Grinding The Wheat in 2017

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that what I do here and on Instagram is equally for preaching to own heart as it is to encourage yours. I’d tell you that true hope isn’t in pretty prints but with the good news they proclaim. I want to be a John the Baptist with brush in hand, pointing to the One who actually brings life. May GraceLaced art be a starting point, not the end itself. Let’s not treat the Word as Spurgeon describes: 

There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in His service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser’s feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. Our bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life. Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it. 

Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this morning, “I will meditate in Thy precepts.”  (C.H. Spurgeon)

Friends: persevere in the grinding, gathering, plucking, and stooping low to drink from the Well offered to us. May all the beauty + truth you find here in 2017 merely adorn what is most satisfying: Christ himself.

We can’t drink from a cup that is already full of our agenda and striving, so to that end will you pray for me as I pray for you: That we would be emptied of our kingdom and filled up with His.

That’s my commitment as I seek to steward this space well; thank you for beginning another year with me here. 


In effort to grind the wheat this year, I’m beginning (again) another year-long reading plan with the ESV Bible App. You can choose from several plans, and read passages in app, or have it read to you. It’ll track your progress and keep you working through the Scriptures in manageable chunks.

I’d love for you to join me. It’s not going to be perfect, and some of us will have to set aside our ideas of a perfectly quiet house and unfettered time with all our commentaries open, plus endless hours to Bible journal — let’s be real; that’s not going to happen every day. Some us won’t make it all the way through without missing a single day, and it will drive us crazy, but that isn’t the point. It’s not about us, but about knowing Him and the promises of His Word, in its entirety. The point is to PERSIST:

I hear the app only has Bible reading plans for the iPhone version. If you’re an Android user, I will post daily reading charts as often as I’m able in my Instastories in the mornings: Instagram.com/graelaced. Join me there for encouragement!

Sometimes it’s not the words of my mouth that’s the problem – I’m fairly good at guarding those; it’s the meditations of my heart that can run unfettered, which in time, will reveal itslef in my speech too. I’ve been sharing on the blog and in Instastories about not just liking the bread, but #grindingthewheat in 2017. We do that by tethering the meditations of our hearts to the unfailing Word of God…not for a pep talk or for self-affirmation, but to align our desires with His. Our Rock and our Redeemer isn’t just faithful for salvation but for every day we’ll need hope for our tongues + minds in 2017! 


By the way….Did you purchase last year’s Garden of Truth calendar? Now that the year is over, are you re-purposing it and memorizing the scriptures? I hope so! Let me know how you are using last year’s calendar, I’d love to know.

And if you haven’t purchased a 2017 Hope In the Desert Calendar, don’t wait! They are 50-70% off in the Shoppe, depending on quantity. My hope is that you will let the Word minister to your heart day by day, and that these scriptures will be hidden in our hearts as we preach the truth to ourselves!


Praying for you as you grind the wheat and grow in the Word in 2017. It’s worth it…to persist and not give up. I’m standing and seeking along with you. 

Because of grace,

 

A Little Each Day

My back is aching and my legs are wobbly…but I’m so encouraged. I’ve just completed a total cleaning and organizing overhaul on both of the older boys’ rooms. With two in each room, both bedrooms had become a disastrous explosion of minute lego pieces, wadded up socks, precious scribbled drawings (times 20!), and lots and lots of books that never seem to return to their shelves. Try as I might to train, I simply do not keep up with keeping my kids’ rooms tidy.

After working around the clock for several days straight (it takes a lot longer with a napping infant and mischievous 3 yr. old in tow…), the boys and I climbed out of the mayhem to a fresh, clean, and extremely organized room.

“We’ll never let it get messy again,” they assured me.

I smiled, knowingly: “Boys, the key is not to never let it get messy, but to train yourself to work at it a little each day.”

Isn’t that the way it is with spiritual discipline as well? No, it’s not that we have any part in “cleaning” ourselves up; rather, it’s a matter of weeding out the junk and decluttering the spiritual man day by day.

I was thinking on this today, as I tucked the boys in to their spotless beds and clean rooms. I remembered my encouragement for them to tend to their rooms daily, rather than wait until they could no longer enjoy, use, or find anything in their own rooms. It was misery that drove them to the huge task of organizing everything from the inside out; it is for joy that they will seek to keep it that way.

And so it is with our hearts. Do you find that you wait until you are completely miserable and despairing before you run to the Word of God, and hide it in your heart? Do you find yourself thinking, “If I only had more discipline daily, I wouldn’t have these major meltdowns!” I’ve been there too at times. Whether you are a member of the 5:45 Club, or if you squeeze it in at your children’s naptime– may I encourage you to tend to your garden through the pruning of God’s Word? We make time for what’s important to us. The blessing and reward of spiritual progress is worth pursuing. As is joy.

A little each day. Driven by joy, not just reacting to misery. His Word provides both fuel and healing. Avail yourself of both–day by day, starting today. Be blessed!

**If you do not already have a Scripture reading plan, here are a few resources that may help:

The Bible.is App

How To Enjoy Bible Study

Bible Gateway Reading Plan

10 Chapters A Day

Other resources…

“New Life” Resolutions

This is the time of year you hear comments like these:

“I’m going to cut out all sugar starting January 1.”

“I sure didn’t do so good with my workout plan last year, but I’m starting the gym the first of the year.”

“I totally failed in my Read-through-the-Bible-in-a-Year plan. I always get stuck in Numbers.”

