Overflow Is No Deficiency

“Surely, it is no argument of [neediness] in God that he is inclined to communicate of his infinite fullness. It is no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain, that it is inclined to overflow.” – Jonathan Edwards

 

John Piper alerted me to this quote yesterday, in reference to why God, if He was perfect, complete, and utterly happy in Himself (the Trinity) decided to create the world and man. Piper highlighted the fact that when things are full, complete, good and joyous, the result is it overflows. It abounds. It’s uncontainable. When one is full, our good and right tendency is to share that fullness with others.

As Ransom and I prepare for our son to arrive, there have been those normal vacillating moments from elation all the way to fear of loss. Elation at the privilege to be designated by God as authorities and caretakers of this precious soul. Elation at the thought of meeting our little boy, knowing him, loving him, forgiving him, confessing to him, teaching him, learning from him, and the list goes on. But there is also this fear of a sense of loss in the sweet marriage relationship Ransom and I share. It won’t be “just us” anymore. My attention will be more divided now. There will be another man in my life (albeit, not prioritized as highly as Ransom) vying for my attention. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want the beloved intimacy Ransom and I share to change in any way. Can you catch the faint whiff of selfishness in there? It’s easy to miss and it’s only one layer in this complex heart, but what a joy it is to confess and repent those faint whiffs when the Spirit is gracious to reveal them!

BUT, God has used this quote to enter into that fear and smash it to pieces. If Ransom and I have experienced something good, joyous, full, and satisfying, shouldn’t it be our tendency, our delight to share it with children? It is good and right that our intimacy should extend to them. We want our fountain to be an overflowing, abundant one…not simply a “working” fountain.

I’m not saying that this fear (or other fears) won’t sound good to my heart anymore. But I have been encouraged that this new chapter of sharing the love Ransom and I have been gifted in our marriage, is good and right. This is the way God does relationship and I want to follow in His footsteps. It is a lovely reminder for my heart to settle into this metaphor and it’s a challenge to share open-heartedly, with welcome and abandon, the love we have with our son. Help me to do so, Lord. Amen!

Remember Me

“Remember Me” by Andrew Peterson

Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom
Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom

Who can ascend the hill of the Lord?
The one who utters no untrue word
Whose hands are clean, whose heart is pure
Who can ascend that hill?

There is none righteous, no not one
We are prodigal daughters and wayward sons
We don’t know the half of the hurt we’ve done
The countless we have killed

Our priests are cheats, our prophets are liars
We know what the law requires
But we pile our sins up higher and higher
Who can ascend that hill?

And I am a sheep who has gone astray
I have turned aside to my own way
Have mercy on me, Son of David
Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom
Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom

Now hear the voice of the Word made man
The spotless sacrificial Lamb
“A body You gave me, here I am
I have come to do Your will”

And no one takes my life, you see
I lay it down now willingly
And I will draw all men to me
When I ascend that hill

On Sunday You came as a King
On Monday washed the temple clean
On Tuesday You told of what will be
On Wednesday You waited patiently
On Thursday You said it is time
I’ll drink this cup ’cause it is mine
On Friday, Lord, You poured the wine

Like a thief on the cross, as He hung there dying
For crimes, there were no use denying
While the righteous Judge hung right beside him
How could I not recognize You?
How could I not recognize You?
How could I not recognize… my Lord?
My Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom
Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom

Just days ago the sky was stone
The trees were standing stripped to the bone
You could hear creation groan

But I write these words on an April day
And the earth is drinking the early rain
The hills remember green again

And we’ve heard this story all our lives
Still, we feel the pain of the crucified
And the end still comes as a surprise

But before the breath there in the tomb
Before our joy sprang from the womb
You saw a day that’s coming soon
When the Son will stand on the mount again
With an army of angels at His command
And the earth will split like the hull of a seed
Wherever Jesus plants His feet

And up from the earth, the dead will rise
Like spring trees robed in petals of white
Singing the song of the radiant bride

And we will always be, always be, always be with the Lord
We will always be, always be, always be with the Lord
We will always… (we will always be, always be)
Be with Jesus (always be with the Lord)

My Lord, remember me (we will always be, always be)
When You come into Your kingdom (always be with the Lord)
Lord, remember me (we will always be, always be)
When You come into Your kingdom (always be with the Lord)

Michael W. Smith Wins the Christmas Music Trophy

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, beloveds! Today is the first time I’ve ever heard this song and  I knew I had to share it with you. It has made me cry and it keeps making me cry. I feel like this song should simultaneously be belted in a musical, sung in a church, and cried out in a quiet room in a quiet house next to a well-worn Bible to an audience of One.

I pray you can take a moment today to stop, calm your heart, and enjoy “the wondrous child” who “knows your joy and feels your suffering.” Thank you Michael W. Smith and Michael McDonald!

