Stones of Remembrance

Thank You, Lord

Wednesday, I got that dreaded call from my kids on their way to school: “We’ve been in a wreck, but we’re okay.”

As I was about to get ready for work, I changed gears, threw on clothes, grabbed my glasses, and was out the door. I spent the morning interacting with the police, tow truck driver, auto body shop, insurance company and adjustor, discovering the car is in fact totaled.

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Galatians

Verses for the Day – Galatians 1:18-24

We’re reaching the end of Galatians 1 today with these verses:

“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.”

I am helped today by reading No Other Gospel by Josh Moody (Crossway, 2011) and various online commentaries.

In verse 17 and these verses, Paul details where he traveled following his conversion.

Paul is noting that in Jerusalem, where he went after three years, he saw none of the other apostles besides James and Peter, and notes the length of his stay (15 days). He points out that before God he is not lying.

Why does he stress that he telling the truth? Was he being challenged about what he has said?

One of the key themes of Galatians is the conflict between the church authority and the authority of the gospel. Here Paul is establishing the authority of the gospel over the authority of the church. Paul was given the gospel by God, not by Peter or other apostles or some sort of organized meeting of men. He’s pointing out he didn’t see them early on, and when he did, it was only two of them and not for a lengthy stay. Paul knew the gospel as it had been revealed to him by God.

Different churches may try to put authority in man or something given by man, but the true gospel of God comes from God and is authenticated in his Word. This is the gospel that changes lives.

As we see in verse 23-24, though the churches in Judea had not seen Paul’s face, they had heard that he was preaching the faith he once tried to destroy, and they glorified God in Paul.

God’s gospel, given by God, brings glory to God, not to man. You have probably seen that when you hear an amazing testimony of a powerful work of God in the life of someone who has been saved and changed by the gospel. You are amazed at God through the testimony, giving praise to God, not to the person.

It is God’s power at work through the true gospel given by God. I liked this thought:

“Once God gets hold of a man or woman, that can happen [they praised God because of Paul]. He [God] is exalted, but in exalting him, people do not praise the man; they praise God. Perhaps that’s something you can be asking God for, that people would praise God in you.” (No Other Gospel, p.73-74)

Could we ask that of God, that other people would praise God because of us, for His work in us?

PRAYER: Dear Father, we praise you for your Word and the gospel of truth that you have given us. We pray that your work in our lives would be displayed for your great glory and that you would be exalted in us and through us. We pray that you would use us to point people to you, their Savior. May we walk with you today, eyes fixed on you, and rejoice in you and the power of the gospel to change lives. Help us to pray for those around us and to consider who to ask to church for Easter, trusting you to be at work in their lives by the power of the gospel. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer, Stones of Remembrance

A Quick Praise

Well, I went to the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago for a place that had come up on my nose a few weeks prior to that. While he assured me it was not dangerous, he immediately wanted to freeze it off. I didn’t want to do that, so he said I could come back when I wanted to, but that in the meantime, it would keep growing.

I had been praying about it since I had first noticed it, so I decided I would just keep praying about it. I’ve had things like this happen before where a doctor tells me what I need, I opt to wait and pray, and things improve. I’ve seen miracles in my daughter’s life and mine physically (both big and small), and why then would I begin to underestimate God?

I know this was small, I know it seems inconsequential, I know freezing it would have worked out just as well. But I chose to wait and pray. After my last appointment, it did seem to change, and I got nervous, and decided the sooner I got rid of it the better. I made another appointment for today, but continued to pray that it might go away before the visit.

Well, last night, I rubbed a washcloth over my face, and it came right off, completely. I was so thankful. The doctor’s office told me this morning to still come in so he could be sure it was gone, and it was. When he saw it was gone, the doctor asked me, “What did you do?” I could only tell him the only thing I had done: pray! He said, “Well, if it comes back, pray again.”

So anyway, I just want to thank the Lord for this. I know it’s a smaller thing, it wasn’t anything serious, but it was just a small sweet blessing. I had had a rotten day yesterday, too, and was so sad last night, convicted of my ugly sin — and at all times for Him to be gracious to me — in the midst of such ugliness — it just seemed to show me a glimpse of His kindness, patience and mercy, His forgiveness and help when I feel helpless.

Now literally, since I have arrived home this afternoon from the visit, seriously, there is a place itching on my face. I just went and looked in the mirror and it’s some kind of spot! What in the world am I to make of that?! Well, at all times, and in all things, God is in control. He is good. He is worthy of our trust. I want to believe Him and know that He is able. Even when we have suffered physically in greater ways, God has always been near and made Himself known. For all these things, for who He is, for His power and love, I am thankful!

