Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Share your Heart, and Guard it Too

Guard your heart above all else, for from it springs the wells of life. Proverbs 4:23 (I have no idea what translation that is. It may very well be the Kate Finman remembers key words and phrases translation)

But what does it mean?

What are you guarding your heart from?

The heart is a tricky thing in the Bible, because not only is it called "deceitful and wicked"(Jeremiah 17:9) , but we are also told that its pride has the power to deceive us (Obadiah 1:3), and we are promised that we will be set free from our hearts (Jeremiah 3:17).  Ezekiel 36 tells of God's promise to remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh that is sensitive to His voice.

So our heart isn't all bad, especially in Christ.

This story of our hearts is the same as the story of our lives, of all human history:

God made it good

We broke it

He's fixing it

He will restore it completely





New Creation

I'm in a new position. I'm trying to get to know someone, and let him get to know me. At first I was like, oh my gosh what do I do I have to guard my heart. It was pretty frustrating for both of us, honestly. We were stuck in small talk. We weren't going anywhere. And if you literally don't move, you won't even be able to tell if you are going anywhere. It's like getting in the car and not even starting the engine.

So what do you do? Do you just start spilling your guts? Do you get in the car with a full tank and no map and just drive until you can't anymore?

I don't think that's the answer either. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, actually.

First of all, if the person you're talking to isn't a man of God, don't even get in the car with this guy. He won't be able to lead the way you'll need him too. He won't value guarding his own heart, and he won't be anywhere near as invested in being a good steward to your heart either. It's not worth it.

Secondly, LET HIM LEAD. It won't kill you. It might actually blow your mind.

Let me explain. I was paranoid about giving away too much that I was saying too little. So he took a risk and put a little gas in the car. Not enough to crash and burn, but enough for a trip to run some errands. By his leading, I was free to reciprocate equally. Girls are smart. I like just being able to match where he's at. And since he meets the first stipulation, he's trying just as hard as I am to honor and glorify the Lord. He's not going to purposely lead me into sin, because he's working to keep himself unstained from the world.

And I'm not saying never take any initiative. If you really respect something he's doing, say so. If you love how he's honoring you, tell him. Do it creatively if you want to. But it's wise not to be the boundary pusher. Just because you're doing something different doesn't mean you have to be crossing a line.

Then, ask your questions, even if they sound silly. It's crazy what happens when you just say, "How can I help you get to know me better?" No mystery, no games. You might be surprised when he's not asking to hear about every hope and dream and fear you've ever had, but rather what makes you think your job is fun or what you would do at a party of mostly unfamiliar people.

All the while, seek counsel. Gather a few close friends and mentors to pray for you, check in, and ask how you're doing. And pray for the Holy Spirit to give them insight into the motives of your heart. It's a scary, humble thing to pray, but it can be so helpful to say, "God, if my motives are wrong and I get so clouded I can't see You, please give _________ the wisdom and courage to call me out on it".

I'll probably keep learning about this forever. But for now, that's more or less it. I don't feel like I'm drowning, and I feel very safe and secure and at ease. So this advice can't be terrible, right?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Moments from Kids Min

Today was Anchor's last day at the Wallingford Boys and Girls Club. We're moving to the Phinney Center as we continue to grow! So it was a special day to be serving with the kids. The lead teacher and other assistant and I had a fantastic time in prayer. We always pray for each other and the kids before we start, but today we were also able to praise God for the four years the church has been ministering in this specific neighborhood and ask for His peace and steadiness as we transition to a new space. I love how "big church" as well as kids min overflow with prayer from start to finish.

Asa, age 2, used to cry a lot when mom dropped him off. But today he was so sweet and wanted me to hold him. He sat in my lap listening to the Bible story of John baptizing Jesus and participated! It was so fun.

Later, as we all waited for the parents to come pick up their kiddos, I sat reading a book with a small group. As we talked about how the rich young ruler (Luke 18) didn't want Jesus to be in charge of his life, a number of the kids said, "I want that! I want Jesus to be in charge!" so we prayed and thanked God for sending Jesus to die for our sins and give us new life in Him. It was amazing.

I am so blessed by serving, and I can't wait to see what will happen with the bigger space.

