Your daily dose of true beauty advice… My friend, Diana, has struggled with her weight ever since I knew her in high school. In the last few years, though, her size brought on big problems in her joints, her heart, and … Continue reading
Your daily dose of true beauty advice… Notice how close the word discipline is to another biblical word, disciple. God’s discipline serves to make us Christ’s disciples. The trials we face are divinely designed to mature us so that we become more serviceable disciples … Continue reading
Your daily dose of true beauty advice… For those with autoimmune disorders, pain and fatigue can really make life challenging. My friend Jennifer knows this well. But Jennifer recently told me, “Joni, just knowing that the Lord is on my side … Continue reading
Your daily dose of true beauty advice…
No human being was ever meant to be the source of personal joy and contentment for someone else. Your spouse, your friends, and your children cannot be the sources of your identity. When you seek to define who you are through those relationships, you are asking another sinner to be your personal messiah, to give you the inward rest of soul that only God can give.
Only when I have sought my identity in the proper place (in my relationship with God) am I able to put you in the proper place as well. When I relate to you knowing that I am God’s child and the recipient of his grace, I am able to serve and love you.
However, if I am seeking to get identity from you, I will watch you too closely. I will become acutely aware of your weaknesses and failures. I will become overly critical, frustrated, and angry. I will be angry not because you are a sinner, but because you have failed to deliver the one thing I seek from you: identity.
When I remember that Christ has given me everything I need to be the person he has designed me to be, I am free to serve and love you. When I know who I am, I am free to be humble, gentle, patient, forbearing and loving as we navigate the inevitable messiness of relationships.
~Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp in Heart of the Matter, p. 45
Your daily dose of true beauty advice…
Whom will I worship? A well-known sufferer was the apostle Paul. His troubles were often caused by other people, but he realized that God authored these sufferings to allow him to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and his sufferings.
Among the more difficult trials was one he called his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Although we never learn the precise nature of this malady, Paul identified at least three causes: his own pride, a messenger from Satan, and God–three causes for one hardship.
Instead of teaching us how to identify the causes of suffering, Scripture directs us to the God who knows all things and is fully trustworthy. In other words, Scripture doesn’t give us knowledge so that we will have intellectual mastery of certain events; it gives us knowledge so that we would know and trust God.
Somehow, turning to God and trusting him with the mysteries of suffering is the answer to the problem of suffering. You might be able to discern some obvious causes of suffering, and knowing those causes might help alleviate the pain. But all suffering is intended to train us to fix our eyes on the true God.
Therefore, regardless of the causes, suffering is an opportunity to answer the deepest and most important of all questions: Whom will I trust? Whom will I worship?
~Edward T. Welch in Heart of the Matter
Over the past few years of studying biblical counseling, I have been greatly helped by the ministry of CCEF (The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation). If you’ve followed Precious Adornment for any length of time, you have probably noticed that I often share excerpts or videos containing biblical advice from men like David Powlison, Ed Welch, or Paul David Tripp. The reason I do this is because I have learned so much about understanding and applying God’s Word from the counselors, authors, and teachers connected with CCEF, that I want to pass as much of that knowledge on to you as I can.
For that reason, I’m glad that I can now recommend a new resource from CCEF called Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Changing Lives. In this one year devotional book, you will find comfort, challenge, conviction, and encouragement in the form of brief, daily readings provided by the faculty of CCEF. These daily devotionals cover a wide array of topics such as suffering, relationships, the process of change, overcoming fear and anxiety, trust in God, forgiveness, and much more.
As you read this book, you will find that your attention is continually being pointed to Christ and the hope of the Gospel, God’s sovereignty over all things, and His loving purposes for you as His precious child. The readings are deep, yet completely accessible. Because I was reading Heart of the Matter for the purposes of this review, I had to move through it more quickly than I wanted to, and I often found myself thinking that I would benefit much more from reading and considering just one devotional at a time, which is of course, how the book is intended to be used.
I am thoroughly convinced that the Bible contains every truth required to care for the human soul (2 Pet. 1:3-4), and I believe that Heart of the Matter illustrates well what a rich resource God has provided for us in His Word. The authors go deep into the Scriptures to reveal profoundly beautiful truths that we too often miss in our hurried approach to Bible reading.
