Monthly Archives: December 2013

For our (?) good

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You’ve likely heard the passage in Romans 8 more times than you can count.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Rom. 8:28

You may even be singing the Newsboys song “all things work together for my good…” (Your love never fails).

People will tell you, “He’s going to make this work out well for you. Just you wait and see.” And is this wrong? I suppose it could be if taken the wrong way.

I’ve got a dilemma. There are outcomes which I’ve thought of in my mind (and so have you) that would be good for me, in my opinion. It would be good for me to make friends quickly, to find a church where we can serve, to get a good parking spot at the grocery store, to have my kids behave well, to be healthy, etc. You get the picture. But then a lot of times, these things don’t happen. And this is bad. Right? Isn’t that what we say though? “My day is going so badly. I have been telling my two year old all day not to touch things and he disobeys constantly!”

I’m thinking this is not what Paul (or God) had in mind when he wrote the letter to the Romans. First of all, God’s plans don’t revolve around me. We’d like to think they do, but it’s very clear in the Scriptures that God’s plans are for His glory. (See Eph. 1:11, Phil. 2:13, Col. 1:15-18).

Secondly, when did God ever promise that having an easy life is what is good for us? We translate that word good into “easy”, “comfortable”, “convenient”. And then we get into a real pickle when we start thinking that when bad things happen (as we define bad), that must mean God has left us or is punishing us or is just not looking out for us (because Romans 8 also says God is for us).

It’s unsettling, isn’t it? We’ve got our theology all wrong if those are the thoughts that go through our mind.

I believe that God allows adversity into our lives to refine us, strengthen us, and to test our faith. Remember the Israelites as they began their journey out of Egypt? It says God tested them (Ex. 16) to see whether or not they would do what He said. Would they be faithful? No, He found them faithless, and because of this, that generation who didn’t trust Him ended up wandering in the wilderness until they all died (all except Joshua). However it was because of this adversity, the next generation learned to trust God on a daily basis for food and water and direction. That was definitely good for them because they would be walking into a land already occupied by people who had no regard for the one true God.

Likewise it is good for us to be conformed to the image of His Son through any number of trials because it is Him chiseling our character, chipping away at the things that don’t resemble Jesus.

So remember that, yes, God causes all things to work together for our good, but that good may look differently from what you imagined, and it was always be better than what you had in mind for yourself. He is that good. You can trust Him.

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Craving Connection

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My oldest son is a social butterfly…in the manliest way of course. So when we told him months ago that we would be moving to Texas, we began to prepare him that he would be leaving his friends. Here he is reading with two of them.

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He actually took it pretty well and would often comment, “my friends sure are going to miss me.” 🙂 He wasn’t necessarily thinking of himself but of how his friends would feel once he was gone. Well, it hasn’t quite been a month yet, and we can see that moving has taken a toll on him. He continues to ask about his friends, and every person we meet in the park or at the last church we visited is a potential “friend.” He craves connection, and his little brother just isn’t cutting it.

I actually thought I would be the one feeling sad and lonely. In fact I was so concerned about it for so many days that I was throwing myself pity parties every day. It’s not that I didn’t think it would be hard on my kids, because I did think it would be difficult for them to adjust.

I hear people say things all the time about how they wouldn’t want to make a big decision in life because of how it might affect their kids. I’ve heard people ask this about missionaries (“But what about your kids? How are they going to adjust to life in a foreign country?”), and now I’m asking myself, “how is this move affecting my kids?” I could easily go down the road of worry and try to plan and fix and coddle. But I’m thinking…no, not this time.

I’m seeing how God has made us to desire connection with others, and obviously with Himself. I’m remembering how God has taken care of me, and I’m trusting that He is going to take care of my kids. Sure, it’s going to hurt my mother heart to see my normally spunky, happy-go-lucky 5 year old a little down in the dumps, but He will give grace as needed even for my little person.

I know it won’t be easy all the time to maintain this perspective, but for today, I’m trusting, and I encourage you to do the same. If you’re dealing with loneliness, take it to Him. Ask Him for connection, first with Him, and then with others. He is all we need, but He’s so good that He gives us people to enjoy relationships with as well. He also gives us trials in which we can know that the end result is for our good. Take a chance. Trust Him. He’s worth it (and He’s got the connections to prove it).

I am that important

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If you read my last post, you’re absolutely confused. 🙂 “Didn’t she just write about how we are just not that important?” Why yes, I did. But that was in the context of thinking too highly of myself. Desiring to be important and in the limelight. I want to address our worth in this post. God says we have worth, and it’s because of this that we are that important.

Haven’t you been there? Wondering if you even matter to anyone? Being entirely too critical of yourself when you fail in any form (small or great)? Thinking that you never measure up? This is the pendulum swinging the other way. And I hate to tell you, but it’s not opposite of pride (in other words, it’s not humility). It’s a difficult topic because it opens up the raw emotions of depression, anxiety, fear, shame…all the fun ones.

When you find yourself in this place, you can know you’re not alone. And you need to know that none of it is true of you.

You do matter. You aren’t a failure when you can’t do “x” or when you yell at your kids or when you make that mistake at work. You are enough in God’s eyes which means you don’t need to keep trying to measure up. You already do, and the fantastic part is that it’s because of Christ’s work (not something you did or have to do).

First, let’s tackle the issue about worth then we’ll get to the truth about Christ’s all sufficient work on the cross (making you sufficient before God). Remember in a previous post (https://ashleydfarmer.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/god-is-good-so-what-part-3/) I wrote about the dignity of human life – our self worth is found in the God who created us in His image. This means that every person matters to Him because He places His image in each one of us. No one, not even you, can say that what He has made is bad, because He already declared it as good. You can check out Isaiah 45:9-10 or  Is. 29:16 for a reference. God also says many times that He creates each individual with a purpose (Eph. 1:11, Phil. 2:13, 2 Tim. 1:9).

Now for the fun part. 🙂 To break down the theology, we have nothing in ourselves that can make us pure before God, and we can’t reconcile ourselves to Him by any effort on our part. We’ve all sinned, and so we need a Savior who hasn’t. God requires complete holiness and the life of the one who commits the sin must be surrendered through blood (because the life is in the blood – you’ll find that reference in Leviticus 17:11).

This is where Jesus comes in.

He’s my hero. 🙂

Because He is God, that means He’s perfect, and because He is Man, that means He can die on our behalf. Voila! It’s brilliant! Jesus Christ satisfies the demands of the Father so that when we come to Him, He sees the perfection of His Son in us. It’s called substitutionary atonement and involves the imputation of righteousness (fancy words for a Baptist girl, eh?). Those fancy words just mean that we are considered righteous because of His righteousness. He imputes it to us (see Phil. 3:9, my favorite 2 Cor. 5:21, Is. 53:11, 1 Pet. 2:24, Rom. 8:1-4, and let me tell you the list goes on…). For further reading on this whole topic, I’d recommend Hebrews 4 and beyond. 😉

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. 2 Timothy 1:9

Did you catch it? You don’t measure up to God’s standard so He made a way that you could. The next time you feel incompetent or begin to be overly critical of yourself, remember what God says about you. You are that important to Him.

I’m just not that important

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This post will largely be a topic concerning pride and humility so enter at your own risk. [Disclaimer: I do not want anyone posting comments to try to tell me that I’m important, and you’ll see why as you read through the post.]

When was the last time you thought, “You know I’m a pretty big deal. I’m so important, people should be lining up to be my friend. In fact, I am offended when I’m not asked to do important things…”

You’ve probably never thought those things…or have you? Maybe more politely? Not so dripping-with-pride?

I’m guessing there are personalities out there who could care less about being important. Those people like to work behind the scenes and actually not be noticed. But I’m also guessing that even these people want to be important to someone – children, spouse, family, church. They want to feel valued and feel like what they’re doing is important, even if they’re not in the limelight.

Well God blessed me with a personality that likes the limelight but doesn’t know what to do with myself when I’m there. I’m shy but ambitious. What’s up with that? I like to be in control (because I think most times, that’s better for everyone else since my ideas are just sooo great). I like to be congratulated on a job well done. I love the feeling I get in managing people well, directing them here and there in a task, and watching it work out beautifully. I like for people to ask me what I think about “x” or “z”, particularly when it comes to the Bible. Why? Because it makes me feel smart and that people value what I have to say. But if I’m not careful, all of this that I love can be so destructive, and it can become sin.

YIKES! Do you see the red flags of loving the limelight? Of wanting to be important?

I started thinking about this probably 2 years ago. There is such a rush I get when I’m doing what I know God has called me to do, and people sometimes notice. But then I got to thinking about this much more as we began to move away. As much as I loved the ministry I got to do while I was in Oklahoma, those people don’t really need me. I’m just not that important.

