Sanctification time schedule

I was diagnosed with cancer in April with 2 surgeries in May that didn’t actually remove any of the cancer, then chemo treatments started in June which have worked to reduce the cancer. It’s signet ring cell carcinoma, which doesn’t have a great survival rate, so my life expectancy is now much shorter than normal. Although, really, we could all die any day. I’ve just had the luxury of assuming I won’t die for a few decades removed from my reality.

I have stayed in the word in a dozen ways since this started. Joni gave me the current volume of Divine Hours (I’ve since purchased the other 2 volumes to cover the entire year). Reading that 2 or 3 times a day has been great. I even started sharing it with Mom and she’s picked up the autumn/winter volume for herself.

I started the Dr. Horner reading plan this week and I’m enjoying the NIV Application Commentary on the book of Job.  Another friend gave us a devotional with writings from the puritans, Voices from the Past.

And Proverbs31 Ministries released an app called First5 to use to get you into the word even before you check Facebook :-)  They released a simple study guide to go with it which has driven me into some deep thinking about the scripture and how it should be impacting my life.The next book is Genesis, which will coincide with the sermon series at church.

The thought that came to me today while doing the First5 reading is that so often we want to change faster.We get that Justification happened once and for all and we learn to rest in that truth. But Sanctification seems to take so long. Why do we still sin? Why can’t God just fix us 100% right away instead of waiting for the day of our Glorification?

I get frustrated and upset with people and then regret and repent and wonder why God makes me go through this period of not quite when he could just finish it.

Then I get this diagnosis of cancer and the day of my Glorification suddenly seems much closer. I’m actually ok with that, I’ve told Anthony that I’ll miss him terribly and I hate to do this to him, but I’ll be very happy where I am going.

But we do the chemo and live drags on and then recovery and recuperation start and it all seems so hard. But God says this is for my good (by his definition, not mine). And I am called to accept, even embrace, what God sends my way. I have found that the big issue of cancer and life or death has been easy to release to God. I didn’t even pray much about that one. I had other prayer warriors praying for it and I trusted God’s plan. My issue has always been in praying about the small things, the day-to-day things.

I have found myself praying for the small things with this disease. The middle of the night pain, the exhaustion/fatigue, the hand cramps or weakness that interfered with doing things, the patience to deal with the ileostomy bag. I’m praying more and it’s more about the little things I would try to show my independence in before. Now I’m reduced to turning to God for help in everything. And He hears me!

I was reviewing my other blog, the Imperfect Reader, and reviewed things in the book Not Knowing Where by Oswald Chambers. I found this quote on God’s definition of good:

“We must never lose sight of the necessity for discipline in the life of faith; only by means of this discipline are we taught the difference between the natural interpretation of what we call good and what God means by good. We have to be brought to the place of hearty agreement with God as to what He means by good, and we only reach it by the trial of our faith, never the stoical effort that says, ‘Well, I must make up my mind that this is God’s will, and that it is best.’”

and then this quote on patience:

“Patience is not the same as endurance, for the heart of endurance is frequently stoical, whereas the heart of patience is a blazing love that sees intuitively and awaits God’s time in perfect confidence.”

We fuss and stress because our sanctification is moving so slowly, and then we fuss and stress when He speeds up the timeline to sanctify us faster.I’m trying to be joyful and grateful that He has sanctified me in this area this year and brought about some drastic changes that would have taken years (have taken years already) on the old time table.

God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good. He has proven faithful and good through these 4 months of cancer and I trust Him for the days to come.

 

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It’s that time

The new year is approaching. A time to set new resolutions and set up Bible reading plans. I also lurk on LibraryThing where people are setting up all their reading plans for 2015, with great expectations of being distracted and derailed through the year.

On the topic of Bible Reading plans, Tim Challies and Ligonier, among others, have put out good lists of options. And they do a good job of covering the good and difficult aspects of a reading plan.

Then today I found this post about a reading plan for people who love to read. This one resonated with me. I think my most successful reading in one year was the year I just trekked through every book of the Bible one after the other, reading however much I could, when I could. I even included it in my LibraryThing reading tracking for that year.

I have been avoiding setting a reading plan. I did purchase the book God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment sort of with the intention of using it for my reading plan. But I realized I get overwhelmed when I start to think it through.

And I realized the reason I get overwhelmed is also the reason I won’t be using a “specific” Bible reading plan this year. Although I am really liking the thought of maybe taking the 4th quarter to do the plan for readers.

