Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vocation or Vision

I recently sat in a meeting with several people. There was a common goal shared among the group, but not a common attitude. While a couple of the people were more than willing to do whatever was needful, one person would not budge. I left the meeting frustrated, but thoughtful.

I thought about why some would be so willing to carry the work load and "bend over backward" to make possibilities. I asked why another would be so unbending. How one looks at the situation seemed to explain the circumstances. (Circs as PG Wodehouse would say.) Are you working on a vocation or are you pursuing a vision?

Are you just punching a clock, filling the hours, and barely getting by? Do you only see the negatives? Are you like the shoe salesman who went to Africa and called back saying, "Bring me home, no one here wears shoes."

Or are you one who has a vision. Do you look for opportunities? Do you see with clarity that you have a calling to pursue, ultimately a God to glorify in all? Are you like the second salesman sent to Africa who called home and said, " Send more shoes, no one here wears shoes!"

Perspective can play such a role in how we spend our lives. I once heard a friend tell a story of helping his grandfather. He was working under the house in the heat of a southern summer. It seems that the plumbing was clogged and his job was to get the grease and debris (yuck!) out of the way. The young man went on to tell that even though the job was gross, he did not mind so much, because he was with His grandfather. He would have done anything for this beloved patriarch.

On a greater scale when we are caught up in the muck of this world, doing our daily jobs we can look at how gross the situation is, or we can catch hold of a change in vision. We can lay aside our vocations and see that in all we are running errands for King Jesus.

Oh, our king is special. He is our beloved, Almighty. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and never wants for anything. He is the Lord of hosts, the captain of our salvation, Emmanuel. He is the Lion of Judah and the Prince of peace. He is altogether lovely and He calls you by your name if you are His child. He is not impersonal or arbitrary. He loves with an everlasting love, forgives while casting away our sins to remember them no more, redeems us from our sin and misery, and clothes us in His righteousness.

It does not matter if you are changing diapers, cleaning toilets, mowing grass, or cleaning out plumbing in all we are serving our King. He calls us to do "everything without complaining or arguing". (Ouch!) (Phil 2:14) He tells us that we, "Can do all things through Christ who strengthens us." (Phil 4:13)He reassures us that if He has begun a good work in us, "He will carry it on until completion." (Phil 1:6)He tells us that if we have died with Him, that we will have newness of life to bear unto Him fruits in keeping with repentance. ( taken from both Rom. 6:4 and 7:4)We are called to run errands for the king.

Today as you go about the mundane, I pray that you will keep the vision of Christ, his love for you, His kingly office, His humble submission on our behalf, and His continual intercession clear before you. Try to avoid the vocation mentality by thinking about the one who saved you. What can He ask of you that He was not willing to do for you? What burden does he ask you to bear that He will not bear for you? Where did He draw the line and say, "You ask me to do too much?" When was he overcome by the job description and loose perspective? Was He ever selfish? What does He require of you that He does not promise to see and reward? Who are we to complain, we are but dust.

Let us, "Go to the ant."(Prov. 6:6) Let us consider the things that are "little and wise." (Prov. 30:24-28)

As this new day starts how can you serve King Jesus?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Improving our Trials

As I grow older, and my sojourn is prolonged, I am more aware of sorrow. It seems to come from every angle. There are people suffering with cancer, couples seeking to have children only to have miscarriages or infertility, children rejecting the true God, widows, orphans, friends struggling in their marriages, those in need of financial relief, and those facing death, not to mention the pain of walking in a world that hates our God and his people. Even as I list these, I am reminded of my many friends who are right now in need of prayer and comfort. This is truly a vale of tears. However, even as we look at the pain and sorrow encompassing us, let us not become discouraged or be afraid. As Jesus said to his disciples in John 14:1 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me."

We need to look to God in all the trials of this life. We must believe in Him. We must as the catechism teaches know, "what to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man." God has revealed to us all that is necessary for "life and godliness". He has given us many patterns to follow in trial. One does not have to look very far in scripture to find many examples. Only think of Moses, the author of the first five books of the Old Testament, who was estranged from his family at a young age, committed murder, knew the solitude of rejection and desert wanderings, felt the burden of delivering his people, walked with them for years even as they constantly resented and strayed away from his counsels. His was not a life of ease and pleasure. Think of Joseph spending all those years in prison falsely accused. Think of the sorrow of Hosea as his wife played the harlot. We have David pursued by his son, sent from his home and throne to wander as one homeless even after years of fleeing for his life from Saul. The examples are manifold of hardship and pain.

Then we can turn to church history which is replete with those who have suffered and used it for good. Think of the early church martyrs and how many of them praised God amid the flames or the beasts. Think of John Owen who lost 10 of 11 children and yet wrote so pastorally. What about John G. Paton who lost everything: wife, child, all earthly possessions and continued to preach to the heathen of the New Hebrides. And there are many, many more.

