Here is the hymn from which my blog title is drawn.
Other than Christmas, for me, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is a time to reflect on what the Lord has given to us, though we do not deserve anything good that comes our way. This year is one that is definitely for the books. God’s grace and gracious mercies to my husband and I are quite evident. Over the years I have struggled, due to bad theology, to understand that God is a Good Father and delights in giving His creation good things. However, reading the Bible for what it says, you know, the Lutheran manner, has made me even more grateful for the gifts of His Grace, given in the Sacraments, as well as those benefits He gives day today.
Teach me to pray
God has given many gifts this year to me, not the least of which is that my husband, Bobby is still here to tease me, make jokes and lead us in the truth of God’s Word. Those new to my blog may not know that Bobby almost went Home in August, however, God left him here. Our home is always filled with jokes and laughter and a good amount of true love. In that situation, I learned to pray. To really pray. I learned not to think like a Calvinist and figure, Well, it’s all been set in stone so why bother asking God to heal Bobby. If it’s His will it’s going to happen and if not, well it just won’t. I remember turning to my dear sister and friend, Debby, as she drove us to the hospital to meet up with Bobby and saying, “Honestly, I just don’t know how I’d be dealing with this if I were still reformed/Calvinist.” She heartily agreed.
I learned to Pray. I learned that God invites us to come and ask for what we need. I learned that the story of the widow who kept bugging the judge was really what God said we could do when we prayed: keep asking. I learned that God invites us to ask and also that He invites us to cry and pour out our hearts and fears to Him. All my Christian life I struggled with prayer. In this event, He was teaching me it was okay to come and ask and ask and ask again.
I learned that when He says to cast all our cares upon Him because He loves us that He really means it. I learned that my Heavenly Father is not that stern taskmaster but rather, well, my Father in Heaven. I learned to pray. As Bobby would say and is probably thinking as he reads this, “What he has to go through so I learn these lessons.” LOL.
I am so thankful for all who gathered around Bobby in prayer, whether they came to the hospital or were hundreds of miles away praying. God used you to teach me to pray.
Igniting the Fire: From a Flicker to “WHOOSH!!!”
Most of my friends know that since I went back to college (about 20 years ago) my passion has been apologetics. I admit that prior to learning that term at Trinity, under the teaching of Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, that I did not even know the term. Prior to this, I suppose one could say because of the mess and muck of public egregious sins Christ saved me from, I was always telling others about Jesus. Sometimes I did it wrong; focused too much on me and not enough on Jesus. However, this year I was given a wonderful gift: Attend the International Academy of Apologetics & Evangelism in Strasbourg France.
Never would I have thought to be able to attend this intense training under Dr. Montgomery, but the ladies of our Dorcas Women’s Group believed that I should go. What a transformative event. What a change in my own heart. You see, in Calvinists circles, evangelism is not really played up much, after all, God’s elected some and has chosen everyone else to damnation so, really, why bother. I was taught that if God was working, they would come and ask questions and that we don’t have to be too proactive in evangelism or in answering for our faith because, well, the dead in sin don’t care.
To my surprise, again, Scripture gives a totally different view:
Jesus died for the world
God loves the world
Jesus is the propitiation for the world
God does not want any to perish but that ALL would come to repentance
Hmmm…I had a lot to un-learn and regarding Apologetics, to re-learn. That fire for defending the gospel, under Calvinism, had waxed and waned and was nearly snuffed out by the over-emphasis on the Absolutely Sovereignty of God. Yes, God is Sovereign. God also desires that all repent and come to salvation because God SO loved the world. Training in Strasbourg was intense. As I write that term I really want a term even more intense than intense. It was deep, it was powerful and it was life-altering as well as emboldening. I came home from those two weeks with the fire more like an inferno. God had stirred up, again, the desire to share the Gospel and defend it with everyone and anyone I could. Yup. That smoldering stick went WHOOOOOOSH right into that inferno.
Now, link up the passion to spread the Gospel that God loves the world with realizing that I can pray about anything, including the spreading of the Gospel and that just about sums up the intensity of this year. Straightening out one’s bad theology has a tendency to straighten out ones perspective on things too. This year, as I’ve blogged about much of what I’ve seen in the Scriptures and what God has done for me and my husband I cannot but be THANKFUL. In God’s mercy He spared my husband and in His love He ignited the flames of passion for the unsaved once again. As I’ve shared, in both these topics, under Calvinism, they were squashed. However, under biblical teaching which reads God’s Word for what it says, doesn’t try to jump through hoops or figure God out where He has not told us things, I learned to Pray and I learned to proclaim.
I have so much to be thankful for this year, but I just wanted to share these two points from my life.
There also have been other opportunities this year, my newest book was released (The Accidental Lutheran), articles I have written, an interview on Issues, Etc. Click here (this fan girl was blown away by even being asked) and the upcoming LWML Utah/Idaho Conference in which I will be sharing how Worship Anew brought my husband and me to Lutheranism and also the BreakOut Session I will be teaching: From Jerusalem to Samaria to Your Cul de Sac. I heartily look forward to what God has in store in these coming months and years.