Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Yesterday was the birthday of my beautiful bride-to-be! If I were to count the ways way I am so thankful for her I could write a book that spans volumes! She is precious both in my eyes in God's. Laura is a woman who makes it a priority to daily spend time with God and would much rather her soul shaped by Him instead of spending time shaping her hair or doing makeup. Don't get me wrong, hair, makeup and clothing are priorities, but not the highest priority and she does know how to make herself look gorgeous with those means, but she knows that isn't her source of beauty.
I am grateful to God that I get to lead a care group with Laura. I know there is no other lady that I would want with me to lead others to embrace the cross more in their daily lives. Laura is an example to other ladies of what accountability looks like and passionately pursuing after God! One of the many things that I am thankful to God for Laura about is how she continually ask me good questions to draw me out about my sin and the condition of my heart.
When I think of Proverbs 31 I think of Laura. Since August 27th of last year I have been learning to safely trust her and find great gain as I've had her by my side. Because of God's grace in her life Laura is able to wear strength and honor as her clothing. Instead of spending her summer working she made herself a student of her mom cultivating the attributes and characteristics of Godly wife and mother so that when we have our own home she is able to tend to it well for God's glory. Laura is a woman that fears God and many women delight to fellowship with her. God has definitely gifted Laura with a heart of compassion that is seen in so many ways, whether it's practically caring for others or caring for the souls of other ladies. It is amazing to see how she is always available to be there for others.
I continually found myself in awe that God would you give you to me to honor, cherish and protect. I pray that you know our Father's love for you! Next to my Savior's sacrifice for my sin, you are the greatest gift that He's given me! I pray that every day I can help you to see God's grace in your life and feel encouraged by all the great things He is doing in you!
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Psalm 139 is beautiful but I wonder what made you
select it as opposed to another -- say for example
Psalm 23 or 138?
Thanks for asking!
This verse is a huge part of my testimony. Growing up was not easy for me because I had limitations that could only be fixed by extensive surgery....30 surgeries to be exact. It was very hard as a child to face the physical suffering, but sometimes the emotional suffering was even harder. Ever since I was a little girl, when I would ask my Mom why God made me the way he did and when I would find myself broken hearted as a child being teased (because I was different) My mom would open her bible to Psalm 139....
When I see Psalm 139 I am reminded:
That God knows me deeply, more deeply then I know myself...and he knows all my thoughts and questions
I am also reminded that he is always near to me
But the portions of this chapter that really speak to me are vs 11-18
This reminds me that God knit me together in my mothers womb....he knows all the details of my body, and he says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Doctors would say that my "birth defects" occurred because of a mismatched chromosome (basically there is no genetic explanation for it).... a mistake in science...but God's word says there was NO mistake! His word says that He saw my unformed body, it was not hidden from Him. God wrote all of my days before even one of them began, he knew exactly how I would suffer and he knew exactly how he would comfort me as well.
So to make a long story short: for the first 16 years of my life I spent a majority of my time in the hospital, there was nothing easy about that for a child physically or emotionally. But the great news is that for many years God used this verse to give me hope that he had a plan for my limitations...and one day he would use them for His glory and my good. And you know what? He has!
Now I don't know all of the many reasons God had in mind when he created me the way He did, but it's amazing to see how kindly he has used all of the suffering growing up to enable me to: be a better nurse, be more compassionate, and to change my perspective on beauty. And Lord willing one day he will use my past suffering to help me to be a good wife...and loving mother.
And now, even neater (!) I always wondered growing up..."what kind of man will I marry?" ....and one of my favorite parts of the story yet....is that God has given me your son to marry....one of the most tender, compassionate, godly men I know! And God has given Jeffrey eyes to see beauty in me that only God can explain.
So I hope this wasn't too much info for ya!! I guess Psalm 139 just is a fresh reminder for me (much needed) of God's goodness in creating me just the way I am. And dont' worry if you have any questions please ask them ;) I like to talk about it often because it helps me to keep thanking God for all he has done and is still doing
Friday, August 25, 2006
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
If this is the God that I serve, the One that has rescued me delights in me and desires to commune with me then why I don't I always make me highest priority to spend time with Him and seek my highest joy in Him.
It only seems logical that in any situaton I would go to the Wonderful Counselor, find my strength in the Mighty God and gain peace and comfort from the Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I know I've posted that quote before, but in light of last nights discussion on the doctrine of sin the magnitude of this quote really hit me. Issac shared a really good definition of sin from J.C. Ryle's "Holiness," that basically states any thought, action, or word that is not in conformity with God's law is sin. This knowledge of a person's own sinfulness can lead them either to despair because they never measure up or an attitude that stops pursuing holiness. The answer our sinful state is the cross.
