Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Monday Mornings

It was Monday morning after a weekend of activity and company--26 of us, give or take--and the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. I was not happy.

Stumbling downstairs to make coffee, I turned over the verse flipchart above the sink, "Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Ps. 23:6).

Initially, I scoffed. "Yeah, right, like this is what goodness and love looks like. It's early and I'm tired." Then (fortunately) the Holy Spirit kicked in. "It doesn't say, 'might' follow me all the days of my life, it says 'surely' will."

"And it says, 'goodness and love' will follow me all the days of my life.' This is a day in my life, so goodness and love are following me whether I feel it or not." I began to count God's goodness and love to me in that moment, on that Monday morning, and I actually stopped before running out of ideas. It's true, God's goodness and mercy are following me all the days of my life.

Hope isn't a flowery thing. Hope is bedrock solid. Hope is built on truth. Hope is steadfast and sure. God's goodness and love today give me hope that the rest of the verse is true as well, "and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." If I run out of ways He has shown me goodness and love, I can certainly start thinking about dwelling with Him in His house forever. Each of those words, "dwelling," "His house," and "forever," could fill a heart with hope, gratitude, peace, joy, and praise.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever. (Psalm 23 ESV)


Friday, July 21, 2017

My Heart's Desire

If there's one thing we must learn and take hold of to live godly lives, it's that the heart must not be allowed to run rogue. A heart out of control is a life out of control. A mind out of control is a life out of control.

To think of it in a worldly way, we are told to "follow your heart." We learn that we can't control our thoughts. That if a hurtful situation or conversation comes to mind it's because there's a "reason."

The writer of Proverbs says, "Listen, my son, and be wise, And direct your heart in the way." (Prov. 23:19). The heart can be directed. Must be directed and taught.

How? "Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding." (Prov. 3:5-6).

We trust God when we know His way and obey it. Doing is evidence of trusting. So what does that have to do with directing the heart?

Psalm 37 puts trust and desires together this way: "Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it."

Spending time with God in His Word, giving it thought, asking questions, engaging God's Word then putting it into action and trying Him--trusting Him--will result in wanting more. I cannot know God's character and likeness until I try it, taste it, use it, bank on it, fully lean on who He is and what's He's said.

At Jr. High camp last week it was presented this way: If I gave you an extra $20.00 in spending money, how would I know you believe me?

The answer, of course, is that they would spend it! As I made the offer to a young lady the wheels were turning in her head about what was in the coffee shop, gift shop, what activities or crafts she wanted to do--she was thinking about how to spend $20. After accepting the money, I would know she took me at my word because she would spend it. She would act on it and put it to use.

The same is true with God. It begins with thinking about how to spend Him, use Him, apply HIs truth, and take Him at His Word. The thinking leads to action and the results fuel our desires to know Him more, trust Him more, see Him more, love Him more, and find Him faithful. 

As for those other thoughts and desires? They diminish and lose power in light of God's goodness. Their deceitfulness is revealed in the truth of God's Word. We suddenly see the hidden costs, the loss, death, and grief of temporary pleasures. And we are satisfied because we have what our hearts truly desire, the pearl of great cost, the treasure of treasures, a right, dependent relationship with our Lord God through His Son, Jesus Christ. And we have found the desire of our hearts.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; (Ps. 37:3-7)
Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Student Edition: Attributes of God and Gospel Primer

There are two new pages on HeartQuencher. One is entitled, "Who is God Really?" Perhaps you've never given it much thought--or you have and don't know where to look. Maybe you're a pastor, Bible study leader, or biblical counselor and you're on the lookout for new material.

If that's the case, check it out, copy, print and use what's there. It's nothing more than a simplified version of A.W. Pink's manuscript, "Attributes of God" with easy-to-read English and room to write out Scripture. It's a work in progress, so it's not complete.

You can also find a simplified version of Milton Vincent's Gospel Primer on the page with the heading, "Unpacking the Gospel," written with permission, but not for sale.

Brad Bigney's prayer journal is also available in a simplified version. If you would like a copy or pdf of any of the above, email and request one from

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Suffering Love

I just got home from a great week of counseling Jr. High Camp--livin' the dream! Not only did I make new friends and see old ones, we had a LOT of fun. Be amazed to know that 367 young people listened to 45 minute sermons twice a day--without power point, videos, or technology. They had no phones or devices. They listened. They interacted with God's Word. They asked questions, made observations, were convicted, encouraged and equipped.

