Affections of the heart.

Jesus-love-in-sandI was listening to an interview of Matt Chandler recently.

When asked about the process of sanctification in his life.

His answer spoke to my heart.

He said, “Sanctification isn’t a quick process, but a lifelong process. One that for him is continually sought after as he seeks to place his affections on the things of God.”

Chandler went on to say that for him, though he enjoys sports, he can’t place his affections on sports, or they will become too important.

As I have thought on this, I realize how true this is.

For many of us, though we are Christians and our heart is to walk with the Lord and serve Him.

We tend to try to live in two worlds.

We are Christians and yet our affections are often placed on things of this world.

You might be thinking, sure, but we live in this world.

And your right, we do. Yet, this world is not our home, we are just passing through and the Scripture in fact tells us that we are not to love this world or the things of it.

So, is Matt Chandler saying we have to sit at home all day reading our Bibles or in solitude praying?

Of course not, though both of these things are an important part.

For Chandler, he said for him a big part is choosing daily what things he will set his affections on. And he seeks to be particular about this.

What goes in will come out.

Therefore, we too have to be intentional about what our affections are placed on.

“You are like those you hang around.”

So if your day is consumed with things of this world, the world will naturally flow out.

But, if your day is saturated with the things of God, then you will steadily be transformed into the image of Christ.

Let us then set our gaze on Christ, and our hearts affections on the things which please Him.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2

 

Gray Hairs and Birthdays

I pulled two gray hairs out today.thG2HN27RC

I’ll be 36 on Saturday.

I have three kids 11, 10 and 6.

And I realize more than ever, how fast this life is slipping away.

And I want more than ever for my life to count.

I want it to be lived to the fullest for the glory of God.

Growing up, it was always about what I wanted.

I wanted to be a lawyer in NYC.

I wanted all the pleasures of this world.

Now, I want what God has planned for me.

I want His desires to be my desires.

I want to train my kids up in the Lord.

I want them to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

To be used of God however, He chooses.

Life is quickly passing us all by.

Are we content to let the days, weeks, months pass into years.

Are we content to crave after the things this world has to offer.

Or do we want our lives to count?

Do we want to crave God and all He has to offer?

Gray hairs, birthdays and our children have a way of showing us the reality of life.

And, “As much as I want an umbrella drink by the ocean somewhere, I just as much don’t want to waste a minute.”- Jeanie Allen

 

Restless

e704b71aa06c61f67f90520eef2be58aAs I sit looking around the basement that we call home, my heart grows anxious.

As I watch my kids growing older, and the days turning into months, my heart grows restless.

As I look upon the world and what it has to offer, I am left wanting more.

There is a restlessness inside.

A desire for more.

A restlessness that can only be satisfied with Christ.

Most of us seek to fill this void with stuff, with jobs, with food, with pleasures.

Yet, at the end of the day, when all the glamor is past, we still feel restless.

The truth is, God made us this way.

For a reason.

He filled our hearts with a void so that after we tried filling it with everything else, we’d realize that it is only through Christ, this void can be filled.

Even as Christians, there is a void.

We believe Christ, we seek to live the Christian life.

Yet still there is a restlessness.

For God isn’t satisfied being what we do on Sundays.

He is to be our everything!

And when He becomes our everything, then no matter our situation, no matter our season of life.

Our hearts have peace.

Augustine once said, “You have made us for yourself O Lord and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

Are we satisfied in Christ.

Is He enough?

For if the answer to either question is no, we will be restless.

We will seek any and all things to calm this restless Spirit.

While all the while, Jesus is looking on, waiting for us to realize He is EVERYTHING.

And He cries out, “Come all who are burned and heavy laden and I will give you rest (Mathew 11).”

Standing Firm When Your Knees are Weak……

th (2)Some days are hard and some harder still.

As I sat down with my Bible today, three times, I came across the words, Stand Firm.

And quite honestly, I just wanted to close my Bible and go lay down.

Standing firm isn’t easy. Standing firm takes work. Standing firm doesn’t come naturally.

For we are naturally swayed by our emotions and feelings.

Thus, God tells us again and again to Stand Firm!

So what does this mean and how is it accomplished?

Especially when standing firm is hard and when your knees are weak, tired and worn.

The dictionary defines standing firm as a verb to mean to withstand, hold out, resist or not give into.

