Friday, January 11, 2013


In a weeks time, I said goodbye to two wonderful women, sisters who spent their lives living side by side on a beautiful stretch of land that was often covered in wildflowers.  As a young girl who grew up on a downtown city block, their home was a breath of fresh air to me!  I spent many summer afternoons looking out on the field that laid behind their home or walking along Mountain Road picking lovely bouquets.  I would sit with them in the breezeway of Sue's home, sipping tea and tasting treats, mostly feeling like a new version of myself.  I was more refined and somehow elegant behind my muddy jeans and messy hair.  That was one of the gifts that Helen and Sue gave to me.

In 1 Peter 1:24-25, we read that "...all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you."  In light of their passing, I thank the Lord especially for this gift of truth that sits tucked away in my heart.  Though all those whom I love die, the Lord's truth will remain forever giving the hope, that I treasure more than all the wildflowers in the world, to all those who have gone before me and will go after me.  Thank you Lord that your word is truth and speaks of your love, grace, and mercy.  Thank you that through your Son, you kept your promise to rescue me and conquer death.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PLEASE stop assuming the gospel is understood...

I grew up in the church.  My Dad is still pastoring the church that I grew up in.  I went to a Christian school.  As a young person I was immersed in church, 24/7.

And yet, for so long I THOUGHT I knew the gospel.  I figured that because I was saved I could mentally check out at church/school/youth group anytime someone shared the gospel.  It wasn't for me.  I didn't need it.  It was for my non believing friends or whatever.

After a while, some of my teachers (not just at school but any of those who were in a position of authority in my life) caught on.  They stopped teaching the gospel to me.  They assumed I didn't need it anymore.  Instead we talked about Bible characters or biblical principles.  Things that are supposed to full of gospel but some how they just weren't.

As a clear disclaimer, I want to say that it is totally possible that the gospel was in all of those lessons and I just wasn't getting it because of my hard heart.  But now that, by God's grace, my heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh, I hear lessons, messages, and sermons where the gospel is still absent.  I find that my heart of flesh is desperate to hear and speak the gospel at all times.  But why is it missing?!

A couple of things happened recently that stirred up these thoughts of mine.  A couple of weeks ago, I attended a training conference hosted by a well known Christian organization.  The conference was full of helpful tips on how to do ministry better.  We sat under teaching that showed a biblical framework for the kind of discipleship that this organization promotes.  It was really wonderful stuff!  But where was the gospel shared?!  In a 30 minute break out session via VHS video tape.  Thats right, I said it.  VHS.  I also recently sat in amongst a group of people who have experienced a very similar childhood and youth to my own.  I found that most of these people were fumbling around with what the Gospel really is.  They couldn't articulate it.  Even after we heard the gospel shared with dramatic and gripping biblical references.

I left both of these settings feeling a bit disappointed.  I want to be the kind of person that hears the gospel in every message.  Even more, I want to be the kind of person that shares the gospel in every conversation I have with people.  As I examine my own heart, I find that I assume the gospel doesn't need to be shared anymore with certain family and friends.  I either figure that its easier not to share it because it might make things uncomfortable, or that there isn't anything that any of us can learn by talking about the gospel together anymore, or maybe some other foolish idea that causes me to think something else is more important to talk about.  How do we all get this so wrong!

Well isn't that just the gospel itself right there?!  Its not about what we do.  We are actually powerless to do anything.  We can't save ourselves from sin.  We can't earn our way to heaven.  We can't share the gospel or talk about in a way that will cause anyone to believe/trust/repent.  For us it is impossible!  Jesus had this to say in the gospel of Matthew, "...with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."  And so I am stopping to ask (because that I know I can do :P).  I am asking God to once again change my heart and mind.  I am asking him to work in and through me so that I won't assume the gospel anymore.  I am asking him to give me eyes to see and ears to hear.  And lastly I am asking him to give me the words to say to everyone I meet that my life and others might be changed by what HE has to say.

Friday, October 19, 2012

False Gospel Fridays: I need the Gospel everyday

True words, no matter how soft, can often be offensive.  I had that experience while on retreat recently with some women from my church.  One of my fellow retreaters, remind me oh so very gentley how important it is to remember that the Father delights in me (in all of us actually) and that I should not feel condemned by my sin.  These incredibly true and powerful words are at the very heart of the gospel message.  And yet when they were shared with me, my pride was set off and I began to feel the need to explain that of course I don't feel condemned, I just feel the need to confess my sin, I KNOW better than to feel condemned.  I could even cite Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ..."

