Discover anew

My oldest, Ryan says it’s kind of cruel how parents make such a big deal out of kid’s birthday’s for them to only grow and realize, really, no one cares that it’s your birthday. Imagine that, I raised a cynic! I can’t image where he gets that from! As a result it really struck a chord with me when Dr. Tripp talked about how we become complacent with the familiar. He points out that when we become familiar with something, we think we know more than we actually do and since we know it all why continue to study. I think that is why Lent and Advent are so important. Without these seasons of preparation and focus we go the through the motions of Christmas and Easter without taking a break to examine the gravity of these celebrations. Without them a baby is born in December, a man dies in the spring and we go on about our lives unscathed. But if like children we just show up to the party to be honored, it becomes shallow, meaningless and even drudgery.

I hope that you will take this Holy Week to visit afresh the last days of Christ, the gravity of those events and yourself emerge a new creation because of the sacrifice he has made so that we can look forward with hope to eternity. “May we remember and hold fast to the resurrection in a way that rules our hearts and shapes our lives” Paul David Tripp, Wednesday Word.

 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Happily Ever After

The story of Jesus guarantees how your story will end.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross, Day 33

I have to admit that the last post left me feeling very unsatisfied, but evidently Dr. Tripp felt the same and comes back to the topic today. We looked last time at how our biggest issue is that we are satisfied with that which we should be dissatisfied. Today Dr. Tripp talks about how we will never be satisfied by “temporal human happiness”. It’s unsettling to me that we are guaranteed to be in a place of constant dissatisfaction, yet I know it full well, because I work with students with learning disabilities. ALL my students struggle. EVERY one of them has some obstacle to overcome to survive in school. I’m tempted to feel sorry for them, me, us because it looks like others don’t have these obstacles to fight through to get an education, but then I read on page 191:

There will be chapters in the story that God has written for us that will be very hard. But we must remember two things. First, he has written himself into the story so that he will always be with us, giving us what we could never give to ourselves. Second, what your Lord has written for you is not less than the plot you have written for yourself, but infinitely more.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross, p 191

I think I want the struggles I face to go away. I wish these kids obstacles to education could be removed. But I forget that these struggles we face are part of our God-authored story. They are what will form us. They are temporary. These kids won’t be in school forever, they do go on to live healthy, productive, even wonderful lives, but more importantly, “God doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your temporary dream; what he guarantees you is forever” (p 190).

So if you find yourself uncomfortable with where you are, or as Dr. Tripp says, dissatisfied, you are right where you are supposed to be! We are supposed to be satisfied with eternity. We are supposed to be dissatisfied with this temporal place. What does a dissatisfied life look like? I think it looks like facing the struggles of today, knowing that there are hard lessons to learn, BUT we know the story has a happy ending and can face each day hopeful!

Pay attention

You can’t repent of what you haven’t confessed, you can’t confess what you haven’t grieved, and you can’t grieve what you haven’t seen.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross, Day 30

On Day 26 Dr. Tripp talks about how he believes that “satisfaction is a much bigger problem than dissatisfaction” (pg 150) in our lives. I struggle with putting that into perspective with Paul’s words when he says, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). How do we balance this satisfaction with contentment? I started with the dictionary. According to dictionary.com satisfaction comes from meeting expectations, while content means peaceful happiness. Therefore, Dr. Tripp is talking about sin in our lives with which we have become complacent about. We become too comfortable with sin we should be confessing and grieving. But we can’t grieve that which we don’t see. I can’t confess that I’ve hurt your feelings if I’m oblivious to it. I’ll make excuses rather than accept responsibility. But while Dr. Tripp is calling us to be dissatisfied with the sin we refuse to see in ourselves, Paul is calling us to be content with that which we cannot change. Dissatisfaction leads to change, we will not change that which we are satisfied with as that implies that we are done, but I can be content with where I am without being satisfied. I need to be content with my salvation, knowing I am loved by God yet pay attention and be dissatisfied with my sinfulness–see it, grieve, confess it and do better. I can’t sit her content with my sin, because I know it separates me from God. I can’t hate on myself because I am a sinner because I am made in the image of God. Therefore, balance is again the answer. Because I am made in the image of God, my sins are forgiven and I want to honor that image by doing better. I can’t walk away unchanged.

There are several areas in my life I need to be dissatisfied with! I need to see them with eyes anew, grieve them and confess them while being content that I am a child of God sins and all.

What do you think?

Spring Break Edition

I wanted to continue staff devotions over Spring Break, but… last week, no this month, well probably the last year has left me drained physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. A school year has never left me so drained. I’m always surrounded by students with struggles and challenges, but this year it’s so many kids in literal crisis, dealing with issues no child should face, issues robbing them of childhood itself. It’s overwhelming, it’s out of control, it’s exhausting and very worst of all I CAN’T FIX IT!!! It isn’t going to be resolved this period, this day, this week or even this year. The load is heavy, I’m beginning to feel crushed, overwhelmed and defeated. To add to this overwhelming blow, there are family crises, the devastating loss of my cousin to COVID, the toll of confinement on the immunologically fragile, issues at work that shake the very foundation of who you are and who you thought you’d be professionally. “Happy Spring Break” falls hard on a broken exhausted soul.

