7/7/17

Christian Marriage: A Glimpse of Our Spouse's 'Glory-Self'

I absolutely love this Christian vision for marriage from Tim and Kathy Keller in The Meaning of Marriage.
Here is a longer quote:
What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have. I can think of no more powerful common horizon than that, and that is why putting a Christian friendship at the heart of a marriage relationship can lift it to a level that no other vision for marriage approaches.

. . . here's what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, "I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be a part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to His throne. And when we get there I will look at your magnificence and say, "I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!"

Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel. Each spouse then should give him- or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision the day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty and glory.


Randy Alcorn notes our marriage to Christ is the true marriage of the believer's life, "of which the best of earthly marriages was a symbol and shadow. ... One day all heaven will attend the ultimate wedding, and we will be His bride." (Ephesians 5:21-33; Revelation 19:7-9) But Alcorn also says he envisions people who've had important roles in our lives will continue to be friends... including a lot of people who have been married.

I can't say for sure that is true, but I do know my husband Bob is my best earthly friend, and the scriptures teach he is also my brother in Christ. We will serve and praise the Lord throughout eternity, along with all God's transformed creation!

I can't wait to look up my husband in heaven in his glorified state and say: 
"Look at you! I knew you'd be like this!"
Are you getting a glimpse of who your marriage partner will be in heaven? How can you encourage your spouse's growth into their "glory-self," all to the glory of God?



Graphic adapted, courtesy of Gabriel Ferraz at Pixabay.

7/5/17

What Does Your Photo Really Show?


I received a devotional from "Today's Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah" that was so timely for me. I had just put a new photo on Facebook to replace a rather "ancient" one I had at the top of my page.

I started thinking, "What does this photo show?"
  • Does it show my inner joy in knowing the Lord?
  • Does it show my struggle with a food addiction?
  • Does it show my desire to be used by Christ and make a difference in people's lives?
  • Does it show my love for my family?
In the end, I decided it really didn't matter what my Facebook Friends thought. All that matters is I'm living for the Lord, pursuing God with all my heart and loving any "neighbors" He brings across my path with His love (Mark 12:30-31).
  • I'm set apart for His glory.
  • I'm walking in the Spirit, keeping step with Him and bearing fruit.
  • I'm living for an audience of One.
It's really true, what I read in the devotional: "Those viewing your photos can't see your heart, but God can. Make sure He finds in you a heart that is pursuing Him."

God sees the heart, not what others may or may not see (1 Samuel 16:7; Acts 13:22). And that's a blessing to me today.

The Lord sees my struggles, but He also sees my desire to please Him—to do all His will

It's not about performance. It's about grace. 

His grace making me more grace-filled. His grace helping me not beat myself up with a club of self-condemnation (Romans 8:1). His grace transforms my heart and motivates me to greater love, obedience and service.

Look at your Facebook photo today. 
What do you think others see? 
What do you think God knows?

6/13/17

Be a Better Encourager

I truly believe encouragement plays a crucial part in our walk of faith (Hebrews 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

1. Encouragement from friends helps us live in a fallen world. 

Jesus warned we'd have struggles (Matthew 10:22-23; John 15:18-21); but He is the Overcomer (John 16:33b) and He can help us face our trials and troubles.

Our struggles are not simply against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness, the "spiritual forces of evil" (Ephesians 6:12). We need encouragement for the battle. We need encouragers who will remind us to wear our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) and stand strong against the wiles of the Devil. God will empower us to be faithful in the toughest battles.

2. Encouragement from wise counselors helps us see mistakes and make better choices. 
Barnabas, the "son of consolation," was a wise counselor/friend who came alongside to encourage the apostle Paul (Acts 9:27) after his conversion. We can be grateful for faithful servants of God - for teachers, preachers, counselors and mentors - who gift us with not only instruction, but also encouragement. 

My favorite encouraging counselors were those who sandwiched words of caution or correction between slices of praise

Encouragers help us see that, 
though we sometimes fail, 
in Christ we will never be failures!

3. Encouragement from the Word gives us the big picture. 

I cannot begin to list the times I've felt defeated, hopeless or anxious, and I found hope and encouragement in the scriptures. 

The Word teaches me how to have abundant life (John 10:10) and to see life from God's point of view. The Word of God brings healing to my soul (Proverbs 16:24).