Another Anti Self-Esteem Post

Image Source: Psychology Today

I’ve blogged on disliking the goal of boosting one’s self-esteem before, but I’d like to add another analogy to the mix. I hope it’s helpful to you, beloveds. When I was growing up, the conversation of battling low self-esteem problems was highly popular. Though the term may not be as front-and-center right now, I think the underlying notion of “self-esteem issues” remains fixed in our current culture: We hear the call to think positively of ourselves, we must build ourselves up, do what’s best for you and only you, etc. And while these aren’t horrible things in themselves, I think this type of thinking and particularly counseling from this type of perspective is misleading and harmful. If these things become the main focus, they ultimately leave us feeling empty (we know that our “self” is tainted by sin and no amount of positive thinking can hide that), it tempts us toward self-centeredness and pride (where does our need/dependence on God come into play?), and though there may be immediate/temporary boosting effects from positive self-talk, it offers no lasting hope (again, we find that we continue to fail and our salvation has to come from a Source outside of ourselves). Good ole’ John Piper in “Don’t Waste Your Life” has an apt analogy:

“For most people to be loved is to be made much of. Almost everything in our Western culture serves this distortion of love. We are taught in a thousand ways that love means increasing someone’s self-esteem. Love is helping someone feel good about themselves. Love is giving someone a mirror and helping him like what he sees.

This is not what the Bible means by the love of God. Love is doing what is best for someone. But making self the object of our highest affections is not best for us. It is, in fact, a lethal distraction. We were made to see and savor God– and savoring him, to be supremely satisfied, and thus spread in all the world the worth of his presence. Not to show people the all-satisfying God is not to love them. To make them feel good about themselves when they were made to feel good about seeing God is like taking someone to the Alps and locking them in a room full of mirrors.”

I love that Alps/Room full of mirrors analogy! It captures the problem well. To clarify, I don’t validate self-hatred. Some could argue that my position leads us to hate and despise ourselves. That is not at all what I’m advocating for here. We are made in God’s image and because of that we are inherently valuable. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”  (Ephesians 2: 10). If we are in Christ, when God sees us, He sees Christ. We are clothed in His robes of righteousness. Keeping with the Ephesians 2 passage, but before we received Christ, we were in sin: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-2). That’s why, beloveds, I hope to emphasize with others and remind myself that my sin and failure is important to see (not to wallow in it NOR to wish it away), as it drives me to the beauty and amazing saving grace of Jesus Christ. The final result is, as Piper says, to worship and savor and delight in God Himself. To love Him is to truly love ourselves! Awareness, confession and repentance of sin is actually good because it drives us to see our insufficiency and need for Christ. He then begins to take the starring role in our lives.

Romans 5:6-11 connects this transition from sin leading to God honoring worship and rejoicing: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (my italics).

Tim Keller has a great little book about this (see below). I’d definitely recommend it to anyone intrigued by this conversation! We shouldn’t desire great self-esteem nor should we hate ourselves, our aim is self-forgetfulness as we desire God’s glory most of all. We become less and He becomes more in our hearts and lives. God, please help us point people away from themselves and to You, Creator of the Alps (more satisfying than the Alps could ever hope to be) and the most glorious of all.

Father, Help Me To…

Prayer by Bryan Jeffery Leech

Father, help me to TALK like a Christian:

to speak in such a way that I build up another person’s confidence in himself, instead of tearing down his reputation.

Father, help me to DRIVE like a Christian:

to be watchful and careful lest I cause harm to someone else on the highways.

Father, help me to GIVE like a Christian:

without thought of return, without anyone knowing what I do, and with Your approval as sufficient reward.

Father, help me to DRESS like a Christian:

by not attracting attention to myself for being too fashionable or too causal; and help me to show by my appearance that I want people to know me for what I am inside myself.

Father, help me to SLEEP like a Christian:

at peace with myself because sin is forgiven; and at peace with others because I do not allow my anger to last through a day.

Father, help me to EAT like a Christian:

to eat healthily, to eat moderately, to eat gratefully, giving thanks to You who provide my food, and for the one who prepares my food.

Father, KEEP ME from being so pious that I keep You out of the practical areas of life. Be with me when I am alone, and when I shed my inhibitions, lest in those moments I cancel out all that I seem to be when I’m on my best behavior.

Father, I ASK THIS because I follow a Master who was never guilty of the slightest wrong-doing, and who always showed His love in the small details of living. Amen.

The Mystery of God’s Complete Rule and Man’s Real Choices

The Belgic Confession

Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence

“We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement. Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly. We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.

This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground *without the will of our Father. In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will. For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.”

*Matt. 10:29-30

Whatever Our Souls are Made of, His and Mine are the Same

Apologies for my bloggers’ neglect. As the title of this post suggests, there has been lots of love in my life recently- I’m engaged to my dearest love! Praise God for His sweet gifts! Ransom and I are now swiftly moving towards marriage. In honor of the excitement and joy of it all, and in preparation for being “Broken Together,” I’m sharing this powerful song with you, broken beloveds. Be encouraged by the One who heals and makes us truly last forever.

Broken Together by Casting Crowns

“What do you think about when you look at me
I know we’re not the fairytale you dreamed we’d be
You wore the veil, you walked the aisle, you took my hand
And we dove into a mystery

How I wish we could go back to simpler times
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light
Now on this hallowed ground, we’ve drawn the battle lines
Will we make it through the night

It’s going to take much more than promises this time
Only God can change our minds

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

How it must have been so lonely by my side
We were building kingdoms and chasing dreams and left love behind
I’m praying God will help our broken hearts align
And we wont give up the fight”

A Poem for Advent

Mary’s Song

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest …
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by doves’ voices, the whisper of straw,
he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

Luci Shaw