Friday, July 20, 2018

Complete In Thee

I have had this hymn on my mind for a few weeks now, since Samuel and I sang it together at the Chattanooga Rescue Mission. 

It's been a favorite of mine for a few years. 

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee. 

Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee—each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Lately, it seems that I am constantly being reminded how often I am bombarded with messages that I am complete in everything but Christ. 

The world is all too ready to fill us with the notion that alcohol, drugs, partying, free sex, and materialism will complete us. 

But what about the Church?

There, too, we are bombarded with ideas that things other than Christ and His grace complete us. Whether consciously or unconsciously, ideas can fill our heads--ideas that can hinder our freedom in Christ.

In our heads, we know that we are complete in Christ. But how hard it is to get that into our hearts. It's far more difficult to live out in real life.


Because so many Christian messages imply that we are complete in other things than Christ. That we are complete in what we do, how we look.

Are we single? We'll be complete with a husband. Are we married? We'll be complete with children. Do we have a child? We have to have a certain number. For me as an author: a certain number of books written and published. The list goes on and on. Perfect homemaker. Excellent cook. Successful business. Flawless figure. Healthy, natural, juicer, crunchy. In a word, the perfect Proverbs 31 woman.

(Without the servants, of course.)

But when the years roll on and no husband comes, what then? When we conceive a child and she dies in the womb, when then? When infertility strikes...when poor health limits our homemaking skills...when businesses fail...when the weight just won't come off, when the budget does not allow for that oh-so-popular crunchy diet? When sickness, travel, pregnancy, and 3 moves do not allow for that book to hit the shelves?

We can take it a step further.

What about our spiritual successes and failures? So often, in our desire to be like Christ, the focus can unconsciously be turned onto ourselves rather than the One who made us holy in the first place. We find completeness in a Christian check-the-box list, one that puts our good deeds (the ones that people can see) on a giant scale that measures our godliness. 

And, then when we fail and our successes (successes God calls filthy rags) come crumbling off our mental scale, we find ourselves drowning in hopelessness. All because our completeness was not in Christ, but in our own works.

In my own life, I discovered that a great deal of my completeness came from the amount of serving and ministry I was doing, not in Christ Himself. I was a church pianist for 8 years. I was a Sunday school teacher. I never missed Sunday School, Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I passed out tracts. But when all that changed by moves and life circumstances, I discovered how much of my completeness came from serving and not from Christ as He is--my Savior, King, Creator, and Friend.

I now often struggle in endeavoring to find my completeness in a perfect home, being a perfect wife, appreciating every moment of my pregnancy, reading my Bible enough (however much that is...does anyone know?)

Finding completeness in Christ is hard.

It's hard when we lose ourselves to our own desires, godly or otherwise. It's hard when dreams come crashing down around us--the good dreams. You know, the husband (where is the guy, anyway?! Riding a turtle?!), the babies (children are a blessing, aren't they?!), the perfect family life, flawless relationships...

The Honest Company

But life isn't like that.

Life is messy. We are not perfect and we are not supposed to be. Relationships do not often look like the perfect dating/courtship manuals say they should. Families very often come broken and full of problems. Spouses and children are not guaranteed to us. Illness strikes, homes get messy, finances struggle, work issues happen, marriages fall apart.

And it is when we are forced to let go of perfection that we realize what we are completing ourselves in. 


Or Christ?

When we find our completeness in Christ, we can find new joy, new freedom when things don't go according to plan. When, despite best efforts, life happens, we can relax in the knowledge that Christ loves us and knows that we are weak. This is not to say that we do not strive to do our very best for Christ, but that when our idea of perfection does not happen, we know that we are still beloved, redeemed, adored, chosen. 

Beloved. Redeemed. Adored. Chosen.


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Monday, March 5, 2018

Light Burdens | Guest Post With Missionary Julie McCrum

Thank you, Julie, for this guest post. I heard Julie speak at my church during an event for ladies and asked her to share her message on my blog. Enjoy!

Matthew 11:28-30 ~ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Each one of us who have trusted the Lord has a different calling or burden from Him, something He wants us to accomplish in this life. The Lord gives grace to each one to do what He has called us to do...and it’s not so bad!

Last year, I was blessed to attend a ladies’ camp, where I heard an old (in her nineties) missionary lady, Louise Champlin, give her testimony. She had grown up as a missionary kid in the Congo, and later served the Lord with her husband in Suriname, South America. Boy, did she have the stories! In one of these she told how after arriving in the Congo, her mother passed away. The next day, the native people came to talk to her father about salvation, because, “we see you don’t fear death.” She recalled another time, when by God’s power, her quiet, tender-footed husband walked on hot coals unburned, as he challenged a local witch doctor’s power. Hearing her stories, I was tempted to think, “Wow, she’s a real missionary! She really gave up a lot for the Lord and His work.” But, you know when speaking with her later, I didn’t get that sense at all. She spoke as though all those adventures were just “reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

Tanya is a lady in our church in South Africa whose husband has recently been called into full time ministry. She and I went for coffee one day, and as we were discussing the challenges and joys of being a pastor’s wife, she said to me, “Julie, you’re so brave!” But I don’t feel so brave. Being a missionary wife in South Africa is what the Lord has called me to do, and He has prepared me for it in a hundred ways. I am just a girl, like any of you reading this blog, who is following the Lord by His grace. Jesus told us that His burden is light. The things He calls us to do are not so bad. In fact, we find our greatest joy in doing His will!

