Sunday, March 22, 2020

magnolias

the magnolias near my office, two weeks ago, before everything changed

Sunday, March 8, 2020

trail walk




Views along the trail behind my building, in the first days of "spring"

Monday, February 24, 2020

stuck in sin

 From Alasdair Groves:

The simple fact that your heart is grieved by your sin, rather than saying, “Yes, giddy up to the horse and let’s go,” is a wonderful fruit of the Spirit. There’s no such thing as being back at square one. Every day, every battle, every fight, every victory, every little tiny fruit of the spirit that you are tasting is not square one. 

That is an advance in the kingdom of sanctification, of glory to God, of your heart learning to worship and hate what is evil and cling to what is good. And the more you see it that way, the less you’re going to end up in this despairing mindset of, “Oh no, I did it again; all past growth is now undone.” Instead, you realize, “God has given me grace daily. “I’m actually tasting His graces,” and ironically, that is one of the most inspiring, powerful, motivating factors to help you move away from sin and actually live with purity that is deeper, longer, more profound.

The battle line’s moving in a better place where you are now advancing toward the enemy and your struggle is in a different place than it used to be. We’ll all be tempted until the Lord comes. We will all have sins of pride, greed, selfishness, lust, until the Lord comes. But we eagerly desire that those battle lines keep being pushed further and further, and further away from action, further away from our willful patterns into moments of slipping, rather than moments of racing the other direction, and guiltless indulgence. 

Those little victories are the things to zoom in on and recognize if the Lord is present, and if you are learning to grieve your sin more, then there is no square one reset.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

introspect then serve

Val Woerner on a life-changing shift of thinking:
What's typical:
Prioritizing my comforts
Having an endless list of wants disguised as needs
Being very inflexible with plans
Anxious over little things
Prioritize my goals over other people

Here's been the biggest change recently: I'm thinking about other people more. I know that sounds really basic, but ever since [a recent trip visiting ministry partners], I can't stop thinking about them and how to help.

I'm suddenly reminded how very blessed I am and more aware of the world around me. And it's joy-inducing! It's been the gateway to freedom from anxiety! It's made me content with all the thing a week ago I wanted to change or buy.

Introspection can be good for us but too much can keep me so fixed on myself it's damaging.

In Emily Freeman's book The Next Right Thing she talks about introspection and how it can get twisted if it's not in the presence of God. I think that's the best way to sum it up.

Introspect with the Lord.

And when you're done? Find someone to serve.

God tells us to love and serve, and it's not just because He needs work horses. He knows it will change us too.

peace surpassing understanding

Phylicia Masonheimer, on her family's recent move:

I knew God was leading through this transition partially because I never became discontent in the process. I held our old house in open hands, hopeful and expectant, but never once did I disdain its smallness. Never once did I hate the fact I could see the neighbor's siding out the windows and could never have goats and chickens in town. I was hoping for a change, but content in the transition. And I realized - that's a peace surpassing understanding.

I remember that feeling from when I was single. When I was dating but not engaged. When I was in a job I really didn't like. Only when I gave it to Him hour by hour, praying specifically and boldly with open hands, did the peace pervade my existence. And how "worth it" that was!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

a prayer for battling a destructive desire

From Douglas Kaine McKelvey's "Every Moment Holy," found on Tim Challies' blog, and copied into my prayer journal:
Jesus, here I am again,
desiring a thing
that were I to indulge in it
would war against my own heart,
and the hearts of those I love.

O Christ, rather let my life be thine!
Take my desires. Let them be subsumed
in still greater desire for you,
until there remains no room for these lesser cravings.

In this moment I might choose
to indulge a fleeting hunger,
or I might choose to love you more.

Faced with this temptation,
I would rather choose you, Jesus—
but I am weak. So be my strength.
I am shadowed. Be my light.
I am selfish. Unmake me now,
and refashion my desires
according to the better designs of your love.

