Friday Finds: 4/21/17

Happy Friday, y’all!

I don’t have any typical finds for you this week.  April finally had her baby and it was amazing to watch! From hooves and a nose out to a baby giraffe on the ground in 12 minutes.  It was awesome!

What I want to share today is a quote from one of the books I’m reading right now, Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, by Hannah Anderson.  The chapter I read this morning was so convicting and encouraging.  Here is an excerpt:

“Because our emotions are powerful, it’s tempting to simply shut them down or deny them like the ancient Stoics would. We know the danger that comes when we are led by them, how easily we lash out in anger or manipulate others. But simply controlling our emotions doesn’t make us humble, or healthy, people. Instead, humility calls us to something better. Humility calls us to feel deeply precisely because we know that ‘God is greater than our hearts.’

“Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to care for you when your heart breaks through disappointment or suffering. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to rejoice with you in times of joy and success. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to correct and lead you through doubt and fear. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ He can handle the depth of your emotions. He is not afraid of them, and as you bring them back to Him,  you shouldn’t be afraid of them either. In this sense, humility does not shut down your inner life; humility redeems it.

“So that, with the psalmist, we can finally and confidently proclaim, ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.'”

Humble Roots, p.114

He said, “Good morning”

Matthew 28:1-9 — Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

This morning, I read this familiar passage in a new translation (Holman CSB if you’re wondering). Instead of “Greetings!” (ESV and NIV), in the CSB Jesus approached the women and said, “Good morning!”

The cheerfulness and familiarity of the term struck me in a way “greetings” never did.  The contrast between this entrance and that of the angel makes it all the more notable. The angel appears in all the glory and power of heaven – everyone trembled at the sight.  Then, Jesus quietly meets the women on the road and without a trace of fanfare says, “Good morning!”

The Greek word used here is chairo and it has multiple meanings. It was used to say “Rejoice!” or “Hail!” or even “Peace to you.”  But it was also a familiar — common — greeting in the day.  They used it to say hello and goodbye, like “Be well” or “Ciao”.  It’s a word you would use when you were reuniting with old friends.

He says to the women, “Good morning!”

The greatest understatement of all time.

I think He was saying, “Good morning” in every sense of the word.  “Rejoice! – your sorrow has turned into joy!”  “The peace that transcends all peace is yours today.”  “All is well and all will be well.”  And finally, “Hey, how’ve you been?”

He says hello like nothing had happened, but really everything, had changed. The fate of humanity, the trajectory of the universe, forever altered.

Matthew Henry writes, “The salutation speaks the good-will of Christ to man.”  When Jesus said those words He spoke reconciliation.  I am alive and your sins are now atoned for.  And now He is not ashamed to call us brothers.  He walks up and simply says, “Good morning.”  We have peace with God and fellowship with Jesus Christ.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross…” (Ephesians 2:13-17)

He Speaks in the Night

I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think You’re like

But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night

And You tell me that You’re pleased and that I’m never alone…

I don’t normally wake up in the middle of the night.  While it may take me a while to fall asleep, I usually have no problem staying asleep once it happens.  So I was surprised a couple weeks ago when I awoke around 2am and found myself wide awake.

Realizing I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon, I sat up and reached for my book. In that brief moment, I found myself overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness. It came like a mighty wave and I felt like it would drown me.

I looked out the window and uttered a single word, “Why?”  Why did I feel this way?  I haven’t felt this alone in a long time – this year is one of the first where I feel like I truly belong in this town, in my church… Yes, I long for a family, but I am surrounded by a family of faith and children who run to greet me when I get to church or worship practice or small group.  It has been a gift.

But the truth is there is still a piece that feels alone. Unseen. Unknown. It’s a far deeper longing that the ache I feel for a husband and children of my own.  It’s hard to put into words.  And on this night, my heart was overwhelmed within me.

The why was quickly followed by for how long, O Lord?

Almost immediately, my soul heard His answer.  It wasn’t an audible voice, but the words that filled my mind were ones that were both tender and full of authority.

Let me first tell you what He didn’t say.  He did not give me an expiration date on this feeling. He did not give me the name of my husband or even promise that there is one out there.

He said this: You will never feel this way in heaven.

Feelings of peace washed over me.  I am already fully known, seen, understood. I belong.  I am seated with Christ in the heavenly places.  All of these things are already true.

But for now we see in part.  I have days when I feel like I belong and I am a key part of this fellowship.  There are other days when I think I could disappear and no one would notice.  While I am fully known already, I can only see imperfect glimpses of that reality from time to time.  One day I shall see fully and be able to understand that I am fully known.  There will never be a single moment in eternity when I feel like I don’t fit. That feeling — that fear — will disappear.  It will just be a memory, like suffering, sickness, and death.

I will never feel this way in heaven.

This means for me, this life is as bad as it gets. These feelings have an end date and they will be gone for good.  I rejoice in that hope!