 As women, I think we are especially prone to compare ourselves to each other. We think, “Her life looks so hard! I could never...” But the Lord didn’t ask you to live her life. He asks you to live yours. He has given her all the grace she needs to do what He’s called her to do, and He’s given you all the grace you need to do what He’s called you to do (2 Corinthians 12:9 - “My grace is sufficient for thee...”)

I have another friend who recently transitioned from being an evangelist’s wife to a pastor’s wife in a local church. I thought she would be glad to finally have a “home.” But as we chatted, I realized that she was actually struggling with a bit of boredom...I mean, the same church every week! She’ll find her feet, I know, but my point is that she was perfectly suited to being an evangelist’s wife... something I think, “I could never...” If I’m honest, I would feel a little bored and out of place if the Lord ever called us back to the USA. I mean, running water and electricity every day? Where’s the challenge in that?! 

So what should you do with these verses and stories I’ve been sharing?

 • First, try not to compare yourself to others. It rarely helps, as you can never really know the burdens that another lady might be carrying, or the journey that brought her to where she is.

 • Second, don’t feel sorry for those who seem to be doing something hard. In Acts 20: 24, Paul has just told his friends that he is headed for Jerusalem, and he knows trials are waiting for him along the way, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul said that the trials were nothing compared to the joy of spreading the gospel and doing God’s will for his life. The Lord had given him special grace to endure those things...with joy! If your friend whose life looks scary to you is walking with the Lord, she is probably happy and fulfilled. Don’t feel sorry for her!

 • Third, don’t feel sorry for yourself, either. I mean this in the kindest possible way, but really, ladies, the Lord has prepared you with the exact experiences and gifts you need in order to do what He’s called you to do. So rely on His abundant grace, and do it. You will find great joy in doing so. 

• Fourth, let me encourage you, especially if you are a young person, with all your big decisions ahead of you: trust Him with your life. You will never regret it! Maybe putting your “all on the altar” sounds too scary...will you ever have any fun?! I’m telling you, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. The burden is not nothing, but it’s not so bad, either. You can do it, by His grace. 

In conclusion, I want to challenge all of us today to believe what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11:28-30. Whatever your burdens may be: endless laundry, busy schedule, financial strain, health issues... lift up your eyes from those things and look to the Savior. He said His burden is light. He said we could find rest for our souls. Let’s choose to trust Him today, and serve Him with joy in the place where He’s called us. 

Thank you for sharing, Julie! You can visit her at their family website HERE.
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Happy Anniversary to My Dear Husband

Happy anniversary to the best husband ever!  In two years, we've lived in 3 places, traveled all over the United States and Philippines, gave our first child back to God, and fallen more in love every single day. Thanks for the adventures, the memories, the French Press coffee every morning, and all the chocolate. Thank you for the chicken nugget runs at midnight, random Bass Pro excursions, and the walks over Walnut Street Bridge. Thank you for continuing for two years to teach me how football is played--I'll get it one of these years. You've supported my every dream. Thank you for reading my books, saving the characters from untimely deaths, and watching my makeup videos. These photos depict you so perfectly--always gently loving and protecting me. I love you, hunkules!

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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Isaiah's Daughter -- Book Review

Y'all, I finally finished Isaiah's Daughter. Shameful, I know. I am on Mesu Andrew's street team and should have had this book read and reviewed before it released. However, I tend to linger over her books and really let the reality of what was occurring in Biblical times sink in. I prefer to think over God's grace and what it must have been like to live in the days before the Messiah appeared rather than rush through the book. Here is a fairly spoiler-free review.

Isaiah's Daughter (Prophets and Kings, #1)Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ages 16+.

From the synopsis: Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name--Zibah, delight of the Lord--thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet's home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah's lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah's favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation.

I have long been a Mesu Andrews' fan. While this was not my favorite book of hers, I did enjoy it and had much of my studies on Hezekiah wonderfully refreshed by reading it from this point of view. There was much more childhood scenes and far less adult content in this particular book. While I liked the variation and could safely recommend it to most teens, I personally liked The Pharaoh's Daughter and In the Shadow of Jezebel better.

I resonated with Ishma's fears. Fear from horrible memories can and does take hold of one at the most unsettling, unwelcome times. I enjoyed her journey of overcoming fear. And, as someone who has miscarried, her miscarriages brought me to tears and I could keenly identify with her loss.

Hezi was a fascinating character. I would have liked more of his POV, but, as it was, the book centered more on Isaiah and Ishma.

I think lovers of Biblical and historical fiction will enjoy this book. It was a strong reminder of the obligation we have to both overcome our difficult pasts and train the next generation right for the glory of God.

View all my reviews

Have you read it? What were your thoughts? And what are you reading now? 
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