Monthly Archives: March 2010

turn then, my soul, into thy rest.

From whence this fear and unbelief?
Hath not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged on thee?

Complete atonement thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed;
How then can wrath on me take place
If sheltered in thy righteousness,
And sprinkled with thy blood?

If thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand—
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.

Turn then, my soul, unto thy rest!
The merits of thy great High Priest
Have bought thy liberty;
Trust in his efficacious blood,
Nor fear thy banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for thee.

-Augustus Toplady, from Knowing God by J.I. Packer, pg 274, emphasis mine

gospel community.

I’m not totally convinced that the American dream — the house and yard in the suburbs — is the ideal environment for gospel community to happen. I’m sure it can happen in the suburbs, but isn’t kind of the whole point of the suburbs isolation? We have our own private house surrounded by our own private lawn all so we can not talk to people if we don’t want to talk to them. I am not saying there is anything inherently wrong with owning private property, because there isn’t, but let’s face it — suburban living is insular on purpose.

I don’t know if it’s just the season of life I’m in, or what, but I have been thinking a lot recently about gospel community and what that looks like, especially in a suburban context. The best example I have of gospel community is the church Tim and I were involved with in college, and right after we got married. I know that college is a time of minimal responsibility (even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time — I felt like I was so busy with classes, homework, and my part-time job, but I never knew how easy I had it!) and friendships are formed rather effortlessly because we have countless hours playing Euchre in someone’s dorm room on our side. But you know what? I am struggling with with gospel community looks like now, in the post-college, full-time-job, family-house-kids life.

The church we currently attend is a suburban church. And that’s fine — suburban people need Jesus, too. But I am really wrestling with how a suburban church like ours takes care of its people when its people live mostly far apart (i.e. a 5,10, or 15 minute drive or more) and only come together on Sundays or for various events throughout the week. How do deep friendships happen? How do we live life together? I think at it’s core, the Church — the Body of Christ — isn’t a place, a building, an event, but rather life being lived deeply with other people, but sometimes it seems like with the suburban church especially church becomes something we do rather than who we are.

I think a suburban church has to make more of an effort to build and sustain gospel community, because otherwise it won’t just happen. And in order to make more of an effort in that area, we have to make sacrifices in order to carve out the time. Maybe that means limiting evening activities like classes and sports with kids in order to make time to have people into our homes for dinner. Maybe that means forgoing the immaculate yard in order to have families and their kids over to enjoy the yard (and our company, as we’re not wiped from making said yard immaculate all day). Maybe that means we work fewer hours and make a little less money, or cut back in other ways, in order to have the time to spend investing in friendships.

Maybe it means we move. OK, I kid, I kid. But seriously.

Gospel community is not complicated, but it does require both time and proximity. Community is cultivated because we spend a lot of time together — in each others’ homes, sharing meals together, playing with each others’ kids, talking, praying together. And in order for those things to happen on a regular basis (i.e. 2-3 times a week or more), we need to live in a close proximity to each other. Unfortunately, time and proximity are two things kind of lacking in a suburban, middle-class lifestyle. I’m not saying that a suburban lifestyle is necessarily bad, because it isn’t — but it’s simply not conducive to cultivating gospel community.

I know creating the time and the proximity to other people can be difficult to do. It seems like just keeping up with my family and my house and marriage is too much some days, but I also know that gospel-based friendships are vital to my walk with the Lord . I need people in my life who can pray with and for me, who know where I am struggling, who love my kid as much as I love him, who can ask me how my marriage is. And, on the flip side, I need people for whom I can pray and encourage and take care of as I seek to serve as Christ served. It is through community that I am made more into Christ’s image.

In all honesty, I am struggling with making community happen where we are right now. And I’m pretty sure that if I am feeling this way, that others must be struggling, too.

What do you think? If you go to a suburban church and live in the suburbs, how does gospel community happen for you? Can you describe a time in your life where you experienced gospel community, whether through a Bible study, small group, or church? What do you think gospel community looks like?

absence.

I would like to formally apologize to the 3 readers I have for not writing much of late.

My grandmother passed away on March 15th. I have tried to sit and write about her — twice — but neither drafts felt right.

I don’t want to force writing about her. She was a poet herself, and deserves better than that.

So let me just say: I will miss her very much. It feels weird to live in a world where she isn’t.

And that’s why I haven’t been writing.

this is the reason why souls weep

You need not weep because Christ died one-tenth so much as because your sins rendered it necessary that He should die. You need not weep over the crucifixion, but weep over your transgression, for your sins nailed the Redeemer to the accursed tree. To weep over a dying Saviour is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to bewail the disease. To weep over the dying Saviour is to wet the surgeon’s knife with tears; it were better to bewail the spreading polyps which that knife must cut away. To weep over the Lord Jesus as He goes to the cross is to weep over that which is the subject of the highest joy that ever heaven and earth have known; your tears are scarcely needed there; they are unnatural, but a deeper wisdom will make you brush them all away and chant with joy His victory over death and the grave. If we must continue our sad emotions, let us lament that we should have broken the law which He thus painfully vindicated; let us mourn that we should have incurred the penalty which He even to the death was made to endure … O brethren and sisters, this is the reason why we souls weep: because we have broken the divine law and rendered it impossible that we should be saved except Jesus Christ should die.

