{Reading Report} When I Don’t Desire God

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Several months ago I promised to post about When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy by John Piper (available on Kindle for $6.99). This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It opened my eyes in new ways to what it means to be a follower of Jesus and how to pursue a relationship with Him and delight in Who He is. If you struggle with wanting to desire God and His ways but feeling stuck in a carnal mindset, I’d encourage you to pick up this book. You won’t regret it. If you only read one chapter, I recommend “Fighting for Joy Like a Justified Sinner: Learning the Secret of Gutsy Guilt”. My very favorite quotes are in bold.

“Conversion is the creation of new desires, not just new duties; new delights, not just new deeds; new treasures, not just new tasks.”

“Our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value.” – Jonathan Edwards

“The key to endurance in the cause of self-sacrificing love is not heroic willpower, but deep, unshakable confidence that the joy we have tasted in fellowship with Christ will not disappoint us in death.”

“Christ will be glorified in the world when Christians are so satisfied in Him that they let goods and kindred go and lay down their lives for others in mercy, missions, and, if necessary, martyrdom. He will be magnified most amont the nations when, at the moment Christians lose everything on earth, they say, ‘To live is Christ, to die is gain’ (Phil. 1:21).”

“Not to see and savor Christ is an insult to the beauty and worth of His character. Preferring anything above Christ is the very essence of sin. It must be fought.”

“When Jesus said, ‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments’ (John 14:15), He was describing the effect of love, not the essence of love.”

“Believing means trusting Jesus not only as our all-sovereign Lord and all-sufficient Savior, but also as our all-surpassing Treasure.”

“Fight for joy, not by doing things that establish your identity with God, but by becoming what your identity already is with God in Christ. Become what you are.”

“The great gospel weapon in the fight for joy is the rock-solid reality that we are counted righteous in Christ by faith alone.”

“This is what we must learn to do in our darkness–even the darkness we have brought on ourselves because of our sin. Yes, I am under the gloom of failure. Yes, God has put me here in His displeasure. But no, I am not abandoned, and God is not against me. He is for me. Even in the darkness that He imposes, He will sustain me. He will not let me go. Though He slay me, He will save me.”

“Through the cross, God purchased and secured every possible blessing that could ever be needed to make us happy forever…God will–signed in blood–give us all things with Christ, because of the death of His son. That is, He will give us all things that are truly good for us. We must preach this to ourselves every day, because Satan is preaching the opposite.”

“The key to praying with power is to become the kind of persons who do not use God for our ends but are utterly devoted to being used for His ends.”

“The goal of brokenhearted repentance is the blessing of humble, Christ-exalting joy.”

“The plants of spontaneous communion grow in the well-tended garden of disciplined Bible-reading and memorization…The plants of ceaseless prayer grow in the garden of persistent discipline.”

Some of the oher books I’m reading or hope to start soon:

          

{Seminary Journal} One-Month Expectations

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Photo by Rv Sun. A hike I took with our Bible study this week.

This is the 100th post here on Anchored! We’ve been here for a month as of yesterday. Last night at a small fellowship group with fellow sem wives, my friend Tia asked everyone a few questions related to what we’d expected to encounter down here, and how those expectations have been fulfilled or turned out differently. It was a good question. I thought about it a lot more when I got home and decided to blog some of those expectations.

  1. I expected our apartment to be tiny and cramped, but it’s not. There’s far more space than I’d even hoped for and pretty much everything we brought fits, with a little wiggle room.
  2. I expected church to feel big and overwhelming, and it does. But joining a fellowship group makes a big church get small really fast. I’m surprised that we run into people we know every Sunday, in a church of thousands.
  3. I did not expect to feel lonely, but I do. It’s not the homesickness I’d anticipated, it’s different. There are moments, after my work and responsibilities are done and Andrew is still doing homework, when not having my best friend or a family member to call for coffee or a game night hits me really hard and I feel very alone.
  4. I expected there to be many young married couples without kids in seminary, but there aren’t. There are tons of young families and a lot of single guys.
  5. I expected Andrew to be swamped with homework, and he is. God prepared me to be fully ready for evenings and Saturdays to be for homework. I’m encouraging Andrew to study and not making him feel bad about being busy. This week he got 105% on his first Hebrew vocab quiz! When I texted that I was proud of him, Andrew replied, “It’s a victory for both of us ’cause the time I spent studying was time I didn’t spend with you…but it paid off!”
  6. I expected it to be hot, and it is. It’s been around 100 or more all week. As I write this, it’s 101 and supposed to reach 103 this afternoon. The apartment is stuffy and cooking is a drag. But that’s no surprise and I’m learning to get used to it.
  7. I expected it to take awhile to make close friends, and it does. But we’ve already been so blessed to meet a number of amazing people who love Jesus and have a heart for people and ministry. I know there are very special friendships in store, likely with some of the people we’ve already met but haven’t spent much time with yet.
  8. I expected to be hard to find gluten free food, and it is. Until yesterday. I discovered Sprouts on the recommendation of friends. It is like our co-op back home, maybe better! It’s in Burbank but so worth the extra jaunt! Thank You, Lord!

