TOSSING IN MY PENNIES [MY TWO CENTS ON MILLENNIALS AND THE CHURCH]

Posted by Tori on Aug 1, 2013 in a good word.

Millennials and the church have been blowing up the Internet this week (CNN – Rachel Evans, Gospel Coalition – Trevin Wax, John Hawthorne, etc.). It seems everyone has something to say or something to add to the discussion. I, too, have a lot of thoughts. Usually, I keep quiet on things like this that seem to leave such a ripple effect, but for whatever reason I’m gonna break that rule.

I’m a Millennial. But, I’m not one to always follow the trends like everyone else. I never actually owned an N*Sync CD. However, I did rock a WWJD bracelet for a year or so. And, I did watch Boy Meets World. And, let’s not forget that silly Giga Pet that had to be fed all the time. I didn’t have my own cell phone until I started college. And I remember when Facebook added my university to its list of schools. I remember when blogging was a Xanga page. My first smart phone was a Palm Centro. And it was a learning curve to me. If I hadn’t been engaged to a techie, I don’t think I would’ve gotten it. While I grew up in this culture, I’ve always tended to be more of a traditionalist. I read classic literature. I studied philosophy. I value the importance of thinking well. I value the perspective of eternity. I need that. I need to take a step back and take in the bigger picture. I need to understand where I and my people fit into this great cloud of witnesses; where I stand in relation to the fathers of the church and those who have lived faithfully before me. While I am a part of this generation, I am also a part of something even bigger and way more defining than the year I was born. I am a part of the Church of Christ, His body and representative here until He returns.

G.K. Chesterton wrote: “Philosophy is merely thought that has been thought out. It is often a great bore. But man has no alternative, except between being influenced by thought that has been thought out and being influenced by thought that has not been thought out. The latter is what we commonly call culture and enlightenment today. But man is always influenced by thought of some kind, his own or somebody else’s; that of somebody he trusts or that of somebody he never heard of, thought at first, second or third hand; thought from exploded legends or unverified rumours; but always something with the shadow of a system of values and a reason for preference. A man does test everything by something. The question here is whether he has ever tested the test” (from The Common Man). Wise words.

Christians should influence culture, striving to live and to raise their children to uphold Christ and the Gospel above all else. The Gospel is trans-generational. Loving God and loving people still sums up all the Law and the Prophets. Yes, change is coming and has come and is entering the Church and is camped out on its doorstep. No, it’s not going anywhere. But, I feel like the contemporary church has focused a little too closely on cultural relevance and is losing it’s grasp on the purpose of living as the bride of Christ, the people of God. It’s become more of a business than a living organism, the hands and feet of its redeemer. Christ is the head of the Church. Not the culture. Not the whims and desires of any generation. Not the prevalence of the discussion on sexuality. Not the popularity of social justice. Christ is the head. And when He functions as such, the Church functions as it should no matter the generations or the cultures that it consists of. I think, too, that sometimes we Westerners forget that we aren’t the center of the Church, or the world, for that matter.

I think that Millennial Christians, myself included, will benefit from taking a step back to reevaluate who we are in Christ and our role in the Church in shaping and reaching a culture that is far from Him — one that venerates self and instant gratification over anything eternal. We have to work out where we stand. Yes, there are elements of “how we do church” that are frustrating and that fall short and that need to be rethought (last year’s National Back to Church Sunday Rap). We shouldn’t just keep doing it because that’s how church is supposed to be done (excellent piece: “Doing It Wrong”). Sunday morning should scream AUTHENTIC, because Christ was the embodiment of authenticity.

I want to be part of a generation like the men of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32 who understand the times and know what to do. Are Millennials leaving the Church? Looks like it. Am I leaving the Church? Nope. Because I’m his bride. I was bought with a price. I love His Church because I love Him. His people here on Earth will always be broken. Always be finite. Always let you down. This is never to discount the experiences of those who have been hurt and devastated by the Church. I can’t template my own personal experience within the Body onto someone else. I have to listen and open my eyes to how I may be shaping someone else’s experience within the Church. And, I am so sorry for the hurt you’ve experienced. You’re right, it shouldn’t be that way.

People will always come and go, but He is the constant.

HE is the one that saves. HE is the one with the words of life.

Share/Bookmark

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

-
 

MEET CARRIE…AND HER NEW BOOK!

