Saturday, February 27, 2010

Earthquake in Chile

I woke up to the headlines of an 8.8 earthquake in Chile.  Wow.  That is huge.  There was the devastating earthquake in Haiti last month.  Yesterday a large quake hit Okinawa, Japan - the same day a friend of mine was headed there.  Then this massive earthquake in Chile with tsunami waves probably headed to Hawaii.  My mind immediately went to the birth pangs the Lord spoke of while instructing us about what will occur before He returns.  Besides telling us not to be mislead He also says, "See to it that you are not frightened..." - Matthew 24:6.

How do we keep from becoming frightened with these headlines that seem to be coming at us at break-neck speed?

I love Psalm 16:8.  That whole passage there is one of my favorites...

"I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

Beloved, we must set our minds on things above, on Him.  He is our Rock, our Fortress.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Suffering in the Plan of God - Chapter One

Did you know that a real diamond will not lose its brilliance when viewed under water, but an imitation diamond will?  This is how a jeweler will determine a real diamond from a fake.  The real diamond will continue to sparkle with brilliance when placed under water and the fake diamond will all but lose its sparkle.

One of the reasons God brings suffering and trials into the believer's life is to test the genuineness of their faith.  John points out that when "the true child of God is put under the water of a trial, he will shine as brightly as ever."  

In chapter one, John gives us some reasons why believers suffer and reminds us that God is sovereign over our trials, using them to conform us into more Christlikeness.  Trials do benefit us and we would do well to take God's perspective on this!  In John's estimation, Abraham underwent the severest trial that any human has ever faced.  I would have to agree with him.  God told Abraham, himself, to kill Isaac.  John pointed out that from Abraham's test we learn that God's tests for us might involve people we hold very near and dear.  Amazingly, Abraham obeyed God, immediately.  His faith was of such brilliance, he believed God would raise Isaac from the dead.  Abraham didn't waver during this test and believed God would accomplish His promises to Abraham.  God of course knew what the outcome would be before He even began the test.  The test was for Abraham's benefit.   

"Surely God does not have to test any of us to find out what is in our hearts because He already knows.  Rather, He tests us so that we might know what is in our hearts.  In that sense He assists us in taking a spiritual inventory and self-examination.  Whenever God brings us through a severe trial, it will reveal to us either the strength or weakness of our faith, and the faithfulness of God.  If by grace we display a strong faith, that ought to encourage us that it's real and that it can become stronger as we continue to see the Lord in trials."

Besides the lesson of the quality of our faith, John gives seven other "lessons" God is teaching us when we undergo trials and suffering.
  • The Lesson of Humility - "God sends trials to humble us.  He uses suffering to remind us not to think more confidently of our spiritual strength than we should."  Paul was sent "a messenger of Satan" to buffet him so he would not exalt himself, to preserve his humility.
  •  The Lesson of Rejecting Materialism - "Trials and suffering wean us away from worldly things.  When God does send certain trials or sufferings into our lives, they will confirm the inadequacy of material things to meet our deepest needs or to provide any true resources for our time of stress and pain."  Moses was the example used here.  He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter and choose ill-treatment instead.  He considered the reproach of Christ greater riches.
  • The Lesson of Eternal Hope - "Trials and suffering make us long for heaven."  Trials help us to gain and keep a heavenly perspective!  
  • The Lesson of First Love - "Trials and suffering show us what we really love."  Abraham loved God above all else, being willing to sacrifice Isaac.  Jesus said that "if anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26)  Jesus was saying we must love Him so much that by comparison we will seem to hate ourselves and our families.  We must put our closest self-interests below our Savior's.  
  • The Lesson of God's Blessing - "Trials and suffering teach us to value the blessing of God."  "Sensation and feeling say find pleasure at any price.  But faith says obey the Word of God and be blessed."  Jesus was the supreme example.  He humbled Himself, became obedient to the point of death on a cross.  Because of that God highly exalted Him.
  • The Lesson of Empathy with Others - We all appreciate it when others genuinely and lovingly are able to identify with us in our sufferings, don't we?  We love having a sensitive friend  who understands.  It's reassuring.  We are able to better minister to others in trials like the ones we've been through.  Jesus of course is our most sensitive friend who understands.  (Sometimes a hug and just saying I love you and I'm praying for you is all it takes and is all that is needed at the time.)  Trials make us better ministers.
  • The Lesson of Enduring Strength - "God allows trials and sufferings to develop in us enduring strength for greater usefulness."  Trials develop our spiritual muscles for future ministry.
May your thoughts be turned to Him often this weekend.  

