Thursday, July 26, 2012

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

(Colossians 1:21-23 ESV)

The truth and gratitude and what is it that you need? Grace for today, hope for tomorrow and mercy to be. Just be.  Yesterday I was being by basking in The Presence of the LORD at the beach.  Not concerning myself with the time or the text or the email, just relaxing and resting at the Atlantic, it is where I experience the Almighty hand of God in creation and recognize my own smallness, how incredibly dependent I really am on God. And in less than 24 hours time, I find myself tangled up in the web of self-centered fear and can't fight my way out of it, drag my family into it and wonder why I can't seem to carry the love, rest, peace, joy, clarity, kindness and confidence I had in the LORD yesterday into today?

Identity Crisis: It breaks in to steal and kill and destroy because if I really knew that I "once was" and now "I am reconciled" then I would rise and walk in the midst of this day in the same spirit that I walked upon the sand and through the shallow water. So, I have fallen, and crawled and cried and been tripped up by my sinful response to my day and the way that it has unfolded. So, I find myself in an interesting place, another opportunity to preach the Gospel to myself, another day to look at My Rescuer in the face (in His Word because I hold onto the hope of One day meeting Him face to face) and there is where I am to behold my Identity. It is IN Christ, that I am reconciled by the Blood and Righteousness of Christ that HE may present me holy and blameless and above reproach because in and of myself, I can NOT cut it. And it is only when I realize that I am nothing without HIM that I can begin to taste the sweetness of light when I am basking in the LIGHT of the TRUTH which is available each and every day.

This morning I read: "Do not let your hearts be troubled....." from the Gospel of John. I started over, out loud, "Let not your heart be troubled, Catherine, believe in God, believe also in me...." Jesus goes on to say a few verses later, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure, his return to the Father but that He will not leave them orphans and He has not left us orphaned. He has sent His Holy Spirit who is also called the Helper. Where does my help come from? Where is my hope? One in the same, My LORD and my God who is with me. As Paul David Tripp tweeted 2 days ago: "No need to like feel like your alone today because if you're God's child, Emmanuel has moved in and isn't leaving."

Mine is to believe that Jesus is who He says HE is and that as His Child, I am who he says I am, loved, delivered, transferred, adopted, forgiven, being made new, kept, sealed, a sinner once enslaved and now bought by the Blood of Jesus Christ my Lord and I have been set free to live in the LIGHT of His grace and truth.

Monday, July 23, 2012

"God does not listen to sinners"

Context is EVERYTHING.
In the gospel of John when the man born blind is healed by Jesus and this causes debate over the healing, the man is brought a second time to The Jews and he says to them, "We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him." The healed man was defending Jesus. The teachers were insulted saying, "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?"
The clause (not a "phrase" for all the Grammar Nazis out there who may read my blog and fail to ever send me an email or comment with corrections ;) "God does not listen to sinners" caught my eye yesterday. It is interesting. It seems like it was common knowledge among the Jews since the man said "we know" and Jesus is a friend of sinners and at the same time He is Holy. Jesus tipped the whole Jewish world upside down. The Jews were losing control. Jesus was healing on the Sabbath, hanging out with sinners, teaching without having gone to school, speaking with authority like no other.  A radical, Jesus' family believed he had gone mad.
So what happened? Jesus not only listened to sinners but dined with them, entered their homes, allowed a sinful woman to wash his feet with her tears, touched the lepers, called a tax collector, traveled with a traitor, spoke to a Samaritan woman, treated women as people, etc. This was just the beginning, His earthly ministry was nothing short of AMAZING; the Beloved disciple John wrote in his gospel, "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25)

Planned from Eternity past between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that the Father would send the Son to die for sinners, God made a way for sinners to have a hearing. By Jesus' Blood and Righteousness we now have access to the Father. No longer in need of a priest to approach the Holy One, but now by the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ Jesus: He bids us to come.  The writer of Hebrews says that we may boldly draw near to the throne of grace that we may find mercy and find grace in our time of need. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: that God showing his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. On our own, dead in our sins and trespasses, God can not hear us, BUT now through Jesus Christ, who came in order to save sinners, we being covered in His Righteousness can now confidently know that sinners saved by grace alone can enter into the Presence of God, wrecked and messed up as we are at times, knowing that it is not in our own goodness, piety, and works that give us the ear of our Heavenly Father but by The Son who even now is interceding for us.

So, let us worship HIM in Spirit and in Truth. When we open the Word of God may we be granted wisdom to read it within the context of the whole Redemption Story. Let us call upon the Name of the LORD knowing that we will indeed be heard.

Friday, July 13, 2012

To Know God

Knowledge of God:
"The knowledge of God is the great hope of sinners. Oh, if you knew him better, you would fly to him! If you understood how gracious he is, you would seek him. If you could have any idea of his holiness, you would loath your self-righteousness. If you knew anything of his power, you would not venture to contend with him. If you knew anything of his grace you would not hesitate to yield yourself to him."
Charles H. Spurgeon. On a green 4x6 card written in my daughter's hand found in a box from storage.