Peter understood this truth and why it was needed.

In First Peter, he is warning the church that suffering and hardship would come. Basically he tells them to be ready and not be surprised by it. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you (4:12).

Throughout this letter, he warns the people and then tells them what they should do when these hard times come.

He says: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. For your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ,w ill Himself, perfect,confirm, strengthen and establish you (5:6-10).”

So, how do we stand firm when our knees are weak?

First, we must humble ourselves. Throughout Scripture, we are told this is something we are to do. This is an act of our will, acknowledging our desperate need for the Lord.

Second, we are to give our cares and worries to Him. He wants us to give them to Him and leave them there. Yet, if your anything like me, I tend to give them to Him, but before long, these anxieties are back in my hands and have become my focus. This will not do. We must cast our cares on Him, knowing that He does care!

Third, we have to remember that we have an enemy, who wants to destroy us. There is no easier time for him to do this, than when we are suffering or going through trials. He knows we are weak and will use this against us.

Which is why fourth, we must resist him by standing firm in our faith.

“Now faith, is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).”

We stand firm then not basing things on how we feel or our situation.

We stand firm in faith. Believing God is who He says He is. Believing He is bigger than our situation.

Fifth, we recognize that we are not the only one’s suffering or going through hard times. Keeping things in perspective that we most likely do have it better than others.

Finally, we hang on to hope that the suffering/trials will not last forever. That after a while, the Lord will use this time to perfect, confirm, establish and strengthen us.

Psalms 18: 32:33 – “It is God who girdeth me with strength and maketh my way perfect.  He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.”

Overwhelmed By His Love

th (3)My children have a natural inclination to whine when they don’t get their way.

I have a natural inclination to grumble and complain.

But God….

At the end of Deuteronomy God says, “I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them as an oath (Deut. 31:21).”

After 40 years of wandering, it is finally time to enter into the promised land.

For 40 years they have watched the Lord provide for them and meet their needs. Neither their shoes nor clothes have worn out

And finally, the time is drawing near.

I’m sure they were excited, they couldn’t wait.

Moses repeatedly warns them of God’s blessings and curses.

Blessings if they follow God, love Him, serve Him, and obey Him.

Curses if they do not.

In their heart of hearts they were determined to follow God, to love, serve, and obey Him.

But God knew their hearts.

He knew what they were disposed to do. He knew that once in the land flowing with milk and honey, where no longer are they desperate for Him.

That they would fall away, they would turn to other gods.

But God….

Though God knew what they were inclined to do, He still allowed them to enter the promised land.

Though the Lord grasped fully their tendancies toward sin, He chose to bless them.

For He is a gracious, loving and faithful God!

And the same is true today.

Though my natural tendancy is to walk in the flesh.

Though my natural inclination is to sin.

And daily I fail to fully love, serve and obey the Lord.

He loves me anyway.

He chooses to bless me.

He is faithful even when I prove unfaithful.

As I think on this my heart is overwhelmed with His great love.

He wants us to grasp this.

God wants you to know that He loves you.

The Lord desires for you to attempt to fathom His amazing love, that is higher than the heavens.

For as we begin to understand the Father’s great love, and our own sinfulness.

Then and only then, will we begin to grow in our love for Him.

And as our love grows, so will our service and obedience.

Because God IS God….. deep breath!!

Because I too need to daily be reminded of this.

mandylynncarpenter

God isDeep Breath: In Christ — no matter the road, the storm, the story — we always know the outcome. Our Savior: surrounds. Our future: secure. Our joy: certain. Ann Voskamp

I have needed to take many deep breaths this week,this month,this year.

When I’ve felt overwhelmed, deep breath.

When I’ve been afraid, deep breath.

When I’ve wanted to quit, deep breath.

When I’ve been …………, deep breath.

But, I’m learning that no matter the situation, circumstance or problem.

God IS!!!

He is in control, He is on His throne. The Lord is my strong tower.

He goes before me and behind me.

And He knows best.

Not a thing in this crazy world or in my crazy life takes Him by surprise.

In fact, He knows each event before it takes place.

The God of the Universe, who knows the number of hairs on my head and whose…

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The Eagle Has Landed

thKA599F4MOne of the things I love about the spring, is getting outside with the kids.

Saturday we made a trek to Shiloh National Park and did some bike riding.

