Stop Sending Out Good Vibes

I wrote a bit over at Desiring God today regarding the far-reaching chasm between life in the flesh and life in the Spirit and how it transforms our very words. Below is an excerpt. You can read the full article here.

Let’s freshly resolve to mean what we say. And when we do speak, we should use new phrases — phrases from God. The word of God empowers us to give real hope instead of following the fads of our culture. God’s words are heart-penetrating, Christ-illuminating, and sufficient to bring real change in this world.

We have an amazing opportunity to display the glory of God to every single person we come into contact with — even virtually. We don’t have to ultra-spiritualize everything, but we can search our hearts (and vocabulary) for phrases that promote life by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh.


Fatherhood from a Mother’s Perspective


Though it is intended for celebration, Father’s Day is often like a fiery iron brander to an already hurting heart, declaring one yet again as fatherless, or with a different kind of searing pain, unwanted.

Many of us can attest to some kind of broken or nonexistent relationship with our fathers, some with more agony than many of us can fathom. This morning as I prayed for my own earthly father and my husband, I paused to consider such a weighty role in light of where I now stand – a wife and mother of three children with our fourth soon arriving. To say that being a parent is challenging is like saying Mount Everest is beautiful and should be fun to pursue. Both are accurate and exciting, but there is a distinct and simultaneous ferociousness about both – if the evaluation and ascent are improper, consequences of such a commitment do not leave you merely disappointed. It is life and death.

Fatherhood is weighty. Manhood is weighty. I speak not only from observation, but from the complementing parties of womanhood and motherhood. When my husband and I first married, I concluded that marriage articulated my sinfulness and produced gratitude for my salvation far more than anything else. Then I became a mother. I am certain the same is for fathers.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

This is not a suggested posture Paul was recommending for the men at the church of Corinth. It was a frequent command in the Septuagint – a wartime call. Fathers should hear this call and let it echo deep into their souls. It is not optional. There is an age-old war being raged against the household of God, and that war has to be fought first and foremost in the homes of believers. In a culture that promotes men doing the opposite of what this verse suggests, we need fathers to do just what it says – acting like men and working heartily to “not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Children are heavy-laden with anger towards their fathers due to the lack of presence in their lives emotionally and physically. Sadly, this anger produces a wound in the heart of a child that proves lasting and real into adulthood. Thus, the call is great. The outcome is heavy.

Act like men.

Imagine the soldier that guards the gates of the camp, allowing the enemy no entrance and blocking any imminent attempts of ambush. That is the watchfulness fathers must exude for their children. It is more than the necessary work of providing financially for your family, keeping the yard, and disciplining the children. We, mothers and children, desperately need guards keeping watch for the enemy. We need fathers hoping in the only Sovereign, their Commander in Chief, for their strength and power to protect, lead, and sustain their families in love.

But how?

The gospel of Jesus Christ.

A father is an image-bearer of our Heavenly Father. It is certain that how you love your children will serve as glimpses into God’s love for his children. Aim to make those as accurate as possible. Proclaim to them what in you (and every single one of us) diminishes the Father’s image, namely a fallen nature in desperate need of saving. Give them the gospel.

It is possible to appear as a valiant father but be a coward in one’s home. Social platforms promote such misrepresentations where one can project themselves to be one way but in actuality be a sunken, puny vessel. One can profess Christ more on Facebook in a week than you have to your child in a year. It is evident which is harder. Yet a father, a man so enticed by the sovereign call of God to Jesus Christ, indulging daily in the Word of God, pleading for wisdom, proclaiming the gospel to his household and all outside, working diligently in a broken world, and every single day putting on love and walking the perimeter of his family’s camp will be able to stand firm.

Fathers, may the risen Lord and his imminent return give you keen awareness. May the bitterness of sin in yourself and your family so shake your soul that you are moved by the powerful working of the indwelling Spirit to fight against the enemy forces that are waiting to devour. May the Bible stand as your surest word and communing with God as your greatest duty. It will move you to action for your family’s good and God’s glory.

May your fatherhood brand your children’s hearts with such wantedness and love due to the power of Christ at work within you. Act like men.

I shared a few thoughts on self-glory within our local churches over at Desiring God yesterday. What a real struggle for believers! Head over to DG to read some hope for the self-exalter.

The desire to be set apart is good and right only when it is found under the umbrella of grace, when we recognize that we are right before God only through the righteousness of his Son, and we are now set apart to bring praise to the glory of his grace in this world.

It is not wrong to desire to be influential with the glorious gospel of grace that has been entrusted to us. Gospel-loving hearts love sharing in the gracious privilege of being used in its advancement. But as we share, we must sift our hearts’ motives with the reality that we have been grafted into the household of God for this very purpose: to behold Christ the Son, not hoping to receive a measure of that glory for ourselves.

We Are All Widows Anyway 

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” -Luke 18:1-8

I love the parable of the persistent widow. I see myself and the rest of humanity in the same position as the widow, yet I also see something lacking in myself when compared to the widow. I am encouraged to be like her. Let me explain.

Our Position

Positionally, we are recipients of immeasurable grace (if we have called upon the name of the Lord for salvation), sinners saved though not yet glorified. We all, like the widow, are left for dead due to our state. We, outside of the faith given by God, have no source of provision, no way to survive. We need relief. We need justice. As it turns out, the justice needed is not in our favor. 

We are those born blind and lovers of darkness (John 3:19). As John Piper states in his new book, A Peculiar Glory, “We are not chained in a dark cell, longing to see the sunshine of God’s glory. We love the cell, because sin and Satan have deceived us into seeing the drawings on the wall as the true glory and the source of greatest pleasure. Our prison cell of darkness is not the bondage of external constraint but of internal preference. We have exchanged the glory of God for images (Rom. 1:23). We love them. That is our blindness.”

Yet, one man, one alone could acquit us. God. God, to the praise of his glorious grace, definitively planned for his Son, the only Begotten, to be delivered into the hands of sinful man, murdered, and then rose victorious over sin and death forever (Acts 2:23-24). It is that predetermined act of love that opens the eyes of our hearts to see the heinousness of those drawings on the wall that enticed us and turn our hearts to Christ- the very God-man, our mediating Savior.

Beg Gladly

We can now, needy and desperate widows, stand before our justifying Judge and rejoice in him knowing that he has indeed granted justice to his elect through the work of Christ. With such reality in mind, we have one continuous, joyful, necessary duty- commune with God daily and beg for his help. His ability is there always. His willingness is the same. Looking upon us clothed in Christ’s righteousness, he gives to us gladly. Thus, let us plead with him gladly, never losing heart for he who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23).

He Will Act {The Sovereign Hand of God in the Life of Ruth}

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalms 37:5).

The book of Ruth has always amazed me. Within it we find deep implications for covenant love amid physical distress. Ruth is evidence that waiting upon the Lord, trusting in his sovereignty, is not a standstill; but rather, it is a place of refuge and hope. Ruth is a beautiful example of what Psalm 37:5 looks like in the flesh. This acrostic wisdom psalm details how the patient heart that hopes in God will not be disappointed. Underneath the worst circumstances, God was acting for his people…for Ruth. 

Some background information: Naomi and her husband, Elimelech of Bethlehem, go to the country of Moab due to a famine in their land. Elimelech dies and their two sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. The two sons then die as well, leaving Naomi with no immediate familial aid. 

Naomi entreats her daughters-in-law to return to their people. She basically tells them that she is hopeless for them. She couldn’t provide them with children. God’s hand was against her she perceived. Ruth’s response is extraordinary:

“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17).

Ruth bound herself by an oath not only to Naomi but to The Lord. She made it clear that she was willing to stick around until death parted them. I cannot imagine how difficult this must have been. Constantly being around the mother of her deceased husband, reminded of him each day…yet Ruth was apparently not guided by circumstances. She was guided by covenant love, no matter how long that kept her waiting for calm in the storm. 

Naomi wasn’t just being dramatic in 1:11-13. Life with her would be chock-full of difficult times. For Ruth, it meant going to Bethlehem with Naomi and leaving her people behind. This commitment was marked with uncertainty. Couldn’t she have returned to her people and remarried? Wouldn’t it have been easier to go back to Chemosh, the main Moabite god? All the what-ifs didn’t deter Ruth, however. She was willing. 

Her mother-in-law was grief stricken and not the ideal partner through this journey. In 1:20-21, they reach their destination and Naomi’s response to the people of Bethlehem is far from comforting. Call me Mara. That translates as bitter, which ironically is the opposite of Naomi which means pleasant. Who would want to enter into a foreign land, taking up the faith of your traveling elder, all to simply hear her exclaim that her God is actually against her? Utter confusion. Distress. The need to flee and do it quick. These would seem to be legitimate responses; however, they wouldn’t be evidence of covenant love. Ruth patiently remained.

Ruth then requests to glean in the fields of Boaz, one of the redeemers within Naomi’s family. In chapter 2, we see God sovereignly acting for Ruth as she stays committed to Naomi. The Lord was with Ruth as she patiently gleaned in the field of Boaz. I would imagine this work tedious and nerve-wrecking as one was gleaning for livelihood. Yet, Boaz takes notice of Ruth. He has heard of her faithfulness to Naomi. He ensures her that she is safe in his field and he will make sure that she is without need. Ruth worked diligently through the end of the barley and wheat harvests (2:23), remaining with her mother-in-law through her labor. God arranged these circumstances, yes for the individuals involved (revealing his faithfulness to Naomi though she assumed herself forsaken), but more than anything, to bring a Redeemer for more people than just Ruth and Naomi. 

Then we have Ruth approaching Boaz for marriage at the threshing floor. Guided by her mother-in-law’s instruction, Ruth presents herself to Boaz in the night- a daring act to say the least. She finds favor with Boaz who states that he would surely redeem her if the nearest redeemer does not do so. Ruth reports to Naomi who them responds, “wait my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today” (Ruth 3:18).

Patience. Breath in faith. God is acting

As the story continues to unfold, we see Boaz redeem Ruth. They wed and Ruth gives birth to a son. “Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him” (Ruth 4:14-15).

We truly see a “restorer of life” come from this bloodline. Not just Ruth’s immediate son, but Jesus (Matt. 1:5). God was present in all of that, acting in love and for his glory in Ruth’s immediate distress but also for the distress of all humanity.  He used a foreigner, a Moabite widow, to bring about the Messiah that would call people from every tribe and tongue unto himself. 

Through Ruth’s life, we see a patient daughter, setting her gaze on promise rather than instant gratification. We see Ruth personify a characteristic that is sparing in most: long-suffering. She didn’t wallow in the loss of her husband and believe that God had led her to a stalemate. She followed Naomi’s guidance and God acted. He did not forsake her. He was there through the waiting. He was working through the days of great grief, through the gleaning, through uncertainty. 

So with that, what does this all mean for us? Well, we are on this side of the Cross. We know what has occurred on our behalf. We read in the bible how God has acted for us in Christ. Our hope is in that. Our reward is in salvation and the promise of his return. We patiently wait in this earthly tent, making the promises of God pillars in life, and we wait…pressing on in all the mundane here and now, finding hope. Ruth shows that the things that just so happen to occur in our lives are part of a divine plan. Instead of coincidence, we see providence. We gain a theology of suffering, realizing that the Christian life is not marked by smooth-sailing. So when all of our expectations fall through, we are guided by covenant love instead. Just as God acted for Naomi and Ruth, he has acted and is acting for us. And unlike any earthly covenant, the one made with Jesus and his bride is unbreakable and unending. 

