gospel wednesday

GW

Good Morning Friends!

A couple of weeks ago I was on a walk with a close friend and we were discussing something that we both had in common. Something that is new and amazing. Something that doesn’t come around in every season of life. Something that seems too good to be true.

Contentment.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 10.09.14 PM

It’s hard to specifically describe what has happened in my heart, but something has definitely occurred and I am so grateful. The most wonderful part of this contentment is Who my happiness and satisfaction has ultimately come from…but more on that in a moment.

For a few years now I have really struggled with feeling like I just couldn’t get to where I needed or wanted to be. I desired to be valuable in terms of my job status, living situation, take-home salary, and personal achievements. I was very concerned with impressing and attaining the approval of my family, friends, and acquaintances. And for a few years now I haven’t had the ability to shake a person’s hand and present myself with a, “Hi, I’m Sarah and I do something super important sounding for 40+ hours a week and I make a great salary,” or “Hi, I’m Sarah and I accomplished exactly what I expected I would at 26 years of age.” Writing it out is funny because I know how silly, empty, and misguided it really is.

It has been a hard few years for me with lots of rejection and many tearful conversations. I knew the truth that satisfaction can only be found in my God and King…but at the same time I guess I didn’t fully believe it; it wasn’t sinking in. God has been trying to show me time and time again, through MANY shut doors, that who I am in Him (forgiven, alive, loved, adopted, redeemed, rescued, protected, provided for, wanted, righteous, His daughter) and who I belong to is infinitely more valuable and incredibly more important.

So how have I been able to experience contentment NOW, after all those years of rejection, discontentment, and misguided desires? The answer is simple: Jesus carried me. Jesus never left me and never let me go. Jesus brought me through and showed me His grace. Jesus taught me that satisfaction, true satisfaction, can ONLY be found in HIM and His love displayed on the cross. I have used this verse so many times to describe God’s love because it never returns void: Romans 5:8 – “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

That being said, there is no special pill or 5 step plan to true contentment. The way to contentment, or a state of happiness and satisfaction, is found in Jesus. Spending time reading Scripture, praying to God, and being in community with other believers – these are essential as well. But at the end of the day…the only thing we can be truly satisfied in is our Maker, our King, our Jesus. To quote John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

As my friend and I continued to walk and talk about what God has been doing in our lives we encouraged one another in the contentment He has given us for this season. We were both stirred up to be so thankful. God has humbled both of us so that we can see His goodness, mercy, perfection, and immeasurable love. It is my prayer that whoever is reading this might find contentment in Jesus as well. He is SO good!!!

Please be encouraged by the Scripture below and reflect of God’s greatness, holiness, trustworthiness, faithfulness, thoughtfulness, planning, generosity, creativity, and power. Be satisfied in HIM.

PSALM 104

O Lord My God, You Are Very Great

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

O Lord my God, you are very great!

You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment,

stretching out the heavens like a tent.

He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot;

he rides on the wings of the wind;

he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.

He set the earth on its foundations,

so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment;

the waters stood above the mountains.

At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.

The mountains rose, the valleys sank down

to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass,

so that they might not again cover the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills;

they give drink to every beast of the field;

the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;

they sing among the branches.

From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

You cause ithe grass to grow for the livestock

and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth

and wine to gladden the heart of man,

oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,

the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. In them the birds build their nests;

the stork has her home in the fir trees.

The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

He made the moon to mark the seasons;

the sun knows its time for setting. You make darkness, and it is night,

when all the beasts of the forest creep about.

The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.

When the sun rises, they steal away

and lie down in their dens. Man goes out to his work

and to his labor until the evening.

O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable,

living things both small and great.

There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

These all look to you,

to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up;

when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die

and return to their dust.

When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;

may the Lord rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles,

who touches the mountains and they smoke!

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

May my meditation be pleasing to him,

for I rejoice in the LordLet sinners be consumed from the earth,

and let the wicked be no more!

Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!

PSALM 104

Many prayers to you.

xo sarah

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gospel wednesday

GW

Today’s post might be a bit controversial, but it is a desire of mine to see God’s good truth proclaimed boldly and in grace. I was inspired by the quote below:

false belief

 

What are your initial thoughts after reading it?