It took me the rest of day to receive God's grace that was extended to me through a sister in Christ.  And as I began to see through my own pride I felt reminded of how important the gospel is for us all!  For believers and non believers or unbelievers or anyone really the gospel is life!  I need the gospel spoken to me each day, many times a day in fact!  And I especially need it when feeling convicted of my sin.  In fact it is the gospel message that leads me from conviction and confession to restoration with God rather than condemnation.  Because the gospel is this...that "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were sinners, Christ died for us."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Salvation Stories

Today I had a great conversation with Silas about the gospel.  I wanted to have a way to remember our conversation so after I put all the kiddos down for a nap, I ran to my computer and jotted down a record of what we discussed.  It was such a fun thing to do and I am so grateful that the idea popped into my head!  As I began writing, the story turned into more of a letter written from me to him.  I could picture him reading it one day when he is older and I am sure that I will want to read again and again too!  I created a special folder called "Salvation Stories" on my computer and within I made a special folder just for Silas.  I saved it with the date and now its tucked away for our family to enjoy for years to come!  I plan to write more letters like this to Silas and to each of my other kids as well.  I am confident that they Lord will use this to continue to bless our family!  And I pray that he finds a way to bless yours as well!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Luke James Carroll

We welcomed this little guy into our family on July 18th, 2012!

He is almost 3 months old now and its taken me until now to get some time away to share his birth story here on the blog!  Better a little late than never, right?!  He is precious and delightful, smiley and sweet!  We certainly all feel in love with him right away!

Each night the week of LJ's birth, I was kept up late with regular contractions.  We even went to the hospital twice thinking that it was finally the real deal!  But on Wednesday the 18th, he let us know for certain that he was ready to make his debut!  I went to bed early while Sean hosted our weekly bible study with some young adults from our church in the basement.  Shortly before the bible study ended some regular contraction began again.  By this time I was pretty used to my body throwing me for a loop but I could also tell that this time there was something different.  These contractions came on hard and fast.  We made the call and headed over to the hospital as soon as we had some one at the house to watch the other sleeping cherubs!

There isn't much to say about labor at the hospital this time around because Luke was out of my belly and in my arms about 45 minutes after we arrived!  And of course, it was love at first sight!

If you've read around on our blog, you will know that name meanings are pretty important to us.  Luke's name represents the ability that light has to chase away and overcome darkness.  "And Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me, will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."  John 8:12

Friday, July 20, 2012

False Gospel Fridays 4.0 Changed

I used to think that a change in my behavior was the right kind of response to the gospel.  For me, this reduced Christianity to a set of rules and morals.  It was all about not doing x, and making sure I did y.  But recently I have been convinced that a genuine, heart felt acceptance of the gospel will lead to a much deeper change then that of just my behavior.  It will lead to a change of my very character.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  And Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

When I thought behavior change was enough, I was really taking my salvation into my own hands.  I was believing that if I lived right, I would be saved.  And yet the scriptures clearly tell us that we can't accomplish this on our own.  No matter how many bad behaviors I manage to curb, I'll never be able to accomplish making myself new.  No matter how much of myself I "put to death," I could never really give myself new life. The scripture is equally clear that how we choose to live does matter.  We must choose to "live by faith."  But moving beyond changing my behavior or morals and allowing Christ to make me new is where salvation is found.

So its about a character change, not just a behavior change.  And its not something I can do to or for myself but It is something that the Lord does in me.  I am starting to see how the gospel is less and less about me and what I do, and that it is more and more about Him and what He has done or promised to do!  I rejoice that He has made this promise in His word: "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."

Friday, July 13, 2012

False Gospel Fridays 3.0 Qualified

Sometimes I find myself believing that the more training, education, qualifications that I pursue the more God can use me.  This is really only half true.  I remember hearing a friend quote something like this a number of years ago..."God doesn't call the equipped.  He equips the called."  We find this concept true throughout scripture.

The disciples were noted in Acts as being unschooled men and yet they were able to teach with such wisdom that it simple amazed all of those who heard them (Acts 4:13).  Consistently throughout the new testament the Lord chose to use those who came from humble backgrounds.  Moses was afraid of public speaking (Exodus 4:10), Gideon was found hiding in the wine press and asked the Lord how he could possibly be the mighty warrior needed to lead Israel (Judges 6), Solomon started his reign as king with such a humble view of himself (1 Kings 3:7), Paul called himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  And the list could go on and on!

Personally, I have put a lot of emphasis on my own education and training.  At times I lean on these qualifications in pride.  But if we think back to the disciples, the thing that qualified them more than anything else to speak and teach was the time they spent with Jesus himself.  That time was a true gift of grace from Him.  Nothing can prepare you for life better than time spent soaking up God's grace!

In conclusion, and just to be very clear, education and training is a very good thing!  But we should remember that it is not the ULTIMATE thing!  Lets not trade worship of the Creator God for worship of a created thing (Romans 1:25).  Sometimes, I don't need to read another book or attend another seminar to teach me how to be a better wife and mom.  I just need more time with Jesus so that he can carry on the good work he started when he began to change my life, heart, mind (Philippians 1:6).  Sometimes, I don't even need another bible study to gain more understanding or knowledge.  I just need more practicing living out the knowledge and understanding that he has already given to me.  Sometimes, I don't need another degree to be a better servant in His church.  I just need to step out in faith and serve trusting him to take care of the rest.

God doesn't call the equipped.  He equips the called.  And he is faithful to meet all of our needs out of his immeasurable grace! 

2 Corinthians 9:8 "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."