New Growth Press has provided me with the opportunity to give a copy of Heart of the Matter to two of my readers. If you would like to enter the giveaway, please add a comment to this blog post and make sure to provide your email address in the appropriate field (so I can contact you if you win!).
At midnight tomorrow night, I will use Random.org to choose two winning comments.
Thanks to everyone for participating in the Heart of the Matter book giveaway. As promised, I used Random.org to find two winners…
The first winner is Colleen who posted the third comment. Congratulations, Colleen!
And proving that God has a sense of humor, the second winner is Taaron N Niki Parsons who posted the 18th comment.
Many thanks to New Growth Press for making this giveaway possible.
Your daily dose of true beauty advice…
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity. —Hebrews 2:14
When we are hurting, if there is one thing that eases our pain or grief, it is this: We want someone to understand. We want somebody to really identify with us, to have some idea of what we’re enduring.
It is certainly like that for me. I hate feeling alone and alienated in those dark times when my paralysis seems overwhelming. On my really rough days, it helps to remember what the Bible tells us about Jesus identifying with us in our sufferings. It says that He was tested and tried in every way like us. That helps!
When it comes to suffering, the Lord Jesus has gone ahead of us, and has intimate, experiential, first-hand knowledge of the pain, the weight, the frustration, and the struggle. He appreciates. He understands. He connects.
But it works both ways! Not only does Christ identify with us in our suffering, we identify with Him in His suffering. He identifies with us, and we identify with Him. He appreciates all that it means to be human, and we appreciate all that His divine grace supplies. Through suffering, He participates in our humanity; through suffering, we participate in His divinity.
So why do we struggle so to escape our suffering? Why do we look so desperately for release? I suppose this is why I’m not earnestly seeking to be healed and raised up out of this wheelchair. I see this trial of mine as a window into the heart of Jesus. Suffering is a connecting point between my Savior and me. And when I see His great love on the cross, it gives me courage to take up my cross and follow Him.
~Joni Eareckson Tada in “The Price of Identifying,” October 11 Daily Devotional
It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a post like this, but I came across a few goodies online yesterday that I wanted to share with you. I think you’ll enjoy checking them out…
Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You to Chill Out — Stephen Altrogge reminds moms that they don’t have to sew their kids’ clothing or maintain organic gardens to be godly mothers. Our calling as moms is really very simple.
Jesus Understands Loneliness — Feeling totally out of place and misunderstood in the world? In an article for Desiring God, Jon Bloom points out that no one understands loneliness better than Jesus does.
Why Abortion Is the Most Important Issue This Election — Denny Burk writes a compelling argument for why Christians should keep the sanctity of human life at the forefront of their minds as they cast their votes on November 6. If God’s children won’t take a stand for the unborn, who will?
A Year of Biblical Womanhood: A Review — I have been greatly disturbed by Thomas Nelson’s decision to publish Rachel Held Evans’s book on “biblical” womanhood. As Trilla Newbell reviews the book for Desiring God, she points out some of the major flaws present in Evans’s perspective on the Word of God and womanhood.
Cancer—Joni’s Journey — October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In a new episode of Joni and Friends, Joni Eareckson Tada talks about her recent battle against stage 3 breast cancer: “Within minutes Dr. Polan came into the room with Ken and me and announced that this was a suspicious-looking mass with irregular edges and she thought I should move right away to have it further examined. That was pretty scary.” As always, Joni’s steadfast faith in God in the midst of suffering is an incredible encouragement.
Image: Svilen Milev
If you’ve visited Precious Adornment for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with my sister Niki whom I often mention. Over the past few years, the Lord has drawn her closer to Him through her experiences with various forms of suffering. I asked if she’d be willing to share some of the lessons learned through her pain and she graciously agreed.
Today’s post is from her…
Last Saturday was supposed to have been the day. October 6, 2012—A day filled with joy and celebration—the day we would welcome a second precious child into our loving arms. But God had other plans. Instead, He chose to take our little one home to be with Him after 11 weeks of life in my womb.
When Melissa asked me to consider sharing what God has taught me through the pain of miscarriage, I hesitated. I felt unqualified. The suffering I’ve faced seems to pale in comparison to the burdens I’ve witnessed within my circle of friends alone—years of infertility, multiple miscarriages, childhood cancer, the death of children or a spouse. But as my due date drew nearer, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging, gently stirring me to share my story, to tell others what He has taught me through this journey.
