Newness of life

Newness of life

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Romans 6.4, NASB

I had to memorize Romans 6.4 for Romans class in college, and that one phrase has stuck in my heart since – “newness of life.”
What a beautiful thing to know that now with Christ we have new life to walk in and soak up and enjoy.

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He is faithful to finish it.

I got an email tonight while reading/planning at Starbucks. It’s from a former camper who I talked to a little bit this past summer. Here’s part of it:

Subject: He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion

…When camp ended, I just couldn’t get over what you and I talked about. What you wrote on that card, I never forgot. I literally framed it and read it everyday. So I decided to act upon it. I started doing a devotion book every morning, that allowed me to look up verses in my Bible and use them throughout my day. I began memorizing and actually understanding what I was reading. I try to make sure it’s not part of my routine, I want it to be something I look forward to, not something I have to. “He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion.” Its something that i actually believe now. Lets just say, it truly changed my life. Ever since that one week in the summer, my relationship with my parents has been better, my eating habits are better, and my attitude towards life has totally changed. I even joined my Churches youth group! No longer am I on a rocky road with God but I have realized that when I’m at my weakest I’m at my strongest and he’s always there for me…

All my discontentment with life and my messy “Why, Lord?” emotions went away. I am…so undeserving to get emails like this. What a gift of grace. And even more than that, I am so undeserving of this life. I don’t just get to tell girls like this one about God’s faithfulness during the summer, I get to do it all the time. I get to introduce people to the God that will never let go of them. All of life is kingdom life, but boy do I get a front row seat to His action.

So today I end the day thankful. I’m thankful for fun freshman who are using my [sweet!] dance moves during their lip sync. I’m thankful for heart carrots and the opportunity to serve a sick roommate. I’m thankful for NT Wright and a new understanding of the gospels. I’m thankful for Casa Cielo coffee and a forgotten gift card that allowed me to buy some. I’m thankful for worship music that soothes my soul. I’m thankful for wonderful emails that bring me to tears. And most of all, I’m thankful for God’s grace that allows me [broken and sinful and messy and rebellious me!] to be called a saint, a member of the household of God, and a minister of the new covenant. He is good.

 

Sovereign.

This was one of my favorite songs we sang at CrossPointe, and I’ve had it on repeat these past few weeks.

Isn’t it easy to give a lot of lip service to God’s sovereignty? I was texting with a dear sweet friend about how the Lord knows our painful situations and will not allow them to consume us. Because Christ took the crushing that we deserve, we can know that our painful circumstances are only for our good and our joy, not to ruin us.

But man is it harder to believe that when we are in painful or even ordinary circumstances. It’s harder to trust God’s goodness when that friend has cancer or that financial situation looks impossible or that friend is barren or there doesn’t seem to be real community to be found anywhere. And I know for me it’s even harder to believe His sovereignty in the utterly mundane moments of life. It’s harder to believe that this life – this really normal and boring and lots of time uncomfortable life – is part of His plan to give me abundant life. This, Lord? You’re using this?

And the resounding answer is yes. He uses all things for His glory and my joy. He uses joyful circumstances [camp this summer], painful circumstances [leaving CrossPointe], and mundane circumstances [grading a hundred final exams] to transform me from one degree of glory to another. He’s good enough and powerful enough to use all these things to make me [and you] look more like Jesus.

So this Christmas rest knowing that He (our faithful and loving and KIND Father who gives good gifts) is in control of all things.

Salad spinning and half-marathons.

So this summer I spun a lot of salad.

Every day in the dining hall, the staff of Camp Lurecrest goes through tremendous amounts of lettuce at the salad bar. And all that lettuce has to be washed and spun. It’s a long and laborious job, and no. one. likes doing it. It’s not fun like cutting pineapples or making chicken sandwiches. It’s just a pain.

And I did it almost every other day. If there wasn’t something else to be doing, I’d ask Nate if the lettuce needed to be washed and he’d say yes, so I’d head to the fridge [“Jordan” is her name ;)] and grab out a few bags. And I hated it the whole time, but I got really good at it.

I was thinking about washing that lettuce the other day, and about frying the french fries and making eggs [all jobs no one likes]. I would, almost without fail, volunteer to do them daily, even though I hated them.

Why?

Because I knew I was loved.

Now stay with me for a bit. This summer was a summer of soaking in God’s love, of resting in the gospel, of joy in friends and life and Jesus. I woke up daily aware of God’s presence and my desperate need for Him. There were questions I had and feelings I had that I didn’t talk to anyone about except Him. I would take my hopes and fears and desires and throw them on Him at every moment, and in return I experienced an assurance of His love.

So when it was time to volunteer for those awful kitchen jobs, I volunteered. After all, He was loving me so well, why not love the other cooks well? And I had such satisfaction in Him that even when I was doing things that were uncomfortable or unpleasant I was filled with joy. So I grew to love putting myself last and volunteering to go get the lettuce and cut it. Not because Sarah is so good and unselfish, but because the gospel destroys my unselfishness.

I haven’t spun lettuce in awhile.

Actually I did it a week ago when I made hot and spicy tofu, but it was dumb because I should have just washed my little lettuce by hand. But as I was spinning it in a normal-sized salad spinner, my mind flashed back to camp. And I realized that I’ve pretty much been doing things that make me comfortable.