And what a wondrous thing / I can stand to sing / ‘Cause when I fall to my knees You’re the One who pulls me up again / And what a mystery that You notice me / And in a crowd of ten thousand You don’t miss a thing / I am seen and I am known by the King of kings and Lord of lords

 

Songs quoted:
“Good Good Father” (Chris Tomlin)
“You Don’t Miss a Thing” (Bethel Music)

 

When You Realize Your Heart’s Been Changed

Growing up I had this friend who was in every class with me from kindergarten through high school graduation.  Really, I had a frenemy in every class with me – it’s just that the word hadn’t been invented yet.  I didn’t have a difficult childhood but there were times she tried to make it one.  If she was bored or had no “better” people to hang out with, she was kind to me, but the second anyone cooler than me (and I wasn’t anywhere near the top of her list in that department, by the way) cared to show her attention, she kick me to the curb in a hot minute.

I tried, oh I tried, so hard to get her to like me.  Nothing I ever did was good enough, and, for some reason, I still gave her opportunity after opportunity to hurt me.  My high school journals are full of this swinging pendulum.

July 29, 2002: “God, I am having so much trouble loving _______ again. Maybe she is insecure about her volleyball ability but every time I make the slightest mistake she treats me as if I’ve committed an atrocious crime and she can’t trust me anymore!”

Somehow in the midst of it all, I wrote out another prayer, “God, I can’t wait for you to change her heart anymore.  It hurts too much and I can’t bear it. So change mine instead so this doesn’t destroy me.”

I remember so many nights just sobbing in my room over the injustice of it all.  My poor mother – I’m sure many of those times I was overreacting, but she said with me and spoke Truth to me nonetheless.  I distinctly remember her encouraging to walk with grace and dignity, confident that the Lord would deal with her in His time.  She assured me this would happen, whether I witnessed it or not.

Those words, lots of prayer, and the kindness of God got me through the rest of high school  My frenemy didn’t change, but we graduated and went our separate ways and her opinions no longer mattered and she no longer had opportunities to reject and belittle me.

….and now God is dealing with her….

And there is no part of me that takes delight in this fact.

I drove home Friday afternoon for a funeral. My frenemy was there, her face showing the result of sin, brokenness, and devastation.  She has endured more pain in the last 10 years that probably anyone in my graduating class, and was delivered another blow this week.  The circumstances of her life are such that she can’t cleverly hide her past choices and consequences.  She wears her brokenness for all to see.  She’s been humbled.

And there was no part of my heart that felt God had finally given me justice.  I didn’t look at her and think, “Finally – she got what she deserved.” Instead, the only prayer that left my lips was, “No more, Lord.  The one you love is sick. Come heal. Come redeem.  No more.”

In that moment I realized God had indeed answered my prayer.  Granted, I am now about 15 years removed from the worst of the incident, but many of us are able to hold grudges longer than that.  Instead, I realize He has changed my heart.  We’re still in the midst of whatever he’s doing in hers, and I am going to pray every day that the resolution is one of abundant life.

But the miracle I want you to hear today is the work He’s done in me.  In the last fifteen years, He’s taught me the depths of my own sin. He’s humbled me, softened me, and given me a deeper measure of empathy and compassion.  He’s changed my heart and without realizing it, I’ve come to love my enemy.  I only want good for someone who once seemed to enjoy inflicting me with pain, and I appeal to Him to have mercy and redeem.  Because I know if He can change a heart as cold and embittered as mine, there’s nothing he can’t restore.

 

Gratitude and Surrender

From The Valley of Vision [emphasis mine]:

“My God,

Thou has helped me to see, that whatever good be in honour and rejoicing, how good is he who gives them; that blessedness does not lie so much in receiving good from and in thee, but in holding forth thy glory and virtue; that it is an amazing thing to see Deity in a creature, speaking, acting, filling, shining through it; that nothing is good but thee, that I am near good when I am near thee, that to be like thee is a glorious thing: this is my magnet, my attraction.

Thou art all my good in times of peace, my only support in days of trouble, my one sufficiency when life shall end.

Help me to see how good thy will is in all, and even when it crosses mine, teach me to be pleased with it.

Grant me to feel thee in fire, and food and every providence, and to see that thy many gifts and creatures are but thy hands and fingers taking hold of me.

Thou bottomless fountain of all good, I give myself to thee out of love, for all I have or own is thine, my goods, family, church, self, to do with as thou wilt, to honour thyself by me, and by all mine.

It it consistent with thy eternal counselors, the purpose of thy grace, and the great ends of thy glory, then bestow upon me the blessings of thy comforts; If not, let me resign myself to thy wiser determinations.