When we see our sin we need to come to the cross. At the cross sinful man is allowed to commune with a holy God. If I see my sin and then instantly go to the cross then my whole life is lived under the cross. There is a law inside of me that wars against the spirit that wants to do good, because of this law I don't do the good I desire and therefore I see my need even more for the cross. There is never a moment that I am not a sinner in desperate of need of His merciful and abundant grace!
As Mark Lauterbach states, "if I am not confessing sin I am confessing sinlessness. And we know that does not happen." Thankfully when I confess I glory in my God knowing that He is faithful to forgive and faithful to provide power to grow.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin
abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so
grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our
Lord. (Romans 5:20-21).
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world
you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Because of the cross peace has been redefined. We have peace with God, therefore because our greatest need has been taken care of we can have peace in all situations. His wrath was burning hot against because of our sin against Him, but because Christ blood that covers us we are recipients of His all sufficient grace and mercy. Christ blood is sufficient to cover us because He has power to overcome death and any trial or temptation in this world.
Placing our trust in Christ blood allows us to have a new type of peace. A peace that is indefinable because it surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).One of my favorite stories in the book of Judges is in chapter six when Gideon build an altar to God and calls it “The LORD is peace.” How reassuring is it that the God we serve is peace. In moments of anxiety we can lift our eyes up to Him and see the peace that comes from Calvary.
I spent most of last night with my friend Nate whose car had gotten stolen earlier in the day. For some people this might be a blessing in disguise, but Nate has a brand new Nissan Xterra. Also he is a teacher and yesterday was his first back and when his car got stolen there were many things that he needed for the school year. There were practical concerns that he had about some of his school being gone and starting the school year. His demeanor was upbeat and of good cheer as he mentioned to me the opportunity this could provide for witnessing. It was very refreshing to hear him talk about how even though he didn’t understand the situation; he knew God would work it for His good. What an amazing perspective. That’s just a great testimony of grace! If you get a chance, please pray for Nate that the police would find his car and that He would continue to trust God.
Monday, August 21, 2006
"He that watereth shall be watered also himself."—Proverbs 11:25.It's neat to think about the new adenture of leading this group. One of the tendencies that I have is to think about all that I have to do to faithfully lead this group. Yes, there are imperatives for leadership, but the refreshing thing is God's promise and His ability to grow me through the ups and downs. Right now, being a new leader, if I am to become a better leader, I must lead. There is no better training ground, but being bold and trusting God. As I exercise the little ability I have, God will work in me to increase my ability.
We are here taught the great lesson, that to get, we must give; that to accumulate, we must scatter; that to make ourselves happy, we must make others happy; and that in order to become spiritually vigorous, we must seek the spiritual good of others. In watering others, we are ourselves watered. How? Our efforts to be useful, bring out our powers for usefulness. We have latent talents and dormant faculties, which are brought to light by exercise.
As I was meditating on God's promise to grow me in leadership, new application for the verse walk by faith and not by sight came to mind. In any leadership context, whether it's this new group or leading Laura, disappointment or failure should not be the overriding emotion when plans don't go my way. Instead, I can be filled with hope because I know that God is watering me and training me for the future. Even though I may not see the present fruit at the moment I can be confident that God is working during those times and that He hasn't left me, but He is preparing me for the future. My faith isn't in the results that I can see, but in the God that I serve. Therefore, I can be confident that as I pour myself out, He will indeed water me and replenish me.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Monday, August 14, 2006
The Ellis Family is growing! The next time a family portrait is taken another baby will be with us! Sam and Prisicila are at the hospital and baby Gianna should be on her way into the world any time now!
Sam and Pri we are all praying for you and rejoicing with you on your new arrival!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
O God of love, you have established marriage for the welfare and happiness of mankind. Yours was the plan, and only with you can we work it out with joy. You have said, “it is not good for a man to live alone . . . I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now our joys are doubled, since the happiness of one is the happiness of the other; our burdens are halved, since, when we share them, we divide the load. Bless this husband. Bless him as provider for the needs of those he loves. Sustain him in all his struggles in the contest of life. May his strength be her protection, his character be her joy and assurance. May he so live that she may find in him the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs. Bless this loving wife. Give her a tenderness that makes her great . . . a deep sense of understanding and a great faith in You. Give her that inner beauty of soul that never fades, eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age. May she so live that he may be pleased always to reverence and adore her.
