Mission Statement

The primary purpose of this blog is to help Christian women apply the counsel of God's Word to their daily lives as it relates to their relationships, circumstances, suffering and sin; and to equip them to help others do the same. "For the Word of God is living and active." Hebrews 4:12

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Identity-A Life Changing Reality

I am beginning a study in 1 Corinthians. I love this book of the Bible because the Christians at Corinth remind me of my life before Christ (totally pagan) and the transforming power of the gospel! My study this morning took me no further then the opening words..."Paul, called to be an apostle by the will of God". Paul knew his identity was rooted in God. It was God who called Paul. The call was the will of God. It was a call to be an emissary or ambassador for the gospel. While the office of an apostle is limited, the work of God's people to be ambassadors for the King and His Kingdom carries on.  John Piper got me thinking about my own identity and call..."Brenda, called to be a wife and mother by the will of God for the glory of Jesus Christ!" It is mind boggling to think that THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE has adopted me as His child! I have the privilege of representing Him and His Kingdom daily to my  husband, children, extended family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.  Today, I am going to remember my identity and call and pray it makes a difference in how I live. I hope you will too!

Points to Ponder:
1. What is your identity rooted it in? Is it how you look? How your children behave? Is it  in your material possessions?
2. Do you see whatever your "job" is as the means by which you are called to be an ambassador for Christ? Your "job" is a platform to preach the Good News!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Doing the Word!

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). One of the advantages of being a stay-at-home wife/mom is the opportunity to attend weekly Bible studies. And, if a woman prioritizes her time correctly she can make time for a regular intake of God’s Word. (It might look different in content and depth from season to season but should be a part of your routine.) Sadly, the influence of extra bible studies and regular quiet times does not always translate to how we live each day with our husband and children. I once heard John Piper say that when he sinned against his wife he was particularly distraught over it because he spent far more time studying the Word than she did.

Oftentimes, I hear women complain that their husbands are not in a small group, do not have accountability, or do not have regular devotionals (or devotionals they consider deep enough). While all of these may be legitimate concerns, how is your time in the Word impacting you? Have you considered how your husband might be more motivated to be in the Word if he saw the difference it was making in your life? Titus 2:3-5 tells us that we are to love our husbands, children and keep our homes so that the Word of God is not maligned. In other words, the gospel should not be hindered on account of our inconsistent lifestyles, especially in our homes. True religion produces the virtues of a godly wife and mother; when it does not it will be seen as having no value.

Is your time in the Word a way to “check off” your religious duties or is it how you draw closer to the Living God in order to changed by Him? How can you know if you are changing? Is the fruit of the Spirit growing in your heart and life? Is there more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control today than last week, month or year? Are you more characterized by love as a result of your time in the Word? “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

My friend, if your time in the Word is not yielding good fruit (obedience to God) you are deceived. You are betraying yourself by false-reasoning, a reasoning not based on Truth. James goes on to say, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:23-25). It’s God Word and obedience to His Word that gives freedom. When you reason according to your past, your feelings, or your own carnal thinking, you will remain in bondage. The deception is to believe your way will give you freedom, it simply ain’t so. How long will you remain a slave to sin and take the beating from the slave master? Jesus offers freedom through obedience to His Word.

Where are you deceiving yourself? Jesus said, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?”(Luke 6:46). If you are unwilling to surrender areas of sin in your life to the Lord or if you are characterized by disobedience to the Word, do you really know Him? Where are you disobedient to the Word? Do you continue to sin against your child in anger? Are you unsubmissive or disrespectful to your husband? Do you abuse your time, money, or resources spending them on personal pleasure with no thought of Christ and His Kingdom? Are you discontent with the circumstances God has ordained for you? Are you holding a grudge or being vindictive? Are you being willful, stubborn, or rebellious in even one area of your life?

How can you change, do what the Word says! Quit making excuses. You have everything you need to be obedient to God’s Word: His Spirit, His Word and the Church. You are without excuse before your Maker and Redeemer. Quit believing your own false reasoning. Pray and ask the Lord to help you with your unbelief and to help you take your thoughts captive-comparing your own faulty reasoning to His Truth. My friend, only when you lay down your pride and selfishness and begin to listen and do God’s Word (forsaking your own foolishness) will you experience the peace and favor of the Lord. "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). May God in His great mercy give us ears to hear Him and Him alone and to walk in faith and obedience to all He has commanded-and all for His glory!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mentors and Moms Fall Bible Study

WhatThe Faithful Parent by Stuart Scott and Martha Peace.
When: Friday, Sept 24
Time: 10:30-12:00
Where: Eastwood Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall
How: Need a Book or have Questions: E-mail Brenda Payne paynecounselor@gmail.com (Deadline Friday, Sept. 17th) Nursery Reservations Required: E-mail KC White kcwhiteal@gmail.com (Deadline Monday , Sept. 13 th )

Study Syllabus:

Week 1 (Sept. 24) -Chapter 1 The Goal of Parenting and One's Hope Chapter 2 Salvation and Sanctification of the Child –Teacher:Tiffany Higginbotham

Week 2 (Oct. 1) -Chapter 3 Infant  Chapter 4 Toddler - Teacher:Rebekah Pittman

OCTOBER 8-HOLIDAY-No Study

Week 3 (Oct. 15) -Chapter 5 The Preschooler Chapter 6 The School age Child -Teacher: Lauren Hixon

Week 4 (Oct. 22) - Chapter 7 The Teenager Chapter 8 Parents Who Provoke - Teacher:Ginger Jacks

Week 5 ( Oct. 29)-Chapter 9 Special Cases - Teacher: Brenda Payne

Week 6 (Nov. 5) -Chapter 10 When Things Don't Go as Planned -Teaher:Gretchen Beaulieu

Mortifying Your Sinful Desires

"It is evil desire that causes us to sin. All sin is desired, or perhaps the perceived benefits of the sin are desired, before the sin is acted upon. Satan appeals to us first of all through our desires. Eve saw "that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom" (Genesis 3:6). Note how the concept of desire is implied in "good for food" and "pleasing to the eye," as well as explicitly mentioned in "desirable for gaining wisdom."


John Owen was very perceptive on this subject: "sin also carries on its war by entangling the affections [desires] and drawing them into an alliance against the mind [our reason]. Grace may be enthroned in the mind, but if sin controls the affections, it has seized a fort from which it will continually assault the soul. Hence, as we shall see, mortification is chiefly directed to take place upon the affections." (Excerpt taken from The Discipline of Grace)"

From Daily Jerry Bridges Devotional

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"The Beauty of a Christian Woman"- A Meek and Gentle Spirit

This is a rather lengthy blog, but totally worth the read. It is an excellent sermon on what it means to have a "meek and gentle spirit". I am printing it off for further meditation and am also making a copy for my 17-year-old daughter. What beautiful and timely truths....take the time to read through each section. May God give us hearts and lives that reflect His Word.

"Dear radio friends,

If you were with us last time, you will remember that we began a series of sermons on Christian marriage, specifically on the beauty of a Christian woman. Our messages are being taken from the Word of God in I Peter 3:3, 4. Please refer, once again, to those verses.

I'm not going to repeat or outline all that we said last time. But, very briefly, we saw that the Word of God emphasizes that beauty can be found only in the work of Christ in the heart. Specifically, then, for a Christian woman, beauty is not something that is restored by a plastic surgeon or purchased where the latest styles are sold. It is not if you have a perfect figure. But it is found in the hidden man of the heart, as Peter says, in that place where Christ alone can come by grace and implant His life of resurrection.

Therefore, if we are ever to come to the place where, in God's estimation, we are beautiful, we must come to this truth, that what is in our hearts as children of God is more important than our hair, jewelry, or clothes.

