Grace, Life, & Finding Order in the Chaos


SONY DSC

This past week has been difficult. All my kids were sick, we were up multiple times a night, I caught a stomach bug, had multiple pediatrician appointments, dealt with overwhelming (think rip your hair out) demands in motherhood, and had a flat tire.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I begin to “get ahead,” as in things are feeling somewhat smooth and then conflict and major struggle comes on the scene out of nowhere. In these times it’s so tempting to throw in the towel and quit. To not read my Bible, to be short with those I love, to complain, to say “why me?,” to take a few extra bites of that chocolate than I should, to blame, to be angry, to isolate, and to be undisciplined all around.

Discouragement settles in and spiritual attack is difficult to overcome especially being sleep deprived.

Thank goodness, Sunday rolled around and John Piper preached at our church and Phil Wickham led us in worship. They were both helping lead the Linger Conference here in Dallas. Piper preached beautifully on God’s grace and the theme of grace was also interwoven in Wickham’s songs. These lyrics have been stuck in my head since Sunday:

Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who rules the nations with truth and justice
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You would lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me

It’s easy for me to think of the words “Who brings our chaos back into order” as a one time deal – in the moment I trusted God for my salvation and surrendered my life to Him. And it certainly is that. But I was thinking yesterday how I just can’t leave it at the moment I put my faith and trust in Christ.

I need God to find order for me still today. Order in my relationship to my husband, my children, my family, my friends, and in whatever life throws at me. And it is certainly a process.

We need to know that God is here with us. He cares about the brokenness in our daily lives – whatever it might look like – and He’s here to do something about it. He knows we struggle – sometimes deeply struggle – and need His intervention. And even if we have thrown in the towel, He’s there to pick it back up. 

When we need order, we run to Jesus and we find it in him alone. And we remember that we desperately need him in the joys and trials of life.

These truths have been enough to help me get back in the Word, get our home cleaned up again, love my family better, be thankful, practice moderation, serve others, and be known.

Everything isn’t made whole yet. Creation. This sin-cursed world. This sin-nature. But one day all of it will be. And that is our hope. Until then, we can lean into his precious grace not just for today but also for tomorrow.

 

Phil Wickham’s This is Amazing Grace Music Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFRjr_x-yxU&feature=kp

 

Remembering Scott McCreedy: Friend & Faithful Reader

Scott McCreedy left a mark on so many lives with his smile, genuine spirit, and servant’s heart. I met Scott in the 6th grade at Southwest Middle School in High Point, NC.

I remember taking classes with Scott, that he was a gifted soccer player, was one of the first guys in our class to grow facial hair, and that everyone liked Scott (especially the girls!).

I graduated from high school with him in 2000. From 2000-2009, I didn’t know Scott but when we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago, I found out he had served our country in the Navy as a rescue swimmer and I was so proud of him.

In July 2009, he sent a Facebook message to me out of the blue that I had saved. Here’s what it said:

Thanks.

Hey Samantha,

I just wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying reading your Blogs… I am going through a tough transition in my life and your thoughts/words are really helpful… thanks and god bless…. keep reaching out, there are alot out there who need it.

Best for you and your family,

Scott

I didn’t know Scott was reading my blog and ironically, I was going through a time where I wanted to quit blogging. His note encouraged me to keep pressing on and that God was speaking to his heart. Just a few weeks ago, he “liked” a new Facebook page I had created and a quote I posted by A.W. Tozer. I was very appreciative of his continued support and encouragement with my writing.

That was the last I really “heard” from him and yesterday I found out the shocking news that he had taken his life. I had trouble sleeping last night and my heart just breaks again today. My husband has been helping me process it all.

Scott’s father wrote a very thoughtful post on Facebook explaining Scott’s struggle with depression and his request that we pray for God’s mercy and love. I appreciated that his father took the time to share his heart. It helped bring peace to my heart.

