Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Words Unspoken

People tell you a lot about themselves by what they write. But this is also true about what they don’t write. You can learn what is important to them, what they value, what they dislike, what they love to discuss and what they abhor.

As I’ve begun to read some books more carefully, I’ve realized that Christian books, even books I enjoy, seem to be missing something. Something that at first glance may not seem like a big deal, but one that has major repercussions.

Many Christian books “forget” the gospel.

Perhaps it’s assumed, because I doubt it's purposeful. After all, if you are writing to a Christian audience (especially conservative Christian) you may think, “They don’t need the basics, they want to know how to do this.” How to relate to guys, how to have godly friendships, how to know when you’re ready for marriage, how courtship works, how to be a good stay-at-home daughter, how to spend your time before you marry. None of these things are inherently bad. In fact, they may be completely book worthy. In fact, I’ve read many books by various authors on these very subjects.

However, sometimes I feel like something is lacking. And quite frankly, it’s the truth of the gospel. Perhaps I do need practical ideas on how to spend my time now, as an unmarried daughter, but I also need to be reminded that the most important use of my time is developing that relationship with my Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. I need be encouraged to spend time daily at His feet, worshiping Him, praying to Him, and listening to Him. Perhaps I do need to understand how I should treat my brothers in Christ, but I also need to be reminded that if I’m seeking attention from guys that means my satisfaction is not coming from Christ alone. I need to be exhorted to turn to Him. I need to know that it’s because of His death on the cross that I can find forgiveness and cleansing and new desires and power. It is by His strength that I can do what He asks of me.

You see, no matter what the subject is, there is always room for the gospel and hope that Christ alone has the answer. He gives us the right desires and the power. He alone is our portion. It’s not enough to know what I must do, I must realize that I can do nothing apart from Christ and learn to depend on Him more deeply.

So whether you’re blogging, writing an email to a friend, posting on facebook or twitter, or writing a book, remember that your words should turn others to Christ, not to a formula or an “answer” that works. Not to a legalistic list. Christ alone. Because when others find their complete satisfaction in Christ, there is freedom and joy. There is hope.

“Strengthen me to give Thee no rest until Christ shall reign supreme within me, in every thought word, and deed, in a faith that purifies the heart, overcomes the world, works by love, fastens me to Thee, and ever clings to the cross.” 
Valley of Vision


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


To whom are you prone to compare yourself?

As you probably know, I’m a piano teacher. I am more advanced than my students, and I enjoy instructing them in the things I have learned. Yet when I watch videos of professional pianists, I’m stunned. They are so amazing. And I feel like a beginner compared to them. I have much to learn, so far to go. There’s no way I will be as good as some of the pianists I’ve seen.

There is a wise truth here, which was something that was explained by Andrew Pudewa (EIW author) at the last speech & debate tournament we attended.

You’ll always be better than someone else. 
But there’s always someone better than you.

When we compare ourselves to others, we typically have one of two responses, pride or self-pity.
If we compare ourselves to those who aren’t as accomplished as us, we tend to become prideful. Do you realize that this can even be true in spiritual matters? Sometimes we compare ourselves to others in terms of how much doctrine we know, how biblically we can respond to different questions or refute secular humanism. We can become prideful even in our diligence to pray or read God’s Word! Jonathan Edwards wisely expresses: "The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints... [he is] quick to discern and take notice of their deficiencies." 

On the other hand, if we always compare ourselves to others who we perceive (or who in reality, are) better than us, we can easily fall into self-pity or despair.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses…. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:9-10

Instead of focusing on our inability to match others, we should look to Christ. After all, we are commanded to be holy (1 Thess. 4:7, 1 Pet. 1:15-16), imitators of God (Eph. 5:1), and count everything else as loss (Phil. 3:8).

But we don’t always do that. Instead, we look to others for the bar of success or accomplishment.
“That’s the way we sinners are wired. Compare. Compare. Compare. We crave to know how we stack up in comparison to others. There is some kind of high if we can just find someone less effective than we are.” John Piper

Ultimately, we must learn to compare ourselves to the one and only standard, Christ, because after all, it is to Him that we must give an account (2 Cor. 5:9-10). Yes, we need to work hard and diligently at the tasks we are given. We are to do everything for His glory! (1 Cor. 10:31) But our love for Him should drive our diligence and hard work ethics, not the motivation of catching up or surpassing others.

May this God-centered focus result in all praise and glory going to Him, and may our lives be worthy of the gospel of Christ!