wait, with great expectation

Waiting with anticipation sounds like a funny thing to do.

Because it is hard to wait actively and hard to anticipate passively. And that’s exactly the miracle of Advent.

There is nothing passive about the days leading up to Christ’s birth into the world – the longing for a Messiah is almost palpable throughout the Old Testament. Even as hundreds of years passed, the people of Israel (and beyond) waited with great expectation for the Savior King to come to earth. They were waiting, but they were not resigned to indifference. They read and re-read the prophecies and the promises and then they said, “Come.”

Hundreds and hundreds of years of “Come, Lord Jesus.” I imagine it maintaining the same intensity, though some generations must have faltered. Still, generation after generation waited actively with the words, “Come.”

The incarnation was never meant to happen to us, like witnessing an act of charity on the subway by chance. The incarnation of our Lord was planned from the very beginning, even the stars thrown into the sky were set on a trajectory to proclaim His coming. 

And we are invited to take part in His coming, to anticipate the arrival of the Savior and the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise. Christ coming to earth is reason to celebrate salvation for our future, but it is also a reason to celebrate God’s salvation in our present. Because He is a faithful promise keeper … and that translates to Tuesdays. The incarnation is about Tuesday morning devotions and Tuesday afternoon meetings. The incarnation is about financial difficulties and health concerns. The incarnation is about family and brokenness.

The incarnation is about God being a faithful promise keeper when He sent Jesus as a baby into a dark world to be the light.

And the incarnation is not something we let “happen” to us. It is something we invite to transform our Tuesdays and our lives.

Come, thou long expected Jesus. Come.

Trust in the Lord, and do good.

Piper suggested (well, he said “perhaps”) the whole Old Testament could be summed up in this tiny verse.

“Trust in the Lord, and do good.” Psalm 37:3

Does that cause you to pause at all? a little? Well, it does me. The whole Old Testament in seven words. Hm. Trust in the Lord is one of those “givens” I might breeze by in my morning reading because my heart is used to the way it sounds. Of course, trust in the Lord. Lean not on my own understanding. Yes, yes. Trust in the Lord and in His mighty power.

Have you ever done that when you are reading a book that has texts of Scripture in it? They appear as large chunks indented on either side to make them stand out and draw your attention. Sometimes (embarrassed admission), I breeze past what feels like “givens” so I can get to the point. It’s like my mind is saying, “Caroline, of course you agree with that part – it’s Scripture. Just move on so you can find the conclusion.”

Well, this morning I lingered on Psalm 37:3 because I didn’t want to breeze past its truth. If I believe the Word is powerful and sharper than any two edged sword – that it never returns void and holds the secrets to abundant life – than nothing should ever be breezed by (no matter how many times I’ve read it).

“Trust in the Lord, and do good.” Psalm 37:3

Piper follows his assertion by saying, “…let the great works of past grace sustain your faith in future grace so that you always trust God rather than the offers of help and guidance that come from other gods or other counselors. The root issue behind the disobedience of Israel was lack of faith in future grace.”

Could the root issue of my disobedience look like similar faithlessness? The Israelites had many proofs of God’s faithfulness and salvation, but they chose unbelief. They chose not to trust the Lord’s word would be true for the future as it had been in the past. They chose instead to take their chances with a future of their own contriving.

The “do good” piece is not just tacked on for good measure. As much as the trusting is an act of belief in what God can and will do, “doing good” physically walks out this belief in the offices and street corners and dining room tables of life.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy…
today, where you are, as you trust in the Lord who empowered you to love at all

Trip Lee, teaching children, Andy Griffith, and Isaiah 42:21

Here’s another round of interesting articles, videos, links, and things. Enjoy, friends!

  • Trip Lee has had some serious press. No matter who is listening, the way he can fit so many words in such a short space is commendable. Here he gives us the Gospel in 2 minutes. Take a peek – you’ll be BLESSED!
    http://vimeo.com/44541665
  • I love Sally Lloyd-Jones. If you ever run into her, you can tell her so. I know she is just being faithful to use her gifts, but there are a lot of people benefiting from her diligence. This article reminds me of so many Sunday School classrooms and so many “moral of the story” endings to Sunday School lessons. God never meant for the Old Testaments characters or New Testament letters to make us more honest or better sons and daughters. God gave us the Word because He wants us to know Him. We can only “be holy as He is holy” when we know Him and that’s why the Bible is not about us. The Bible is all about God. Read the article here.
  • My Grandpa is an Andy Griffith fan. I’m a fan of most things that claim my grandpa’s affection, so I’m an Andy Griffith fan by default and I hope I still have some of those black and white videos around when I have kids. Griffith died today and this article seems a fitting tribute.
  • This past week I happened on this reflection, Meditate with Me on Isaiah 42:21, at Desiring God Ministries. “The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious.” (Isaiah 42:21). At first glance, we might only take away that God loves His law. But I am grateful that Piper dove in deeper and took us with him in his reflections.
  • There are over 5,000 students in New Orleans for the Challenge Conference right now. If you are not there (like me) but you want to hear some of the AMAZING teaching going on, take a look at this video from Bryan McWhite.
    http://vimeo.com/45113235

That’s all I’ve got for now, other than the sweat dripping off my nose. I couldn’t find a way to make that a bullet point.

destroyed for lack of knowledge

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
(Hosea 4:6 ESV)

On the way to work my shift at the print shop last night, I was thinking about my morning meeting at the university that didn’t go as planned and about the transportation for the youth summer trips and about the grades for the Bible Instruction Course that still need calculated and about preparing a meal for 70 at the soup kitchen downtown.