Many people I know battle with depression, anxiety, and hopelessness on a daily basis. I have dealt with some anxiety and depression (postpartum) after having my second child. No one ever fully knows a person’s situation or struggle and the darkness they feel. I think it’s important to be compassionate and not judgmental towards those who are experiencing such inner turmoil and pain.

I am thankful that on the cross, Jesus crushed sin and death once and for all and that today, our ultimate hope is in Him. The historical resurrection of Christ is our present hope that Jesus will fulfill his promises in the future when he will heal the hurting hearts and bring life to those who love and trust in Him.

I believe that Scott is with His Savior and that all his tears and pain have been wiped away. My heart is sad because his life has been cut short, but I’m looking forward to when we will all experience a fullness and an abundance to life that none of us have yet seen or known.

We love you Scott and you will be missed greatly.

** Additional resources if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one:

Coping with Death and Grief- Focus on the Family article

What Happens When You Die? John Piper Audio Sermon and article

A Christian Perspective on Grief– audio

Why we need new Church plants in America

I found this video yesterday through my friend Jaime. She and her husband Mark are planting a new church in Arlington, VA. I found John Piper’s statements to be timely and right on the mark. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve ran into here in Dallas, Texas (aka “the Bible Belt”) who are un-churched, de-churched, or have been burned by the church.

I think it’s time for many of us to pray about planting new churches. Jeremiah and I are in that process as we finish out his degree in the next two years and pray about starting a new church (somewhere in America!) along with a core group of like-minded people.

Do any thoughts come to your mind about the state of churches in America today?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lzXuMCeleA]

The love of human praise

3289021645_10d019069cA friend and I were having lunch yesterday and she revealed a struggle with an idol in her life- putting her faith, time, and acceptance in successful or popular people in order to attain some type of status or “coolness” in walking alongside those people. Even at the sacrifice of other friendships that were more meaningful.

I was actually in shock to hear her honesty. Who would really admit that? I never have.

Hearing her point of view was huge especially because she’s in a small group at her church that consists of some very successful and influential Christian leaders in our city.

Throughout Scripture, the disciples craved human praise. Sometimes they craved it so much that they didn’t believe Jesus’ words at all. And it’s safe to say that all most of us, in some form or another, call out for human praise today. While it might not be evident outwardly, it is inwardly.

John Piper says that the love of human approval is at odds with faith because

1. …true faith in Jesus gives all glory to God and none to ourselves (Romans 4:20), and

2. …true faith is a drinking of living water for the satisfaction of our souls—and the well of that water is the glory of Christ.

He goes on to say that when we place our satisfaction in Jesus and not in others, “the enslaving power of the craving for human glory is broken. Broken by the power of a superior satisfaction.”

I pray for a spirit that is broken enough to see that I don’t need the praise of others for my satisfaction. I’m thankful for my friend’s vulnerability that has helped shed light on some idols in my own life. Hopefully through a process, I’ll begin to put all my faith, time, and acceptance in my Creator God… and in Him alone.

What’s Inspiring Me of Late

cannons1Several things have been inspiring me of late:

1.) Jesus- of course. all the time. without him, who in the world would I be? enough said.

2.) My husband Jeremiah– his constant encouragement, accountability, and unconditional love for me.

3.) My son John– watching his brown eyes stare into mine. his laughter and joy. He makes me want to be a better mom and woman.

4.) My job– I love working with a team of highly creative producers, writers, and graphic designers. We have a great time together. My boss is solid and loves the Lord. Bluefish is impacting so many lives and I love just being a small part of it.

5.) My church Watermark. Spurring me on to authentic community and loving this city. Gary Haugen with International Justice Mission will be speaking thus Sunday (can’t wait).

6.) Matt Chandler (his podcasts). I appreciate his constant focus on Christ and boasting in Him alone. My coworker Lonnie said he’s going to connect me and Jeremiah to Matt for coffee one day (yay!)

7.) John Piper. I’m almost through his book Don’t Waste Your Life. It has challenged me like no other book. And is causing me to do some deep soul searching (or perhaps sin searching).

