A Life Full of Praise

This year (of all years) I made a New Year’s Resolution to become more knowledgeable about the world by following the news more. As you can probably guess, it’s been a heavy and unpleasant task, one which seems to get worse by the minute. Between the fear of the future and deep sorrow over tragedies of the past and present, I have found myself frequently discouraged by the sheer amount of things that need restoration from brokenness. 

I am reminded of how Daniel had also reached a boiling point with the situation of his fellow Hebrew exiles stuck in Babylon. He knew, as do we today, that God had promised deliverance for his people, but it was taking so long. I can only imagine he felt much like we do in the weariness and urgency we all feel after nearly 8 months in virtual isolation. When will it end, Lord?

📖 Listen closely, my God, and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations and the city that bears your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before you based on our righteous acts, but based on your abundant compassion. Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen and act! My God, for your own sake, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name. (Daniel 9:18-19).

Overcome with desperate need to see God’s work, Daniel leaned into prayer and fasted with sackcloth and ashes (9:3). Matthew Henry notes in his commentary, “When the day of deliverance dawns it is time for God’s praying people to bestir themselves; something extraordinary is then expected and required from them, besides their daily sacrifice” (source). Instead of fixating on all that was wrong with their circumstances, Daniel found peace and hope in God’s abundant compassion.

This is the answer, friends. When the world feels it is about to burst into flame, we must kneel in prayer, praise, and thankfulness (Philippians 4:6). I know from experience that when I bend my knees and thank him with a vulnerable heart, the sorrows and grief of the world quickly fade into a tender knowledge of his abundant compassion and overwhelming love for us.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner there is no better time to learn this lesson. That is why I have been working hard on my latest project which I am delighted to share with you:

a 2020 Thanksgiving Devotional

If you have ever felt your Thanksgiving holiday was more busy than thankful, this devotional is for you. This 3-week devotional is designed for a November 9 start date and its weekday readings are meant to lead us right through Thanksgiving week.

I hope you will follow along with me so that come November 27, you’ll be strengthened and encouraged by the beauty of God’s faithfulness and goodness seen through the lens of your life. 

Who do you trust when things fall apart?

For the Choir director: A psalm of David

The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right.

The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?

But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.

Psalm 11:2-4

It’s probably verses like these that are taken out of context and used to accuse God of being a mean and overly critical teacher who is just waiting to catch you red-handed. Not true. He’s so much bigger and better than we think.

While he does look down on the earth ruling and examining the hearts of all people, he has also made his design, will, and heart for us very clear throughout the Bible. The design for your life and for mine, is a life overflowing with peace and good things (John 10:10; Jeremiah 29:11).

David asks a question here that I think every human has asked at some point. The whole world is falling apart. What are we supposed to do about it?

We can’t police every act of evil, and certainly cannot exact perfect justice. Just consider how many criminals are free and inmates are innocent at this very moment. Only God has the ability to perfectly judge because he can discern the intentions and thoughts of the heart (Psalm 139:1-4; 1 John 3:20).

The deeds of the wicked are indeed out of control. We can’t turn a blind eye but we can’t do any lasting good either. Even if we devoted our entire lives, savings, and efforts toward working for justice, we will inevitably die and some other evil will inevitably come to undo our efforts.

What is the answer then, for those “whose hearts are right” and who desire to see justice in the world?

Recognize the Lord is in control 

Do you truly believe this? If this is difficult to grasp, it may be that you are making the problems bigger than God. I have done this before. Sometimes when you focus on a certain problem and get tunnel vision, perspective is lost. Just because we can’t see or understand, doesn’t mean he doesn’t care and isn’t working. Rather, use this to fuel an impassioned prayer: “God, I don’t understand but I trust that you are larger than all the evil in the world.” After all, if he created it all and upholds it all by the words of his mouth, isn’t he able to handle the deeds of the creatures whose lives are only vapor? (James 4:14; Psalm 39:5).

Do everything you can

The Psalm goes on to say in verse 7, “The virtuous will seek his face.” If you conduct your life in a way that works for peace and justice and you trust God enough to weave your story into the fabric of history for the good of all people, you will be doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Not only will you have the satisfaction of a life well-lived, you will have peace. And the Bible promises that you will see his face (Psalm 17:15, Matthew 5:9). Then after doing what you can, show your trust by letting God take over.

Reflection

  • Is there something that seems insurmountable in your life?
  • How have you trusted God in that situation?
  • Pray about one thing you can do today that requires trust. Then do it! 🙂

Author update & Lent is here again

Hi friends,

These past few years have been some of my least productive years in writing to date, but busiest in changing, stretching and growing. From finally working out forgiveness with certain people, to becoming a wife, to becoming a mother, learning to weigh a full time job with home and family responsibilities. I’m also very excited to announce that my application to become a staff writer for Tirzah Magazine was accepted and that I am now an official contributor over there too! Tirzah is an online publication dedicated to encouraging young women in leading lives and faith and I’m proud to be associated that team of godly women.

I have at times been overwhelmed, underwhelmed, joyful, grieving, and maybe a little bit crazy. But I’m hanging on to the call to write and to take up my pen in obedience and renewed confidence that only the Lord can provide.

Speaking of obedience and renewed confidence, you may know that today the season of Lent is upon us. I wanted to repost an article from a few years ago, because I found myself being reminded of how if we are not careful, we can turn it into a mere “Christian New Years’ resolutions day” rather than a heart-honest call to turn toward the Lord with renewed zeal.

I hope you enjoy it!


Why I’m dreading Lent this year [originally posted February 8 2016]

Lent is this Wednesday. I know. “What? Already?” I believe my exact reaction was, “AGAIN?”

Every year it’s the same. I spend all kinds of time sitting at Starbucks with my laptop trying to decide whether it’s coffee or chocolate that will get the boot. “Hmm…maybe I should just give up Facebook,” I think to myself, washing down a bite of chocolate-chocolate-chip muffin with a swig of mocha latte.

Lent is like the Christian version of New Years Resolutions. You make up your mind to give something up or start doing something good, only to let yourself slide until you have completely forgotten about the funny promise you made to God 40 days prior. (Chocolate bunny, anyone?)

If you’re not familiar with Lent, it is what Christians call that stretch of time between Mardi Gras and Easter. It is a time set out in the church when believers usually focus on growing closer to God through Prayer, Fasting, and Giving. It’s actually a great opportunity to rekindle the dryness that periodically creeps into our faith-lives. Everyday life and responsibilities cause so much noise in our heads that we forget to focus on the One who is the only source of wisdom, comfort, and salvation. This is why I’m such a huge believer in the practice of Lent. We learn to slow down and establish a structure of prayer that is oftentimes missing from our lives. So why am I dreading it?

Over the past 2 months I my article-writing engines have been on overdrive and I have loved every stressful minute of it. I’m writing for and with God for you good people spread across the Interwebs and all the while, I hear my heart beating in step with each piece. It’s buzzing with excitement: you are doing exactly what you are meant to do. I have SO many ideas for how to glorify God with my writing and my blog.

However, Lent means I have to slow down. It means that I actually have to stop trying, pull it back a bit, and slow down so that I can commune with God. As much as I don’t want to slow my mad productive pace, my soul hangs in the balance if I do not. I’m like a toddler running out the front door and down the driveway before my mom has time to put a diaper on me — I tend to run way ahead of God’s plans before I’m ready.

But this relationship with the master of the universe is vastly more important than anything I post, write, plan to write. I’m hearing his still, small voice in my heart saying, Be still, Molly. Quit trying to prove to me how awesome you are.

I want to be intentional about this year’s season of Lent so I won’t be posting every single day, but only as the spirit leads. I will be listening for God’s voice and striving toward closeness with Him.

Won’t you join with me in search for an intentional Lent? Whether this is your first Lent season or 100th, let’s take Lent seriously together this year. Let’s both commit to being companions of Jesus, instead of competitors. ☩

Life update

Hi friends! It’s been a long and unexpected hiatus but a day hasn’t gone by since my last post that I haven’t thought about this blog.

I have continued to write, of course, because I am a compulsive writer. But for a long time now I have secretly wondered why I blog. Before my abrupt absence from the blogosphere I was feeling like my work didn’t matter. Why did I spend so much time writing on scripture for an unseen audience that may or may not care that I pour my heart into these articles (amateur as they are)?

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:10-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Oh that’s right – It’s not about me.

I feel like the Lord has been teaching my heart so many wonderful things in the past year which I will get into but thanks to the encouragement of a sweet friend and the ever-growing pull on my heart that this is my calling, I return once again to share.

But this time I want it to be different. I’d like to feel I’m writing to friends who I love and who love me. Even though I may not know you I am deeply compelled to share my ups and downs in faith, what I’m learning, and how I’m navigating the tough questions of life as a young woman in 2018 and beyond.

Even as I’m writing this sentence, incredible peace overflows in my heart, reassuring me that I’m inside God’s will. So I’ll move forward in confidence, no matter how foolish it may seem to the world.

The Meltdown

I was out in my garden the other morning when the peaceful reverie of my quiet time was pierced by a mother’s scream.

The family with whom we share our back fence was at it again. I had overheard blowups from this family in the past but I knew right away that this was going to be a bad one. (Don’t get the wrong idea – I love to spend time in my backyard. And let’s just say, one does not have to strain one’s ears to overhear the conversation.)