Posted by Tori on Jun 30, 2013 in a good word., Guest

Birds of a Feather Pages2 WMb

Hi friends! I know I have been zeroed in on the Love Does series I just wrapped up for my church, and I haven’t done any other blogging since that project began. FAIL. Sorry. But, this is something I have been dying to share with you. I went to college with (and lived next door to) an incredible girl named Carrie. Carrie has been one of my deepest friends for many years. I love her to pieces. She is talented (far beyond what she gives herself credit for) from the tip of her head to the soles of her feet. God’s fingerprints are all over her, and His love flows so beautifully through her to everyone she meets. Trust me when I say: you will be better for having known her…so, allow me to introduce you!

I asked Carrie to guest post on the blog today about herself and her first book, Birds of a Feather.

——————————————————————————————-

Birds of a Feather with WM

The Backstory:

Ever since before I can remember I’ve been drawing, coloring, or creating things out of clay, string, and even tissues (yep, I made little stuffed animals about of tape, cotton balls, and tissues).   I could often be caught daydreaming throughout the day, to my mother’s dismay.   Why was she so dismayed?  Well, I was homeschooled and supposed to be doing my schoolwork.

At the age of five I was diagnosed as having a learning disability which hindered me from reading until the age of ten.  Many people in the education realm had given up on me.  But my mother and father refused to give up.  Each night my dad read me stories and each day my mom drilled me.   By the age of twelve, I started to realize how my God given talents could help me over come my issues with processing words.   I began to draw what I heard or read.   And that is how this crazy world of mine began!    I went to college, studied art and education.   I graduated with a Master’s degree in Education and began my own business as a tutor for struggling students.  On the side, I wrote and illustrated silly and creative stories as a personal hobby.

For years, I kept this talent hidden, afraid that the one aspect of my life where I felt good about myself would also be stripped down and evaluated.   I constantly felt a tug on my heart, but never could get enough courage to actually put my work out there.   Looking back on it now, I realize God was prompting me and I was merely hiding my talent.

Birds of a Feather WM2

However, God had better and bigger plans.  He knew how to pull me out from under the bed.   After several nights of wrestling with my gift, I finally threw it before God’s feet and left it there.   I basically placed a fleece before God.   I told Him, “Look, if you really want me to do this you’re going to have to make a way, because I have no idea what the next step is!”   Now, I know we all do it at one point or another during out lives…But take my advice-it’s never a good idea to challenge God.    Soon after, I met my husband to be, Stephen.   He, like me, was creative and owned his own online business.  After several months of dating (and thinking that God was done with my writing/illustrating), my fiancé discovered my talent.   He immediately began researching and placing brick by brick, step by step, in front of me.   I felt similar to Dorothy on the yellow brick road.   Things were coming at me fast, but I knew I wasn’t alone.  Not only was God leading us every step of the way, but he had also given me a traveling companion for the journey.

I’m reminded of Isaiah 43:19 as I remember all of this… “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”

I was starting a new path and it was springing forth right in front of me.   So, here I am.  I’ve already published my first book and I’ve got two others in the works.   I’m excited where God is leading me next!

Birds of a Feather WM3

The Book:

Well, Birds of a Feather started out as a gift for my husband…Basically making fun of the awkward and difficult situations we find ourselves in.  As I was working through it, I suddenly had the idea… “I’m sure there are other girls who feel the same way I do!”   I mean, ladies, we all have to admit—at times marriage is outright frustrating!

So, why not get a laugh out of it?!

I “love” going to the movies and see the perfect marriages laid out on the big screen.  Those idealistic, setting us up for failure ideals (Yep, those movies.)  Let’s face it: Hollywood doesn’t paint a correct picture.

So, I tried to, by following two quirky owls and their adventure in marriage.

  • They fight,
  •  they cry,
  • They burn dinner,
  • And YES…They fart in front of each other.

I created this book as a reminder of what marriage is supposed to be—a lot of fun, love, and work.  Yep, work.  Marriage is a commitment, and even though I love my husband—at times I want to strangle him.  So, I created this book for me and others to laugh at the difficult times and also remind ourselves of the important “rulez” we committed to on our wedding day.  I’ve included some illustrations for your enjoyment!  If you have friends getting married soon, this book could be the perfect comical gift.  It even has a personalized section for bridal showers!

I hope you enjoy the book! You can get your own today from Amazon here.