The day was perfect, not too hot nor too cold.

Toward the end of the ride, we came around a curve just in time to see an eagle fly into its nest.

Immediately, the crowd that had gathered around the tree and had apparently been waiting for quite some time, began taking pictures, pointing and making exclamations.

I couldn’t believe it, there was no way possible we could have picked a better time to come whizzing around the curve.

It was an amazing sight and we watched the birds enormous wings carry him safely into his nest.

What is further amazing is that though we had not known this would happen, others had sat there waiting for a long time, anticipating the event.

It was then God reminded me that He is always at work. That He is always faithful. That it truly is He and He alone who orchestrates all life’s events.

Had we been a few minutes earlier or later, we would have missed this spectacular sight.

Yet, at just the right time, we caught a glimpse of the eagle flying home.

Many times, we get worked up trying to make things happen in our lives. We strive and struggle to bring events about.

All the while God is at work, bringing into fulfillment what He has prepared.

I’m learning that it is best to live a life fully surrendered to Him. A life that comes before Him, praying only that His good and perfect will be accomplished.

Throughout Scripture, this has been the case. A seemingly random encounter, such as Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Yet, to God nothing about this was an accident. It was a planned event, scheduled since the creation of the world.

For like the fifth time, I’m re-reading the book Anything by Jeanie Allen. This is a prayer of complete surrender she and her husband prayed again and again. They prayed anything and asked God to fulfill whatever He had for them.

She said, an anything with a but attached to the end, is not an anything.

Anything involves complete surrender to the One who tells the sun where to set and the ocean tide where to stop.

I’m realizing that this is the best and most peaceful place to be.

For just as the kids and I saw the eagle, though it was neither planned nor orchestrated by us.

The Lord can and will bring about His perfect plans for us and for you as we yield ourselves fully unto Him.

What the Lord requires…..

Walking-With-GodSo many times along the way as we have waited and trusted God.

I have asked, as I’m sure some of you have,  “What do you want from me, Lord?”

I’m learning though, that regardless of our situation.

Whatever season of life we may be in.

The answer remains the same.

What does the Lord your God ask of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands….. Deuteronomy 10:12-13

“Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise, He is your God.”  Deuteronomy 10:20

As I read these verses the  other day, I realized this is what God wants regardless if we are in a time of waiting, a place of prosperity, a time of suffering or a time of great joy.

What He wants and what He requires (this isn’t a choice, it’s what He expects):

1. That we fear Him. And yes, I agree that the word here means to revere and respect the Lord. Yet, I also believe He wants us to fear Him. Being afraid to sin against a Holy God.

2. That we walk in His ways.  This means we can’t stay where we are. We have to daily walk with Him, moving forward in our relationship. Walking not according to our desires, but to His.

3. That we love Him. The Bible repeats this again and again. Summing up all the commandments, into one. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, soul, mind and strength. He is to be our passion. He is to be the one we hunger and thirst after. (What are you hungry for???)

4. That we serve Him with all of our heart and with all of our souls. Serving the Lord follows loving the Lord for a reason. For the more we love the Lord, the more we will want to serve Him and live for Him.

5. That we observe the Lord’s commands. He expects and desires obedience. More than sacrifice and more than service, He longs for us to obey Him.

6. Finally, that we hold fast or cling to Him. Sometimes, this is the hardest one of all to follow. Especially, when the way is hard and dark. Yet, this is when we must hold fast and cling to the Lord the most.

Why you may ask, why does He require these things?

Because He chose us to be His own, opening our eyes to our need for Christ and saving us. Because He is our praise, He is our God.

What are you hungry for???

thHave you ever really been hungry or thirsty?

Most of us don’t know intense hunger or thirst. And we are quick to fill these needs soon after they arise.

Yet, even now as I write this, there are some whose tummies are swollen from hunger. Some who are so thirsty, they’d do about anything for a drink of water. (Less than a dollar a day………….)

Then there are some who daily walk miles to the local well to fill their pots with water.

These, know what it is like to hunger and thirst.

In the beatitudes, Jesus makes a statement that has intrigued me this past week.

He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

As I have thought on this, I have had to honestly ask myself, what do I really hunger and thirst for? What things do I hunger and thirst for more than Christ? And I have prayed the Lord would fill me with a greater hunger/thirst for God and the things of God.

