this was a long week. nothing in particular. everything in particular just seemed more difficult. more earth shattering than the usual week. and yet, not earth shattering at all. heart cracking, maybe. bruising of my ego, certainly. that should no longer come as a surprise to me. and yet... it lays me out flat every time. at least i am getting good at laying out flat at His feet more often. as beth moore says, “wholeness isn’t found in us. it is found only when we lay the WHOLE MESS at His feet. that is wholeness.” 

i listened to a couple of great tim keller sermons this week. while i walked the dog. i am starting to really love that dog. maybe too much. like i show people pictures of him on my iphone. but thankfully he is a constant reminder that i need to go out for a walk everyday. and listen to a sermon while i walk.... so here were the two winners from this week...

arguing about politics. i love the ending where keller says that the person changed by the gospels will know that they have been changed because their political viewpoint will change... that extremists who've been changed by the gospel become more moderate (because they see the folly of their self-righteousness) and that moderates who've been changed by the gospel become more extreme (because their newfound concern for others makes it impossible for them to want to maintain status quo).

two great tests. about the two tests of success and suffering. and how the gospel message is the answer to both tests. in times of success it humbles us because we realize we are unworthy. in times of suffering it affirms (keep a close eye on that word. you will see it again soon.) us that we are of great worth because He loves us so much that He did not spare His Son and that no suffering is without purpose and promise... beautiful. and true. 

and then today at our church was so beautiful. before we had the Lord’s Supper, we had a time of fellowship. we were to leave our pew and find someone to be the “body of Christ” to... someone to thank. someone to hug. someone to extend the love of God to on this Lord’s Day... i was looking all around to see where to go. but ended up staying put because God was sending 4 other people over my way. to tell me that He is with me. 

and at first a lady who knew my mom came over to meet me and to tell me this. “that i just wanted to affirm you today. to tell you that your mom would be so proud of you.” i could not stop thinking about the fact that she had just used that same word that tim keller kept using through his entire sermon. 

the gospel affirms us in our times of trial that He loves us. 

affirm: verb (an action word)
State as a fact; assert strongly and publicly.
Declare one's support for; uphold or defend.
from the latin ad+firm... to make firm

i had THREE more people come over to tell me very affirming messages. to tell me that they love me. but more importantly that God loves me... He affirms me. He has not left me alone. not for a second. 

Psalm 33:9
For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.

2 Timothy 2:19
But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” ...

Isaiah 35:3-4
Strengthen the weak hands,
   and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
   “Be strong; fear not! 

Emmanuel, “God with us”: three words that tim keller described saying “each word is weightier than all of the world. together they mean something that is bigger than we could ever imagine”. no matter how discouraging my week may be, He is affirming.

from 2 corinthians 4 
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not driven to despair; 
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed; 
...So we do not lose heart....
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. 
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 corinthians 4:16-18 (the message)
 So we're not giving up. How could we! 
Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, 
on the inside, where God is making new life, 
not a day goes by without His unfolding grace.