For some of you, this may be encouraging and empowering. You may have faced a lot of hurt or abuse in a relationship. You may have been sinned against and treated with hate. You are possibly reading the quote again and finding that it sounds freeing to be able to take control of your life in such a way. If that is you, I am so sorry for your hurt and your pain. I am so sorry that you have been sinned against and taken advantage of. That pain is real and sin deserves punishment. (Romans 6:23) But, please, stay with me as I share some of my own thoughts on the matter.

I do not like this quote all. In my eyes, this quote is anti-gospel and self-absorbed. I am not unaware that we have all been hurt and that there are people in our lives who make almost everything hard. Trust me, I get that. However if God, the TRUE “CEO” (But, He is so much bigger than that man-made term) of this universe, acted in this way, then we would all most definitely be terminated. Why is that? Because we have all sinned against God in the worst and most horrific way; by killing His Son whom He sent.

See how Jesus was wrongfully accused in Luke 22:23-24 :: A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.”

And how he was mocked and beaten in Matthew 26:65-68 :: “Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

And lastly, how Jesus was killed in Mark 15:37-39 :: And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he8 breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

If Jesus were to evaluate the people in his life, in the way the quote above suggests, then everyone of us would be terminated. The God of this universe, Jesus, is bigger and more powerful than a simple CEO. The comparison is truly laughable. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13). He has been given ALL power and ALL authority in Heaven above and on earth below (Matthew 28:18-20). He has more control and sovereignty than we even begin to give Him credit for. And what does God decide to do with all of His power, authority, and control? He SAVES us. He FORGIVES us. He ADOPTS us. HE makes us his own, forevermore.

See, even while He hung on a cross, how Jesus evaluated the people in his life, Luke 23:34 :: And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He didn’t demote or terminate them because they made his life hard, or sinned against Him, or put Him to death…He didn’t do any of that. He would have been justified to terminate them, but he didn’t. He LOVED them. He forgave them…He forgives us. 

Praise be to God! Romans 5:8 shouts of His LOVE :: “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

And for those who are trusting Christ for salvation, we see in Romans 6:8 what an amazing gift we have:: Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” If you didn’t catch it the first time, here it is again – Colossians 3:3 :: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Such good news! 

Hopefully now you can see why I feel that the quote above is so anti-gospel. However, I have re-written the quote in light of how I feel Jesus teaches us to live. Please be encouraged and rejoice in the God of your salvation!

true belief

How has either of these quotes affected you? I’d love to hear your story.

xo sarah

gospel wednesday

GW

Dear friends,

I have been meditating on and discussing death this week. It may sound a bit morbid to be thinking about death, but it really is something we all have and/or will experience in some way or at some time. Jesus wept over this matter and also spoke with great urgency. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23). Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He desires to save all that would believe for eternal life with HIM!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18 ESV)

And all who believe will be able to enjoy Jesus for all of eternity in Heaven. What an inconceivable joy! Reading the poem below was such an encouragement for me (from The Valley of Vision). Keeping my eyes heavenward is such a reminder to share the gospel in word, deed, and action.

Earth and Heaven

O Lord, 

I live here as a fish in a vessel of water, only enough to keep me alive, 

but in heaven I shall swim in the ocean.

Here I have a little air in me to keep me breathing, 

but there I shall have sweet and fresh gales;

Here I have a beam of sun to lighten my darkness, a warm ray to keep me from freezing;

yonder I shall live in light and warmth for ever.

My natural desires are corrupt and misguided,

and it is thy mercy to destroy them;

My spiritual longings are of thy planting, and thou wilt water and increase them;

Quicken my hunger and thirst after the realm above.

Here I can have the world, there I shall have thee in Christ;

Here is a life of longing and prayer,

there is assurance without suspicion, asking without refusal;

Here are gross comforts, more burden than benefit,

there is joy without sorrow, comfort without suffering,

love without inconsistency, rest without weariness.

Give me to know that heaven is all love, where the eye affects the heart,

and the continual viewing of thy beauty keeps the soul in continual transports of delight.

Give me to know that heaven is all peace, where error, pride, rebellion, passion raise no head.