Then today, I read Day 25 of Journey to the Cross and realized it is no accident that our Spring Break falls smack dab in the middle of Lent. It occurred to me as I read Dr. Tripp’s words, “The season of Lent is about offering yourself to God in new and deeper ways. It’s about submission and deeper devotion.” I realize in my life I can’t fix my students, I can’t make life easier for my biological children, I can’t extinguish the hurt of my friends and family. I CAN’T DO IT–therefore I must surrender to one who can, who knows, who sees. So I broke down the paragraph on page 144 about Lent and replaced it with Spring Break. So what if it looked like this:

  • Spring break is offering yourself to God in new or deeper ways.
  • Spring break is about submission and deeper devotion.
  • Spring break is about mourning the ways your heart has wondered.
  • Spring break is about confessing the hold the world still has on you or the places you’ve succumbed to temptation’s draw.
  • Spring break is about identifying places in the heart where you need to give yourself more fully to God.
  • Spring break is important because we need to examine our hearts, our lives, our relationships, and our daily decisions to see where God is calling you to give something up or take something up in devotion to him.
  • Spring break is about recommitting to self-sacrifice as we pursue the one who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.
  • Spring break isn’t a formal season or temporary escape from reality, but rather an opportunity to address things in your life that need to be addressed but that get lost in the busyness and distraction of everything else you’re doing.
  • Spring break is not about you, what you are doing or committing to God, but about what he has done and is doing for you.

My prayer for you is that regardless of where Spring Break takes you this year, whether it is the exhilaration of the trip of a lifetime or the drudgery of what continues to burden and pull us down, may you know afresh: “It is God’s generosity that is primary and transformative, not ours. We love because he first loved us. We give because he first gave to us. We lay down our lives because he first laid down his. We are willing to suffer for his sake because he first suffered for us. We obey because in his obedience we are given hope. We fight temptation because he fought it and defeated it on our behalf. We are willing to humble ourselves and serve because he left the splendor of eternity, humbled himself, and served up to and through the point of death…He is the ultimate giver. No matter how great our sacrifices or how much we give, we will never give to him the magnitude of what he has given us” (p 145).

Spring Break 2021 — may you be a breathe of fresh air to the tired and weary world.

Have mercy on me…

You and I have three problems that only the Redeemer has the power and willingness to solve.

Paul Tripp Journey to the Cross, Day 19

I should be writing about Day 20, today, but I don’t like that day. It’s message is “Gratitude silences complaint.” Ugh–I do not want to hear that. So instead I’m going back to Day 19 to look at the three problems we have with sin. My memory verse for this month is:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquity; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:5

I’m doing the Dwell Differently Memory Verses with a student. You get a verse every month that is cleverly designed with a graphic that includes the first letter of every word of the verse. Looking at it helps you memorize the verse and it is crazy how easy it makes scripture memory! In talking about this verse I had to look up the word ‘iniquity’ to explain it to my student. Then BAM! there is that same word in Journey to the Cross. We talk so much about sin that we become callous toward it. We know we all sin. We know we can’t avoid its pitfalls. And confession becomes our mumbling, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” all the while knowing I’ve totally failed at forgiving!!

But Pastor Tripp helped me more sincerely confess my sin by looking at the multi-dimensionality of my sin, which is “something deep inside us that makes us susceptible to temptation’s draw and that weakens us in our battle with sin” (p 113) Lord help–my spirit of rebellion is strong!! But there is something even deeper that causes my rebellion, despite my best intentions–I’m inwardly impure. Then, on top of all that I have those specific moments of weakness and failure. It all leaves me feeling pretty depressed and defeated, but that’s the point. I can’t dig out of this hole on my own. I am utterly dependent on the grace of God. Day 17 asked us to set a timer and confess for 15 minutes–that’s a long time when I’m just glossing over the word and think I need to list all my sins–nobody wants to make that list! But today, as I contemplate this multidimensional aspect of my sin, suddenly 15 minutes flies by, I’m overwhelmed by how sinful I am and instantaneously comforted by the grace that saves me!

Shine or Whine

The story of our redemption is historical proof of the unstoppable sovereignty of God.

Paul Tripp Journey to the Cross Day 18.

Some of us might have control issues! Pastor Tripp in day 18 encourages us to stop during the Lenten season and acknowledge that we aren’t in control and that’s okay. Many things surprise us and remind us we aren’t in control. What does the way you handle life’s surprises say about our faith? Surprise parties are fun to plan, keeping secrets can be fun, but when tragedy surprises us it’s a whole other issue. But what shouldn’t be surprising is that nothing surprises God. He knows we live in a sinful fallen world. He knows that we all fall short of His glory. He knows we need grace and forgiveness.

Christ’s march to the cross reinforces for us that our rest and hope are not in our knowing, but in his ruling. The God who knows no surprises will surprise us again. But it is okay, because what we don’t know, he knows; what we can’t control, he controls, and because he does, we live with mystery and surprise and not be afraid (p 107).

