Thursday, November 29, 2012

I love you California

I want to make it perfectly clear that I am overjoyed with my Arizona life. God has blessed me here with a good husband, a godly church, and a wonderful family. I find myself throughout my day looking around and wondering how I got so lucky. And I am so grateful for the way the Lord has made our simple life here in Tucson such a joy to lead.

All that to say, today my heart is aching for California. I am happy to jump head long into this life here in AZ provided that I am allowed to leave that not-so-little CA shaped piece of my heart on the coast. A few weeks ago, my big sister, Anna,  and her husband came to stay at the Wilhelm home. It was such a pleasure having them here. I love my big sister. She is my hero and always has been. I look up to her because (as I have told many people on multiple occasions) she is basically the coolest person I know. Anna married David. He graduated from USC. Jake loves the U of A. So of course they came out to visit on the weekend USC and U of A football faced off. We went. Arizona won. It was a blast!

Here, you can see what should have been a harsh rivalry between my sister and I. All morning I stayed true to my husband. I bought the Arizona shirt. I wore it proudly. And for the first quarter of the game I rooted whole heartedly for the home team. Then, USC began to fall behind. The team my family cheered for my whole life was in trouble. And as the U of A running back began to gain some ground, 2 yards... then 5 yards...  now 10... heading for 15, I felt my fists clench, my breath caught in my chest and out of my mouth, whispers betrayed me. "Get him... Take him down!". These words came out under my breath, too quiet to be noticed. But Jake doesn't miss a thing. He looked at me as if I were uttering heresies. And, it was at that moment, that we both knew my blood was not blue, but cardinal and gold. GO USC! The rest of the game I tried to straddle the line and cheer both teams on, but I was defeated when Arizona won. My heart belongs to Southern California, it's in my blood. 

I tell this story because today as I sit in my home and I look at pictures and posts of my friends and family getting ready to celebrate Christmas in Cali, I am tearing up. It's not that I want to go back. Or that I wish I was not in AZ. It is simply that I miss you all. I don't think I can ever stop being  a California girl. And to my family in Santa Clarita (and Simi) and my friends in San Diego, to the beach, to the sun that shines different over CA, to the food, to the fast pace, and even to the freeways, today I have you on my mind. So, simply put, in truth, I love you California. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Power of the Cross

1 Corinthians 4:14-21

"I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became you father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in even church. Some are arrogant, as thought I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?"

It has been a long time since I've written. I've had family visiting for the past two weeks. And on top of that the Lord has been doing some work in my heart. (you can read more about that in the update of Conquering: Revisited) So, in light of the absence, I want to give a quick recap of where the Lord has brought me so far in 1 Corinthians. The majority of these first four chapters have been about opening the eyes of the Corinthians to the divisions they were  creating in their church body. These divisions had been caused, mainly, by the peoples' pride. They wanted to make themselves something special by associating with "the best" teacher. So Paul, Apollos, Cephas, even the name of Christ became banners that they tried to raise higher than all the rest. Paul as been reminding them of the need for unity in Christ. He has also been showing them again and again how it is their insignificance that unites them. Not one of us is special. We are all wretched and in need of the same Savior, Christ, so no one can boast. 

Now, we pick up in Chapter 4 Verses 14-21. Paul, is about to get really practical with the church but first he wants them to know what the last four chapters have been for. His goal i s not to shame the church but rather he calls them "beloved children." Paul wants them to know that he writes out of love. And we also know that he writes in love because he continues to point them to the place of change. The Cross. Paul only has the authority to speak to the Corinthians "in Christ Jesus through the gospel". That is the place all our power comes from. Paul says when he comes back to the church he will find out what the arrogant really have to say. In other words, do they just talk or do they have the power to back up their pride. 

I love to read Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest". Today's devotion reminded me of this verse. He said:
 "We have to concentrate on the great point of spiritual energy- the Cross, to keep in contact with that center where all the power lies, and the energy will be let loose." 

Even in the Christian world, we are so likely to be full of arrogant or empty talk. We talk about living good lives, lives that are happy, lives are holy, lives that are free. But if we are not talking about the Cross we have no power to live by. No hope to see change. No joy or blessings. Because it's just talk. "For the Kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power." May we know the power of the Cross daily, and may it change our lives. For our good and His glory. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

What makes you so special?

1 Corinthians 4:6-13

"I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.  For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things."

Let's talk about something we ALL deal with. Pride. At first read, you may not understand that pride is what Paul is getting at. I mean, as I first read it, I was really confused. Where was the switch? When did Paul begin to envy the Corinthians? Wasn't he calling them babies a few chapters ago? And now they are wise? Nope! Don't worry. Paul isn't changing his mind. He is just being sarcastic. Or, as Bible commentators call it... ironic. The truth is, Paul is putting the Corinthians on major blast. He is calling them out for walking around like they are the coolest thing ever. Like they have it all together. Like they are kings. 