Also, be sure to check out my blog: www.MarriageLoveBirds.com

Much Love,

Carrie K. Luc

Pages from Birds of a Feather WM

-
 

LOVE DOES, PART 6: LOVING INEFFICIENTLY

Posted by Tori on Jun 27, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

We made it!! This book is revolutionary, and I hope it has revolutionized (and will continue to revolutionize) your faith a little along the way. You know, loving inefficiently is something Bob talks about all the time — not only that, it’s how he lives. It’s a lot like the picture of grace we looked at in Part 4 as being a one-way love. And, he adds the element of “whimsy” to it. For Bob, whimsy is combining the action or the exercising of our faith with something that is worth the doing or the exercising. It’s spontaneous, anonymous, and out of the box.

I really have learned a lot about myself as I’ve read through this book. I have realized that I am way too selfish & uptight to love like Jesus. In Matthew 22, Jesus has a conversation with some Pharisees that went like this:

34But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36″Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the great and foremost commandment. 39The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus boiled down everything involved in living for God to this: loving God with all we have, and loving other people like we do ourselves. If we get these two right, everything else will fall into place. But, do I really (fully and selflessly) love God with ALL I am (not holding back one, single ounce of me)…and do I really love my neighbor like I do myself? I, of course, would like to think that I do, but far too often, I don’t. Not only have I been confronted with how self-absorbed I am, I’ve also seen that there is an element of fear that holds me back from loving my neighbor as I should. I’m afraid I’ll lose something, or get something on me, or afraid of something unknown.

What would my love look like if I cared more about other people than myself, and trusted Him so fully that I wasn’t afraid of anything? Well, for one thing, it would look a whole lot more like Jesus. And a whole lot less religious and uptight.

You see, Jesus loved on the people that everyone else had cast aside — the ones that everyone overlooked or ignored — mainly because they had an idea that they were somehow better, or that they may somehow be contaminated by getting too close. He loved on people with leprosy, a woman who bled for twelve years, a short man catching a glimpse of Him from a tree, a man with demons, and on and on and on. And, Jesus made time for them.

If I really love God with all my heart, soul, and mind, then I will trust Him fully and completely. I’ll know what it means for Him to love in and through me. I’ll know that on my own, apart from Him, I’m incapable of any semblance of love. And, from that place, I will love my neighbor as myself. Because then, I won’t be afraid of contamination, or loss, or image, or that my to-do list won’t get crossed off, or anything. I won’t be afraid because I will be secure and rooted in my identity as His.

People are always more important. This is one that I think Bob understands well. And, it’s one the Lord began teaching me when I was a brand new college student. I was so focused and concerned on what I needed to accomplish, that I found myself frustrated when I would get interrupted. But, He quickly opened my eyes to the truth that stopping for that 10-minute conversation with a hall-mate who just needed to get something off her chest, or offering a hug to someone who had a hard day, or noticing another person’s need was far more important than if the paper was finished on time or if I slept that night. And, He proved it to me over and over. That He was enough and that loving Him well and loving my neighbor well really did cause everything else to fall into place.

This life that He invites us to live fully in Him is incredible. We need to allow His Spirit to move us past just agreeing with what we read in the Scripture or see lived out in the life of Jesus to actually doing it; actually taking the next step to live it. It’s what James talks about when we put action and life to our profession of faith. Without it, the faith is dead. Now, it’s important to remember that we cannot just up and do this on our own. If we try that, I guarantee it will fail. Every time. It has to be Him doing it in us. But, He will show us what the next step is.

I would love to hear what you have learned and are taking away from this incredible book. Below you’ll find a “Thank You” video from Bob on all the support for Love Does that he made almost a year ago. Enjoy.

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.” (Philippians 1:9, NLT)

 

1
 

LOVE DOES, PART 5: JESUS PLUS NOTHING

Posted by Tori on Jun 23, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

Can you believe how we are flying through this book?! Over the past several days, we have read over Chapters 21-26. And, as usual, there is some good stuff tucked in these pages. I want to focus in on something that Bob said in Friends, Welcome Home. This is the story he tells about he and some buddies participating in the Transpac Race (from L.A. to Hawaii). He talks a lot about discerning where he is and the direction God is leading. He talks about navigating from fixed points, much like he did to navigate the course from L.A. to Hawaii.

He says a couple of things that I like in this chapter. One is this: “I think that navigating a relationship with a living God can be just that easy, and the math is easy too. It’s Jesus plus nothing.” Jesus plus nothing is a concept Paul stressed over and over throughout his ministry. Look with me at Galatians 1:6-10.