May they never make the mistake of merely living for each other. Teach them that marriage is not living for each other. It is two uniting and joining hands to serve You, the living God. Give them a great spiritual purpose in life. may the seek first the kingdom that is yours, and its righteousness, so that all other things may be added unto them. Loving you best, they shall love each other all the more. And faithful unto You, faithful unto each other they will remain.
May they not expect that perfection of each other that belongs alone to You. May they minimize each other’s weaknesses, be swift to praise and magnify each other’s strengths and beauty, and see each other through a lover’s kind and patient eyes. Give them a little something to forgive each day, that they may grow in the grace of long-suffering and love. And may they be forbearing with each other’s omissions and commissions as You are with theirs. Make such assignments to them according to Your will as will bless them and develop their character as they walk together. Give them enough tears to keep them tender, enough hurts to keep them humane, enough of failure to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours, and enough success to make them sure they belong to You. May they never take each other’s love for granted, but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims: “Out of all this world, you have chosen me!” Then when life is done, and the sun is setting, may they be found, then as now, still hand in hand, still so proud, thanking you so very much for each other. May they serve You happily, faithfully, together, until at least one shall lay the other in Your arms. This we ask through Jesus Christ, great lover of souls. Amen.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being
sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14).
One of the things that I love about our church is the emphasis on the cross. One of our discussions was about qualifications for leadership. Something they emphasized as they gave us the assignment before the retreat and during the actual discussion is to realize that we are all sinners worthy of God’s wrath, but because of the cross we’ve been made right with God. What freedom we have to not feel condemned. What a joy to realize the criticism of the cross, that we will never measure up to God’s standard, but God made Himself man, so that proper substitution can be made for our weakness and failure.
I read a wonderful quote a few weeks back that said, “For every one look at your sin take ten looks at Christ.” There are two wonderful truths that can be realized when we view our sin in light of the cross. First, by realizing that we are justified sinners then the glorious truth comes to life that all sin is forgiven sin. Secondly, every sin that we will ever struggle with has been defeated at Calvary. We are no longer tied and bound to our sins, but instead we have power and strength in Christ to overcome our sins. What great confidence can we have that through the cross there is power for change!
This is a great truth for personal growth as well as leading a care group. This truth probably most resonates with me in light of marriage and preparing for marriage. This view of sin in light of justification totally alters my perception of my relationship with Laura. She is a sinner chosen and loved by God. God has granted her forgiveness and mercy at the cross, so no matter how I perceive her sin against me I have no option but to forgive her. This forgiveness is a total and complete forgiveness. God has redeemed all of her, He doesn’t say “I’ll love this aspect of Laura, but when she is really sinful then my love is no more.” Because of the cross God loves Laura unconditionally, and because of the cross I can unconditionally love Laura no matter the circumstance.
My motivation to encourage Laura in her ability to grow in godliness isn’t because of her own strength or ability. Instead, I can encourage Laura’s growth because of the cross and everything she needs to grow was accomplished at Calvary. When Laura is discouraged about her sin, instead of encouraging her about who she is, I can encourage her about who her God is and the growth He has already produced in her. On top of that, I never have to be downtrodden or upset because of where Laura is at spiritually, instead I can be patient because of the faithfulness of God and knowing that He will complete the good work He has started in her.
Monday, August 07, 2006
"Thy mercy, 0 LORD, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the
clouds (Psalm 36:5)." Far above all finite comprehension is the unchanging
faithfulness of God. Everything about God is great, vast, incomparable. He never forgets, never fails, never falters, never forfeits His word. (A.W. Pink)
One of the greatest reasons that I have for confidence when I pray is the fact that I know that God will be faithful. He is a faithful God and His character is never changing (Deuteronomy 7:9). What great hope I have in realizing that God has never made a promise He hasn’t kept. He is a rock and a stronghold, in the trials and storms of life He is always the same, there is never a moment when He is not trustworthy. I feel so much more comfortable being able to trust God's faithfulness instead of my own ability or strength!
Hold fast to the truth of the cross and realize that if God would give His own Son to bear His wrath for our sake, then how can He not be faithful to give us all other blessings (Romans 8:32). Know that if at the cross there is grace for our greatest needs, then God will also provide grace for our lesser needs as well. If we can walk by faith for our salvation, let us also walk by faith for the practical because He is faithful in all things.
The fruit of being firmly rooted in the faithfulness of God is a quieted and peaceful soul. When hope is placed in God we can be like a weaned child that is fully assured of their mother’s protection and care (Psalm 130 & 131). Once our trust is placed in divine providence we can be certain that although God goodness is hidden behind a veil, He in His unfathomable wisdom and love is at all time surely being faithful (Spurgeon).