Life goes on. Sure, people may miss me, but they’re perfectly fine without me. And why is this? Because I’m not their God. God hasn’t left them. God is present no matter what happens to His people. His work goes on, and His word goes forth just as it always does.

I have to check my motives all the time as I serve. Am I searching for the spotlight that is actually reserved for Him?

For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it, for how should My name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. Isaiah 48:11

Just take a good look at all the verses in which God speaks of His glory (Is. 42:8, 43:7, 66:18). Jesus even refused to take glory for Himself (Jn. 8:50, 8:54). May we be people who can declare:

Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

Because He’s just that important!

Overwhelmed

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Okay, silly question. I’m sure everyone of you has felt overwhelmed. (If you cooked the Thanksgiving meal for the first time this year, I’m guessing you might have felt overwhelmed.)

I must admit I’ve been completely overwhelmed this past week, but it’s for reasons you might not expect.

  • A friend calls to ask if she can watch my kids so I can pack our things to move.
  • Our Sunday school class throws us a going away party.
  • They take the time to write notes of encouragement which are worth more than any amount of money.
  • They actually give us money to help with moving.
  • The girls bought me necklaces to remind me that no matter where I am, I am loved by some pretty special and amazing Oklahoma ladies. 🙂
  • Another friend calls to see if she can watch the boys over the weekend so I can pack while my husband is gone.
  • Sunday evening one of the girls from my class brings over meals so I can finish packing my kitchen.
  • Monday morning another one of the girls brings more meals to last until we move on Thursday.
  • Monday my dad comes to help finish things around the house that my husband would have done (except that he had to start working at his new job in Houston that day). He spent the whole day there.
  • Monday evening a group of people from my class come over to help move boxes and do some heavy lifting so I don’t have to (and because I can’t…being 5 months pregnant will do that to you…and who am I kidding, I’m a light weight anyway!)
  • Tuesday I get multiple calls, texts, and fb messages asking how people can help for loading day on Wednesday.
  • Tuesday evening my mom drove up to help that night and the next day. She’s incredibly amazing and can do everything (watch the kids, clean, pack, load…oh yeah).
  • Tuesday (LATE) evening my husband and his mom flew in from Houston and our SS teacher picked them up at the airport since he just happened to be in the City. My mother-in-law is also amazing and helped with pretty much everything. These ladies deserve medals.
  • Wednesday a neighbor (who is also part of our class) asks if she can watch my boys while we are loading everything onto the moving truck. THIS SAVED MY LIFE…and my kids’ lives…you get my drift? She watched them all day.
  • Wednesday morning at least 15 different people came through to help load up our things. And they were HAPPY to do it. Such servants…
  • When we realized that not everything would fit into the U-Haul, we called my dad who had already offered another trailer. He got it ready and brought it down in time to finish loading up everything that night. He also drove it ALL THE WAY to Houston that following Friday.
  • Wednesday night our SS teachers had made dinner for an army and let us join them so we didn’t have to worry about what to do for dinner. *Sigh* I love these people.
  • Because we had no beds or blankets, a church friend offered their home while they were away visiting family for Thanksgiving. (Is anyone crying with me yet? I just can’t even…)
  • We were somehow able to leave on Thursday (yes, Thanksgiving day) and the traffic was absolutely perfect (you know this is a miracle if you’ve ever driven through downtown Dallas people. a miracle.).
  • We arrived safely that evening and were welcomed by my husband’s family who also helped unload the truck into our storage unit the next day. (and his parents are letting us stay in their home until our home is built…which isn’t until the end of March!)
  • We got to have Thanksgiving dinner that night 🙂

My heart is full. And it is overwhelmed by the kindness of God and His people.

I didn’t list all of those things to make you think I’m someone great but to show you how truly GREAT our God is and how amazing His people are when they simply follow the voice of the Father. They were His hands and feet in the most literal sense. And just imagine countless other things they have done even before this week approached, not just for me, but for others.

I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed in other ways in the coming weeks (like when my kids disappear in this massive home and I find them “cleaning” the toilet or “playing” in the hot tub or “decorating” grandma’s bathroom or…you get the picture). All I need to do is look back at how I have been overwhelmed by His goodness and just remember. He took care of me then, He’s going to care for me today. And the next day. And always.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1