Now we want to continue our study of this passage today and look more carefully at that beauty - what that beauty is. It is not only that God works in the heart that new life of Jesus Christ, so that living out of that life of Christ is the Christian's beauty. The apostle goes on to say that it is the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is, in the sight of God, of great price. So the essence of true beauty has to do with a certain kind of spirit.

When Peter refers there to a meek and quiet spirit, he is not referring to the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit is in us, but Peter is referring rather to the prevailing disposition of the soul of a child of God. The Holy Spirit is in the child of God. And when the Holy Spirit is in the child of God, then a disposition or spirit of a person is created. That is how we use the word. We say, "I don't like his spirit." We mean that there is something coming out through a person's mannerisms, through his way of speaking, all of which indicates a prevailing attitude that we do not like. Or we say, "I like her spirit." We mean that her mannerisms, her attitudes, her way of speaking - there is something very attractive about them. The inner spirit is leaking out and we are attracted to it. One's spirit, then, is the inward life, one's life as it is lived toward God.

Peter, we must remember, is talking of the child of God who has been renewed by the Spirit of life. Renewal in Christ, our relationship to God, how we live toward God - that is always leaking out. That is our spirit. We cannot keep it in. Through our eyes, through facial expression, through body language, through words, through attitudes, it all leaks out. The Word of God says that the essence of beauty is the spirit of a woman. That renewed heart, pervading all of the woman's relationship to God, as that relationship to God begins to filter through her life, that is beauty in the sight of God.

Peter emphasizes two things about that spirit: it is meek and it is quiet. We must remember that the Word of God is not addressing here personality, temperament. The Word of God is speaking here of graces, gifts, given of God, the gifts or graces of meekness and quietness. A meek and a quiet spirit may be found in a woman who has a bubbly, out-going, vivacious personality. It does not mean that a woman is carnal if she is a bubbly type of person. Or a meek and a quiet spirit may be in a shy and retiring personality. But again we must emphasize that these are graces. The mere fact that a woman is shy and retiring is not proof of the graces of gentleness and meekness in Jesus Christ. Meekness and quietness are a grace. The apostle is not referring to something that comes from a person's genes. A shy person may know nothing of meekness and quietness. A shy person inside might be filled with all types of resentment.

We must, then, get away from all the wooden and plastic notions of how this will express itself in different personality types. God is a God of great variety. God calls to Himself men and women from a broad scope of temperaments. And we must remember that the church is not all walking in lock-step, that is, all one type of personality. That is characteristic of the cults - that we must all conform to one type of personality.

The apostle is not referring to something that comes from a person's genes. No, this is a reference to the graces of meekness and quietness - a meek or gentle spirit. This word "meek" is used in the beatitudes (Matt. 5:5), "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." And it is used two times in reference to Jesus Christ. In Matthew 11:28-30 the Lord says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my burden upon you, … for I am meek and lowly of heart." Again, in Matthew 21:5, we read of the Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem when He rode upon the colt, the foal of an ass, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." We could translate this word "meek" as "gentle." We read, for instance, in Galatians 5 that "the fruit of the spirit is love, peace, joy, gentleness." Again, we read in Galatians! 6:1 that if we have an erring brother in our church we are to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness or gentleness.

So what is a meek or gentle spirit? A meek or gentle spirit is, negatively, a spirit which is not insistent on one's own rights. It is not pushy, assertive, demanding one's own way. Moses was the meekest of all men, we read in the Scriptures. Does that mean that he was not a strong leader? No! He was a strong leader. But Moses' strength was that he did not insist on himself. He was not stuck on himself. He did not push himself forward. He did not look at his leadership in terms of himself and his own ambitions of glory. He was a meek and gentle man. He sought the will of God and firmly followed it. Meekness, then, is the willing surrender, by the grace of God, of our own rights, our own ease, our own advance, and a willingness to serve the advance of God in others. That is a meek and gentle spirit.

Quiet, a meek and quiet spirit, we read. That word "quiet" is not essentially different. It is used, for instance, in I Thessalonians 4:11, "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business." Quiet is an absence of a turbulent, agitated spirit which shows itself in being mouthy, aggressive, yelling, irate. A quiet, that is, a possessed or peaceful spirit. Both meekness and quietness are to be the expression of a wife's accepting and embracing her divinely-appointed place of subjection to her husband. We must not forget the context. It is speaking of the duty of the wife to be subject to her husband. That can only be in the way of a meek and quiet spirit. A meek and quiet spirit is a spirit which embraces the will of God for me and, in this case with a married woman, subjection to my husband.

Meekness, then, is the willing surrender,by the grace of God, of our own rights,our own ease, our own advance,and a willingness to serve the advance of God in others. We read, for instance, in I Timothy 2:9-11, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; … Let a woman learn in silence with all subjection." You see, quietness and submission. Paul does not mean that the Christian woman becomes mute, that she does not speak. Of course not. But he means the Christian woman embraces the calling, the will of God, given to her in her marriage. She is quiet. She accepts, she finds peace with, the fact that she has been made a woman, made a wife. Meekness and quietness. That results in accepting, subjecting oneself to, the will of God.

You see, subjection, whether that is in marriage or in any other part of life, is not merely the ability to grit your teeth. Sometimes we think that that is subjection: I'll just grit my teeth. Then it is like the Quaker boy at the meeting on Sunday. He was standing. His mother said to him, "Alright, the meeting has begun. The talking is done. Sit down." He responded to her, "I sit on the outside, but on the inside I'm still standing." That is not subjection. A meek and a quiet spirit is a spirit which joyfully embraces the will of God for my life, joyfully embraces the will of God for my place - here, a woman in subjection to her husband. Meekness and quietness consists in this: all that is in Christ is mine, the inheritance of glory, the precious blood of Jesus Christ, salvation (full salvation) in Jesus Christ...subjection, whether that is in marriage or in any other part of life, is not merely the ability to grit your teeth.

Exactly what women and girls apart from God do not want to hear and cannot have is the calling of the Christian woman and is the beauty of the Christian woman. The beauty of the Christian woman is a meek and a quiet spirit. Apart from Jesus Christ a woman and a girl has a turbulent, warlike spirit. That more and more becomes plain in this world. In the world, women apart from Christ feel threatened. They feel that they must assert themselves, they must take a place because they do not have a place. They do not know the satisfaction and fullness that is to be found in Jesus Christ. There is one thing that makes us meek and gentle and self-emptying, whether we are a man or a woman. Meekness and quietness are not graces just for a woman. They are Christian graces. There is one thing that gives us quietness and peace in our hearts, an inward strength and contentment. That is the po!ssession of the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. We say, by grace, the Lord is the portion of my soul, the Lord is my Shepherd, I will lay me down in peace.

In verse 4 the apostle tells us that this inward beauty, revealed in a meek and a quiet spirit, is of great price. He tells us that the great price of this beauty is found in two things. 1) It is not a corruptible beauty. In this epistle the apostle has been using that word, incorruptible and corruptible. He has told us in chapter 1:4, for instance, that we have an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Then he told us in verse 18 of that chapter that we know that we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but by the blood of Christ, and that we are born again, verse 23, of an incorruptible seed in Christ. The beauty that God gives to a Christian woman within her heart is an incorruptible beauty. It is a beauty that death cannot touch, that does not fade, that does not perish. It partakes of the nature of our inheritance in heaven. !It is a beauty which does not grow old or lose its luster. It is a beauty that shines more and more. The most beautiful women of God very often are those who are the most advanced in age. The beauty of Christ is an unperishing beauty.

