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What’s your _____ for 2012?

“The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.”  Eccl.1:8

What’s your _____??

I’m wondering what you think will make you happier in 2012 than in 2011?

You say, I will be happy if _____.

I’ll be content if I can accomplish _____.

If I can have ____, then life is GOOD!

~~

We all have something we think will make us happy, fully satisfied and will fill that BLANK if our lives.  “If I just had a bit more money in the bank….”  “If only my spouse would go to church, show me more consideration, or love me more….” “If I could just have that gorgeous person in my life….” “Once I have the latest iPhone/Pod/Pad then….”  “If only I could be healed from….”

But, even IF we could have all those things and more, there’s something else to long for just around the corner.  More money, more fun, a sexier man/woman, newer car, greater security… Where does it end?

Jesus told a woman in a dusty little village that if she drank water from their earthly well, she would thirst again.  That’s our human predicament.  We thirst again, lust again, covet again, and WANT again.  Otherwise, why would children want more toys after a bountiful Christmas?  Or, if you can handle it, my husband says it this way:

“Why publish monthly issues of Penthouse? Shouldn’t one suffice?”

What/who can ever satisfy our parched thirst for more, and more, and more??

Christ alone.

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again…

…but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life!

If the Lord isn’t our BLANK, our One Thing, we will keep coming up empty, thirsty, and dissatisfied.

…your one thing will control your heart, and whatever controls your heart will exercise inescapable influence over your words, choices, and actions.  Your one thing will become that which shapes and directs your responses to the situations and relationships of your daily life.  If the Lord isn’t your one thing, the thing that is your one thing will be your lord!”  Paul Tripp, A Shelter in a Time of Storm, page 38.

I fall prey to the illusive concept of satisfaction, even as life’s decades pile high.  I need to be reminded that my blanks will never be filled in adequately apart from Christ–I will thirst again, want new toys, *need* new things.

May we be more like David, when he prayed in Psalm 27:

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Be THOU my Vision, Oh Lord. 

Jesus alone satisfies and He will never disappoint!

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.   Romans 5:5

~~

O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 80:14

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[Check out my post, Enough, for more encouragement on this subject.]

Sin in Control

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”      Psalm 51:4

I’m not a theologian, I don’t read Hebrew or Greek, and I’m not a subject-matter expert about much of anything. There.

But sometimes I’m burdened about something so much, that I’m compelled to step out of my comfort zone (as a warm-fuzzy encourager), and share my heart. It’s my sincerest prayer that through today’s post and future Titus2sdays, you may grow in the Lord, pleasing Him in every respect, and His name would be glorified.

Even though it’s quite clear that the desire of  human nature is to control and be in control, I think women struggle the most with this battle. I  know—I am one.

Genesis 3:16 reminds us why we’re so encumbered:

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

When boundaries are set, we instantly to try to step over them, climb under them, or reason our way around them.  The apostle Paul discusses this inclination extensively in Romans 7.  Specifically, verse 7 says,

For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

So, just as the Word revealed Paul’s coveting as sin, we too face an uncomfortable fact:  Our desire for control is sin. We don’t want to be ‘ruled’ by anyone, God or man.  Perhaps because we don’t trust others to make the right decisions on our behalf.  Or, we don’t trust God.  And that equates to sin.

But desiring to control is more than not trusting God, it’s attempting to be God.  One of my favourite authors, Paul D. Tripp, discusses this dilemma:

  • 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 desire to live for me. [1]
  • Self-sovereignty is the dream of every sinner. It’s hard for us to trust ourselves to the wisdom, power, and control of another. We want to write our own drama, and we want to be the central character of the story. But the spiritual reality of the universe is that we are not authors of our own story. Our story is a part of a larger story written by the Lord. In this story we are never on center stage. That is a position to be occupied by the Lord alone. [2]
  • You and I can change no one. Ultimately, personal change comes from only one source: the gracious act of a powerful God. When people try to change one another, typically the focus is on behaviour. Yet behaviour is not really the issue…the root problem is the heart. When we attempt to do God’s job and change someone’s heart, we only cause frustration to ourselves and pain to the other person. [3]

So try to control others according to our limited wisdom or for our benefit, we become self-serving, we hurt others, and, we’re sinning against God.

“Against You only, I have sinned.”

Thankfully, the Lord is gracious. He is compassionate, wise, understanding, and above all, forgiving. He is able to help us. We can and must depend entirely on Him, yielding our hearts and minds to His control.