The Beginning of Sorrow
Three years ago, my husband Taaron and I welcomed our sweet daughter, Addison Jane, into our family. That was an incredibly joyous, but difficult day. The delivery was rough, to say the least, but at the end of 18 hours of labor, we were thrilled to meet our beautiful, healthy baby girl. Shortly after Addison’s birth, though, I began to experience what I thought were thought were postpartum complications—severe anxiety, fevers, flu-like symptoms, joint pains, shooting pains throughout my body, severe headaches, fatigue…
When the symptoms persisted for months, I began to realize that something was wrong. After several doctor’s visits and medical tests, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and Lyme disease. Thankfully, the Lord provided two Lyme disease specialists who were able to help me significantly. Still, though, the doctors informed us that we needed to wait before trying to have another baby. Lyme disease has an almost unending list of complications, including a higher rate of birth deformities, stillbirth, and miscarriage. So, we waited.
An Unexpected Blessing
As Addison approached 3 years of age and I approached 32, I began to wonder if the Lord would ever allow me to have more children. At the beginning of this year, my husband and I were surprised and thrilled to discover that baby number two would enter our family around October 6th. When my blood work showed drastic improvement for the first time in my almost 3 year battle with Lyme, we were overjoyed! We felt confident that this was God’s timing. It seemed He was healing my body and allowing me to bear another child.
During my six-week ultrasound, we saw that tiny little blip on the screen indicating that a precious life now resided inside of me. What a blessing. We decided to wait, as many couples do, until the first trimester was over before making our big announcement—just in case. At eleven weeks, we returned for the next ultrasound with plans to announce our happy news to friends and family just after the appointment.
However, as I lay on the table anxiously searching the screen for that tiny heartbeat, I knew almost immediately what had happened. Our sweet little one was with Jesus. Pain filled my heart and tears filled my eyes as I tried to hold it together until we made it out of the doctor’s office.
Peace in the Pain
So often in my Christian walk, I’ve heard believers talk about the “peace that passes all understanding” in times of suffering. For the first time in my life, I felt that peace. Though the pain has been great, I have come to understand that God’s grace is greater. His peace is real. Jesus is enough. I think this is something you simply can’t understand until you’ve experienced it yourself. All I can say is that it was as though God was holding me in His everlasting arms while I mourned the loss of our precious child.
As I type these words, I am so aware that many of you can relate to my story. Many of you have faced this pain. Some of you have faced far worse. Miscarriage produces a strange rollercoaster of emotions.
For the past seven months, I have been mostly ok. But then there are those days—those days when you wonder what your baby would have looked like. The days that you long to hold that sweet little one in your arms and kiss his or her face. The days when you think about the life your child would have lived. It is on those days that God has carried me and encouraged my heart through what I like to call little breadcrumbs from His Word.
Addison and I have been slowly reading through the book of John for the past few months. Never before have I noticed how much Jesus emphasized the concept that He is ALL we need. He is the bread of life. He is living water. He is the great I AM. These are truths I’ve heard for as long as I can remember, but I’m not sure I ever fully understood.
A few weeks ago, I was having an especially difficult day with Lyme symptoms and sadness over the miscarriage. “Coincidentally,” Melissa posted this devotional from Joni Eareckson Tada on the very same morning that I had read the same passage Joni mentions from the book of John:
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to say with the psalmist, “God, I am full! I’m stuffed full of blessings and I can’t think of anything else I desire on earth besides you.” Oh, to be that satisfied.
When you become satiated in Christ, it is evidence that contentment has the definite upper hand in your heart. When Jesus says to you, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry,” he is talking about gratification of the soul (John 6:35).
To be satisfied in Christ means being full. Never wanting more. We need not ever be hungry for “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The role of the Word of God is to feed faith’s appetite for Christ.
The All-Sufficient Savior
Jesus knew we would face times of immense suffering here on this earth because He faced the worst suffering of anyone. He knew we would sometimes feel abandoned and alone. He knew we would need to be constantly reminded that HE IS ENOUGH.
Jesus never promised us that this life would be easy. In fact, He tells us just the opposite in John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
What a comfort! Life is hard. Suffering is real. This world brings pain, but JESUS IS ENOUGH!
