For my single friends on Valentines Day

Dear Friends,

Below are some links to articles and videos that have encouraged me over the years. Enjoy, and may the Lord strengthen you to every challenge He brings your way!

Ana Marie

A Challenge to Women

Do You Pray for Him?

Enjoying Where God Has You Now

How can I long to be married without obsessing about it?

Loving Your Husband Before You Get Married

The Single Woman and the Modesty of Personal Restraint

Becoming Esther

Because I am Completely Single

Guys and Touch

How (Not) to Heat Your Veins and Fire Your Brains

My Heart in a Field of Dreams

Set Apart Girl

Sierra Leone recap

Documentary video (I am very excited about sharing this new video produced by the media department of Literacy & Evangelism International. Though brief, it provides an excellent comprehensive overview of what happens on such a mission. All of the filming was done on the Sierra Leone trip. Enjoy!)

Album 1
Album 2

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16

To learn more about the work of Literacy & Evangelism International, visit the mission’s website.

Lamentations 3:37-42 — Sermon Notes

Sermon heard at Grace Bible Church / 2-6-11

vs. 37

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord [Adonai] has commanded it?

Adonai = sovereign master

nothing happens unless God has commanded it.

Psalm 33:9-11

For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

Pro. 16:9

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Pro. 20:24

A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?

Isaiah 45:6-7

that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

vs. 38

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? good and bad come from God

bad = calamity

Amos 3:6

Is a trumpet blown in a city,and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?

Job 2:10

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

If God is not in control of the bad, we have no hope that He is in control of the good. If He is not in control of the bad, then the bad could rob Him of the ability to do good.

vs. 39

Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?

Repentance can only happen when you’re alive.

Pro. 19:3

When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.

vs. 40

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord[Jahweh]!

Jahweh = personal God

Careful thorough examination of yourself is required.

Examine yourself with the light of Scripture in order to see clearly.

Return to the Lord.

Sin is always walking away from God.

Isaiah 55:6,7

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way,and the unrighteous man his thoughts;let him return to the  Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

vs. 41

Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven:

lift up = prayer

Lift up your heart with your hands and say “Lord, fix this thing.”

Rend your heart, not your garments. This is an inner, not merely outer, change.

Joel 2:13

and rend your hearts and not your garments.”Return to the  Lord your God,for he is gracious and merciful,slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

vs. 42

“We have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven.

Call your sin by its proper name. (not “mistake”)

rebel = defy

This is what every sin is.

1 John 3:4

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

lawlessness = open rebellion

Genuine repentance is:

1. honest about the nature of my sin

2. admitting that I am at fault and God is righteous

3. humbly submitting to God’s sovereign authority and Lordship

4. holding firmly to the goodness of God (even in chastising)

5. begun in the heart, not merely external (Ps 51:16-17)

6. returning myself to God

Repentance is not repentance if not followed by getting back up and following the Shepherd.

This is when repentance is completed.

When you keep condemning yourself after you’ve “repented”, you’re putting yourself on the throne as supreme judge.

This, too, is sin. It proves you really didn’t repent because you aren’t giving God His rightful place of judge (He forgives and sets free). Repent of pride in thinking of yourself too highly.

Summary: Repentance brings us back to the way of the Good Shepherd. It is a way of grace and forgiveness.

Lamentations 3:33-36 — Sermon Notes

Sermon heard at Grace Bible Church / 1-30-11

Lamentations 3:33-36

For the Lord will not cast off forever,but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. To crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth,to deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High, to subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve.

We have to hold on to both:

His absolutely sovereign goodness

His absolutely good sovereignty

Affliction is not the primary thought of His mind. It is not the core of His being.

Compassion is.

But, we have to repent before He can show compassion. So He sends affliction to move us to repentance so He can show compassion.

Ez. 33:11

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Affliction, for God’s people, always comes to an end, but never His compassion.

Hab. 1

Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told…

(and He proceeds to explain how He is raising up the Chaldeans to wreak havoc)

Isaiah 28:21

For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim; as in the Valley of Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed—strange is his deed! and to work his work—alien is his work!

Affliction is not God’s normal (usual, characteristic, heartfelt) work.

But, restoration requires us to repent. And it may require affliction. Affliction is a lesser good that serves a greater good.