6I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;7which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Paul is writing here to the church in Galatia. This church has been tainted with false teaching. The “different gospel” Paul refers to is a distortion of the true gospel of Christ which crept into the church, not from an outside religion or group, but from within — it was a close counterfeit to the truth. The people he speaks about in verse 7 were professing Christ followers. Even if an angel from Heaven is preaching a different version of the gospel, he is to be accursed. (Strong words Paul uses here.) Mixing a little Jesus in with a little of this and a little of that is disastrous, and not something to be taken lightly. Religion is not the good news. The good news is the person and work of Jesus, alone and all by Himself — plus nothing.

In a sermon on the book of Galatians, John Piper makes this warning:

“If a ‘different gospel,’ which is no gospel but only a perversion, can spring up inside the church, then surely we must make it our aim to become rigorous and discriminating in our doctrinal knowledge. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:20, ‘Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature.’ Galatians is one of the best books in the Bible for helping us refine and clarify what the heart of the gospel is, which can’t be replaced or altered. There is a tragic pattern in churches and in history, I think. Renewal breaks forth on a church or on an age through a fresh encounter with the gospel and the Spirit. Hearts are filled with the love of Christ, and mouths are filled with praise. The concern for evangelism and justice rises. But in all the glorious stirrings of heart there begins to be an impatience with doctrinal refinements. Clear doctrine requires thought, and thought is seen to be the enemy of feeling, so it is resisted. There is the widespread sense that the Holy Spirit will guard the church from all error, and so rigorous study and thought about the gospel are felt to be not only a threat to joy but a failure of faith. The result over a generation is the emergence of a people whose understanding of biblical teaching is so hazy and imprecise that they are sitting ducks for the Galatian heresy.”

I think I agree with his assessment. And may it never be said of my generation. As believers, we need to know the truth of the Gospel and be rooted in it so deeply, that we are not easily seduced by something that creeps in looking eerily similar, yet distorting the truth. Remember, it’s Jesus plus nothing.

Bob continues to tell his story of navigating across the Pacific. He talks of a man who was waiting to receive the boats as they sailed into the marina in Oahu. He stood, reading their names and welcoming them. Bob draws some parallels about what he thinks being received into Heaven may look like. He begins to talk about the book of life, but then he says the other thing in this chapter that I really liked: “And their names weren’t in the book because of what they did or didn’t do. They were in there because of who God is and what He has done…[to redeem them].” Amen & amen. I may or may not have gotten chills when I read that line.

Galatians 4:3-5 says:

3So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Romans 5:6-10 tells us:

6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

We are redeemed solely through His gift of faith and grace, and His finished work on our behalf. It is to the glory of His name only that we come and are received. We’re not here because of anything we have or have not done. This is all about who He is and what He’s done to reconcile us to himself.

His love for us blows my mind. Every time. One of the lines from the song below says this: We’ve only glimpsed His vast affection / Heard whispers of His heart and passion. Bask in the love He’s pouring over you today. It is deep, wide, fierce, strong, furious, sweet, wild, and life giving. And it’s yours. In this moment. Now and always. Not only that, but it is this love that flows through us to lavishly, unselfishly, and whimsically love this world around us — pointing them straight back to the author of it all. This is what screams at me the loudest from Bob’s book. Why would I not surrender to His love in and through me to love my neighbor as wildly and lavishly as He loves me?

Forgive me, Lord. Thank you for this life and your love. It’s you alone, plus nothing at all. And it’s you we adore and live for.

This Friday, 6/28, will be our last post in this series. I hope you have loved it as much as I have, and have learned, grown, and been inspired to love more like Jesus. Between now & Friday, try to finish up the book, reading chapters 27-31.

2
 

LOVE DOES, PART 4

Posted by Tori on Jun 19, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

Welcome back, sisters! I hope y’all have had a good week so far and have enjoyed getting a little deeper into Bob’s book. We just finished up through chapter 20. Bob’s stories are so captivating and segue beautifully into some truth about our Lord. I really enjoyed chapter 17, Corner Store Economics. I felt like I was standing unnoticed in the corner of the store, peering into this little vignette. I loved the tenderness of the moment, when he learned that shiny pennies are worth two. And Bob’s right that Jesus’ economy — His way of living this life — doesn’t look like the warped thing we’ve made it. In Him, we can be rich in our poverty, we can be strong in our weakness, we become humble to be lifted up, and we lose our life to find it. Not only this, but He extends a grace that no finite mind could have ever dreamed up. His grace  holds everything together and affects us in ways we’re oblivious to. And, we have the privilege to extend grace to others. As we have received grace from our Lord, He works within us to extend grace to those around us…so, we can be a part of changing someone’s world…letting them in on the secret that shiny pennies with us are worth two.

