The Lord’s Supper

Give thanksOur church had to postpone the Lord’s Supper from last week to this week…typically it’s the first Sunday of the month. And there is nothing quite like these Sundays.

“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Sweet communion with the saints. Thankful.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

14741290The book came highly recommended. And then it showed up in my kindle…shared for a short time. I had a limited window to complete reading it and I was up for the challenge.

I started to read the book on Friday night and finished it today — with many full days in between. So, what did I think of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield.

I really didn’t know what to expect…I knew the author was a leftist lesbian professor who despised Christians. And then she became one. So how did that happen?

It didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen without counting the immense cost…or what seemed immense. The power of the Scripture got inside her as she read the Bible several times quickly to be able to better attack the righteous right.

Thankful for a local church who acted like a church should. And a pastor who didn’t attack her, but created a safe environment for discussion. And who invested quality time to meet with her and her friends.

Following her conversion she eventually married a pastor. They adopted children and provided foster care. Loved her chapter about adoption, both spiritual and physical.

And then she home-schooled her children. Again, her perspective on home-schooling … why one should or why one shouldn’t choose the option of home-schooling.

All in all, a good read. With lots to ponder.

Growing in grace and knowledge

Justin McGuire brought this to my attention through Jeanne. The post was written two years ago, but the suggestions are relevant always.

191If you truly want to grow in grace and knowledge in this new year, may I recommend you read this article and put the suggestions into practice. The first four:

1. Read your Bible before you read your email, log in to Facebook, turn on
the radio, etc.

2. Start attending the church events you normally miss.

3. Begin and stick to a pattern of daily family worship.

4. Start reading systematically through the Bible.

Read why the author suggests these things and also the other six points by reading the whole article here.

Meet the Russell family

UPDATE TO THIS POST: It appears that they will be flying via Air France. For the most current information, click directly to their blog below. Thanks for the prayers and thanks for private messages sent…

I know that I write this over and over and over again. But it’s the truth: We meet the most amazing people here, and many of them through the process of adoption.

May I introduce you to a family that personifies stepping out in faith? I cannot share all that has happened to this precious family since they decided to say ‘yes’ to adopting Katia, but most of their story is posted on their blog: One little girl…great big God.

The link takes you to Tuesday’s update and prayer request. And quite a request, I might add. But nothing is too hard for our God.

Maybe someone reading this blog has some connections with the airlines. It will need to be someone with some decision-making power. As it stands right now, as you will read in their blog post, no airlines is willing to fly with Katia aboard. Why? Well, it’s not just her health issues, though she has many. Her mother is a nurse and is prepared to handle whatever comes along during the flights. But the reason she can’t fly is that she is too old to be on a lap — she MUST occupy her own seat. Regulations. All children of her age (7 or 8) must sit buckled into their seat for take-off and landing.

Here’s the catch: She only weighs just over 12-13 pounds…more like an infant. AND one of her health issues is that she does not bend at the waist. Her parents purchased a harness in the States that would attach her securely to her mother or father. BUT she is technically too old to take off and land in that position.

So, I am asking you to pray for a solution. Or contact someone connected with the airlines, if you have friends there.

Oh, and the embassy would not issue a visa until she is cleared to fly. So, another step needs to be repeated in this whole process once they can book tickets! Pray for quick action on their part.

We have been blessed with the Russell’s company for a couple of dinners while they’ve been here and we marvel at their faith lived out day by day. Calmly putting one foot in front of the other. Praising God along the way.

May God bless them richly! And may their return to the States be as a family…all together!

Empathy

empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

Sometimes I am quite thankful for the empathy that I have for the situations around me. Though I get frustrated at times, and often feel helpless, my heart pushes me to carry on and look for solutions. It is part of what drives me to advocate for hospitalized children, to pray with and for adopting couples, and to search for better ways to care for orphans.

But sometimes empathy gets the better of me. Our daughter is a missionary serving in east Asia. She has served there for six years and is just concluding two years stateside to earn a degree in bookkeeping/accounting. While in Salisbury she was active in the church through youth ministry, Bible studies, co-leading VBS, simply being available to families needing an extra set of hands. Friends graciously gave her a room to call her own — rough life on the river, eh, Anna?

