The Gift of Closeness with God [Day 31: CLOSE]

My husband/our pastor recently preached through has preached through both Romans and Hebrews in the two years of our little church plant’s existence. It seems he is forever drawing parallels between the believer’s relationship to God and the union between a man and a woman in marriage. In some ways, it’s sort of humorous because the majority of our congregants are unmarried. But I think it’s safe to say that we all have an innate idea of how a healthy marriage should look and operate.

For instance, I think we would agree that it would be a tragedy for me to tell everyone how great my husband is but not experience true intimacy with him. I could work myself to death in efforts to please him, but if I do not take the same efforts to know his heart, I have failed in my marriage. If there is no love in my marriage, my efforts are in vain. I am failing my husband and myself because we don’t get to experience the fullness of what marriage is intended to be.

In Romans 10:1-4 the apostle Paul expresses his longing for certain Jewish people to be saved. He says they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. They work for God and even strive to make His name known — but the tragedy is, they do not know Him. They do not experience closeness and intimacy with God. Their hearts remain far from Him even as their lips proclaim His name.

I fear that, too often, something like this could be said of me. Efforts to teach and disciple are acts worthy of devotion, but if my devotion is misplaced then my service is meaningless. My devotion first and foremost must be to the Lord. I must devote myself to drawing close to Him each and every day of my life — even moment to moment. I can do this because of the work of Christ that abolished my sin and made a way for me to experience closeness with God. It is the most precious of gifts yet one I take for granted to much of the time.

I’ve said it throughout this series — He wants my heart. He has proven it. With the same zeal I serve Him, I must express thankfulness for the opportunity to be close to God by taking advantage of it. I can approach each day with the goal to know God more and draw ever more near to Him.

I want that closeness. I don’t want to suffer the tragedy of a lost opportunity to experience the relationship God longs to have with me. So, I will work at knowing Him for the rest of my days.

I “make” God big in my life when I practice more zeal to know Him than I do to serve Him. He wants my heart.

How do you practice zeal to know God?

Talk to me in the comment section below?

 

The Perks of Serving a Living God [Day 30: VOICE]

The nights and mornings have turned cold. We’ve retired our ceiling fan for the season, but we let a little stand fan run pointed at a wall that it may drown out the sounds of barking dogs. Our headboard lies against a large single-paned window. Across our driveway and outside our gate lies a small Hindu temple. The bells starting ringing a few minutes before 5 a.m. each morning. The ceiling fan drowned it out all summer so its significance feels new to me as the peals break the through the crisp morning air and past my unfortunately thin window panes. These attempts to wake sleeping gods and gain favor or riches are all vain — they only wake up light sleepers like me. Each time I hear the bells ring, I have an opportunity to pray that the souls that stoop before idols would one day bow before the living God.

I also have an opportunity to express thankfulness for our living God. I don’t have to ring bells or blow into seashells to get God’s attention. His eyes are ever watching me, and the Holy Spirit is deciphering every sigh of my heart in communication with the Father. He is actively seeking me, vying to capture my heart and drawing me into intimacy with Him. Not a moment of my little life goes unseen by Him and not a detail of my days are missed. In contrast with the idolatry I witness every day, I appreciate the vastness of this gift.

But not only does He hear and see me — He speaks to me. God invites me into community through the local church and speaks to a gathered body through the exposition of His word. Beyond that, every time I open my Bible I can hear His voice. The words held within have been preserved for me. As I give my attention to its truths, the Holy Spirit works within me to grant understanding and truly help me hear the voice of God.

As my daily duties pull me away from corporate worship and quiet time, I can still hear the voice of God. I can speak with Him when I am folding laundry or walking to the fruit shop, and I can expect to hear from Him as I do. The Spirit brings discovered truths from communal worship and personal Bible study and plants it as new on my heart.

I’ll never forget that when we lost our son Ezra, and I couldn’t bring myself to open my Bible that God still spoke to me. I daily heard His voice even though though words from the pulpit were drowned out by louder voices of grief and guilt. The Spirit brought years of Sunday school lessons and simple learned truths before me every single day of that grieving period. He heard my unintelligible groans, and I heard His loving assurance each and every day.

At the same time my heart breaks for those just outside my gate who have no such experience, I am thankful that I have been introduced to a God who hears me, sees me, and speaks to me every moment of every day.

I “make” God big in my life when I remain thankful for His care in my life and remain perceptive to His voice as He exercises authority in it. 

What is sweetest to you about serving a living God?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

My Whole Life is a Song of Worship [Day 27: WHOLE]

I tend to see my life in fractured segments — one part mommy, one part wife, one part Sunday school teacher, church-planter’s wife, etc. All these roles come with different tasks and I am defined by those tasks at the time I am doing them. It’s tough for me to see my life in Christ as one whole offering to God, but that’s the way He sees it. The truth is, He already owns every part of me and gives me each work I get to do for Him.

I want my whole life to be a song of worship to Jesus. Whether I am reading the 12th book in a row to my toddler or teaching Bible truths to a roomful of rowdy kids, I want my heart to be completely in tune to the will of God in my life. I desire for my marriage to be sweet and loving — the kind that shows the love of Christ to a world suffering from the consequences of selfish sins. I long for my testimony as a mother to be that of one gently leading her family and teaching Christ’s ways from a patient and pure heart (long way to go on this one, I know!). I want my efforts in ministry to be characterized by single-minded devotion to Christ and a true heart to make him known.

There aren’t just bits and pieces of my life that are sacred and the other inconsequential. God is with me in every moment and calls me to honor Him in each seemingly insignificant segment of my life. This is why He tells me in His word how to live as a wife, mother, friend, and child of God. I am instructed to both care for my home and for the widows and orphans. I’m taught how to handle my money and treat people ranging from my enemies to my authority in the workplace. There are few issues of life the Bible does not address, and the general wisdom we find in its pages can be applied to those. Moreover, God gives His followers guidance and discretion through the Holy Spirit. He does not leave us guessing how to live.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 gives instruction about eating and drinking but also gives further instruction on how to live our whole lives.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

My whole life should be an offering to God. Whatever I find to do, I should do it like I’m doing it directly to the Lord — because I am according to Colossians 3:23. I don’t seek first to please men, but I seek to honor God by blessing others and not giving cause to blaspheme the name of Christ. I resist the urge to serve myself in all that I do because a follower of Jesus is set apart for something better. Serving Christ and serving others with my whole life. I don’t have to wonder what God wants from me. This is it.

I’m so pleased I can honor God while drinking my coffee and eating a donut on Sunday morning while my kids buzz around me.  Loving Him and dwelling on His goodness is something I can do in my pajamas. That’s something I can get on board with!

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to see my entire life as an offering to Him. I trust Him to use even the smallest bits of my life to bring glory to His great name.

In what ways can you serve Christ with your WHOLE life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Making God Big in my Small Moments [Day 25: MOMENT]

An enduring temptation

There’s a heavy temptation to make each moment count. Not only that, we feel like we need to make those moments BIG. In life or ministry, we feel this immense pressure to always be on — always performing at top ability in order to see the results we wish for. I’ve fallen for this so many times in marriage, motherhood, and missional living. I think if do grand enough gestures, I will earn favor with my husband. If yield the rod of discipline and drill the Bible into my kids, they will behave like I want them to. And if badger my friends and acquaintances with the Gospel message, they will finally see their need for a Savior.

But I’ve gotten this so wrong. I am not the secret formula in any of these areas I strive to succeed in, and big isn’t always better. Rather than putting the world’s message in my pocket, I want to take Gospel truths to heart. Rather than making my moments big in my life, I want to make God big in my moments.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

The reality I don’t want to accept that comes with this is, often, in order to make God big in my moments, I have to make myself small. The apostle Paul was a reputable model for this type of mindset. Instead of seeking the respect of those he worked with or served in ministry like some hot-shot celebrity pastor, He compares his position to a nursing mother in 1 Thessalonians.

Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear to us.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-7.

A small life surrendered to a big God

Think of the great works God did through the apostle Paul. He was surrendered wholly to the Lord, humble and dedicated in service to Him. He was not after the glory of men but the heart of the Father. We know He wanted results, and God gave Him big dreams. But we can see in his life that He did not stress over making each moment big but gave attention to making God big in each moment. Making tents, proclaiming a coming messiah, or writing letters from prison, Paul was available for God’s use in any way the Lord saw fit. He humbly walked the roads that led to Gospel-needy people and patiently instructed new believers in the way of the Lord. Gently leading, loving, and teaching as Paul did may not earn me any accolades, but it certainly pleases the Father.

A challenge to make God big in my moments

I remember being a nursing mother and how small and forgotten it could feel sometimes in the back of a dark nursery or in a broom closet while we were raising support. So much of our daily service to God each day is done in secret places. No one may know what we do for God in the quiet corners of our lives and ministries. But rather than seeking to upgrade our service by making each moment BIG, we must give our hearts to the daily task of making God BIG in each and every moment.

This is my goal going forward in marriage, motherhood, and missional living. It’s not all on me — it’s all in His hands. He is BIG enough to use little old me and meet each of my needs along the way.

I “make” God big in my life by allowing Him to be big in my moments.  I don’t seek to show off or win in areas of my life in my own strength but wholly depend on God for His provision.

How can you make God big in your moments today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Contentment is Counter-Cultural [Day 22: HELP]

I’m taking a break from #Write31Days this evening, but I have a new post that went live on the Velvet Ashes blog today. I think it’s a message many of us need to hear whether we are living and serving overseas or honoring the Lord daily in our hometowns.

When it comes to contentment, I so desperately need GOD’s help to guard my mind and my heart. I need Him to help me say “no” to the things that aren’t necessarily bad but aren’t good for me either. I can’t peacefully live the quiet life He has called me to without fully resting in His provision.  

I hope you enjoy this post, and I hope you will poke around the VA page for a while. It has been a huge blessing to me. I’m currently leading a Connection Group, and I would recommend joining one to any lady serving overseas in any capacity.

Contentment is Counter-Cultural

I’m getting pretty fed up with Instagram lately. I chose to make my account private so I have to approve all follow requests. I would estimate that around 80% of my requests are phony. Generally, they are fitness gurus who want me on their team changing my lifestyle — oh, and selling stuff. If it’s not them, it’s got to be some hipster blogger who certainly has no interest in my account of life in Nepal but has every intention of influencing me to boost my lifestyle to boost her bottom line.

Discontentment sells. It sells in America. It sells in my host-country of Nepal, and it sells all over the world. Our hearts are fragile, and we are easily influenced. “Get a better body in 8 weeks,” or “Transform your home with 1 can of paint” — no matter the tagline, the message is the same: your life and the person behind your social media feed is not acceptable as is. I fall for it just about every time. Discontentment fuels economies and fills bank accounts, but it does nothing for the soul…

Read More at Velvet Ashes