Given the choice of shame or glory,
let me choose glory.
Given the choice of this moment or eternity,
let me choose in this moment what is eternal.
Given the choice of this easy pleasure,
or the harder road of the cross,
give me grace to choose to follow you,
knowing that there is nowhere
apart from your presence
where I might find the peace I long for,
no lasting satisfaction
apart from your reclamation of my heart.

Let me build, then, my King,
a beautiful thing by long obedience,
by the steady progression of small choices
that laid end to end will become like
the stones of a pleasing path
stretching to eternity
and unto your welcoming arms
and unto the sound of your voice
pronouncing the judgment:
Well done.

Friday, February 7, 2020

choose your influence

Screenshot-ed from Instagram, author unknown:
You get to choose who and what you allow to influence you. We have the right and authority to assess which voices speak into our lives in these little squares and in real life, and adjust or sever their contribution to our life. I don't have to allow how long I've known a person, how "cool" we've been online with one another, or longevity of any sort, to dictate how much I tolerate in terms of their influence over and in me.

Particularly in this past year or so, I've been wrestling with this SO hard. Yes, we are called to believe the best about each other. Yes, we are called to show grace. Yes, we are to love our neighbors and position ourselves to learn from those with whom we may disagree or are unlike in various ways. This is all true.

Meanwhile, what is also true is that we have the responsibility to sift every voice in our lives, whether passive or active voices, and see what kind of fruit it is producing in our lives. It is one thing to learn from a person, and another to allow their habits to influence you in a manner that is counterproductive to the call of Christ in all Scripture.

I don't have to walk afraid to place people in their proper spheres of influence in my life. I cannot effectively set my mind on things above when I'm allowing inflammatory things to push me in the opposite direction. Because I have a responsibility for the part I play in my own sanctification, I cannot handle this loosely or without strategy. I must be thoughtful, active, and intentional about how I move. I am free to do that. The Holy Spirit wants me to. 

Every voice doesn't need to have my ear to influence. I have control over this, and it's freeing. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

hope is the antidote

from Phylicia Masonheimer's instagram:
Hope is the antidote to turmoil. "Why this turmoil within me?" the Psalmist says. "Put your hope in God, for I will STILL praise Him." For the Christian, turmoil may be a fact we face, a struggle that meets us, but it is not an identity. You cannot overcome what you believe innate to yourself. You cannot live in victory if you accept defeat.

This is not popular to say but I'm saying it because it's in Scripture: God has not changed. His hope and presence are the antidote to anxiety. Doesn't mean you won't struggle. Doesn't mean it won't be a fight. But it's a GOOD fight, and choosing to put hope in God is an act of the will from a standpoint of faith. "I believe I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living." Not after death. Here. Today.

Salvation is unconditional, but most of God's promises are conditional. You obey, trust, walk with Me? I will bless you! I will bring peace!

And it's true. But because we avoid this clear truth about how God works we linger in apathy and inaction. We don't do the things God says will bring peace, then wonder why we aren't peaceful. 

It's a daily fight, but I know it to be a good and holy fight, and I for one refuse to turn over and let the enemy have his way. This is the day we choose hope. This is the day He sends His faithfulness. This is the day we praise Him until we believe the truth. Because God hasn't changed.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

purpose in mission

from Shelley Giglio's instagram:

I've noticed over the years that the people who seem the most tired all the time, minus the ones who have an illness or reason to feel lethargic, are also those who have the least amount of purpose.

People on mission are generally energized.

If exhaustion is your calling card, ask God to help you clarify your purpose and I bet your energy level will also swell.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Mount Vernon





Scenes from this weekend's trip to Mount Vernon

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

be excellent as Christ is excellent


 
All of life is to be lived for the glory of God. Undergirded by moral excellence and godly character, all of our work should be performed with distinction and excellence. Mediocrity and sloppy workmanship never glorify God. Christians must strive for excellence—including, and especially, in pursuing their calling.
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