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Repentance: The Big Turn Around

    Today was Bible Study.  (Looking forward to having you back soon, Cheryl!)  We were in Lesson Four of "Seeking Him."  The subject - repentance.  Before I give the highlights from chapter one of "The Power of Suffering", I've got some good things from Lesson Four.  

    Key Points:
    • Revival requires repentance
    • Repentance involves returning to the Lord, forsaking sin, and obeying God
    • Repentance is for Christians as well as non-Christians
    • Real repentance influences behavior
    • Repentance begins in the mind as conviction of sin
    • When God calls us to repent, it's time to act
    • Repentance enables us to glorify God
    A Great Quote by Spurgeon:

           "The more we realize our indebtedness to God's grace, 
             and the more we see the sufferings of Christ in
             order to effect our redemption, the more do we hate sin, 
             and the more do we lament that we ever fell into it."

    Looking at the Heart - Self-Evaluation Questions:
    1. Have I ever experienced the repentance that characterizes genuine salvation?
    2. Does sin in my life bother me?
    3. Do I have an attitude that says, "Lord, everything I know to be sin and everything You show me in the future to be sin, I am willing to forsake?
    4. Am I willing to call my wrong actions "sin", rather than viewing them as weaknesses, "struggles", or personality traits?
    5. Am I more concerned about grieving God than about the consequences of my sin?
    6. Am I willing to accept personal responsibility for my actions, without pointing the finger of blame at anyone else?
    7. Am I willing to take whatever steps may be necessary to make complete restitution for my sin?
    8. Have I, at any time in the past year, experienced genuine repentance, resulting in a change of attitude and/or behavior?
    9. Has God convicted me of any specific sins in my life that I have never truly repented of?  If so, am I willing to repent of those sins here and now?
    10. Am I willing to be accountable to another believer in those areas of my life where I have experienced past failure, so that I may develop new patterns of victory?
    I really liked this discussion question towards the end of the lesson:   

    When God brings conviction of sin to the heart of one of His children, what does this tell us about Him? ...that He is holy and it is His heart that we are holy as well!  The whole purpose of our lives is to show how wonderful He is.  We do that when we live set apart lives.  Bringing us to conviction of sin is a loving and gracious act.  How deeply He cares for us!   

    The Power of Suffering - Introduction

    The book I'm currently reading is entitled "The Power of Suffering," by John MacArthur.  For my next several posts I thought I'd give you some of the highlights and nuggets I am gleaning.  For all of us, these are things we probably already know and have heard before, but it is good to be reminded from time to time.  Here are a couple that I liked from the introduction:  
    • In God's sovereignty all kinds of difficulties and hardships are real and should be expected in the lives of genuine Christians.  One primary reason many believers today have a hard time accepting the role of suffering in their lives or in the lives of friends and loved ones is that they have failed to understand and accept the reality of divine sovereignty.  Many also fail to see adversity from God's perspective.  In so doing, they completely overlook the positive, strengthening, perfecting effect that trials are designed to have on believer's faith. 
    • The conclusion of any scriptural study of believers and suffering is this:  it is possible, and actually God's desire, that we do more than merely survive or barely tolerate a season of testing or suffering.  The Lord wants the experience, though perhaps difficult as we pass through it, to be a positive one in the end-one that strengthens and refines our faith.  
    Job 23:10 - "But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." 

    Here's an interesting statistic that John cited in the introduction:  "According to David Barrett, editor of World Christian Encyclopedia, 300,000 Christians are martyred each year-833 per day.  Barrett concludes that the world-wide chance of being a martyr as a Christian is 1 in 200.  If you are a missionary, 1 in 50.  If you are a native evangelist, 1 in 20."  (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.)  The book itself was published in 1995, fifteen years ago.  John then says, "Certainly with the increase in godless secularism and as we near the return of Christ, we could expect that such hostility and persecution might grow."

    I know it will grow based on Christ's instruction in Matthew 24.  Viewing persecution from God's perspective will prepare us for it should we be in that generation to enter into Daniel's 70th Week.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Joy Inexpressible

    I have never seen Him, but I love Him.  I cannot see Him now, but I believe in Him.  No matter what my circumstances, when I set my thoughts on Him and what He has done for me, I experience a joy, a deep-down wonderful feeling, that goes beyond the reach of words and expression.

    Who is this unseen One that moves my heart to such exultation?

    It is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The One who bore the wrath of God for me, which I deserved.  The One who gave me His record of perfect righteousness. 