"The Bible brings into the light the fact that God is in all that happens in this life. There is an infidel philosophy masquerading under the name of Christian, that ascribes only a "general providence." But this is not the God revealed in the Bible. God's immediate power is necessary to all things existing inside and outside of the universe. He is the active sustainer of all. Quasi Sovereignty is a doctrine of Deism which says the universe is basically running itself; but the Scripture assures us that, "In Him we live and move and have our existence."
Dr. Dennis Dickinson from his book Deep to Deep

For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
(Ecclesiastes 2:26 ESV)

No longer looking for the God made in my own image. The LORD God is SO much grander than I can ever think or imagine.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The One Constant

(not quite the conclusion of crossing the finish line)

Change ..... it is the one constant in our lives. Right now we are preparing for the wedding of our first born, Grace Joan to Austin Humbles. We are thrilled for her. And grateful for our future son-in-love. The majority of what I have posted about the end of this chapter in our lives, I wrote right around the time of their engagement. And I am so forward thinking at the point that it is hard to reflect back.
Today I delighted in being a distant witness to Michael picking out his class for the fall (he will attend Wheaton College in IL) and Katie helping him process through it and the two of them enjoying each other.  
We did something that I never thought I would get to do with my kids again and that was visit the library in our new town (minus Grace :(. The reason I got to go with them is due to the fact that Dan just got a new car and it is a stick. Michael does not drive a stick. Katie is just getting her feet wet behind the wheel, so the three of us were off to the library together. It did feel a bit nostalgic.

Unless I really find myself reflecting, the conclusion will not come until some time in September.  

Happy 4th of July to everyone. Remember Freedom is not free. Thousands have paid with their very lives for your freedom. Thank a Vet this week.

Tweets from Tripp on Tuesday

There are very few tweets that I get via text message. Paul David Tripp is one of them.  During the week he does three tweets usually before 8 in the morning. Today's I forwarded all three to some of my sisters in the LORD. One of them said will you email those to me....and since I was thinking about blogging about them anyway, I decided that I would go ahead and do it and send her a link to my blog.
Without further ado, here they are:

Because he is zealous to rescue you from you, God's care can be violent. He rips from you what is dangerous to give to you what is better.

God's care is not just seen when he rescues you from the storm, the storm is his care. Sometimes you need the storm to see the Glory.

The question is not, "Does God care?" but will you recognize and desire his care when it comes?

Obviously you can follow Paul David Tripp @PaulTripp. His tweets are always an encouragement in reminding who God is and who we are for those of us that are Christians. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

AA (Agape Academy) crossing the finish line (continued)

It has been a great adventure and not just because we were pilgrims in the physical sense but more so that we are pilgrims on our way to the Celestial City and we bid our children to come with us, leading them in the paths of righteousness, knowing full well that it is the Father who leads us and them for that matter. The journey has had its highs and lows. It is hard to believe that life is racing on and I want to be able to savor the moments and really take things in....leave my phone behind or off even for just a few hours at a time and just be present wherever I go especially when I am with my kids.

I have not been very good about blogging about the girls being launched, not the way I would have hoped to have written. The notes are more like doggie ears within the blog instead of actual posts. However, the girls have been coming and going for some time now, both are college students and for the most part Michael has been "home alone and in the world" with his parents for the better part of 2 years.

We have a plaque that was Dan’s mum’s it reads:
“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children –
one is roots, the other wings.”
Children are meant to grow up and become adults. Do you want them to soar? Then don’t clip their wings when they start showing signs of maturity. I recall saying the first time I put Grace on a plane, “most people put their kid on a big yellow bus at age 5 and here I am putting my almost 15 year old on a plane.” Do you want them to be wise? Teach them to fear God and not men. One of the greatest truths that I have learned from the experience of educating my own children is this: No matter where your children are educated (home, public or private), there will be educational gaps. Do you want them to succeed in life? Then don’t let academics become an idol.  Who among us has not made a bad decision or two or three? Let your kids make bad decisions here and there, while they are still with you, that way you have the opportunity to walk through the process of learning from it with them. 

Seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and growing in wisdom and knowledge have been our first priority, whole heartedly believing if we kept God as our first priority, academic excellence would be added because for sure many people, not just the pagans run after these things. Of course, we are to do everything with excellence but not so much so that it becomes the driving force in our lives, leaving our hearts in the dust. 

More still to come.....

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Agape Academy crossing the finish line (an overdue update)

When our kids were young and we had grown from "educating our children at home is a year at a time" to it becoming our lifestyle we decide to give the educational branch of our family life a name, "Jesus Agape Academy." Many years later when it was time to submit a transcript for Grace's high school years we decided to shorten it to Agape Academy. Transcripts, the documentation of that branch of our life is what the schools of Higher Education care about and we did not want those institutions to be distracted by our "school" name. We are not ashamed of the gospel.  The Academy in the formal sense has been on sabbatical for nearly 6 months but all of us continue to learn and our last student will transition from home to college toward the end of the summer.   
This past December Michael finished his studies at home. If you have followed my blog over the years you may recall me writing about raising/educating children at home and comparing it to the Boston Marathon and the teen years being like Heartbreak hill which is about 19 miles into the Marathon and can make or break a runner.  We crossed the finish line without much fanfare. It wasn’t how I pictured it. There were hard and trying times, along with sweet and treasured ones. More importantly, we stayed in the race and we were victorious by God's grace and a bit of human tenacity. 
It is with quiet satisfaction to have completed this season of parenting, not so much that I had accomplished a daring feat (though some may think so) but that my children have turned out to be lifelong learners. They are teachable, creative, daring and finding their way along the Pilgrim Highway. Our parenting and educating of our children were interwoven. (I am aware of the fact that not all homeschooling families subscribe to the same philosophy of education.) We discipled our children in the LORD, did our best to consider the whole child, not just their heads, but their hearts. It was our goal to educate the whole child: body, mind and soul. When our children were young, I became a student of each one and each one has a different learning style. This required customizing the method as well as the curriculum.
My educational philosophy in a nutshell is that we as parent educators are to equip our children with the tools of learning and then provide them with the resources in order to be able to learn many things on their own. This means that they learn from other people directly and from books and from life and circumstances. It does not mean that they are force fed knowledge.

to be continued......