My purpose is not to dwell on the negative however, but to point us to a Savior who has purposefully planned every event that fills our days. There is not one maverick molecule in God's world. There is not one thing that will come to you this day or any other, that has not passed through the scrutiny of a nail scarred hand and been approved to be the best for you and most glorifying for the Almighty Father Jehovah.

As wives, we love it when our husbands plan a nice romantic evening for us. We come home to find roses in hand, our favorite music playing, and the arms of our husbands. We realize that our husband has planned it all: the dinner, the childcare, the details. We are to simply enjoy company and conversation of the evening. But think on a much greater level, the lover of your soul has providentially planned every bit of minutiae of your days from waking to sleeping for your benefit. Every second of every day is planned in a way to demonstrate His love for you. He wants to see you demonstrate your love for Him in the response to all.

And so I come to my topic, improving our trials. What do I mean? I mean that we take each day and everything as a gift from God. Yes, this means that driver who cuts you off, the person who speaks unkindly, the child who disobeys, the crayon in the laundry, the "accident", and the occurrences of your day. We take each of them and use them to God's glory. We "overcome evil with good", "return a blessing for a curse", "turn the other cheek", discipline by faith, and pray that we will see what is in our hearts as fire makes the dross come to the surface and God's hand skims it out. We use each difficulty as well as success to drive us to Christ and growth in His grace. We improve our trials.

As we prayerfully consider the playing out of the drama each day puts before us, we can flee to Christ. What better things to be mindful of? How could we resent a trial that brings us closer to Him? Instead of being angry, we can use the emotional energy for good works. We can comfort others, pray for our enemies, be kind to those who hurt us. Dear christian, be not defeated, your king is victorious and we live in Him. Use the trials of this day to bring you closer to Him and to love Him and His people more.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you... therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good." 1 Peter 4:12-14, 19

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful, your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever." 1 Peter 5:6-11

"So do not lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Do you ever clean up the kitchen halfway? Do half of an item of clothing in the laundry? Have you ever made half of dinner? Are you in the habit of making up half of the bed? Teach half of a lesson to your children? When you do half a job, are you content with the outcome? Does it make you happy to do just a little work?

I wonder how it happens then, that we wake up one day and realize that we are content spiritually with half-ways. We repent half-way, even when we have sinned wholeheartedly. We read God's Word half-hearted. We worship with half our mind on the sermon and half on the roast in the oven at home. We pray half-way, our minds so often engaged in worldly affairs. We seek the Lord half-way. We love Him with even less than half a heart, when He should have our whole hearts. (After all, aren't we commanded to, "Love the Lord our God with all our heart?") And what has come home to me lately is that we teach our children these half-ways in their relationship to God and we are content.

Do you remember when we first held those pink bundles in our arms and felt the skin of our newborn? Do you remember counting fingers and toes... so little and so perfectly formed? Do you remember the awe that these little "fearfully and wonderfully" made babes aroused in our hearts? Did you not praise the Lord for His design and creation? As you were overwhelmed with these thoughts, was it your aim to raise them to be half a person? Half a lover of Christ? Half holy? The very questions are laughable. Of course not! These little ones were going to be great and do big things.

Why is it then that as Christians and parents we settle for mediocrity in our own lives and in the lives of our children. Is our God worthy of half praise? Is He worthy of half of our children? Are we afraid of entrusting them to Him? How can we be when we know Him to be the, "giver of every good and perfect gift", who gave His own son, "how then will He not freely with Him give all things?" Are we beggars? Is God stingy?

Al Martin once said in a sermon that being a Christian, " is not a minor shift," in thinking or in our lives but, "If Christ has not radically disrupted the very center and citadel of your hearts, you are not a Christian." Steve Camp sang a song called "The Cross Is A Radical Thing", where he talked about the cost of following Christ and what it means in our lives. It means that we do not settle and average is not an option.

Tonight, I simply want to challenge us to not settle for half-hearted Christianity in our lives or in the lives of those entrusted to our training. God has never dealt with us halfway. He did not give us half of a Savior, half of grace, half of mercy, half of imputation, etc. No, He fulfilled and gave to the uttermost. And He has never half loved us. He loves us with an everlasting love of which we will never know the, "heigth, depth, width, or length." Let us seek to love Him back in the same manner and to "offer ourselves and living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Lord." Let us no longer be "conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds," and the devotion of our hearts. Let us put off mediocrity and seek to be sold out.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Job Description

Growing up in the south, I never was exposed to unions. My sheltered white-collar existence knew about these groups, studied them a little, but never had personal experience with the unions.

When Matt and I lived in California, he worked for UPS and was part of the union. We enjoyed the benefits of good insurance, but the union effect on work ethic was clear even in a well run business like UPS. Matt would lament the fact that their job descriptions were very narrow and kept them from doing things that would be helpful, because that was someone else's job.

