Tag Archives: Christian Life

Unsettled Ramblings On

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Sometimes I attempt to achieve a settledness in my life, but reality interrupts my plans.

I look around and try to figure a way to make this happen. I fall into a weird pattern. Ironically, I need rest so I work toward that goal. But. the harder I work the further my goal slips away. There is always something more to do. Always something out of alignment. Something always breaks. Someone always disappoints.

The Lord has given me a certain kind of life. In most places of the world, my circumstances would be considered ridiculously rich and comfortable. Yet, I still expend an obscene amount of energy in a fruitless endeavor to avoid every little bump and level all the rough spots.

What an insult to God that His boundless, expansive and pervasive Grace is not enough. What an affront to the Gospel of Christ when I refuse to rest in Him.

All of this exposes me for what I am–an idolator worshiping at the altar of Life-Easy.

My striving after a rest found in something other than the Sovereign Lord (who has ordained my circumstances) is like chasing after the wind. But, it only gets worse. In my anxiousness to secure smooth sailing for myself, I often fail to notice the sinking ships all around me. I am, after all, spoiled and immature.

Forgive me, Lord!

Create in me a grateful heart, first of all. Then, help me to rest even in the struggles and difficulties of life. Allow me to see that You are my only joy and true peace. Let me settle in You, and You alone.

Grant me a holy self-forgetfulness and the ability to look beyond myself with an eye toward offering the hope and help of the Gospel to people around me who labor and struggle alone.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.  Psalm 62:5

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Little Bit of Heaven

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My fourteen-month-old grandson will learn that there are times when play must be set aside for duty. In fact, my ordinary adult concerns usually trump his childish inclination to toss a ball again and again and yet once again or sit outside on the curb to practice our meow sounds and pet the neighbor’s cat.

But, playtime is not a waste of my time nor his. No, these welcome respites from the business of everyday responsibilities are (at least part of) the building blocks of our future relationship. I can tell my grandson that I love him and that I am interested in him, but in the mind of a toddler, actions do speak louder than mere words.

Recently, during one of our playtimes together, I was overcome by the most extraordinary sensation. I felt as if time stood still or was suspended somehow. Of course as soon as I realized what was happening, the moment slipped away. Perhaps my attention was so focused on what we were doing that I became unaware, even if just for a few seconds, of the passage of time.

Thinking about it later, it came to me that my grandson isn’t quite aware yet of how tangled up we are in the constraints of time. He isn’t worried about what comes next or how many minutes have ticked by. He has nothing planned and no to-do list. It’s as if he has all the time in the world…

I long for Heaven where I am positive we won’t experience time in the same way we do here on earth. After all, we will have all of eternity!  If we are freed from the necessity of the clock, imagine the joy of spending an infinitude of moments in the company of fellow saints. Think of the timelessness of our happily-ever-after in the glorious presence of Christ our Lord! What an amazing Inheritance we have in the Gospel!

Could it be that playtime with my grandson is a foretaste of what’s to come? A glimpse of eternity where the urgency of our busy schedules is no more? At the very least, these moments are a gracious gift to this grandmother–a little bit of Heaven on earth.

Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.
Isaiah 60:19

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Confessions of a Kingdom Builder

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I am a kingdom builder. My kingdom is self.

I build my kingdom according to my will. When circumstances or people fail to meet my expectations, I respond in impatience, disbelief, and anger. Sometimes I am willing to compromise a bit, but my reasons for doing so are selfish. I give a little to get a little for my kingdom.

The problem is that my idea of what the Commonwealth of Terrie should look like is in direct opposition to the Lord’s. Not only that, but I try to build my kingdom at the same time God is tearing it down. This is futile, frustrating, and absolutely exhausting.

Sometimes, a wrecking ball is called for. Sometimes the Lord uses more subtle means. But either way, my kingdom must fall. The foundation is pride, and it must be destroyed.

But this I know and believe: His Kingdom is best, His realm, the most beautiful. His authority is trustworthy and true.

My kingdom will end. It is mere vapor, all smoke and mirrors. His Scepter reigns forever.

My kingdom is constructed on a lie, His on the Truth.

I build my kingdom on shifting sand. His Kingdom is founded on the Rock that is Christ.

