Monday, May 31, 2010

The Forgotten God


He is the Forgotten God
Oft thought of as “It”, rather than He
 
In today’s church He bears little resemblance
To the Holy Spirit’s work in New Testament believers
 
Do our lives reflect the work of the Holy Spirit
Or do we desire to experience more
 
He is the promised Counselor and Comforter
Our bodies are His temple and He resides within
 
The Holy Spirit has been unleashed
He is available to all believers
 
He empowers us with supernatural gifts for the brethren
Through Him we can put sin to death in us
 
Our lives can be radically different
Won't you yield to the Holy Spirit’s active work within? 
 
by Susan Bunts Wachtel
May 21, 2010
 
This poem was inspired by Francis Chan’s new book “The Forgotten God”.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Westminster Shorter Catechism – Q3

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God,[5] and what duty God requires of man.[6]

5:  Genesis 1:1; John 5:39; John 20:31; Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:15
6:  Deuteronomy 10:12-13; Joshua 1:8;  Psalm 119:105; Micah 6:8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Sight Walking Faith


Oh the error
Of sight walking faith

Instead of believing the Lover of my soul
I believe the one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy

I surrender certain victory in Christ
For continuous daily defeat

I swap the strength of the Lord
For my weakness

I exchange the truth of God
For a lie

I trade the peace of God that passes all understanding
For worry, anxiety and stress

I substitute praying to God in faith
With meditating on my problems
 

by Susan Bunts Wachtel
May 18, 2010

Grace Expectations


Have you ever noticed that expectations…both great and small…can be a huge source for unhappiness and discontentment?  Discontentment with family, friends, work, home and church to name a few. 
 
After running smack dab into the wall of expectations…I think perhaps there’s a better way.
 
That’s not to say we should do away with expectations all together.  It’s reasonable and even godly to expect our spouse to be faithful and fulfill wedding vows.  It’s reasonable for parents to expect a child to be obedient and respectful.  It’s reasonable…but goodness knows it doesn’t always happen.
 
I don’t think having low expectations is good thing.  God doesn’t have low expectations of us.  He commands our love and requires our obedience and there are consequences when we fail.  God’s expectations, unlike ours, are not motivated out of sin or selfishness. 

Sometimes we’ll say we have no expectations in an effort to spare ourselves the hurt and disappointment that we feel when other people or circumstances fall short of our expectations.
 
So what’s a better way?  I believe that God is challenging me…to run my expectations through the grid of His will.  Is what I’m expecting in line with God's will for the people and circumstances in my life?  When it is, then I can freely and boldly bring my requests to God in prayer. 
 
That’s not to say that God will impose His will upon each person and that everything will turn out the way I want.  But it means that I can pray with confidence.
 
When my expectations don’t line up with God’s will…it’s often because my expectations are motivated out of selfishness, fear or wanting to be in control. 

When others fall short…and circumstances don’t measure up to my expectations…it’s imperative that I deal with people graciously.  God has been gracious and merciful to me.  I’m also motivated to be gracious because I’m well aware of my own sinful nature and past failures. 

Perhaps the key is to have “grace expectations”.  Expectations that line up with God’s will and grace given generously to those who fall short. 
 

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Power of Praise


It’s through praise and worship
I’m ushered into Your presence Lord Jesus
 
When I glorify Your holy Name
Life comes into perspective
 
As Your power and strength are manifest
My problems and concerns diminish
 
The One who is mighty to save
Is able to deliver me from all my afflictions
 
The cares of this world fade away
As I behold Your glory
 
It’s through the power of praise and worship my soul is strengthened
My heart and mind are stayed on Thee
 
 
By Susan Bunts Wachtel
May 11, 2010
 

Westminster Shorter Catechism – Q2

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments,[3] is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.[4]

3:  Matthew 19:4-5; Genesis 2:24; Luke 24:27, 44; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Peter 3:2, 15-16

4:  Deuteronomy 4:2; Psalm 19:7-11; Isaiah 8:20; John 15:11; John 20:30-31; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; and 1 John 1:4
 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just Thinking About Marriage


Yesterday, after listening to another marriage and family radio program I found myself so discouraged.  Discouraged…not because Chris and I have a bad marriage…but because our marriage is not the picture perfect ideal marriage that the experts tell us we should have.
 
That’s when God got a hold of me.  First He had me focus on Him…through worship and praise music.  Then God gently chastised me and reminded me to keep my eyes on Jesus.  That I need to look to God’s word and what He says about marriage…about being a husband and wife…and not seek man’s wisdom in place of God’s. 
 
Make no mistake…there’s good advice and suggestions in these programs.  Some of it is God centered and based on scripture.  But I think what Chris and I have been doing, by listening to so many programs, is over examining our marriage and holding one another up to man’s checklist.  Even if we passed one test…we’d fail in the others.  It’s a “no win” way to live and it’s no way to love my husband. 
 
It’s kind of like the garden we’ve planted.  If every day when I get home from work, I plucked the plants out of the ground to see how they are growing…they wouldn’t grow and thrive.  But if I tend them...water the plants, remove any pests and fertilize them…the plants will grow and be fruitful. 
 
Marriage programs can be like the big magnifying mirror that I use.  I may examine myself in the big mirror to address any unwanted issues.  But I only do it every once and a while…I don’t do it continually throughout the day.  Can you imagine me carrying around that big mirror and looking at myself throughout the day?  If I did that…I would be focused on all the flaws and imperfections all day, every day.  There is a time and a place for the big mirror and a time to put it away. 
 
Instead, I need to be examining myself in light of the magnifying mirror of God’s word.  I need to apply the God’s checklist against my own heart, thoughts, intentions and motives.  It’s there that God will wash me with His word…and reveal any wicked way in me. 
 
God is more than able to deal with both of us individually…I don’t need to play the Holy Spirit for my husband.  God is doing just fine on His own and He doesn’t need my help.
 
Maybe it’s time for us to enjoy one another.  For me to thank God for the husband that God has given me.  God has uniquely gifted and formed Chris.  I can be confident that He has given me a good thing and know that Chris is just the man whom I need.  Praise God!
 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Seeds of Discontent


Each program intended to build up and edify
Instead sows seeds of discontentment
Bringing a bountiful harvest of discouragement
 
Discussions on what a perfect marriage and family should be
Serve as a reminder
That reality often differs from the ideal
 
Examples on how to be a better husband and wife
Instead highlight imperfections
In the spouse that God has given us
 
Perhaps the better route is to read the manual given by our Creator
Let God guide and direct us through His word
Speak to our hearts through prayer
 
We’ll likely find God requires us
To remove the beam from our own eye
Before removing the speck from our spouse’s eye
 
Marriage a tool in the hand of God
Used to buff out our sin nature
Make us more like Christ
 
God cares more about our holiness than our happiness
But we can achieve both
When we yield to the hands of the Master
 
By Susan Bunts Wachtel
May 11, 2010
 
Do you ever listen to Christian radio programs about marriage and family only to find yourself discouraged because your life is not quite the ideal that they are portraying?  Sometimes I’ll be listening to a list of things that my husband should be doing, according to the resident expert, and realize that Chris is not living up their checklist.  According to their list…I’m falling far short of what it is to be an ideal wife.
 
I have no doubt…that we are both a work in progress.  That God is in the process of forming and shaping us and using our spouse as a tool.  Sometimes it’s a painful process.
 
Perhaps it’s time for me to fast from a few of the marriage and family programs.  Instead, pick up God’s word to see what He requires of us.  Take up the challenge to pray for my husband, instead of comparing him to someone else’s checklist.  Ask God how I might encourage Chris in his quest to be the man and the husband that God wants him to be.  Read what God requires of me as a wife and seek God’s help to walk according to His plan. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Resist & Believe

Last week, after spending the afternoon in a spiritual battle, I was weary.  During the drive home the Holy Spirit challenged me about what I really believe.
 
If there was a person in my life whom had a history and pattern of lies and deceit, of continually doing harm to me or friends and family, would I believe him when he came to me with a laundry list of lies?  Would I give him the time of day?  Or would I tell him, in no uncertain terms, to leave?
 
Knowing me...I would be swift, firm, loud and direct, “Get Out…and don’t come back!” 
 
Yet when approached by the enemy I actually give him an ear.  I listen and give credence to the one who is a lair and murdered from the beginning.  I believe what the hater my soul has to say...as if he would ever utter anything beneficial to me.
 
Why?  Why in the world would I do that?
 
I must confess its part laziness and part sin-nature.
 
Laziness…because for me to not listen to the lies of the enemy means I must take every thought captive.  I must actively, purposely redirect my thoughts…and think on that which is good, lovely, pure and true by meditating on scripture.  I need to praise God and believe that He is able to accomplish much more than I can ask or imagine.  I must have an active faith and believe that God is able to bring about that which has not yet been made manifest.  I must believe God is good…even when His answer is no, or wait, or when He gives me something much different than what I hoped and prayed for. 
 
Sin nature…because when I have been wronged or sinned against it’s not in my nature to be quick to forgive.  Instead I would rather justify why it’s okay to have hard feelings against a person who did me wrong.  I’d rather run to God with a long list of what’s wrong with this person or that one.  Instead…God calls me, as a Christian, to live supernaturally, to live by the power of the Holy Spirit within me.
 
I am a new creation in Christ.  Daily I am to take off the old man and put on the new. 
 
Lord…next time the enemy comes knocking…may I remember that he is a lair and that he comes to steal, kill and destroy.  May I resist him and watch him flee.  May I stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. May I believe You God…and instead ask, “What does my Father have to say about this?”
 

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Westminster Shorter Catechism – Q1

How well do you know the doctrines of your Christian faith?  Even when we sit under good, strong expositional preaching, we can all benefit by having a clearer understanding of our Christian faith solidly grounded on God’s word.

I thought I would take some time over the next few months and post the Westminster Shorter Catechism questions, answers and scripture references.  Will you join me in this venture so we can strengthen our faith and sharpen our Sword of the Spirit through the study of God’s word?

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]

1:  Psalm 86:1-17; Isaiah 60:21; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 10:31; Revelation 4:11
2:  Psalm 16:5-11; Psalm 144:15; Isaiah 12:2; Luke 2:10; Philippians 4:4; Revelation 21:3-4

Monday, May 03, 2010

Contemplating Sin



The following comment was received by “Imma Hypocrite”:

We view sin as entertainment when it comes in the form in movies, books, TV and music.

I, too, believe this. My question for God is... what are my options?

Do I completely shun worldly entertainments and give up time with my husband and friends who love movies?

Tho my circle of family and friends are dedicated Christians, workers in the church they are not as contemplative of these things.  It is contemplation which grows the hatred for sin simply because...it is not something the one I love foremost, enjoys, likes, tolerates, etc

The only way I can condone 'Hollywood entertainment' is to engage in it for the sake of developing a friendship with a lost one or newly saved one---the meeting at the well or the eating with Zacchaeus?.

It's a lonely place to be.

 
 
Dear Friend,

In looking at your blog…I see that you too contemplate the things of God. 

Indeed Jesus reached out to those who were unsaved or those young in their faith.  He would talk or dine with sinners whom society or the religious leaders shunned.  Praise God…He is still the same yesterday, today and forever.  Because Jesus is still reaching out…I was saved from the consequences of my sin.
 
When Jesus met people…He challenged them, He confronted their sin, He caused them to, “Choose this day Whom you will serve.”  He encouraged them to repent, to turn their back on their sinful ways and walk in a manner worthy of their high calling.
 
Some examples that come to mind are the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, the rich young ruler, Nicodemus, and the woman caught in adultery.  Not everyone repented…but it didn’t keep Jesus from confronting them with the truth from God’s Word.  It’s ironic that it was the religious leaders who couldn’t see past their own self righteousness and recognize their own sin. 
 
Jesus may have dined with them or talked with them, but He never joined them in their sin.  Instead Jesus confronted sin…be it overt sin or the sin hidden in the thoughts and intentions of hearts. 
 
One reason it’s hard for Christians, including me, to feel comfortable talking with someone in a very straightforward manner about sin is due to our own sin and past failures.   We feel like damaged good…but praise God He uses broken vessels to accomplish His purposes and plans.   God can use those who walk in obedience to be salt and light where He has placed us. 
 
We will never regret walking a life of obedience and holiness.  But there will come a day when we will regret not taking a stand, or compromising what we know is right.  It may not be easy and sometime even lonely, but compared to the rich rewards in heaven, to quote the Apostle Paul…it’s not even worthy to be compared.
 
Jesus gave His all…what should I withhold from Him?
 
We are cleansed by the washing of the Word.  It’s there we are confronted with our own sinfulness and with God’s perfect standard and the requirements of the law fulfilled only in Jesus Christ.  It’s through prayer that our relationship is strengthened and our love for God grows as we come to know Him more.   
 
The more I read God’s word…the harder it is to look upon that which Hollywood and the recording industry try to pass off as entertainment.  What’s funny about adultery?  What’s amusing about women or men displaying their bodies in a way that is meant for private intimacy within marriage?  What’s entertaining about murder, or stealing or drug use and alcohol abuse?  What’s edifying about filthy language? 
 
It’s hard to see the sin that Christ died for as entertainment. 
 
My dear friend…surely you aren’t the only one in your circle of friends that feels uncomfortable with Hollywood’s entertainment.  I’ll bet if you voiced you feelings….not in a condemning or arrogant manner, but heartfelt…you might find others feel likewise and are just looking for someone to stand with them. 
 
Thankfully these days, we are offered more choices in the Christian community.  I’m so grateful for the work of Christian filmmakers like Provident Films which offers good Christian entertainment.  Perhaps a place to start is by finding some good, clean entertainment alternatives for family and friends.
 
It’s my prayer that we will have the courage as Christians to live each day in the light of eternity.
 

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Cry Out to God


In your deepest valley
During your darkest night
When facing the fiercest storm
Cry out to God

During your busy day
In the midst trying circumstances
When faced with overwhelming demands
Cry out to God

While standing on the mountaintop
When all seems right with the world
When your heart overflows with joy
Cry out to God

He comforts us in our deepest sorrow
He meets us in our pressing need
Shares in our heartfelt joy
Cry out to God and let Him meet you there


Susan Bunts Wachtel
April 27, 2010

Ruminations on Forgiveness


Have you ever noticed that forgiveness is easier after the fact, after the offense is over? 
 
When an offense is ongoing and repeated it’s much harder to forgive. 
 
It’s easier to forgive someone who has repented, acknowledged they were wrong and apologized.
 
Unforgiveness can be all consuming…it can take over every thought. 
 
Satan uses an offense or a hurt by another person to help us justify holding on to unforgiveness.
 
Unforgiveness NEVER makes me feel better.  I only feel worse as I replay an offense over and over again in my mind.   
 
An offense or hurt grows the more I dwell on it.  It’s like hitting a bruise with a hammer and wondering why it still hurts or feels worse.
 
I want others to understand my motives when I sin against them…but I want to judge others by their actions.
 
There is no freedom in unforgiveness…only bondage.  Bondage to the person who hurt us and bondage to Satan and his will for our life.
 
Wrongdoing from someone we love hurts more than from a stranger.
 
When we are wronged in public…shame, humiliation or embarrassment fuels the fire of unforgiveness.

Picture a Day - Wild Yarrow

The yarrow in our garden is one of my favorite plants.  In the wild, it's just as pretty.