A Living Faith

“We know, of course, that God and the devil are engaged in battle in the world and that the devil also has a say in death. In the face of death we cannot simply speak in some fatalistic way, ‘God wills it’, but we must juxtapose it with the other reality, ‘God does not will it’. Death reveals that the world is not as it should be but that is stands in need of redemption. Christ alone is the conquering of death. Here the sharp antithesis between ‘God wills it’ and ‘God does not will it’ comes to a head and also finds its resolution. God accedes to that which God does not will, and from now on death itself must therefore serve God. From now on, the ‘God wills it’ encompasses even the ‘God does not will it’. God will the conquering of death through the death of Jesus Christ. Only in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ has death been drawn into God’s power, and it must now serve God’s own aims. It is not some fatalistic surrender but rather a living faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, that is able to cope profoundly with death.

“In life with Jesus Christ, death as a general fate approaching us from without is confronted by death from within, one’s own death, the free death of daily dying with Jesus Christ. Those who live with Christ die daily to their own will. Christ in us gives us over to death so that he can live within us. Thus our inner dying grows to meet that death from without. Christians receive their own death in this way, and in this way our physical death very truly becomes not the end but rather the fulfillment of our life with Jesus Christ. Here we enter into community with the One who at his own death was able to say, ‘It is finished.'”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, quoted in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet Spy by Eric Metaxas, p.384.

A Prayer on Ash Wednesday

My Dear Lord,

I can but tell thee that thou knowest I long for nothing but thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with thy will.

Thou has given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the thing desired.

My soul longs for communion with thee, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride.

How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness!

What a blessedness to be like thee as must as it is possible for a creature to be like its Creator!

Lord, give me more of thy likeness; enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness; engage me to live more for three.

Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do.

Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to three, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with thee, and pant for deliverance from the body of sin, for my heart is wandering and lifeless, and my soul mourns to think it should ever lose sight of its Beloved.

Wrap my life in divine love, and keep my ever desiring thee, always humble and resigned to thy will, more fixed on thyself, that I may be more fitted for doing and suffering.

Taken from The Valley of Vision, “Longings After God”, p.230-231

Friday Finds 2/17/17

And the weeks keep flying by! I actually have a lot to share this week (for a change)

First, as I spent another Valentine’s Day alone, I appreciated this post from Kelly Minter. In all honesty, Valentine’s Day was not a difficult day for me. In fact, some recent events in some friends’ relationships have served to remind me that it’s better to be single than in a terrible situation…

Apparently Fridays are when my sweet tooth kicks in because I am dying to try these Salted Caramel Chocolate Oreo Bars. I may stop by Kroger on the way home and buy one cookie to try to control myself.

And finally, I listened to a podcast this morning that stirred a lot of things in my heart. I am currently frustrated with the lack of depth/research in most Christian books marketed to women and this episode touched on that idea a bit. It also highlighted the many ways in which the internet/social media has provided an even bigger platform for things that are good and true but are not TRUTH. Albert Mohler refers to this as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

You can listen to the podcast here: Is Your Social Media Theology Changing You?

And, if you’re interested, here are a few more articles on the topic.

A Helpful Cartoon Illustrating MTD

Overcoming Empty Optimism with Soul-Stirring Truth – by Kimberly Cummings

Why Orthodoxy Matters by Aimee Byrd

Stop Calling Everything a Bible Study by Jen Wilkin

Only Enough, but Fully Enough

Excerpt from Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray, Chapter 14: Day By Day

“Let each day have its value from your calling to abide in Christ. As its light opens on your waking eyes, accept it on these terms: A day, just one day only, but still a day, given to abide and grow up in Jesus Christ. Whether it be a day of health or sickness, joy or sorrow, rest or work, of struggle or victory, let the chief thought with which you receive it in the morning thanksgiving be this: ‘A day that the Father gave; in it I may, I must become more closely united to Jesus.’ As the Father asks, ‘Can you trust me just for this one day to keep you abiding in Jesus, and Jesus to keep you fruitful?’ you cannot but give the joyful response: ‘I will trust and not be afraid.’…

“…And so each day separately, all the day continually, day by day successively, we abide in Jesus. And the days make up the life: what once appeared too high and too great to attain, is given to the soul that was content to take and use ‘every day his portion’ (Ezra 3:4), as the duty of the day required…We learn to understand God’s reason for daily giving, as He most certainly gives, only enough, but also fully enough, for each day.”

Prepare Him Room, Pt. 5: Behold the Savior

Oh, what innocence 

Sleeping in a manger under dreamless skies

See the newborn King

Trading every glory for a silent night

Here is the promise we have waited for

He will not leave us in the dark

He will bear our weight, He will wear our shame

Come, lift Him high

Behold, the Savior

Jesus Christ, law of love and light

Come, lift Him high

Behold, the Savior

Veiled deity

Praise of every angel, shepherds bowing low

Sweet humility

Mercy as a baby, God in flesh and bone

Here is the promise we have waited for

He will not leave us in the dark

He will bear our weight, He will wear our shame

Come, lift Him high

Behold, the Savior

Jesus Christ, law of love and light

Come, life Him high

Behold the Savior

Here is the promise we have waited for

He will not leave us in the dark

He is the promise we have waited for

The cry of every searching heart