Yes, I unload the dishes every once in awhile, but that’s more because I feel guilty if my roommate does it all the time and I don’t. I’ll pick up my room when I don’t feel like it and I’ll grade when I don’t, but that’s out of obligation and not joy.

So I’m going to run a half marathon [13.1 miles]. I start training tomorrow.

Really I’m terrified, because I lack mental toughness and that’s what running half marathons is all about. I don’t want to fail, I don’t want to under-train, and most of all I don’t want to spend my free time and free energy running. I’d rather come home, put on a record, and watercolor. All. Day. Long. This life isn’t about my happiness and comfort, however. And if I only do things that are easy and comfortable, what good is that? I read Proverbs 14.23 yesterday – “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

More important than fighting my selfishness is seeing Jesus. The reason I’m not dying to myself here and not doing hard things for the glory of God is because I’m not soaking in the love of God. I’m not soaking in all that is mine in Christ. I’m not resting in the forever-finished work on the cross. I’m not throwing my heart and emotions and hurts and fears on Him. I’m turning inward or going to friends or frittering away my time on useless things.

So those many, many hours of training will be useful because I can spend them in focused and intentional meditation on Christ and all that is mine in Him – all the “blessings in the Beloved”.

I’m telling you, friends, because I hate to fail. And if I tap out or give up because I’m selfish, I want my sin to be evident so I can’t excuse it. And if I successfully do this, I want it to be clear that it is only Jesus. May running this half-marathon be as fruitful as spinning salad.

Love you all
-Snix.
[P.S. It’s March 3rd]

Jesus is better.

I really like my sin.

I really like my comforts.

I really like my habits.

I really like my selfishness.

I really like my idols.

But, but, but Jesus is better.

I think for a lot of my life I didn’t believe that. I loved relationship with God and I loved knowing about Him, but  I didn’t really believe that Jesus was better than all these other things I wanted. My unwillingness to even try to surrender bore witness to my true beliefs. I clung, clung, clung to things that could not satisfy [my desires and my comfort and my plans and my goodness] and clinched them with grubby little hands. I dared God to take them away as if to say “you won’t be good if you take these from me.”

But Psalm 34.8 says “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
And I have tasted. And I have seen He is good.

Communion with Him is far better than any other. And having seen that and tasted that, I understand that it’s worth dying to myself.
Giving up my selfishness.
Sacrificing up my comforts.
Laying down my desires.
Surrendering my plans.

Because Jesus is better. Life with Him, under His rule, in Him, is best.

May you taste and see as well.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
-Philippians 3.8-10

Loved.

I care more about how pretty my house is than how holy my heart is.

I care more about what others think of me than living in a manner worthy of the gospel.

I care more about my comfort than following the commands of scripture.

I’d rather be on Pinterest than reading my Bible.

I’d rather wallow in my feelings than pray.

I’d rather hear someone compliment me than believe what God has already said.

I rarely want to fight my sin, really fight.

I rarely want to do the hard things for the glory of God.

I rarely want to risk my security, my comfort, my glory for the sake of the gospel.

 

I am so grieved today by my sin. I’m grieved by my coveting and selfish and prideful and self-sufficient heart. I’m grieved by the fact that I love my reputation and I love being right and I dismiss others and the work God is doing in them. I play the comparison game daily and evaluate myself based on my performance compared to yours.

And here? Here in this mess I am loved. I don’t believe it always. In fact, I rarely believe it. But today, right now, I am clinging to that love. I am clinging to the fact that in my sin and filthiness He sees me and loves.

I am precious even when I don’t believe it, I am holy even when I’m sinful, and I’m a daughter even when I act like an orphan.

Today may we rest in that.

From one of my favorite authors, Vinoth Ramachandra, on his blog:

A typical refrain from the subculture that is misleadingly called “evangelical” in the US is that to be “pro-life” means always voting Republican. The politically naive vote for Republican candidates in the hope that they will repeal the abortion law. They are constantly fooled. They voted for Reagan in 1980, and Reagan cynically used them and let them down. Indeed his divisive economic policies forced more women into poverty and increased abortions and children born out of wedlock. On the foreign policy front, he armed and trained death squads all over the Americas, and brutal dictators all over the Middle East and Asia. No “pro-life” evangelical church leader ever raised his voice against these policies.If “pro-life” is taken to mean that American foetuses are more valuable in the eyes of God that Palestinian babies or Iranian and Pakistani children dying because of American governmental actions, then that is not the God of the Bible.

I know that this is not what I normally post, nor is it a popular view. But I would agree wholeheartedly with the part in bold. The entire post [and his blog] is worth reading.

Of the utmost importance:

that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

-1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Today what matters the most is not that my classes go well, or that I finish grading those tests or that I finally get to squeeze in time for a run. What matters most is that Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Today I am loved and freed because of the finished work of Christ. That’s most important.

A quote.

This is a quote I’ve been wanting to watercolor for awhile, and finally figured out how I wanted it to look. Lots of my friends are engaged/getting married and this is one common thread I see in all their relationships. What a beautiful quote from the great Tim Keller.