June 15, 2010

Now on a more serious note . . .

(I had to get all of the unrelated stuff out in the last post, so that this one will be mostly business).

I had a fabulous discussion with my small group, as we are going through Romans, about faith.

More specifically, how there is a difference between believing in God and believing God.

I tend to have this hate/love relationship with Tim Keller . . . as it's his study that we're going through. However, this week's study was really good.

We went over Romans 4:1-25 this week. He points out that faith = trust God's promise to save, and that, "saving faith is a 'trust transfer.' It is the removing of one's hopes and trust from other things and the placing of them on God as saviour."

he goes on to say,

"It isn't a general belief in God that saves, but it is believing God when he promises a way of salvation by grace.

Saving faith is not faith in God in general. You can have lots and lots of strong faith that God exists, that he is loving, that he is holy. You can believe that the Bible is God's holy word. You can show great reverence for God. Yet all the while you can be seeking to be your own saviour and justifier by trusting in performance in religion, performance in moral character, performance as a parent, performance in vocation, etc.

To say saving faith is a "trust transfer" is to consciously see where your trust is, and remove one's hopes and trust from those things and to place them on God as saviour in particular (not only on him as God in general)."

He says, that what is means to "believe God" includes . . .

"1. To not go on feelings or appearances. Faith is not opposed to reason, but to feelings and appearances. Faith is going on something despite our weakness, despite our feelings and perceptions.

2. To focus on facts about God . . . faith is not the absence of thinking, but rather is a profound insistence on acting out of measured reflection, instead of just reacting to circumstances.

3. To trust the bare word of God . . . it is taking God at his word even when there is nothing else to go on, when feelings, popular opinion, and common sense seem to contradict his promise."

Yes . . . what a difference it is to believe God . . . to abandon self-trust and self-sufficiency. Not to just co-exist with God (as just believing in Him would permit us to do), but to believe what He says and know that He is walking with us daily. Even when nothing makes sense, even when our circumstances suck. To know that He is the one who promises to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), that He is the one who promises rest to the burdened and weary (Matthew 11:28-30) To believe Him when He tells us that we are His children, that we are saved, justified, adopted into His loving care, brought into covenant with Him forever (Ephesians 2:12-13; Romans 5:1-2, 6-10; Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 3:26-29)

What would it look like to really, truly believe Him?

To trust Him with every aspect of our lives, to trust Him with our future? To believe Him when He says He cares for us and will provide for us (Matthew 6:33, 1 Peter 5:7, Proverbs 3:5-6) And to stop leaning on our own understanding? To live in His reality?

And to remember that He is the God who created the universe, the same God who led Israel out of Egypt, the God of Abraham, the God who raised Christ from the dead. He's the same God who, with an outstretched arm offers us relationship and life . . . and who we have access to daily. Kind of crazy.

June 14, 2010

Armageddon It

The title of this blog has nothing to do with anything, other than the fact that I just can't get enough Def Leppard.

Last night, I made the mistake of wearing a halter top outside . . . only to wind up with no less than 10,000 mosquito bites on my upper back. it's pretty awesome.

Julie is my hero for sharing recipes that are not only absolutely delicious, but healthy (or in the case of desserts, moderately healthy) - I made her version of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, which are nothing short of amazing. You substitute a smashed banana for butter, and so I thought that since these were "healthy" cookies that I'd go overboard and eat about 12 of them. I don't think the banana negates the sugar and the chocolate chips. Oh well, you only live once.

In my never-ending quest to be healthy, I decided to go a week without artificial sweetener last week. Now, I've been drinking diet coke since 2003, and I've been a splenda junkie ever since it debuted . . . I drink 2-3 cups of coffee (at least) daily with splenda, I drink at least 2 diet cokes a day, I love light 'n fit yogurt and sugar-free "desserts" like jell-o pudding. Not to mention crystal light and other diet drinks.

Day one of no artificial sweetener sucked. I was probably growling at people, my head hurt, and I really just wanted a diet coke, people. I've been wanting to give it up for years, but never had the desire or will power until lately. Day 2 of no artificial sweetener was fabulous. I don't know if it was psychological, but I felt amazing. I made it through the whole week, and now I've decided to quit for good. I just use raw sugar in my coffee and drink unsweetened iced tea (fruit herbal teas like blueberry or rasberry, mmm) and water throughout the day. It's pretty awesome - it forces me to drink more water, which is always a good thing.

Also, I read that drinking diet soda or using artificial sweetener actually causes you to crave sugar more. I never believed it because I would just end up craving more diet drinks, yogurt, or sugar-free pudding most of the time. But, it's totally true. I usually have a wicked sweet tooth, but last week I didn't really crave sweet things.

Now, if I could eat purely organic and natural everything, that would rock. However, that's a little bit too expensive and impractical. So I think I'll stick to cooking more, eating more vegetables and only using raw sugar. Yeah for being healthy :-D

On another note, I love tattoos. Whenever I'm around a friend who has tattoos, it makes me want another tattoo. But then I see old people with tattoos that are totally blurry and unrecognizable . . . and I quickly change my mind.

BUT, if I was to get another one, it would be a compass or a ship on my left foot (my tattoo is on the right side of my body, so I'd have to even things out by getting one on the left!). I just think ship tattoos look pretty sweet, not to mention the pirate affiliation. I had a discussion with some of the girls in my small group on Memorial day and decided that I'd get a Jesus pirate pedal boat tattoo. Wouldn't that be awesome? I bet that I'd be the only one you knew with that. Juuuust kidding.

In all seriousness, I think I'd get a ship tattoo and somehow tie a verse in . . . or, I would get a compass tattoo and reference how the trajectory of my life is toward God . . . or maybe a giant magnet since He's pulling me closer to Him. Too bad compasses and magnets aren't as pretty as a big ship.

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