8.) Musicians: Phil Wickham, Brandon Heath, Chris Tomlin, Fernando Ortega, Meredith Andrews, Laura Story. Some old. Some new. These are just a few but their artistry stands out among the rest. Their focus is obvious. God has used them to inspire my writing. Meredith lived next to me on dorm 19-1 at LU. I’m extremely proud of her and how God is using her.

Who or what’s inspiring You?

Healing Faith

grace_candle_logoWhen God wants to show you what human nature is like apart from Himself, He has to show it to you in yourself.

I read these words out of Oswald Chambers this morning. It really hits home to me especially in the last few months where I’ve seen ugly parts of my sin. I’ve heard it said once that the closer you grow towards Christ, the more you see your sin.

Sometimes I think I’m naturally good on my own. And that I can do life on my own. Even as a Christian who knows where my identity lies, I still sometimes struggle with the latter. It’s interesting the way God works in how he shows us the nastiness of our sin. While the news will show us the depths sin can take a person (like the recent murder of the abortion doctor or a major collapse in the economy due to frivolous spending),  as Oswald said, it’s often that God will show it to us in our own hearts… (however scary that might be!)

To show us we really aren’t so good after all. A little lie. A little gossip. Anger. Pride. Selfishness. Greed. Vanity. The list goes on…

But the good news is that God’s Grace covers over all of it! That’s why He came. He died on the cross to heal us from those sins and to give us new life in Him. It’s solely by grace that my sins have been covered- nothing I could ever do on my own. And thankfully he came too so that the more I love, enjoy, and delight in him, the less I sin or desire unsatisfying things that are not of Him.

So the next time I get a sneak peak inside my soul and see the sin that’s really in there, I can thank God and praise Him all the more that He’s healing my brokenness and He’s restoring me into His image day by day. And he won’t leave me where I’m at.

That’s what I thanked him for today.

A Cheap Gospel

Over the past few years, I’ve been wrestling with several things that pertain to true salvation and people who claim to be “Christian.” It seems like many people say they are a Christian or at least go to church but when it comes to watching their life day in and day out, you wouldn’t be able to tell that they’ve been transformed by Christ.

And before I go further, I want to mention I’ve had instances in my life where people would probably have said the same thing. In no way, shape, or form was I acting like Who I proclaimed to follow. But my heart’s desire was truly to do God’s will, but because of the sin still in me, I struggled (and by God’s grace, today, many of those struggles are gone- though I’m still not perfect). But I’m wrestling with why deeds aren’t often matched with a faith that is proclaimed. Paul said faith without works, is dead. And that we will know if someone truly knows Christ by the evidence of fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control).

For example, I have found myself really upset at people who claim to be Christian but hate others with a passion. When Jeremiah and I were at Bush’s Inaugaration in 2004, we ran into a sign (from a protester or something) by a “Christian” that read “God hates fags.” It made me so angry. This person had no clue about the true gospel. There are many churches out there that claim lots of things, but you can’t find an ounce of love in their blood. And you realize that it’s no wonder so many people hate Christians or won’t step foot in the church. I wouldn’t for one second, want to know to know about Jesus, if a person like that was all I had to learn from.

I won’t go too long on that soapbox but I think the gospel today has been sugar-coated, fit into a box of individual preference, and altogether cheapened. Because the gospel is nothing but costly. It calls us to come and die- to put Christ above self pleasures and to surrender our lives to Him. And if that happens to mean a serious illness, broken arm, or even death, it doesn’t matter because we live for Christ. And we can still have joy in the midst of trial.

It is about Jesus, coming down as a man, to die a criminal’s death to save us from our sin. The price of our sin was something we could not pay on our own. He bore our sins so that we might live for righteousness (again nothing we could ever do).

If this is the gospel we proclaim and if it’s a gospel that has truly transformed us, then we will go out into the world and love as Christ did and people will know we are His by the love that we give.

Is anyone else resonating with these thoughts?

Switch to mobile version