Give me to know that heaven is all joy, the end of believing, fasting, praying, mourning, humbling, watching, fearing, repining; 

And lead me to it soon.

Have you ever thought about eternity? Have you found hope in the good news of Jesus Christ? I would truly love to hear your story.

xo sarah

gospel wednesday

GW

Hello friends,

I am humbled and hesitant to share something I have been struggling with lately. It exposes my sin and makes me feel incredibly vulnerable. However, I think it’s a good thing to be honest, to be open, and to – in fact – be broken.

The “something” I have been struggling with is a false body image.

Negative thoughts run through my head constantly: I’m getting fat, my shorts are tighter than last summer, I have so much cellulite, I thought I had abs, I am not strong enough, people probably think I’m lazy, they are so much better looking, my husband would probably be more attracted to me if I was 15 pounds lighter, if only I could have that body…on and on it goes.

Writing those things out is, in a word, embarrassing. I don’t like admitting that I idolize having a great body and the approval of man (as opposed to the approval of God). I also don’t like admitting my perfectionism and pride. But there it is…in the open now. This struggle with body image is so frustrating and has become an area of my life where I have placed too much of my hope.

The truth is, all my hope should be in Jesus, in his Gospel, and in his love for me. That should be enough (because it is enough). His great mercy for me, a sinner, should satisfy me beyond measure (and it does).  Therefore, it is not a matter of whether or not Jesus IS enough for us, it is a matter of whether or not we BELIEVE that He is enough for us. Can we (myself included) believe, speak, shout out, “I am God’s beloved daughter in whom He is well pleased!“?

Jesus is the one who loves perfectly and who makes us HIS own. He is also the one who died on the cross, forgave our sin, and accomplished righteousness on our behalf. Now when God looks at us, He only sees the perfect blood of Christ and is WELL PLEASED. Amen!

In the book Because He Loves Me by Elise Fitzpatrick, she explains the idea that when we sin, there is something about the Gospel that we are not believing. I know that this is true for me. When I believe the false ideas about my body, I am not believing that God is well pleased with me (because of Jesus); I am not believing that I already have all the approval I could ever hope for (because of Jesus); and I am not believing that the work God did in saving me and changing my heart is beautiful enough.

Here are a couple of ways I will battle through this:

  1. Give it to God in prayer. Every bit of it! Let God work in me through this struggle. Trust Him completely with it and remember that He will never leave my side. Ask Him to help me believe the Gospel fully.
  2. Look to Scripture. The Bible is my source of truth when I am tempted to sin. I will be working toward memorizing these scriptures:
  • Psalm 139:14 – I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
  • 1 Samuel 16:7 –  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
  • Proverbs 31:30 – Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 – Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
  • James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
  • 1 Timothy 4:8 – for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Hopefully this post was helpful for those of you who have also been struggling with false body image. Hopefully you can come to repentance and believe the Gospel in its entirety. Hopefully you know I am praying for you as I pray for myself.

God bless you. xo sarah

in Christ

 

{Photo Credit}

gospel wednesday

GW

This particular season in life has been pretty rocky. With our whole family moving across the country, fires hitting North San Diego County, miscarriages of friends, and the mass of tissue that was found in the skull of our sweet student, Katherine…it’s been emotional to say the absolute least.

I know that those of you reading this have faced your own suffering as well. Whether that be death, sickness, divorce, betrayal, abandonment, failure, depression, anxiety…Whatever the case may be, we have all faced suffering head-on. The Bible tells us to endure suffering. Hard as that may be, it produces the character of God in us. Jesus came and died for the ungodly and related to us in our suffering:

  • For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:10
  • Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinLet us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of needHebrews 4:14-16
  • And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

If you have been reading for a while, then you know I like to share psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They are a source of encouragement and connection for me. I love seeing the character of God displayed in words and melodies. Everything else around me may be shaking or in ruins, but God remains faithful and true, pouring out His great love for me in the gospel.

The song I want to share today comes from the new King’s Kaleidoscope album. CLICK HERE to hear the song “Fix My Eyes”. I bolded some of the words I connect to.

