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Heart of Humility for a Proud Woman

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How does one go about writing a post on humility without sounding proud? Answer: I have no idea! As a follow-up entry for the “personal retreat series” I wanted to include how I answered the question: “what is one area where I believe God is calling me to grow?”. I suppose the problem comes in when I try to put my thoughts down and no matter what they come across as... full of pride. So why this post then? Well I think it is important for me to make a somewhat public statement about the condition of my heart. Maybe part of me is hoping that someone else out there is just as proud as me... secretly I don't like to be alone in my sin... another part of me just wants to have those close to me praying for humility to enfold my heart. That being said if anything comes off as pride here, please know from the beginning that is not my intent.

So I answered the question this way: God is calling me to grow in godliness by putting to death the sins of pride and selfishness. Yes that's right I'm not just the worst sinner I know... I am also exceptionaly proud of my true state. Oh how abusrd is that!! I can manage to be proud of the most ridiculous things: all that I accomplish in a day, how well I can grow my gardens, my abilities in the kitchen, the way I raise my children, how I serve others... are you noticing the pattern? That's right it's all about me! What do I have that God hasn't given to me? I have nothing. My pride shows up in areas I wasn't expecting it too. You see I actually thought that I like serving. Which I guess a part of me does, but sin has destorted it so much that when the true test comes, when I am treated as a serant, I go into what I now call pride-plosion. Yup, it turns into a rant about me, and how can anyone not see how poorly I'm being treated right now. I know... seriously ugly stuff here. What gives me the right to think that I some how deserve better than Christ! I don't. If I were ever to be treated as poorly as my Lord it would still be better than an eternity away from Him.

All that to say... yes I'm proud and selfish and God has been gracious to point that out and in His strength I hope to continue to battle against it. Since opening my eyes to the severity of this particular sin God has also pointed in the direction of some great instruction. A couple of years ago at our church's 6th anniversary my hubby and I were given a copy of Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney (there is also a sermon on Humility)... yes I know that I probably should have finished reading it way back then!! This has been a good place for me to remember that I'm not alone in this sin, but more importantly it takes me back to the best example... Jesus Christ. I have also some soul benefical advise from a blog post written by John Piper on 6 Aspects of Humility and a sermon he did on being humble enough to be care-free. Our pastor Paul came back from his sabbatical and the first message I heard from him was Humility.

I thank God that he is unwilling to leave me in my prideful state. He is always bringing things my heart needs just when it needs them.

Growing in godliness and my devotions?

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A little after 7am I was heading out on my retreat... might I add a little nervous. After all I was embarking on what could have been a rather stressful time. I was trying to evaluate my current heart condition and plan the next year for my family. With all that in my mind I was reminded by a friend to not stress out if I couldn't squeeze it all in. As she said... God plans things far better than we ever could, so go with his plan. What an awesome tidbit of truth I needed to remember. I can do all the planning I want, but it is God's will that will be accomplished. So upon my arrival I met with my Lord and asked that He would govern my day. As I sat there one single thought kept coming to my mind: Oh Lord how thankful I am that you chose to save this sinner and how much more thankful that each day is filled with new mercies and grace abounding!

 

So, I began at the beginning. In Shopping for Time, they list a set of priorities, from scripture, that they use to evaluate their own lives. Since I wasn't sure how to start, I found myself using their list:

 

  1. Growing in godliness

  2. Love my family

  3. Serve in the church

  4. Fellowship with Christians

  5. Evangelize non-Christians

  6. Attend my work

  7. Care for my physical health

 

