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Posts from the ‘devotional’ Category

I shall not want.

“When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want.”

(Audrey Assad)

It’s easier to say no to the leeks and meat pots of slavery
after I’ve drunk of living water and had my fill
of the bread of life.

From a place of fullness, not
a place of hunger, do You bid me say,
“I shall not want.”


Hearts wide open.

When we fix our eyes on “me and mine,” our hearts contract.  When we fix our eyes on “Christ and His,” our hearts expand.

God give us hearts wide open.

Only what’s done for Christ.

Only one life will soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

This was part of a poem written by C.T. Studd in the 19th century.  My childhood pastor lent me his book, a biography about C.T. Studd, when I was in high school? college?  His book was highlighted, underlined, well-loved.

And I don’t remember all the fine details from Studd’s biography, but I remember this:

He left everything.  Wealth, family, and as many would say, most of all, a promising career as a top British cricketer.  He and six others left the spotlight of cricket (the most popular sport of the time) to preach the gospel in China.

This meant something to me in theory back then, when I was still dreaming of the future and finishing school, but this means something to me in reality now, tottering between the obscurity of motherhood and home life and what I’m sometimes ambitious to become, whatever the avenue.

The world says to hustle for your dreams.  Your dreams matter.  Dreams that, if I’m honest, are often so wrapped up in self glory and pride.

But he knew what was more important than hustling to fulfill his own dreams: hustling for the gospel of Christ wherever and however God sent him.

No one in China was impressed with his cricket skills.  They didn’t even know what cricket was.  They didn’t know his name.  But that didn’t matter.  His life was for Christ.  He wasn’t out to make a name for himself.  He was out to make the name of Jesus Christ known.  To make Jesus’ name alone great.

And he could have come in all the pomp of what his social bubble said he was, but he came, meek and lowly.  He even took on Chinese garb, controversial as that decision was at the time.  But he changed even his dress so that his clothes and dress would not be a stumbling block or point of distraction while he preached the gospel there.

Contrary to what the cricket and high-powered British world said of his decision, or what others might say now, his wasn’t a life wasted.  It was a life sown deep into the ground that the harvest might be a thousandfold by the grace of God.

Because imagine when he finally stood before his Savior.  His response wouldn’t have been, “I was the best at cricket!”  “I bought all the nicest things!”  “I had the most fans!”  “People roared and cheered the loudest for me!”  It would have been, “Everything.  I gave You everything.”

And I need this reminder every day.  Only what’s done for Christ matters.  Only a life given and “lost” for His sake — so that we might find Something Better.

Sacred work.

“Write upon the doors of thy shop and chamber, … This is the time on which my endless life dependeth.”

Richard Baxton

Reminded today about how the Puritans approached work.  Any work.

To them, the only work worth doing wasn’t obviously “sacred” work.  Secular work, too, could be sacred when consecrated to God and done for His glory and gospel.

They believed that it isn’t so much the work at hand but the heart doing the work that makes the difference.  So whether I’m changing diapers, cleaning, doing calligraphy, or anything, I can still have “heavenly affections” in “earthly employments” (Thomas Gouge).

I’m still wrestling with this in real life though.

I still wonder if what I’m doing now is as significant as what I originally wanted to do with this season of my life (Bible translation).

But what can I say?  His hand has surely led me in this way.  And maybe it was done so that I wouldn’t glory so much in my vocation as in my God.

So whether it be through learning a new language and preaching the gospel that way … or learning calligraphy and preaching the gospel that way … or learning to care better for my family and preaching the gospel that way … in all ways, let me be completely given to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

If I don’t find eternity so obviously in my work, let me bring eternity to my work … through my worship, trusting in God’s redeeming power.

What a Friend.

(I wrote this post some time ago — but these thoughts revisited me today, so I’m finally posting. ♥)

As I sat downstairs late last night after everyone had gone to bed, I began to wonder about my friendships, and doubt began to puncture each one.

And this old hymn — one I sang so many times in childhood — came to mind.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

And I realized — these moments of doubt in regard to my friendships usually come when I’m not rooted in my friendship with Christ.

