Monthly Archives: July 2011

For the Furtherance of the Gospel

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But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel… Philippians 1:12

Isn’t it interesting how sometimes the most cursory reading of Scripture will bring to light a verse that has never really caught your eye before? That is exactly what happened to me recently as I read this sentence from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Paul writes these words to the saints in Philippi while imprisoned for the Gospel’s sake. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes of being imprisoned, beaten (often to the point of death), stoned, shipwrecked and adrift at sea. He describes facing danger from rivers, robbers, his own people and the Gentiles. He speaks of danger in the city, in the wilderness, at sea, and from false brothers. In toil and hardship, through sleepless nights, hungry and thirsty and exposed to the elements, Paul writes of the daily pressure and anxiety he endured for the well-being of the saints.

And yet, in all these things, Paul boasted in Christ alone and his heart remained inclined towards the furtherance of the Gospel.

When things go well for us, it is easy to imagine our lives working for the furtherance of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We tend to think that when people see how smoothly our lives are running that they will desire what we have in the Gospel. But what the world really needs to see is our confidence in Christ when our lives are turned upside-down, when we face bitter disappointments, or suffer heartbreaking loss.

We must not selfishly believe that our trials work only for our good (a truth found in Romans 8:28 to which we can rightfully cling) and forget that there is a bigger picture. A bigger picture that includes the fame of the Gospel and the Glorification of our Father in Heaven.

It is a walk of faith, brothers and sisters. Like Paul, our lives may include hardship. Lord, help us to be quick to relinquish our perceived rights to a comfortable life for the sake of His Glory and for the furtherance of the Gospel.

May we be ready to say along with Paul: …”I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

Our victory is not just imaginary, it is real. May the whole of our lives reflect the truth of our Gospel inheritance.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

The Waiting

My Beautiful Daughter

I am the mother of three young adults, all in their early 20’s. I just found out this week that my “little girl” (22 years old, actually) is moving out of our home and will be renting a house with three of her girlfriends.

I’m excited for her.

I know that she will gain valuable life experience.

But, it’s still bitter-sweet. I’m thankful she is moving close by. I am thankful she works near by. I am trusting the Lord for her while she is not living under our roof.

My mind has been full this week, thinking about her leaving. I was reminded of a poem I wrote several years ago when I realized that the children we had raised were growing up. I’m sharing it with you here.

by Terrie van Baarsel

Time is a deaf old man
Ignoring my pleas.

I can recall the years,
My fair-haired wonders,
When I had all the answers,
Or at least you thought I did.

The question hangs in the balance.
The past lingers,
Distanced and shadowed
Caught in dusty theatres
And pine needle blankets,
Held captive in story books,
Crushed in dandelion bouquets.
A rush of life
The memory of sweet kisses,
Life’s dreams and expectations
Cradled in regret,
Are soon set free
For hope’s sake.

Fixed is the mystery of Mother and Child.
The agony and joy of boundless love.

You no longer wait for me,
But run on ahead
And I retreat
And wish it were not so,
That you would turn ’round
And lend me your hand.
Move slower, more deliberate.

It’s not to be,
At least for now.
But, it does not matter
Because Maternal Love

Traveling the “What if?” Road

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The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19

It’s always a mistake to travel the “What if?” Road. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do just that.

Backing out of the driveway on my way to do some grocery shopping, I pressed down on the brake pedal of my van. The pedal felt weird, almost spongy.  Then, the pedal went all the way down to the floorboard.

I pressed harder. Nothing. A slight panic. Then, ever so slowly, the van came to a stop.

My first reaction was minor annoyance. Nobody gets excited about car repairs, right? But minor annoyance quickly turned to fear.  And even though my preferred mode of transportation held firm, I nevertheless veered toward a quick detour down the “What if?” Road via my second favorite mode of transportation that never seems to break down. My imagination.

What if I had been on the freeway when my brakes failed?

What if I had been driving on a mountain road?

What if was unable to stop at a red light?

What if? What if? What if?

Later, as I thought about my reaction, I remembered another time I had traveled the “What if?” Road. Several years ago as I was saying my goodbyes to a friend, I took several steps backward into the street (stupid, I know). But, it was a quiet residential area, a 25 mph zone, and concerning myself with a maniac traveling full-throttle-freeway-style in my direction was the last thing on my mind.

It happened so fast, it’s really hard to put into words.

I stepped back directly into the path of the speeding car. Just before the car roared past me, a strong gust of wind blew me back towards the sidewalk. Yes, you read that right. A strong gust of wind. The car missed me by a hair. I felt it. 

I traveled the “What if?” Road that day. In fact, I think I might have taken a full road trip!

But, yesterday’s travels down this well-known route were cut short. By God’s Grace, a minor detour. The Lord reminded me that there is no “What if? Road for His children.

A minor annoyance turns to fear. Fear submits to the truth of our Heavenly Father’s divinely appointed plan for our lives.  A plan that cannot be thwarted. In fact, the “What if?” Road does not exist. Sometimes it takes a speeding car or a failed master brake cylinder to remind us of just that.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

See: Psalm 115:3; 57:2; Isaiah 46:9-10; Daniel 4:35; Prov. 16:9; Matt. 8:27; Rom. 4:20-21, 8:28

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