So I began my day evaluating my ability to growing in godliness. I quickly realized God was going be working on my heart in great and convicting ways. You see I came to see the true sin that comes from not being in the word as I ought to be. I need to know the word in order that I might preach it to my own heart. I also need to know the word in order to know my God. Not reading as I ought has become a sin pattern in my life. I've been told that if you do something for a few weeks it becomes like a habbit. Not so with my daily devotionals... well maybe it would if I could actually do a few weeks without my sin getting in the way. So I had to make the decision that early mornings we no longer optional. No more excuses of my kids are still young, I need the sleep... I'm not really a morning person. No, I need to rise early to meet with my Lord. It is little wonder why I seemed to have become stagnet in my spiritual life. I mean really... if I'm not sitting at Jesus feet every morning and not meditating on his good word how can I ever effectively live a life for Him and to His glory? I resolved to rise early and prepare my heart for the day, each and every day. I found a Bible plan that I thought would work for me. I also decided to make a few notes to try and help me remember what I learned about my God that morning. One of the biggest things God was showing me was that far too often when I read early is to read the Bible as a story. With taking notes I am trying to focus on what God is revealing about himself and then looking to see how I need to be responding in accordance to the revealed truth (all of this is in Shopping for Time... have I mentioned you should read it?). So with my coffee in hand I plan on beginning my mornings at the best place I know... Jesus feet.

 

It is now more than a week after my retreat... oh can I count the ways I have failed already!!! I have stayed up late, slept in and put my reading off until I have forgotten about it all together. No excuse... sin plain and simple. Strange that after spending so much time in the word and loving it... how quick I am to revert back to my old ways. It is true I am the worst sinner I know! I have a great deal of catching up to do, but have resolved myself to the fact that I just need to continue. Funny... one of the last notes I jotted down while away was... “Don't give up!”. Maybe I do know a little something of my heart afterall?

 

More to come on the other newly adopted priorities.

 

 

Shopping for a Retreat

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Alright so it's been far too long since I posted last. At least I know that's what my SEO hubby would say. I have been pondering what I could possibly have to write about. There are so many possible topics to choose from. I could write pages of things I had learned through our rather convicting sermon series through the book of James. Or I could write post after post on the wonderful reminders of the Gospel of Christ as seen through Paul's letter to the Galatians. Please don't misunderstand me, both topics would be of great benefit, but I am feeling drawn to write a little more personally. You see in our evening sermon series Gleanings from Galatians, my dear brother reminded us time and time again to preach to our own hearts. So after a little encouragement from a faithful friend who sharpens, I was encouraged to do something I am not typically accustomed to doing... I took a personal retreat.

 

Now to some this might seem a little odd or even selfish. I assure you that was not the motive... well at least I don't think it was. The more I thought about preaching to myself the more I relized I don't know my own heart very well. Cue... the personal retreat. Before I could go on the retreat I needed to prepare. What was I going to do? Where is a good place to start when it comes to examing one's own heart? I was feeling overwhelmed. Cue... my new favourite book.

 

 

Shopping for Time.jpg

 

Before I reveal the true darkness of my own heart, my I reccommend a book to you? The title alone may grab your attention... that is if you're anything like me! It's call Shopping for Time: How to do it all and not be overwhelmed. Sounds like a great concept doesn't it? I thought so. It was written by the wonderful ladies at the girltalk blog: Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters, Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore and Janelle Bradshaw.

 

In this book we are reminded that our money is not the only thing we need to spend wisely. After all we really don't know how much time we have, so we should be going for the best deals for the days God has granted to us. After reading this book a few times through (that's right... it is not overly long!) I knew my friend was right, it was time for some alone time. So I was off to take on Shopping Tip number three: Sit and Plan.

 

Stay tuned to what  happened next :)

 

 

Almost a month ago I had come to the relization that I again was drifting in my prayer life. I wasn't getting up early, lied to myself day after day saying “maybe tomorrow” or “when the kids are naping I'll read then.” After a few days of the Lord tugging at my heart again I came across a sermon by John Piper... oh how I needed this sermon!!! He preached Romans 12:12, which reads: rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” (NASB). Be Devoted to Prayer.

 

I have since listened to the message twice, once because I really needed it, the second time was so that I might take some notes to help remember everything. So here are my notes:

 

Being devoted to prayer means that you are actively pressing on into prayer. It does not mean that you are praying all day everyday, but there should be a pattern of prayer in your life. A “normal” Christian life should be devoted to prayer, because it is the engine that drives your spiritual life.

 

Piper then paused to asked “Are you devoted to prayer?”... sadly I couldn't say yes. For that would have just been one more lie. Now I know that there have been seasons of great prayer times in my life. But all too often when the times get good again, I slack. Why? Because in my heart I want to believe that I made things better not my Almighty God. How proud!?!

 

Piper then began to discuss the Why obstacles for praying. You know these, the reassons why we are to pray: we are told to pray (its in the scriptures), our needs are desparate and God acts when we pray.

 

All true. It is hard work to be devoted to prayer, but it doesn't make this command any less important. I still must obey. Even when I have a busy day and lots of “stuff” going on in my life I cannot afford to go anywhere but to Him first.

 

Then Piper listed the how obstacles, how to pray, FADES.

 

Free and Formed – structured and unstructured in the content of our prayers. Some of our will be an out pouring of our hearts, but at other times we are to pray the scriptures, pray the promises of God, pray the warnings of the Bible, pray the commands of the Bible. One of the things that hit me most was that John Piper prays in concentric circles, meaning that he starts with the worst sinner he knows (himself) and moves to family, church elders, church members and so on. How helpful!!! At our church we tend to pray through our “People Directory” which is good, but now I know where to fit everyone else in! It is a little thing, but I loved it.

 

Alone and Assembled – we should have regular times of “one on one” time with God. For me first thing in the morning is the best way to go. Cup of coffee, Bible and notebook and I'm good. Although that also means getting to bed on time (still working on that part!). We should also be praying with other Christians. This is a hurdle that Lord willing I will get past. I love to listen to other Christians pray. My pride gets in the way of me praying out loud. So I will keep plugging away. Today is Wednesday, which at our church means “GraceLife”, a night of prayer. Pray that I will pray!

 

Desparate and Delighted – we are to regularly to come to God desparate for His help. What better help could one ask for? He created all things, planned all things and is in control of all things! Why shouldn't I come to Him for help? Oh that He would be putting to death the sin of pride within me! We are also to come to him with delight. Even in the most difficult times, delight in the ways He is working all things to the goodness of His glory.

 

Explosive and Extended – we are to have both short and long prayers. If our lives are marked by the quick one liner prayers then we aren't really devoted to prayer. If all you have are long winded prayers, who are we really praying to or for? Us? All our prayers should be heart felt and directed to the one who created and sustains us. So some will be long, some will be short and other will fall somewhere in between.

 

Spontaneous and Scheduled – some of our prayers will be rather spontaneous, spread out throughout the day. Others will have a set time. For example morning devotions.

 

I hope that you will find this sermon as encouraging as I did. You can download it here.

Sisters In Christ

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Sisters. Blood sisters can be very close; if you are truly blessed you may have a blood sister that is also a sister in Christ. I have a blood sister and love her dearly although she is not my sister in Christ. I have been blessed to have many sisters in Christ just within my own church. Recently have become most excited with what the Lord is accomplishing in my relationship with one such sister. As a matter of fact she is also my sister-in-law (and lives with me!).

 

What a blessing, as I have come to see it, it is to have such a strong and faithful sister so close to me! Now I'm not saying that this relationship has been perfect or is even perfect right now, but there has been growth here that I have not experienced before. At times before it almost felt like when we would talk and Christ would be in the centre of conversations, but behind a wall of our own sin. These walls of sin had gotten so high, you could barely tell he was there at all!

 

One afternoon we sat down and just let everything out. Let me tell you... it was a painful conversation. I don't think anyone wants to see their sins just laid out on the table like that. It was awakening to the sins of my own heart. I mean I know I'm a sinner, but to clearly see the pride, bitterness, anger, frustration, jealousy, strife and lack of self control was shocking to say the least. Secretly I was hoping only my husband would ever see that side of me.

 

Thanks be to God... she loves me anyway. It was my prayer then to not just have the relationship restored, but refreshed with Christ truly at the centre. How awesome it is to be able to say, that He is good and has been answering my prayer.

 

She has become a true blessing in my life. I have been witness to much grace in her, I think I was blinded before. She is a wonderful encourager, not just in how to be better a mom or wife (which are great things to be), but an encourager to be actively pursuing God. God has gifted her with the ability to strive after the true heart reasons for our sin. She actively seeks out truth so that she might know her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

I believe that this is how true sisters in Christ should be: encouraging in Christ, accountable to one another, loving, kind, easily forgiving (because you were forgiven), self-contolled and of primary importance actively seeking after God.

 

Verse of the day

"who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,"

  Psalm 103.3 (ESV)

 

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