life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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Walking with Jesus

Walking through the Gospels is so different from walking through the rest of the Bible. Yes, I know, I just wrote a blog post stressing how Jesus is the same person as the God of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is absolutely relevant to modern-day Christians. I still hold to what I said. In fact, I think I’m noticing how the book of Matthew is so different because I read through the entire Old Testament, and now it feels like I am getting this intensely intimate look at God in the flesh. Like I am constantly waiting to see what He will do next (!), even though I’ve read the Gospels before.

I’m reading the book of Matthew very slowly and taking it all in… in fact, I am underlining so much I think my pen will run out before I’m through. What really strikes me is not only the things that Jesus introduces that are “upside-down” to the culture of the time (esteeming women, advocating for nonviolence, hanging out with tax collectors & “sinners”, teaching a righteousness surpassing that of the Pharisees, loving your enemies, etc.), but also the standard Jesus is calling us to if we follow Him.

Today, I was so convicted by these passages:

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” (Matthew 9:10-13)

What does it say about me if I only hang out with people who “meet my criteria”? Why haven’t I been seeking out and giving my time to the “sick” (those who are going through difficult times, the poor, the literally sick, the addicted, people who may be different from me, etc.)? Jesus has given me something to share, and if I never seek out the people who need it, what good am I? (cf. Matthew 5:13) This is a huge challenge for me.

And look at what Jesus says to his disciples early in their ministry:

“So do not be afraid of [men]. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:26-31)

What really stands out to me is 1) how the disciples must feel hearing this as they are about to go out on their own to preach & heal for the first time, and 2) how I’ve read the second half of that verse (about the sparrows) many times as a comforting passage, when it is really contextually about not being afraid of men (and possibly being killed for your faith) because God is your Father, knows you intimately, takes care of you, and has a plan for you, even in death.

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32)

I confess that I do a poor job of acknowledging Jesus before men (and women). I have especially noticed this in the past few months when it seems like everyone and their sister is reminding me that God is in control over my health. I should be the one taking God’s Word to heart, proclaiming that God is in control over my health, and sharing what Jesus has done for me, because He is Lord. I really want to do better at not fearing men (and women), not being concerned about offending someone, and just sharing the truth. I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and I am challenged to be open about that.

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

Wow. I think this verse really speaks for itself. I am challenged once again to look at my priorities and make sure I am not loving anyone or anything more than Christ, including my husband. I imagine this will be even harder when I have sons or daughters.

I’m also challenged as I think about the strenuous way I’ve been comparing my life to those around me rather than seeking Jesus above all else. I’m talking about comparing my marriage to other marriages, my travel to others’ travels, my house to others’ houses, my car to others’ cars, my job to others’ jobs, my clothes to others’ clothes, and around and around we go. Whoever finds his life will lose it… well, it seems to me that I’ve been looking to “find my life” a little too much and not seeking the Kingdom first.

This has always been a challenge for me – the tension between seeking comfort in this world vs. seeking Christ. Our American culture forcefully teaches us to seek comfort, especially in the area of material possessions. I don’t consider myself materialistic, but I can truly get caught up in this, especially as we’re trying to make our house a home. You can really go overboard in that, just like you can go overboard in trying to look or dress a certain way, etc. Not only are you seeking comfort, but you can be indulging pride and heightening standards of competition and comparison with your neighbors, friends, and families.

I read this quote from Rick Warren (author of The Purpose-Driven Life) once:

“We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfortGod is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.”

This could all sound very morbid until you realize that God is the source of all joy. God is the foundation and author of your purpose. Nobody loves you more than He does. He desires your good, not your harm, and He has compassion on you (cf. Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 9:36). In the midst of all these challenges, Jesus was also preaching the good news – that we can be forgiven of all of our sin and be in eternal relationship with our Maker, who is in the midst of making us perfect to His glory.