Let’s spend some time soaking in His grace towards us today, and opening our eyes to see it in us and all around us. I have a great book by Paul Zahl entitled, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life. Here is an excerpt:

Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable. It is being loved when you are the opposite of loveable. … Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called ‘gifts’ (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold. … Grace is one-way love. The one-way love of grace is the essence of any lasting transformation that takes place in human experience. … One-way love lifts up. One-way love cures. One-way love transforms. It is the change agent of life.

How is He showing you one-way love today? Who can you show one-way love to today? You never know how He may choose to use it to change a life, or even the world…

-
 

LOVE DOES, PART 3

Posted by Tori on Jun 14, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

Hey girls! Welcome to the blog! In case you haven’t been here over the past couple of weeks, I’ll let you in on what’s happening. We are reading through Bob Goff’s book, Love Does over the month of June as a part of my women’s ministry’s summer book club. But, you do not have to be a part of the women’s ministry or even have been following along up to this point to join in. The beauty of this book is how light and easy it is to read and to pick up at any point along the way. So, I hope you’ll make yourself at home and hop on in.

For those of you that have been following along, I really do hope that you are enjoying this as much as I am, and that you have been inspired and challenged to love more freely and passionately. This week, we have taken a look at Chapters 11-15 together. I love how the main themes from each of these chapters tie together so beautifully.

We have to remember and be conscious of how impactful our words are to others (Wow, What a Hit!). Your words — my words — have the power to build up or tear down. We may never know what words from our lips will stick with someone and shape how they think, how they view themselves, or how they live. I think about this often when I’m interacting with my children. I want, more than anything, to speak life to them. To build them up. To show them Jesus. I fall short over and over. But, He remains gracious even in my failure.

The book of James has a lot to say about the power of the tongue. Look at what James says in 3:4-5, 9-12:

4Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

You know, Bob makes another excellent point that, far too often, people are fed a “fake Jesus” and left with a bitter taste in their mouths (A New Kind of Diet). What we say and how we live before others who do not know Jesus speaks volumes to them about who He is and what we truly believe. I think that what makes the difference, more than our words, is our love. After all, Jesus said that others will know we follow Him by how we love (John 13:34-35).

We have to be genuine. We have to stop wearing masks. We have to stop being so prideful that we worry about what others would think if they saw the real us — imperfections, failures, sin, and all. Have we ever stopped to consider what that communicates about the cross of Christ? When we are so wrapped up in portraying an image of ourselves, we diminish Christ’s work. Your redeemed life screams forth His glory. If we conceal our flaws, our past, or our mistakes, then we make our faith all about what we can do, not about what He has done to pull us out of our pit; to bring a dead soul to life.

Part of being genuine involves a balance in our language and how we approach our faith in conversation (A Word Not to Use). We cannot have an attitude of exclusivity (that’s about the farthest from Christ you can get). We need to be careful not to over-complicate or over-spiritualize. Bob says it this way:

“A lot of Christians do the same thing [angling] with their faith without really noticing it. It’s not because they’re malicious or anything. They’ve just bought into the hype that faith is like an exclusive club you’re in. They take what used to be authentic friendships and use them like a networking cocktail mixer. … But these folks run the risk of downgrading a genuine and sincere faith…”

Let’s just be as genuine a Christ follower as we can be, and let’s ask His Spirit to help us. And, let’s remember the mission we’re on — to spread the word about the invitation of God to live fully and forever through His Son (There’s More Room).

Bob throws out one of my most favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis in his chapter, Bigger and Better. This is what Lewis says: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a great admirer of Lewis. He is so, so right. We settle way too easily for something that we are convinced is unrivaled and glorious and happy. Yet, we have no way of imagining how infinitely greater it is to behold Christ; and how fully and completely satisfied we can be in Him — Him alone.

It’s like that, too, in regard to how we love. We hold back way too much when we try to love. If this book has taught me anything, it is how stingy I am with my love, as if I had something to lose. Listen close, friend, you will never look back on your life with Lord, loving and living like Him, and say, “I gave to much.” 

People, though originally formed and fashioned in His image, are fallen and depraved. Some people are down right evil. It may be easy to look at them and claim that they are not worth the sacrifice of your love. But, God sees mankind differently. Sin against a perfect and holy God is equally deplorable, and equally worthy of death. Yet, God claims that His creation is worth the sacrifice of His love, not because of anything good in and of ourselves, but because of His own goodness. He chooses to love us and offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sin. He initiates the action of reconciliation, not as the offending party, but as the offended party. He is holy, and His wrath towards sin is just as righteous as His goodness. Propitiation originates with God, not to appease Himself, but to justify Himself in His uniform kindness to men deserving His wrath. John Stott simplifies it this way, “God himself gave himself to save us from himself.”