This morning, first thing, circumstances thwarted my kingdom yet again. I had plans. But a dead battery in my car put an end to what I had intended for my little empire today. I did not respond well.

But, there is good news.

If I should try to build my personal domain ten thousand times a day, God’s mercy and grace demolish each beggarly attempt. It is for love’s sake that my Heavenly Father will not allow my kingdom to stand. And, it is for the Gospel’s sake that my prideful response to its dismantling is crushed by the cross. He meets me there, and I am magnificently ruined and gloriously wrecked.

Jesus died for kingdom builders like me.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  Psalm 45:6

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


It’s Been Awhile

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My last post here on Gospel Apprentice was in October. It’s been awhile.

For me, writing has always been an outlet. It’s a process I enjoy, even the editing part. In fact, it’s probably the editing part that I enjoy the most. Weird, I know.

I do write almost every day. But, those words are just for me. That’s not to say that my daily musings are profound or mysterious, on the contrary, they are mostly quick notes, thoughts about what Bible verse I happen to be reading or commentary on the day-to-day.

The seasons of our lives bring change, and I am experiencing such a season of change now. For about a year, I’ve been babysitting my beautiful little grandson, and I’ve never felt my age so acutely. On the days I watch my little one, we begin early. By the end of the day, I’m ready for bed by 9 o’clock. Ok, maybe even by 8:30. On my days off, there is housework to do, shopping to be done, errands to run. Even on those days, bedtime can’t come soon enough. And so, as a result, posting on Gospel Apprentice has been put aside.

The main reason I started blogging was so that someday, my children (and now my grandson) would have a record of how the truth of the Gospel worked itself out in the heart and mind of their mother. That reason has not changed. To anyone who reads it, my hope is that this blog will tell the story of an ordinary woman and her very extraordinary Savior. It is to magnify the unfathomable kindness that has been extended to me, a sinner, and to point others to the excellence and beauty of the Gospel of Christ.

I am blessed, albeit exhaustedly so, to write for my children and for our grandson, but also, as we recently discovered, for a new grandchild expected in August by my oldest son and his wife. Praise God!

This morning I got up early and left the house. I am sitting at a local coffee shop as I write this. Last night’s dirty dishes and today’s laundry await my return, but an uninterrupted block of writing time is more important.

I must be more deliberate about making time to write and for the Gospel’s sake, so be it.

So, even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those who come.  Psalm 71:18

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Learning My Lessons

I am a life-long learner.

But, sometimes I look around and think that everyone else is more accomplished than me. Everyone else has it all together, right? Although that’s how it may seem, the reality is far different. You are a life-long learner, too.

English: School room.

English: School room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With that in mind, and in the spirit of encouraging one another, here is a short list of things I am learning and in some cases, re-learning!

1. Don’t worry. Trust God.
Worrying about things that I have no control over is just crazy. But this is what I do. If only I could finally and fully learn that I can trust God. This is one lesson I fear will need to be repeated again and again until my life on earth is done. What a relief it will be someday to finally rest from worry. I am beginning to seriously question my personal sovereignty, but I guess that could be a good thing.

Those who know your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10)

2. Life may not be perfect, but there is still much to be thankful for.
I yearn for my life to be in order. I like all my ducks in a row and everything on my list to be checked off. For me, busy-ness begets the blues. I love to be around people, but I also need time alone to think and to process. And, I detest conflict.

But, my life is not in order. My ducks are not only out of line but chaotically quacking like crazy. It takes a Herculean effort to check even one thing off my list, and “Busy” is my middle name. Moments alone are few and far between. Conflict is a given.

Yet, in all of this the Lord is faithful to remind my harried heart that there is still much to be thankful for. My life is filled with blessings, and even the difficulties I face are being used by Him for my good and His glory. Always.

Even if all else should give way around me, let me be found “joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” (Col. 1:12)

3. God is sovereignly working.
There is no graph, no algorithm, no equation that indicates exactly when or how our Heavenly Father accomplishes His will. But, He is working and always in a million different ways.