    1 Peter 1:8 - "and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory."  

    Someday His gift of faith to me will be sight.  Then, what depths of unspeakable joy will flood my heart?!

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    But You, Brethren, Are Not in Darkness

    I thought it would be fun to direct you to my very first blog post.  I wrote it about 2 1/2 years ago, in the fall of 2007.  It's rather long and it tells you how I came to my understanding of when Christ will come and rapture the church.  My first blog was called "But You, Brethren, Are Not in Darkness."  When I wrote that first article, I thought for sure I was going to change the world, or at least the world of those who would read the article.  I thought for sure that everyone who would read up on the prewrath position of the rapture of the church would change over to that view.  This just has not been the case.  Two and a half years later I still think the prewrath position best reflects what is taught in scripture regarding the return of Christ.  What is the prewrath position?  It simply takes Matthew 24 at face value and applies it to the church, viewing the elect in Matthew 24:31 as the church.  Brethren, we are not in darkness concerning the return of Christ and the events associated with it.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    The New Jerusalem

    My pastor was in Isaiah 60 yesterday.  Isaiah 60 describes events and happenings regarding "the city of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 60:14) during the millennium.  This is none other than Jerusalem.  I couldn't help but notice a few parallels between this chapter of Isaiah along with some verses in Revelation 21, where we find a description of "the holy city, the new Jerusalem." (Revelation 21:2) 

    Here they are:

    Isaiah 60:3 - "And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising."

    Revelation 21:24 - "And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it." 
    Isaiah 60:11 - "And your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession."

    Revelation 21:25,26 - "And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed; and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it." 
    Isaiah 60:19, 20 - "No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light; but you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory.  Your sun will set no more, neither will your moon wane; for you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be finished."

    Revelation 21:25 - "And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there)...  21:4 - "and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain, the first things have passed away."

    For years I placed the New Jerusalem on the earth at the end of the millennium.  In Revelation 20 we see the dead raised for the Great White Throne Judgment after the thousand years were completed. Then Revelation 21 begins with John seeing the new heaven and the new earth...and then he sees the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  If Revelation 20 and 21 are meant to be taken in chronological order, we have a problem because the context of Isaiah 60 is the millennium and we are given almost identical descriptions in Isaiah 60 of "the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 60:14)  that are given in Revelation 21 regarding "the holy city, new Jerusalem."  (Rev. 21:2)

    After being in Isaiah 60 yesterday, I am strongly leaning again towards the view that the New Jerusalem will come down at the beginning of the millennium.  I know The Orange Mailman holds this view.  He is the one who actually got me thinking along these lines. 

    A couple more things before I end.  Revelation 21:27 says that nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying shall ever come into the new Jerusalem, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.  Isaiah 60:12 says that the nation and the kingdom which will not serve Jerusalem will perish.  I am wondering if this is in some way a parallel.  And, there seems to be one contradiction between the two chapters.  Revelation 21:22 tells us there is no temple in the new Jerusalem, however in Isaiah 60:7 we are given information that there will be sacrificing during the millennium in Jerusalem.  Isaiah 60:7 says, "the rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; they will go up with acceptance on My altar, and I shall glorify My glorious house."  The altar for sacrificing was found in the temple... 


    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Latest Daniel Pics

    Today was my son-in-law's, brother-in-law's birthday party.  Remember Matt and Ruhiyyih?  Well, Matt is turning 35 soon and we celebrated today.  I took a few pictures.  They seem to all be about Daniel for some reason...

    To view the entire album...

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Of No Consequence???

    I was told recently that the doctrine of the Lord's return was of no consequence, that it was unimportant.  If you know me at all you know this is a doctrine that I love, that I cherish.  It was the whole reason I began blogging 2 1/2 years ago.  It was all I blogged about.  Those words were like a knife in my heart.  The appearing of the Lord is the blessed hope of the church.  It is what I long for!  I want to know all there is to know about it! 

    Let me ask you a question...Does the Lord want us to think His teachings to us on His return are of no consequence, that what He said is unimportant?  Right before He launches into the most comprehensive instruction regarding His return (Matthew 24) He says these words..."See to it that no one misleads you."

    We better listen up.  We better pay attention.  We better think what He is about to say is important.  We better study it.  We better heed it.  We better obey it.  What He has to say about His return is very important and will have great consequence if we take a careless attitude towards it.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    "Absolutely nothing...

    ...comes into our lives that doesn't first pass through the loving hands of our Heavenly Father."

