Day 19: Christ is King over Ebola

Ebola virus virion

Jeremy Writebol is a pastor and blogger. He’s also the son of Nancy Writebol, missionary and Ebola survivor. Jeremy wrote a powerful piece about how Christians should respond to Ebola in the US. ← I encourage you to read the whole post on his website.

I love what he has to say about Christ being sovereign over viruses:

Our theology must start with Christ and with Christ as King over all, including microscopic biology and viruses. Jesus is king over Ebola. This epidemic and global outbreak does not take him by surprise or warrant fear or trembling from the Godhead. Christ is king over Ebola. Additionally this does not mean that God is some evil, maleficent deity. Ebola is a product of the fall. It is a product of a broken and sin-filled world. Christ is still king over it, and he will bring justice and righteousness.

Since I’m writing about it, I encourage us all to be praying for this global epidemic. Join in here – this prayer was posted to praytoendebola.org:

 

 

This post is part of the #write31days series, Crushing your Kingdoms.

Day 18: Even still

Do you know the old hymn, It Is Well? If you click that link you can read a very heartfelt reaction I had to that song a little over a year ago. I also share the story behind the song, written by a man who lost nearly everything.

This morning, as we sang the song again in church, I had a visceral reaction. The words that really hung me up are in a tag added by another band recently.

TreeThe words?
“Even still.”

It is well with my soul.
Even still, it is well with my soul.
Even still,  it is well.

Why “even still?” Because I sing the song with excuses. Do you ever find you do that? We internally might sing something like this:

It is well with my soul, but I hate my job, career, major.

It is well with my soul, but I don’t like my roommate, spouse, boyfriend, family.

It is well with my soul, but I wish I could live in a bigger/smaller apartment, house it in a bigger/smaller city, town.

It is well with my soul, but I don’t like my body, hair, ears, voice, feet, personality.

It is well with my soul, but I wish I was married, pregnant, single.

Even still.

The reminder is that, yes, this world we are in is flawed and imperfect and filled with people who sin (including ourselves). People may grievously wound us, intentionally or not. Yes, we may not be satisfied with our station in life. We may never attain that dream we’ve clung to our entire lives.

Even still.

With our souls it can be most well. Even still.


crushing your kingdoms

This is part of a series of 31 days of Crushing your Kingdoms. Click to read all posts in the series.

I’m also linking up with Testimony Tuesdays:

Holly Barrett

Day 17: Let your light shine

light_shine

 

Part of Crushing your Kingdoms, a #write31days blogging challenge series.

Day 16: Theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

candle flameYou are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 5:1-20

 Part of the Crushing your Kingdoms series.

crushing your kingdoms

Day 15: King Me

My Dad used to play checkers with my sister or me on the pull-out drawer of his massive wood desk. We’d pull up a kitchen chair across from him and sit down to match wits against our beloved father. I can still remember the glee of being able to shout, “King me!”

firehouse checker by sciondriver (CC BY-NC 2.0)

firehouse checker by sciondriver (CC BY-NC 2.0)

King me, right?

King me. Put me on the throne. My thoughts, my preferences, my desires, my issues, my wants and wishes. King me.

Our Facebook posts, instagram feeds, and tweets shout it out – king me.

We spend our days building up a kingdom that centers around us. Our home, our family, our job, our school, our needs. It just keeps going. King me.

I guess I would call this the kingdom of self. We all reign in our own kingdom at times. We selfishly want things to go our way. We act or scheme or direct conversations so the focus stays on us.

It calls to mind Mark 8:

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

This kingdom may be the hardest to crush. It seems to be a back and forth struggle. Sometimes I feel that I can put myself aside for others, and then the next thing I know it’s “king me” all over again.

Do you see yourself calling out “king me” sometimes? I don’t think that this is one we can crush on our own or quickly. It takes prayer and constant handing over to God. Daily.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

crushing your kingdoms
← Read all the posts in this series here.

Day 14: Hear our hearts cry out

I’m just going to put this right here.

Seriously, though, this song by Vertical Church Band recently shuffled into play on my iPod and I ended up listening to it about five times in a row. From the first word, the focus is solely on worshiping God. I love that. Please listen to it. I think you’ll like it, too.

