Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas is a Model for Missions

"Christmas is a model for missions. Missions is a mirror of Christmas. As I, so you.
For example, danger. Christ came to his own and his own received him not. So you. They plotted against him. So you. He had no permanent home. So you. They trumped up false charges against him. So you. They whipped and mocked him. So you. He died after three years of ministry. So you. "
Taken from John Piper's advent book, Good News of Great Joy 

Christmas easily becomes sentimentalized, sanitized and spiritualized. But it's not about a clean stall, the good feelings, or peace to everyone. It's about a Savior who humbled Himself and came to earth. It's about the love of a Father willing to give His only Son as a sacrifice for sinners, about the Son appeasing the Father's wrath and justice by becoming the perfect atonement. Certainly there is joy and peace. But not apart from Christ. Not because this is a good holiday where people try to be happy.

No, happiness is not without CHRIST. And Christ is a model for Christians in the realm of missions. Our mission is to preach the gospel and share the good news of Jesus Christ our Lord. That doesn't always result in happy feelings and joyful responses from our unbelieving friends and family. No, a lot of times, it involves persecution. It involves taking up our cross and a willingness to follow Christ wherever He calls. It means doing things that aren't always fun and don't bring recognition. It requires death to ourselves. But this is our model. Missions is necessary, and Christmas is about missions.

It's about the mission of the Holy One, the perfect Lamb of God, sent to earth. It's about redemption and forgiveness and righteousness undeserved by us.

Ministry isn't always pretty. It wasn't pretty for Jesus. But that is what Christmas is about.

Will you be willing to follow in Jesus's footsteps?


Allison

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Just one more...

source
With all the information and entertainment widely available online, it is incredibly easy to use up our time on things that are less-than helpful to our spiritual lives. It may begin with a quick search for a project tutorial that leads to an hour long browse of various home projects. It may be a decision to watch a 2 minute video-clip a friend shared that leads to a 20 minute time-lapse of other similar videos. It may be a weather check that leads to reading all the latest news, perhaps news that really pointless gossip or needless information. The question posed in a recent Desiring God post was: what leads us to click that link?

It is question that I believe we generally do not consider.

"They do little for us because they have little to offer. We click, we read, we watch, and often we feel dumber for it. Such clamorous links litter the Internet, offering up celebrity gossip, bizarre crime stories, violent videos, and sexual images — each link asking for little more than a click (such a petty request)." Why We Click Stupid Links


It is true that our curiosity is often peaked by things that have no usefulness to us, and merely waste our time. Not only that, but since nothing is neutral, often those links become catalysts for turning our hearts away from Christ and to various forms of selfishness and me-centeredness.

"Vain curiosities are, by definition, dislocated from God and powerless to point us to Christ. They fill our brains and hearts with disruptive temporal trash." Why We Click Stupid Links

What a sobering thought. We waste much time because we pursue idle things that are powerless to point us to Christ. They don't edify us or cause us to delight more in God. Instead, they give us a way to escape our problems or boredom, a sense of pleasure, or a good laugh.

How little eternity is fixed upon our hearts, that we can be so easily pleased!

What then, should we consider before we simply check out that video or click that link? Desiring God suggests the following questions to ponder:
  • Am I seeking out hyperlinks that offer me a promising pathway to see more of God’s beauty?
  • Or, are my hyperlink habits unregulated, prompted by some inner whim, and terminating on nothing more than my vain curiosity?
  • Or, most tragic of all, are the hyperlinks I click on really just a series of pint-size pothole cisterns out of which I hope to slurp up a little gratification for my empty soul?

May our hearts not be turned by something so small and insignificant.

Allison

Friday, November 8, 2013

What is your thankfulness rooted in?

We're exhorted to be thankful this month. Even our culture at large recognizes and acknowledges it. It's wonderful to be thankful, and certainly God wants us to be a grateful people. We have much to be grateful for. But our thankfulness is rooted in something deeper than the fact that we have family, a house, food on the table, a job, or good friends. Our thankfulness is rooted in what the Lord Jesus has done for us through coming to earth and dying on the cross to rescue us from our sin. Our gratitude is rooted in the gospel. Don't forget the gospel or brush it off as something for those who aren't Christians. The gospel is for here and now. It is for you. Today.