Here’s how I will get in my Bible reading this year. I attend and teach (one month a quarter) Sunday School. I hear preaching every Sunday as our pastor walks through a book of the Bible, usually in good detail allowing lots of study. I attend (and often lead) two Bible studies. I’ll attend the Ligonier National Conference in February. I have an intern living in our house who loves to discuss (and debate) all kinds of topics. I am 3/4 of the way through a Bible study on the book of James. I have two books by Jonathan Edwards that I want to read this year. I am listening to a series of sermons on the book of Ephesians and this year I would really like to read Christian in Complete Armour on Ephesians ch 6.

I also have Sin and Temptation by John Owen, and God in Our Midst by Daniel Hyde on my reading list for this year. Sure, these aren’t the Bible, but they will send me back to in in many ways.

I fully support having a plan to read the Bible, and I think it is very helpful to read the whole Bible in a fairly quick time period (one year is better than taking 6 or 10 years to cover the whole Bible). And I also think reading and studying  a smaller portion is helpful.

And some years you have to do what you can do :-)

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Introverts

This won’t surprise most people, I admit that I am an introvert. Last year I read the book Quiet by Susan Cain.  And I enjoy reading Tim Challies who has reviewed Quiet and has a few other things to say about introverts. This blog post by him is about a scene that is also described in Susan Cain’s book, and one I read with laughter and complete understanding. (And lived this August when we were at  Brooklyn Tabernacle for worship one Sunday.)

And in many ways my blog post today is just a big “me too”. I was talking with a friend today about how different I am from 20 years ago, or 30 years ago. (School is hard, and it’s a little bit harder as an introvert.) We talked about why I changed. I mentioned the people I thought had influenced me. First is my husband. By giving me a safe haven in a solid marriage for 20 years, he convinced me, slowly but surely, that I could let my guard down a bit, step outside my comfort zone, and be safe. To this day, he still is alert that I’m likely to be ready to leave the party or group event long before he is. We laugh at times when he admits “we stayed longer than I expected tonight.” I haven’t been easy for him to convince, but he’s just been patient and steady.

Another person who has influenced me greatly is my best friend of the last several years. She’s an extrovert and comfortable in her skin. She’s pushed me outside my comfort zone a number of times, but she’s right there at my side when she does it. I’ve learned a lot from watching her.

I also have to admit that I’ve had some very good friends and neighbors for the past 15 years or so. I’ve felt safe to change and try things and go back even when I didn’t do something right.

Because, that’s what is behind most of my introversion. I’m afraid of failure, because when I fail I cry and get upset, and I cannot seem to control that. It’s much much safer to just not be in a position where I could fail. I blush at the drop of a hat. Having all attention on me, even when telling a story to friends, still brings a deep blush to my face. Definitely easier to not tell stories or speak up or have attention on me ever, for any reason. :-)

And yet, I’ve never been happy as an introvert. Or maybe it’s really that I’ve never been happy being afraid of blushing, crying, or messing up. There is a song popular on the radio right now about the Cool Kids.

I wish that I could be like the cool kids
‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in
I wish that I could be like the cool kids

Read more: Echosmith – Cool Kids Lyrics | MetroLyrics

That’s what I always envied. People who seemed to know what to say or do, and even if things didn’t go right, they didn’t have to fight tears or blush deeper at the realization they were blushing.

Anyway, where I was going when I started thinking about this blog post, is that I’ve gotten better at some things. The tears don’t come quite as easily and most of the time I ignore the hint of a blush so it doesn’t get deeper. I’ve learned (often) to laugh at myself or the situation and keep going.

I never had much patience with myself as a shy, quiet, and “fragile” person who could get upset so easily. And while I try to remember that I was, and sometimes still am, just like that. I am not always patient with other people who are that way. I work to be merciful and full of grace for those who are introverts and who struggle to interact with others and figure out how to handle attention.

But I also wish I could go back to my middle-school and high-school self and shake me a little bit. Remind me that I’m not the center of the universe and too much of my introversion or shyness is really self-centeredness.

Ah well, those are my rambling thoughts for today.

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Thoughts on busy-ness

Some resources I’ve come across lately:

David Murray entry on a book by Bill Hybels called Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul. Energy levels, friendships, scheduling are the key subjects David pulls out.

A mom over at Lots of Scotts talked about service and doing things that aren’t specific to our gift set or even seen as critical and important. And yet they are necessary. “Somebody has to blow up the kick balls.” She has some good thoughts on the fact that most of our day is not spent in the sweet spot, but doing the stuff that just has to get done.

This summer I read What’s Best Next by Matt Perman. Some interesting thoughts about getting things done and how the gospel should transform what we do and how we do it.

A blog article about that book actually led me to The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris. The first half was stronger than the second half, but it really spoke to me and introduced the term “acedia” which describes where I was a two years ago in some languor or lassitude funk.