Now, dear girls and women, do you want a beauty which does not fade? A beauty that knows no wrinkles? A beauty that does not wash away like mascara, that is not rubbed off with a towel? A beauty that lasts, a beauty that is imperishable? This is the beauty that is to be found in Jesus Christ. This is His life in you, a life of trust and obedience in Him. Death and old age cannot touch it because it is the impression upon your soul of the likeness of Jesus Christ. When you see the beautiful women of the world, and everyone bowing down to them and worshiping at their feet and lusting, do you see the folly, the utter folly? I wish not to be cynical but to bring the truth. The Word of God says, "Dear beautiful woman, perfect figure, if the Lord tarries a short time, you will be old. You might, indeed, be forgotten in a nursing home, wrinkled, no family to visit you. And you shall die. In the grave, worms and maggots will crawl over you." Now, you say, I am being morbid? No. This is reality. Hear the Word of God: a plastic surgeon and facial cream can go only so far. They cannot overcome the grave. If your life is consumed in the outward beauty, how pathetic! It is vanishing. Stop, stop trying to erase the signs of death. Many women are still pursuing the allusive beauty of youth. They think that that is beauty. Their beauty will be their hair, their jewels, their clothes. This beauty fades away. But not the beauty in Christ.

This beauty is of great price because, in the second place, God places great value on it. This word is used in Mark 14:3 to describe the perfume which Mary used to anoint Christ - it was of great price, it was very valuable, it was expensive. Peter says, When God sees the beauty of Christ in His Christian woman and girl, He says, that's very valuable, that's very expensive, that's of great worth. That's the beauty of Christ. Oh, it is valuable and expensive. In the sight of God it is valuable. Why is it so valuable? Because God sees His face and His grace, because He sees His purpose in Jesus Christ being fulfilled in you. He knows that as the fruit of the redemptive work of His Son He grants to you a beauty of trust and love in Him in your heart. In you, as a woman who of yourself can only be ugly in your sins, He sees the grace of Jesus Christ. He sees coming ou!t of you the confession, "I will be that which God wants me to be." He sees beauty in you. He sees a heart made by His own hands which wants to please God.

Is pleasing God important to you? Every child of God wants God's smile. And every child of God dreads God's frown. In the sight of God, this beauty is of great price. It is fair and lovely. It is beautiful, and it is beautiful to us, too. It is beautiful to you as a man, is it not? Husband, young man, can you recognize beauty when you see it, or not? Do you see spiritual beauty, do you place a great value on it? Do you? Christian women, that is why we love you in Christ. We love you, not as a man who is enamored by a woman on a magazine cover. Do you want that kind of love? That is not love, that is lust. That is after an object. That is using you. Is that the kind of love you want from your boyfriend, the kind of love that a man shows (love in quotes here), the kind of lust that a man shows when he is! looking at a magazine? Is that what you want for yourself? Oh, no! There is dignity in the Christian woman and it is found in Jesus Christ. You are to love that Christian wife and woman with the love which honors and respects and delights in the beauty that God has given to her in her heart. Can you see that?

Christian woman, are you beautiful? Then remember, once again, women, girls, men, and boys, remember, beauty is not something that you put on. It is not something that you diet to get. It is not something that is shown in low-cut tops exposing the flesh or in shrunken tops exposing the belly button. It is not something seductive. It is not something tight fitting. It is in the heart.... beauty is not something that you put on.... It is not something tight fitting. It is in the heart.

Is that what you want? The Word of God tells us that a woman could have a physical beauty which could turn heads and be attractive, but that apart from Him, there is only the emptiness of sin. Proverbs 11:22, "As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion." Girls, women, do not fashion yourself after the Barbie doll, after the picture on the magazine Young Sixteen, or Cosmopolitan, or whatever. That is not what beauty is. If that is all that you have, there is emptiness, a horrible emptiness. Beauty is Christ! Beauty is God! Beauty is God's glory shining out of us. Beauty is being conformed in word, thought, action, desires, attitudes, to Jesus Christ. And it is a beauty that does not fade. It is !a beauty that catches the eye, oh, yes! God's eye. And He rejoices. And we do too. We rejoice. For in Jesus Christ we stand beautiful before God, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that we should be holy and without blemish before Him.

God bless His Word to our hearts.

By Rev. Carl Haak (reformedwitnesshour.org)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mentors and Moms Fall Bible Study

Please mark your calendars and join the Mentors and Moms Fall Bible study on  The Faithful Parent  by Stuart Scott and Martha Peace.


Date: Friday, Sept 24

Time: 10:30-12:00

Place: Eastwood Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall

Need a Book or have Questions: E-mail Brenda Payne paynecounselor@gmail.com (Deadline Friday, Sept. 17th)

Nursery Reservations Required: E-mail KC White kcwhiteal@gmail.com (Deadline Monday , Sept. 13 th )

*The fall Bible study is a six week commitment. We will not meet on Oct. 8th when school is out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Training Ladies-It's Hard Work!

 I have had the privilege of encouraging a newly married wife on how to control her emotional (and often sinful) actions and reactions to her husband. I was struck by her sincere desire to change and the frustration she felt over the futile results. I asked how she was tackling the problem. Through tear-filled eyes, she told me that she prayed everyday for God to grant her self-control. However, by the end of the day she had failed yet again. I told her while prayer was the starting and ending point of all of her efforts, it was in no way the only resource God had put at her disposal for change. In fact, I asked her what would happen if I decided to run the Montgomery half-marathon in October and all I did to prepare was pray! I can tell you, I would pass out! Running that marathon will require regular physical training. It will cost time, energy, emotion, and I will often have to fight against my feelings to persevere. I will need a training plan, accountability, and the right equipment. There would be good days and bad days in my training regime, but if I intended to run it I would have to train for it. What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm: "Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:8). I am not minimizing the power of prayer, but as Christians we must recognize the work God has given us to do in the sanctification process. How did I encourage my friend to "train" in righteousness? The same way I encourage anyone needing a spiritual help: Pray and Work!


1. Have consistent time in the Word. Her ability to respect her husband and control her emotions is directly related to her intake of God's Word. She needs to give the Holy Spirit what He needs to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in her life.
2. Memorize relevant passages of Scripture. The Word will enable her to transform her mind through daily renewal. She will be able to take her thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ when her thoughts are His. This is also an excellent way to ensure she is praying according to God's will!
3. Journaling. I cannot overstate the importance of writing down struggles for the sake of working through them biblically.Change takes thought and time to "put off" old patterns of thinking and "put on" new ones. Journaling is the most effective tool I have seen to bring about change and to allow others to help and hold you accountable to change. Here are the initial questions I asked my friend to write down.
a. What were the circumstances that led to my (fill in the blank with an emotion like anger, disappointment, frustration,etc.)?
b. What did I say to myself when I became (_______)? This is very important! She must write it down just as she is thinking it each time. Put it in quotations! Don't cheat.
c. How does God want me to think about this circumstance? What is true about my circumstance and what is the TRUTH of God's Word concerning my situation? She must use Bible verses and pull from wisdom, knowledge and understanding about herself, her husband, and God.
4. Accountability. My friend needs to have several women who will pray for her and with her and help her love God and her husband the way the Bible prescribes. She needs other committed people who will help her sort through the distortion of her thinking. We all struggle with seeing ourselves accurately. The Body of Christ is meant to help us have a correct view and to help us change incorrect views.

These are foundational principles for "training in righteousness". What about you? Where are you struggling? Have you been content to ask God to do for you what He intends for you to do yourself (in His strength and with His wisdom)? If you are caught in any sinful pattern, don't stay spiritually unfit-start your work out now!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Song is in Your Heart?

video
Quick video. Great message! Enoy.

Spiritual Dryness

Do you ever get into a "spiritual slump"? That's where I have been living the past few weeks. I have not had good time in the Word. My prayer life has been sporadic. My thoughts have felt disjointed. I have been distracted in corporate worship. I have been unmotivated to spiritual disciplines. It's not that my love for God has waned; I am just in a "funk". Can you relate?

What do you do when your spiritual life feels like a desert? First of all, you need to examine the factors that might be contributing to the problem.

• Busyness. If you are being "Martha" doing too many things, you can be too exhausted to do the one most needful thing. Even the good can become the enemy of the best! Your output cannot exceed your input if you are going to be effective for Christ. Is your schedule so packed that you are too tired to spend time with Jesus?

• Misplaced Priorities. Perhaps you are not too busy but you have just allowed other things, even good things, to take the place of time with the Savior. Is spending time with the Lord through time in the Word and prayer a priority in your day?

• Failure to Plan. Currently, I am struggling with what to study. I completed the 1 John study this summer and I don't have a new plan. I find if I do not have a plan for Bible study; it is much easier to neglect it. Do you have a plan for spending time in the Word? If not, go ahead and pick a book of the Bible to read through or perhaps you have an old devotional you can dust off and use. Don't be stagnant, stay active. In the process, you can pray and search for a study.

• Laziness. Sometimes a lack of time with God just comes down to sheer laziness! You don't feel like it. You need to enlist accountability when you find yourself unmotivated and giving into your feelings. Any relationship takes time and energy to make the investment. Could your dryness be a by-product of laziness?

• Unconfessed or Habitual Sin. If you are stuck in a sin, you will be tempted to run from God instead of to Him. Evaluate your life and ask the Lord to reveal unconfessed sin. Deal seriously with patterns of sin in your life. Do you have unconfessed sin? Are you enslaved to some sin that keeps you discouraged? Fly to Jesus!

• Fatigue. Sickness. Hormones. There is no doubt that physical factors can contribute to spiritual dryness. You should do what you can to take care of yourself physically. Are you exhausted? Are you dealing with a chronic sickness? Are you hormonal? Don't allow these reasons to become excuses to stay out of the Word. In times of suffering and weakness, you need the Lord the most.

• Depression/Discouragment. It is often most difficult to seek the Lord when you are down. If you are emotionally depleted, you need God but it can seem overwhelming to spend time in the Word. Commit to bite size pieces. Are you down? Don't give up or give in, dig deeper!

I am taking time this week to evaluate my spiritual dryness in light of the reasons above. In the meantime, I am jumping back in with both feet. My biggest enemy is my feelings. Even sitting down to write this blog was taxing, but I did it and I am glad! Here is my battle plan:

1. Pick a devotional to begin today.
2. Choose a passage to being memorizing.
3. Download some praise music to my ipod.
4. Download a sermon or two to listen to as I exercise this week.
5. Meet with a friend for encouragement and accountability.
6. Be consistent regardless of my feelings. Don’t allow the lack of feelings to discourage me. Press on!

I realize the Christian life is not always a “spiritual high” and I am not seeking to be emotionally driven. However, I want to love the Lord with all of me-my mind, emotions, and my body! I know He wants this too. I am confident that the Lord will return to me the zeal I desire as I commit to seek Him and continue to walk in His ways.

Point to Ponder and Post:
1. What reasons do you see contribute to spiritual dryness?
2. What do you do to overcome times of spiritual dryness?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How Do You Show Respect?

I would love some feedback on how you have learned to respect your husband? What have been your struggles and how have you overcome them? How have you discovered your husband's particular desires for respect? How have you accomodated him? What benefits have you seen from respect and disrespect? Let's spur eachother on!

PS...If you post as "anonymous"...well then you will be anonymous! That means no one will know who you are:)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's Your Goal? Holiness or Happenstance

"Someone has observed that oftentimes Christians don't make it their goal not to sin--we make it our goal not to sin too much." Max Lucado, 1 John (pg.39)

If we are not purposeful to mortify sin in our lives than chances are we won't! My good friend and mentor Kristi Gant used to tell me, "Plan not to sin". So often we don't plan on sinning, but we do so because we have failed to plan not to sin! What sinful pattern has ensnared you? Is it something you continue to do or something you are failing to do? Pursue holiness. Don't settle for half-hearted devotion to your Lord and Savior; sell out!

Points to Ponder and Post:
1. Where in your life are you struggling with sin? Are you radically dealing with it or just "keeping it under control"?
2. What are you doing to do about it? How will you plan not to sin?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review-"When Sinners Say 'I Do'" by Dave Harvey

If you are discouraged in your marriage, this book is sure to change your outlook. A relatively short book at 183 pages, but chalked full of exhortations on understanding and applying grace to your marriage. Harvey's writing style is filled with great word pictures making difficult themes easy to understand. This is one of those books that I wanted to highlight every other sentence! This book would make a great gift for anyone struggling in their marriage. The theme of the book is how to apply God's grace to ourselves and how we can extend it to our husbands. God's grace should make a difference in our marriages!

"In this book, I want to convince you that dealing with the sin problem is key to thriving in marriage. When we apply the gospel to our sin, it gives us hope in our personal lives and in our marriages. Bad news leads to great news.It's the story of the Bible, and the story of our lives."

"Marriage was not just invented by God, it belongs to God. He has unique claim over its desing, purpose, and goals. It actually exists for him more than it exists for you and me and our spouses. God is the most important person in a marriage. Marrige is for our good, but it is first for God's glory."

Points to Ponder and Post:
1. Have you read this book? What is your opinion of it?
2. How did it impact you?  Do you have a favorite quote you can share from the book?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Respecting Your Husband

I am working on some material to help disrespectful wives. I thought I would try some of it out on my readers! would love some feedback.

Acknowledge Your Total Dependence Upon God.

First of all, you must depend upon the Holy Spirit. He alone can change your sinful heart. Respecting your husband, especially when you don’t feel like it or when he doesn’t “deserve” it, is a supernatural act. In your flesh, you will be prone to give into your feelings and live for your own kingdom causes! It takes daily dependence upon the Lord, to do what you don’t feel like doing and to live in light of His eternal Kingdom. If respect is a major battlefield for you, fall on your face before the Lord (literally) and cry out for His strength, wisdom and grace (supernatural help from heaven) to walk in faith and obedience to His commands.

What is dependence? It is trust and reliance. Think about the people you trust, why do you trust them? Undoubtedly, because you deem them reliable. Their character and actions give credence to their words; you believe them because they have proven themselves. These are the people you can call on night or day, they laugh when you laugh and cry when you cry, in a crisis they are your "go to" people. Dependence upon God involves trusting Him and relying on Him. How do you cultivate this type of dependence? It begins with saturating your mind with the Word of God and learning to pray biblically for your marriage.

You come to know God as He talks to you through His Word. The Scriptures tell you who God is and what He requires of you. God has given you a historical account of His love; His proven faithfulness. If you don’t trust God maybe it’s because you don’t really know Him. Knowing God is a one time event (coming to Him through faith in Christ) but it’s also a process of learning and seeing His excellencies throughout your lifetime. If you struggle with trusting God’s Word, I want to encourage you to study His attributes. Knowing God, as He is found in the Scriptures, chases away the fear of trusting Him.

God’s Word not only reveals Who God is but also gives us a blueprint for godly living. The way you demonstrate you have faith in someone is by relying on them for counsel, strength, resources, or whatever the need may be. You must rely upon God’s Word to instruct you in God’s ways. The Bible says us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). You can rely on God’s Word to teach you God’s standards for a husband, a wife, and his design for marriage. You can rely on God’s Word to convict you when you are out of sync with God’s revealed will. You can rely on God’s Word to show you how to correct your wrong motivations, attitudes, words and actions. And you can look to God’s Word to show you how to develop a lifestyle characterized by godliness. Depending on the Lord means you choose His ways over your own ways; regardless of your feelings or past experience.