Paul uses himself and Apollos as examples. Saying that if the Corinthian church really looked at the Word of God and followed the example of the leaders they themselves were elevating, they would not put on such airs. Paul asks them "who sees anything different in you?" This isn't a challenge to be set apart from the world, it's the Greek way of saying "what makes you so special?!" In the next passage we are reminded of the love God has for us. But for now, what I really want us to get is that nothing we have is by our own merit. "What do you have that you did not receive?" 

Again, in my study this week, I listened to a message by Alistair Begg. He admonished his listeners to see themselves in light of who God is. God is everything. We are nothing. The more we love who He is, the more we know how little we have. The more we recognize that without His grace we fall so flat. We don't even fall, because we never made it off the ground to fall back to. "We have become, and are still, the scum of the world". No one likes being called scum. But take a moment to contemplate the perfect holiness, the vast power, the complete justice, the immovable faithfulness, the unconditional love, and the infinite being of God. Now... tell me... what makes you so special? We are nothing. All we have have been given by grace. Next week I'm so excited to talk about where we get grace. At the cross by the love and power of God. That we would live to praise Him because He is worthy!  But today, I am striving to let go of my love of self, for my good and His glory. 

"Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self" 
~ Saint Augustine The City of God

Friday, November 2, 2012

Judging the Faithful

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

"This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in the darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God." 

Hopefully, if you are believer, you are in regular attendance at a church. How did you choose your church? Have you gone there since you were little? Did you check over the doctrinal statement before you came back? Maybe you like the music, or the kids programs, or the  stain glass behind the pulpit. Or is it the potluck after each service? Or the coffee in the lobby before? Maybe you like multiple of these things. But I would bet that you could love all of this, but if you did not approve the pastor, you would be gone. Sometimes we're put off by how he speaks, his style, his language, or the length of his messages. Sometimes it's the things he says. I wouldn't have emphasized that verse. I would have said more not that topic. I wish he hadn't used that term to describe that sin. 

I've talked before about being in college and judging the speakers who came to chapel. There were those who were misinformed (to put it nicely) concerning some major biblical truths. But for the most part, I was just judgmental. I thought I had the right to judge whether or not that speaker (usually a local pastor) should be at the pulpit. Maybe I should have studied this passage before I opened my mouth. 

Paul makes it clear here that the leaders of the church are accountable for their actions. He calls them "stewards" and calls them to be "faithful". He says that they are "of Christ" which more accurately is "belonging to Christ". They have been called to a task by God to handle wisely the "mysteries of God".  Not just the gospel but other things that are hidden to the wisdom of man (for example: the mystery of marriage). These men are servants sent to serve the Church. But I love what Alistair Begg said, these men are servants but the church is not their master. Christ is. and Paul reminds us, "It is the Lord who judges me". 

This does not mean that there shouldn't be checks on the pastors of a church. Sin and false doctrine threaten the life of a church and they need to be addressed. But Paul was writing to a church who were divided over teachers. They picked their favorites and raised them up while judging and putting down others. This kind of habitual judging breaks apart the unity God intended for His body. Let's strive to uplift those that Lord has given to us to impart His wisdom. 

The last verse of this passage reads "each one will receive his commendation from God." Other translations read "his praise from God." When we think of the judgment seat, many of us picture people (and pastors) we take issue with standing before God and the Lord making everyone aware of all the flaws we've noticed in them for so long. But this verse left me wondering, "what praise will God give to the people I've judged so harshly? before the entirety of creation won't He commend them for being a faithful servant?" Those who love the Lord and seek to shepherd His people will not be perfect, but praise God that they strive to faithfully steward His word our good and His glory. 

Some things I loved while studying this week: 
Before You Criticize Your Pastor - Post by Josh Reich from Revolution Tucson
The Call of Ministry - Sermon by Alistair Begg from Truth for Life

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have had so much fun making a home for Jake and I...

Welcome to the Wilhelm house.  It's a small apartment but we love it!

I love being in my kitchen. The little bits of color make me happy
 to be making yummy things. 
Having fresh flowers on our table is a must. It makes the room feel like home.
We have an orange couch. So, I decided to just go with a fun mix
of colors and styles in our living room. 

Jake needs a study. I wanted to add a touch of masculinity to the spare room.
Our study is also the guest room. I took a plain wood headboard and
re-worked it to fit into a more old-world style.
This room might be my favorite haha. But really I feel so pretty here
and the colors are so soft. 
Our room is work in progress. But I'm so happy with the end tables
and that lamp is chalk so I can write notes and verses for Jake to wake up to.

**Thanks for checking out our home. Stay tuned tomorrow I'll be posting on what the Lord is teaching me in 1 Corinthians this week.**