I was glad to be on my bike, pedaling against the wind that I wished would blow through the clutter in my mind.

When I got to work, Derek asked if I had just woken up and I desperately wished I could have said yes. I slid into the groove and Derek, Jeremiah, and I made good progress on the night’s orders, though I kept noticing the weight of my feet.

And then Derek asked, “You read the Bible, right?”

Whatever was dead in me revived and I think my eyes got really big, “Uh-huh…”

“Well, you believe that it’s all true, right? ‘Cuz I have a question…”

I smelled trouble, “Derek, this sounds like I’m about to walk into a trap, but I’ll hang with you. What’s your question?”

He kind of smirked, acknowledging his underhanded set-up of this conversation, “Well, why does it tell me I can’t mix threads in my clothing or that we can’t eat, like, meat of hooved animals?”

I was quiet for a bit, measuring his interest.

“I mean, do you believe that – because you believe the Bible, right?” he pushed a little further.

“Derek… can you hear me out?” I thought I should get his permission before launching into a discussion of the old and new covenants and the significance of the Bible read as a whole.

He actually looked surprised, “Oh, of course! That’s why I asked.”

Derek is currently one of my favorite people and he wears genuine around like its high fashion. So, I took a deep breath and dove in. I can’t really explain what happened next.

We talked about Adam and sin and how it put all people at odds with God. We talked about Moses and Abraham and the guidelines God gave in the Old Testament for a holy, healthy life. We talked about the covenant God made with the people and how that covenant set up a temporary system until the fully sufficient sacrifice – a Savior – would arrive. We talked about Jesus and how he was that sacrifice. We talked about Peter’s vision in Acts 10 and about how salvation is not based on works or a family pedigree. We talked about how salvation is meant to bring freedom from the bondage of sin.

Not one customer came in during our conversation and the telephone stayed silent.

At the end of all this rambling, Derek asked, “So, does your church teach you that stuff – like do they present it like that? How do you know what you just said?”

I threw off all the strange weight of a full day, as I stood there and heard his questions. There was nothing else but his question and the Truth that answered him.

I shared the Gospel, plain and simple. I was a sinner, destined for destruction and deserving of death. But, I believe that Christ took my place on the cross and I’m now united in right relationship with Him and freed to live life abundantly with a knowledge of the Lord. The Spirit lives inside me and He shows me what is true. He gives me understanding as I read the Bible. The more I read the Bible, the better I know the Lord. And, yes, church is part of that process.

My knowledge of the Lord is my delight. Knowing Him means mystery, adventure, security, refuge, and cRaZy joy.

And so I want Derek to know Him, too! I want him to get lost in the wonder and get filled with the beauty that comes as we grow in the knowledge of the Lord.

God desires that we return to Him – that we seek Him and not vain pursuits.

“Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
(Hosea 6:1-2 ESV)

Hosea’s story parallels the hearts of the wayward Israelites – who pursued many lovers. Our story is similarly told – our hearts are inclined to love another. But, in Hosea, there is a future hope of reuniting with the Lord through Christ on the cross, “…after two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up…”

We live with that hope.

Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”
(Hosea 6:3 ESV)

Let us know.
Let us press on to know the Lord.
By the grace of God, may we not be destroyed for lack of knowledge. 

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

oh my soul, faint not

Sometimes I’m not even aware that my soul needs lifting.

I praise God in those moments for His complete sovereignty … and the grace He has to reach down and remind me I am surely safe in His presence.

Between yesterday and today, God hemmed me in with His provisions of His presence. Three packages from the States and Canada, kingdom-seeking conversations in my office, and beautiful time spent with my Bible study girls tonight felt like a handmade quilt wrapped perfectly around my winter body.

God is so good.

In Bible study tonight, we tackled the divine romance, illustrated in the first marriage of Adam and Eve. We trudged through some Old Testament background on covenant and arrived at a beautiful, exposed place. My heart got all twisted somewhere in the midst of our discussion because I wanted to communicate how beautiful is God’s love story with us and His plans for us. I wanted to cry several times.

There are so many things I pray and hope for these ladies… and all my hopes have to do with their pursuit of their Savior. If they are fixing their eyes on Christ, the author and perfector of their faith, there is no possible way to end in disappointment. The alternative – pursuing a man or a dream or a career – will always let us down.

I left to the gym after the last ladies took off and I hit the treadmill running like mad to this new song by Jenny and Tyler called “Faint Not.”

It might seem a strange song to feel so strongly about after my Bible study, because the lyrics focus on poverty, pain, injustices in the world and our sometimes haggard response.

What seemed so appropriate tonight – running and sweating and praying like crazy for my senior ladies – was believing God would be faithful with His promises:

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;  but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)

My heart bursts with this prayer – this plea – that we will believe He is stronger than any deception, allure, temptation, or danger. When we seek Him, He lifts us.

The chorus to the song is simple, but I’ve been singing it on replay:

Oh my soul, faint not
no, faint not
Oh, my soul, keep on,
oh, in love

I’m so glad for God’s timely reminders that He is sufficient. He is gracious. He is present.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy