On the occasion of our 8th year in the desert

Eight years ago today we landed on the Arabian Peninsula! We call it our "sandiversary." The Lord has been kind. We consider it the greatest privilege of our lives to serve his church in this place.

Here's a fun then-and-now pic:

Time would fail me if I wrote down all the marvelous things the Lord has done, proving over and over again that he is who he says he is. He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. His Son is worthy to receive the reward of his suffering-- namely, worship from the great multitude whom no one can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. Perhaps in glory we will get to tell and re-tell stories to one another that proclaim the glory of God. 

Although my old blog, "Life in Arabia," has been offline for some time now, a few years ago I did get to republish this testimony about something God did the day after we landed. 

And because cheeseburgers and ice cream are great complements to reflecting on God's goodness, we plan to brave the heat and do that tonight with our kids. 

Audiobook Giveaway

Happy New Year!

Praise be to God, whose mercy is new every morning without exception.

I'm giving away copies of these recently released audiobooks via my Instagram account today, Dec. 31st. Click on the pic on the right to be redirected.

Then, just for fun, set a timer to remind yourself to tune in to the livestream of Dubai's NYE fireworks. You've probably never seen anything like it!

Jesus introduces himself (in Revelation)

Here are some of the ways the crucified, risen, ascended, and enthroned Jesus describes himself in the Book of Revelation:

  • Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
  • him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands
  • the first and the last, who died and came to life
  • him who has the sharp two-edged sword
  • the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze
  • him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars
  • the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens
  • the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation
  • I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
  • I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

Sometimes "Quiet" Time Isn't Quiet

For more on this idea, you can read the books "Glimpses of Grace" and "Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full." :)

But if you're short on time, here's a brief article, "Don't Settle for a 'Quiet' Time," originally published on the Crossway blog in May 2014.

"Don't Settle for a 'Quiet' Time"

Walking the Living Room by Faith

A small lamp threw light up into the corner of the dark living room. As I walked through that room into the home office where I worked, I made the otherwise still air move with me. The owners of the house didn’t like to use the air conditioner—even in the Texas summers—because it felt too cold on their skin. Spending decades in third world conditions will do that to you. On the mornings when I came over to work she would turn on a tiny desk fan just for me. He would shiver as he sat nearby, so I would turn it off.

I was there to help the elderly missionaries keep up with their writing and administrative work, and move an occasional box in or out of the garage. A few years ago they both died and immediately awoke in the presence of the Lord—her first and then him very soon after. Their fellowship with God is now by sight forever. But for the years, months, days, hours, and minutes they were with us here, their fellowship with God was by faith.

Their house in America had wall-to-wall carpet, and, in between the furniture that hadn’t been moved for years, you could see where their faith had moved their feet. There were well-worn paths in the carpet where she paced back and forth with her Scripture memory cards and knee-shaped patches where he knelt to pray.

I thought it was remarkable that the one thing that didn’t gather dust in that house was the collection of shoe boxes scattered around, each overflowing with handwritten Bible verses. They took God’s Word everywhere with them—even in those final days when the distance they traveled was not to the other side of the world, but rather to the other side of the house. 

Letting the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly

This older couple didn’t carve out just a portion of time for God’s Word and leave it at that. Rather, they put God’s Word in their heart so it could be carving them into the image of Christ all day long.

Their example ministered to me back then while I was a busy college student taking a full course load and working a couple of part-time jobs. And their example still ministers to me today, now a busy pastor’s wife with four children. As I seek to fellowship with God in my days and nights, I need to see with faith-eyes that the Word of God isn’t just a part of my life, but is my very life (Deut. 32:45-47). 

Whether Circus or Solitude, Christ is Sufficient

I’ll be the first to confess that wholehearted devotion to God’s Word is hard to come by when you have lots of people who need your attention plus a smart phone in your pocket. I can think of few things that sound more peaceful than a brewing coffee pot against a backdrop of unmitigated silence, inviting me to sit in a comfortable chair for a leisurely read in my Bible for as long as I like. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I could sit still for hours to hear the word of Christ, especially when I hear a sibling squabble starting in the next room.

However, for many of us, this is not a season (or lifetime) that naturally lends itself to this kind of “quiet time.” But that is no threat to the word of Christ! We need to be encouraged by the fact that peace and quiet are not ultimate, and the Holy Spirit does not abandon us in the absence of solitude.

Rather than restrict fellowship with God to a certain time of day, we need the word of Christ to dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16) all the time and everywhere we go (Deut. 6:4-9). Scripture is always sufficient for your life, whether it is quiet or chaotic.

Jesus promises to light your path wherever you walk (John 8:12) as you look forward to the day when your faith becomes sight and you behold the Word of God (Rev. 21:23).

The Big Picture for Busy Moms

This weekend at our church's women's retreat, I led a breakout session on the everyday ministry of mothering little ones. In that session, I talked about the extraordinary benefit we receive from laboring to understand the grand narrative of the Bible.

Because I forgot to write a bibliography, I promised I would post a picture of some helpful resources to that effect. Here they are-- stacked up in no particular order-- I think any one of these books would be a great place to start.

Word-Filled Women's Ministry - a new book and a vision

I want to point you to an article that was written about a book that I helped to edit. And before I give you the link, let me tell you, it's more than just a book.

Word-Filled Women's Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church is the first book in a whole line of books that is the result of the "women's initiative" publishing partnership between TGC and Crossway. In my role I get to work with Kathleen Nielson in curating books written by women for the church to be published through this partnership. It just so happened that this first book out the gate is co-edited by both Kathleen and I, and we've also contributed some chapters.

And it's more than a book. It represents a prayerfully ambitious endeavour to strengthen your local church wherever you may be. At every level of involvement from the contributors on up, we're all committed to seeing God's Word lived out and loved in our ministries among women. From where I sit here in a local church that is made up of over 70 different nationalities, it is plain as day that what we all need to live by is timeless truth and not our various cultural quirks! That's what the book is all about, and that's what the regional training events are all about. Yes, you read that correctly. Regional training events!

Without further ado, here is the aforementioned article on the forthcoming book and regional trainings.

A few quick instructions... First, read the article and watch the video. Next, laugh at the goofy still shot of me that the video player randomly chose. Then, click on the picture of the book to view the list of contributors. Last, make a note of the contact details at the bottom of the article. Perhaps you could help bring a regional training event to your local church?


Escape the Day of the Lord So You Might Live for the Day of the Lord

Our church gathers for corporate worship on Friday mornings. We read God’s Word, pray God’s Word, sing in accordance with God’s Word, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and my husband (or another elder) preaches God’s Word. That much about Friday mornings is generally predictable. 

Friday afternoons vary. Sometimes we have a church potluck, member meeting, baptism, lunch together in the food court nearby, or some other activity. Sometimes I announce that the afternoon will be set apart for a “family-wide nap,” and the only other family member who agrees with me is the toddler. (A mom can hope for 100% participation someday, right?)

It was about 40 degrees Celsius this afternoon, so the kids built their own indoor playground out of couch cushions and blankets. Dave was in a coffeeshop nearby conducting some “member chats” with prospective church members along with some other elders and staff. Tonight he will be at an appreciation banquet for the children’s ministry volunteers. Today is kind of a sampling of an “ordinary” Friday for this pastor’s wife.

While the kids gathered pillows and cushions from every room in our flat, I listened to Mark Dever’s plenary session from the TGC conference on “The Day of the Lord.” That Day is not just any ordinary day, because it is the Day to which we are all headed. Dever explained how the secular mind does not expect this Day, because this life (to them) is all there is:

While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thess. 5:3

The description of this terrifying condition gave me chills. I’ve experienced those kinds of labor pains. In that particular instance I was very much aware that I could not escape. There was nothing I could do. I was in shock. I could barely speak-- much less move or help myself.

This truth should move us to pity to think that people we know will have no escape from the wrath of God. It should move our feet-- to the living room, across the street, to the other side of the world-- and it should move our lips to speak of our Blessed Hope (Titus 2:11-14). We should also “encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 5:4). I pray God would move in my heart in such a way that my feet follow his lead and my mouth would overflow with the gospel that I treasure in my heart. 

In his talk, Dever mentioned two questions we could chat about with a friend:

  1. Why do you do the things you do? 
  2. What hope is moving you?

Those are useful questions to help us “be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8). And they’re important questions because we all need encouragement to live in light of eternity. We have obtained salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, so we have the privilege of living with him both now and thirty zillion years from now.

Only Jesus has provided a way to escape God’s wrath on that Day. And because we have obtained salvation through him we can say, “There is peace and security," and long for that Day when he returns.

***All of the media from the TGC national conference is available. This is the kind of content that is going to take you months to listen to/watch-- and a lifetime to live out and enjoy!***

What I'm Reading

If you're not already aware of the "On My Shelf" series on the TGC blog, you might want to go check that out.

I had a lot of fun answering questions about books I'm currently reading, which ones I re-read, and what God has been teaching me lately. You can find that interview here.