So, as His people, redeemed by His blood, we love others not because they are worthy, but because He is worthy. And we love them out of His love for us. That’s why Jesus said this in Matthew 5:44-48 (ESV):

44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

That’s how we do it. It’s all Him through us.

So, this week, I am asking Him to love through me. To cause my eyes to see people like He sees them. To love fully, not holding anything back!

(I look forward to meeting you back on Wednesday, 6/19 to discuss Chapters 16-20. If you’re new to the study, you can download a .pdf of the schedule here.)

 

 

1
 

LOVE DOES, PART 2

Posted by Tori on Jun 9, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

Welcome! I am so glad to have you here for part two of our Love Does study. Over the past few days, we have read through Chapters 5-10. I hope you’re loving these stories and the sweet truths tucked inside. This grouping of chapters has so many great ideas and truths we could discuss, but today I want to just focus on chapter 6, “Go Buy Your Books!” I really went back and forth over this because these chapters are so good, but this is where I’ve landed. Please feel free to discuss the other chapters or other ideas in our comments, if you’d like.

I love Bob’s persistence and determination to get into Law school! I also like the idea that there are times when it is appropriate to sit and wait in front of a closed door, or even to kick it in. There will be times when you get a sense of direction and face opposition; times when it seems nothing is coming together and what you’ve been hoping and praying for may never happen. Don’t be quick to take that as a cue to back down or step away. Seek his wisdom; ask for discernment, and be bold. Think of how the trajectory of Bob’s life would have changed if he had accepted the school’s, “No” and walked away. We may never be reading his book.

When I think about things like this and the weight of our decisions, sometimes I have been tempted to worry about what might happen if I “make the wrong decision” or if whatever I choose isn’t “God’s best” for me. Have you ever had similar thoughts? We could hammer out these questions, and all the theological implications buried within them, but that’s been done before…and by far wiser folks than me. I do, though, just want to offer a little slice of encouragement…in case I’m not the only one who has ever wrestled with those thoughts.

Remember, you are his child. Nothing you do can ever separate you from His love. Yes, He has a plan and a purpose for your life — a specific one, at that. Yes, He is sovereign, and He does see the end from the beginning. But, there is great grace, dear daughter. There is also freedom. He holds you in the palm of His hand; you will never travel outside the reach of His grasp. There is redemption — redemption for our souls, for our mistakes, for our wasted years. He won’t waste one single bit of it.

Psalm 139:5 says, “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”

I LOVE this verse. I reminds me that He surrounds me. I heard someone describe this verse as “being in the ‘hug’ of God — behind & before.” That picture has always stuck with me. It gives me encouragement when I’m faced with a decision that has the potential to carry an extreme amount of weight for my life…or someone else’s.

Here’s that verse in its context:

1O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11If I say, ”Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

 

When I was a teenager, a very wise woman once told me that when you find yourself in a situation and you’re not sure what to do or what to think, go back to what you know. Go back to what you know to be true of Him. Go back to His Word. Go back to when you know He has been faithful to you; when you know what He has said. That wisdom hasn’t let me down yet. Because He is always faithful and always good, even when I can’t see or hear Him. He never changes.

This past week, an incredible guy I went to college with passed away. He was 29. In the midst of such a sudden loss and heartbreak, He remains constant and faithful to His children. Stu’s last words were, “God is good.” And He is. So, so good. And Stu is experiencing that goodness in all its glory and splendor.

I’m not sure if you’re wrestling over a decision right now, or sitting in front of a closed door wondering if you even heard Him right in the first place, or if you’re in the middle of a storm or a heartbreak that seems almost relentless. Maybe you’re not. But, if I had to guess, I’d say you will probably find yourself in one of those situations sooner than you might think. Remember these verses when you do. Remember their truth when you don’t know what to do.

He holds you and He loves you.

There is freedom and grace and redemption for your souls. Walk in it…boldly…kicking down the doors…to receive all that He has for you.

-
 

LOVE DOES, PART ONE

Posted by Tori on Jun 4, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

Hi girls! I’m so happy you’re here for our first post in the Love Does series. I hope that you enjoyed the first four chapters of Bob’s book. He is such a great storyteller. I’ve caught myself chuckling out loud, and really feeling like I’m in a conversation with a friend. If this is your first time checking out the study, please feel welcomed & jump right on in with us!

