{Reading Report} Glimpses of Grace

glimpses-of-grace_1As I ate up the reasonably sized chapters in this book by Gloria Furman, I was happy to find a balanced view of salvation and its affects on our thoughts, motives, and behavior as Christian women. Glimpses of Grace offers theologically sound but practically helpful counsel for cherishing Jesus, Who He is, and His beautiful gospel in the midst of the mundane moments that a woman’s life is made up of.

The balance of this book is clear throughout, including in the following quote from Chapter 3:

I believe it is helpful and necessary to retreat to quiet places to pray and read God’s Word. But silence is not necessary for you to have a vibrant relationship with God. your spiritaul life is not restricted to early mornings before the noisemakers in your life wake up. If you feel that God meets with you only when the house is empty or quiet, you’ll view every noise and every noisemaker as an annoying distraction to your communion with God.

Here we see the well-rounded philosophy that it is helpful and even necessary to retreat to quiet places for quality time with God. Yet if we legalistically believe that we can only commune with Him in that setting, we are opening ourselves up for a lot of unnecessary frustration and wrong reactions to the interruptions He has ordained.

One of my favorite things about this read was Mrs. Furman’s emphasis on the Person of Jesus Christ as our object of contentment. I’ve realized in recent months how easy it is to think I’m content because I’m choosing to enjoy my housework, my job, and the other mundane pieces of life. That’s great, but I really need to take it a step further. Mrs. Furman explains,

Surely these things–a cheerful attitude and sense of hopefulness–are wonderful by-products of rejoicing in God while in the midst of our homes. But that’s just what they are–by-products. The source of our faith, hope, love, joy, and gospel-grounded optimism is God Himself and not our stuff or our circumstances.

I also love the connection drawn between dwelling on Jesus and becoming like Him.

We study Christ because we’ve been saved for the purpose of being transformed into His image, and in our beholding, the work of transformation occurs.

In terms of practicality, Chapter 7 “All Grace and All Sufficieny for Every Dinner Guest” was my favorite. Serving through hospitality must, like everything in our lives, must be done out of a deep-rooted love for Jesus. I’m sure every woman can relate to the fear of man that is shown in letting earning the satisfaction and admiration of our dinner guests become an idol as we prepare to open our homes.

When we serve with the strength God supplies instead of from our own energies or motivation, we can serve with cheerfulness to the praise of His glory. We don’t have to be embittered martyrs on the altar of hospitality.

Quite possibly my favorite quote from the book is also in Chapter 7:

When grief over our sin and thankfulness for the gift of grace meet together at the cross, a powerful work of transformation occurs in our hearts.

I hope these few quotes whet your appetite enough to compel you to pick up Glimpses of Grace. As a young wife looking ahead to, Lord-willing, many years of serving primarily from my home, the truth and encouragement Mrs. Furman had to share rang true in my heart when held up against Scripture. Her sense of humor and realism kept the book light and enjoyable, and her illustrations and real-life examples skillfully brought heady theology down to a practical level, while not trivializing the magnitude of the Cross. I believe this is a book I will return to in years to come as I fight carnal thinking in the mundane moments of life, and I highly recommend it to any woman seeking to love Jesus through her day-in, day-out routine.

A General Update – December 2013

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Christmas Dinner 2013

Blog’s been quiet…a lot’s been happening…Christmas trip to visit loved ones, a couple of good old-fashioned flu bugs, holiday festivities, a trip to SeaWorld, and life in general. The break has been a very special time to share extra time together and catch up with friends and family! A few updates…

Follow-Up On My Good Intentions

I know you’re all on pins and needles to see if I followed through with my good intentions. ;) I scaled back my unrealistic plans and took small plates of brownies and chocolate to ten neighbors, along with a Christmas gospel message. It wasn’t as grand as I’d originally planned, but I love that even in a very simple gesture, God is sovereign and His truth is what changes hearts, not my presentation.

How Christmas Dinner Went Down

Remember my Christmas menu plans? I miraculously followed through on almost all of them. But due to our plane being canceled without warning and arriving home Christmas Eve Day at 6:00 PM instead of 10:30 AM, we didn’t have a nice supper that night, or the bacon with breakfast. The cinnamon rolls and all of Christmas dinner, however, still happened. The virgin orange strawberry mimosas were a hit; I’ll definitely be making those again! So easy, fresh, and tasty. Hooray!

A Short Break From Blogging

In keeping with my blog commitments, I am taking January off from blogging to work on getting myself back on track with consistent quiet times. This was an area of failure for me over Christmas break, with my Bible study ending until mid January and no plan in place for a replacement. I’m hoping to get an accountability partner here to help me stay consistent and I figured a 31-day blogging respite would help while I hopefully grow more disciplined. If you think of praying for me in this area, that would be wonderful! Because a dormant blog tends to attract spammers and deter readers, I have pre-written a few posts that are scheduled to automatically post over the next several weeks.

Happy New Year!

When I’m back in February, I’ll hopefully blog some of my goals, etc. for the new year and maybe some reflections on 2013. It was a wonderful, hard, good 365 days. God’s love, care, and grace were so evident in big and small ways and I am praising Him for another year of life and breath here on earth. Happy New Year, friends!

Christmas Letter 2013

If you have a church mailbox in Washington, or I saw you in person while here, hopefully you received a Christmas letter and picture. If not, you can read it here! =) With all the busyness of visiting friends and family, addressing and mailing everyone on our normal list just didn’t make it into the schedule this season. {You can click on the letter to view a larger version. The original hard our contact information on the bottom left; if you need that, feel free to let me know in the comments section.}

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{Poetry} The Savior of the World is Here

tree

The Savior of the World is Here

Jesus Christ, the newborn child
A sinless baby—undefiled.
Holy God in flesh displayed
And in a manger, humbly laid.

Sent to darkness, He the light
Yet in a stable cold tonight.
Baby Jesus, King of Kings
The way to God, this infant brings.

Tiny hands, so soft and sweet,
Youthful brow and tender feet.
Soon to bear the nail and thorn,
The mocking crowd; the brutal scorn.

He soon will face unrivaled pain—
A rugged cross, His blood will stain.
And men, once full of awe and praise
Will suddenly with hatred blaze.

Yet for tonight, this baby boy,
A gift from heaven, brings great joy,
A message loud and long and clear:
The Savior of the world is here!

Abigail Joy ~ December 2007

Observations from Mary’s Song

Photo from the movie The Nativity.

And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.”

Luke 1:46-49

I noticed several beautiful things about Mary and this part of her response. (Full passage is Luke 1:46-55.)

  1. She has a high view of God and His character. She calls Him mighty and and holy.
  2. She does not complain about the responsibility God has assigned to her, nor about the inconveniences and trials that being a pregnant virgin has brought, but actually praises Him for choosing her to bear His Son.
  3. She looks past the present and can see the long-term blessings that God will bring to her down the road through this Child.
  4. She knows she is nothing compared to God, but she does not focus on her inadequacies. Instead, she dwells on Who God is, the great things He has done, and the amazing ways He is choosing to use her in spite of her humble background and sinful human nature.

There’s much more, but that’s what jumped out at me. I can learn a lot from Mary’s example. She is full of humility and meekness, yet does not wither away in self-pity or “low self-esteem”. She recognizes God’s mighty hand in her life and trusts that what He is doing is just right for her. It seems like the ideal balance of humility and confidence in God; I feel like I usually bounce back and forth between those extremes. I’m sure Mary had her moments of pride and doubt…but this song of praise inspires me. How can I be applying these principles to the everyday moments God has for me?

The Gettys loosely put the Magnificat to music and I’ve almost got it memorized from listening to it so much. I love to have these lyrics floating around in my head throughout the day. Here’s the YouTube.

Jesus, Thank You

There is so much to thank God for, all year round, and I love the heightened emphasis on thankfulness that comes with November and especially this week. I’ve not kept up on the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge, but I’m going to keep pecking away at it into December until it is done. It’s a nice thing to add to quiet time when I want a little something extra.

Last night was our Thanksgiving service at church, during which we focused on the work of Jesus, specifically His ascension. Jesus’ return to Heaven after His resurrection isn’t an event zeroed in on often, so Pastor John’s reminders of all that it marks were a great way to encourage thankfulness for our amazing Savior going into this week. Here are a few of the things His ascension does:

  • Marks the completion of Jesus’ earthly work.
  • Signals the sending of the Holy Spirit.
  • Establishes Christ as the ruler of all things and Head of the church.
  • Marks the start of Jesus’ High Priestly ministry.
  • And much more…

After singing “Jesus, Thank You” by Sovereign Grace Music last night, I can’t get the lyrics out of my head…and I really don’t want to. Take a listen; it’s one of my favorites right now.

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You

Prayer for the Philippines Day 10

Photo courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk.

Photo courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk.

10 Days of Prayer for the Philippines

Day 10

Today is our last day in our 10 Days of Prayer for the Philippines project. Thank you to anyone who prayed along any of the days. If nothing else, this served as a personal reminder not to so quickly forget those who are hurting in other parts of the world. I have been working harder at stopping to pray when I hear about tragedy, instead of just being sad and moving on. It’s a discipline I want to cultivate…that prayer would be my automatic response to the suffering of others.

Dear Lord, we pray that You would continue to minister to the thousands of Filipinos who have lost family, friends, and homes to Typhoon Haiyan. Please watch over each one and care for them in a special way. Work in the governing officials to bring about efficient, effective restoration. Give the relief organization workers stamina and perseverance as they do what they can to help. Give boldness to believers who have survived, bringing them opportunities to share the hope they have in Jesus Christ with the hurting people around them. Use this terrible trial to spread Your gospel throughout the Philippines and build up Your church. Thank You that we can be a part of Your truth going out simply by praying, no matter where we are. Make us more faithful to bring others before Your throne of grace in their time of need. Give us love and concern for people we haven’t even met, and fill us with gratitude for the undeserved blessings You’ve allowed us to enjoy. Thank You that we know that You hear and work through our prayers.