When my heart is weary, when my soul is weak
When it seems I can’t traverse the trail before me
I survey the glory of Your agony
And I find the will to fight for what’s before me
Cause You ran the race enduring for Your glory

I fix my eyes on You, the founder and the finisher of our faith
I fix my eyes on You, the solace in Your suffering is my strength

As I fight to follow, You’re my righteous guide
And You train me to delight in all that’s holy
Heal my broken body, cure my crooked stride
Throw off every weight and sin that clings so closely
I will run the race enduring for Your glory

I fix my eyes on You, the founder and the finisher of our faith
I fix my eyes on You, the solace in Your suffering is my strength

You help me breathe, You’re the only life I need
You died for me, You’re the only life I need 

Lastly, I want you to KNOW this: your suffering is NOT meaningless. If you have just a few minutes, please listen to this song/message. It was such a reminder of the truth and a comfort to me in my suffering. Let it be the same to you.

xo sarah

gospel wednesday

GW

Hello friends. This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I was reminded this week how often I need reassurance. I know the truth, I believe it, and by God’s grace I will persevere, but because I have weakness I seek reassurance.

I think we all do. How often, in your close personal relationships, do you ask to be reassured?

Are we okay? Are you upset with me? Do you forgive me? Do you love me? Have you forgotten me? Are you having fun? Do you like it? Am I doing a good job? How do I look? Is there something in my teeth? (that last one is just for laughs!)

Now think: how often, in your relationship with God, do you ask to be reassured?

I believe the Gospel and I am being sanctified to apply it to every area of my life. However, like I said before, I have weakness. I struggle. I am vulnerable. It’s during those times that I must return to my Savior and be reassured of His great love, forgiveness, and approval. Please take some time to reflect on the verses below and be reassured in how greatly God loves, saves, forgives, approves, gives, leads, and cares.

Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:6-8For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 5:21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Colossians 2:13-14And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Romans 10:9-13because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

John 6:37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Matthew 11:28-30Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Romans 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Please soak these truths in. Feel God’s grace being lavished upon you. Understand He will never leave you and has forgiven His beloved children.

I, like many of you, am prone to wander. I will need to be reassured of these truths anywhere from one to one thousand more times today. I am so grateful Jesus is always there to come running back to. All glory be to Christ!

xo sarah

 

gospel wednesday

GW

It’s what I don’t deserve.

It’s what I can never have too much of.

It’s what is always there no matter how far I wander.

It’s AMAZING GRACE.

O THOU GIVING GOD,

My heart is drawn out in thankfulness to thee,

for thy amazing grace and condescension to me

            in influences and assistances of thy Spirit,

for special help in prayer,

for the sweetness of Christian service,

for the thoughts of arriving in heaven,

for always sending me needful supplies,

for raising me to new life when I am like the one dead.

I want not the favour of man to lean upon

            for thy favour is infinitely better.

Thou art eternal wisdom in dispensations toward me;

            and it matters not when, nor where, nor how I serve thee,

            nor what trials I am exercised with,

            if I might but be prepared for thy work and will.

No poor creature stands in divine grace more than I do,

            and yet none abuses it more than I have done, and still do.

How heartless and dull I am!

Humble me in the dust for not loving thee more.

Every time I exercise any grace renewedly

            I am renewedly indebted to thee,

                        the God of all grace, for special assistance.

I cannot boast when I think how dependent I am upon thee

            for the being and every aspect of grace;

I never do anything else but depart from thee,

            and if I ever get to heaven it will be because thou willest it,

                        and for no reason beside.

I love as a feeble, afflicted, despised creature,

            to cast myself on thy infinite grace and goodness,

                        hoping for no happiness but from thee;

Give me special grace to fit me for special services,

            and keep me calm and resigned at all times,

                        humble,

                        solemn,

                        mortified, and

                        conformed to thy will.

– A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

This  prayer came from a book called Valley of Vision. My family likes to read it before we go to bed. Maybe you could do the same!?

I just loved this prayer because it reminded me of where grace comes from. How grace should make me feel. What grace does is my life. Why I am even given grace to begin with.

It’s ALL because of Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to forgive my sins and He rose again to give me new life. I feel humbled to know that Jesus would take on all the wrath that sin produces and put it to shame and death. This amazing grace means I will see Him someday; I will meet Him and rejoice! He is so good!