What a wretched woman I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!!  Romans 7:24

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Let’s pray together about this during the week and ask ourselves:

Where do I need the grace of God to say no to the temptation to step over God’s boundaries and control?

How have I sinned against the Lord by trying to control others?

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Dear Lord, Thank you for the victory we have through Christ! We are incapable of living out this Christian life apart from you.  Sometimes it’s so difficult, we feel like quitting. Please meet us first thing each morning and all day long, with your mercy and grace, to enable us to relinquish our behaviours, thoughts, and words to You. Your kingdom come, Your will be done…not ours. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen

~~~~~~~

[1]  Whiter than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy

[2]  A Shelter in A Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble

[3]  Broken-Down House

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Join us next Titus 2sday for more discussion on control, trust, and the help available through Jesus!

Booking It 2011

I know…the month is closing down and I’m just now posting my 2011 reading list!  But I must speak to my inner guilt, and say..well, at least it’s still January!

Once again, with encouragement from LifeasMom, Carrie’s Busy Nothings, and Beth Stone’s Studio, I’m committing myself to another year of good reading with the Booking It 2011 project!  If you check out any of these blogs, you can see what they are reading, and read their reviews as the year progresses.  Last year I posted my reading list for 2010 HERE.  However, as things go, some were dropped and others added, so this is what I actually read:

Before Green Gables (reviewed here), by Budge Wilson
Broken-Down House (reviewed here), by Paul D. Tripp
Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
Shelter in a Time of Storm, (reviewed here), by Paul D. Tripp
Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, by Lucy M Montgomery
Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers, by Arthur Bennett
Transforming Together: Authentic Spiritual Mentoring, by Ele Parrott
Stuff Christians Like, by Jon Acuff (funny!!!!!)
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Now That is Amazing Grace, by William McDonald
Learning to Pray in 28 Days, by Kay Arthur
What Did You Expect?  by Paul D. Tripp, this time, about marriage

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For 2011, I’ve compiled this optimistic list and am really looking forward to all the great reading ahead!!

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Mataxas  (in progress)
Orthodoxy, by GH Chesterton
Generous Justice,  by Timothy Keller
Nicholas Nickleby,  by Charles Dickens
The Confession,  by John Grisham
Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward

And more ‘Anne‘ books:
Anne of the Island 
Anne of Windy Poplar  
Anne’s House of Dreams
Anne of Ingleside
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside

And I’ve added Faith Alone, by Luther, to my devotional list.  I hope Spurgeon won’t mind too much.

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This list could take a wide detour if my courses in M.Ed assign copious reading projects!  So my ambitious aspirations, as Captain Barbosa would say, “are really more like guidelines.” 

Please join me, and many others over at LifeasMom, for good reading, discussion, and encouragement!  What are you reading?

Enough

“There is nothing my heart can crave for but He can more than satisfy.”
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

 

Who is ever satisfied?  Who has enough??  I’m not and don’t.  That is, not apart from Christ.

In his book, Broken-Down House, Paul Tripp notes that, “all Satan’s temptations, from Eden to now, come down to 1000 variations on the same lie : You Don’t Have Enough.”

Such craving and dissatisfaction leads to all manner of jealousy, envy, strife, violence, war, anger, bitterness, lust, and _____(your pick). 

Scriptures cover a lot of this ground, but here’s just a few instances of Never-enough:

“The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.”  Eccl.1:8

“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.”  Prov 27:20

“All a man’s labour is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not satisfied.”  Eccl 6:7

[The rich man’s] eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked “And for whom am I labouring and depriving myself of pleasure?”  Eccl.  4:8

“There are three things that will not be satisfied, four that will not say “Enough”:  Death, the barren womb, earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire than never says ‘enough’.”  Proverbs 30:15-17

Paul Tripp also brings this up in his book, Whiter than Snow:

Enough is the persistent problem this side of eternity.  Enough is what we seldom seem to get right.  Enough is what trips us up, again and again.  Enough is one of our deepest sources of trouble.  Enough is what we find such difficulty in being satisfied with.  Although the definition is different for each of us the struggle with our enough is that it tends to keep expanding.  And when it does, we never seem to have enough.