Your daily dose of true beauty advice…
Is there anyone reading this who is not faced with a perplexity of some sort? Some of you face serious dilemmas. We want to pray, “Lord, please remove the dilemma.” Usually the answer is “No, not right away.” We must face it, pray over it, think about it, wait on the Lord, make a choice. Sometimes it is an excruciating choice…
Paul said he had been “very thoroughly initiated into the human lot with all its ups and downs” (Philippians 4:12, NEB). He was hard-pressed, bewildered, persecuted, and struck down.
God in His mercy did not choose to remove the dilemmas with which he was faced (some of His greatest mercies are His refusals), but chose instead to make Himself known to Paul because of them, in ways which would strengthen his faith and make him a strengthener and an instrument of peace to the rest of us…
Paul goes on to say:
“It is for your sake that all things are ordered, so that, as the abounding grace of God is shared by more and more, the greater may be the chorus of thanksgiving that ascends to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15, NEB).
Maybe Paul’s testimony, which has cheered countless millions, will cheer somebody who still faces a dilemma he has begged the Lord to remove. All of Paul’s were solved, but not all of them in Paul’s way or Paul’s time, Selah.
~Elisabeth Elliot in “Lord, Please Remove the Dilemma,” September 27 Daily Devotional
Your daily dose of true beauty advice…
One of the most comforting scriptures I know is from Psalm 56 where it says, “[God], you keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
I love that image. Not one tear of yours has escaped the attention of your loving God. He has numbered them and collected them.
And what’s more, He’ll wipe away not just all, but every one of your tears. Because each single tear represents some different sorrow, some unique grief you’ve gone through: maybe the death of a loved one, or a divorce you weren’t expecting, or a life-altering illness.
Each grief is different, and the Bible says that God will atone for every solitary tear. Each one has meaning. So when times of weeping come your way, prepare yourself with these assurances from God’s Word. No tear will be wasted.
~Joni Eareckson Tada in “No Tear Wasted 2“
Your daily dose of true beauty advice…
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. ~Psalm 103:1-5
After years of quadriplegia, my bones are feeling tired. But whenever I struggle with pain, I pray, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” I force all parts of me to bless the Lord, even my lower back when it’s aching—it’s one way of making certain God receives glory during physically agonizing times.
Physical pain can cloud our convictions about God’s benefits, which is why I must continually stir my soul to remember them. God has pardoned all my sin, rescued, restored, crowned me with his love, and healed all my diseases. Does this mean the pain goes away? Not immediately, but I have the sure promise that just as Jesus rose from the grave with a new body, so I will one day rise with no more pain or heartache. For now, as Paul says in Romans 8, we groan, waiting for the redemption God has promised.
Nevertheless, our groans can glorify God! Next time your muscles ache, your head throbs, or your feet cramp, force these body parts to join your soul in praising God: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; and even my sore back blesses you. Every part of me blesses your holy name!” You will be stirring your soul to recall God’s benefits. You will be offering a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).
~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Praise Him with Every Part,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, July 28 2012
Your daily dose of true beauty advice…
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Today’s verse underscores why there’s such a thing as friendship. It’s what we do in the body of Christ. We are to consider —think creatively about—spurring one another on in our Christian walk. Christian friendships are never idle. Our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Lord are either moving onward and upward, or we are diminishing each other.
We are to see our friends in the light of what God intends for them to become. We must not become complacent or disillusioned when friends disappoint us—like anyone, our friends are fallen image-bearers, marred and defaced by the world, the flesh and the devil. But God is in the business of re-creating them. His goal is to restore His image—the image of Christ—in our loved ones.
It is our role to join with God in His glorious work to redeem the people we love, as we encourage them with vision for their growth in Christ (Ephesians 4:15). We can help enhance the “new creation” in them (II Corinthians 5:17). We can push and prod our friends through our prayers (James 5:16). We must never let our passion for our friendships wane because we lose this marvelous sense of purpose. We must constantly consider ways we can spur one another on.
~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Friendship Has a Purpose,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, August 19, 2012
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:11
I recently watched as the host of a news program called Dr. Albert Mohler “crazy” for expressing his belief that Christ empowers people to change and turn away from all forms of sin, including the sin of homosexual behavior. Is she right? Are we as Christians crazy or hateful for believing that homosexuality is not only a sin, but also one that can be overcome?