Now, as a mother of five children, I have found the union attitude present in my home. We have clearly defined chores for each child. Each one knows what he/she should do each day. What is funny is how quickly the report spreads if someone does not do their job, and how reluctant the others are to pick up the slack. I have often heard, "But, that is not my chore, Mom."

We are called to be workers. Work was created before the fall and in our work we find enjoyment and satisfaction. We also glorify God when we do our jobs well, which should be our chief aim. Work is not our enemy, our old sin nature which longs to be lazy is the enemy.

As I have worked through the wrong attitudes in my home and in our hearts, I have been reminded of Christ. The perfect, second person of the Godhead was not too good to take on a new job description. It was not a job that very many people would even think about doing. He "emptied himself, humbling himself to the point of death, even death on a cross." He washed the feet of His creation. He labored among the sick and needy. He sacrificed himself in so many ways as He walked earth's terrain. He was sleep deprived, without a home of His own, and was tempted beyond any other man that has ever existed. He never pulled the, "that is not my job" attitude. He did not shrink back from the dirty jobs. He, the very King of all kings, God of all gods, Alpha and Omega, was a servant and a sacrificial lamb. The very Lion of Judah in all his majestic splendor, was beaten and crucified bearing the weight of the iniquities of those whom He had predestined to adopt, justify, sanctify, and glorify.

So the next time your husband leaves his dirty clothes on the floor, remember Christ and His example of being a servant. What about a situation at church that should be taken care of by someone else and they are always late, or unreliable? The next time your children complain that they are doing the chores of another, point them to the greatest servant that has ever lived. Remind yourself and your families of the example of a servant that Jesus was for us. Not only did His actions show His love, but in His mind and heart there were no complaints and there was no sin. His motives were pure always. This is our example. Our salvation is so great. the work of Christ can occupy our minds as we seek to delve into the theological points. We can spend eternity praising the Godhead for the work of redemption. We can also find very practical application to our daily lives. Expand your job description in your own mind. We are not part of a union with only specific duties. We can be servants out of love and gratitude to our Savior. Follow the example of Christ. No one may ever notice, but be sure your Father in heaven will see. You will be obeying His word and His revealed will. And after all, is that not how we should spend ourselves in seeking, "to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever"?

Monday, January 4, 2010

An Earnest Plea

It has been a great pleasure and privilege to visit differing churches throughout my life. It is a delight to be among God's faithful people in differing provinces, all worshipping our great and glorious YAHWEH. Although, as it is with most things, there is bitter intermixed with the sweet.

Upon occasion, I have come upon a church where there was an abundance of grown covenant children, most were second and third generation believers. Their heritage of grace a beautiful thing that was most unfortunately, taken for granted. It was clear from the level of conversation that love for Christ was foreign, holiness anathema, and doctrine a thing to be despised.

We do not expect to find this in our carefully guarded Reformed churches, but here it was. I am not Pollyanna enough to believe that this is not more common than any of us would want to admit. Which causes me a great amount of sorrow and concern. I wonder, how did they get here? How can I keep my children from this apathy? How can I keep my own heart?

Thankfully, God has revealed some mysteries to us and they are ours and our children's. (Dt. 29:29) God has taught us in His Word, what the chief means of grace is, His Word faithfully proclaimed going forth which will not return to Him void. (Is. 55:11) There is no great, brain- teasing conundrum to figure out, where there is weak preaching the people of God will be anemic Christians if christian at all. Even as a babe grows and hungers for more than the milk that has been his sustenance, so also the believer should grow and hunger for more than milk. The heart filling and sustaining doctrines taught in God's Holy Word should be our soul's longing for this is how we know God and draw nearer to Him. (Psalm 42:1-2) Sermons should be filled with the truths of scripture, doctrine, attributes of God and application of God's holy law and requirements to our lives so that we may know how to love Him rightly, walk with Him daily, serve Him gratefully, and rely on nothing but His righteous surety.

I come to the crux of this post, which is an earnest plea from a simple pilgrim sitting in the pew. PLEASE PREACH GOD"S WORD! Preach it to me, preach it to my children, preach it my friends. Preach it in our churches. Preach the word to those lost, lonely, despairing, and hopeless. Preach it to those bound in chains of sin and satan. Preach it in dark corners that the light of truth may shine forth. Preach it to all. "Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." Be faithful to God's Word and trust His means to save and sanctify His people.

And secondly, pray for our church leaders. Be thankful for our elders and pastors. Remind them to "guard the trust". Write to pastors and encourage them and let us sit submissively under the preaching of the Word.

Preaching is a preservative for the saints. It is not to be relegated to the last fifteen minutes of the worship service. It is not a time for ditties and silly stories. Preach to us, please pastors, that we may grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Exalt our Saviour in your sermons so that we may gaze upon His loveliness. Show us our King triumphant in all His splendor. By God's grace, He will use His means to keep us from apathy and from stumbling as we live out our days pursuing our chief end... to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever!