Wide angle

Wide angle

I knew I was going to take the test last night, I waited all week for it. It was stupid to get my hopes up. Our first went to live with Jesus last year. Now each failure stabs a little deeper. I hate being disappointed so I usually try not to hope too much. But this time, for whatever reason, I really thought I’d be pregnant.

I find out that someone, who struggled with the same affliction, is pregnant. My mild mannered demeanor is shattered at this news. Jealousy overcomes and I’m an ugly monstrous version of myself. The mention of her name is normally enough to set my jaw and fix my gaze. And now she has a baby. And I remain barren.

I know the grudge I hold against her cannot continue. I’ve known this for some time. “I’ll get to it Lord,” I falsely promise. “…but shouldn’t I get to a place of greater faith first?” I’m not ready to face my hatred for her and what she has done and what pain her presence in my life brings. He tells me it’s already happening, and that I have all I need in the way of weaponry.

But this, Lord? Her?  This is too much.

My desire for children doesn’t come from a place of fear. Truth be told, I just want to nurture and teach, model godliness and grace, read mom blogs without feeling like a fraud. I want this more than anything. God knows. He also knows my heart isn’t ready.

Forgiveness is difficult enough even without jealousy to muddy the waters. I am Jonah pouting under a withered leaf and wiping the sweat from my furrowed brow. Arms crossed, I can see Ninevah’s salvation in the distance. While she praises you, my heart is stone.

What a strange thing it must seem to You, to see one of your creatures who at once understands and doesn’t understand. She gets my most cherished wish and I get a lesson. My head defiantly turns to the side. No. You are faithful, merciful, ever patient and too loving to comprehend. And you gave her a baby and not me. I want to scream at your throne. But I know You.

I do not require evidence. I do not struggle with the big questions of faith and doctrine. No, it takes something much simpler to trip me up: Your “no” to my deepest desire. It makes me wonder about all the other things that have come so easily. Others would call me blessed beyond measure, but my imperfect focus both sharpens and skews my will. And yet you say I already have the control.

How is it that I am overflowing with desire to show my child how to follow You when in the waiting place I won’t even try?

He’s showing me the lens dial. It moves from pointed focus to wide angle. If only I could see the rest of the picture I would know what he knows. For now, all he can do is discipline in love because I want but can’t have a child to discipline in love.  Now it is your humor that is too much.

Dear Jesus, forgive my bitter and jealous heart. You have dominion over every storm and every blessing. Let me always cling to the promise that you have a hope and future for me, even when I can’t see it – I will believe that you are good.

4 lessons I learned from PROVERBS [free shareables!]

4 lessons I learned from PROVERBS [free shareables!]

 

efficient ways to get around the city.jpgAs we close out this month in the book of Proverbs, I’d like to ask what you learned. Did anything take you by surprise?

Every time I open the Word I discover something new, seeing the same words in a new light. True, we are always changing and growing, but I think the main reason is that the Word is alive and moving all around us, every day.

Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Amazing. No other written work can move and change us like the Bible.

When I set out to study this book at the beginning of the month, I saw Proverbs as a big jumble of unorganized truths — a “junk drawer” of wisdom, so to speak. But as the days went by, I could almost see the gaps in my own knowledge being filled and quenched.  There were 4 major themes stuck out to me:

  • Fear of the Lord. Unless we acknowledge the sovereignty of God in our lives, we will always be stumbling along trying to live by our own faulty wisdom. “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!” (Psalm 111:10).
  • Humility. Humility is key to fearing God, but Proverbs also talks about humility towards our neighbor. Not only is it loving to put our neighbor before ourselves, it is commanded by Jesus. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11)
  • Integrity. When others see your honest dealing in all things, they will see your pure life and give glory to God. “For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ” (2 Corinthians 9:13).
  • Self-Discipline. In Let’s All Be Brave, Annie Downs makes a poignant observation: It takes courage to be disciplined. When we practice discipline (no matter the details) we are stepping out and saying, “Even though I don’t see the results now, I believe that my obedience to God’s Word will prove victorious”

Questions for application:

  • Which theme(s) stuck out to you most?
  • How are you going to apply something new in your daily life?

Let me know in the comments below if you read along, or if not, what you think about the 4 lessons I was able to glean. Thanks!

Don’t forget to like PureDisciple on Facebook to get more daily scripture reflections!

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Want to read Proverbs with us?

Want to read Proverbs with us?

Dear friends,

The beginning of the year can really feel like a drag sometimes. To me January feels like the Monday of months.  No more parties, no more presents, no more excuses to double on christmas cookies. It’s back to reality and it’s oh-so-bleak.

That’s why we wanted to do something extra special for our readers, to encourage and equip each other in the power of God’s Word.

So throughout the month of January, we will be reading a chapter a day in the book of Proverbs, together as a community.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Read 1 chapter a day starting on January 1
  2. Select 1 verse that stands out to you
  3. Post that verse on Puredisciple’s Facebook page

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Now I know what you’re thinking… Allow me to explain why your participation will not only be worth the time, you might actually see yourself transformed in the process.

Reasons you should join us

  1. It’s easy. Only 1 chapter a day. So what if you miss a day? You can return to it any time.
  2. It’s good for you. We need God’s Word like we need oxygen (Mat 4:4).
  3. We’re all in it together. As the body of Christ we are meant to build each other up (1 Thess 5:11). There will be fellowship!
  4. By the end of the month, you’ll have read an entire book written by the wisest man who ever lived. How’s that for a conversation starter?

All are welcome and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for us this January!

Love,

The Pure Disciple Team

Is it a sin not to go to church?

Is it a sin not to go to church?

The convenience of a streaming church service is a double-edged sword. Indispensable to those who cannot leave their bed, but a tool of temptation for the devil.

I heard that whisper this morning: Why get up so early? It’s cold and you deserve a break, and who will notice you anyway? Whether you go or stay won’t make a difference. You’re still going to watch the sermon online, it’s not a sin to miss one week…

It got me thinking about why it’s important to go to church. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that it’s an outright sin not to go, nor does the Bible specifically say which day we are to worship.

So why should I go?

Tradition?

To see my friends?

Because Starbucks is on the way and I can get a treat?

Well, what does the Bible say about going to church? There are several reasons from scripture:

To encourage one another:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

To meet with God together:

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20

Friendship with other believers:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

To mature in faith:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

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As for whether it’s a sin or not, “sin” is a deliberate rebellion against God. That’s between Creature and Creator. Far be it for me to say yes or no on behalf of someone else, I’ll humbly say that in my case, I believe it would have been considered a sin. The reason being that I understand and agree with the importance of church attendance. As mere laziness, I’d be a hearer only and not a doer of the word. (James 1:22).

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I went anyway. And instead of losing comfort, energy, and time, I unexpectedly gained something even better: peace that my obedience meant something to God. I think he is proud of my response. And I can’t wait to obey again next week.

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How would you answer that question?  Bring the question of church attendance before the throne in prayer and ask God for his wisdom in the matter.

I Regret

large-2I’m 1 month shy of my 29th birthday and I have grey hairs. More than a few, like enough to warrant never parting my hair on the left. I’ve never really bought into all the “oh no, I’m 30 :(” hype. But in entering the last year of my 20s I’m starting to understand what they mean by being perplexed about it.

We all have our bucket lists and things we woulda-coulda-shoulda done by a certain age. According to my calculations I should have finished grad school at 24, married at 25, been a mother by 27, and be a great career woman working as a journalist in the city trying to have it all. Needless to say, I’m falling a little short.

I hate when people say “never have regrets”. Especially when they interrupt you while you are actually confiding “You know, I really regret XYZ”. The only thing they mean by that, is that you can’t change it so why waste time talking about it. Well I’ll tell you why I want to regret the things I’m not proud of – I don’t think it’s harmful – IF they lead you to wiser choices next time.

Regret, or sorrow over my past mistakes can be holy, and even pleasing to God because it means that you understand that whatever happened caused you to miss out on God’s blessings.

For me, the prospect of turning 29 makes me want to simultaneously weep with regret and jump for joy. Having personally lived through those years, I can tell you I made plenty of bad choices, but also, I wouldn’t be where I am, wouldn’t have grown the way I did had it not been for those choices. And knowing that I might have missed out on many blessings then, being so blessed as I am now, only makes me want to walk rightly all the more.

Cheap Grace

Cheap Grace

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

How many times have you heard “Do as I say, not as I do”? It’s a pretty hypocritical saying and morally confusing. Today I’m thinking about my own integrity. Do I really do what I say I do, and what I say others should do? It’s always good to stop and take a look at my progress (or most often back-tracking)

If my identity is in Jesus, how am I measuring up to what a good ambassador should look like? I’m not talking about being “perfect” here, that’s not to come until later. I mean, in all my humanity, am I progressing as I should? Moving forward in maturity?

Meditate with me on the following passage. Paul wants us to clearly understand the distinction between the people we were before we knew Jesus and the people we are after. There is no reason to go back to how we used to live before because it isn’t what we learned from Jesus.

To my friends who aren’t Christians, when you see someone who is supposed to be Christian acting out in a dishonorable way, that is not Jesus’s way. That’s their own cheap grace masquerading as real grace.

Living as Children of Light

17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ.

21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”[d] Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,[e] guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:17-31 NLT (emphasis mine)

seasoned with salt

seasoned with salt

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Hi friends, just a little wisdom for your Tuesday~

Thank you so much to all the prayer requests I’ve been receiving!!! I am completely honored to be trusted with your precious cries out to God.

As always, please let me know if I can pray for you in any way – use the comments link beneath the title above to leave me a note. If you’d rather leave an anonymous note use a fake name/email for now; however, in the future it will be even easier. In fact, I am very excited to announce a new project I’m working on to reach those who feel lost and need encouragement.

Stay tuned!

Love, Molly

How to make God rejoice!

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Proverbs is full of wisdom, but nothing strikes me more than this little passage:

My son, if your heart is wise,
    then my heart will be glad indeed;
my inmost being will rejoice
    when your lips speak what is right. 

Prov 23:15-16

It says that if we choose God’s will, His heart will be glad and His inmost being will rejoice. That’s a pretty big statement to make. My obedience can actually make the God of the universe rejoice in his inmost being. Imagine getting your child to finally make the decision on his own to put effort into his homework. He is acting on wisdom given to him from someone wiser than him. That must be what God feels like times infinity when I am obedient.

Tonight I’m just meditating on the wisdom of Proverbs, and thinking about how I can bring these into my active daily life more intentionally.

 

When I obey, I’m blessed. When I’m blessed, I’m confident. When I’m confident, I obey.

When I obey, I’m blessed. When I’m blessed, I’m confident. When I’m confident, I obey.

The cycle carries on, but not as a circle as some treat it. No, you are not passing the same points in the road, but slightly different ones. We experience life as a spiral, passing through similar yet different points on the road. Every time you see something that is very much like something else you have seen before, you choose whether to react better than you did before. And so obedience, when repeated, builds itself up, like the strong foundation Jesus told us about:

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27

When I obey the Lord, I can rest in the knowledge that He is pleased. Not that I receive all I ask for necessarily, but being open to His ways, I am less inclined to cling to my way. When I realize (again) that I love to be blessed, my confidence increases. Even though I don’t know exactly what I am doing all the time, it is easier it is to make the next choice in favor of the Lord because I trust Him. By this my obedience also increases and it is easier it is to make the next choice in favor of the Lord. And when it’s not easy, which most of the time it is not, I am still seeking wisdom. And fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10).

 

submission is not a dirty word!

I know that many christian women (including myself) struggle with the idea of submission. We fear being taken advantage of. We fear being walked on, and truth be told, we fear not getting what we want. It’s totally natural, and I am not ashamed to admit that my stomach drops when I read Paul’s words:

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 1 Cor 14:34

Many women read Ephesians 5:22 and stop full of indignation:

 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

If I have any sisters in Christ who are also struggling with this, I don’t blame you, but there is hope! It always hopes to get some context. Read the whole chapter. You’ll notice some encouraging and precious words just before and after that one verse:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

We have to start out with a humble desire to understand from God. If you go in with a hard heart, firmly wanting to be right, little progress will come. Remember that Jesus did not consider being equal to God something to hold on to.