sermon scraps: 2

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

and He will make your paths straight.

Prov. 3:5-6

 

There’s nothing inside of you that can lead you to a living, active trust in Christ. It has to be the work of God to bring you to acknowledge Him — to a deep, personal, intimate knowing.

Trust: an active reliance and confidence on the promises of God.

Heart: moral behavior and character, not emotions.

Hoping in all God is, who He is, what He’s called us to, in active trust.

 

CPC Ventura, 24 July

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Making it Work

I got engaged about a week ago. It’s still new and delicious, but because life is real and keeps going, and we’re on a tight timeline, the Fiance and I have already planned about 75% of the wedding. (!)

An unexpected side effect of this life change is that, when I explain why I have a beautifully sparkly ring on my left hand, other people are more willing than normal to tell me about their own love lives. It’s been somewhat of a mixed bag. My parents are still together, happily so, and a lot of my friends growing up came from stable homes. But among my social circle from the last week and a half, the trend is overwhelmingly different: married twice, now divorced and single; two kids by first marriage, divorced, with a boyfriend; just married, future uncertain; single, exploring options on Tinder.

The Fiance and I have been reading “The Meaning of Marriage”, by Tim and Kathy Keller. I just finished the chapter on the difference between a consumer relationship and a covenental one. Consumer relationships exist as long as both parties are happy and receiving goods or services (or sex, or emotional fulfillment) that are to their liking; when conditions change and you are no longer pleased with the relationship, it ends, one way or another. As the Kellers point out, this is entirely appropriate in many contexts (did the plumber actually fix the sink? your landlord raised the rent?) but marriage, biblically speaking, is something different.

Marriage, according to the Bible, is a covenant — a solemn vow between two parties that they will keep their word regardless of changing conditions, emotions, or circumstances. When things get tough, or one party isn’t “feeling it” anymore, covenants act as a safeguard for the relationship: you promised to stick it out, so do it. Act loving and married, even if you don’t feel like it. American society still seems to view the parent/child relationship as covenental (you’re stuck with each other, unless one party outright disowns the other) but marriage…that has largely slipped into a consumeristic view, the Kellers argue.

My little poll seems to agree.

And, for myself, on the brink of such a life-changing threshold, watching so many people around me end up breaking their vows is very sobering.

So today, it was a sweet breath of fresh air to hear another person at work say she’d been married for 30 years, that it was hard at times, but you make it work.

It is sweet to see my sister, deeply happy, loving and respecting her husband of (almost three!??) years; sweeter still to see my parents, working hard to know each other better and go deeper in the third decade of their relationship.

And it is sweetest of all, to know Jesus; to know His unchanging, inescapable love. He is the original Covenant-Maker, and the best Covenant-Keeper.

God is still at work, friends. He is sustaining marriages everywhere. And if you’re reading this, and you’ve made marriage vows, and it’s hard, let me encourage you (weird as this may be coming from a starry eyed engaged lady) God can give you the power and the strength to act as if you respected your husband. As if you loved your wife. As if the biggest problem in your marriage was your own selfishness, and not his. God often works best in times like these, where we are weakest and most incapable.

This is not to say divorce is always wrong; there is strong Biblical evidence that sometimes divorce is godly and appropriate.

But if you’re married, and it’s not one of those few “divorce is biblically sanctioned” situations — please. Lean into Jesus. Ask Him for help. Stick it out.

He will not fail you or forsake you.

And by His sustaining grace and power, I believe the Fiance and I will be able to make it work.

 

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Beach Views, Day 2

…ok, technically this is day 3, but yesterday looked a lot like this, and I just forgot to take a picture.

Plus “day 2” rhymes, so there’s that.

beach views day 2

I’m still getting used to the semi-constant fog.

But, so far, so good. New adVentures for sure.

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Ephemera

I collect little bits of ephemera — paper scraps, ticket stubs, notes, receipts, dried flowers, wristbands. All memories of sweet times spent with friends, or reminders of God’s kindness to me. Not everything is happy — there are two pages in my journal that are blank, except for the dried petals from my grandpa’s funeral five years ago. (I didn’t have words at the time, the petals seemed so much more eloquent.) But the first time my boyfriend took me to a movie? It was one of our first dates. You bet I kept that ticket stub. It meant so much, to have him drop $15 on me to see Star Wars.