I can't remember a trial or a pain he did not recycle to bring me gain. I can'tremember one single regret in serving God only and trusting his hand (Sara Groves)
Friday, August 04, 2006
There are several ways we can remind ourselves of this truth daily, and reading this book is just one of the many. The reason why I have found this book helpful is that it always starts out with the passage(s) in scripture that pertains to that chapter. Piper takes you right to God's word first before he gives his doctrinal explanation. The book has 50 chapters (all 2 pages long) and basically each chapter summarizes one reason why Christ had to suffer and die according to God's word. Some of the chapter titles include:
To Absorb the Wrath of God
To Bring us to Faith and Keep us Faithful
To Obtain for Us All Things That Are Good for Us
So That We Might Belong to Him... and many more.
This book includes sound doctrinal truths, but in a clear easy to grasp format. Even after just four days of reading through these truths, I am finding my heart so encouraged by the truth of the Gospel...something so profound....yet so easy to forget!?!
In Piper's introduction of the book he includes the questions he intends to answer in the book:
When all is said and done, the most crucial question is: Why? Why did Christ suffer and die? Not why in the sense of cause, but why in the sense of purpose. What did Christ achieve by his passion? Why did he have to suffer so much? What great thing was happening on Calvary for the world? That's what the rest of this book is about. I have gathered from the New Testament fifty reasons why Christ suffered and died. Not fifty causes, but fifty purposes. Infinitely more important than who killed Jesus is the question: What did God achieve for sinners like us in sending his Son to die? To that we now turn.
This is just one option for a "Gospel Reminder", by all means not the only option... but a question we should all be asking ourselves on a regular basis is:
How am I reminding myself of the Gospel daily?
on another note...
Here's a little yummy dessert I tried out today:
Easy Lemon Squares:
1/4 C granulated sugar
3 T butter or stick margarine softened
1 C all purpose flour
3 large eggs
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 Teas. grated lemon rind
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 T all purpose flour
1/2 teas baking powder
1/8 teas salt
2 Teas. powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven 350
2. To prepare crust beat 1/4 C sugar and butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add 1 Cup flour to sugar mixture beating at low speed until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Gently press mixture into bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
3. To prepare topping beat eggs at medium speed until foamy. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients; beat until well blended. Pour mixture over crust. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar evenly over top.
For those of you who are health conscience: (I got this recipe from cooking light)
There are 16 servings and the serving size is 1 square
Calories: 118, fat 3.2g (sat 1.7g) ;) Protein 2.2 g, Carb 20.5 g
Thank so much, another post soon to come...
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Another really encouraging aspect that I love to proclaim in prayer is God's goodness. Different theologians when speaking of the trustworthiness of God have stated that trustng God is like sitting on a three legged stool. The three legs are His infinite power, His infinite wisdom and His infinite love. Because I worship a God who is infinitely powerful and wise I can trust Him. The fact that He is infinitely loving allows me to delight in trusting Him.
Everything that comes to me is from God's hands and is a product of His love, because of that I can view all of life's circumstances in light of His goodness. Life isn't dictated by chance or some celestial unknown. Instead, it is all given to me by my Heavenly Father who gives every good and perfect gift. I can come before Him with confidence because if my earthly father knows how to give good gifts, then how much more does my heavenly Father.
"All that emanates from God—His decrees, His creation, His laws, His providences—cannot be otherwise than good." (A.W. Pink)
If we believe and trust Scripture that God's goodness and love never ceases (Psalm 52:1 and Psalm 136), then we will be the happiest of all people. What better example is there for this then Job. In the test of losing everything, Job confidently proclaimed that even though God slayed him, he would still trust in God (Job 13:15). In the midst of trial Job knew the nature of God and could confidently praise God's name.
God cannot change and His nature is always the same. If God's nature is to do us good, then we can have faith that no matter what our eyes see, God is doing us good. In Psalm 23 when David says that he shall not want and his cup overflows, it's not because of his circumstance, but it is because God is his shepherd and always with him. The benefit of God being our shepherd and His eternal presence is that mercy and goodness will always be with us.
My greatest confidence in God's goodness comes from the cross. If God would send His holy and pure Son to bear my sin on the cross, to die a most humiliating death on the cross taking on my lust, greed, anger, pride, idolatry, blasphemy and countless other sins so that I can wear His righteousness then how can I doubt His goodness. At the cross where the Son bore the Father's wrath so I may be a recipient of the Father's love more goodness is bestowed onto me then I could ever deserve. When I come before the cross I realize that God has shown me more good then I could ever imagine or ask for. When I pray in light of this realization I can know that God will never fail to do me good.