“The more absorbed I am in the gospel, the more grateful I become in the midst of my circumstances, whatever they may be…When I look at any circumstance that God apportions me, I am first grateful for the wrath I am not receiving in that moment…Secondly I am grateful for the blessings that are given to me instead of His wrath. This two-layered gratitude disposes my heart to give thanks in all things and it also lends a certain intensity to my giving of thanks.” Milton Vincent

Allison

Friday, August 23, 2013

Room Redecorating

As a present last Christmas, I picked out a new comforter for my bedroom. I needed to re-paint my room so it would match the comforter, so I did that over winter break. I also bought a few canvases for wall art, new curtains, and some fabric for a chair cover. But completing those projects got put on hold, because #1: I didn't know what to do, and #2 I couldn't decide exactly what to do. I needed my amazing designer and seamstress sister, Katlyn, to help me.

Well, while I was away serving at a family camp in July, my mom and sister took initiative to tackle these unfinished room projects. They did some detail decorating and completed what needed to be done. I was immensely excited to arrive home and find it all DONE! I'm so excited. It looks wonderful and inviting. Here are some pictures of my beautiful room....

You can see my off-white vanity, which I painted (originally it was a dark wood, shown in the before picture below). My sister covered my trash can and chair, painted my mirror teal, and added some other small touches, along with my mom's help. (click photo to enlarge)



The canvases my sister created and painted. The left one has a quote about abiding by David Wilkerson. The right one has John 15:5, one of my favorite verses. (click to enlarge) 

The chair cover Katlyn designed and sewed. It turned out great!



Allison

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Seek the Lord!

God’s Word gravely reports that one of the reasons the Lord put Saul to death was because “he did not seek guidance from the Lord” (1 Chron. 10:14). What a stern warning for us today! It’s especially easy to get caught up, or rather, bogged down, in the information overload we have available to us. With the internet and its easy accessibility, we can retrieve answers for just about anything. Sometimes it’s overwhelming as we realize the stark contrasts in opinions about various subjects, even regarding important decisions.

How often do we quickly run to the Lord for wisdom and answers regarding life, or the next purchase (or whether to purchase it at all?). Do we turn to Google or Yahoo answers first? It may be quick and easy to find answers online, but are they the answers we need? Sometimes we need to re-prioritize and re-adjust our starting point. God knows all the answers. He knows where your next pay check is going to come from. He knows what he’s doing when you have everything planned and scheduled out and then there’s a last minute change that throws your schedule entirely. He understands what you’re experiencing when a sudden crisis appears in your life. He knows when it’s wise to invest in a new electronic or clothing item for your wardrobe, or when to patiently save. He is an infinite source of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Yet God can be the last One we turn to. He becomes a “backup” instead the first source.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be like Saul, remembered at the end of his life as not seeking guidance from the Lord. Certainly the internet and information available to us when used well can be exceedingly beneficial, yet it can also divert and distract us from the true Source of all knowledge and wisdom.

May we look to the Lord always, and seek HIS face continually!



Allison

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

Google Reader has seen its days. It is retiring. Sad, I know. I use Reader to view all the blogs I enjoy, and now I have to remember to go visit all of them. I'm sure many of my readers use Reader to view my blog, and it may be hard to remember to come back, especially because I'm not super consistent in writing. But that's okay. Whether you read or not, I will still write when I can, as it gives me the opportunity to process and share what God is working in my own life.





Allison

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Fullness of God

Paul prays in Ephesians 3:19: "...that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Filled with the fullness of God.

Have you ever pondered what it means to be filled with the fullness of God? It's hard to imagine what all that must imply. What should it look like to live this out?