After an evening session on suffering, I visited with a young lady I'd never met before pour out her heart. She is facing painful circumstances that are out of her control but the most painful thing of all? No one wants to listen. It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. It's not fun. And it doesn't feel good. Instead of listening, they get distracted, leave the conversation or change the topic.

When I think of loving others, I don't usually think about suffering with them, but that is what Jesus did for us. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.... He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:11, 17-18).

Dr. Bob Kellemen, in one of our class lectures, told the story of Africans transported in the hold of slave ships. Because they came from different tribes and languages, they were seldom able to communicate with words. But they shared one another's sorrow with groans, cries, and song. Grief and pain are not intended to be suffered alone. God suffered for us. He suffers with us. And He has given us His body of believers to absorb the weight, pray with us, and help us see His hand at work.

But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).

James says there's room for everyone, regardless of our situation: Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.  (James 5:13-15)

This week, however, I was challenged to love others by suffering with them.

 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails... ( 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Monday, July 3, 2017

Love and Respect: True Confessions

The last couple of months I have been challenged by various teachers, books, and Scripture to rethink my role as a wife and how, in many of our churches, well-meaning women have taught and promoted a distorted view (myself included).

How well we know the inward fight when husbands try to lead or direct us--that sinful tendency that doesn't want to (fill in the blank with anything, no matter how good or reasonable it is) just because someone else said so. We are so aware of the wrong response that we let go of the ship's wheel altogether. In our honest moments however, we might admit we don't want the responsibility and turning over the ship is easier than directing it together. The problem is, that's not loving--and it's not biblical.

God's plan was, and continues to be, for a husband and wife to work alongside one another. Yes, he's the leader. Yes, God has given us different roles for the journey. But it's not "his" ship or "her" ship, it's "our" ship. Both of us stand, feet planted, hands on the wheel, heading the same direction in life (see Genesis 1:28-31). Working together is hard. We want autonomy, not dependence. We'd much rather do it alone or independently than  cooperatively. How well I know! But too often, in our conservative churches, women have understood submission as swabbing the deck instead of helping direct the ship.

By withdrawing from an active role of loving and engaging with one's husband, what we call "submission" may be a deceitful cover for anxiety ("Just do it. I can't bear to look!), laziness ("I can't. It's too hard,"), or fear of rejection ("What if he gets mad at me?"). When wives fail to come alongside their husbands and perform the one another's of Scripture, families, husbands, children, wives, and churches suffer unnecessarily. God, in His wisdom, made man and woman in His image. You, wife, are a saint; redeemed, gifted, empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit to minister to the Body. Your husband is part of that Body. He is (or should be) a recipient of your spiritual gifts and ministry. He should be a recipient of unconditional, unselfish love. He is a brother in Christ.

Too often, in our distorted view of submission we quench the Spirit in marriage, fighting in our own strength, thinking we can stem the torrent of our sinful desire for control by saying nothing at all. If we don't address the heart issue of fear, laziness, or ignorance of God's ways, it wreaks havoc in other parts of our lives. If our deepest struggle is control, we could be like the little Dutch boy with his thumb in the dike while waves of manipulation and micromanagement roll over the top of the dam.

How our marriages would change if we trusted God with the outcome and focused on loving our husbands! What would happen if we adjusted our focus and used proper respect and submission not as a cover, but as a conduit for love? "That's a great idea." "I agree, but have you considered _____?" "Honey, I'm sure you intended well, but when you said/did _____ it came across this way: ___________?" "How can I help?" "What's the plan and how are we going to get there?"

It's not about being a mother, police, judge or jury to our husbands. Those are things we do (and are) in our pride and selfish ambition. Submission does not trump love--it carries it. Being a godly wife is about loving our husbands: seeking their good, directing them to God and His Word, listening, understanding, learning, serving, giving, doing, encouraging, comforting, providing wisdom and counsel, admonishing, confessing our sins, and stirring up good deeds. Even Jesus healed on the Sabbath. He chose love over what others saw as "right" because He understood, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Romans 13:10)

Have I done wrong to my neighbor? In trying to serve God have I abandoned my husband at the helm fighting waves, reading stars, and navigating dangerous waters alone? I am the steward of me. I can stand back and watch or take my place beside him lovingly helping and serving. No one knows my husband the way I do: his struggles, strengths, motivations, desires, cares, and general bent. I have the privilege and calling to speak truth, encourage, edify, and exhort him in a way that pleases the Lord.

As we learn to love our husbands well, robustly, honestly, wisely and sacrificially, God is honored and we are blessed.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:6-21)