The goodness of God is the life of the believer’s trust. It is this excellency in God which most appeals to our hearts. Because His goodness endureth forever, we ought never to be discouraged: "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7). (A.W. Pink).
Part 2 of 3...Coming when I get back from a weekend retreat God's faithfulness
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:13-14)
It's crazy to think that we are only four and a half months away from our wedding. When I think about time, it goes by so fast. By the end of this month Laura and I will have been together for a year. In September I will have been at my current job for a year. I haven't worked the same job for over a year since I worked at the Blue Bottle (I did have one job in grad school where I was employeed there for over a year, but I was gone for two months for my internship). A little bit over a year ago I officially became a member at CLC (and pray I never have to become a member any place else).
It's so crazy how time moves. Part of our call as Christians is stewardship of time and realizing that our time is God's and must be used for His glory. One of the things that I find myself in amazement with is who God is in relation to time. God is not subject to time like we are, but He is outside of the bounds of time and space. I remember being younger and wondering what the beginning of God was, but He has no beginning. He didn't just set the world in motion and plan a couple of major events throughout history and is watching the world play out. Oh no, but He has ordained all things, from the vastly impersonal nature with the sparrows to the intimate details of our every day life.
It's reassuring to remeber that when I pray God has already gone before me. There is no part of my future that He is not actively involved in and working for my good. Even though the immediate future may not work out how I plan, I can be confident that God has not fallen asleep or is unaware. The God I worship is infinitely wise and knows how to best answer my prayers even when it's not how I would imagine. At times when I desire ease and comfort, He gives me trials, knowing that trial will produce perserverance, perserverance will produce character and character will produce hope (Romans 5:3-4). He has an eternal purpose that He is constantly working towards (Ephesians 3:14). In this eternal purpose He is making me more like His Son.
What reason for praise this is! He is eternal and has made all things. Not only all things past at creation, but all things right now. He is everywhere. As close to me in Gaithersburg, and as close to the furthest person on planet. He never leaves anyone. As close as He is right now, He is that close in the future because He's gone on before us in the future and is always by our side.
No future events ever catch Him by surprise. In prayer, we can have confidence that He will be glorified because He has already determined the future. Feel His nearness, know He is mighty to save and rejoicing over you with gladness. In His might to save have confidence for the future because He has secured a pleasant lot for you.
O my reader, how thankful should we be that everything is determined by infinite wisdom and goodness! What praise and gratitude are due unto God for His Divine decrees. It is because of them that "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28). Well may we exclaim, "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom he glory forever. Amen" (Rom 11:36). (A.W. Pink)
Part 1 of 3. Coming tomorrow "The goodness of God's decrees" (Part 2)
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Mandarin Orange Salad
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C cider vinegar
1/4 Cup White Sugar
2 teas. dried parsley
1 pinch black pepper
1/2 C sliced Almonds
1/4 C brown sugar
1 head red leaf lettuce (or boston lettuce)
1 red onion chopped
1 cup chopped celery
2 (11oz) cans mandarin orange segments drained
1) In a jar with tight fitting lid combine oil, vinegar, sugar, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cover and shake well, store in fridge until ready to use
2) In medium sauce pan over medium low heat, cook and stir the almonds and brown sugar until the sugar is melted and almonds are coated. Remove from heat, cool, and break apart. Store at room temp. until served
3) In large bowl toss together the lettuce, celery, oranges, almonds and dressing until evenly coated
California Chicken Sandwich
1/3 cup reduced fat mayo
2 T thawed orange juice concentrate
1 teas. lime juice
1/2 teas. ground cumin
1/4 teas. Cayenne pepper
4 (4oz) skinned & boned chicken breast halves (or you can buy precooked chicken)
1/4 teas salt
1/8 teas. Black pepper
8 slices of sourdough bread (diagonally cut)toasted
4 small Romania lettuce leaves
2 plum tomatoes cut lengthwise
1 peeled avocado cut into 8 wedges
1) To prepare citrus mayo combine 1st 5 ingredients in small bowl
2) To prepare sandwiches sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cook until done on medium high heat in oiled skillet. Remove from heat and cut diagonally across grain into thin slices
3) Spread tablespoon citrus mayo onto each of 4 bread slices. Top with 1-2 lettuce leaves, 1 chicken breast half, 2 tomato slices, 2 avocado wedges, and remaining bread slice.
By all means add as much or as little as you like ;)
This ones really healthy.... It has hardly any saturated fat and still tastes really yummy!