What God has given you in the awesome gift of his grace in Christ Jesus is simply not enough.  Christ-satisfied hearts live joyfully inside of God’s will, while dissatisfied hearts fall prey to all kinds of temptations.  Enough is the war that rages inside us every day. 

A Christ-satisfied heart!  That’s what I want!  We can foster this contentment by focusing on Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, and His grace.   What does that look like?

~  We can be satisfied with His mercy/lovingkindness:

“O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  Psalm 80:14

~ And His goodness:

“I will fill the soul of the ministers with abundance, and my people will be satisfied with My goodness.”  Jeremiah 31:14

~ And through worship:

 “We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.”  Psalm 65:4

~ By seeking the Lord:

“The afflicted will eat and be satisfied, those who seek Him will praise the Lord.  Let your heart live forever!”  Psalm 22:26

~ And through utter reliance on Jesus:

“Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life!”  John 4:14

 Lord, we want you to be our Enough.  Satisfy us with your lovingkindness, so we may sing all of our days.   Amen. 

Here’s a song to sing today, which is also in the Blue Music box, so you can hear and worship!

Enough

by Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

You are my supply
My breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You are my reward
worth living for
And still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

Youre my sacrifice
Of greatest price
And still more awesome than I know
Youre the coming King
You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

More than all I want
More than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know
More than all I can say
You are more than enough for me!!!

10 Things God Will Never Say

My little list below flowed from a poem by Paul Tripp entitled, “Two Words You Never Want to Hear.” [1]   As I was reading it, I couldn’t keep my brain from wandering/wondering what those two words could be.   Though you should really read the poem in its entirety, here’s a fast-forward excerpt:

I know for certain
that there are two words
that I’ll never hear.
I know that You will never
look me in the eye
and say to me,
‘Go away!’
You will not send me
from Your presence.
You will not drive me
from Your grace.
You will not separate me
from Your glory.
You will not eliminate me
from Your promises.
You will never
ever
ever
send me away.”

What a comfort and relief to know that God will never ask us to  “Go away!” 

And there’s so much more our Heavenly Father would never say.  I brainstormed a bit and came up with these:

God will NEVER say

  • I quit.
  • I don’t love you anymore.
  • I’m leaving.
  • I’m just not that into you.
  • I lied.
  • It’s too late.
  • I’m busy.
  • What do you want now?
  • Oops.
  • It’s impossible.

What else do you think He would NEVER say?

[1] Paul David Tripp, A Shelter in the Time of Storm:  Meditations on God and Trouble. Crossway Books, 2009. Wheaton, IL.  pg. 42

Sneak Peek

As you know, I reading some great books listed HERE, as inspired by Lifeasmom’s Booking it 2010 challenge.   I already changed my list (!), by adding a book mentioned in my last post, called A Shelter in the Time of Storm, by Paul David Tripp.

I highly recommend this book for everyone!  The author provides a very thoughtful, gentle study of Psalm 27, composed of 52 short chapters, some poetry, and a few personal and insightful study questions.  If you’d like to know more, please listen/watch this 3-minute YouTube video from Crossway books.  The video will minister to you, even before you get your hands on the book   PS. I’m not making any money on this—I jus think the book is TERRIFIC!

Secure in Him

“He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock”
Psalm 27:5

 

I’m feeling better, brain is working, and ideas are flowing again!  I see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! (Ps 27:13). 

Praise the LORD!  My sister-in-law, Becky, was pronounced CANCER FREE this week by the doctor and medical staff that have been treating her over the past 9 months!!  She was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer last May, and underwent extensive, painful surgery and difficult chemo treatments!  Undergirding all the medical treatment, was constant prayer for healing and comfort! ! [I posted some thoughts and battles about her cancer HERE and HERE.] 

Can we praise the Lord, even if we don’t understand the trial, or why it happened? Is our security in our understanding?  I hope not.  I hate cancer.  I don’t understand why it strikes so randomly.  As I pray for others with cancer, like Kate McCrae and Matt Chandler, I wrestle with a lot of ‘whys’, but my security and peace aren’t based on having all the answers.  Paul David Tripp says in his book on Psalm 27:

You are not secure because you have control or understanding.  You are secure even though you are weak, imperfect, and shortsighted.  You are secure for one reason and one reason alone:  God exists and he is your Father.  He will never leave your side.  He will never fail to provide.  He will make good on everything he has promised.  And he has the power to do so.  He is Lord.”

So, in our weakness and lack of understanding, let us run with prayer and praise to our loving Father, and find shelter in His rich mercy, mighty power, sovereign rule, unsurpassed grace, and unconditional love.

What “whys” is he asking you to relinquish to Him?