Do I have any true, unshakable friendship where my friend pursues me without fail and loves me without condition?  Any friendship where my friend truly rejoices with my every joy and weeps with my every grief?


Yes, I do have a Friend like that.

Praise be to God, He is my perfect, unchanging, all-surpassing friend.

And all other earthly friendships can rest on that immovable friendship.  No matter if they are whole or broken, inspiring or disappointing, well or ill.  If Christ’s friendship to me satisfies my whole heart, I need not search for perfection anywhere else.

And I can pour out love, I can pursue, I can vow unfailing friendship even in the face of failure.  Because I have a Friend who does that for me.

The one Jesus loves.

I shared this on my Instagram already, but I wanted to save it here for memory sake, too.

Every morning during breakfast, the kids and I read from the Bible and Sally Lloyd-Jones’ Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing.  We really cherish this time together, and it’s as beneficial for my soul as I hope it is for them.

I’d been thinking a lot about identity, and last week, I took this poignant devotional from Sally’s book to heart:

When you first meet someone, she might ask, “Who are you?”

And you might say, “Well, I’m So-and-So.  And I am very good at this thing and that thing and here’s where I live and this is my family and –”

But do you know who God says you are?

The one Jesus loves.


On temptation to sin.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

A friend sent this verse to me recently when we were sharing about the temptations that come with toddler difficulties.  Temptations to be angry and sin, temptations to be disgruntled and ungrateful.

But God is faithful.  He will provide.  Let me never believe otherwise.

And may my husband and children see this truth fleshed out in me.

My core identity: “His.”

Calligraphy and design have been a surprising detour for me.  At heart, I still identify as a writer.  But the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether that’s accurate, because at different stages of my life, God has always provided different creative outlets for me to worship Him, express myself, and point to Him.

During high school, it was piano and song; during college and my single years, it was writing; and during this season, it’s still writing but mostly calligraphy.

But calligraphy, and all the aesthetics that come with it, is new to me.  I’ve only been into it for a year and a half (off and on in the beginning), so being known as “the calligrapher” still makes me feel uncomfortable.  It doesn’t feel completely like my own skin yet.

In the beginning, I struggled with this.  I wondered if I should drop calligraphy.  I wondered if it was changing me.  I wondered if I was becoming too much about aesthetics and see-able beauty than inward, lasting beauty.

JE never got that sense.  He laughed a little at my wrestlings.  To him, it was just another hat I was wearing.  At one point, he told me, “Don’t let your pursuits define you.  You define your pursuits.”

He’s right.  I didn’t need to be defined by the calligraphy world and its values. But I forgot I could redeem this pursuit, shape this pursuit, for His purposes in and through me.

Looking back and inward a bit, I realize my struggle was one of identity.  I kept allowing these hats and temporary roles define me to the core.

Rather than seeing myself as a bondservant who took on piano, writing, calligraphy, motherhood, etc., as my Master gave them to me as gifts for a season, I saw myself as pianist, writer, calligrapher, mother in a core sense.

The only role I am to the core is that of His daughter and bondservant.  Everything else is a garment that I put on and take off, according to my Master’s calling.  I’m not of this world so as to take on the world’s labels to my inmost person.

This is good, because if my hands fall off and I can never touch a pencil, paintbrush, pen, or piano again, my identity suffers no loss.  I am still His.  My identity is secure, because it relies on my immutable God, not on these earthly garments which will pass away.

But while I’m still here, in everything, I’m called to be a conduit of His grace and goodness (a la Tim Challies) and His ambassador to this foreign world — whatever the role, whatever the means, whatever the season.

I am not my “hat,” but I wear my hat to His glory until He tells me to get another one or do away with these hats all together.

Her greatest crown.

So touched by my dear (and talented) friend Steph’s words as she reflects on pruning down in different areas of her life:

my biggest female role model is the no holds barred mover and shaker, the Proverbs 31 woman. i desire her industrious spirit, her strength, her value to her husband and children, her savvy, her wisdom. but her greatest crown is her fear of the Lord.  this is what i strive after, a deep and enduring worship to my Maker.

Especially that one part — “but her greatest crown is her fear of the Lord.”

It doesn’t matter what else I think I may have achieved in this life.  May my worship and fear of the Lord be the crown.

