Category Archives: The Bible

Persistence . . .

Hebrews 12–all of Hebrews–for that matter has much to say to us as we strive to live lives that please God.  I was thinking about Hebrews 12 today, so I looked it up, and this portion spoke to me specifically:

12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

I love they way the passage starts . . . “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees.”  Man, can I relate!  But I am also struck by how interrelated our attitudes and actions are and ultimately how our pity parties can lead to damaging the church and hindering the gospel.

Just thinking out loud about things that are hard to accept but, oh so, necessary.

Wassup Wednesday – 15 Pensive


New job is going well.  I am on a big learning curve, so it will take some time to get a routine going.  But it still feels like a good fit.  Mark is a trooper, and the kids and I are missing each other.  But so far we are managing, and we’ve been eating dinner together most nights.


So work, and family, and the details of my life are always on my mind, but the last few days my heart has been heavy for other people.  We have young friends who are going through a terrible trial, and I hurt so much for them.  I don’t know how to help, but I am praying.  My own extended family is also facing a trial.  My brothers were involved in a car accident last week.  One brother was driving, another was the passenger.  The driver of the car they hit died.  They are awaiting news of an investigation of the accident regarding fault.  In addition, they are also dealing with the guilt involved for the life of the other driver who is now gone and who left behind a wife and three children.  I am concerned for my mom and my brothers and the family of this man.

God is good, and God is faithful.  I have to trust He knows what is best, but sometimes it is hard.  This is the passage that is giving me comfort this week in regard to all that is on my heart and mind:

Romans 8: 18 -39

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God’s Everlasting Love

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What’s Running through My Mind

My friend Jennifer wrote a great post about her efforts to become more physically fit and her attempt to tend to her spiritual health as well.  Finding balance in this life is hard–whether you’re a mom or a mogul.  The distractions of the world are always beckoning, and spiritual pursuits can fall by the wayside.

In recent posts here, I have talked about my own attempts to become more physically healthy.  So far, I am forging ahead with my walking efforts, and eventually, I hope to be running part of the time.  However, I have really allowed my spiritual exercises to wane over the past couple of years.  I pray quite a bit because there is just so much to pray for in this life.  But reading Scripture and listening to good teaching hasn’t been as much a part of my life as I would like.

So in an attempt to feed my mind with some spiritual food today, when I was going out for my walk, I dug up my husband’s old sermon tapes from his years as a pastor.  Yes.  I said tapes–cassettes–you know that horribly ancient and inferior technology.  We don’t have a lot of Mark’s sermons on mp3s or even cds, but that’s ok.  We don’t have a great mp3 player or cd walkman either.  But I do have my old cassette walkman from the Dollar General.  I popped the tape into the walkman, and, well, I walked.  I was so encouraged by Mark’s sermon on Luke 8:19-24, that I am planning to go through all the sermon tapes we have.  I was struck by how I have not taken advantage of this great resource for biblical teaching that I have in my own house.  And, while I love my husband’s preaching and teaching, we also have many other recorded sermons and lectures with lots of biblical content.  So it may take me a while to get through all that we have!  (Sidenote:  some of Mark’s sermons and articles and articles by other good teachers/pastors can be found here.)

God used my friend Jennifer’s post to convict me of my need to find ways to make spiritual pursuits a more consistent part of my life.  Then, when I listened to Mark’s sermon, I was convicted of how I don’t appreciate how blessed I am (and we as a Christians in the US are) to have so many good Christian resources at our fingertips.  I should be so much more a woman of theWord than I am when there are so many ways for me to receive teaching available to me.  So I am praying that I will be more bathed in Scripture and that my life will reflect back Christ to the world more than it has.

Honestly, I have spent my entire life surrounded by Christians and good teaching, and I have always struggled with making the time to read the Bible and pray regularly.  So this is nothing new.  But it seems that just as I have to keep picking myself up off the ground regarding my physical nurturing, I need to  keep doing the same with spiritual pursuits.  Thankfully, God is gracious to forgive us our sins.  He always welcomes us to Himself with open arms.  Repent, be forgiven, and live for Christ.  This is the pattern of the Christian life–isn’t it?


Recently, a young friend asked me why we sometimes cry when we are in a worship service.  I told him that people cry for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes, the Holy Spirit is convicting us of sin.  Sometimes we are overwhelmed by God’s grace in our life, and something that was said or done reminded us of that grace.  Sometimes we are broken, at our wits end with the circumstances of life and we find ourselves at our Father’s feet where we feel safe to cry.

I am a presbyterian.  We seem to be a people that like to have all of life tied up neatly without any of our emotions being shown.  So, sometimes it is awkward, or embarassing to allow tears to flow in worship.  Immediately, one gets the sense that everyone assumes your life is falling apart.  Maybe it is.  Maybe it is not.  My hope is that when it is me crying, there aren’t as many eyes on me as it feels like at the time.  The young friend who asked about this is also presbyterian, but he is now being exposed to people from other more charismatic traditions.  So I think he may be assuming that presbyterians never have an emotional response to God’s dealing with them in a worship service.  I told him that even though he may not see people crying, that doesn’t mean no one ever does.  I also told him that adults will often make an effort to keep their tears to themselves, but not to assume no one is moved by the spirit in a presbyterian service.  I guess I wanted him to understand that crying is not a sign of spirituality, but that tears can be an honest expression of how God is dealing with us.

Recently, our associate pastor preached a sermon on about tears that I found really helpful. He talked about reasons we shed tears: pain, joy, discouragement, hopelessness.  That last one, hopelessness, is one of the hardest to bear.  You know in your heart of hearts that God will do what is best for you.  Yet, you have a fear of the unknown.  A fear of how God will choose to work.  The tears flow out of frustration that you’re not the one in control of the situation.  Your tears flow because you want to trust God, and your having a hard time really doing it.

Here are some of the scripture passages Pastor Smith quoted in his sermon:

Psalm 6:6
I am weary with my moaning;every night I flood my bed with tears;I drench my couch with my weeping.

Psalm 42:3
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long,”Where is your God?”

Psalm 56:8
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

Psalm 80:5
You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure.

What I really took away from this sermon is that it is not only ok to cry from time to time, but that God expects us to shed tears.  He sees our tears and responds to them.  God, our father in Heaven, wants to comfort us when we cry.

Be Encouraged

Psalm 59:16-17 (ESV)

16But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.

Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Encouragement from Psalm 73

Psalm 73

God Is My Strength and Portion Forever
A Psalm of Asaph.

1Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
6Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
7Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
10Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them.
11And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
13All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
14For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
15If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

16But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.

18Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
20Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.

23Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.