Although the voices of popular culture continually grow louder and more forceful in their attempts to reverse our convictions on this issue, it is the Word of God alone which must guide our thinking. Today as always, the Bible offers hope and victory for those tempted and enslaved by homosexual attraction and behavior.
Pastor John MacArthur clearly states Scripture’s unchanged teaching on homosexuality, “What does God think of homosexuals? Well, the answer is He loves them just like He loves you and just like He loves me. No different…It is God’s desire that they be saved, that they be justified, that they be sanctified, that they be washed. And that homosexuality and that homosexual behavior be only part of their past so that it can be said of them, ‘Such were some of you.’” (Sermon links listed below)
Below, I’ve compiled a list of solid biblical resources to help both those who struggle with homosexual desire and those who hope to minister to others in regard to this issue.
Articles & Booklets
Homosexuality: Speaking the Truth in Love by Ed Welch
The Words No Parents Wants to Hear by Tim Geiger of Harvest USA
Desiring God list of resources for understanding and addressing homosexual behavior in light of Scripture
Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction by Ellen Dykas and Dave White (2009 CCEF National Conference)
When Sons and Daughters Say They Are Gay by John Freeman (2009 CCEF National Conference)
What Does the Bible Actually Say about Homosexuality? by Robert Gagnon (2009 CCEF National Conference)
Hope, Holiness, and Homosexuality by Dr. John Street (2010 Shepherds’ Conference)
What God Thinks of Homosexuals by Dr. John MacArthur
Thinking Biblically about Homosexuality by Dr. John MacArthur
Out of a Far Country 6-part Revive Our Hearts interview with Christopher Yuan and his mother Angela
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved,
put on a heart of compassion…”
Pain—it’s one experience that we as human beings hold in common. It may arrive in various forms and remain for differing lengths of time, yet still, none of us will escape this life untouched by the sorrow that runs deeply on our sin-cursed planet.
Although we’re all familiar with pain, we seem for the most part to be strangely ill-equipped to help when suffering strikes the people we know. What do we say? How do we say it? Should we say anything at all? We can sometimes feel frozen with uncertainty about how or when to respond.
Unfortunately, you will rarely meet a person in pain whose suffering hasn’t been compounded by inappropriate comments made by people who were likely well-intentioned, but were also poorly prepared to provide comfort in moments of need. The good news is that even though we will all make mistakes in this area, by God’s grace we can each become better equipped to communicate love and encouragement to others in times when they need it most.
The following are some Dos and Don’ts on helping those who are hurting…
Do pray for compassion.
Each of us enters this world hard-wired to focus solely on three things—me, myself, and I. Selfishness presents one of the greatest barriers to helping those in need, since we must first notice that others actually have needs before we can begin to offer assistance! We need to pray regularly that God would break down our sinfully selfish natures and give us hearts like Christ’s that will be moved with compassion for the hurting people that we meet (Matt. 9:36; 14:14).
Do try to put yourself in their shoes.
The Scripture commands us to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15), but tears won’t come easily when we allow ourselves to remain emotionally detached from the hurts others experience. If we don’t take time to really think about what someone else is going through and try to imagine what he or she may be feeling, we’re likely to be terrible counselors, spouting off comments that totally miss the mark and cause more harm than good.
In contrast, Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, came to earth and experienced human pain firsthand so that He would be able to fully “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15). He put Himself in our shoes; we must follow His example by trying to do the same for those in need around us.
Don’t assume you know the reason for their pain.
Another mistake that we as Christians can make is to approach another person’s problems like a detective rather than as a compassionate friend. Cause and effect makes us comfortable, so we may wrongly busy ourselves with attempting to discern the reason behind the suffering instead of focusing our efforts on trying to alleviate the suffering.
Job’s “friends” serve as the perfect example of this misguided handling of another person’s pain. As you may remember, those three yahoos appeared to be full of wisdom…until they started talking. When they opened their mouths, they illustrated the truth of Proverbs 17:28 by revealing the foolishness which their silence had previously kept hidden. These men had no earthly idea why calamity had come knocking at Job’s door, and their arrogant and insensitive attempts to explain the unexplainable only increased Job’s misery and evoked God’s righteous anger (Job 42:7).
In this broken world, we would do well to remember that it’s not only rain that visits the just and the unjust, but tornadoes, earthquakes, and famine as well. People don’t expect us to explain their pain; they just need us to love them through it.
More on this topic tomorrow…