Posted by: Heather | July 11, 2009

Pay Closer Attention

beachIn the last post I said that the most important thing is the Gospel—that living and preaching the Gospel should be our passion. But how do we make the Gospel central in our lives? Hebrews 2:1 states:

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

I remember my pastor speaking about this verse. He asked, “What does a ship have to do to drift away?” The answer is: nothing. While we tend to think that rebelling against God means blatantly chasing after sin, it often takes a more subtle form—simply, slowly, quietly forgetting about Him. Our hearts want to worship something, and if we are not worshipping God, they will turn to something or someone else.

On a recent family vacation, I did not feel like getting out of bed. I was groggy and a little grumpy all through breakfast. After breakfast, instead of sitting down to spend time in the Word and in prayer (as I knew I should), I spent a few minutes emailing. I then decided to check Facebook. In my Facebook newsfeed, I was greeted by an album by a friend who had gone to Europe. As I looked at her pictures, my heart grew frustrated. Why couldn’t I be more beautiful!? Why couldn’t my life be more like hers?! Why wasn’t I in Europe?!

Sadly, these thoughts left me unable to be joyful and humble in my relationships with my family that morning. I was unkind in my responses and instead of looking for ways to serve, I wanted to be served. In His grace, God helped me see the direction of my heart, and I opened His Word and saw the truth that I had sinfully pushed aside. I had forgotten that my satisfaction must be in the Lord—not in my circumstances. I had forgotten that following God means taking up my cross daily. It scares me how quick my heart is to believe lies. The only solution is to remind myself of what I have heard.

So what have we heard? The Gospel. While we were dead in sins and living in darkness God sent Jesus to live, die, and rise again to give us life.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Our faith in this truth must be nurtured. This means fixing our eyes on Jesus and the incredible work He has done on our behalf. It means looking honestly at ourselves and repenting of our sins. It means seeking to learn more and more what the Gospel means and how it affects our lives—“working out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

In His book, A Gospel Narrative, Milton Vincent has a quote by Jerry Bridges. Bridges states,

“To use an expression…, we must ‘preach the gospel to ourselves every day.’ For me that means I keep going back to Scriptures such as Isaiah 53:6, Galatians 2:20, and Romans 8:1. It means I frequently repeat the worlds from an old hymn, ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.'”                                                         shells

It is crucial to go to the source of the things we have heard, letting our lives be filled with the truths of Scripture. The Gospel is the center of the Bible because the Bible is the story of God’s redemptive work throughout history. So I encourage you to learn to trace this story. One helpful tool is Vaughan Robert’s book, God’s Big Picture. It is a short book that shows how all of Scripture centers on the coming of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Another wonderful (slightly longer) book is The Drama of Scripture by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen.

It is important to read the Bible with a Gospel-centered approach. And while books may help us better understand, the most important part of this is actually reading God’s Word. Reading from Genesis to Revelation in big chunks is helpful in getting the overall story. Read prayerfully, seeking to understand how every passage points to Christ.  Pray that God will help you understand what you read. Talk to Him about what you are reading. And let yourself be continually amazed by God’s faithfulness and the way He keeps His promises throughout history. I recently finished reading the story of the Passover in Exodus and was astounded by God’s grace in his faithfulness to the Israelites, choosing them and blessing them. I was amazed to see how God was keeping His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the story, even when His people seemed hopeless. And I saw afresh how the Passover points to our need for a greater Passover Lamb, which we have in Christ who bore our sins (see I Cor. 5).

When we see how prone we are to wander, it should make us stand in awe of God’s love for us and how He holds on and pursues us even when we let go. And this truth should not make us give up in our pursuit to pay closer attention, as we are challenged in Hebrews 2.  Rather, it should compel us to know more and more about the things we have heard and remind ourselves of them constantly.

Posted by: Heather | June 29, 2009

The “One Thing”

sunflowerDuring graduations or senior speeches, I often hear: “If I could leave you with one thing…” or “The most important thing I have learned is…”

So what would my “one thing” be? What is the most important thing?

The most important thing is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the message that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).

Pastor C.J. Mahaney writes in his book, The Cross-Centered Life:
“The gospel isn’t one class among many that you’ll attend during your life as Christian – the gospel is the whole building that all the classes take place in!”

Ephesians 2 states the Gospel message clearly:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7

Wow! That is beautiful. When we were dead in sins—this means unable even to know God or cry out for him—he lived, died, and rose again that we might have life. Our sins have been paid for by Christ’s precious blood. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Christ’s death means that we can live as we were created to live—as children of God, worshippers of the one whose image we bear.

The Gospel does not mean that we are perfect. We are not yet fully who God has meant us to be, and we will only reach this when we get to Heaven. On this earth, we have our own sinful desires, Satan, and a dark world trying to pressure us into living in sin. And yet God has overcome the world in Christ. We are new creations in Him (2 Cor. 5:17). And he has promised to continue the good work he has begun in us (Philip. 1:6).

Thus the Gospel means freedom. He came to give us abundant life and free us from the sin that enslaves us. Romans 6 says: ” Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,  you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

True freedom and blessing is found in following Christ, and His sacrifice means we can follow Him by the Spirit He has given us. It means that we are now His children and heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17).

C.J. Mahaney writes: “If there’s anything in life that we should be passionate about, it’s the gospel. And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others. I mean passionate about thinking about it, dwelling on it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world. Only one things can be of first importance to each of us. And only the gospel ought to be.”

Amen. I pray that this blog– and our lives– would reflect the truth that the Gospel is the most important thing.

Posted by: Heather | June 2, 2009

Hi there!

orangeflowerWelcome to God-fearing girl!

When I was in high school, I often wrote a letter to each incoming class of freshmen girls. God-fearing girl is an ongoing letter to the girls at my church who will be high school freshmen in Fall 2009. But it is for the rest of you as well.

It is my prayer that God-fearing girl will be centered upon God and filled with His Spirit. The starting place will always be the Scriptures, from which we get truth to fight off the lies of the world. I pray that God’s grace will be evident in each of the posts– the truth that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and was raised again (Romans 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:14-15). How amazing!

In the past, I had a blog very similar to this one entitled Created to be a Help. While Eve, as the first woman, was created to be Adam’s helper (more on what this means later!), she was first and foremost created for God—to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever, as the catechism says. And she was also unique in that she was a woman. God gave her unique talents, capabilities, and ways of looking at the world—she differed from Adam. Her womanhood was a unique creation of God. Like Adam, was in the image of God and created first and foremost to fear Him.

As Eve’s daughters—or more amazingly, daughters of God—we, too, are worshippers, gifted in unique ways as women to worship our king. The purpose of God-fearing girl is to search out what it means to be a woman who fears the Lord, or in doctrinal terms, biblical femininity. I am so excited about God-fearing girl and what God will do with it!

Lord, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your work in my life and in the lives of all who are your children. Thank You for saving us by Your grace. I pray that You would bless this blog and all who read it. Please give me clarity, wisdom, grace, boldness, and love as I write. I pray that your Spirit would be upon me as I write and upon those who read the posts, as well. I pray that you would grow all of us closer to Yourself and above all, that Your name would be glorified. It is not about us—it is ALL about You. May this blog equip us to better serve You as Your daughters. In Jesus’ name, Amen.