    Mary Amesbury

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Psalm 100

    "SHOUT joyfully to the LORD, all the earth,
         Serve the LORD with gladness;
    Come before Him with joyful singing.
         Know that the LORD Himself is God;
    It is He who has made us, 
         and not we ourselves;
    We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

    Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
         And His courts with praise.
    Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
         For the LORD is good;
    His lovingkindness is everlasting,
         And His faithfulness to all generations."

    I'm thankful for the Father's love,
       for the love of my Savior, husband,
       family, friends.

    I'm thankful for God's great example of how to love.
    May we be faithful to show that same love of will and sacrifice to Him and others that He so graciously and continually shows to us.

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    A Heavenly Perspective

    So, did you watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics last night?  I was saddened to learn of the athlete who was killed during his practice luge run.  The special affects were amazing.  Whales and salmon seemingly swimming in the middle of the stadium - that was really cool.  I had already gone to bed so I missed the malfunction that took place during the lighting of the cauldron, only heard about it.  But what captured my attention the most, what really stood out to me - this mass of worldwide humanity, celebrating itself and the mention of the Creator, the LORD of the universe. 

    But here is heaven's perspective...

    Isaiah 6:3 - "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory."

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Faith... God's gift to us that enables us to trust Him in the present; hope is faith that enables us to trust God for what is to come.  God's faithfulness in the past makes our hope of His promises of the glories to come in the future an absolutely sure hope.  Saints live in a settled hope and it is this settled hope that enables us to endure through and rejoice in the midst of suffering and trials.

    1 Peter 1:13b - "Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Honesty: Silence is Not Always Golden

    Today at Bible Study we were in the Honesty chapter of "Seeking Him - Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival."  Below are more self-assessment questions that were given to us.  We were asked to prayerfully respond to the questions, allowing the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts. 

    Honesty with God 
    "Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts" - Psalm 51:6
    • Do I often participate in corporate praise and prayer while my heart is cold, indifferent, or resistant to the Lord?
    • Are my prayers honest?  Do I say words that I think will impress God, or do I honestly communicate my real feelings and desires to Him?
    • Do I honor Him with my lips when my mind and heart are far away?  What am I really thinking about when I pray?
    • When called upon to pray in public, am I more aware of God's presence or the fact that others are listening to what I say?
    • Do I serve God out of a heart of genuine love and devotion, or do I have a subtle, secret desire to be noticed and applauded?
    • Do I volunteer for service and good works to glorify God or impress others? 
    • Am I quick to agree with God when His Spirit convicts me of sin, or do I tend to rationalize, justify, and defend myself?
    • Do I see my sin as God sees it, or do I tend to think in terms of "weaknesses," "problems," "slip-ups," or "personality quirks?"
    • Do I love the truth so much that I actively and regularly ask God to search my heart and to reveal anything that is displeasing to Him?
    Honesty with Myself 

    "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" - James 1:22
    "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" - 1 Jn. 1:8
    "If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself" - Galatians 6:3
    • Are there truths in God's Word that I know in my head or that I "preach" to others but am not practicing in my own life?
    • Do I ignore, resist, or deny the conviction of God's Spirit or His Word in relation to my sin?
    • Do I think more highly of myself than what God knows me to be?  Do I have an inflated view of my gifts and my value to God and others?
    Honesty with Others

    "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another" - Ephesians 4:25
    • Do I sometimes see to create a better impression of myself than is honestly true?
    • Do I often leave others with the impression that I am more spiritually mature and committed than is actually true?
    • Am I allowing my mate to believe that I am morally pure and faithful when I have failed morally?
    • Am I covering up sins of my past rather than dealing with them biblically?
    • Am I hiding specific sins or failures from my mate, a parent, a teacher, or an employer?
    • Am I guilty of speaking graciously to others while harboring hatred or bitterness in my heart toward them?
    • Do I put walls up to keep people from seeing the "real me"?  Am I willing to let others into my life-to be honest about my spiritual needs, to ask for prayer about those needs, and to be accountable to others for areas where I need to grow or change?

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010


    Hard to believe he will be eight months old on Friday.  Picture by Tim...



    Sorry it's been awhile since I posted.  I think I have been battling the plain, old flu.  Started out with a sore throat on Thursday and then a cough developed.  I spent most of the day on the couch.  Felt much better Friday.  Saturday was fine.  Sunday I stayed home from church because of my cough, then that evening a fever hit and I felt like I'd been run over by a truck!  Yesterday I was back on the couch again for most of the day.  Read some, napped mostly, and watched a Tom Selleck Western.   Today is Tuesday.   I am up.  I have to be because it is a Daniel day.  So far so good!