In the Word I discover:


And because He encourages me, I can encourage others.

I want to be a better encourager, don't you?

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

5/30/17

We Only See the Outer Fringe

This scripture really got me thinking this morning.

"...these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him!" (Job 26:14a)

When I see the power of God at work, I am in awe of Him. 

And yet, Job says what we see is but the "outer fringe" and a "whisper" of His greatness. 


Think about that for a while.

God says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55:8).

The Psalmist says,
"Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You...." (Psalm 40:5a).

And,
"How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep" (Psalm 92:5).

Though we can come to know the Lord more and more, we can never fully fathom His greatness--His wisdom, power, patience, love, kindness, holiness, and so much more.

Job continued, "Who then can understand the thunder of his power." (Job 25:14:b)

Paul encourages us to be strong in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10), but the power of God is much more than we can fully realize. He is simply beyond us.

That is why He is God. That's why He is the Sovereign Lord. 

And that is why He deserves our praise and worship.

"Lord, you are great. You are mighty. There is nothing you cannot do. I praise you today. I worship you and recognize Your control in my life. 

"Thank you for sharing just a glimpse... the outer fringe of your works and the whispers of your grace--so that we might learn to stand in awe of you, fear You and obey You. 

"Thank you for Jesus, who draws us to Your side because of His great sacrifice on the cross. I love you, Lord." Amen


Graphic adapted, courtesy of decorama at Morguefile.

5/27/17

How My Dog Reminded Me Not to Worship Idols


I love family, home, church, pet, writing, chocolate (and lots of other wonderful, good things), but I refuse to worship them.

It's hard sometimes. Especially when we're cuddling a pup we love so much. (But more about that later.)

I don't want to worship anything or anyone but the Lord God Almighty. It's a choice, sometimes a hard one, but a
choice nonetheless.

Worship of idols is excessive devotion to or reverence for something other than the one, true God.

The worship of "good things," not just things we know can get us into trouble, is a subtle snare of our enemy, Satan. He did, after all, offer the Jesus much in exchange for worship.

But Jesus' words were powerful:
"You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve" (Matthew 4:10b).

We have so much in America. We are so blessed. But in our wealth, we forget God. We forget how completely and totally dependent we really are on Him. It is only by His favor that we are a "wealthy" nation.

The sad truth is, in our wealth we have become spiritually poor.

Jesus understands this temptation. That's why He left heaven to become poor for us, that we might become spiritually rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).

I sincerely believe our "idol worship" is one of the reason our nation is in such trouble today.

Yes, I want America to be great again, but not without America becoming godly. Otherwise, in our covetousness, independence and self-sufficiency, we will never draw near to the Lord, repent and become holy before Him (James 4:8).

When we worship idols (when they are our focus), we become more like them and we lack understanding of the truth (Psalm 135:15-18). We exchange the glory of God for images (Romans 1:21-23), sad substitutes for Him. John Piper calls this the "dark exchange."

The Bible is clear about idolatry from beginning to end.
"...Do not turn to idols... I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:4). (See also Exodus 20:3.) "Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry" (1 Corinthians 10:13-14). "... the idolaters... will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur..." (Revelation 21:8).

I'm not just spouting scriptures here. I'm taking the time to look at the things of love, and determine whether I love and even "worship" them more than the Lord.

My husband and I made an emergency trip to the veterinarian yesterday. We were not sure how serious our little furboy's condition was; and all the way there, I prayed.

During that time of prayer, God asked me, "Do you love little Roscoe more than you love Me, or my purposes?"

I felt that was a strange question at the time. But I pondered it the entire time Roscoe was at the vet. I knew the Lord had given us this sweet little creature to love and care for. But could I give him up if the Lord asked it of me?

I thought about other people and things I love, and I wept as I considered the cost my Lord might ask of me. I wept.

I surrendered again. I have to do this sometimes; I get so tied to this temporary world.

I reconfirmed my priorities: God first, family next, ministry and then all the other stuff.

And then I took time to worship the Lord with open hands. When we grasp our stuff, it's foolishness. Everything we are and have are really His, and open hands acknowledge an open heart to His will.

Tearing down the idols begins in our own hearts. Then in our families and churches. And then, hopefully, in our nation.