Echoes of His Mercy

My life will forever echo His mercy, so vast, so free, so astounding, poured out on my desperate heart.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Single-Focus Blog

Hey Everyone,

As you can see, I have resigned from posting on here. Life fills up fast, and though I enjoyed it, it was keeping me from doing other things that needed to be done. (I.e. spending more time in personal devotions and serving.)

That said, from now on I will be posting on my church's singles group blog along with some of my friends. This will enable me to post occasionally without the burden of maintaining my own blog regularly. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

An Encouragement to "Knock Hard"

Second installment of finals week quotes:

I have copied here one of my favorite entries in Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional. I hope it fills you with fresh faith to "knock hard" at the Throne of Grace and to stay there until "all thy wants have been spread before the Lord."

"Ask, and it shall be given you." - Matthew 7:7

We know of a place in England still existing, where a dole of bread is served to every passerby who chooses to ask for it. Whoever the traveller may be, he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is the dole of bread for him.

Jesus Christ so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knock and have his wants supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this Hospital of the Cross a bath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy, it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, always efficacious. No sinner ever went into it and found that it could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarlet and crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow.

As if this were not enough, there is attached to this Hospital of the Cross a wardrobe, and a sinner making application simply as a sinner, may be clothed from head to foot; and if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merely have a garment for ordinary wear, but armour which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. If he asks for a sword, he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. Nothing that is good for him shall be denied him. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritage of glorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord.

If all these things are to be had by merely knocking at mercy's door, O my soul, knock hard this morning, and ask large things of thy generous Lord. Leave not the throne of grace till all thy wants have been spread before the Lord, and until by faith thou hast a comfortable prospect that they shall be all supplied. No bashfulness need retard when Jesus invites. No unbelief
should hinder when Jesus promises. No cold-heartedness should restrain when such blessings are to be obtained.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Some Favorite Quotes from Pride and Prejudice

Finals are here, which means that winter break is fast approaching! But in order to get to the break, I have to get through the upcoming week of tests and papers. In order to free myself up, I'm going to be taking a break from writing for about 10 days, though I'll still post quotes and quick thoughts every so often.

Here's my first installment of quotes. They're all from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Granted, they are ten times more humorous when read in their context, rather than misplaced. But even if you've never read Austen, I'm sure that you will find her witty and creative language entertaining. These are some lines from the first half of the book that I enjoy, in particular:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

"Pride," observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, "is a very common failing, I believe...I am convinced that human nature is particularly prone to it."

"We must trespass a little longer on your kindness."

"Your humility, Mr. Bingley," said Elizabeth, "must disarm reproof." "Nothing is more deceitful," said Darcy, "than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion and sometimes an indirect boast."

"I have not the pleasure of understanding you."

"Those who do not complain are never pitied."

"I dare say you will find him very agreeable."

"Heaven forbid! That would be the greatest misfortune of all! To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate! Do not wish me such an evil!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Family Pics

Here are some pictures of my family that we took today in our neighborhood, all decked out in our Jags gear. They're for our Christmas cards: "From our home team to yours." (It was my Mom's idea. How creative.)

Above picture, from left to right: Dad; Mom; my big brother, Jonathan; me; my little sister, Candace; my little brother, Joshua; my little sister, Victoria; my little sister, Karah

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving"

Thanksgiving break has begun! I have so much free time today and over the next four days that I hardly know what to do with myself! Besides just chilling, I'm going to do lots of reading and helping my dear mother. (I look forward to having more time for both of those when I graduate next fall.) Today I did the breakfast dishes, read, planned my classes for next semester, and played checkers with my little sister. Oh, and my three sisters, my little brother, my Dad, and I decorated the Christmas tree today!

Holiday ramblings aside, I was reminded today of Psalm 100:4 when I thought about Thanksgiving:

Psalm 100:4
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name."

I thought about how often I fail to "Enter his gates with thanksgiving." Instead, I tend to enter his gates with grumbling, complaining, and ungratefulness! All that I have received from God has been mercy, so why should I grumble? All that he deserves is thanks and praise. I'm so glad for holidays like tomorrow; they are times when we can take a step back and remind ourselves of His goodness.

Until Friday...Have a wonderful celebration of His goodness with your family.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fresh Perspective on Reading Through the Bible

Have you ever, like me, started a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year program only to be discouraged by your lack of diligence and faithfulness? You're not alone.