Sisters in conflict.

I was asked to give a devotional at our church’s women’s fellowship a few weeks ago.  As I spent time praying and and thinking about how I could encourage the women in our church, the conflict between Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3) pressed on my heart.  I know how divisive and cancerous these conflicts can become.  And I know my own heart and capacity for sin too well.

This devotional is by no means exhaustive, but I wanted to share some kernels I gathered from my time in this study.  I’ll start big picture and work my way into the text and down our hearts.

A Little Background

Paul wrote the book of Philippians, the letter to the Philippian church, from prison in Rome.   A letter from Paul in prison!  That fact alone probably perked their ears and softened their hearts.  His tone is joyful, content, passionate.

The letter is punctuated with joyful and longing looks to Christ and Heaven, because he felt the weight of the surpassing worth of Christ in his life, in his soul, in his heart.  His heart yearned for Christ.  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (1:21-23)  But he knew he would be released from prison and continue in ministry for some time more.

He desired to be useful to his Master here on earth, but his heart longed to be with Him.

This theme of focused, unified earthly ministry in light of eternity runs deep through this letter.  Everything seems to be weighed in contrast to the hope and glory and joy of Christ and being with Him.  And given this hope and glory and joy, he says, let’s be united in Christ, ministering side by side for the sake of the gospel.  Nothing else matters.

The Philippian Church

The gospel was preached first to the women in Philippi, among whom was Lydia (Acts 16:11-15).  She and her household believed, and the church later met in her home.

And among those in the church were Euodia and Syntyche.  Paul referred to these two as women who “labored side by side” with him in the gospel (Phil. 4:3).  It was no light thing to labor in the gospel with the Apostle Paul.  They likely labored alongside him amidst much persecution and opposition (remember he was in prison?).

They were likely influential women in the life of the church, prominent in the work of ministry there.

Euodia and Syntyche’s Conflict

We don’t know the exact nature of their conflict, because Paul didn’t address the particulars in his letter.  It probably wasn’t theological, where one was preaching a false gospel or distorting Scripture, otherwise Paul would have clearly corrected the one in wrong.  So, as most scholars and commentators conclude, the conflict was likely personal in nature.

(And really, as women, don’t we know the myriad of conflicts that can arise between us?  Even between sisters in Christ who have labored side by side for the gospel?)

Paul’s Appeal

Given the ongoing, unresolved conflict, news of which has reached Paul even as he sat in his prison cell, Paul “entreats” them to “agree in the Lord” (4:2).  He entreats them to be of the same mind in the Lord.

Easier said than done.  How do you ask two women in sharp, divisive conflict to be of the same mind?

By reminding them of Christ.  By reminding them that they are to be in agreement in Him.  Not earthly compromise or negotiation but heavenly wisdom and harmony.

Euodia and Syntyche’s Lord and Savior humbled Himself as a bondservant and obeyed God even to the point of an unjust death on the Cross (Phil. 2:1-8).  Why?  Because He had a single mind and heart for the glory and joy of His Father.

And it’s as if Paul is saying, “How about you, Euodia and Syntyche?  Remember Jesus Christ your Lord?  Can you also posture as a bondservant?  Can you also obey God even to the point of what may seem humiliating and unjust?  Remember how He laid aside His human agenda for God’s purposes?  Can you do the same?”

Paul’s appeal also sits on the shoulder of the examples of Timothy and Epaphroditus.  Timothy sought the welfare of the church and the interests of Christ rather than his own (2:20-21).  Epaphroditus risked his life and nearly died for the work of Christ (2:29-30).

So when he addresses these two sisters in conflict, it’s again like he’s saying, “I’m in prison, Christ gave His life, Timothy put his self-interests to death, and Epaphroditus almost died for the work of Christ … Can you also die to yourselves for the sake of Christ and His work?

“Can you lay aside your rights, interests, and grievances and put on the mind of Christ, the mind of a bondservant completely given for God and His kingdom agenda?

“Rather than sowing discord in the church with your unresolved conflict, can you die to your personal agendas?  Can you humble yourselves?

“Remember you are my co-laborers?  Remember you love Christ?  Remember He is your very life?  Remember His example and ours?  Can you lay low and be at peace with one another?