John MacArthur, in his Bible Commentary, states:
"Human comprehension of the fullness of God is impossible, because even the most spiritual and wise believer cannot completely grasp the full extent of God's attributes and characteristics - His power, majesty, wisdom, love, mercy, patience, kindness, and everything He is and does. But believers can experience the greatness of God in their lives as a result of total devotion to Him." (emphasis mine)

The fullness of God, then, is connected with our total devotion to Him. Our response to God and His work in our lives. As Henry Blackaby wisely expresses, “God places much of the burden of what we will become on our response to Him.” Our obedience, or lack of obedience, vastly effects God's presence and work in our lives. He initiates, but He requires our involvement. We must put forth effort to pursue holiness and godliness. We must work to fight the sin that dwells within. The fullness of God cannot come unless there is total devotion on our part. And total devotion is not possible while we cling to sin. Brian Hedges writes in his book, Licensed to Kill, "We don’t bear the fruit of holiness because the roots of repentance have not gone deep enough."

Other verses in Ephesians speak of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13) and the Spirit (5:18). To live by this means we must die to self day by day, moment by moment. It requires casting aside idolatry, self-love, and seeking Christ alone. It means our deepest satisfaction, longings, purpose and desires should be filled in Christ alone. Our deepest love and passion should be directed towards Him alone.

Nothing else matters. Nothing else will satisfy. When this satisfaction is met in Christ, when we are fully devoted to Him, then we will watch and see Him do far more abundantly than anything we could ever ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

"...know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to HIM be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, 
forever and ever. Amen." 
Ephesians 3:19-21

Allison

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Lord Establishes Our Steps

Where does the time go? Two months since my last post date, I'm reminded at how quickly time flies, and how blogging quickly becomes one of the last things on my to-do list. And after joining facebook, it's easy to post quick snippets there instead of dedicating the time to creating and writing a whole post.

Much has already happened this year, and many things are planned ahead for this year. We recently aquired an adorable new dog, my brother left nearly two months ago to intern with the National Bible Bee, my sister participated in several speeches at NCFCA's Regional Speech and Debate Tournament, and is qualified in one for Nationals in June. My brothers' season of baseball has almost come to a close. My spring recital is over, and was so much fun! Additionally, I'm eagerly awaiting many exciting trips, ministry opportunities, and various events planned.

As I think back to the end of 2012 and the very beginning of 2013, I remember how I prayed that God would give me direction for this year and show me how He wanted me to invest my time. Little did I know what all would take place this year and how time would quickly fill. As Proverbs 16:9 says, "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." 

Some of the things taking place were not on my mind as I prayed early this year, but they are coming into fruition because they were established by the Lord. I gratefully look forward to each of the things this year holds, as opportunities for growth, for refinement, for joy and celebration. 

Yet in the day-to-day, week-to-week scheduling, it's easy to get busy with whatever comes up, to get distracted, even if it's not most important. Sometimes I think of all the other things I could and should do, and can get overwhelmed because so much needs to be accomplished. Then I'm reminded that I need to seek the Lord first daily, and everything else will fall into place, as I walk each day in His presence. I'm reminded in the midst of the daily, sometimes gruesome and tedious work that it's all for His glory.


“Holiness is not measured by ‘one great heroic act or mighty martyrdom…It is of small things that a great life is made up.’ ”   
Horatius Bonar


Allison

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How are you using your singleness?

Our church's Sunday sermon on not storing up treasures on earth, along with the series I'm listening to by Nancy DeMoss, and this post on Desiring God have culminated in reminding me of how I need to invest my time in things that will reap eternal fruit. 
"A season of singleness is not merely the minor leagues of marriage. It has the potential to be a unique period of undivided devotion to Christ and undistracted ministry to others....With God’s help and leading, you have the freedom to invest yourself, your time, your resources, your youth, and your flexibility in relationships, ministries, and causes that can bear unbelievable fruit."

"One of your greatest spiritual gifts as a single person is your “Yes.” Yes to a random phone conversation. Yes to coffee. Yes to help with the move. Yes to stepping in when someone’s sick. Yes to a late-night movie or the special event downtown. You have the unbelievable freedom to say yes when married people can’t even ask the question... Be willing to say Yes! and bless others, even when you don’t always feel like it." (emphasis mine)
Marshall Segal, Desiring God
Single, Satisfied, and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married

I don't often consider how much freedom and flexibility I have right now because of the season of life I'm in. And that precious time does not need to be squandered. A few questions for you and me...
How are you utilizing your singleness for the glory of God?
Are you investing your time wisely?
Are you running hard after God?
Are you cultivating a relationship with the Lover of your soul?
Are you giving sacrificially of your time and resources to those around you?

