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Righteousness by faith not works. An oxymoron. Thank God...

Romans is an intense book! Every time I read it I feel like I just barely skimmed the surface and need to read it 5 more times to even begin to understand. It is such an interesting combination of subjects. Paul goes from talking about God's incredible love for us given through the death of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit, to God's sovereign right and ability to choose whomever he wants to for glory or condemnation. Then he moves back into how the work of Christ is meant for all people. Let me try to synthesize a little bit of what I have been reading so far.

Through creation and his revelation through Israel God has made known his glory to all people. In our rebellion we have rejected him and chosen to follow our own sinful ways instead. Through Adam, sin entered the world and brought condemnation for all of humanity, but through the death and life of Christ God has provided a way for all people to be justified, declared righteous and reconciled to God. This justifica…

You mean the story's not about me?

Recently several things have come together to change my perspective about my life... again... Seems like God has to keep reminding me and teaching me things I should have known a long time ago. Thank God He is gracious and patient!

I'm reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and it's doing a number on me. Here are a few of the quotes that really grabbed my heart:

"Frankly, you need to get over yourself... To be brutally honest, it doesn't matter what place you find yourself in right now. Your part is to bring Him glory."

"The point of your life is to point to Him... God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His."

It's His story, His world. That was exactly what I needed to hear. It is easy to fall back into living as if this life and world is about me. When that happens we become miserable about the things that aren't working out like what we want. "This isn't what I wanted for my life, my world."  It's God's world…

Over and over again

There are some lessons that are just really hard to learn. "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer."Rom.12:12. That seems like an easy one, right? Pretty straightforward. But I find that these three basic instructions are some of the hardest for me to live, to really trust.

"Be joyful in hope." I have a love/hate relationship with hope. Hope is a source of strength and joy when it is in something that is trustworthy, but when our hope is in things that fade away or things that are not true, we are setting ourselves up for trouble. So when I think, "be joyful in hope," I think, "I am hoping! and it's bringing me incredible turmoil because I don't know if what I 'm hoping in will come true."  How can I be joyful in that? I can't. The only hope I can be joyful in is the hope of Christ's love for me and his work in my life. That brings me incredible joy, and I can scarcely believe it's true. That song …

The thing about turning 30...

When I was a wise 21 year old, I remember thinking that turning 30 would be no big deal. I was perfectly content with my singleness and couldn't understand why girls would get so bent out of shape over gettting older. Even in the past couple of years I remember thinking that 30 seemed like a great age. People finally start seeing you as an adult, you begin to have a little more wisdom, you have better ideas about what you want in life, and yet you're still young and relevant. This week has been a different story...

In a sense, I feel like I am both dying and being born. As I leave my 20's I feel like there are parts of me that are dying. Parts of selfishness, of living to see what the next adventure will be, of trying to come up with a future that would impress me, God, family and world. I am dying to the norm of being married with kids by the time I'm 30. (That one I still haven't put in the casket... it's rotting on my bedroom floor.) I am dying to being &quo…

Ramblings

I just feel like writing tonight. What do I want to write about? Let's dig up some thoughts that are rolling around up here.

Number one, our relationship with God and how we perceive him to be is reflected in our relationships with others and how we perceive them to be. This is an intersting concept for me. A very wise woman challenged me with that belief recently. I haven't yet processed whether or not there is Biblical foundation for that, but my guess is that there is probably a lot of truth to it. It is interesting as I hear all these relational therapy theories about family systems, differentiation, triangulation, pursuer/distancer, attachment, life narratives... They are all intersting. Some seem more reflective of reality than others. Some seem to fit some situations better than others. Some are just weird. What I have been noticing lately, is that many of the good principles in these theories were taught by Christ, taught to the church in the epistles, or spoken by Go…

Refining

Someone told me the other day that they think God is teaching me trust in both my relationship with him and with people. It's an interesting process God is taking me through. Painful at times... He's connecting things I never realized are connected and is revealing things that are really painful to see, truly leading me to grieve over my sin. You know that verse that says, "For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me." Ps.40:12 That's how I feel. And then this morning I feel God laughing with me, showing me just how awesome he is and how much he loves me and is caring for and using me. I don't think God has ever brought me through such a "diverse" time of growth, where every single area of my life is being challenged and stretched and cut and remolded. It's tempting to shut Him out, because it's hard. Oh, Lord, give me strength to …

Balancing Act

What is the balance between depending on God and depending on people? Seems like when I do depend on people, I'm inevitably disappointed because nobody's perfect. I can't really blame them. That's just the way we are. But, I hate being disappointed... so I'd rather not depend on people at all. Maybe it's practice in forgiveness and grace... Ultimately, people cannot provide for my needs in a complete way. They can offer me appetizers for my hunger, little snippets of provision and compansionship, but never wholeness. Is it possible to find my fulfillment and provision completely in God, and at the same time be connected to the body in a way that requires interdependence and cooperation? If so, would I still be disappointed when people fail me? I guess I go back to forgiveness. God never said the interdependence of the body would be perfect. He just said to be that way. But still, the source of the body is Christ. So when that person I'm depending on bails, …

It is not good for man to be alone

I'm discovering more and more how much I dislike doing mission alone. I have done it. I have done it through the grace and strength of God, but he did not design me, anyone, that way. As a church we are meant to be on mission together. The apostles rarely went out alone and often in the letters requested more companions and help. I'm discovering that even in everyday life missionality, I would much rather have other people to partner with, to share the burden, to "gospel" each other, and encourage each other. I'm fiercely independent. I like to do things my way, when I want, with whom I want. That's the dark side of independence. On the flipside, I often think that serving God alone makes me depend more on Him. I've had no choice many times but to press forward alone, just relying on God for my strength and wisdom. Singleness, you know... I've glorified this independent reliance because it makes me feel better about my life. About how disconne…

The Gift of His Presence

I am reading Hebrews right now, and came across a passage this morning that always amazes me but that really hit home today.

Hebrews 10: 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

God recently has been showing me just what an amazing privilege it is to be able to come into the presence of …