Friday, February 21, 2014

You will, I promise

With joy you will draw waters from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3 

I love Isaiah 12. It's a familiar chapter to me. But I read this verse with new eyes this morning. It is our joy to drink deeply from the living water, to be washed clean, to be saved! 

John Piper has a brief audio commentary on Jeremiah 2:13 - 

for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. 

Piper's audio was on an album I had, and I think of it often. I can't find it anywhere, but basically he highlights that we are to drink deeply and be satisfied and filled and delighted in the life given us by Christ! 

Our pastor gives a 6 word summary of the Bible: 

New creation 

The 5 sentence version elaboration is: 

God made it good 

We broke it 

He gives us hope in a promise to return and fix it 

Jesus comes and saves us from our sin 

Jesus is coming again to fix everything we broke. 

And we see that even in these two verses from Jeremiah and Isaiah - God gives, we break, he promises, he gives again, and then he'll fix it all. 

How exciting! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

His Grace is Deeper Still

It's Sunday night, always a favorite time of the week for me. I'm refreshed from good preaching and worship with the saint and fellowship with God and His people.

It's raining, and the cats are sleepy and purring.

The house is quiet; Elizabeth sits reading Elizabeth Smart's story (Side note: read this. Everyone should read this, just trust me), and I sit dwelling in the Word, begging to be washed with it.

I just finished a speed read of the Bible this morning, so I could have gone anywhere. I started in Isaiah, but felt drawn into Proverbs.

And if you didn't know this about me, Proverbs is the absolute hardest book of the Bible for me to read - yes, harder even than Numbers. It has this way of showing me exactly where my heart is, and I don't always like what I see. I read and I listen and I feel those heart level questions begging for answers.

The Spirit of Truth is digging into the depths of every motive of my heart and I come face to face with my failure.

I read:

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. 3:7-8 

I like thinking I know. How often do I assume my own wisdom?

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. 3:11-12

Do you know what I often do about God's reproof? I run from it. I don't like being told that I am wrong so instead of appealing to Christ my advocate to make me right, I run away to dwell in my ignorance.

Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure. 4:26 

I have to keep asking myself: Where am I going? What am I doing? Why am I doing this? I have to humble myself before a holy God and put myself in His hands.

I spent the morning being told that I have an advocate. I have a redeemer. His name is Jesus. I have Him right now. He saved me once for all and He saved me fully. He said, "It is finished" and then He sat down at the right hand of the Father where He lives ever to make intercession for me.

And as I read and pray through my sin, I remember all of this. The pages that chronicle my sin are covered by His grace. My rescue. And I hear the strains of "You Alone Can Rescue" through my earbuds -

Who, oh Lord, could save themselves, 
Their own soul could heal? 
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still

When the Holy Spirit starts digging up my dirt, it's not to tell me I have to do more or try harder. It's to point me to Jesus, to the One who has already dealt with it. And it's amazing, because He gives more grace, grace upon grace.

You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grace
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise 

Sin runs deep in the human heart. But, praise the Lord, His grace is deeper still.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's (Not That) Complicated

This is going to be disjointed. Sorry.

Preschool Valentine's Day is the best. And I mean the best. The kids get so excited and have a ton of fun and apparently it's a give gifts to your coaches holiday as well...this gal made out pretty well. Between the kids and the kittens, this year has been pretty great. Although last year's spontaneous c-haus hangout will always have a special place in my heart.

Beyond that, it's been a weird couple weeks in my personal life. I've been seeing how prone to wander I really am. If I say Christ is my first love, it means He is my first priority in all ways, in all seasons. And a lot of things will try to get in the way. Particularly this past week, I've come face to face with the fickleness of my own heart. I have pleaded with God to search my heart and oh how He has been faithful His promise to answer our prayers.

I read It's (Not That) Complicated by the Botkin sisters, and it was really well-timed. I think the Botkin name turned a lot of people off of reading it, but aside from a couple minor things, it was really practical, biblical, and overall enjoyable (the minor things have to do with the fact that I don't think they have the experience to speak to specific circumstances people not raised in the church face).