How have you seen God’s amazing grace in your life?

xo sarah

gospel wednesday

GW

Jesus is better.

This is a beautiful phrase. I have been reminding my heart of this truth a lot lately.

In this season of life, I am working part-time, enjoying taking care of our home, getting good exercise, and reading the bible more regularly than ever before. I am enjoying these gifts so much! The really difficult part of this season is having my husband work himself to the bone. He is working two full time jobs (until they hire a replacement for one of them), working part time doing music and youth at our local church, and going to Seminary up in La Mirada once a week (plus homework). How? By God’s grace.

I have been asking him what more I can do, how I can be encouraging him, and what else he needs from me. I, so badly, want to fix this for him. I’ve realized that for the most part I just need to pray for him. I have been praying that God would sustain him and keep him diligent. I also just need to agree with him that this IS hard. This time in our lives IS hard.

The good news is that Jesus IS better.

In all my sorrows, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
In all my victories, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Than any comfort, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
More than all riches, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Our souls declaring, Jesus is better – make my heart believe
Our song eternal, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

Let’s look at Scripture to see why Jesus is better:

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom…” 1 Timothy 2:5-6

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

…if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

Jesus gave us His life, His death, and His resurrection. Jesus gave us His love, His mercy, and His goodness. Jesus gave us His righteousness, His Spirit, and His church. Jesus gave us all of Himself and that is far better than any gift, struggle, or season.

Glory, glory, we have no other king than Jesus Lord of all. I will bless His name forever and ever. Amen.

xo sarah

Lyric credits: Austin Stone

read through the Bible in a year

Good morning friends!

I have a small post this morning, with a big commitment.

I know it is not January 1st. It’s January 31st to be exact. Nonetheless, I am starting something new. Something wonderful. Something abundant and life-giving.

A few days ago, I stumbled across a new (to me) blog called Grace and Salt. The post that drew me in was about a one year commitment to the Word of God. Here’s the post and line that caught me:

I am committing to reading The Bible from cover to cover this year! And I’d love if you joined me. I’ve learned that when you have someone walking alongside you in something, you are far more likely to complete the task. So, who wants to join with me and dive into the most perfect book ever written?

I quickly answered, “I do! I do!” So…I know this is the end of January, and not the beginning, but it’s never (ever) too late to start. I began the reading plan a few days ago and will try to catch up before 2015. Either way, I totally agree that knowing someone else is committing to the same thing you are is super encouraging and really gives you the accountability to keep going. Plus, spending time reading about The Lord, worshipping Jesus, and giving Him praise is an incredible gift.

I have not completed this challenge in my lifetime yet, but I am so pumped! Throughout the year, I will post about where I am in the Bible and what God is teaching me about the gospel. And if/when I become discouraged or fail, I can believe and rely on God’s provision of grace. Also, I just read a really encouraging article titled, We Need a Savior, Not a New Year. Great perspective on the goals we pursue and plans we make – especially in light of this commitment I am making.

That being said, I would love to ask you ALL the same question: So, who wants to join with me and dive into the most perfect book ever written?

You can find the plan for every month of the whole year HERE. Let’s do this!

Bible in a Year- Grace & Salt

I will end this post with some fitting Scripture to encourage us in this challenge: Ecclesiastes 7:8 – “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

MANY thanks to the writers of Grace and Salt!

xo sarah

this abundant life: best of 2013 {instagram edition}

Here is what 2013 looked like for me as captured by instagram.

I love how I can look back and review the year. See the highlights. Remember how I felt in each season. See how often I took pictures of my food, ha!

The year starts and ends with the gospel for me. I can’t be saved with out it and I can’t live each day without it. Jesus is so good and I need to remember His truth each moment that passes. How can I love if I do not first understand His love?

2013-01-09_1357748454Gospel.

2013-02-25_1361762734Snow and Jr. High Winter Camp.

2013-04-03_1365024212Lots of working.

2013-05-04_1367627987New blogging adventures.

2013-02-01_1359755775This is my best friend, my love, my one and only.

2013-02-28_1362033585Lucy is growing up beautifully. (Can you tell I just want to squeeze her?)

2013-05-10_1368223254Bret started seminary at Talbot.