Songs

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord

I love this song:

“If we could see how much You’re worth; Your power, Your might, Your endless love, Then surely we would never cease to praise You!”

Psalm 150:6: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.”

To Him Alone belongs the highest praise!

New Year Themes

God is Light

Two themes I’ve been reflecting on recently: “Whiter than Snow” (from my last post) and “God is Light.” This was another theme that ran through my Christmas season, verses on light and darkness that I had never spent too much time thinking about.

It started on December 4th with our school newsletter. My co-worker added this verse to the top:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

I thought about her selection at the Christmas season: His Light shining in the darkness. Not the first verse I would have thought about at Christmas, but so right. I continued to run across verses talking about the Light that came into the world and that contrasted the Light and darkness.

While we were on vacation after Christmas, everyone went ice skating, and I was alone in the cabin. As I was reading my Bible and praying, confessing, I was thinking about my sin, who I am before God. I looked up and directly across the room on the table was a book entitled Sinner that I had given my husband for Christmas. (He’s been writing fiction, and thus enjoying reading other fiction, this one by Ted Dekker.) As I looked across the room at that book, with the spine facing me, the large words SINNER looking right at me, I thought, “that’s who I am. That is the perfect description of me.”

As I was thinking this through, the sun shone through the dreary overcast snowy day, and all of a sudden, light came shining so brightly into the room. The light was so bright, in fact, that I could no longer read the title on the spine of the book across the room. It was such a perfect illustration of what Christ’s Light does. He comes into the darkness and by His sacrifice, forgives all our sin, such that we become identified with Him, the Light, and He exposes and removes the darkness and changes our lives!

I’ve been thinking a lot about that picture and what to take from these truths. Yesterday, my son had a CD on the counter that he had received this week at his first Upward basketball practice (a national Christian league that is run locally at our church). I asked him what it was, and he said they were songs to help him learn the weekly Bible verses. We put in the CD, and these were the titles of 8 of the 10 songs:

God is Light
The Light Shines in the Darkness
The True Light
They Wanted Darkness
He Will Have the Light
Live in the Light, Too
If We Live in the Light
You Should Be a Light

The common thread to these songs was not lost on me! A verse goes with each song, such as:

“God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5“The Light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overpowered the Light.” John 1:5

“The true Light was coming into the world. The true Light gives life to all.” John 1:9

“Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness. He will have the Light that gives life.'” John 8:12

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” I John 1:7

To think about these verses and these truths has been a powerful thing for me. I love our God, that He is so personal to lead us and teach us through His Word.Praise You, Lord, the true Light, who came into the world to save us and take us out of darkness and into your marvelous light! (And as I write this, I’m reminded of the verse that accompanies my blog at the top of it! “To proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous Light.” Yes, Praise You, Lord!

Stones of Remembrance

A Quick Praise

I just wanted to say a quick praise today!

9 years ago today, we brought our second born home from the hospital after a 3 month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She was discharged from the hospital on her original due date, though she had been born in late July. We came home with an apena monitor so we’d know if her heart stopped, some medications, and lots of instructions on how to follow up with eye exams, weight checks, physical therapy, doctor visits, etc.

I say we brought her “home,” but in reality, we brought her to my mom’s house. She had been born in Memphis, though we lived in Virginia at the time. I had been visiting my mom that summer when the pregnancy deteriorated to the point of hospitalization in early July. And there in Memphis, we stayed for the next 5 1/2 months.

How wonderful for God to provide this place for her birth, where I had grown up and had a loving church family and friends to surround us, my family to care for my oldest while I was in the hospital the month of July, an OB/GYN as my mom’s next door neighbor who God used to save our lives, outstanding doctors, familiarity with where I was. We had been living in Virginia for my husband’s doctoral program at the university there, but we did not have this kind of network, and I actually am not convinced my daughter or I would be alive if the pregnancy had proceeded there where my doctor dismissed everything in this extremely rare, life threatening situation. He did not even want to do an ultrasound, and he wouldn’t have referred me to a high risk doctor. We weren’t even at the UVa hospital, but a lower level one called Martha Jefferson which could not have met our needs. And my doctor was ever reluctant to pass his patients off to anyone associated with UVa.

I see God’s provision in being at my mom’s house with this doctor who came by every day, understood the situation, and got me the care we needed.

I praise the Lord today for His kindness and mercy, for His love for us. I praise Him that He uses hard times, times of suffering, to draw us to Himself in ways we’d never do otherwise. I praise Him that He uses these things for His glory. I praise Him that He allowed my child to live, and I pray she will bless His name always and follow Him all the days of her life, loving Him with all her heart, soul, mind and strength.