Monday, June 25, 2012

Conference Reflections: Truth be told...

This is how we roll at Crossway Community Church

I spent the past few days in  Florida with 3500+ other women at the first-ever Gospel Coalition Women's Conference.  It was a sweet (but intense) time of learning and fellowship, and I could fill an entire journal (and almost did!) with my reflections, here are just three...

1)  Satan would like nothing more than to keep us from hearing the truth.

On my flight to Florida, I spent some time reading the third Harry Potter book.  Side note: I realize some reading this may disagree with me on that choice of book, but that's another blog for another time, so I hope you'll allow me to pick the meat from the bones here.  I happened to start reading just as Professor Lupin was teaching his students how to defeat a boggart...a creature of dark magic which lurches in the dark places and shape shifts into one's biggest fear.   For one student, the boggart took the shape of a large spider.  For another, it took the shape of a dreaded teacher.  For me, it would have probably taken the shape of a loved one suffering while I'm away.

One of my biggest fears came true on Thursday morning, when a family emergency arose just as I was preparing to leave.   I felt helpless, desperate, anxious as I drove to the airport.  Even more guilty during take off.  Lie after lie after lie filled my head and heart...

You're sacrificing your family for this conference.

You are the only one who can handle this. You're indispensable. 

You won't be able to get anything out of it if you're worried the whole time.  Just don't go.

He is the father of all lies isn't he?  And he will take any measures necessary to prevent us from hearing the gospel.

In the book, the students are instructed to think of a way to alter their fear into something comical as they flip their wands and say "Riddikulus!"   A spider with no legs, a male teacher dressed in a granny's outfit...riddikulus!

I couldn't flip my wrist to make my boggart disappear.  This nasty creature isn't defeated with humor or spells, but with the truth, and the truth comes from God's word.  Interestingly enough, the theme of this conference was "God revealing himself through the scriptures."  Friends, the enemy wanted nothing more than to keep me (and others) from this conference.  For the truth is what sets us free.  It is the source of our life.  Thanks be to God that we had our fill of truth this weekend!  And Satan and his lies looked "riddikulus" in light of it.

"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  - John 8:31-32 (ESV)

2) God speaks truth to us through his word.

As someone who grew up in the church, my head knows that God speaks to us through his word.   But this weekend, my heart and mind beautifully connected on this point.

How many times have I started out a conversation with, "I feel like the Lord is telling me" or "God is calling me to..."?  And on what basis do I make those kinds of statements?  Thanks to Nancy Guthrie and her exposition of Hebrews  4:12-13, I realized that these phrases are often my defense mechanisms.  Subconsciously (or maybe even consciously), I think, "If I tell them that God is calling me to do this,  they have to agree with it, right?"  It melts my eyes to tears to realize just how often I have passed off my own gut reaction as a calling from the myself and to others.  For this, I am truly repentant.

Oh, how I longed to hear from God this weekend!  I wanted peace and clarity in ministry decisions.  I wanted an impression...a sense of stillness from God.  I wanted a game plan for the next stage of life, but thankfully, I didn't come home with this in the way I expected.

I did hear from God this weekend, but there were no gut feelings, no butterflies.  Only the truth of God revealed in his word...and that  is more than sufficient.  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12-13 ESV).  "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (1 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV)

I do have peace.  Peace in knowing that I am no longer at odds with the God of the universe.  And I have more who God is and what he does.  Stillness, yes.  I have that too.  "Be still, and know that I AM God," he says.  Which is really my game plan now that I'm be still, and to know that he is he reveals himself to me through his word.

3) I am better equipped to minister to others when my soul is saturated in the truth of the gospel.

During the last session, D.A. Carson lovingly, pastorally, looked out into the sea of women and gently whispered, "In a room of 3800 women, I cannot imagine how many tears have been shed."  A humbling and sobering thought.

Over the course of the weekend, I witnessed many of those tears firsthand.  At one point, sitting between two dear mothers grieving over the loss of their children, I realized what an absolute privilege it is to be selected as instruments of God's compassion and care for the church.   It is a high calling...and a humbling honor.