2013-02-26_1361842428I made pans and pans of these in 2013.

2013-02-10_1360486613I turned 25.

2013-04-01_1364844845We tried our best at clean eating.

2013-02-03_1359869044We played together.

2013-07-16_1373957653Replanted our pallet garden with succulents (that I can’t kill).

2013-06-04_1370316682Two visits from mom this year!

2013-06-07_1370622336Romans.

2013-06-23_1371961221New invention: treat corn.

2013-01-31_1359607297I made apple crisps for dinner guests quite a few times.

2013-05-06_1367866512We bought a Blendtec and made lots of green smoothies. I ironed weekly.

2013-07-13_1373687883Jr. High Ministry in our apartment – going strong.

2013-01-20_1358663168He is my sunny day.

2013-10-16_1381902267Gained new friends and grew in community.

2013-08-01_1375337043We experienced the loss of a dear loved one.

2013-06-22_1371872801We spent more time at the beach than ever before.

2013-07-03_1372836564We drank lots of coffee & tea.

2013-05-13_1368414862My life-long friends blessed me with their love.

2013-06-10_1370823511We learned how to surf.

2013-08-02_1375407827Surfing and beach camping in my new favorite spot.

2013-08-18_1376786366My close friend got married to her one true love.

2013-08-23_1377299725I learned more about photography and had great adventures.

2013-10-05_1381003942We picked apples and learned about fruit.

2013-12-11_1386786993Gracelyn was born. Isn’t she lovely?

2013-12-16_1387174956Christmas Under the Stars with The Fields.

2013-12-27_1388183211This is where we lived.

Instagram makes life’s memories so tangible! AND fun.

What was your favorite memory from 2013?

xo sarah

gospel monday

Gospel Monday

 

Guest post by my intelligent, handsome, and admirable husband: Bret Theis. 

 

Christmas is, sadly, behind us now – along with all of its trimmings and traditions.
And the gifts.

Christmas gifts are, simultaneously, the most exciting and most stressful parts of the holiday!

When you’re a child, Christmas gifts are almost entirely one-sided. It’s so much more simple: “what am I going to get for Christmas?”

However, as an adult, you don’t think as much about what you’ll be getting. Instead, you fret about what you’re going to give. The range of emotions is endless!
You can go from excited, to nervous, to stressed, to anxious, to confused, and even to utter apathy! Christmas is just plain different as an adult.

But one thing that surprised me about enjoying Christmas as an adult is how I respond to the gifts I get. I’m assuming you’re like me and there’s at least a handful of things you might want for Christmas. Perhaps a new laptop. Maybe a new car even. Everybody would love a new car!

However, as an adult, when I receive gifts that I need…that’s a completely different experience.

When you’re a child and you receive a gift that you need (socks, a sweater, underwear), it’s an incredibly underwhelming experience. As a kid, socks just aren’t that exciting. Here’s a handy tip: if you want to know if your kid is going to be a good liar, give him socks for Christmas; if he acts excited, don’t trust him.

But as an adult, getting a gift you actually need is something to celebrate over. When you’re older, you have a much better idea about what you actually need versus the meaningless things you want. You have a bit of a better idea of what’s good for you.  Since you’re actually supporting yourself, you know the things you need compared to the luxuries you’d like to have. So when someone helps you out by gifting you with something you actually need…it’s just sweet.

This is what makes Christmas so amazing.

God sees our needs.
God knows our needs.
And, most importantly, life-alteringly, mind-explodingly, reality-bendingly…God has provided for our greatest need in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Fact: Jesus is God.
Chapter 1 of the Gospel of John will fill you in on that reality.

Jesus, God Himself – the eternal Son, condescended Himself and became a human being.
The Timeless One entered into time.
The One who made flesh from the dust of the earth took on flesh Himself.

Why?

To give us the greatest gift anyone could ever receive.

Himself.

Jesus grows up and lives a life of innocent childhood, awkward pubescent teenage years, adolescence, and – finally – adulthood  –  all the while, “he committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).

  • Jesus was perfectly human and perfectly sinless. Everything we cannot be.
  • Everything Jesus did was pleasing to God the Father. Everything we cannot do.
  • Jesus willingly offered His own perfect life as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of those who would believe in Him. Everything we need.