Paul Tripp Journey to the Cross.

When life surprises us, we have to remember that it wasn’t a surprise to God. He’s not scratching his head wondering why that happened. I learned in GriefShare that no one comes to the end of their days and God is surprised. He’s not surprised by my stupid mistakes and decisions. I heard on the radio on my way home a principal that had encouraged his staff,

When life is hard, we can either

Rise and Shine or

Rise and Whine.

When life surprises you, and it will, you have a choice to make. It may in fact knock your feet out from under you, but the decision is yours alone to rise and yours alone to shine or whine. Understanding the sovereignty of God is the first step in letting go and learning to shine with His light from within, no matter the circumstances.

Blind

One of the scariest, most destructive aspects of sin is its ability not only to blind us, but to blind us to our blindness.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross, Day 14.

One of the biggest struggles I faced when my husband died was the feeling that I no longer knew who I was. It seems odd, but when the person in the world who knows you the very best is suddenly gone, it’s just weird. Part of it is that our identity gets so wrapped up in our relationships, you’re someone’s spouse, someone’s child, or someone’s parent. When that is suddenly ripped away, it tends to shake us to the very core. But Psalm 139 is a beautiful illustrative reminder of our true relationship with the creator, the one who knows us even better than we know ourselves. It took a while, but I eventually emerged as the person I had always been, not the same, but not foreign either. I was acutely aware of my blindness.

But Tripp is talking about a more subtle blindness where we lose an accurate view of ourselves because our sin is clouding our view. Those times when we become so comfortable that we create “pockets of personal spiritual blindness that will result in functional inaccuracies in the way I see, examine, and assess myself. This results in thinking I am more righteous, mature, consistent, or godly than I actually am, because there is sin of thought, desire, attitude, word, or action that I do not see or assess properly ” (p 86).

My process involved journaling. I so missed having someone to come home and share my day with, share my innermost thoughts, that I began coming home and just writing those things I so desperately wanted to share with him. In that journal is a page I dogeared because it was the day it dawned on my that I was clinging to a relationship with a dead person, when I believed in a living God. That day my conversation changed from what I wanted to tell someone who was dead, who I thought knew me better than anyone else and started talking to the God who created me and knows me better than I even know myself. Tripp wants to encourage us to “forsake forever the believe that no one knows you better than yourself” (p 87). He’s calling us to the daily awareness that no one knows us better than He who created us. He knitted us together from the very beginning, what He makes is wonderful and precious to Him. Nothing I do can change that, It’s more than I can understand, It’s more than I can imagine. My full potential is found only in surrender to Him (Psalm 139, PSV).

Emotional Autopsy

Your emotional life is a window into what is truly important to you and what you are really living for.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross Day 12

I have to confess that often I believe being ruled by one’s emotions is a sign of weakness–logic trumps emotion. But logically, emotions serve a valuable purpose. One of the most important lessons to learn in marriage is that relationships built on emotion often have a shaky foundation. While it may be the feeling of love that draws you to another person it’s the choice of commitment that sustains a relationship. At the root of both of these points is a black and white issue. Either you love someone or you don’t, either you’re ruled by emotion or logic. Tripp is calling us to see our emotions as a barometer, something that reflects changes in circumstances or opinions.

I know that I’m not the best as using my emotions to evaluate where I am and how I may need to change course, but I do really like to watch crime dramas. I’m always fascinated by the autopsies on these shows. I have not much first hand experience with autopsies. My father was not autopsied, his cause of death was obvious. My husband was not autopsied as it too was obvious that he died as a result of 40 days of infection eating away at him. Others in my family were not autopsied because they were old and their time had come. However, my friend Babette’s father had to have an autopsy because he suffered an unaccompanied death. Worst part was the autopsy showed no apparent cause of death which delayed the issuance of a death certificate which lead to a whole ‘nother set of issues and problems. (final outcome — he died!)

There are two kinds of autopsies: forensic and clinical. Forensic autopsies are the ones we are so enamored with on TV. They determine the cause and manner of death for legal reasons. In the United States, death is classified as: natural, accidental, homicide, suicide, or undetermined. A clinical autopsy is one done for research and study purposes. another friend’s father donated his body to science, it was used for these clinical purposes. He was studied for the betterment of mankind, because that’s what he wanted.

So what do autopsies have to do with our emotions? Tripp says that, “Our emotions are a window into what our hearts really love” (p 74). I need to perform emotional autopsies to keep my self on track, to use them as “helpful indicators of where you have replaced God with something else or where you have asked him to deliver you to something he’s never promised” (p 75). These autopsies will reveal where we’ve used things as God-replacements in our lives. Sometimes we can’t change what needs to be changed until we get upset about it. Sometimes I’m not going to act on something until the emotion moves it to the front of my mind. The emotion is not the compass that points me in the right direction, its the barometer that reflects where I’ve placed my trust. I don’t need to overanalyze my emotions, but I do need to use them to get to the root of my issues and to look for evidence that something is amiss, find where sin has taken root in my life, confess it and correct it. Confident that I am not ruled by emotion or logic, but living a life surrendered to the Father.