“Rather than striving with each other, can you once again strive side by side for what really counts — God’s glory in gospel ministry?”

This was no small matter.  Their conflict turned into unconfessed, unrepentant relational sin.  Satan had a foothold.  Left unchecked, it could slowly tear the church apart. It could hinder the gospel witness and ministry of the church.  This wasn’t a petty disagreement anymore.  This was becoming demonic.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?  Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1-2)

“Who is wise and understanding among you?  By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:13-18)

Paul’s Call for Others To Be Peacemakers

Repentance and reconciliation between Euodia and Syntyche were so important that Paul also called for his “true companion” and Clement and the rest of his “fellow workers” at the church to “help these women” (Phil. 4:3).

Guys, this is so important.  Please help these women.  Don’t brush this aside as a petty dispute or simple matter between the women.  This is so important to work out together.

Gospel ministry includes reconciliation and peacemaking between brothers and sisters in Christ, too.  Because how can we say we are in the work of beseeching others to be reconciled to God in Christ when we who are in Christ cannot even be reconciled with each other?

This is important to the unity and effectiveness of the church.  This was so important that Paul singled them out in his letter.

And I trust they took Paul’s words to heart, remembering they weren’t enslaved to their sin and passions anymore, and were reconciled by the power of the Spirit working in their lives.


But what about us?  What about our sister relationships?

Do we value the unity we have in Christ?  Do we value the sisterhood that has been purchased by Christ’s death?  Is there a Euodia or Syntyche in our lives?  Have we cherished any unconfessed, unrepentant relational sin in our hearts?

We women can be so subtle and sophisticated in our cattiness, rivalry with one another, and expressions of displeasure or disagreement.  Comparison, jealousy, rivalry, pride, self-righteousness … we can be so subtle in our expressions of sin, especially for those of us who purport to be part of a church that holds Scripture high.  We know the standards of Scripture, so we become even more cunning in our sins against each other.

Ugh, she’s so conceited.
Ugh, she’s so annoying.

Ugh, she’s so flaky.
Ugh, her kids are so crazy, and she doesn’t raise them right like I would.
Ugh, she’s so bossy and opinionated.
Ugh, she prays for show.
Ugh, she’s so passive aggressive.
Ugh, she’s so worldly.
Ugh, she’s not pretty enough to be my friend.
Or ugh, she’s too pretty to be my friend.
Ugh, why does she get to have it all?
Ugh, she’s not the kind of person I click with.
Ugh, she’s so flirtatious.
Ugh, she’s so hard to talk to, to love, to serve, 
Ugh, she always wants to be in charge.

Our whispering, complaints, side comments to each other, to our “besties,” to our spouses.  Our gossiping, our sizing each other up.  Isn’t this earthly, unspiritual, demonic?

And what about Christ?  Is living truly Christ?  Is dying truly gain?  Do we share His mind to consider others above ourselves?  Are we among those who seek after their own interests, or do we seek the welfare of the church, the interests of Christ?

Is there genuine love and unity as sisters in Christ?  Are we truly for each other, laying down our lives for each other, pursuing true peace and love at all costs, dying to ourselves?  Do you seek unity with your sisters?  Do you seek to be a peacemaker between other sisters, or do you perpetuate the sins of conceit, pride, and bitterness?  Do you cherish your cliques, factions, and small armies that wage war against each other?

Would you destroy gospel witness and work for the sake of your pride?  Are your reputation and opinions of more importance than the work of reconciliation that Christ died for?

I pray no, no, no.

These are no small matters.

The unity of the church (for whom Christ died!) is at stake.  The effectiveness of gospel ministry is at stake.  Lives, souls are at stake.  God’s name and reputation are at stake.  The health of the church, God’s vehicle for missions and the visible body of Christ to a hell-bound world, is at stake.

As far as it depends on us, and with the help and accountability of other, faithful believers and sisters in the church, let’s fight our flesh and pride (not each other!) that we might be of the same mind.

Dear sister, if this is you — a woman in chronic conflict, cherishing selfish ambition — hear Christ’s appeal through Paul today: I entreat you, agree in the Lord.