Another practical demonstration of dependence is prayer. Prayer is how you talk to God. Through prayer you praise God, reminding yourself of His attributes and His works. Prayer is the avenue by which you confess your sins to Him, receiving forgiveness and cleansing and a clear conscience. And, prayer is the means by which you seek God’s help to be the wife you cannot be apart from His work in your life. Is your desire to respect your husband lacking? Cry out to God. Is your understanding of how to go about it wanting? Cry out to God. Have you grown weary in well doing? Cry out to God. Listen to the psalmist, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8). Respecting your husband can be a difficult command to obey, when it is, fly to Jesus in prayer. I want to encourage you to learn how to pray biblically for your marriage. What is biblical praying? It is praying for those things which are agreeable to the will of God. For instance, let’s say I think we need a new car. I could pray, “God, please put it on Paul’s heart to buy me a new car. I would really like it to be tan with leather interior and could you throw in the gps and dual dvd players! You know our car is old Lord and has many miles and we need a new one!” Or I could pray, “Lord, please help us to be good stewards of our finances and possessions. I pray you will direct Paul in how we can best use our finances to honor you. I pray you will give him knowledge and wisdom to make the right decision about our transportation needs. Help me to offer good counsel, to be content with what I have or what I get, and to trust you to work through Paul.” Do you see the difference? One prayer is all about me! It reads like a wish list to Santa Clause. The second prayer has God as it’s focus and acknowledges my husbands headship and my desire to be a helper to him.

Deepening respect for your husband starts and ends with a deepening dependence upon the Lord. Your relationship with your husband, especially if it’s difficult, could be the very thing God is using to drive you to depend on Him.

Points to Ponder:
1. What has helped you grow in dependence on the Lord?
2. When it is difficult to respect your husband (either because of his sin or yours) how have you seen God use His Word or prayer to bring you to obedience?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Behold the Love of God"

If you have i-tunes, I would encourage you to download a sermon by Tim Keller on 1 John 3:1-3 entitled "Behold the Love of God". It's free on i-tunes! Keller,one of my favorite preachers, does an amazing job of explaining the outburst of emotion the disciple John demonstrates in these passages. You will be greatly encouraged and challenged by this sermon. You can also go to sermons.redeemer.com to purchase the sermon in an mp3 format or on a cd. If I can figure out a way to post it to my blog, I will. You can find other free downloads by Tim Keller on i-tunes as well.

Monday, July 12, 2010

PayneQuote-Heavenly and Heavy

After speaking with a mom going through a serious trial with her teenage child, I was struck again by the weightiness of parenting. It is a heavenly calling but also a heavy calling. For those of you with little children you might think my next statement is harsh, but those of you with teenagers can appreciate my sentiment.

"It is a mercy of God that parenting only lasts 18-21 years because it is too heavy a matter to be responsible for people you cannot control!"

As our children mature into young adults, we must allow God the opportunity to mold them and shape them through their successes and failures and through their wisdom and foolishness. Of course, we continue to pour into them but our limitations become glaringly evident. Our dependence upon the Lord to work an "inside job" is a greater reality than ever before.

Parenting teenagers and young adults sends you to your knees and puts this prayer on your heart, "God have mercy on us!" May the Lord be merciful to us His children and His children's children as week seek to raise a generation that will worship Him.

Points to Ponder and Post:
1. Have you found it difficult to transtion from parenting children to young adults? What has helped you?
2. Where have you seen God's mercy in parenting your older children?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Counselor's Corner Begins

I want to begin a new section of my blog: "The Counselor's Corner". If you have a better idea for a name, by all means submit it!  I do not intend for this to be an exhaustive means for biblical counseling but I hope it can be tool to sharpen your ability to connect the Scriptures to everyday life. If you have a question you would like for me to attempt to answer, please e-mail me at paynecounselor@gmail.com. The question will be posted in a "flattened out" way, removing all personally incriminating information. I also hope that many of you will weigh in with your own thoughts and encouragement from the Scriptures. Let's continue to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, and all the more as we see the Day approaching!

The Antichrist and antichrists-What's the Difference?

There is a lot of information available on Antichrist and antichrists; some biblical and much that is erroneous. When studying these topics, be very discerning. I recommend running your findings through your pastor; that's what I did. Information about end times, the Antichrist and even dealing with modern day antichrists is both intriguing and frightening. Thankfully, as believers we have our hope in the One who has already defeated them all. Because of Him, we remain aware and alert but need not be afraid.

Speaking of the Antichrist

“Scripture teaches Antichrist to be a political, religious, individual, yet to come in the future (as of this writing), who is opposed to God and God's Christ and God's church. Antichrist is a false Christ, according to Matthew 24:24. He claims to be anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and claims to be qualified to do the work in God's name of redeeming God's people and renewing the creation. But he is not. He is a liar. His claims are false. He is a false Christ. A little word study may help to understand the prefix "anti" in the name Antichrist. Just as antivenom is given to counteract the venom of a snake bite, and antiseptic is used against infection, so Antichrist is against, is opposed to, Jesus Christ. This tells us the essence of what Antichrist is: he is opposition to God's Christ. He is opposition to Christ personally; he is against Christ's Church; he is against Christ's Word, Holy Scripture. Furthermore, because Christ's mission is to show the name of Jehovah God to men by showing Himself to them (see John 17:6, John 14:8,9, and Revelation 13:6), Antichrist is opposed to God Himself. So, although the Antichrist will leave the impression that his motivating force is love, concern for humanity, and pity for the oppressed, what drives Antichrist is not love but hatred. The one motivating force in his life is opposition to Jesus Christ, opposition to all that He stands for, and to all that stand for Him. Antichrist will be a definite individual, a particular human being. A single individual of outstanding ability and extraordinary power will arise, who is opposed to Jesus Christ and claims to be the Christ. It is significant that Antichrist will be a man. Antichrist will not be some strange creature, unrecognizable to you and me, some foreigner, a man from Mars or another solar system. Antichrist will not be a stranger to humanity. Indeed, he will be the final and full development of man, of the human race. You will know him well, for his nature will be your nature. Man always has and always will claim equality and identity with God (witness the insane ravings of the Shirley MacLaines and others today). This man's claims will be believable; he will be one of us.” Rev. Barry Gritters, The Antichrist/prca.org


Speaking of Many Antichrists
“The struggle of the people of God against Antichrist has always been and will always be a present struggle. The call to oppose Antichrist must always be given in the present imperative. Whether in the future the church's children (your children and my children) are able to withstand the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, depends, to a great degree, on the success of the battle we wage against his spirit today. The second beast is working; his labor is under way. We are not referring to specific persons, or particular institutions and churches. We are referring to the spirit of our age that rejects God and God's Word, and promotes with all of its power, MAN. The purpose of education today is man's welfare; the purpose of science is man's pleasure; the goal of entertainment is the good life for man. Hedonism says it all. The world is crowded with Antichrists presently. No, look not only on the horizon for Antichrist. Look about you. Oppose him today.” Rev. Barry Gritters, The Antichrist/prca.org

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sacrifical Love

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 1 John 3:16

Sacrificial love always demands an exchange; my life for yours.

"Real love desires the highest and best-eternal life;your primary goal must be their soul's prosperity!" Joel Beeke, Love One Another

Points to Ponder and Post:
1. Who is it the easiest for you to sacrifice for and why? (Privately consider who is the most difficult person for you to sacrifice for and why?)
2. How would you love your husband, children, family and friends differently if you made eternal life and their soul's prosperity your primary concern?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Abide With Me, Hayley Westenra, Rugby

"Abide with Me" The Story Behind the Hymn

The disciple John uses the word "abide" repeatedly in his writings. We are told God will abide in us and we are to abide in Him and His Word. We don't use the word "abide" often in our culture these days, therefore, I find it difficult to understand what it means. The words of the famous hymn "Abide in Me" have helped me to better grasp its  meaning.