Today’s reading ended with this passage, which is a comfort to me:

“Come to me [Jesus], all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)


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Accepting Where God Has Placed You

Today, I:

-woke up at 4:20 a.m.
-then gave myself the liberty to sleep in til 5:50 a.m.
-took a hot shower & gloriously felt all the mucus un-clog from my sinuses for 20 minutes
-got upset because my husband left out 5.whole.things. when he went to bed last night: the remote, the throw blanket, a glass, his slippers, and a throw pillow… and the cable box was still on. Spent a lot of mental energy figuring out how to discuss this with him without throwing a tantrum or criticizing. Succeeded.
-didn’t make the bed for the 3rd day in a row
-made ham, turkey, & cheese sandwiches for my hubby & me to take to work
-toasted an Eggo waffle for breakfast, topped it with butter & syrup, and accompanied it with a tall glass of OJ
-read about Moses (Exodus 1-2)
-scrambled to get out the door on time and was thankful once again for no frost on my car
-got into work 2 minutes early
-had 6 voicemails waiting for me
-got all the mail done before the mailman came – hoorah!
-attended my first “webinar” about superior customer service. Wished it told us how to deal with crazy people
-passed up multiple opportunities to speak Spanish
-didn’t take a lunch break
-felt horrible around 12 pm
-made an impressive mountain of tissues in the trash can under my desk
-checked Pinterest for distraction when I felt like my body was going to fall apart
-was told my eyes looked “glassy” for the first time
-was told to go home after my sweet co-worker Chris felt my forehead
-got all my work done except my photocopies. I hate making photocopies.
-realized I don’t know a thing about welfare
-was told that in the event of an intruder with a firearm, I should skillfully dodge bullets while announcing the intruder over the intercom and remaining on the line with 9-1-1… can’t imagine my response being so calm & coordinated
-bawled my right eye out because something got stuck in my contact… literally had tears streaming down the right side of my face
-left work not-so-promptly at 4:05
-called my hubby 3 times in a row on the way home to complain about how lousy I felt and asked him to snuggle me when he got home
-made a doctor’s appointment for 9:45 tomorrow morning
-summoned some energy to clean & cut up celery, cucumber, lettuce, and tomato for a yummy dinner salad w/ balsamic vinaigrette

If it isn’t obvious, I’m sick. I.hate.being.sick. For a productivity addict like me, sickness feels like a prison sentence. Thankfully, Dayne hasn’t gotten it, so at least one of us can continue with normal life. As noted above, I haven’t made the bed for three days in a row – partly because I haven’t had the energy, and partly because I believe there are thousands of germs nesting in it that need to be aired out.

Anyways, it’s kind of funny that I came down with this after my last blog entry about slowing down. I’ve really had to slow down. This past weekend, which was a 3-day holiday weekend, Dayne & I spent inside doing a whole lot of nothing (video games, movies, reading, eating, sleeping). I didn’t even go to church on Sunday (Dayne went, and I was so thankful that he could still go).

When it comes down to it, I have a very hard time just taking it easy and relaxing and not getting anxious about life passing me by. I feel like I always have to be making the most of everyday, accomplishing something, doing exciting things. I don’t know where that pressure comes from, but it’s not healthy! Of course, motivation to some extent is healthy, but there is something the Old Testament is teaching me about God and everyday life. We don’t have to be meeting these huge milestones everyday for God to be working in us and accomplishing His purposes through us. A lot of God’s work in our lives is through the mundane, everyday stuff. Usually when God does call us to do big stuff, He spends a lot of time building us up for it (Noah had to build the ark before the flood, Abraham waited over 100 years to have his son, Joseph spent thirteen years imprisoned in Egypt, Moses spent forty years hiding out with shepherds before God called him to go back to Egypt & confront Pharoah, etc.). This encourages me to see the point and the glory in the everyday.

I shared this quote with Dana recently, and I’d like to share it here:

“Wherever the providence of God may dump us down, in a slum, in a shop, in the desert, we have to labour along the line of His direction. Never allow this thought — “I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not! Wherever He has engineered your circumstances, pray.” – Oswald Chambers (emphasis mine)

Do I believe in His providence? Yes. Do I believe in His sovereignty? Yes. So then, I am okay with being sick right now, and I embrace this time of rest and taking care of my physical body. I pray that I will continue to be patient with myself and seek God out in my everyday.