These little memory pieces — they pile up.

I was going through one such pile this afternoon, and a little flower fell out. And I couldn’t remember where it had come from. The memory was lost. I’m sure it was a good one, or meant something important.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the transitory nature of our lives — barely three generations later, and you’re just a memory. If you’re lucky, your descendents are telling stories about you, remembering you imperfectly and losing something of the original in every telling. How much more, the innumerable smaller moments we each face every day, that rapidly fade into oblivion.

What if — what if that’s how God wanted it? Our lives to be so full of sweet little blessings that our brains physically can’t hold them all?

So, I thanked God for the flower, chucked it, and am now eagerly looking forward to a new string of memories He is going to give me.

Because God is really, really good, and I look forward to imperfectly, fleetingly, remembering His kindness and faithfulness to me.

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City living, day 223

It’s been long enough that some of the honeymoon feelings have worn off. The delicious novelty is gone, and I’ve settled into an easy familiarity, beginning to complain about commutes and distances (starting to sound vaguely like I did as a suburbanite — which is a little alarming!)

We’ve had gunshots, sirens, people smoking substances that maybe shouldn’t be legal in our stairwell.

I’m facing a summer full of road trips and adventures in new places!

But today, I walked to my favorite bakery (three blocks away) and I thought….maybe this is the last time for a while. I’m going to miss the bakery while I’m on the road.

So today, in the face of an impending change, I’m resolved to stop and enjoy each moment I still have in this crazy, wonderful city for exactly what it is, and not waste it.

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Does loving Jesus make you a nerd?

I go back and forth on this “nerd” label. I know (and love!) some people who self-identify as nerds. I myself am quite passionate — yes, to the level of nerdiness — about certain subjects. And, sometimes I meet people who are ridiculously nerdy about things I don’t understand or enjoy — which usually means I end up avoiding them, because their nerdiness makes me really uncomfortable.

I think it’s precisely because I don’t want others to perceive me the way I perceive this last camp of people (annoyingly obsessed with something I can’t stand) that I resist the label “nerd”.

But a while ago, I started to think about why we have these deep, life-forming interests — where do they come from ultimately? Why?

And how do you think about nerdiness as a Christian? About other nerds?

And then, this question: does loving Jesus make you a nerd?

Loving Jesus does change you. Not that everyone who loves Jesus necessarily becomes a ministry/church nerd (granted, it’s a great goal), and with a life of consistent Christian discipleship, He eventually makes us into Jesus nerds.

But on a different level, your profound love for Him should start to change you. To give you true satisfaction and open your eyes to see and love many things in this world of His. And to love them deeply, passionately, intensely. He makes you alive to be more like Him, and to love more in His world.

And… to love the people in His world.

Including those nerds who are TOTALLY into something I don’t get.

I’m still trying to untie that knot in my stomach that forms whenever someone else finds intense delight in something I judge pointless, ordinary, or boring.

But I could start by trusting the Lord, and seeing their delight as a reflection of His image in them.

And that would probably help a lot.

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“Our standing with God”

It’s cleaning season!

So, of course, I keep coming across these scribbled sermon notes. These thoughts courtesy of DCC’s 2/21 sermon on Gal. 3:1-14 and Pastor Adam.

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Three evidences you’ve received the Spirit:

You trust Him. You desire Him (Abba!). And, the fruit of the Spirit is growing in you.

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Faith is living trust in the object of our faith. Legalism is living to prove/earn acceptance from others by what we do; and it’s extremely human to fall into thinking God plays by those rules….even though He doesn’t.

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Our striving to find God’s approval is often motivated by fear: “How do I know how God feels about me? How do I get back under His loving care?” When, in reality, we were never out of it, and nothing we did or didn’t do can ever change that.

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And finally, faith is more like a relational bond than a concert ticket.

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