Holy, Holy, You are God Almighty
And You reign victorious over all the earth
Holy, Holy, You are God Almighty
Yes, You reign victorious over all the earth

Let Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done
Here on earth as it is in heaven
And to Your renown hear our hearts cry out
Singing “Holy is the Lord”

God of Glory see Your victory story
In the lives of those who gather at the cross
Rock of ages be adorned with praises
As Your people raise their voice in thanks and love

Focus with me on the true kingdom right now. Hear our hearts cry out - Holy is the Lord!
Do you have a favorite song that focuses your heart on worship of our God?

crushing your kingdoms

We’re continuing to work through the series this month. Click here to view all the posts in the series.

 

Day 13: The Words of Others

So, almost immediately after posting last night on all the hard stuff going on and not really knowing what to do with that, I read Laurie Wallin’s post – When We Can’t Control Life (and why that’s a great thing):

Regardless, I get Job because his story is about when life knocks us on our rear end.When we think we know exactly what could or might happen. . . then it unfolds so differently that we scratch our heads and proclaim, “You’re either clueless, helpless, or heartless, God! What gives??!”…

Then today I read a fellow #write31days blogger, Airman 2 Mom, where she says,

Before I left for Afghanistan I remember being scared. I was uncertain I would survive the adventure I was about to embark on. I’m not sure if it was the fear of dying or just the fear of the unknown, but either way I was scared and unsure. The Sunday before I left for training in Indiana the church I attended sang “Take my life and let it be for Your Glory.” I broke down. All the fear and uncertainty I was feeling were poured into that song. I realized I was trying to control a situation I had no control over and I needed to trust in God. Knowing whatever happened it would be for His Glory. Not mine. I couldn’t do this alone. I needed to trust in God. The song was a theme that I focused on during the whole deployment and it is still written on my Facebook page. My life is his and I am here to glorify him…

While I’m sharing from others, there are two blogs that I’ve been enjoying regularly as part of the #write31days challenge.

Tales from a Southern Catholic Momma is really stretching herself and her readers by walking us through the days earlier this year when she severely battled against depression and everything that accompanied it. I’ve never had such a privileged window into the thoughts and feelings (good and bad) of someone with depression. It’s been enlightening and engrossing. I’m on the edge of my seat each day, waiting to hear where the story will go. It’s heartbreaking, but I feel it must have a happy resolution, since she’s being so brave about sharing her story.

The Hope Diaries – blogging under a pseudonym, Caiobhe is writing painful, healing posts of the hope she found/is finding after breaking off an adulterous affair. I think my favorite post so far is Please be my strength, where she says,

Today is about survival. It’s about staying and not running away. It’s about God given strength because there is none of my own. It’s about surrender to God’s love, and a giving up of my will and my plans. It’s about holding on to hope. I have no words.”

crushing your kingdoms

This is just one day in 31 days of posting about crushing kingdoms. Click above to read through all the posts written thus far.

Day 12: My best guess

winter berriesThe words aren’t coming tonight.

*thinks a moment*

Nope, they just aren’t there. I have a ton of thoughts in my head, but none that make sense working on this series. So, I’m dumping out the words as they pop into my head and we’ll see where they take us.

I’m feeling quite a bit like a failure tonight.

Not just for my lack of coherence with the blog, but in not staying disciplined to work on house-related things, in lacking the stamina to continue vacuuming out water from the (still) flooded basement, for not planning out meals for the rest of the week (church friends have graciously helped out with meals every other day for the past 10 days), for not organizing the mess that sits around me – remnants of the stuff brought upstairs by helpful friends, for falling behind in my volunteer work for church, for not leading others well, for complaining again & again.

For giving into temptation again & again. For giving up hope again & again. For believing the lies repeatedly.

berries of winterI’m tired. I’m worn.

I don’t have beautifully strung out words for you tonight. I don’t have the answers tonight. I don’t have the solution to the problems. I do have a laundry list of problems.

I do know the answer is in Christ. I know the eternal picture makes sense, even when this temporal view is jacked up.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. — Colossians 1:11-14

I think this may have been crushing the kingdom of I-have-it-all-together. Or, at least, that’s my best guess.

Today was just one random day of:

Click to read all posts in the series

Day 11: Appearance isn’t everything

hair colorEven though there are days that I go to work or out and about without putting on makeup, I still don’t leave the house without making sure every hair is in place. My stylist used to tease me because I had trouble getting my hair appropriately messy for a certain style I wore for a while.