As means of grace in the lives of others, we should be constantly pointing our sisters to the author of all grace...Christ.  We are best prepared to do so when we ourselves are saturated in the truth of who he is.

I'll be honest...I struggle to pray publicly.  But this weekend, I noticed a marked difference in my prayers for others.  As my heart and mind were filled with the truths of God and who he is as revealed in scripture, my prayers and speech overflowed with those truths.  My prayer is that I would continue to be immersed in the truth of the gospel, so that I might be sanctified and others might be encouraged. 

How grateful I am that our great high priest prayed this prayer for us...

"Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17 ESV)

Lord, may the truth of the gospel be told, heard, loved, and shared.  And may we grow to know you and love you more as you continue to reveal yourself to us through your word.



Today I'm linking up with...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Under Construction

One of the major roads near our home is currently under construction. Driving through it with my sister this weekend, she looked out the window and sighed, "Construction is so ugly."

It is, isn't it?

Crumbled asphalt, broken concrete, a barrage of dirt and orange...ick.

Mulling over her words, I realized that my heart probably looks a lot like that construction zone right now... in desperate need of excavation.  Broken layers of pride, envy, malice and idolatry needing to be ripped out so that the Holy Spirit can recover me with layers of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

The bible tells us that we must deconstruct before we can be reconstructed. God's word says to "put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Eph. 4:22-24)

Like any construction project, it's a long, tedious task with lots of dirt.  It can be inconvenient (for me and for those around me), annoying (again, for me and those around me!) and sometimes ugly.  

The apostle Paul describes it in this way...

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom. 7:15-24)

As we see from Paul's words, construction is ongoing.  Just as one project is completed, another one must start.  In the same way, our hearts are constantly under construction as Christians.   Thankfully, we do not have to wage the war against our flesh alone.  Through Christ, we are no longer dead to sin but alive to God, and he has left us with a great helper, the Holy Spirit, who continually sanctifies us with the word of God (Jn 17:17), so that we might one day be presented blameless and holy to our great king. 

And thanks be to God, on that day, all construction will cease. Our bodies will be redeemed, we will be glorified, and the hope we have in Christ will come to full fruition.  As Paul says, our present sufferings...those ugly construction sites...aren't even "worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."  (Rom. 8:18)



1)  Reflect.  Which "roads" in your heart are in need of construction?  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your sin to you so that you might confess, repent and turn towards Jesus.

2)  Evaluate. The bible tells us that the Holy Spirit "reconstructs" or sanctifies us through the word of God.  In order for us to be sanctified through his word, we have to read it!  Take a moment to evaluate your time in the word.  Are you reading it? Meditating on it?  Allowing the Holy Spirit to sanctify you through it?

3)  Pray.  Thank God for making us dead to sin and alive in Christ.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you as you wage war against your flesh and sanctify you through the word.  Pray earnestly for the coming of the king and the day when construction will cease.  


Today I'm linking up with...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stories of Daughters Redeemed: May Whittle Moody

Each Friday here at Daughter Redeemed, we take a look at a story of a daughter redeemed. The redeemed daughter may be someone famous or she may be someone unknown. She may be living for Christ now or she may be gone on to glory. But all of these women will have one story in common...their story of redemption in Christ. So far, we've gleaned from Ruth and learned from my baby sister. This week, we'll take a look at May Whittle Moody.  

May Whittle Moody--Women's Ministry Pioneer

May Whittle Moody (daughter-in-law of Dwight L. Moody) started following Christ at age 11.  From that day forward, she maintained that she never again doubted Christ's love or his word.  She was a loving wife and mother, an extraordinary hostess, a compassionate soul, a gifted musician, a generous philanthropist, and a pioneer in women's ministry.  Her life story is quite encouraging, and if you have some extra time, I'd encourage you read it here.  But for today, I'd like to focus on just one year of her life--the year that she started the first bible conference for girls at age 23.  Here is her account taken from an address given at a meeting of the Directors of the Northfield League in 1929 ...