Now, Jesus gives the gift of forgiveness of sins, right relationship with God, and eternal life to all those who come to Him by way of repentance from sins and trust in His work of salvation on the cross.

There are some who may tell you that the gift must be “accepted”. Or that you have to “open the gift” for it to “work”. I don’t think that’s true, and here’s why: When you’re an adult, and someone gives you a gift you need, you celebrate!
You tear off the wrapping paper, rip open the box, and cry, “Thank you! I needed this!”

If you don’t think you need Jesus…and, frankly, it doesn’t sound like something you really want…let me encourage you: stop thinking like a child. Grow up and realize your need for Jesus.

He loves you and he’s got a gift with your name on it.

Merry Christmas.

gospel monday

Good morning friends. I hope the day the Lord has made is finding you blessed and with much joy!

Gospel Monday

Today, I wanted to share about an incredible experience I had last night. Every year our church plans a night of signing Christmas carols, reading the Christmas story, and eating lots of cookies & hot cocoa in the park. It’s called Christmas Under the Stars.

I never knew that when I showed up to the event three years ago, it would become my absolute favorite Christmas tradition. There is just something so special about bundling up, gathering together, and proclaiming the true meaning of Christmas under thousands of white twinkling lights.

CUS 1

Hopefully this picture can somewhat display how incredibly lovely the night is. It was such a cool experience to hear the train go by behind us and sing songs of truth with our community. Last night, we remembered that it’s a blessing to give gifts at Christmas – especially in light of the fact the Jesus is the greatest gift of all.

God sent His only Son to be born of of virgin and she was to name him Jesus. Jesus, being fully God and fully human, lived a sinless life to one day die. He died for a very real and specific purpose: to save His people from their sins. He bore the shame of the cross and died a horrific death so that we would no longer perish, but inherit reconciliation, righteousness, and eternal life with God (John 3:16).

CUS 2

There was a song last night that really reminded me of God’s perfect plan and why we celebrate Christmas. We all probably know it; it’s called Oh Holy Night. This is my favorite part of the song:

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains He shall break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name

Christ is the Lord! Oh praise His name forever! His power and glory forevermore proclaim.

Merry Christmas friends! I hope you can celebrate Christ this beautiful season!

What is your favorite way to celebrate Christmas?

xo sarah

gospel monday

Gospel Monday

Have you ever found yourself boasting about yourself or something you think is just THE BEST? I’ll answer the question for you – yes. I know I have.

Rather than ourselves, God has given us something to boast about. Something better. Something true.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 – Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

The Lord loves to hear us boast! Not in our own excellence, accomplishments, or wealth, but in HIM. Humbly giving Jesus all of our praise and celebrating who He is, what He has done, and what He will do is truly something to boast about.

BOAST about…

Who Jesus is: Jesus is God! Read John 6: 25-40.

What Jesus has done: Jesus has saved us from the penalty of our sins. He has paid our debt, accomplished victory over death, and given us eternal life and His righteousness. Read John 3:14-172 Corinthians 4:13-152 Corinthians 5:20-21.

What Jesus will do: Jesus will return. He will set all things right in His perfect justice. He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and sin and darkness will be no more. Read John 14:3; Revelayion 1:7Revelation 21:4.

I am so thankful that God has given me the ability to comprehend His truths in Scripture. I see His great loyalty in my life that I clearly do not deserve. I will boast in Jesus and the gospel everyday! I will praise Him for the steadfast love He shows the world. Such Good News!

How can you be boasting in the Lord today?

xo sarah

gospel wednesday

GWMy husband and I had a wonderful time together last weekend. Thanks to a super subtle (not so subtle at all) suggestion on my part, we took a drive out to Julian to go apple picking! We had great conversation, listened to great music, and it was just so beautiful out in the country. I was snapping as many photos as possible, trying my best to capture our memories. One photo in particular struck a chord with me.