Life is not a math problem, but a grand story with eternal scope and perspective. God writes life stories that are rife with plot twists, filled with quirky characters, and include conflict (both resolved and unresolved with real-time cliff-hangers). We turn each page not quite knowing what the next chapter may bring, but we do know the ending and it’s a happy one.

He is working in me. And, although I don’t always see it, I can trust He is working in my loved ones, too.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:10)

What about you? What life lessons are you learning?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Making Disciples Together

SERMON NOTES: Pastor Carlos Cuellar
December 16, 20112: Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

This sermon is part of our Winter Seminar: Together for the Gospel.

FOUR TRUTHS FOR MAKING DISCIPLES THAT WILL HELP US FULFILL OUR MISSION AND GREATEST CALLING

Matthew 28:16-20

We are all disciples of someone or something. We are all making disciples for someone or something.

1. Making disciples is our mission and greatest calling.
-Matt. 28:16-19a
-Jesus answered his disciples’ doubts by alluding to Daniel 7:13-14, All authority…has been given to me.
-Jesus’ response encouraged and emboldened his disciples to fulfill their mission and calling.
-God’s mission cannot fail.
-Misconceptions about the Great Commission:
that is is just for missionaries (it is for every disciple of Jesus)
that it is just for some people groups (it is global, not just local)
that it is just for unbelievers to be evangelized (it is for making and maturing disciples).

2. Making disciples involves making people followers of Jesus.
-Matt. 28:19
-Baptizing and teaching.
-Baptism is not just immersion into water (although that is important!). But immersion into a new reality, new identity, new relationship, new community, new purpose, new life, etc.
-Teach the Gospel.
-Teaching others about Christ because people who love Christ desire to obey Him.
-If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15
-Not about behavioral changes.
-Obedience being a means to the ultimate end of glorifying God.
-Luke 6:40

3. Making disciples requires evangelizing people with the transforming power of the Gospel.
-Matt. 28:10-20a: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…
-The Gospel is our greatest tool for making disciples.
-Without the Gospel, evangelizing is dangerous and does not transform people.
-Discipleship is a fight of faith to live inside of the Gospel (not performance based).
-Only the Gospel can continue to transform both new believers and more mature believers to be more like Christ.

4. Making disciples occurs in the relational context of community.
-In relationships as ordinary people living ordinary lives with Gospel intentionality.
-Making disciples:
Intentionality-We do.
Association-We pursue. (Pursuing relationships with other people, to know them.)
Impartation-We give our lives away. “Jesus’s followers do not kill to extend His kingdom, they die.” -John Piper
Demonstration-We show others how to live, not as perfect people but by humbly opening our lives to others.
-We are not only to make disciples individually, but together as a community with our varied gifts.

Our mission and greatest calling is to be disciples of Jesus and make disciples. We fulfill our mission and greatest calling with Jesus, and His mission will succeed.

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matt. 28:20b


A Perseverance Not My Own

The last 4 or 5 months have been the most difficult I have ever faced.

There, I said it.

My struggles have to do with people in my life that I love very much. These trials do affect me, but what hurts worse is watching those close to me suffer. Loved ones are battling against disease, facing single motherhood, reaping life-changing consequences for sinful choices, awaiting family custody hearings, and grieving prodigal children.

I am sure I have shed more tears in the last few months than I have in my whole 57 years on this earth.

But today, Paul’s assurance to the Philippians, written so many years ago, has encouraged this believer as well. In chapter 1 verse 6, he writes:

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

In the darkest hour, God never fails to light the way with Grace. Grace that works itself out in encouraging words written centuries ago that remind us: God is still at work not only in me, but in the people I love.

Our stories are not fully written yet!

Our lives get messy. In fact, life stinks sometimes. There have been moments over the last several weeks that I have positively squirmed under the pressure. I have let it get me down. At times, I have felt downright hopeless.

That’s why the eternal perspective we enjoy by virtue of the Gospel is of such great importance. Without it, our hope would wither and die.

Thank God for assuring me today that even in the mess we make of our lives, He is still working. He will complete what He started. I will hold on to that truth as tightly as I can, all the while knowing that when darkness overwhelms me and I let my grasp slip, that the perseverance of the saints of God lies not in their own ability to hold on, but in the power of the Gospel of Grace.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


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