God in His incredible goodness to our family allowed for three nephews to be born while Anna was in-country. All in the same town. Does it get any better than that? She had hours of time with these little boys — the oldest one turning two next month. You can imagine how hearts were knit together over these two years, and a growing love for her own twin sister.

And so today she leaves Salisbury…with one last opportunity to serve. She is accompanying a young mom and her three children via car to St. Louis where they will meet the young dad driving the moving truck to begin life there as a seminary student. Anna will fly to Asia from there at the end of the week.

She is following God’s call on her life. Just as we have by serving in Ukraine.

So why am I crying? Why have my tears soaked my pillow for the last two nights? Why can’t I type this without crying? Well, I totally know the feelings she will be experiencing as she drives away and attempts to memorize every detail of those little faces seeing her off, not understanding that she won’t be back for months, maybe years. Tears will be freely overflowing. Not just hers, but those whose lives she touched. And especially two young moms who loved sharing their little ones with Aunt Anna.

Empathy. Love it. Hate it.

Love you, Anna. And praying for you.

Westminster Shorter Catechism #31

Question #31:

What is effectual calling?

Answer:

Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

“…who 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

“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” Acts 2:37

“‘…to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” Acts 26:18

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

“‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God.” Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.’” John 6:44-45

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

Westminster Shorter Catechism #30

Question #30:

How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

Answer:

The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” John 6:37, 39

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” Ephesians 3:17

“God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” 1 Corinthians 1:9

The Discipline of Grace

I have recently begun to reread Jerry Bridges’ book The Discipline of Grace because of an invitation to read along with Tim Challies, one chapter per week. The first chapter needs to be read by Thursday the 9th…at that time, Tim Challies will post about the first chapter and encourages any of us reading along to also comment. I am looking forward to the discussion after each chapter, even if I don’t always add to it.

“Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”

As is written on the back cover:

We know we need grace. Without it we’d never come to Christ in the first place. But being a Christian is more than just coming to Christ. It’s about growing and becoming more like Jesus — it’s about pursuing holiness. The pursuit of holiness is hard work, and that’s where we turn from grace to discipline — and often make a big mistake.

Grace is every bit as important for growing as a Christian as it is for becoming a Christian. “The pursuit of holiness,” writes Jerry Bridges, “must be anchored in the grace of God; otherwise it is doomed to failure.” Grace is at the heart of the gospel, and without a clear understanding of the gospel and grace we can easily slip into a performance-based lifestyle that bears little resemblance to what the gospel offers us.

Sadly, according to Bridges, many Christians don’t have a good grasp of what the gospel message is. In The Discipline of Grace, he offers a clear and thorough explanation of the gospel and what it means to the believer. Bridges discusses how the same grace that brings us to faith in Christ also disciplines us in Christ, and how we learn to discipline ourselves in the areas of commitment, convictions, choices, watchfulness, and adversity.

If you’ve ever struggled with what your role is and what role God takes in your growth as a Christian, this book will comfort and challenge you as you learn to rest in Christ while vigorously pursuing a life of holiness.

If you’d like to join me (as I join the Challies blog) in this 13-chapter adventure, you still have time to get ahold of the book and get that first chapter read. Then click the Challies blog and join the discussion!

Teach the children well

“O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old –
what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.”
Psalm 78:1-7

We are in the planning stages of a children’s club in conjunction with the Church of the Holy Trinity here in Kyiv. The vision is big. Thankful that our God is greater than the task! May all the plans and discussions surrounding this ministry be glorifying to His Name. May parents be encouraged AND encouraging as we accept our promise as church members to help raise the children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

May we be quick to give Him all the glory and honor and praise for what He is doing!

Help me believe

“People who believe more must not be hard on those who believe less. Why? Because faith ultimately is not a virtue; it’s a gift.

“If you want to believe but can’t, stop looking inside; go to Jesus and say, ‘Help me believe.’ Go to him and say, ‘So you’re the one who gives faith! I’ve been trying to work it out by reasoning and thinking and meditating and going to church in hopes that a sermon will move me — I’ve been trying to get faith by myself. Now I see that you’re the source of faith. Please give it to me.’ If you do that, you’ll find that Jesus has been seeking you — he’s the author of faith, the provider of faith, and the object of faith.”

Tim Keller in King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus

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