’s also appropriate, because Jesus really is better than anything, including a piece of jewelry designed to remind me of that truth.

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Joy is Here

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(This is in NLT, not Amplified. I’m sorry.)

This is a hard season for many.

I feel deeply the weight and heaviness of sin, brokenness, and the overall hurt of living in a fallen body in a fallen world with other fallen humans.

But the pain isn’t meaningless.
The weight won’t crush us.
The fire won’t burn us.
The flood won’t drown us.
The despair won’t destroy us.
The enemy doesn’t have the final say.

Our champion reigns.
Hope is here.
Glory is coming.
Joy is to be had.
Freedom is ours.
Victory is here.

Fix your gaze.
The true and better Aslan is on the move.

“You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him,
and stand in awe of Him, all you offspring of Israel!
For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,
and He has not hidden His face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to Him.”
-Psalm 22:23-24

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A Thanksgiving Prayer from Valley of Vision

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O Source of all good,

What shall I render to Thee for the gift of gifts,
Thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
His self-emptying incomprehensible,
His infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
He came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like Him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to Him He draws near on
wings of grace,
to raise me to Himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
He united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to Him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
He came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in Him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace Him with undying faith,
exulting that He is mine and I am His.

In Him Thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give no more.

-The Gift of Gifts, Valley of Vision

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God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

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“It’s all too much,” I cried into my coffee. “I can’t do it. I’m not enough.”

Sitting in that quiet coffee shop, reality hit with force.

Every day is filled with one reminder after another that I am not sufficient. I am not enough for my small group girls; I am not enough for my best friend; I am not enough for my parents; I am not enough for counseling others; I am not enough to teach the Word of God; I am not enough for the church; I am not enough to write helpfully; I am not enough to consider marriage or parenting or anything else God calls me to.

I am not enough.

Do you feel it too?

Do you feel strained by the seemingly endless litany of tasks before you, the weight of burdens in community and ministry, and the demand to do and be it all without cracking under pressure?

During those times I’ve heard well-meaning people say, “Yeah, what you’re going through is hard, but God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

The problem with that and Mother Teresa’s famous quote—“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much”—is that it’s not Scriptural.

And anything meant to be a comfort becomes a confine when it isn’t based on Scripture.

What if Scripture actually says God intentionally gives us more than we can handle?

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Redeeming the Home

Two years ago, 26 year old me was sitting in her favorite booth in Panera when she journaled the following prayer:

Lord, I really want my own house. I want to make a home and get to know my neighbors and have get togethers to reach them with love and the Gospel. I want to have a library and a cute kitchen and slumber parties with my small group girls. I want my home to be a place where people are well loved, well fed, and well treasured. A place where people feel safe, accepted, welcomed, and warm. Where they receive cookies, gratitude, encouragement, love, and the Gospel. Where they can come to relax, to be quiet, to talk, to praise, to read, to cry, to laugh, to sing.

I want a home.
A home not just for me but for my girls,
other women,
our church,
visiting missionaries,
the community.

Lord, in Your time, would You give me a home? A semi-nice one, not for luxury but so more people can squeeze in and be squeezed by Love?

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Abiding in the Flames

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How do you surrender when you want a certain outcome?

How do you submit when you don’t understand?
How do you lean in when you want to run?
How do you push on when you want to fall back?
How do you fight when you have no strength?
How do you abide in the flames?

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Sovereign Over Us

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God’s character.

It’s what comes under attack in every battle, trial, and temptation.
And in those same battles, trials, and temptations, it’s our chief weapon.

I’m learning that in the heat of battle, when my mind wants to go into a spin cycle of what-ifs or when I’m tempted to either defend myself or run in self-protection, what I need most is to preach to myself (or have others preach to me) God’s character. I need to remember who is on the throne (spoiler: not me) and designing every circumstance of my life according to His exact (and good) specifications.

The following song has helped over the last few days with directing my heart “to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

Maybe it will help direct yours there too.

Praise for a God who is working in our waiting, teaching us to trust beyond our understanding, and displaying His flawless faithfulness at every turn.

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When God Slays Us

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I look around me and see brokenness.

Broken relationships. Broken hearts. Broken bodies. Broken souls.

I look in me and see brokenness. I am a fractured soul in a fractured world. And I’m learning that this brokenness is preaching a sermon.

Brokenness reveals our need for a Savior and for Someone to make us whole.
Brokenness reveals we are not sufficient to make it through this life on our own.
Brokenness reveals we are not the masters of our own destiny, because we can’t even get ourselves out of suffering.
Brokenness confronts our source of identity and awakens our hearts to new ways of depending on the Great Sovereign.
Brokenness challenges our worship.

What will we do with our brokenness? What will we do when God justly afflicts us? What will we do when He pierces our hearts?

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