Over the weekend, we read through Chapters 1-4 together. I loved so much about these chapters. Let’s talk about Randy. What a guy. I was really struck by the faithfulness of his friendship with Bob. Not only did he stick with him (literally), but he refrained from giving advice, or criticizing Bob’s decisions. He largely remained silent in speech, but spoke volumes by his presence and the demonstration of his love. Then, to top it all off, we learn at the end of the chapter that he had just married and sacrificed some of the first days with his bride for Bob.

I spent several of my college years serving in youth ministry. I got engaged and married during these years too, and this story made me ask myself if I would have done the same thing Randy did for Bob. And, I’m sad to say, I don’t think I would have. And, even if I had felt prompted by the Spirit to go along with a gal to get her started on her journey, I doubt highly that I would have been able to refrain from giving advice or criticism. I’m not very good at keeping my mouth shut, but I’m learning more and more God’s wisdom in being slow to speak (James 1:19). (Granted, there are times when we should offer advice or admonish someone in love. We have to lean in close to the Spirit and use discernment to know when to speak and what to say.)

Some of the awesome kids from our youth group who came to our wedding. Looking at these faces brings back so much. I still love each one of them and pray God’s best for them.

I’m probably going to say this a lot over the next few weeks because it’s so true, and it’s something I’ve been challenged by from this book: I am way too uptight. Why wouldn’t I do that? Why don’t I love like that? What would actually happen if I did? And what am I so worried about? Isn’t my God enough? He is. He most certainly is. And I want to live and love in a way that shouts that louder than anything else.

Ok, what about Ryan? Isn’t he hilarious?! After reading this story, I again had to ask myself what I would do if someone approached me like Ryan approached Bob. I think that I ultimately would have given him all I could and jumped in to make his night as special as it could be, but I would have probably been a lot more skeptical or standoffish at first. It would have taken a while for me to warm up to the whole idea, I imagine. But, I love this story. I love everything about Ryan’s approach that nothing is off-limits or out-of-reach when it comes to declaring his love for his gal. I love the parallels Bob draws between God’s uncontainable love for us and Ryan’s wild schemes. He says, “I don’t know if God was a little bit like Ryan when He created everything, or if Ryan was a little bit like God. But what I do know is that Ryan’s audacious love is some of the best evidence I’ve found of the kind of love Jesus talked about, a love that never grows tired or is completely finished finding ways to fully express itself” (emphasis my own).

I do think Ryan’s actions reflected God’s love for us. God is the embodiment of love. For Him, it’s not a quality He possesses; it is who He is. Our God is love. We know NOTHING of love to any degree apart from Him. It’s Him that loves through us. That’s the beauty of what it means to be redeemed; to be His child.

Some people find it easy to receive God’s love for them through a beautiful sunrise, or a warm breeze, or a bluebird bathing in the garden. But, for me, I have always admired and been left completely speechless at the beauty and intricacy of God’s creation, but have somehow found it difficult to view those breathtaking glimpses as an expression of His love for me. An expression of His majesty and glory? Without hesitation, yes. But to accept the idea that He might have put that bluebird in the garden simply for my enjoyment has been difficult. I have always thought that way too selfish. But, lately, I have begun to shift my thinking. Could it be that for Him to put on such an outrageous show for us in the form of His creation — a display that, mind you, is only the fringes of His ways (Job 26) — simply because He knows it will make us smile, demonstrates an even greater aspect of His glory than just the power He has to create it? I believe so. He loves us. Oh, how He loves us! He is great, but greater still because He condescends to redeem us, and even beyond that, to be our friend & declare us His own children, joint heirs with His Son, Jesus. Mind blown.

Reflect, along with me right now, on His lavish love for us. For you. You. He pulls out all the stops for you. Not because you’re worthy. Or because you’ve done anything to deserve it. In fact, we’ve done everything to deserve just the opposite. Yet, His love is perfect and complete. I was in a group of ladies the other week, and one of them mused, “He knows exactly how to deal with me.” And I was struck, in that moment, with the fact that He loves each one of us so intimately and knows exactly how to deal with us. He is intentional in His timing, in His shouts, in His whispers, in His silence, in His every dealing with us.

Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

I don’t know where you are today, or what this season of life brings for you. But, I know this. He will finish what He has started. He is working. And it is glorious, even if what we see looks very much like an unfinished mess. And, that He loves you. He really, really loves you. And He is telling you over and over and over, even through the bluebird outside your window. He is for you. Because He is good.