As far as one knows, in 1893 there had never been a conference for girls anywhere in the world, except a small group of secretaries who met at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in 1891. The first conference of any kind held in Northfield was called by Mr. D. L. Moody in 1882. This was called a “General Conference” for ministers and Christian workers. In the summer of 1886, the men’s conference had begun. About 200 gathered at Mt. Hermon School and it was there that the Student Volunteer Movement sprang into being when one hundred college men volunteered for the foreign field. It was my great privilege to be there with my father who was one of the speakers. The experience never left me. One felt the power of God’s spirit calling them into service.

This conference grew very rapidly as the delegates scattered to their colleges and shared their experience. Among the many well known men of that generation were Dr. Watt and Dr. Speer. In 1895, there were about six hundred men, and this did not include southern or western colleges, as other conferences had started for them. The report of this conference closes with this paragraph: “The leaders of the Northfield Conferences have sought from the beginning to instill and foster a deeper love and clearer knowledge of the Scriptures in the hearts and minds of men and women; and to this the growing power of these conferences is due." 

Two years later the men told Mr. Moody that ten days was too short a time to get the Bible study they needed, and asked if could have them for a month, which he did in July, 1989. They studied under the leadership of the strongest conservative men of our country and abroad. The program annually included Bible Classes and addresses on the work of the Holy Spirit and personal work. 

These were the days when groups of college men would go into the hills about Northfield and pray to be filled with God’s spirit and power for service. It is the rule and not the exception to have an outstanding minister or layman of that generation say, “I attended the Northfield Men’s Conference when I was an undergraduate."

All this history of the men’s conference is necessary in order to get the setting and atmosphere out of which our own conference came into being. From the first, a changing group of fifteen or twenty girls attended the men’s conference. They were not invited to any sessions except the platform meetings and some Classes. They met together for discussion and prayer. In 1892 such a group attended the men’s conference and lived at the Merriam Cottage on Main Street. Mrs. Bailey, who was Mrs. Speer’s mother, chaperoned us. At one of the sessions in Stone Hall, one of the girls [Editor’s Note: Actually May Whittle herself] sat beside C. K. Ober and said impulsively to him, “Why can’t we have a girls’ conference and fill this place with girls instead of men?” “You can,” he responded sympathetically. “Go ahead and start it.” That was enough, and that day a petition to Mr. D. L. Moody was written and many sheets pasted together for signatures of both men and women. Confidentially, the leaders of the men’s conference were delighted at the prospect of eliminating a distracting element. 

In the fall of that year, this girl took the petition to Dublin, Ireland, where Mr. D. L. Moody was conducting a mission. She met again with an enthusiastic response and the condition that if she could persuade the Y.W.C.A. to work up the conference in the colleges, he would invite them to Northfield. Accordingly, the petition was taken to Chicago, where the President of the Y.W.C.A., Mrs. John V. Fawell, lived. She showed sincere interest and promised to bring it to her executive committee. This she did, with the result that they agreed to visit the colleges and invite delegations “to attend Mr. Moody’s conference at Northfield." 

The first girls’ conference met at Northfield, June 22-30, 1893. About two hundred girls attended, among them seven from Great Britain. The program for this first conference was as follows: two Bible classes each day for the entire conference. From 9 to 10 the “workers” Bible Training Class with Mr. James McConaughy. The theme was the Christian’s life among men, and dwelt on the method of the Saviour with men and women, making adaptation to those present. It gave practical help to all and created in many a desire for soul winning in college and home life. The second class from 10 to 11 was led by Robert Speer in The Gospel of Work. Besides these two Bible classes, there were three conferences each morning: one for college girls, one for city girls, and a third for the general conference on “work for young women by young women"...

...The conferences at Northfield have been to college men and to college girls a source of real inspiration and strength. Many young men and women have testified and proved that their lives have been made richer and more useful because of the time spent at Northfield and the consideration of those things which are most worthwhile. We all need to take time, in the busy lives we lead, to quietly listen to the voice of God, that the soul life, as well as the mind and body, may grow in beauty and power...”

...The conferences grew from three hundred to nine hundred, and about 1919, we held two conferences, each attended by about six hundred girls. Who can estimate the countless contacts made with God through this channel of His word?"

