Author: Beth
•Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My mom passed along this quote to me after knowing of several "unanswered" prayer requests of mine as of late. I found it encouraging and thought some of you might as well. :) I had not thought of silence in this way before. It is a refreshing reminder to refocus my mind on the utter sovereignty of Almighty God, because He waits..."that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you...blessed are all they that wait for Him." (Isaiah 30:18)

God's Silence
John 11:5, 6

How many of us have been blind in our prayers? Look back and think of the prayers you thought had not been answered but now find that God has answered with a bigger manifestation than you ever dreamed. God has trusted you in the most intimate way He could trust you, with an absolute silence, not of despair but of pleasure, because He saw you could stand a much bigger revelation than you had at the time.

Some prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong, others because they are bigger than we can understand. Jesus stayed where He was - a positive staying, because He loved Martha and Mary. Did they get Lazarus back? They got infinitely more, they got to know the greatest truth mortal beings ever knew - that Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. It will be a wonderful moment when we stand before God and find that the prayers we clamored for in early days and imagined were never answered, have been answered in the most amazing way, and that God's silence has been the sign of the answer. If we always want to be able to point to something and say, "This is the way God answered my prayer," God cannot trust us yet with His silence.
-Oswald Chambers
Author: Beth
•Friday, October 23, 2009

It couldn’t be true. Abraham looked over at his sleeping son, Isaac, and watched as the moonlight sent silvery streaks over his peaceful tanned face. Itseemed like just yesterday that Abraham had gazed at the star-studded midnight sky as God told him to expect many generations. At his old age, having children was almost laughable. Yet, God kept his promises, and Abraham was now looking at his son. His son! Isaac had grown up and was the light of the old man’s eyes. But now, he could not fathom what he was hearing.

“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon the mountains which I will tell you.”

It was true. He had heard God correctly. Tears slid down the old man’s wrinkled cheeks as he grasped his son’s hand. Isaac had been given by God, Abraham could not deny that… but now God wanted him back? Questions and doubts rose in Abraham’s mind -- Why, God? Why did you give him if you only wanted to take him away again? He shook his head resolutely, as if to rid himself of the tormenting questions.

With a sigh, Abraham lifted his eyes away from the sleeping boy and out to the eastern sky. It would be light in a few hours. The rising sun would soon silhouette the mountain on which they would climb. He had wrestled long and hard with himself, as he struggled between his love for his son and his love for God. The time had come. Abraham slowly unclasped his fingers and released his son’s hand. He had made the decision.


The story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 has often been a passage that we turn to in order to read an account of faith. I’ve been musing on the life of this patriarch this morning… trying to “shake the sand out of my sandals” as I put myself in his shoes. Have you ever stopped to consider all of the emotions that must have come surging through Abraham’s veins following the command from God? The Bible doesn’t give an account of his inner turmoil or agony, but I can imagine how it must have been.

Every word that God spoke in this command must have been a sword right to the heart of Abraham. God knew what he cherished the most and He was asking nothing less than complete surrender of the one thing that encompassed everything that Abraham loved.

Only hours later, Abraham would stand on the mountain – with the glistening blade of the knife poised against the blue sky – making the decision once and for all. He would have to prove that his faith was real … not just a casual belief when it was convenient, but a living, thriving, active faithfulness to God and His promises.

I can never seem to get past the agony of that mountain climb in my mind. Perhaps it is because that is the place in the story that I most often find myself … wrestling inside with what I KNOW to be true and what I FEEL. Maybe Abraham didn’t struggle with this … but I know I would have. This is my Isaac: my joy. My promise of the future. Why would I give it up? All rational thought would have said to hang on to what I can see about my future, rather than releasing the only thread of “hope” that my eyes could see. It is an upward struggle against the flesh – to come to that point of suppressing what I “feel” in order that I might take hold of the truth that awaits on the mountaintop.

John Calvin says it this way: “Therefore, in order that we may become docile a
nd obedient to God, it is profitable for us that we should be deprived of our own wisdom, and that nothing should be left us, but to resign ourselves to be led according to His will.” By releasing Isaac in his heart (and thus making it possible to even entertain the thought of slaying him according to God’s command), Abraham was letting go of any earthly wisdom that he possessed, and choosing rather to throw himself completely upon the mercy and truth of his Father. He was saying by his actions: “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”

If I am to become a useful vessel in the hands of Almighty God, this lesson of surrender is absolutely crucial. “God, by His word, calls us to part with all for Christ, all our sins, tho’ they have been as a right hand or a right eye, or an Isaac; all these things that are rivals with Christ for the sovereignty of our heart; and we must cheerfully let them all go.” (John Wesley)

The beauty of this surrender lies in the character of God Himself. He is not requiring us to give up these lesser joys – without promising to fill us with the Greater Joy.