If you are single, you have much freedom in how to use your time. You have freedom to do what you want to do. But instead of being self-focused, we need to be others-focused and remember that this season, however long, needs to be a time of investing, giving and sacrificing, not taking and wasting.


Allison

Friday, March 1, 2013

How to Fall in Love and Stay in Love with Jesus

I’ve been so blessed by Nancy DeMoss’s current radio series on Song of Songs. It’s only about halfway through, and I’ve already gleaned so much wisdom and encouragement in this generally neglected book of Scripture. I highly encourage you to take the time to listen to this series or read the transcripts. It is time well spent.

 Here is the first day’s program in the series “How to Fall in Love and Stay in Love with Jesus".

And the one that has probably challenged me the most is day 4’s program.

"True love cannot be stationary; it must either decline or grow."
Hudson Taylor



Allison

Friday, February 8, 2013

"An easygoing, non-self-denying life will never be one of power."

Self denial. Abiding. Hungering and thirsting after Christ. This is what God asks of us. That we may be satisfied completely in Him.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25

God’s ways are not our own. To be used by Him requires death on our part.
“Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live” (The Wonderful Cross)

Death to self. Death to my desires. Death to my dreams. Death to my selfishness. Death to “my time”. Death to “my” obedience. Death to my pride. Death to my wisdom. Death to me.

This death then produces life and fruit, because only when I am dead to self can I really be used by God. God doesn’t need my wisdom, my plans, my great ideas, my serving, my ministry, my whatever. He is completely sufficient in Himself. But He does ask for one thing.

He asks for my life. All of me, given up—dead—ready to be used by Him however He wants.

Life in Christ means… His desires. His will. His plans. Relationship with Him. His wisdom. HIM.

Then, and only then, can I bear much fruit. Because as Hudson Taylor wisely wrote:

"An easygoing, non-self-denying life will never be one of power."



Allison

Monday, January 7, 2013

Delight

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4

What does it mean to delight? Some synonyms that come to mind are:
Long for
Take pleasure in
Desire
Love

What does Scripture say of those who delight in the Lord?
They study His ways (Psalm 111:2).
They delight to do His will (Psalm 40:8).
They delight in His law (Psalm 1:2).
They delight in His words (Jer. 15:16).
They delight in His testimonies (Psalm 119:24).

The problem is that we easily turn to things other than the Lord and delight in them.
“…when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Gen. 3:6

We tend look to temporary things for satisfaction and delight, but only the Lord can fill that void. We need to remember our daily need to turn to Him, to call on Him for His power and strength, to seek Him, to delight in Him.

I think Psalm 37:4 is sometimes “overused” due to the second half: “…He will give you the desires of your heart.” Instead of focusing on what will happen (our desires fulfilled), we need to emphasize the first half: “Delight yourself in the Lord!”

Because what happens when we delight in the Lord? If we are focused on delighting in Him, our selfish desires will begin to fade, and we will desire what He desires. Our own desires don’t seem so important when compared to the lasting fulfillment He gives us. And His desires will begin to permeate our hearts. Thus as we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will fulfill the desires of our hearts.

God is not a means to an end, He is the end. We don’t “delight” so we can get what we want. We delight because He is the ultimate source of satisfaction.

May you be blessed as you delight in the Lord!



Allison

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Big and the Small Moments

 “The little moments of life are profoundly important precisely because they're the little moments that we live in and that form us. This is where I think "Big Drama Christianity" gets us into trouble. It can cause us to devalue the significance of the little moments of life and the "small-change" grace that meets us there. And because we devalue the little moments where we live, we don't tend to notice the sin that gets exposed there. We fail to seek the grace that is offered to us…

In these small moments [God] is delivering every redemptive promise he has made to you. In these unremarkable moments, he is working to rescue you from you and transform you into his likeness. By sovereign grace he places you in daily little moments that are designed to take you beyond your character, wisdom and grace so that you will seek the help and hope that can only be found in him. In a lifelong process of change, he is undoing you and rebuilding you again - exactly what each one of us needs!”
Paul Tripp, New Year's Resolutions
(emphasis mine)


Allison