-Charles Spurgeon

(HT: Challies)

what Sam’s been up to lately.

I haven’t really posted much about what has been going on with my little man lately, so I need to remedy that.

Every day I watch him become more a little boy and less a baby. It’s thrilling and yet terribly sad. He has been walking exclusively (and now running!) for about a month now. He can stand up without pulling himself up on furniture first, squat down and pick up a toy, and pivot and change directions. He is getting into everything and definitely keeping me on my toes.

I am really enjoying this stage. He is understanding more and more language every day. He can now understand simple directions. The other evening before he went to bed he was playing near me with a ball. I asked him, “Hey Sam, can you give the ball to Daddy?” and he turned and carried the ball to Tim all while giggling maniacally. Then Tim said, “Ok, give the ball to Mama!” and he’d turn around and run over to me. Today I said, “Sam, can you find your ball? I see it over by the slide and your train.” And he walked over and picked it up and brought it back to me. He’s a pretty smart cookie.

With his new-found walking skills, though, has come the flip side: falling. He has banged his head on so many things recently. I took him outside on one of our recent nice days and he took about 10 steps on the driveway before faceplanting and busting open his lip. I felt like the world’s worst mom…but he seemed to be just fine after a few minutes.

His vocabulary is expanding, too.  So far, he can and does say these words regularly:

Mama

Daddy (Dada)

cat (ca-ca, or sometimes kee-ca)

dog (dog-dog, or sometimes dog-gah!)

bear (beer or beer-beer)

car (ca-ca, or ca)

yeah (I really should work on teaching him yes, and not yeah)

more (mah)

milk (mee)

duck (duck-duck)

ball (ba, ba-ba)

this (dis)

bath (ath)

baby (bobby or bobba)

truck (uck!)

sock (ock)

He’s been learning his body parts, too. When prompted, he can point to his feet and nose. It’s pretty cute.

He’s a busy little guy! Every day I am amazed and how much he is learning.

This picture was from after his first haircut a few weeks ago. He’s getting to be such a big boy!

how to take a real rest.

photo by jurek d.

Are you tired?

Worn out?

Burned out on religion?

Come to Me.

Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life.

I’ll show you how to take a real rest.

Walk with Me and work with Me — watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.

Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

–Jesus (Matthews 11:28-30, The Message)

***

Sometimes my entire life feels heavy and ill-fitting, and I groan under the weight of my unbelief.  Because that’s what it is — feeling that my life is heavy and ill-fitting is the opposite of believing that God in His sovereignty has removed my real burden and placed me where I am right at this moment in time and space, and that’s unbelief.

I’m really tired of feeling this way.

Today at church, Roger, a pastor at a sister church of our church, preached, and he said that when Paul writes in the beginning of his letters, “Grace and peace to you –” he is saying that God is moving towards us with grace with the intention of making us whole, complete, full.

And I’m going to be honest and say that I am having a hard time believing that.

I do believe it on some level, but a long time ago I believed it in a way that spilled out into how I lived my life, but now I don’t think I do. It was like I felt that the Lord loved me, and that made all the difference in the world.

Should it? Should my experience of the love of God affect how my day-to-day life is lived? I know He loves me, even if I don’t always feel loved, but boy, it helps to feel that love of God being poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit, you know? Is this what George Mueller meant when he said that:

“…the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.”

Is the reason my life feels ill-fitting and heavy because it is ill-fitting and heavy when certain things are not being carried in the right way? They rub and chafe because they aren’t where they are supposed to be, as if I was wearing pants on my arms and a shirt as pants and a sock on my head.

What things in my life are in the wrong place?

What was it in my life, what patterns have I fallen into that have deadened my soul and my affections for the Lord?

What do I need to do now to get myself happy in the Lord?

I think I need to stop checking Facebook every 4.5 seconds or so. And my email. And my blog. And Twitter. And Google reader. Less computer time all around.

I think I need to get up and spend time with the Lord in the morning, which means I need to go to bed at a decent hour.

I think I need to go outside every day for a little while and take a walk, even if it is kind of cold still.

I need to sing songs, even if I can’t sing.

I need to get away with the Lord, and I’ll recover my life. I miss living.

crunchy conservative parenting: on co-sleeping, and actions vs. ideology.

The real action is over at Newsreal today. I usually don’t link there, but I thought today’s post might be of interest to my readers here.