Henry Lyte (1847) was in­spired to write this hymn as he was dy­ing of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis; he fin­ished it the Sun­day he gave his fare­well ser­mon in the par­ish he served so ma­ny years. The next day, he left for Ita­ly to re­gain his health. He didn’t make it, though—he died in Nice, France, three weeks af­ter writ­ing these words. Here is an ex­cerpt from his fare­well ser­mon:

"O breth­ren, I stand here among you to­day, as alive from the dead, if I may hope to im­press it upon you, and in­duce you to pre­pare for that sol­emn hour which must come to all, by a time­ly ac­quaint­ance with the death of Christ."

For over a cen­tu­ry, the bells of his church at All Saints in Low­er Brix­ham, De­von­shire, have rung out “Abide with Me” daily.  Here are the words to the Hymn. Regardless of our circumstances,  may these words echo the cry of our hearts. Meditate on them today. Make them your prayer for you and those around you.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Information obtained through cyberhymnal.org

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1 John Study The Test of Sound Doctrine

I listened to a sermon by Joel Beeke today on audiosermon.com and wanted to give you a recap. He is a wonderful preacher and I highly encourage you to look him up! The Scripture text is from 1 John 2:18-27.

Up to this point, John has been giving Christians the "behavioral test" of true faith but now he turns his attention to the "belief test". The Bible teaches that what you believe, you live. Lifestyle flows from beliefs; and how you live, reveals what you believe.

John warned his readers to be careful what they believed because they were living in the "last hour". Here are some thoughts from Beeke:
  • Truth is absolute: therefore, it is binding on everyone, forever!
  • We are all vulnerable to wrong doctrine and falling away from the truth. Don't ever think you are above this.
  • God has but one more appointment with mankind; there is one more event on God's theological calendar. It is the return of the King!
  • How are you living in light of Christ's return? Live everyday as if it is the last. Be on guard. Believe the truth, guard the truth, and live it!
John warned his readers to be careful because of the antichrists. Beeke notes:
  • The antichrists are ordinary people.
  • What characterizes these antichrists?  First of all, they were once in the church but were not born again. They could no longer bear or hear God's truth because it pierced their conscience. Secondly, they would not suffer the reproach of the world. Thirdly, they deny Jesus is the Messiah.
  • Many people do "good" works but  for a work to be truly Christian it must be "Word and deed in every mission".
John encourages Christians to grow in doctrine (sound teaching). Beeke says:
  • Anchor your life in the Word of God. Make it a priority. Do whatever it takes to read it, memorize it, meditate on it, study it, etc. Order your days around knowing God through His Word.
  • Take heed of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He leads you to Christ and away from everything that opposes Christ.
  • The Word plus the Spirit make you strong to resist doctrinal error.
  • The Holy Spirit is not your only teacher but He is your greatest teacher! He leads you into all truth. Apart from Him, you would certainly be deceived but with Him you can know the Truth.
Conclusion: Anything that takes you away from Jesus as He is found in the Scriptures is heresy. Note how opposition to the gospel worldwide is increasing; there are many antichrists. We don't know what we will face in our lifetime, but the only way to endure is to be anchored in His Word and guided by His Spirit.

Points to Ponder and Post:
1. What modern day heresies have you encountered, even within "Christian" circles? How do you know if they are false?
2. How would you encourage a new believer to be discerning against false heresy?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bible Study Tool-On-line Sermons

There is a wonderful sight called sermonaudio.com. You can look up sermons by speaker, topic, scripture passage and more. Most of the sermons are audio only, but you can listen to them online or download them to an mp3 or ipod. Some of them even have a video format; a select few have a transcript. Of course, you want to be discerning concerning the pastors you choose to listen too. There are many pastors I am not familiar with but here are a few I would encourage you to look up.

Jay Adams
Joele Beeke
Ligon Duncan
Sinclair Ferguson
John MacArthur
Joseph Pipa
RC Sproul
Charles Spurgeon
Jonathan Edwards
Jim Berg
CJ Mahaney
JC Ryle

There is a wonderful list of classical, reformed and puritan speakers as well. Of course, for those who have gone on to be with the Lord, there is someone reading their sermons.

I usually try to find sermons on the exact passages I am studying for the week. I stick in my ipod when I am in the car, excercising, cleaning the house, and when I lay down in bed at night. This is an incredible way to bring solid teaching and preaching right into your home! Let me know if you find a favorite sermon or preacher.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What is True Repentance?

Repentance is a grace of God's Spirit, whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed....repentance is spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients:
1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred of sin
6. Turning from sin
If any one is left out, it loses its virtue.
 
From The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson
 

Friday, June 25, 2010

What Does It Mean to Abide?

"Abide in Me. Cling to Me. Stick fast to Me. Live the life of close and intimate communion with Me. Get nearer and nearer to Me. Roll every burden on Me. Cast your whole weight on Me. Never let go your hold on Me for a moment. Be as it were rooted and planted in Me. Do this, and I will never fail you. I will ever abide in  you. This word "abide," or "remain,"..... implies a contant remaining or continuing in one spot or place. A true Christian must always be 'In Christ', as a man dwelling always inside the walls of a fortified city." JC Ryle, Commentary on John, page 101

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lavish Love

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

I have been taken aback by this verse all week long. Think about it. God, the Creator of the Universe, has lavished His great love on me! I was once His enemy with nothing to offer Him but the sin that nailed His Son to the cross and yet He adopted me and calls me His child. This is really shocking when you think about it.  I want to understand this extravagant love which God has bestowed on me through Christ. I know I take it for granted.  I wrestle to grasp the enormity of the riches of His love for me.

I have been seeking examples of stories which demonstrate extravagant love in order to give me a better understanding, a glimpse into the Father's love for His children. This story of Rick and Dick Hoyt (video below) is a precious story of one father's lavish love for his son. There are many spiritual parallels in this story. Please share any stories you have of "lavish love" which may give us a greater understanding of God's "lavish love" of His children.

Dick & Rick Hoyt

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lessons from My Flower Garden on Confession

Yesterday I was doing some much needed sprucing up of my long neglected flower beds. As I was pulling up a million and one weeds, I was cleverly drawing parallels between  my weeding and confession. Here are a few of my profound thoughts!

  • Left unattended, weeds grow and multiply quickly! Sin grows quickly and multiplies in our lives when unattended.
  • Pulling weeds is easier when the soil is moist and pliable. Confession is easier when the soil of our hearts is soft and fertile from God's Word not stony and hardened with self and the world.
  • Weeds destroy the beauty and vitality of the flowers in the bed. Sin destroys our witness and zaps us of spiritual energy to grow and blossom in the Lord.
  • Weeding is an activity which I loathe and put off as long as possible; this can be my tendency in dealing with my sin too.
  • Because the work is so unpleasant, I am easily distracted. Go get a drink, pet the dog, check my phone for messages, go get another drink, stick my feet in the pool to cool off, go inside to check my e-mail, get another drink....you get the picture! How easily we fill our lives with so much activity that we neglect the essential need to clear our hearts before the Lord daily.
  • Weeds grow daily; everyday there are new weeds in my flower beds. I need to confess sin daily because it's there daily.
  • A weed eater is the easiest but least effective way of dealing with weeds because it does not deal with the root. My confession must deal not only with my behavior but with my heart as well.
  • Finally, you have to get low to the ground to pull weeds! Confession brings us low, and by God's grace we are lifted up again!
These are just a few of the thoughts I was having while I was weeding. Let me know if you have any more comparisons!