As we were walking from tree to tree, trying to find the best apples possible, we noticed there were a bunch that had fallen off the branches to the ground. There were multiple worm-holes and bruises on these apples. They were dirty and rotten, and people were continually tripping over them. Nobody wanted them. These apples were fallen fruit.fallen apples

I could see fallen fruit right before my eyes and it reminded me of a song that gives a beautiful picture of the Gospel. Please take a listen and read along:

Ghost Ship – Poison Tree 

This tree bears strange fruit

There’s blood on the leaves, it’s dead at the roots
The cracked grey branches are decaying within
Just like the black poison that hangs from its limbs

Come and dig me up, reach down to the roots
Rip the deadness out, and plant something new

I am alive, I will abide
In the life-giving blood of Christ
I’m grafted in, You’ve killed my sin
Now I will live, I’ll live in Him

I tried to tie good fruit
To a tree that had poison all the way through
It rotted and fell off, it was dead to the core
It even killed the ground, I was worse than before

Come and dig me up, reach down to the roots 
Rip the deadness out, and plant something  new 

I am alive, I will abide 
In the life giving blood of Christ 
I’m grafted in, You’ve killed my sin 
Now I will live, I’ll live in Him 

It was a hard day when I realized that I was rotten all the way through: self-righteous, prideful, resentful, disbelieving, and greedy. In that moment, I was so aware of the poison within my soul, the rot within my heart, and what I deserved for my sins. But it was that same day that I felt free. It was that same day that I was brought to my knees in gratitude. It was that same day that I remembered the Gospel:

  • God is good, loving, perfect, holy and Almighty.
  • We are sinners, rebels declaring war against God, and deserve the punishments of Hell.
  • BUT God, being so gracious and loving, sent His Son to live the perfect life we could never live and die the death that we deserve. Jesus, God Himself in the flesh, dies on OUR cross. God’s wrath against OUR sin, which was meant for US, is poured out onto Jesus instead. Jesus made this sacrifice for all who trust in Him for salvation and turn away from their sin and rebellion.
  • Jesus rose from the dead, conquering sin and death. Because of this, God makes us a new creation in Jesus Christ and gives us freedom in life through His incredible work on the cross and by the power of the Holy Spirit. We also have the promise of restored relationship and eternal life in heaven with God.
  • Jesus is ALIVE and He is coming back to set all things new, making all wrong things right, once and for all.

This is GOOD NEWS! I am so blessed to know this truth and believe it. My Soul rejoices in the forgiveness I have been given and the freedom I now have. God is so gracious and has made me a new creation. My heart now longs to worship my Jesus and praise Him always. I desire to share this truth in love and compassion to all.

My prayers go out to anyone who is aware of the poison and sin within themselves. I pray that you would know Jesus and embrace His forgiveness. I also pray that you would repent and believe the Gospel deeply. We can apply it to every area of of our lives. It delivers us and brings us hope eternal.

Colossians 1: 13-14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Amen!

Lastly, I researched an article that further explains the lyrics of this song and gives a great background as to why it was written. One quote in particular grabbed my attention. Enjoy this truth: Gospel Wednesday - Fallen Fruit

God bless you! Rejoice in the good news of the Gospel!

xo sarah

gospel monday

Gospel Monday

I can’t get this new song, Made Alive by Citizens out of my head. It is packed with so much truth and reminds me of God’s deep love. Jesus BOUGHT us with His blood and SAVED us by His grace. We must believe and trust Him in this as our only hope. Please go listen to the song HERE.

I once was dead in sin
Alone and hopeless,
A child of wrath I walked
Condemned in darkness,
But your mercy brought new life
And in your love and kindness,
Raised me up with Christ
And made me righteous.

You have bought me back
With the riches of,
Your amazing grace
And relentless love.
I’m made alive forever,
With you, life forever
By your grace I’m saved,
By your grace I’m saved.

Lord, you are the light,
That broke the darkness.
You satisfy my soul,
When I am heartless.
If ever I forget
My true identity,
Show me who I am,
And help me to believe.

You have bought me back,
With the riches of,
Your amazing grace
And relentless love.
I’m made alive forever,
With you, life forever,
By your grace I’m saved,
By your grace I’m saved.

My sin has been erased,
I’ll never be the same.
My sin has been erased,
I’ll never be the same.

So good!!! Enjoy this week and trust in the Lord with all your heart.

xo sarah