“Those that are willing to part with anything for God, shall have it made up to them with unspeakable advantage. The promise (verse 18) doubtless points at the Messiah, and the grace of the gospel. Hereby we know the loving-kindness of God our Savior towards sinful man, in that he hath not withheld his Son, his only Son, from us. Hereby we perceive the love of Christ, in that he gave himself a sacrifice for our sins. Yet He lives, and calls to sinners to come to Him, and partake of His blood-bought salvation. He calls to His redeemed people to rejoice in Him, and to glorify Him.” (Matthew Henry)

May this kind of love constrain me to live for something more than just myself. His grace is enough. Whatever is dearest on earth to me pales in comparison to the sacrifice that He laid down for my salvation. May it be said of us, as it was of Abraham …

“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.” (Romans 4:20)

Picture from Oregon coast – October 2008.

Author: Beth
•Wednesday, October 07, 2009

One of the beauties of living as a child of the King is that - no matter what stage of life we are in - we can be channels of His truth. I've been the witness at many weddings this summer and it has been a pure joy to see how God has united the hearts of many dear friends to be a picture to the watching world of His relationship with His Bride, the church. Seeing these beautiful, God-honoring love stories right before my eyes reminds me that there is a deeper purpose for marriage - one uniquely invented and sustained by God Himself. Here is a sneak peek into a few of these celebrations - along with some thoughts about the effects of this blessed union on the individual, couple, and to the world.

"We are souls living in bodies. Therefore, when we really fall in love, it isn't just a physical attraction. If it's just that, it won't last. Ideally, it's also a spiritual attraction. God has opened our eyes and let us see into someone's soul. We have fallen in love with the inner person, the person who's going to live forever. That is why God is the greatest asset to romance. He thought it up in the first place. Include Him in every part of your marriage, and He will lift it above the level of the mundane to something rare and beautiful and lasting." ~ Peter Marshall

"Marriage is not a federation of two sovereign states. It is a union - domestic, social, spiritual, physical. It is the fusion of two hearts - the union of two lives - the coming together of two tributaries, which, after being joined in marriage will flow in the same channel in the same direction... carrying the same burdens of responsibility and obligation." ~ Peter Marshall

“Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to his redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married . . . Staying married, therefore, is not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant.” —John Piper, This Momentary Marriage

Welcome one another . . . for the glory of God.” That is God’s word for your marriage. Thank him for it; thank him for leading you thus far; ask him to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it. So your marriage will be “for the praise of his glory.” Amen. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Pictures: Michael & Evie (June 14), Eric & Alissa (July 31), John & Rebekah (September 12), Matt & Naomi (September 26) and Nathan & Valerie (October 3) . May God richly bless you all!

Author: Beth
•Monday, October 05, 2009
It is that time of year again. The calendar on my wall now prominently displays the month of October and I am resigned to say goodbye to the last glimpses of summer. The trees are already donning their fall fashions of brilliant yellows, golden browns, reds and oranges, arraying themselves in one last glorious display. My boots and scarves are finding their way to the front of my closet once again as I embrace the underlying chill in the breeze.

Autumn brings the brisk winds of change. For some reason, changes in my life seem to be felt more keenly during this season more than any other. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to deal with a new season of life that I find myself in. I wanted to pass along some quotes that I came across over at Pastor Tullian Tchividjian's blog that have been tremendously encouraging.

From Knowing God by J.I. Packer

In regards to changes in life... what possible purposes God might have in mind?

Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility, or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under
especially difficult conditions.

Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us.

Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit.

Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest. . . .

Or perhaps God is preparing us for forms of service of which at present we have no inkling.

Packer continues:

We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs. Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even where we never saw it here. . . . Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.

But how should we respond to baffling and trying situations when we cannot now see God’s purpose in them?

First, by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us; Second, by seeking God’s face specifically about them.

If we do these two things, we shall never find ourselves wholly in the dark as to God’s purpose in our troubles.

Isn’t that envigorating? With this kind of Sovereign GOD planning our lives, we can rest assured that He is “able to do far more abundantly than we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20) ...and even when we can’t see His hand, we can still trust His heart.
~ Beth