Here are a few of the quotes I pulled out:

"if our hearts are not right, nothing else will be. And nothing else matters" 

"Women really only help men in one of two directions: toward God or away from Him" 

"A God honoring friendship needs to start with the understanding that it's not about you. And then it needs to grow to the understanding that it's not about you and him either" 

"Own the truth that true joy and satisfaction only flow from God Himself and that any relationship engaged in for our own pleasure rather than for His sake is soul-destroying idolatry" 

"God leads us through the truths in Scripture, not through our fickle human hearts" 

"If we say we're Christ's, then His love needs to be the most exciting to us; His approval needs to be our most sought after treasure. His friendship needs to be our true comfort. His presence needs to be real enough that we never feel alone, His protection should be our source of security; His ownership of us needs to give us our sense of belonging, His strength, glory, beauty and power needs to be our delight and our boast" 

That's it. Nothing particularly interesting or insightful, but sometimes that's just how life is.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Here's why, in numbered list form:

1) Classes have been so easy because the kids are sick. Boo to sick kids, but hooray to smaller class sizes

2) When I come home from work tonight, there will be two kittens coming over to live with us for two months while their owners have work done on their house

3) Preschool is closed next week

4) Which means I will have so much time to play with the kittens

5) It is almost Valentine's Day

6) I get to go to a preschool Valentine's Day party

7) In my Valentine's Day pajamas

But really how am I supposed to focus on work when there are kittens coming to play tonight?


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Our Priest Brings Peace

This was a week. I was plagued by terrible headaches, took on unexpected extra hours at work, and was called on last-minute to lead worship. And it was all good because God is all good, but yes, it was long.

It's no wonder this week started the memorization of Romans 5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Peace with God.

But what does that mean? Why do we need it?

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)

We were enemies of God. That's what sin is: active rebellion against God and his will and his people.

But in Christ, we have peace with God.

When I found out I was leading worship the week our pastor was preaching Hebrews 8, I knew we had to sing Before the Throne

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great high priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me 

Because Jesus is our high priest.

we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (Hebrews 8:1b)

Christ as high priest means peace for us. The promise God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah is fulfilled in King Jesus

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 31 quoted in Hebrews 8:12)

The word remember here has to do with action. We have peace with God not because he gave himself amnesia and forgot that we sinned; we have peace with God because he doesn't have to deal with our sin because he ALREADY dealt with it in Christ on the cross.

And isn't that amazing?

Today I got the best feedback a worship leader could hope to get:

Thanks for leading worship today; you could really hear the voices in our church praising Jesus.

With one voice, we sang.

My name is graven on his hands
My name is written on his heart
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

We Can Do Better Than This

You've been a mistress, My bride
Chasing lovers that won't satisfy 
Won't you let Me make you My wife?
You will drink of My lips, and you'll taste new life

These words floated into my ears just as I was doing a little blog reading. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Do me a favor and click on that hyper link before you continue? 

Maybe a month ago, I read this article, "6 Options for Godly Single Women Wanting to Marry". I felt pretty neutral about it, to be honest. I actually thought it was kind of funny. I was neither encouraged nor discouraged, and paid it no attention. 

And then back to today. I listened to that precious song, "Beloved" by Tenth Avenue North and I read this response, "Godly Single Ladies: You Can Do Better Than This"and I've decided that in this debate, all I agree with is the title. 

We can do better than this, and so can single men and married men and women and all those kids who are in between childhood and adulthood; every single Christian can do better than this. We can do better than numbered to-do lists and comment wars and open letters. We can do better than making marriage the end goal and pursuing just to pursue and pining to be pursued. 

We can do better than this, because Christ is much, much better than this. 

And this is why, friends, I'm proposing a zero option. I'm not adding to your list, because who really needs another thing to do? 

In fact, I'm asking you to stop. 

Stop letting our social media culture tell you how to live your life and how to feel about it. Stop letting yourself be defined by the ring (or lack of it) on your finger. 

And stop, just for a minute, and look at Jesus. 

Can you turn both eyes to Jesus and tell me that He is not enough? 

Saturday night, I read John in one sitting. I was so thirsty that I just sat and learned what it means to drink and drink and drink from the Living Water. I heard Jesus tell me who He is - the Light of the World, the Bread of Life, the Living Water, One with the Father. And I heard Him say 

for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I come from God...And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 16:27, 17:3 

I flipped backwards to some of my favorite pages, the Hosea pages. I see God's faithfulness redeeming my faithlessness. 