Noel Piper has written an encouraging testimony about her own struggles with reading through the Bible. She lists the creative ways she found to make Bible reading freshly exciting and active. After reading it, I realized that I had made so many Bible reading rules for myself (such as reading the books consecutively) that only hindered my progress.

I've copied her testimony in its entirety here:

Never in January
By Noel Piper October 1, 2003

Fall 1986
A year ago I set out to read the whole Bible. That's nothing new; I've begun to read the whole Bible every other year for about 28 years-emphasis on "begun." But with all the best intentions, I was never able to finish my annual program of Scripture-reading-until this year. A few months ago, I closed my Bible with a feeling of immense satisfaction: I had finally read it through, all 66 books, all in a year.

This time I can truthfully say that I never dragged myself dutifully on to the next chapters. I loved it and it pulled me back day after day. What made this attempt different? I'm certain God's Spirit provided the inspiration, because I was the same stumbling Christian I have always been. But I did decide to take a more creative approach to my "walk through the Word."

I didn't begin in January. I simply let the Spirit push me into it "any time now." I began in July.

I started in Hosea and read to the end of the Old Testament. I knew what had become of my efforts before when I had started quite literally, "in the beginning." I also knew there were chunks of the minor prophets I had never laid eyes on. There's something intriguing about unknown territory.

I didn't try to read books in sequence. After Leviticus, I was ready for some adventure in Acts. I completed one book before I began another, except for the Psalms and Proverbs which I read in scattered chunks whenever I wanted to.

I felt free to skim repetitive sections (like genealogies and censuses). But I did skim carefully enough to catch any unusual information that might have been stuck in unexpectedly.

I didn't divide the Bible into 365 equal segments. Sufficient to the day was the amount I could make time for. I have discovered when using daily reading guides that nothing kills my incentive like falling a few days behind and feeling under pressure to "catch up."

I kept my Bible handy. I often dropped it in my purse if I thought I might have reading time while I was out. At home, the Bible belonged on the kitchen counter-opened to the right place. Many times it called me away from dishwashing and into my easy chair.

I often took along only the Bible as reading material. This has been true for times as short as a ten-minute wait in the doctor's office and as long as a week's vacation. A bookaholic needs no encouragement to pick up something, anything, to read. And when there's only one book at hand, the choice is clear. And who can resist it?

All of those helped, but here was the most important difference from other efforts to read through the Bible. This time, I became a hunter, and my blue highlighter was my weapon. The prey was God's attributes. I set out to underline everything the Bible says about God (didn't want to set my sights too narrow!). I made blue stripes through all the names of God, word pictures about him, what he likes and dislikes, how he reacts to faithfulness and to sin. I was on my third pen when I finished.

This "hunt for God" was irresistible to me. It drew me like a magnet. And once I was inside the pages, it kept my mind moving-no more drowsing and waking up two chapters later.

My Bible's flyleaves are filled with lists. As I read, I found I didn't want to lose what I was finding out about God. I made lists of God's names (I found over 200 names, phrases and variations that referred to him), Jesus' names (about 140), and the Spirit's names (about 35). There is also a list of pictures used to describe God (shepherd, potter, eagle, farmer, husband, nursing mother . . . ). Another list is of references for passages so beautiful I knew I'd want to find them again.

I used my "finds" to focus my thoughts on God. From my daily reading, I could choose a name or description of God and think of him in those terms all day. For instance, on a vacation afternoon when my four boys had been out of school one day too long, it helped to know God as a Rock who cannot be shaken. Or when we couldn't see our way clear toward a decision we had to make, we still knew that God is our Light and our Salvation.

Fall 2003
This year? I recently picked up an inexpensive paperback Bible and a new pink marking pen. This year I think I'll hunt for God's presence—all the times and circumstances when he promises he will be with us, that he will not leave us.

By Noel Piper. © Desiring God. Website: Email: Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bible Gateway

I wanted to make everyone aware of a wonderful resource that I discovered about a year ago: has the full text of many English versions of the Bible, such as the KJV, the ESV, and the NIV. Not only that, it has versions of the Bible in other languages, such as Spanish, French, German, and Russian (for native speakers and foreign language fanatics!).

The website has many different features. You can read any scripture passage in any version you'd like. It has a keyword search engine that allows you to search for all the places a particular word appears. You can read the complete text of Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible (under "Additional Resources"). You can even listen to the audio version of some translations!

