12.27.2017

Live so as to be MISSED.

I finally turned the last page of this extraordinary man's biography. When I picked up the book, written by his closest friend, Andrew Bonar, I had no idea who Robert Murray M'Cheyne was, but now he is on my "favorites" list of amazing men of God.
What a life!
What a legacy!

Were I to write out all of the quotes and excerpts from his journal that deeply affected me, I would almost rewrite the entire biography. I will, however, share as many of his words as possible with the hope of encouraging someone else through the intimate passion for Christ this man possessed. And even better, induce others to read about him on their own. Once you know him, you will not forget him.
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■ Live so as to be missed. - I LOVE this!

■ After spending an evening too lightly, he writes, "My heart must break off from all these things. What right have I to steal and abuse my Master's time? 'Redeem it.' He is crying to me."

■ Clear conviction of sin is the only true origin of dependence on another's righteousness, and therefore (strange to say!) of the Christian's peace of mind and cheerfulness.

■ It has always been my aim, and it is my prayer, to have no plans with regard to myself, well assured as I am, that the place where the Saviour sees meet to place me must ever be the best place for me.

■ "Paul asked," says he, "'What wilt Thou have me to do?' and it was answered, 'I will show him what great things he must suffer for my name's sake.' Thus it may be with me. I have been too anxious to do great things. The lust of praise has ever been my besetting sin; and what more befitting school could be found for me than that of suffering alone, away from the eye and ear of man?"

■ Since Tuesday have been laid up with illness. Set by once more for a season to feel my unprofitableness and cure my pride. When shall this self-choosing temper be healed? "Lord, I will preach, run, visit, wrestle," said I. "No, thou shalt lie in thy bed and suffer," said the Lord.
Today missed some fine opportunities to of speaking a word for Christ. The Lord saw I would have spoken as much for my own honor as His, and therefore shut my mouth. I see a man cannot be a faithful minister until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake - until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ."

To maintain a conscience void of offense, I am persuaded that I ought to confess my sins more. I think I ought to confess sin the moment I see it to be sin; whether I am in company, or in study, or even preaching, the ought to cast a glance of abhorrence at the sin. If I go on with the duty, leaving the sin unconfessed, I go on with a burdened conscience and add sin to sin.

■ I ought to study Christ as an Intercessor. He prayed most for Peter, who was to be most tempted. I am on his breastplate. If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.

■ I am persuaded that I ought never to do anything without prayer, and, if possible, special, secret prayer.

■ I am persuaded that nothing is thriving in my soul unless it is growing. "Grown in grace." "Lord, increase our faith." "Forgetting the things that are behind." ... I am persuaded that I ought to be inquiring at God and man what grace I want, and how I may become more like Christ ... I ought to strive for more purity, humility, meekness, patience under suffering, love. "Make me Christ-like in all things," should be my constant prayer. "Fill me with the Holy Spirit."

Thank You, Lord, for the life and legacy of this man who loved You well - every day if his life.

12.18.2017

God's Word is beautiful - and forever!


Every week Dennis brings me "Monday Flowers," and my favorite place to put them is next to my Bible because the visual reminds me of one of my favorite verses: The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

While I was enjoying these beautiful pieces of creation this afternoon, they recalled to mind a fabulous quote by John Newton about the beauty of Scripture.

May his words encourage you to search the Scriptures deeper and more often!

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"From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness - that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work!" 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Set a high value upon the Word of God. All that is necessary to make you wise to salvation is there - and there alone.

In this precious Book, you may find . . .
a direction for every doubt,
a solution of every difficulty, and
a promise suited to every circumstance you can be in.
There you may be informed of your disease caused by sin - and the remedy provided by grace.

In the Scriptures, you may be instructed to know . . .
yourselves,
Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
the wonders of redeeming love,
the glories of the Redeemer's person,
the happiness of the redeemed people,
the power of faith, and
the beauty of holiness.
All are here fully and clearly represented.