For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink'...She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then now. And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. Hosea 2:5, 7-8

Don't you see us, church? Because when we make a list of 7 ways to whatever, I see 7 lovers we're going after while the Author and Finisher of our faith is the One supplying what we seek. 

And what is His response to us?

Therefore, behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me My Husband and no longer will you call me My Baal. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more...And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. Hosea 2:14-17, 19-20

I don't need six choices or sixteen or six hundred. My God told me I would know Him and forget all my other lusts and pursuits and wanderings. And in Christ, He is making all things new. The work He began will be brought to completion. These are promises that you can take to the bank, because when God says yes, the answer is never no. 

For Jesus my soul longs, and I sing with the saints before me

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found 
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless stand before the throne 

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand 
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground in sinking sand 

Thank You, Jesus, for doing so much better than us. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

I Love To Tell the Story

I love this song! We sang it yesterday at church and I just love singing it. Because I do so love the gospel, and sharing it all over again. We all need the gospel. We all need to hear that Jesus saves sinners from ourselves to life. 

1.	I love to tell the story 
	of unseen things above,  of Jesus and his glory, 
	of Jesus and his love.  
	I love to tell the story, 
	because I know 'tis true; 
	it satisfies my longings 
	as nothing else can do.
	I love to tell the story, 
	'twill be my theme in glory, 
	to tell the old, old story 
	of Jesus and his love. 
 2.	I love to tell the story; 
	more wonderful it seems 
	than all the golden fancies 
	of all our golden dreams.  
	I love to tell the story, 
	it did so much for me; 
	and that is just the reason 
	I tell it now to thee.  
 3.	I love to tell the story; 
	'tis pleasant to repeat 
	what seems, each time I tell it, 
	more wonderfully sweet.  
	I love to tell the story, 
	for some have never heard 
	the message of salvation 
	from God's own holy Word.  
 4.	I love to tell the story, 
	for those who know it best 
	seem hungering and thirsting 
	to hear it like the rest.  
	And when, in scenes of glory, 
	I sing the new, new song, 
	'twill be the old, old story 
	that I have loved so long.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

God is Greater

I was reading 1 John last night and came across this verse, which is the verse before a passage we memorized during J127, 

For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:20 

Isn't that amazing? We have absolutely no reason to live in our guilt because God already knows it and how much greater is he? 

Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did...

Therefore, behold, I will allure her...

I sat marveling at the Word last night. I just sat there, on the world's least comfortable futon looking at this incredible book in my hands. A book that just breathes life. Because in the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God. And the Word held life and this life was the light of men. 

Did you know that you can live on the Word? Jesus did. When he was tempted to break his fast, he said man does not live on bread alone, but every word of God. Jeremiah ate the Word and it was his joy and the delight of his heart. 

God is greater than our guilt because the Word was, is and will be, and do you know what it says? 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus 

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ, for he himself is our peace 

If the Son of man sets you free, you really are free indeed 

For anyone who is in Christ, you are a new creation 

I will have mercy on No Mercy and Not My People will be My People 

But we have this hope, sure and steadfast as an anchor to our soul 

God is greater than our heart

The Word is ours. Because God is greater. God is greater than our sin and greater than our perceived self-righteousness. He is greater than our self-loathing and condemnation and he is greater than our pride and arrogance. 

Friends, please let yourself be washed in the Word. If you need help reading your Bible, please get it. Find a plan, find a partner, find a mentor, find a group. You won't regret it. 

Grace greater than our sin 

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord
Grace that exceeds our sin and guilt
Yonder on Calvary's mount out poured 
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt

Grace, grace, God's grace 
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within 
Grace, grace, God's grace 
Grace that is greater than all our sin 

Sin and despair like the sea waves cold
Threaten the soul with infinite loss
Grace the is greater, yes, grace untold
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide
What can avail to wash it away 
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide
Whiter than snow may you be today 

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace 
Freely bestowed on all who believe 
You that are longing to see his face 
Will you this moment his grace receive?