Isaiah 53

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

Summary: God’s defining character is compassion, not affliction. He merely uses affliction to bring us to repentance so that He can show us compassion.

Psalm 23 — personally paraphrased

You are my shepherd. I will never lack any good thing. My desire is for You alone. Let all earthly pleasures be as nothing to me.

You give me rest as nothing else. The circumstances You put me in are the best for me. Teach me to view them as such. Teach me to thank You for every situation, for each one is from You.

Your guidance is always the best. You lead me in ways that are not too difficult for me. No matter what may be going on along the bank, teach me to keep my eyes on the beautiful stream of blessings that springs forth from You — the Source of all goodness. Though worries and cares of this life threaten to swallow me up, keep me in Your rest. Teach me to sit still and quietly by Your stream — Your Word that brings rest to my troubled soul.

You have restored my soul forever to You. I would be lost without Your mercy. You have restored fellowship with me though I had no desire for it. My relationship with You is wholly due to Your effort.

You lead me in paths of righteousness. You do not leave me to find them on my own. For, I could not. My eyes are blind to the finding of wise ways. Were it not for Your Spirit, Father, I would meander forever in mediocre attempts to please which only puffs up my own pride. Thank you for pleasing Yourself through me. Somehow, You make it work, and I can just rest in You, knowing that You do lead me in all the ways that I should go. Remind me continually that I exist for Your glory alone, and that I ought to view my life as a gift to give back to You in praise.

Though I face many trials and fires and slippery slopes, I will hold on to You. You’ve never let Your children fall to the depths. You’ve always kept them upright. I can trust that You will never change in Your dealings with Your children. Nothing can separate me from Your love. Even death for me is only a gateway to knowing You better. Therefore I will not fear — not the evil within nor the evil without — for it all is subject to You. The knowledge that You are with me assures me that I face nothing alone. When evil knocks at the door, You are here to strengthen me against the temptation. For the many times I wasn’t even aware of evil lurking and You sent it away, I thank you.

Thank You for using Your rod and staff with me. All Your dealings are loving. You discipline those You love and You shepherd those in Your fold. Far rather would I have Your rod than evil’s whip applied to my back. Your chastening is always followed by a restoring embrace. Teach me to remember these things when I am tempted to despair. Your comfort, though it appears not so to those outside Your fold, is worth all sorrow endured.

Your table is laden with good things. The banquet you spread before me is made up of food that never spoils. Even the tiniest morsel savored can sustain me for a day. Never will I lack any necessary nourishment. Teach me to not seek a table elsewhere. Teach me that there is no other lasting food except the food of Your Word. Cause me to daily come to Your table with a hearty appetite. Never let me fast from it. Teach me that I will never live if I do not live by Your table.

Though the war over my soul continues, I know that You have won the fight. Though I am surrounded by enemies. they cannot take away Your table from me. It is not open to them. It is laden with food they know nothing of.

You anoint me with oil. I am Your honored guest. Why You should honor me with such hospitality is too much for me to grasp. All I can do is accept Your gifts and proclaim Your worth. You fill my cup to overflowing. In every aspect of life You sustain me. Your provision is enough for me. It is more than enough. You have given me all I need for life and godliness, so help me live for You alone. Cause me to give you the honor due unto Your name.

Your goodness and mercy are everlasting. Though Your wrath will come to an end, Your mercy endures forever. You delight in showing compassion. Cause me to never forget Who You are. Open my eyes to truth. Help me to see You continually. Thank you for not leaving me to myself. Thank You for continuing the work of sanctification in me. Thank You for not stopping with the work of justification. Thank You for purposing to lead me all the way, even to glorification. Teach me to submit to You in all things. When I am encompassed with seemingly impassable trails, remind me that Your guidance never leads to a dead end. You always have a good plan. Teach me to see You rightly, not tainted by what I see all around me.

You have prepared a home in Heaven for me. Make me more and more joyfully expectant of Your eternal kingdom. Cause me to eagerly anticipate being with You. For there would be no Heaven without You, and Heaven would not be Heaven without You. Teach me continually to delight in You and not in Your gifts, for earthly pleasures pass away, but You will never pass away. Draw me deeper and deeper into Your heart. Show me more and more of Who You are. Thank You for doing so gradually, for if I would see all Your glory at once I would not be able to bear it. Guide me moment by moment into a greater knowledge of You. Teach me to love You more and more as I ought.