The Word of God Will Forever Trump Books About God

I have been reading a great book over the past few days. So good, in fact, I’ve been staying up burning the midnight wick to delve deeper. It’s one of those that will leave you smiling and crying in the living room as you read. It’s a marriage book to be specific. So there I was pacing around reading- reminiscing over the pursuit prior to marriage for Josh and I and then after, giggling at the author’s verbiage- then the most disappointing thing occurred. The author made a pretty bold statement and I disagreed. As this is someone I look up to theologically, I was disappointed, surprised, and discouraged to keep reading. And then it hit me.

None of us have arrived.

I say that not meaning that this author is wrong and I am right, but rather, that he is a sinner and I am a sinner and neither of us know it all. That’s for God and God alone. This isn’t a post about how we just need to succumb to the reality that we are finite and incapable of grasping it all, though that’s true to an extent. Instead, i would like to hone in on the reality that we can be greatly nourished by books about God, but nothing, I mean nothing, compares to the divine Word of God.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Did you catch that word- complete? That’s not just noteworthy. It’s HUGE. The holy Scriptures, breathed out by God Himself, are enough for us to flourish in and advance the gospel. We are not just given this buffer book when we first believe so that we can move into the meatier literature and really arrive spiritually. That’s not the case at all. The very God that breathed life into Adam and spoke and planets and stars went whirling into place has given us a book for vitality in this life. And not just to get by, but abundantly live for the glory of God.

Psalm 1 describes the way of the righteous whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:2). Delight! Webster’s Dictionary defines this word as “a strong feeling of happiness” or “great pleasure or satisfaction.” Aren’t we all straining for that which brings us pleasure and satisfies our longing souls in this life? I know I am. I don’t want to try to find happiness in the lesser things. I want something that will sustain me all of my days, something that will serve as an anchor when pain and suffering rage around and within me. Psalm 1 speaks of a disciplined, joyous experience with this Book. The psalmist didn’t have all of what we have now. We have the Old and New Testaments to study, both of which echo His Name. In the Bible, we find Jesus. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus is the light pointed to throughout the entire
Bible. What is God’s pleasure? Mark 1:11 tells us the answer through Jesus’ baptism, “And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” So we have this truth from the Bible- Jesus, the pleasing Son of God, can transfer us from darkness to light. That is where we find delight.

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

What God has revealed to us through the Bible is his Son. Sounds like a bit of a short answer considering 66 books that cover an array of topics, stories, and songs not mentioning the name of Jesus explicitly, right? No, it’s not a short answer by any means. The redemptive work of Jesus Christ is so beautifully detailed throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that it will take every single one of the children of God a lifetime to find and marvel in this treasure. We have access into the faith that gives us eyes to see Christ for who he really is by believing what has been detailed for us in this Book. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Please, please, please feed your heart and mind with books. Some of my favorite authors are John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, St. Augustine, John Piper, Gloria Furman, Charles Spurgeon, John Frame, Elisabeth Elliot, D.A. Carson, J.I. Packer, David Platt, C.S. Lewis, John MacArthur, Daniel Defoe, Susan Wise Bauer, John Bunyan, R.C. Sproul, Wayne Grudem, Paul Tripp, C.J. Mahaney, Matt Chandler, Aimee Byrd…I could go on and on with men and women that have been used by God to shape my worldview, theology, and pursuit of God through holiness. All of their forms of writing have resonated deep within me, stirring my affections for God all the more. But through all of it, we must remember where such beauty originates.

“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

We test what is true only compared to the Book that is without error. The Life that was without error. The redemption that is detailed for all humanity to see. The truth of the Godhead creating, allowing the Fall to occur, putting into action a rescue for His children and actively working throughout history to culminate at the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ is incomparable! It’s dangerous to hit the floor running with a line out of any book that would shape your manner of living and posture of the heart unless you have compared it to the infallible Word of God.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31).

Look. Find safety and truth first and foremost in the Bible. It’s Author shall never fail you.

{For an in-depth, five-part series titled “Why We Believe the Bible”, grab some coffee and take a listen here. }