So, what’s my main take-away from our section of reading? Well, I think it is that we have to first learn to receive and live in the lavish love of God toward us (like the picture we see in Ryan’s love) before we can ever be free to love selflessly like Randy. It is He who loves through us, and we love because He first loved us.

Matthew 22:35-40, “35One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36″Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the great and foremost commandment. 39The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.‘ 40On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

1 John 4:7-21, “7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.13By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19We love, because He first loved us. 20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

Here are some questions for our discussion over the next few days. Please don’t feel like you have to answer all of them. They are just here as a springboard. I’m sad we didn’t have the chance to cover something from each chapter — I have some pretty good notes from chapter 4…  (The Reach) ;)

  • What stood out to you from Chapters 1-4?
  • What were you encouraged or challenged by?
  • How do you experience/receive His love for you in the daily moments?
  • What is He saying to you about the relationship between receiving His love for you and the way you love other people?

If you are interested in being a part of the Google Hangout on Friday, 6/7, please respond in the comments or send me an email at recountingthewonders@easoms.com. The Hangout will be at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern). Also, please read Chapters 5-10 in preparation for our discussion on Monday, 6/10.

2
 

SISTERHOOD ONLINE SUMMER BOOK STUDY

Posted by Tori on May 30, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

Welcome aboard, sisters! I am SO glad you’re here. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about this study. We are going to have a blast! For all of you big-picture, detail-oriented folks like me, here is a look at my vision for this study over the month of June.

We will be reading through Love Does by Bob Goff together. The book has 31 short (as in an average of 5 pages) chapters that each tell a story from Bob’s life and explain some of what he’s learned about love and knowing God. I have broken the chapters down according to what we will discuss at each interval. Our discussion will be mainly over the themes and ideas in Bob’s book, so there is absolutely no pressure if you aren’t up to speed on the reading. You will definitely be able to jump in on the discussion without feeling left in the dark! Also, I have made the reading very manageable so we’re never reading more than one chapter a day. Here’s the breakdown:

You can download a PDF copy of the schedule here.

The discussion will be held primarily through the comments. I have tried to make leaving comments simple. Just click on the number in the circle at the bottom right of the post. You’ll be asked to enter your name, and your email address (this will not be shared or visible at all). Then, you’ll be able to enter your comment. Below the comment field, you’ll see a simple addition or subtraction equation. By filling in the correct answer in the blank, your comment will automatically be submitted. You also have the option to receive future comments or replies via email. Easy peasy! Since this will be the bulk of our interaction together, please take advantage of it. We will all benefit more from this study if each one of us engages in the comments.

You’ll see on the schedule that I will be hosting Google Hangouts throughout our study. These are entirely optional, and are designed to be a time for you to connect with other women from the study in a small group setting without having to meet together at a physical location. If you’re planning to attend a Hangout, I’ll ask you to RSVP closer to time. The Hangouts will be held in the evening, but the times may vary depending on the date.

For today, introduce yourself in the comments with your name, location, one interesting thing about yourself, and what you’re most looking to get out of this study.

Now, go out and grab a copy of Love Does this weekend, and read over chapters 1-4! I can’t wait to connect again on Wednesday and talk about what we’ve learned.

4
 

DOING A NEW THING

Posted by Tori on May 28, 2013 in a good word., Sisterhood Summer Study

Girls, I am so excited to share this with you! I am privileged to be a part of the women’s ministry at Seacoast Church, called Sisterhood. We have got a lot of great things lined up over the summer. Summertime is always busy, and it is fun to take a break an enjoy some more relaxed rhythms during these months. With that in mind, I am hosting an online summer book study right here on the blog. While the study is organized as a part of the Sisterhood summer activities, anyone is welcome to join in!

My prayer is that you will feel welcomed here and fully at home; that you will be able to experience true community with other sisters in Christ from wherever you are & according to your own schedule; and that He will use it to change us and make us look more like Jesus.

20130528-233418.jpg

We are reading through Bob Goff’s book, Love Does over the month of June. There will be weekly (sometimes twice weekly) posts beginning this Friday, May 31. You will be able to engage in discussion through the comments (by clicking on the number in the circle at the bottom right of each post), and we will also hold a weekly Google Hangout session for those interested in going deeper. I’ll be posting more details on Friday. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at recountingthewonders@easoms.com.

This is such an incredible book! I know you will be both encouraged and challenged through it. It is a light, fun read, comprised of personal stories from Bob’s life that have shaped his understanding of God & how He loves through us.

I cannot wait to meet you and have you along!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

1

Copyright © 2014 easoms.com All rights reserved.