Category Archives: Morning Meds

Some Thoughts on the Gospel

“God is both just and loving. Therefore, his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.” -John Piper

I have barely scratched the surface of the implications of the Gospel of Christ.

Christ Carrying the Cross

Christ Carrying the Cross (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Compared to what there is to know–I know next to nothing. The more I learn about the Gospel, the more I realize how much more there is to learn.

The Gospel lays bare my greatest need and then supplies that need. The Gospel asks my greatest questions, and then answers them.

At Calvary, I experience the crushing weight of my sin against God, and at the same time, the weight is lifted; I am set free.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deut. 6:5)

I have loved others more than God. I have loved things more than God. I have loved myself more than God. Like Peter, I have denied Him. Like His disciples, I have slept while He prayed. Like His tormentors, I have played my part in the murder of God.

Apart from the Gospel, my sin looms, my failures abound and the chasm separating me from God is impassable. I am left to face the Sovereign Judge of the universe alone. The soul that sins shall surely die, the Bible says. The wages of sin is death.

But who can fulfill God’s demands? No human being but one has ever done so.

Jesus.

The God-Man lived it out perfectly. He lived the life that I should have. He died the death that I should have. Jesus both bore the brunt of God’s wrath and exemplified the profundity of God’s mercy. The Gospel neither denies God’s right to justice nor stifles His boundless love. It is the perfect mixture of law and grace. Neither is compromised. Both are vindicated.

…so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3:26b)

How amazing is this Gospel? How deep and wide is it? Eternity may begin to plumb its depths.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Peace! Be Still!

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee (Photo credit: Seetheholyland.net)

He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:40

Jesus and His disciples are out on the Sea of Galilee when a windstorm arises. The waves break over the side of the boat, threatening to capsize it. His disciples begin to panic and fear for their lives. But Jesus, undoubtedly exhausted after a long day of teaching, sleeps soundly in the stern. The disciples cry out to Him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we are perishing?”

My storms are not literal wind and waves but nonetheless real. Just like the disciples, I become anxious and distressed. I fear the storm will overcome me and that I will perish.

The fragility of His humanness on display, Jesus is tired. And even in the midst of the storm, He sleeps. But here, I relate more to the human response of the disciples. As they responded to their storm, I respond to mine. Waves of despair engulf me and the storms of life fill my boat. I cry out to Jesus, “Don’t you care, Lord?”

Jesus hears and asks a question in return: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Like the disciples, I have seen the Lord do many mighty and wondrous works in my life and in the lives of others. But on this day, during this storm, I am too weak to give an answer. I plead for mercy and grace.

I’m asking the Lord to still the storm.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Some Thoughts

DSC_0655It’s difficult for me to string two thoughts together right now, let alone write them down. But, I’ll try.

Last summer, my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. This turn of events brought about lots of traveling to and from my parents’ house (a five-hour drive to Northern California) for my siblings and me. We tried to help and encourage as best we could. Many, many prayers were expressed for her. Mom suffered through chemo, hospital stays, 2 strokes and anxiety attacks.

On February 13 mom was admitted to the hospital with trouble breathing. She was treated there for two weeks and then transferred to a skilled nursing facility for rehab. Our goal was for her to get strong enough so that she could come home to Dad. Instead, she became weaker and more sick.

On March 17 my dad and brother called to say that Mom had taken a turn for the worse and that my sister and I should probably make our way up north to see her. My sister, brother-in-law, my aunt and I arrived at the rehab facility about nine o’clock that evening. We spent the next several hours sitting with Mom, praying for her, stroking her head and telling her how much she was loved. At about three that next morning, March 18, we escorted our Mom into the loving arms of her Savior. I have no doubt Jesus was waiting for her on the other side.

Here are some things I am thankful for:

Up until the last few days, Mom was not in pain.
I do not work so I was free to spend time with Mom and Dad over the last few months.
My Dad was able to take care of her. He cooked, cleaned, grocery shopped and gave Mom her meds. Amazing man.
We were able to have her with us at Thanksgiving (the biggest holiday of the year for our family).
My sister, brother and I were able to help and serve Mom while she was sick.
Mom had many amazing doctors and nurses who showed her mercy and kindness.
I have become much more empathetic toward people who have gone through similar circumstances.
Mom was surrounded by loved ones when she passed away. She did not die alone.
God has shown Himself faithful in a million different ways.
God’s Word is true.
My mom is with Jesus and I will see her again someday.
Mom was dearly loved by so many who have expressed to me what she meant to them.