Nothing is lacking in the Scriptures to make . . .
life useful and comfortable,
death safe and desirable, and
to bring down something of Heaven upon earth.

But this true wisdom can be found nowhere else. If you wander from the Scriptures, in pursuit either of present peace, or future hope - then your search will surely end in disappointment.

This is the fountain of living waters! If you forsake it, and give the preference to broken cisterns of your own devising - then they will fail you when you most need them.

Rejoice, therefore, that such a treasure is put into your hand - but rejoice with trembling.
Remember this is not all you need - unless God likewise gives you a heart to use the Scriptures aright - then your privilege will only aggravate your guilt and misery.

~ John Newton

12.11.2017

Monday Morning Encouragement!

After waking up with all of the aches and pains of a severe head cold after spending a wonderful night laughing with my older boys and friends at a comedy concert, I needed to read this!
The cold has taken out four Eastmans, so there are only four to go should the Lord not spare the rest.
My plan was not to begin the week with illness, but the Lord can redeem the hours and use them for good!
It seems He keeps providing opportunities for me to choose between joy and despair, and this writing by Susanna Spurgeon was just what I needed to push me over to the side of JOY.
Thank You, Lord! May my actions and words show evidence of my choice. 

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"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You!" Jeremiah 32:17

"Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?"Jeremiah 32:26-27


Dear reader, your difficulties and trials may not be similar to those of "the weeping prophet" - but they are very real, and seemingly insurmountable to you. It is a fact that, of yourself, you can neither overcome nor endure them. So I want to remind you that the Lord's hand is not shortened - that what was true of His power in Jeremiah's time, is as certainly true today. Whatever present hardship may press upon you, or whatever burden may be weighing you down - you, yes,you may look up to Him with confident faith, and say, "There is nothing too hard for You!"

Oh, the blessed peace which such an assurance brings! I do not know what your particular sorrow or hardship may be - but I do know that whatever its nature - cruel, or bitter, or hopeless - it is as "nothing" to Him! He is able to deliver you - as easily as you can call upon Him for support and help.

Now, dear friend, think of all the hard things there are in your life:
poor circumstances,
difficult duties,
grievous pains,
sore struggles,
bitter disappointments,
harsh words,
sinful thoughts,
a hard heart of your own,
a hard heart in others.
Gather all these, and many more together, and pile them one on another until you have one great mountain of afflictions - and your God still calmly asks the question: "Is there anything too hard for Me?"

When our hearts are weary of life's cares and crosses, when our courage flags because of our helplessness, and we cry out with the patriarch, "All these things are against me!" - then what a support and stronghold is the fact that our God has all power in heaven and on earth! There is nothing too mighty for Him to manage - there is nothing too insignificant to escape His notice! Jeremiah's faith . . .
sees no obstacles,
stumbles at no hindrances,
faints under no burden,
shrinks from no responsibilities
- because he realizes the sublime Omnipotence of God, and fortifies himself by calling to remembrance His "outstretched arm" in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Cannot we do likewise?

Never let us give up in despair, while we have such a God to trust in. If there is a great mountain of sorrow or difficulty in your way, dear friend - do not be cast down by the darkness of its shadow. Your God can either make a way for you through it - or He can guide you around it - or, just as easily, He can carry you right over it! There is nothing too hard for Him! Expect Him to make the crooked things straight, and to bring the high things low. And while you keep humbly at His feet, He will work wondrously, and you shall see His salvation!

~ Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898

12.07.2017

To my foster and adoptive sisters ...


