The Hurt and the Healer

I’ve been reminded quite often that this body I have will not last.  It gets hurt and sickness overtakes it.  Some days it is just in pain.  It gets exhausted and worn out.  It has bruises and scars.

The other day I heard Mercy Me’s song “The Hurt and the Healer” and just loved some of the lyrics.  It was a wonderfully refreshing reminder that this is not home.  This body will not last forever, and we all will be restored and well.  Our Lord will return and call His people home.  What a glorious day it will be!

Here are the lyrics:

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

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Provision.

It is a huge day for us.  Monumental in fact.

Spencer’s payday.

It might not sound like a big deal.  But for us, this is a huge milestone.  We made it!

God has shown Himself to be Provider in so many ways to us.  We didn’t know how we would make it to today, but He allowed us to.  We wondered how we would pay for the honeymoon, pay bills, and live off of my low income through the summer and August.

But we made it.  The Lord brought us through…splendidly.  It has been amazing looking back in such a short time and seeing God’s provisions.

He provided us a wonderful house to live in that is just perfect for us, and amazing landlords to go along with it who are great friends and have taken such good care of us.

He provided a fantastic job for Spencer that suits him so well.

He provided a week for us to housesit for friends that helped our electric and grocery bill a ton.

He has given us an amazing church family and community in Jackson who are willing to help in time of need, offer prayer, and show support.

He has used people to bless us with gift cards to be able to buy groceries and eat out.

There have been little, daily things that have happened that have been completely God’s blessings.

The Lord is provider.  And He has shown that to us.

He provided what we needed.  And we are so grateful.  We will always be able to look back at this summer and be reminded of God’s faithfulness, goodness, and provisions.  We cannot worry.  We cannot doubt.  We cannot stress.  He is so faithful.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like on of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is throne into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we rink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.                          –Matthew 6:23-34

Being Thankful

I recently read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It was a delightfully poetic and theologically rich book.  It took me awhile to get used to her writing style, but once I began to see how not just what she said, but the way in which she said it made herself so vulnerable to the readers.  She truly opened up her heart and daily experiences to allow others to see what God calls us to, in our ordinary mundane lives.

The essence of the book is that thankfulness, gratitude profoundly affects one’s faith, life, outlook, personality, everything.  Being thankful is necessary.  The Lord says to be thankful throughout the Scriptures.  The Psalms are filled with believers declaring God’s goodness and faithfulness and their response of gratitude.  One Thousand Gifts was so very refreshing.  Simple.  Yet profound.

The whole idea of living in daily gratitude, filled with thankfulness in every moment is something that I’ve had in my heart for quite some time.  For as long as I can remember my “theme verse” so to speak has been James 1:2-4

“Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

(Hence the “Consider it Joy” tattoo on my foot.)

Anyway, that has been the song of my heart since middle school.  The trials I have experienced in life have allowed me to experience God, see His provision, and know His joy.  I love being able to tell others the ways the Lord has been so good and faithful in my life; I love being able to tell of His mercies and His power; I love being able to tell of the Lord’s willingness to see us through the deepest, darkest nights as well as the lustrous, happy days.  I remember a Wednesday night at youth group when we were talking about trials.  My student minister, who I consider a big brother, asked me to speak a bit up front and said “When I think of someone going through trials, I think of you.”  It was humbling to think that as a high schooler, God was preparing my heart and even then teaching me that He allows us to go through tough things to shape us into more pure image bearers, holier disciples.  Our trials can indeed point others to the gospel.

On one of my trips to the Dominican Republic in high school, we talked about Romans 5.  And the first 5 verses in that chapter incredibly spoke to me and became something I would constantly cling to.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Suffering.  Endurance.  Character.  Hope.

Trials.  Steadfastness.  Complete and Perfect.

God set it up this way for a reason.  No matter what we face, we can face it with a thankful heart and mind.

book

My reading of One Thousand Gifts was extremely timely.  While in the midst of reading about living in thankfulness, I got a horrible case of poison ivy.  Almost a month ago I was doing some yard work.  The poison ivy didn’t show up until a week and a half after that, so we figured it was bug bites or something.  But it just kept getting worse. Finally I saw my dear nurse practitioner friend and got some medication.  But the pain and the medication kept me from sleeping.  It was just all around an exhausting week.  Thankfully, I’m on week three of having it, have literally used 6 tubes of hydrocortisone, and it is finally healing.  Spencer has been a trooper through it, that’s for sure.

We are determined to be grateful for whatever we face.  Already we’ve been able to experience things that people wouldn’t call a “newlywed dream” or anything.  Spence got the stomach virus a day after the wedding.  I’ve had several migraines, and now the poison ivy.  We have stories from our trip to Costa Rica that definitely don’t make it sound like a glamorous honeymoon.  We can talk to you personally about other things we have experienced in our short time together so far.