Yes, there are a lot of good and hard things about this new season of life. It’s stretching, and Jesus’ presence and love are becoming more dear to my heart. Despite the tearful moments and the ache in my heart that sometimes doesn’t want to fade, I am very content and completely confident that today I am exactly where God wants me to be. No second thoughts, regrets, or misgivings. God’s work in my life is an encouragement to me, and I know He has so much more in store for my spiritual growth as the weeks roll on. Thank you for your prayers…there is no doubt He is answering them!

Cubed 07/11/13

The past week-and-a-half, cubed.

Fairhaven outing.

Fairhaven outing.

Don't take my bag.

Don’t take my bag.

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A relaxing Saturday afternoon on the water.

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A game of Wizard with friends.

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4th of July baseball

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Early morning coffee and catch-up date.

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Despicable Me 2 birthday outing. (Go see it.)

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Soaking up this  rare Pacific NW sunshine.

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Fresh plums and goat cheese for breakfast.

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Two of my favorite people.

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Stud.

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Fifth year of fireworks with my love.

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Sisters pedicure date.

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Coffee pick-up for four.

Personal Failure

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God uses a variety of things in life to push us toward Him. Often, as I’ve written about before, it’s trials and grief. For me lately it’s been personal failure. It’s caused me to reach the end of myself and realize I have nowhere to go but the foot of the cross, where my Savior washed away all my sins, past, future, and present.

Recently I told Andrew at the end of a long, full, busy day that I thought it was literally one of the best days of my life. I was excited about visible ways the Lord was growing me and I was feeling great about some deepening relationships. Ironically, the very next day I was hit with some really tough things and I came crashing down to an almost debilitating low. All I could see were my shortcomings and sin. This despondency has continued for some days now, and I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle.

I know God wants me to wake up to the reality that I don’t have control over my life and I’m inevitably going to fail. After I’ve fallen, I have to take the loving hand He offers me, get back up on my feet, and carry on in His strength. He’s reminding me that my identity does not lie in my performance or the quality of my relationships, but in my Savior, Who gave me His righteous garments in exchange for all my filthy rags.  He’s removing the happiness I can often draw from nearly-perfect circumstances so that I run to Him for my joy and satisfaction. Jesus is enough, and He longs for me understand that reality first-hand, in a new and fresh way each day.

I want to be real and honest on this blog. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses. Today, I hope to encourage or challenge you from what feels like a pit of despair. I haven’t climbed out yet, but I’m seeing light near the edge and I’m grasping for footholds as I try to reach it. If you’re enjoying a spiritual high, praise the Lord for it and ask Him to keep you humble and hungry for Him. If you’re walking through a valley, keep your gaze on Jesus and trust Him to restore your joy in His perfect timing. I love the precious truth that no matter where you are in your journey of sanctification and growth, Jesus, His sacrifice for you, and His love, grace, and mercy never change. They remain constant through every season, on each mountaintop and in each valley.

My failures remind me that apart from Christ, I have nothing to bring to God. When I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10) As I recognize my helplessness apart from Jesus, I pray that His light will radiate through me more clearly, that I would be a vessel in His hand and a channel for His glory.

When the morning comes on the farthest hill
I will sing His name, I will praise Him, still.
When dark trials come and my heart is filled
With the weight of doubt, I will praise Him, still.

For the Lord, our God, He is strong to save
From the arms of death, from the deepest grave,
And He gave us life in His perfect will,
And by His good grace, I will praise Him, still.

Heaven’s Rays

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“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Things will get better.

One thought that often helps me get through trials is knowing that things will eventually get better or even go away completely. Recently I’ve experienced some difficulties that will likely carry with them permanent ramifications. I desperately wanted the comfort that they’d eventually disappear.

And then it hit me: life will never, ever be ideal, perfect, or painless because this life is not the end. I’ve always known that in my head. But receiving a few indelible scars is driving it home in a new and very real way in my heart. It hurts, in a beautiful way.

Life is fleeting, like a mist.

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14b) God tells me to set my mind on heaven (Col. 3:1) and view this world as temporary. But that kind of perspective is hard to grasp when life seems nearly perfect.

Sometimes pain is necessary.

It may require pain that will never completely disappear to really show us the treasure we possess in Christ and the beauty of the promise of eternity with Him. The greater this world’s hardships, the more attractive heaven becomes. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18) It’s not how any of us would choose to value that truth, but sometimes it is necessary.

I’m beginning to understand in a very small way how amazing forever in paradise really will be. The tears here on earth are painful, but they are for only a moment.

It’s like somehow, heaven’s rays are warming my face through the clouds while I’m caught in the middle of a rainstorm.