Happy Weeding,
Brenda

Monday, June 21, 2010

Excerpts from Whiter than Snow

One of my favorite devotional books is Whiter then Snow, Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. The devotionals are based on Psalm 51which is Kings David's confession after being confronted with his sin. Let me give you a taste....

"Rather than appealing to the meary of the Lord in the face of sin, what I actually do instead is function as my own defense lawyer and present a list of arguments for my own righteousness. The theology behind the defense is that my greatest problem is outside of me, not inside of me.....Before you can make a clean and unamended confession of your sin, you have to first begin by confessing your righteousness. It's not just your sin that separates you from God but your righteousness does as well. Because, when you are convinced you are righteous, you don't see the forgiving, rescuing, and restoring mercy that can be found only in Jesus Christ." pg. 22

"Grace is for the willing and we become willing when we confess not only the gravity of our sins, but our inablity to delivers ourselves from it." pg. 24

"True confession always results in living for something bigger." pg. 42

" 'Thy Kingdom come' is a dangerous prayer, for it means the death of your own sovereignty." pg. 62

"When your sin really does become ugly to you, when it produces pain in your heart and sickness in your stomach, you celebrate forgiveness, but you want something more. You want to be clean." pg. 66

"You know whether a house is being restored or condemned by the size of tools that are out front. If you see a crane and a wrecking ball, the house isn't being restored; it's coming down. Wrecking ball responses to the sin of another are seldom restorative." pg. 76

"The desire to be God rather than to serve God lies at the bottom of every sin that anyone has ever committed....sin is rooted in my unwillingness to find joy in living my life under authority of, and for the glory of, Another. Sin is rotted in my desire to live for me." pg. 81

"To trangress means to acknowlegde the boudaries and to step willingly over them." pg. 86

"The very fact that sin is about self-focus and self-love guarantees the fact that I'll not love you the way that I should." pg. 96

"Sin is all about foolishness. Sinners are fools who are able to convince themselves that they are wise." pg. 108

If We Confess Our Sin.....

"If we confess our sin...." Why the "if"? Why not "when"? Our natural inclination is to NOT confess our sin, why is that? Notice the reaction of a young child when asked, "Did you touch that?" "Did you eat that?" "Did you poop in your pants?" How often does the child make a good confession? His natural bent is a non-confession.

The word "confess" means "to say the same thing." Confession of sin is agreement with God about our failure to obey His commandments. Why is it so difficult to agree with God's assesment and say so?!

Confession of sin requires humility. It reminds us of our utter poverty and the need for our Savior every moment of every day. John admonishes us not to sin, but He reminds us that when we do sin we have One who speaks to the Father on our behalf! The love of our Savior should compel us not to sin, but when we do sin His unconditional love should compel us to run to Him not from Him!

What does a good confession look like?
1. It should be done quickly. As soon as you recognize you have sinned, confess and ask forgiveness from God and your neighbor. The more time that passes, the more difficult the confession.
2. It should be done thoroughly. When a person stands in court to testify he swears "to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth." This should be our intent when confessing our sin before the High Court of Heaven. We must remember that God already knows our sin; inside and out. Let us be honest to say what He already has witnessed first hand!
3. It should be ongoing. Confession should be a regular practice in our daily lives. We sin much, so we should confess much!

I suggest three steps for making a good confession:
a. "I would like to ask you to please forgive me for (and then name the sin biblically)....
b. "Is there anything else for which I have not confessed but need too? "
c. "I am committed to change and this is how I plan to demonstrate it...."

My friend, we need not run from confession. It is God's means for forgiveness and cleaning from ongoing sin. It is also His means to help retard the growth of sin in our lives. When I have struggled with ongoing sin, confession to God and the party I sinned against has been a vital tool to bring about heart change and behavior change. Is your home a place where redeemed sinners regularly confess their sins one to another? Do the words "I sinned and will you please forgive me" flow freely and regularly from your lips?  Are you modeling what it looks like to be humble and make a good confession? I pray my life will be  characterized by "when" I confess my sins, not "if". May the love of the Father motivate me to not sin, but when I do sin, may my love for Him motivate me to make a good confession.

Points to Ponder and Post:
1. Why do you think confession is so difficult for Christians?
2. What has helped you become more willing to confess your sins to God and your neighbor? How would you encourage another believer who is struggling in this area?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Consider Larger Portions of Scripture

I was talking today to a friend of mine in her early fifties. She told me a true story from a book she read last year that challenged her Scripture memory motivation. She spoke of a Chinese pastor who took a group of men into the hills of communist China to study the Bible and pray. Because of the intense persecution and shortage of Bibles, the men memorized a chapter of Matthew a day! These God-fearing brothers did this with malnourished bodies while hiding in the mountains enduring poor living conditions. My friend told me as a result of the testimony of these men, she and her husband have committed to memorizing a chapter of the Bible a month.  

I have often memorized topical Bible verses; I think it's a great way to go about Scripture memory. However, in recent years I have come to see the benefits of memorizing larger sections, or chapters, and on occasion, even a small book. There are several reasons for this. First of all, I find it easier to memorize several verses that relate to one another. I seem to retain more when the verses are interrelated. Secondly, I am horrible at memorizing addresses; larger portions minimize the need for so many different chapters and verses. Thirdly, memorizing larger portions help me to change not just a thought but my thought patterns. Finally, I  have a better understanding of the verses when they are in a greater context.

I want to challenge you to have some sort of Scripture memory goal this summer and to commit to it! It's not only the end product (memorized verses) but also the process (word for word mediation and  constant review) that make Scripture memory a means for tremendous spiritual growth! The verses don't always "stick" in my mind for the long haul, but I know they are making a lasting impression on my heart forever! Let's encourage one another to hide God's Word in our hearts.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scripture Memory-Just Do It!

I would like to start a little discussion and encouragement on Scripture memorization. So, please add your comments and insights to this post! Here are a few questions I would like for you to weigh in on?

1. Why memorize Scripture?
2. How do you memorize Scripture?
3. What are the benefits of Scripture memorization you have seen in your own life?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lacking Assurance? Think on These Things

If you want to be totally encouraged today and feel secure and have surety, meditate on Chapter 17 of The Westminster Confession of Faith. It is astounding to think about God's grasp on those who are in the Beloved! I have taken the liberty to use the Modern English Version which you can find online. Read slowly and really think about what each point is communicating to you. Also, take the time to look up unfamiliar words.

Of the Perseverance of the Saints

1. Those whom God has accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere in it to the end and be eternally saved.

2. The perseverance of the saints does not depend upon their own free will, but on the unchangeableness of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; on the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; on the continuing presence of the Spirit and the seed of God within them; and on the nature of the covenant of grace. These are grounds of the certainty and infallibility of their perseverance.

3. Nevertheless, they may—through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the pervasiveness of the corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means by which they are to be preserved—fall into grievous sins and for a time continue in them. In so doing they incur God's displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit; some measure of God's graces and comforts is taken from them; they have their hearts hardened and their consciences wounded; they harm others and give them occasion to sin, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

Does assurance really matter?