There’s so much to think through and process regarding my  mom’s illness and passing. One thing I know to be true, I need an eternal perspective to see all of this correctly. I am leaning heavily on the Everlasting Arms. God is faithful, and I know that my Redeemer lives.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints. Psalm 116:15

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Counting My Blessings

Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

b/w line drawing of a cornucopia

b/w line drawing of a cornucopia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I give serious thought to counting my blessings, both great and small, I find that they are innumerable. For example, I am thankful for my husband, for my children, my family, my friends. My marriage is a blessing. My children are healthy. My family ties are strong. I have good friends and, I love my church. Beyond that, I even have clothes to wear, a roof over my head, and enough to eat. My car runs. And if it doesn’t, the busses do!

There are also the small things in life that make me happy and for which I am thankful. Sunsets. Yellow roses. The sound the wind makes blowing through the trees. The early morning cacophony of singing birds. Music! The warmth of clean clothes straight out of the dryer. And laughter.

While it is good to be thankful for these gifts, I would also do well to cultivate a grateful heart for the blessings I have in Christ. Blessings that will never fade away, my inheritance, my adoption into the family of God, salvation. Access to Godly wisdom. Truth. Love. God’s Grace. His peace. The prospect of Heaven. Genuine joy. His mercy that endures forever. Surely, I can echo the psalmist’s exclamation, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”

I will leave you with these wise words written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done!

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Noisy Joy

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!  Psalm 100:1-2

An early printing of Luther's hymn A Mighty Fo...

An early printing of Luther’s hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God calls all men everywhere to “make a joyful noise.” The LORD is God, and He sovereignly rules over all the nations. The Psalmist here reminds us of what the response to our Gracious King should be. Gladness and singing!

One of the things that being retired has afforded me is more time in the mornings to read my Bible. Recently, I’ve added singing to my devotions. We have a hymnal on our bookshelf and I am methodically working my way through it, singing the hymns that I know. If I am unsure of a particular melody, reading the words aloud is also a blessing. It’s just the Lord and me and the dog. Thankfully, Boomer hasn’t howled in protest at my singing ability , at least not yet!

Here are some excerpts from some of my favorite hymns:

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
 Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
 How thy desires e’er have been
 Granted in what He ordaineth?
(from Praise to the Lord, the Almighty)

Not the labors of my hands, Can fulfill thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked come to Thee for dress, Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly, Wash me, Savior, or I die!
(from Rock of Ages)

When I survey the wondrous cross, On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
 Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
(from When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)

And finally,

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art-
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Riches I need not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only be first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art!
(from Be Thou My Vision)

My “quiet time” is not so quiet anymore.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Jesus, the Man

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… Isaiah 53:4

The Deity of Christ is an important core doctrine that separates Christianity from the false religions of the world. However, when I am feeling overwhelmed by the suffering and sorrow that this world so often has to offer, I am comforted to think about the humanity of Christ.

Jesus, the man.

There is no darkness, no pain, no suffering, no hunger or thirst that Jesus did not experience. There is no hatred, no rejection, no hurt that Jesus is not personally acquainted with. He understands the depths of my grief, the magnitude of my sorrow and the scope of my heartache. Jesus owned all the weaknesses of man, except sin.

I am blessed to have friends and family who have lifted me in prayer, wept beside me in sorrow and helped me when I most needed it. For that I am thankful.

However, I am most grateful that because of this God-Man, I do not walk alone.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Aslan Is On The Move

“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chapter 7

Aslan

Aslan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am concerned for a loved one. My heart aches for this person. My spirit grieves. Not an hour goes by that I don’t pray for this someone. This person is the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning. Not a night passes that I don’t I fall asleep committing this loved one to the Lord’s care.

This morning, my heart was breaking. I cried out to the Lord and begged Him to intervene. I prayed Psalm 27 for several people who are facing daunting trials, but the words came most fervently when my loved one came to mind.

After breakfast, rather than leave for my morning errands as I had planned, I decided to wait and pray a bit more, read my Bible a little longer. I implored the Lord (again!) to answer my prayers for this person. I poured out my heart, did not hold anything back. I expressed frustration and fear, dismay and disappointment. I asked Jesus to work. I asked for help.

Just as I was about to leave, my phone rang. It was a precious, longtime friend of mine. She had a bit of encouragement for me in regard to this someone. We prayed together and again entrusted the situation to the Lord’s providence and care.

When I cannot do anything, God is surely able. When my heart is in turmoil, He gives peace. When I am overwhelmed with the details, God sees and knows the scope of it all. And, this morning when I most needed it, God answered a prayer for encouragement that I did not even realize I had prayed, deep groanings that did not go unattended.

It is no coincidence that I did not leave the house as early as I had planned. It is not mere happenstance that my friend called at the very moment I needed a fellow soldier to battle with me in prayer. Praise God!

Now I know. Aslan is on the move.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


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