I’m being honest. I am no optimist. I have always professed to be anti-goal making, or more aptly, resolution-phobic. Yet, recent years of learning to preach to my own heart has revealed that what appears to be perfectionism and a fear of failing is really pride and self-sufficiency. I don’t want to set goals because I don’t want to either beat myself up to succeed, or to stress myself out when, in my own strength, I cannot find the consistency to accomplish what I set out to do. And, so….for many years, there you’d find me, on New Year’s Eve, the scrooge of all hope and determination for the new year.

I’m looking at it differently this year, although I’m still not making any resolutions, so to speak. I still have no solid plans to drop a certain amount of weight, or to stop all consumption of white sugar; but I do have plans to get up early again now that I’m not ill, work through a Bible reading/listening plan again, and deliberately look for ways to romance my husband–just to name a few.

Why the change? Why the desire to even verbalize some aspirations and desires for the new year?

I think it boils down to this:

Christ perfectly accomplished the work of righteousness for all those who believe; we set goals for more focus or greater discipline because it flows out of thankfulness for who we already are in Christ, not in order for us gain His approval. To put it plainly, we set goals to become more like who God’s already made us to be. Desiring to be more than we were last year, hoping to grow more disciplined, aiming to be more joy-filled and gracious….these are not merely optimistic thoughts. For a child of the King, this curriculum vitae is ours already in Christ, but is realized through obedience and perseverance.

And, so, may I encourage you to be blessed as you look forward to 2011? May I remind you that…

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, 
   for his compassions never fail. 
 They are new every morning; 
   great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

and so,

“…let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galations 6:9)

for,

“…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Be encouraged to start anew. Let’s not worry ourselves over success or fail, perfection or shame; those are not from Him. Let us, instead, fix our eyes on walking in the Spirit, growing in His likeness, and putting one foot in front of the other in faith, starting today.

The 5:45 Club

Today’s post is a call for change in my life and yours.

I’ve been up since 5:45am. Even as I write this, I empathize with all of you who may have slept fitfully last night through many disruptions by young ones in your home. You may have endless tasks before you today, of which I can empathize as well. You may feel overwhelmed, and the day has not yet even begun–I’ve been there, and praise God, I want to share a little bit of encouragement with you.

What we treasure and prioritize is evidenced through how we spend our time.

While we seek to have time in the Word each day, sometimes we can lack the sweet fellowship of communing with Him as a steady means of provision, rather than a dutiful reaction to the hectic pace of our lives. I’m perennially burdened for the desire to seek first the Kingdom; and yet, so much of what I communicate with my time is that I prioritize productivity and service (sometimes to the exclusion of abiding.) Susannah Wesley was known to flip her apron over her head in order to have time alone with the Lord amidst raising 10 children. She undoubtedly communicated to her children, that she treasured and needed time alone with the Lord.

Carolyn Mahaney and her three daughters ask these questions in their book Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed

  • Do you plan ahead to maximize your fruitfullness each day, or do you simply let life happen?
  • Do you make choices based on Scripture or on what feels good at the moment?
  • Do you strategize or use your talents to bless you family and church, or do you employ them primarily for your own personal fulfillment?
  • Do you evaluate every opportunity in light of biblical priorities or do you do whatever it takes to get ahead?
  • Do you consider whom God would have you serve, or do you try to please everyone all the time?

Using a biblical, grace-based perspective, Mahaney and her daughters help us prioritize, beginning with rising early to sit at the Lord’s feet. Don’t be scared–but these ladies have chosen 5am as their wake-up time. No one (including these ladies) physically enjoys waking up early, and yet, all of us can relate to the desperation that results from the busyness of life crowding out fruitful time alone with God. I know I’m not the only one who has felt the diminishing returns of self-sufficiency. I often think I have more freedom when I “see how the day goes,” but I’m here to tell you that there is no freedom like consistency and discipline. Consistency and discipline make fertile the soil for spiritual grown, and spiritual growth, in turn, produces greater consistency and discipline.

After much prayer and counting of cost (like a much earlier bedtime!), the tilling of this soil now begins at 5:45am each day. There is no formula for holiness found at that hour, nor anything to prove. It’s merely the best way to truly allow my treasure to be aligned with my schedule…to be prepared in my spirit, and ready to serve my family. John Piper reminds us, “The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not eh heart…We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.” (Little did I know, my dear husband was studying in a similar vein, and preached accordingly yesterday.)

Do you want to join me? We can start a 5:45 club. {grin}

What we make time for reveals what we treasure and what we are dependent upon desperate for. May we recognize the joy of dependence on the Word, and the great strength it gives us to combat sin and glorify the Father.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel for the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

Psalm 1: 1-3

Daily Bread

Happy 3rd day of the new year everyone. Perhaps you’ve already spent time reflecting on 2007, while looking ahead to 2008. I personally have never been one to start new diets or regimes January 1 for fear of failing to complete the resolution. Yet, last new year’s day, while nervously making plans to read through my Bible in 2007, my sweet husband delivered a thought that has stuck with me: It is not the success of the resolution, but the process of striving every day that matters. We may not stay perfectly on schedule or make it completely through the regulations on mildew in Leviticus, but the goal is to be regular in the Word…not for performance but for pleasure.
So, I’ve started over this year. Clean slate, new motivation, desire to be more, to live more, to love more. Anyone want to join me?

You can find a downloadable schedule for reading here. I am currently using the reading plan found in the back of my really cool journaling Bible: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Journaling Bible (Original, Black). Whatever you choose for 2008, choose to be with Him. At least for me, intimacy with the Father would ultimately encompass any and all other resolutions I might make for the new year. Self-control, kindness, patience, the diligence to turn from unproductive habits…all find their fuel in the power of His Word. So many days wasted in 2007 feeling fearful or weak…when our daily bread is at our fingertips.

Blessings to you this New Year.