Dear sisters,
This afternoon I spent two hours in a foster care facility.
I knew what I was walking into, I knew why I was there, and yet the moment my foot crossed the
threshold of the building, my eyes filled with tears. I held it together, for it was not the time or place to fall apart, and I wanted to absorb every detail I saw and heard so I wouldn't forget.
And for the first time - I got it.
What you do. Who you serve. Why you do it.
Why you say “yes" even when it is too much, when you are overwhelmed, and when you have nothing left to give. I witnessed the same attitude of selflessness and compassion in the staff and counselors who serve these children and teens. They are honest about the hard work and the struggles, but they choose to go back day after day. Because they love the kids.
Just as you choose to love your children day after day. Especially the broken ones.
The home inspections. The court dates. The visitations. The therapy appointments. You do ALL of it because it needs to be done, it must be done in order to rescue these kids. And you do it well.
Thank you for your example of obedience.
Thank you for your faithfulness.
Thank you for your passion.
I returned home from the foster care facility, walked straight into my bedroom, closed my door - and wept.
There is just too much brokenness. Too many children without a home. Without safety. Without love.
And each one of you is standing in the gap, fighting for these children - by choice.
Thank you.
I will never forget what I saw, what I heard, or the emotions I felt as I walked through every room of the facility and met the children and teens in each of the group homes. And the whole time - I thought of you.
I once said there is nothing I have to offer you since I am not a part of the foster/adoptive world, and you responded, "You may not know the details of the system, but you do have something to offer us, Michelle - yourself." I believed you. I knew what you meant. But today - I understood. I don't know how to file paperwork with social services, prepare kids for a visit with birth parents, or decode court language, but there are things I do know.
I know I respect you.
Appreciate you.
Value you.
Love you.
While the Lord has not placed a foster baby, child, or teen in the Eastman home <yet>, He has given me YOU. Women who choose not only to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves," but women who allow me to walk beside them, and call me "friend." You don't need me to tell you how to foster or adopt; you need me to encourage you, pray for you, cheer for you, and remind you on the most discouraging days that you are acting as the hands and feet of Jesus every single time you serve these children.
Though I will never forget what I experienced today, I do not need to tour a foster care facility to see the Gospel in action. I need only look - at you.
With deep affection and a heart of gratitude, Michelle

12.05.2017

Suffering like Jesus.

For the past eleven weeks, I have been sitting under fantastic biblical instruction through a godly man Dennis and I greatly admire. The topic? Suffering. Why we suffer. How we suffer. How we are to respond to suffering. And most importantly, the model Jesus gave us through His own personal suffering.
This class has been an incredible blessing - a time of deep introspection - and a reminder that while God does not take us away from suffering, He faithfully takes us through it.
Sunday's class hit me in a tender spot, and while I left limping a bit, I was encouraged and strengthed by the words of this brother in Christ, and the truths and promises of God.
I pray these notes will encourage others the same way they encouraged me.

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Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1

No matter how stuck you feel - you are not alone!
The Lord is THERE!
He will never leave you or forsake you - and there is nothing too difficult for Him.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” Matthew 26:36-38
Jesus INVITES us into His suffering.
He invites us into an intimate relationship.
He did not have to take Peter and James and John with Him to the garden, but He did. 
He knew Peter was going to deny Him and all of the disciples would scatter in a matter of hours, yet He chose to include them in His sorrow.

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39
His EXAMPLE.
Jesus did not try to "fix" His problems.
He did the only thing that makes a difference. He fell on His face and prayed.
We need to work on our problems less and pray more.

Personal application ➙ What is my first response to difficult situations?
It should be PRAYER!
Faithful, enduring, persistent prayer.

Jesus prayed the same thing three times. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
And heaven was silent.
Jesus did not ask to be released from God's plan, He asked if there was another way.
God said, "This IS My way."
And Jesus surrendered. With perfect peace.

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6
Stop the preoccupation with "self" - even in the midst of great suffering and sorrow - and SEEK GOD.

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3
Stop putting hope in people, and things, and coping strategies and CRY OUT TO GOD.
He is huge and powerful and capable - and He INVITES US to ask Him for help.
An invitation from a holy God should not be ignored. 

Don't get stuck in your failures and inadequacies. Put ALL of your focus on Christ.
"I'm weak." "Yes. You are. Look to Jesus."
"I don't know enough." "No, you don't. Look to Jesus."
"I can't do much." "Do what you can. And look to Jesus."

"I fail, Lord." "I know. But I don't. Walk with Me."
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people.

He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself. 
For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:23-28