"People who do not have the assurance of salvation, and doubt whether they ever can, tend to be self-centered, focusing on how to know they are saved or how to "keep" themselves saved.....On the other hand, when a person is assured of his salvation he may get on with living, growing, showing concern for others. He doesn't have to focus upon self." Jay Adams, Commentary on 1 John, pg. 210

Ponder and Post:
1.How do you see the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints impacting your daily life?
2. What would you recommend to a person who lacks assurance of their salvation to gain assurance?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Using Confessions and Creeds in Bible Study

Along the way, I hope to encourage you in your Bible Study with additional tools for meditation. One of the most helpful tools is the use of historic Chrisitan Creeds and Reformed Confessions. Now, I know this may not sound interesting, but don't stop reading! You might be asking, "What do a bunch of old dead men have to offer me about theology and doctrine?" Alot! These confessions and creeds put sound doctrine in readable packages!  If you have a phone with applications, you can even download these right to the palm of your hand! If you are not familiar with creeds and confessions google some of these and become familiar with them...

Confessions:
Heidelberg Catechism (one of my favorites)
Belgic Confession
Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism or Larger Catechism

Creeds:
Nicene Creed
Apostles's Creed

Thoughts to Ponder and Post:
In my study today, I used the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 17 to learn about the perserverance of the saints. The Confession gives you cross-references, so I was able to do additional scripture reading as well. Try it! Let me us know what you think!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sin is Our Choice; Forgiveness is His

"1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin." 1 John 1:1 

Sin is breaking God's law. It is first and foremost an offense against God. I don't have to sin; I  have a choice to obey or disobey God. "Grace does not eliminate the requirement to obey. It enables one to do so." (Jay Adams) What will I choose today? I will have many opportunities to "walk as Jesus walked" or to walk in my own way. What will be the pattern of my day? How will I practically flesh out love for God and my neighbor? What about you, what will you choose? We must begin our day with the reminder that our lives are not our own, we have been bought with the blood of Christ. We must desire to decrease so that He may increase. What will keep us from sinning? We must see the beauty and excellence of His commands; believing that all of His ways are true and right.

But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for[a] the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2

I don't have to sin, but I will. Oh, how sweet is this verse to my soul! There is One who is face to face with the Father pleading on my behalf, Jesus Christ. He is the sinless attorney representing you and me in the High Court of God. He has never lost a case! "He pleads that the penalty has already been paid and He has the scars in His hands and feet as evidence. On the cross when Jesus said, 'It is finished' it can be translated 'the debt is paid'." (John Piper) What amazes me is that Jesus goes to my defense everytime I sin. I am overwhelmed when I consider all the times my Savior must plead my case before the Father in one day! I wonder how many times I would  be willing to plead a person's case before a judge, especially when that person breaks the same  laws over and over again. Why would The Righteous One continually go to bat for a sinner like me? Unlike me, he does not say "Good grief, here we go again!"  What unconditional love and mercy is demonstrated in this picture of my Savior defending me. I have nothing to offer in my own defense, I am a sinner prone to wander. He alone is my Righteousness; I run to Him.

Questions to Ponder and Post:
1. How can Christians keep from sinning?
2. How does1 John 2:2 affect your view of sin and the Savior?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Deep Relationships Depend on Shared Doctrine

What is fellowship? It is a personal experience of sharing something significant in common with others.

Fellowship with God and Jesus:
"So to say you have fellowship with the Father and his Son means that you have come to share their values. You believe what they believe and love what they love. And so you delight to spend time together. You love to include them in all that you do. You cherish the thought of spending an eternity getting to know them better." John Piper

Fellowship with others:
"There is no significant fellowship among people who do not share the same view of Jesus Christ. Shared doctrine is the basis of Christian fellowship. The deeper and stronger you want your fellowship to be, the more theology must be shared. " John Piper

QUESTIONS TO PONDER AND POST:

1. How do you do to enjoy and deepen your fellowship with the Father and Son?
2. What do you think about Piper's statement "The deeper and stronger you want your fellowship to be, the more theology must be shared?"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Body of Christ Lives On!

Have you ever considered that the body of Christ is in heaven and yet remains on earth? God became visible through Jesus Christ as he walked among the Saints of old. His physical body was crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended into heaven. But, the body of Christ lives on! The church is also called "the body of Christ". As individual and corporate members of Christ's church, we are His eyes, ears, hands, feet and heart to a lost and dying world. We have the opportunity to demonstrate the reality of God and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ! May our witness individually and corporately accurately reflect the Jesus of the Bible!

Thoughts on the Incarnation

"1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our[a] joy complete." 1 John 1:1-4

"It is not because we lack reliable testimony to the truth of Christ that we are slow to believe. It is because to believe is to be broken and to let the blackness of our hearts be exposed by the light of God's holiness." John Piper

"This is the stumbling block of the incarnation-when God becomes man, he strips away every pretense of man to be God." John Piper

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"A family of black-tailed squirrels has made its home amid the roots of the tree north of my office. We've been neighbors for three years now. They watch me peck the keyboard. I watch them store their nuts and climb the trunk. We're mutually amused. I could watch them all day. Sometimes I do.

But I've never considered becoming one of them. The squirrel world holds no appeal to me. Who wants to sleep next to a hairy rodent with beady eyes?(No comments from you wives who feel you already do.) Give up the Rocky Mountains, bass fishing, weddings and laughter for a hole in the ground and a diet of dirty nuts? Count me out.

But count Jesus in. What a world he left. Our classiest mansion would be a tree trunk to him. Earth's finest cuisine would be walnuts on heaven's table. And the idea of becoming a squirrel with claws and tiny teeth and furry tail? It's nothing compared to God becoming a one-celled embryo and entering the womb of Mary.

But he did. The God of the universe kicked against the wall of a womb, was born into the poverty of a peasant, and spent his first night in the feed trough of a cow.

Why? He loves to be with the ones he loves." (From Next Door Savior by Max Lucado)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Let's Get Started with a Summer Challenge

Summer is a great time to go deeper in the Word! I am hopeful many of you are considering the summer challenge; it's not too late to jump in. Here are some of the ideas discussed in a previous e-mail of how you can make the most out of this challenge. Send us your ideas!


Purchase the 12 week study on 1,2,3 John and Jude by John McArthur. You can also opt to use another study guide or your own study methods.

Encourage others around you, like your husband, older children, best friends, mother, sister, co-worker, to join the study. My mentor Kristi Gant would tell me, "If you want to be excited about bible study, get around other people who are excited about it." Surrounding yourself with others who are fired up about their study will light a fire under you!

Consider regularly talking to or meeting with others to discuss your study.

Consider memorizing at least one verse a week or take on a larger portion like a chapter or even an entire book! Share your goal with at least three people and ask them to hold you accountable. Write your goal in the cover of your study book.

Consider keeping a prayer journal for 12 weeks to record prayers that flow from your study.

Finally, share what you are learning with the rest of us! I hope to hear from many of you! I pray our enthusiasm this summer will fan into flame our love for Christ, His Word, His Church and the furtherance of His Kingdom!

Slow Beginnings

I apologize for my tardiness in getting this blog up and running; I hope you will grant me a little grace. I cannot begin to tell you the hours I have labored to learn how to manage this blog; not to mention the number of editing changes I have already made before the first post! This is supposed to be useful and enjoyable; but I am feeling stressed!

So why go through the trouble to set up a blog? For starters, it's easier than e-mail! I will no longer be sending out the "Mentors and Moms" e-mails which I have kept up with so poorly over the past year. Now, you can sign up to get updates on this blog, although I am not quite sure how that is done. Secondly, it's an interactive way for you and me to share with other like-minded women what God is working in and through us! I want this to be a site where we can spur one another on toward a greater love of God and our neighbor. Finally, it is means for me to share bibilcal insights, quotes, challenges, bible studies, speaking engagements and resources which I pray will help you in your quest to know God and make Him known in every sphere of your life.

I am beginning to add links to my favorite web sites and will begin to add favorite books and some book reviews too. I am learning as I go; so we will see where this ends up and how useful it is. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me in this endeavor and for the ways you sharpen me!

Blessings,
Brenda