This one morning in particular, one of the children had apparently eaten an entire bag of carrots. “You’re a fat f–n pig. Do you like being a f–n pig? When you go to school that’s what all the kids are going to say because that’s how kids are in school. You’re a f–n pig.” The window was shut but not soundproof, unbeknownst to her.

It was heartbreaking, infuriating, wrong. Everything in me wanted to march right up to that front door and give her a piece of my mind. I wanted to call CPS and report verbal abuse. I wanted to raise attention to this despicable excuse for a mother. In a flash, my own childhood passed before me.

Now before we rush in with pitchforks, please understand something: I don’t know this woman. Maybe she is truly abusive. But I think it’s much more likely that, like my mother all those years ago, she is overextended, underpaid, and emotionally immature to manage her feelings. Perhaps her marriage is in trouble. Maybe they are in serious debt. Only God knows what heavy burdens lay suffocating her heart. It’s still terrible; I’m not making excuses. We must learn not to equate the person with their sin. After all, the same God who is able to heal me desires to heal her too. He has no favorites.

I felt that nudge from the Holy Spirit saying, “Look at this. Recognize it?” For the first time in the 8-odd months since we moved in, it occurred to me that I should pray for this family and befriend them. I don’t even know their names, we have never spoken before. Even so, there is a woman literally screaming for help in there. She is trapped and bound. Why should the Lord bless me with such peace only to sit here and do nothing? I need a pretense. My eyes wander over to my garden.

Squash! My summer squash won’t stop growing. We can’t get rid of them fast enough. We have eaten so much squash this summer that I almost regret planting them. But there are 3 new (huge) squashes ready to be picked. They must be almost 8 inches and a few pounds each. Who doesn’t like free food?

So I made the plan to go over there and bring a peace offering. But first, I need to get dressed – Helmet of salvation. Shield of faith. Sword of truth. Sandals of peace. Not so that I can ransack and destroy them; they are beloved of God however broken. I don the armor of God to be prepared to meet the enemy in his place of work. The home and family which he and his minions have ransacked and ravaged. I must be prepared because the enemy will put up a fight. Fortunately for me, we both know who wins this one.

Let us always remember and never forget that we are blessed to be blessings for others. Let us be alert and of sober mind – always watching, always waiting for that opportunity to inject the love of Jesus. Every day, I find another puzzle piece of my purpose in This Story.

Love Notes Series: Love Leads to Peace

Did you know that before Jesus was betrayed, he said a prayer for all believers to come?

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
-John 17:20-23
That’s right, he prayed for us here today, in 2016, that all the people who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, fully God and fully Man would be united in their faith, loving God and loving others, for the sake of the people who still might come to Christ?
We may clash from time to time, disagree about theology and about when, where and how to worship. But love between believers causes harmony. Harmony is peace. Love – Harmony – Peace. This is what Jesus brings.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment below or send us feedback at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love to hear from you!

~The PD Team

Love Notes Series: Inseparable

Our acceptance of Jesus invites the acceptance of our broken selves to God.  Once covered in the righteousness of Jesus, we are inseparable from God’s protection from that moment forward.
“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” -Romans 8:33.
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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment below or send us feedback at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love to hear from you!

~The PD Team

Love Notes Series: Obedience is Evidence

I couldn’t say it better than this, so here is the commentary straight from the my MacArthur Study Bible:
“Habitual obedience to his commandments is evidence of the believer’s love for Him and the Father. This is consistent with the teaching in James 2:14-26 that true saving faith is manifest by works produced by God in the transforming, regenerating power of the Spirit. those words are expressions of the love which the Spirit pours in the the believer’s heart.”
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Love Notes Series: Prove it.

Do you recall the story of Peter denying Jesus  the night he was betrayed? Three times people asked Peter if he was associated with Jesus. The man he had followed and shared life with for 3 years prior as a close confidante. “I don’t know the man,” he had said, three times.
And how after Jesus was resurrected, he reappeared to the apostle Peter:
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you  love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
John 21:15-17
Love is proven by our choice of action. It is not only to be lip-service, but a commitment. At work they look for measurable goals and judge my work by the results I bring, not by my self-evaluation.
This may seem obvious to the point of absurdity, but it is a point so easily missed. God is not looking for followers to click “Like” on his page and answer “Christian” in the text field next to “Religion”. He wants to see your heart so moved by his love for you that you will be deeply motivated to work for his cause.
And not just that – He wants the opportunity to work in and through you. He wants to work TOGETHER with you.
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17
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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment below or send us feedback at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love to hear from you!

~The PD Team

Love Notes Series: God’s Essential Quality

God is the essence of love; it is inherent in all he does. Even his judgement and wrath are perfectly harmonized with His love.
Someone may profess to be a Christian but only those who display his love like their heavenly father actually possess His divine nature and are truly born again.
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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment below or send us feedback at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love to hear from you!

~The PD Team