I wanted to share this resource with you because I have really benefitted from it (especially when I'm somewhere with no Bible). I hope you find it useful too!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Jonathan Edwards on Envy, Part 3

The third section of Jonathan Edwards sermon, Charity Incongruous with an Envious Spirit, focuses on showing “why it is so, that a Christian spirit is thus the opposite of a spirit of envy.” His main point: This idea is strongly enforced by the gospel.

Christ is the ultimate example of a non-envious spirit, and his example is most intense at Calvary. The only one who had every right to be envious chose to humble himself, becoming human flesh and suffering in the place of those who deserved the humiliation. He didn't envy other people who had a home when he had to place to lay his head. He didn't envy the social status of the earthly kings and Pharisees. He didn't envy the rich tax collectors. He didn't envy any of these people whom he had full right to envy because he fully deserved all that they had. Most importantly, Christ didn't envy us, but made a way for us to inherit a part of his kingdom!

Read the following passages from this section of the sermon. I think they're the most important parts of the whole sermon because they communicate the ultimate reason we are not to envy others. Read and learn from Christ's example:

The doctrines of the gospel…teach us how far Christ was from begrudging us anything that he could do for or give us. He did not begrudge us…his own precious blood which he shed for us on the cross, nor will he begrudge us a throne of glory with him in the heavens, where we shall live and reign with him forever...And the gospel also teaches how Christ came into the world to...purify our natures from every trace of [envy], that we may be fitted for heaven. How far he was from a spirit of envy! How contented in the low and afflictive circumstances in which he voluntarily placed himself for our sakes! And how far was he from envying those that were of worldly wealth and honor, or coveting their condition!...Christ envied not.

Love to God will dispose us to follow his example, in that he has not begrudged us our manifold blessings, but has rejoiced in our enjoyment; and it will dispose us to imitate the example of Christ in not begrudging his life for our sakes.

The next time you and I are tempted to envy, the most powerful remedy is remembering that Christ, the one who had every right to envy us, chose not to “be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Christians, therefore, have no grounds for envy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Predestined to Be Conformed

Well, it's been a week since I've written anything. There's only one reason: School. Yep, it's been a busy week. Though I can't write anything right now, I thought I'd at least leave you with this little ecouraging reminder I ran into today:

Romans 8:29: "those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son"

Struggling with sin? If you're a Christian, be comforted and encouraged: From before time, God knew you and planned to "conform" you "to the likeness of his Son"! There is a day coming when, at last, you will be freed from the chains of sin, wearing the righteousness of Christ. What an astounding, undeserved gift!

Be back tomorrow with Part 3 of Jonathan Edwards on Envy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Jonathan Edwards on Envy, Part 2

Today I'm going to summarize the second section of Jonathan Edwards' sermon, Charity Inconsistent with an Envious Spirit. His main point in the second section was this: A Christian spirit is the opposite of an evious spirit.

Jonathan Edwards begins this section of his sermon with the idea that envy is not allowed, not acceptable, for the Christian.
The Bible commands us to love one another, and I Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love does not envy.” So according to the Bible (and Jonothan Edwards), envy is out of the question for a Chrisitan because it’s inconsistent with the charity and love we are commanded to show one another.

Edwards gives 3 subpoints to show what this will look like for Christians:

1. Edwards first points out that "A Christian spirit disallows..the exercise and expressions of [envy]."
The manifestations or “expressions” of envy are unbecoming to the believer; manifestations of envy come in the form of gossip, slander, anger, bitterness, etc. The Christian, says Edwards, “sees [these expression of envy] to be a most odious and hateful spirit” and should “be alarmed at [them], and will fight aagainst [them]." A believer will not allow envy to show up in his or her words and actions.

2. Seondly, Edwards points out that "A Christian spirit...tends to mortiy [envy’s] principle and disposition in the heart"
In other words, it’s not enough for the Christian to hide the expressions of envy; he or she must mortify the envy in his or her heart “So that...the individual will cease to feel any inclination to be grieved at the prosperity of others.” In addition to no longer greiving at other’s prosperity, mortifying envy will cause one to be content with their own place in life. They will have a “quietness and satisfaction of spirit with regard to the allotments and distributions of stations and possessions which God, in his wise and kind providence, has made to ourselves and others.”

3. Finally, Edwards states that "A Christian spirit...disposes us to rejoice in the prosperity of others."
Once we mortify the envy in our hearts so that the prosperity of other’s no longer greives us, we will be able to “rejoice with those who rejoice, [and] weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Having a true Christian spirit of love will enable us to find true happiness, rather than grief, in the prosperity of others.