I was listening to a sermon the other day and the pastor spoke of Moses’ radiant face as he came down the mountain after meeting with God. Remember, the glow of his face, frightened the others so much that he had to wear a veil to hide the radiance?

The pastor made this comment, he said, “We become like what we behold.” Moses beheld the glory and holiness of the Lord and this was displayed to all who saw him. Then he asked, what things do we behold?

What do we spend the majority of our time doing, watching, listening to, reading etc?

The truth is, the answer to this will be reflected in our daily lives.

McArthur says, “The spiritually hungry do not ask for Christ and economic success. Christ and personal satisfaction. Christ and popularity or Christ and anything else. They want ONLY Christ and what God is His wisdom and love sovereignly provides through Christ, whatever that may or may not be.”

Jesus has promised that if we hunger and thirst after righteousness we will be FILLED.

The problem is most of us hunger and thirst after other things and are left EMPTY.

Christ and Christ alone can fill us.

Christ and Christ alone can satisfy us.

The question then is, what are we willing to do in order to be filled with Christ and His righteousness?

Are we willing to cast out idols? (Casting out Idols)

Are we willing to discipline ourselves unto godliness?

Are we willing to do whatever it takes to get Christ and His righteousness.

Do we truly want God and the things of God more than anything else? (I Need You More……)

To be honest, I am not fully here. Yet, my desire and prayer is for God to give me an overwhelming hunger/thirst for Him. That I would desire Him more than anything else.

I believe this is a prayer, God is more than willing to answer.

Yet, it will probably cost us.

So the question is, will we walk away sadly like the rich, young ruler or will we be willing to deny ourselves and follow Christ.

When God Says No…. The Bigger Picture

thADKWYRVZHave you ever wanted something really bad?

I mean you were willing to do anything to get what you wanted.

You prayed and prayed, begging God to hear and answer your prayer.

Then you were met with a no?

If we aren’t careful in such times we can become angry, bitter and essentially walk away from the Lord.

I began reading the biography of Nate Saint last night. (I love missionary biographies) Of course I know the story and even how it ends. I’ve seen the movie and the story of these missionaries is legendary among Christians.

Yet, as I began to read, I read about his younger years and found out information I didn’t know.

As a young boy he always had a love for flying. All he wanted was to one day fly an airplane like his older brother. He spent many years working on planes as a mechanic and then Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. At this point, Nate joined the army.

After some time in the army, he passed the aviation exam and went into the airforce. Finally his dreams were in close read. Except, that as a young boy he had cut his leg. The infection got so bad that it turned into a bone disease. He almost died.

Now, the night before he will finally get to fly the airplane, he notices a red circle and a throbbing in his infected leg. All night he wrestles with God, knowing that if he tells the sergeant, he will not get to fly and will not be sent overseas.

Morning dawns and he lets the sergeant know and instead of flying the plane, he is sent to the hospital for treatment. I’m sure the disappointment was great and I’m sure he wondered what God was about here.

Soon thereafter, he is at a revival where he hears a missionary speak and his life is forever changed. He knows now that God has called him to something more. He begins making plans to attend Bible college, when he receives a letter form his dad telling him of a new missions organization, Missionary Aviation Fellowship.

Amazing right. But as I was reading this story and then telling my husband about it. The Lord spoke to my heart.

Nate could have gotten angry, he could have given into bitterness, but he didn’t. He was disappointed, I’m sure. But as I read this, I could only think to myself, “don’t worry, you’re going to get to fly!!.”

See, I knew the ending of the story in advance, I knew that one day he would be flying into the remote jungles of Ecuador telling an unreached tribe about Jesus. Nate, however, on the night he discovered his sore leg, did not.

Isn’t this just like our own lives. In the midst of difficulties and unanswered prayers, we tend to question God and give into disappointment.

But, I believe God is there and He’s cheering from the sidelines, “Just wait, I know the rest of the story. It’s going to be better than you could ever ask or imagine. Trust me!”

In my own life, when difficulties come and it seems God keeps saying no. I find great comfort when I look to the bigger picture. To the fact that God is at work and He knows the ending. He has a purpose and a plan greater than I could dream up on my own. And He only ask that I trust Him.

“God is not overlooking the details of your life, He is orchestrating the details of your life.” David Platt