Giving thanks for May

I am personally thankful for May's story because she inspires me to serve college women with greater passion. May was 23 when she started the girls' conference, and she served young women faithfully until the age of 93.  Oh, how I long to follow in her footsteps!  My prayer is that one day I, too, will be able to ask "Who can estimate the countless contacts made with God through this channel of His word?"

As women who now have the opportunity to attend great national women's conference like the Gospel Coalition Women's Conference (where I'll be in two weeks!) and the True Woman conferences, we should also collectively thank God for our sister May and her vision to "instill and foster a deeper love and clearer knowledge of the Scriptures in the hearts and minds" of women.  Less than 150 years ago, Christian women didn't have the vast resources and conferences that we have available let's not take those for granted!

Today, would you join me in praying for the women who will be attending the Gospel Coalition Women's Conference in two weeks?  Like May, let's pray that the conference would instill and foster a deeper love and clearer knowledge of the Scriptures in the hearts and minds of the women attending.

Today I'm linking up with...

Beholding Glory

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Rummaging through some old files today, I found my Northwestern acceptance letter... 

Dear Chelsea:

Congratulations! The Admission Committee is delighted to inform you that you have been admitted to the five-year double-degree program in the School of Music and the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University.

Serious consideration precedes our decision to admit a candidate. We admitted you because of your excellent record and your promise for future success. You are well qualified for admission to Northwestern, and we are confident you will make a significant contribution to the life of the University.

We are very proud of the Northwestern community and pleased that we can now invite you to become a part of it. This community nurtures scholarship, leadership and mutual respect. Our students thrive during their time here and go on to become leaders in their careers and communities. We are looking forward to your joining us in September and becoming a part of this important mission.

To accept your offer of admission, please review the enclosed companion letter, which details the steps you need to take in order to enroll. Please keep in mind that your admission is contigent upon the successful completion of your senior year academic program.

Once again, congratulations on your admission to Northwestern University. If we may be of any help to you during the next few months, please feel free to contact our office.

Sincerely Yours,

Director of Undergraduate Admission

As I was reading it, I couldn't help but think..."If God sent us an acceptance letter, how would it differ?"

Here's what I think it might look like...

Dear Daughter,

Welcome! I am delighted to inform you that you have been accepted into the eternal life program in the Kingdom of God.

I chose you before the foundation of the world. I admit you, not based on anything you have done. In fact, I admit you despite of your sinful self. It is by grace that you are saved. Not of your own doing, but a free gift of acceptance.

I am happy to adopt you into my family, my church. This community of believers has been called to grow into Christ and to build itself up in love, with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Its mission is to make my name known to every tribe, tongue, and nation. I do not guarantee you worldly success. If you desire to follow me, you must deny yourself and take up your cross. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.

To accept your offer of admission, you need only take two steps: repent and believe the good news. Please keep in mind that your admission is contingent upon the successful completion of my son's saving work on the cross.

Once again, welcome to the family. I have given you a Helper who will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. You can also feel free to contact me directly.

Forever your King,


Today I'm linking up with...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stories of Daughters Redeemed: My baby sister

Last week, I started what I hope will be a weekly series called "Stories of Daughters Redeemed." The redeemed daughter may be someone famous or she may be someone unknown. She may be living for Christ now or she may be gone on to glory. But all of these women will have one story in common...their story of redemption in Christ.

Last Friday, we traveled back in time to glean from the story of Ruth. This week, we'll stay a little (actually a lot!) closer to home as I tell you about another one of my favorite redemption stories...the story of my baby sister and her impact on my life!

My littlest sister graduates from high school tonight at the top of her class.  As you can imagine, I am a proud big sis!

She has given me such joy over the past 17 years, and God has used her to teach me so much along the way.  Her work ethic is admirable, her compassion--beautiful, her steadfastness--encouraging.  God allowed me the great privilege of leading her to Christ in the backseat of our car ten years ago. And since then, he has graciously allowed me to walk alongside her on her journey to become a godly young woman.

Through my baby sister, God has shown me the beauty of the verse in Psalm 145 that reads, "One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts."

And through her, he taught me that the highest calling he has given me is to faithfully share his story of redemption...proclaiming the gospel of Christ to every tribe, tongue, nation...and sister.

Today I'm linking up with...

Beholding Glory