    The biggest news for our family since I last posted is that my son is now married.  A small ceremony took place on a beach in Viet Nam on Monday.  Mai Huong is not only my spiritual daughter, she is now also my daughter-in-law!  What a tremendous joy and blessing!    As soon as Ben sends pictures I will post a couple.  They rented traditional Vietnamese wedding attire so I can't wait to receive the pictures!

    One last thing for you.  I love the word chosen.  I am chosen, by God.  If you are a follower of Christ you are chosen, you are chosen by God to be a royal priest, a holy nation, to be God's very own possession.  We are told in scripture that everything belongs to God.  "The earth is the Lord's and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it." - Psalm 24:1. But God's chosen are His in a very special sense.  He wants to spend eternity with His chosen.  I had no merit that would make Him want to choose me, to want to spend eternity with me.  It was simply because He loved me.  There is a reason why He chooses, why He makes royal priests, why He has called out a holy, set apart nation, and why He makes His chosen His own, special possession.  It's so that we can proclaim His excellencies.  So we can make His glories known.  (1 Peter 2:9)  That is our calling as His chosen.  Salvation is so much more than being saved from the horrors of eternal punishment.  It's all about making much of Him with our lives!  Tell someone today why God is so amazing.  Do something kind for your husband.  Pray for someone you know who is hurting.  Call them and tell them you love them.  There are so many opportunities in our day to exalt and magnify the Lord.  But, I am plum tuckered out now and Daniel just went down for his morning nap so I'm going to go back and lay down on the couch, and I'm going to give thanks for all the wonderful blessings it means to be His chosen. 

    Such a wonderful word!

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Psalm 147:3

    "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
    I'm going to go straight to Spurgeon's notes on this verse...they are so good...I've italicized my favorite part.

    "...Few will associate with the despondent, but Jehovah chooses their company, and abides with them till he has healed them by his comforts. He deigns to handle and heal broken hearts: he himself lays on the ointment of grace, and the soft bandages of love, and thus binds up the bleeding wounds...This is compassion like a God. Well may those praise him to whom he has acted o gracious a part. The Lord is always healing and binding: this is no new work to him, he has done it of old; and it is not a thing of the past of which he is now weary, for he is still healing and still binding, as the original hath it. Come, broken hearts, come to the Physician who never fails to heal: uncover your wounds to him who so tenderly binds them up!"

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010


    How do you define worship?

    I have this definition written on the inside cover of one of my Bibles..."response to God's displayed excellence."

    Now I think this is a fine definition but I think it is more comprehensive than that. 

    I heard this definition just recently that I really like..."setting your will aside for God's will."  I like it because in recognizing that God is sovereign, it also moves us to set aside our desires for His.  This truly is acknowledging Him as Lord.   I believe worship is not only what is taking place in your mind as you come face to face with the majesty and glory of God, but worship occurs when our hearts and actions are in the right place as well.  Worship is submission as well as homage.

    Let me throw out one more definition to you.  This one is from William Temple’s (1881-1944) Readings in St. John’s Gospel.

    "Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose - and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin".


    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    30 Years Ago Today...

    ...I said, "Yes."  Thirty years ago today my husband proposed to me.  He took me out to my favorite restaurant tonight and we shared a steak, some good conversation, and later, a Choco Cherry Lover's Blizzard from Dairy Queen!  (For those of you who know I'm dieting, I let Tim eat most of it...)  Right after we were seated by the waitress Tim excused himself.  I sat looking out over the water of the Puget Sound, it was glassy and peaceful.  When he returned he had a beautiful red rose for me and two cards.  It's always his tradition to give me two cards, whether it's my birthday, anniversary, or something special like today.  One is funny, one is serious.  This time both were serious, and very sweet.  Another couple approximately our age was sitting at the window seat next to us.  The wife smiled and asked, "How many years?"  Tim told her we were celebrating our engagement anniversary, 30 years.  Our actual 30th anniversary will fall on July 5th.  The gal told us that she and her husband had been married for 28 years.  Their friends tell them that they are an "odd lot because couples just don't stay married that long any more."  Sadly, this is true.

    What is it that makes a marriage last?

    Like all marriages, we've had our bumps, or as John Piper calls them, "cow pies."  But we've learned that marriage is not about our own perceived needs being met, it's about living for what is pleasing to the Lord.  When a husband and wife set aside their will for God's will, when they live the "you before me" definition of love, marriage is vibrant and wonderful.

    Thank you Lord for blessing me with such a wonderful, godly, tender-hearted, patient, kind, loving, and thoughtful husband.