We’ve only been married two months, and we’ve seen God’s goodness and faithfulness in so many ways.  We cannot stop giving thanks.  Ever.

This might have been a jumbled mess.  It’s just some thoughts.  Writing thoughts down is almost therapeutic for me.

 

“…But God”

Ephesians 2

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ . . .

 

These verses have been rocking my world as of late. I have had the words “but God” stuck in my head for a couple of weeks now and can’t get it out. “Why these words?” You may ask. Well you see, in context these words should never be out of the mind of a believer in Christ.

I’ve noticed a lot of times well-intention pastors, evangelists and Christians attempt to convert people by telling them what they must do. “Repent and believe” “Ask Jesus into your heart” or my favorite “Turn or burn.” While holding up our end in coming to Christ is important (and this is not a debate on election), it tends to take the attention off of what God has done for us through Christ.

At the risk of writing an exegetical dissertation, we have to look at the “self” that many say has to do all these things to receive salvation. Paul describes the way believers once were:

1. Dead

2. Walked in trespasses and sins

3. Followed the course of the world, which is controlled by satan

4. Lived in the passions of our flesh

5. Carried out the desires of the body and mind

6. Children of wrath, like everyone else

These don’t sound like any sort of people who would have the desire to change their lives, much less have anything to do with the transformation. What’s more, the question remains is why and how these people would ever deserve love and salvation. The simple answer? They don’t.

Here’s the good part.

BUT GOD.

This is insane. God, the one who created, the one who breathed life into every single one of these wretches, who turned away from him declaring they know better, decides to love and offer salvation to them.

“But,” you may say, “who are ‘they?’”

You.

Me.

Everyone.

We are all children of wrath. We all are dead. And we all have turned from our loving creator to things we believe are better.

BUT GOD.

This apparently doesn’t matter to him. Our Lord and God still chooses to love us and redeem us. Free of charge. Well, to us at least.

Why?

Mercy.

BUT GOD.

God is so rich in mercy that he pulled us out of the death that we chose. Not to mention that we chose this way in direct rebellion to him.

Holy Cow. Does it get any better?

Yes.

How?

Continuing on in the passage we see that GOD makes us ALIVE along with CHRIST. Not only have we moved out of death, but God has pulled us full speed ahead into life.

BUT GOD.

Two one-syllable words that have forever changed the world, and the wretches like you and me that live in it.

 

-Spencer

Kisses From Katie

I just finished reading the book Kisses from Katie.  (You can follow her blog here:  http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com)  I could probably write a lot about Katie’s heart, the things she has done and continues to do as a young, single woman, and how you should definitely read it.  But I won’t drag on and on about the obvious.  It is clear the Lord is using her ministry in Uganda in great ways for His Kingdom.  You should definitely read her book. I do truly believe her vulnerability in writing the book will open up the hearts of American Christ followers to see how much adoption is part of the heart of God.  And that is something I get so excited about.

KFK cover 2

For those of us in Christ, we have been adopted into His family.  And once you get out into the world and see orphans, hold their hands, and feed them, you begin to see what it means for us to be adopted into the family of God.  My mission trip to Israel in 2010 opened my eyes drastically to what it means that we are “grafted in.”  There is no other reason for us to know God besides Him choosing us.

I will always tell people they need to travel.  There is absolutely nothing that compares to serving the church in different nations, praising God with brothers and sisters of a different culture, and experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit among His people everywhere.  But, some people won’t or aren’t able to…and they need to read this book.  Or one like it that will open their eyes to the reality of what the rest of the world goes through.  I read A Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns a few years ago and it was an incredible book along these same lines.

As those adopted into God’s family, we are required to take care of the orphans, widows, poor, and hungry.  The Bible is filled with talk about the poor.  There is no way to separate following Christ from taking care of the poor.  I loved reading Kisses from Katie, because she allowed her readers to see how she follows Christ’s mandates of loving the poor, taking care of the sick, and looking after orphans.  I just love having conversations about traveling and being with the Church in other places or reading others’ stories about their experiences living out Christ’s mandates.

In one of our first conversations, I asked Spencer what his views on adoption were.  (Seriously.  We jumped right into the big issues.)  We had already talked about how we are both passionate about other cultures and missions, and then finding out that he and I shared a passion for adoption as well was exciting and relieving.  And as we start this journey together of displaying the gospel through marriage, I am excited to think about how our story will impact others.  We want to care for the poor and hurting.  We want to travel and worship with the Church around the world and encourage disciples wherever we can.  We want to adopt and have a house full of children that we can raise in Christ.  We want to love as Christ calls us to.

We have only been married a month and a half, but we know the Lord is working behind the scenes to bring about His plan in our life together to glorify His name and build His kingdom.  It will be quite a joy to see how it all unfolds!

-Sarah