We women try so hard to put together the perfect appearance. Right clothes, right hair, right accessories. Isn’t it exhausting?

Are you ready to crush this kingdom of appearances?

God sees us as beautiful. It’s true, no matter your age or body shape. We are imago dei – made in the image of God.

Two years ago, as part of the 31 day series, Prayers for the Hurting, I wrote the post, When You Believe the Lies are True:

Really, though, the issue runs deeper than just how we look. It’s more than our size, shape, hair color, nose, etc. that we see distorted. To us, the scars we carry (physically, emotionally, mentally) mar any remains of beauty that may have once existed.

We often fight to believe that God has forgiven us of all our sins. Especially, you know, that really bad thing.

Do you ever find yourself arguing with God about who you are? Mandisa’s song, “The Truth About Me,” reflects that struggle. In a short, but powerful video, Mandisa explains the story behind the song.

You say, “LOVELY.”
I say, “broken.”

I say, “guilty.”
You say, “FORGIVEN.”

If you click over, you can read a prayer that I wrote to accompany this post and the video of “The Truth About Me.”

Dear Friend, see past the lies that are so easy to believe and the society/culture that says we must look a certain way to belong. Crush this kingdom of appearance. Trust the One who calls you beautiful.

Day 11 of the #write31days series:

crushing your kingdoms

Day 10: Idol factories

It’s time to get a little deeper in the topic and really “get to meddling” in some of our root issues. First, however, I want to lay a foundation of what we’re talking about. Unfortunately, committing to post every. single. day. makes it near impossible to spend the time crafting a theologically heavy post. So, instead, I’m going to defer to a few well-studied men to more fully explain this.

Related to the idea of kingdoms is the concept of idolatry. I’m not necessarily talking about a statue that someone might bow to, but the heart idols that lead us all astray in our on way. An idol may be anything that can be a substitute for God. John Calvin has said:

“From this we may gather that man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols…Man’s mind, full as it is of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity; as it sluggishly plods, indeed is overwhelmed with the crassest ignorance, it conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God.” – John Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.8

Here are a few thoughts pulled from a video excerpt of C.J. Mahaney‘s (former president of Sovereign Grace Ministries) sermon on the subject.

fernsThe evil doesn’t lie in what we want. Often as Christians what we want are gifts from God. The evil isn’t in what we want, the evil is in wanting it too much. The desire for a gift from God becomes a sinful craving – a ruling craving.

If our hearts remain unmonitored or unmanaged, they will regularly create substitutes for God.  Within each of us, in the form of remaining sin. is a fully functioning idol factory – at work and open for business 24/7. 

If the essence of idolatry is wanting a gift from God too much, how can I determine if I want something too much? What is your response if you don’t obtain it? What is your response if it’s taken away?

J.D. Grear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC, also posted recently on 5 insights into idolatry. I encourage you to read the full article, but I want to highlight two of those insights.

Idols engage the deepest emotions in our hearts: When something we love is threatened, people get violent, because many of our deepest emotions are connected to idols. About what do you think, “If I ever lost this, I’d never survive”? What possible loss makes you not only frightened, but despairing? The irony here is that idolizing something ultimately keeps you from being able to enjoy it at all. Gaining more of an idol only heightens that sense of fear, because nothing other than God can sustain the weight of your soul.

Idols demand sacrifices to keep them happy:  An idol is like a fire. It never says, “That’s enough.” Instead, it just keeps asking for more. The altar of idolatry is terrifyingly insatiable: the more you sacrifice for an idol, the more it will demand. What part of yourself have you sacrificed on the altar of an idol? Where do you feel that “pull” to keep cutting corners or making excuses? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this sacrifice will be the last one.

Ack. There’s just too much good stuff on this hard subject.
Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis, has an excellent sermon (or two) on idolatry.
Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, wrote the book, Counterfeit Gods. Good read.
Finally, I haven’t read it yet, but Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate by Jerry Bridges has been highly recommended to me.

Heavy stuff here. Has it made you think about what idols you may have in your life? Has it brought up more questions than answers?

This is another post in the #write31days series, Crushing your Kingdoms.

crushing your kingdoms

 

 

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