Like everyone else this year, I read Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. Some good thoughts about prioritizing. Similar to What’s Best Next and The ONE Thing in that you have to know what you are here for and make sure that’s what you spend your time and energy on.

Early this morning while trying to get back to sleep, I started reading another book, The ONE Thing by Gary Keller.And of course it has an article about multitasking not being good. I have talked about that in the past, too. And as I’ve aged 2 years since then, I have to admit that multitasking wears me out and I’m not that good at it. But I can’t figure out how to do my job without it. Interrupt driven is the other popular term these days. I can’t finish one thing before I have to go to the next meeting or answer the next instant message. Or I get off a meeting to find I got 25 emails while I was on the phone.  I look forward to seeing what the rest of this book has to say.

Then there was this blog post about stay at home moms and complaining.

And this article about why we should stop saying we’re busy. It’s focused on the work environment, but the concept is still true.

_____________________

I have a few thoughts go through my head when I think about this. Why am I so busy should really lead me to ask Am I that busy?

I can list out all the things I do, but the I can never identify any that I want to stop doing. I can have weeks that seem like I have something to do every single night. But they are good things that keep me with friends, held accountable, having fun, and in the Word. What’s to complain about? That I didn’t get to sit at home and read a pointless novel?

The other side of that, is that I do need time to think these things through. What’s the point to reading all those books or articles if I never actually do anything with what I read? I need to test theories, meditate on revelations, maybe even write a blog article or newsletter article. :-)

I had yet another full weekend planned. Dinner with friends and a Presbyterial meeting. But always remember it happens as God wills. He decided to change my plans. I ended up canceling the dinner and missing the Presbyterial meeting, and then having the energy and time to do other things I had been trying to get to. Most of the time, God lets my plans run as I expect, I think I’m using wisdom in making those plans. But this was a reminder that when I tell God “I don’t have time for…” some issue, He can make the time. And I’m glad I slowed down and accepted His timing this weekend.

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Perfect and Complete

Let’s start with the bad news. You are a sinner, who sins. It’s easier to sin than to do right. And you cannot do anything to save yourself. I’ve used the term before, we are not just insufficient, we are non-sufficient. We are completely incapable of saving ourselves. We can’t even sort of help to save ourselves. We bring such negatives to the field that we move further away from being saved in ourselves.

The good news is really great news. There is a Savior who can completely save us. Christ died to pay for our sins, He took our sins upon himself. He lived a completely righteous life of perfection and that righteousness is imputed to us. Our sin is paid for, and we get the credit of His rightousness. How wonderful is that!

As great as that news is, we are still here in this Fallen world surrounded by the effects of that Fall as others sin, as we continue to sin, and illness and pain fill our lives and those of our loved ones. The goal of this life is not happiness. Living a life of faith in Christ as our Savior is not a one-time victory that we win and then have a life of ease and pleasure for the rest of our days. The goal isn’t complete success and decisive victory here in this life. If that were the goal, that is what God would do in us. But He doesn’t do it that way. He calls us to live out our faith day after day.

James 1:2-4 tells us “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

We also see the concept of being perfect in Hebrews 2:10

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Hebrews 5:8-9 and Hebrews 7:28 also mention this concept of Jesus being made perfect through sufferings. Yet we know Christ was perfect and had no sin in Him. What does perfect mean for Him?According to Merriam Webster perfect is defined as satisfying all requirements – accurate. Lacking in no essential detail – complete. One definition (mentioned as obsolete) said certain, sure, contented, satisfied.

Christ fulfilled His purpose in all that He did and experienced, including suffering and trials. We certainly need to be made perfect in that we need to be changed, transformed to be righteous and conformed to the image of Christ. But we also are made perfect in persevering, trusting God’s promises in all circumstances. We fill our purpose and meet the goal set for us.

How do we do this? How do we meet trials and have our faith tested? We must have faith, and we must have that faith strengthened. Faith in what? In our Savior, Jesus Christ, who then indwells us and strengthens us and grows our faith. The next verse in James shows us how to meet trials, and identifies what we might lack and need to gain to be perfect and complete. James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Wisdom is knowledge of what is proper or reasonable; good sense or judgment. Wisdom is also personified in the Bible and often refers to Jesus himself. Our faith in Christ, reading His Word, meditating on what He teaches us change our perspective, the way we view reality. We need this perspective to understand and remember our purpose, to change how we view trials, and how we view the promises of the sovereign God so when our faith is tested we are steadfast and grow in perseverance. So we can be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

First published in the Fall 2014 Newsletter at HARP.

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