My Life’s Mantra: Three Lists

I’m a list person. You’ll find them everywhere. I have a notebook by my bed-full of lists, sticky notes surrounding my desk-list city, and one of my most-used apps on my phone: Wunderlist-a list of lists! I list my groceries, my prayer requests, and even my friendships (my co-workers make fun of me-but I need to be organized!)-and find it to be helpful to visually categorize things in my life. With that being said, you’ll not be surprised that my life’s mantra equates to categorizing all things in my life into one of three lists.

Find the things that increase your affections for Christ, and with all your heart-pursue those things. 

Identify the things that neutralize your affections for Christ, and as much as possible-avoid/redeem those things. 

Know the things that decrease your affections for Christ, and for your soul’s sake-run from those things. 

These lists will be different for every person, and this is not an exhaustive list for me-but it’ll give you a good snapshot 🙂 Oh and as a side note, I do think that many things mentioned in List Two have the potential to be moved to List One-it just takes intentionality and a desire to worship God in all things! AND there are things naturally in List One, that if I get lazy or negative or look away from Christ, they will transition to List Two. :0

List One: Things that Increase my Affections for Christ

  • Quality time with God
    • Journaling
    • Reading His word
    • Reading about Him
    • Doodling quotes about Him
  • Talking about God
    • With unbelievers
    • With my sisters and brothers in Christ
    • With my mentor ❤
    • With the world wide web!
  • Enjoying the world He made (especially with friends!)
    • At the beach
    • On a run
    • In a kayak
    • On a trail
    • In the city
    • Some music 🙂
  • Blessing the senses He gave me!
    • Through coffee and icecream (not together though…)
    • Making and having dinner (with friends!)
    • Good music
    • Aesthetics
  • Enjoying the relationships He gave me
    • Family
    • Friends
    • Co-workers
    • Church family
  • Random Things
    • Learning in general (TED Talks=time of worship for me!)
    • Movies that spur good conversation

List Two: Things that Neutralize my Affections for Christ

  • Some Social Media
    • Complaining instead of peacefully praying (about what’s going on in the world)
    • Comparing instead of praising
  • Being lazy (not resting…actually being bum like)
  • Media intake without processing/reflecting
    • I NEED to talk about a movie after i watch it in order to “redeem” it from List 2, to List 1. This may just be me-but I want to dialogue about the lies portrayed as truths, and the evils portrayed as good. I want to welcome God into my TV/Movie viewing and do that best through conversation! I understand not everyone is like this and that is a-okay 🙂
  • Working haphazardly
    • If I work hard and with a focus on honoring God in my job-it’s totally in List One, but the days (and weeks) that I just go into work without remembering WHY I work, and WHO I ultimately work for-it’s List Two.

List Three: Things that Decrease my Affections for Christ:

  • Most TV Comedies
    • Humor that I find funny, that God does not
    • Wasting hours
    • Being convinced that I want what the world has
  • Some Social Media
    • endlessly scrolling through Pinterest humor, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    • being too intrigued by the world’s gossip/interest (buzzfeed stories for me)
  • Pining for what I don’t have
    • Wishing/daydreaming/coveting breeds mistrust and discontentment

So that is what I came up with! This is something that helps me, and maybe it’ll help you too! Write out your three lists, and see what you can do to eliminate things from List Three! Also see if you can transfer things from List Two to List One with a little prayer and focus 🙂 Through Jesus Christ, God has given us the GREATEST GIFT in life-and that is HIMSELF. We can know, enjoy, and love Him! Let’s prepare for eternity and do it as much as possible!!! (Also, make sure you read these quotes below!)

We make a god out of whatever we find most joy in. So, find your joy in God and be done with all idolatry. - John Piper

Biblical Homemaking: on being an unfaithful bride {how trials reveal your true affections} biblicalhomemaking.blogspot.com

"Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God." - John Piper

Is it Wrong for Men to Listen to Female Speakers?

I almost think this is an absurd question. Are there people who think it is wrong for a woman to speak to a group of men about Biblical or theological things? Unfortunately, there are. Now, I’m not going to dive into this debate today (maybe soon!), but I do just want to offer up a quick 3:25 minute clip from Desiring God about the topic.

“I am happy to learn from Beth Moore. But I don’t want to get into a relationship of listening or attending a church where a woman is becoming my pastor, my shepherd or my authority. I think that would be an unhealthy thing for a man to do. I could give reasons for that biblically, experientially and psychologically, but I have given the gist of it.” -John Piper

Humility + Love of Truth + Calvinism + Arminianism = This Quote

John Piper taught on the life of Charles Simeon at a Pastors Conference in 1989. It is a wonderful use of an an hour and a half of your time if you are willing to listen to this man’s beautiful story and legacy. This biography is full of lessons on contrition (which I blog about here), suffering, perseverance, and the joys of adoration in Christ. Among those points, was a beautiful stance on the delicate intricacies and delight in balancing Calvinism and Arminianism.

“He [Chales Simeon] did not want to be labeled a Calvinist or an Arminian. He wanted to be Biblical through and through and give every text its due proportion, whether it sounded Arminian as it stands or Calvinistic. But he was known as an evangelical Calvinist, and rightly so. As I have read portions of his sermons on texts concerning election and effectual calling and perseverance he is uninhibited in his affirmation of what we would call the doctrines of grace. In fact he uses that phrase approvingly in his sermon on Romans 9:19-24 (Horae Homileticae, Vol. 15, p. 358).

But he had little sympathy for uncharitable Calvinists. In a sermon on Romans 9:16, he said,

Many there are who cannot see these truths [the doctrines of God’s sovereignty], who yet are in a state truly pleasing to God; yea many, at whose feet the best of us may be glad to be found in heaven. It is a great evil, when these doctrines are made a ground of separation one from another, and when the advocates of different systems anathematize each other. . . . In reference to truths which are involved in so much obscurity as those which relate to the sovereignty of God mutual kindness and concession are far better than vehement argumentation and uncharitable discussion (Horae Homileticae, Vol. 15, p. 357).

An example of how he lived out this counsel is seen in the way he conversed with the elderly John Wesley. He tells the story himself:

Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

No.

What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree. (Moule, 79f)

But don’t take this to mean that Simeon pulled any punches when expounding Biblical texts. He is very forthright in teaching what the Bible teaches and calling error by its real name. But he is jealous of not getting things out of balance.

He said that his invariable rule was “to endeavor to give to every portion of the Word of God its full and proper force, without considering what scheme it favours, or whose system it is likely to advance” (Moule, 79). “My endeavor is to bring out of Scripture what is there, and not to thrust in what I think might be there. I have a great jealousy on this head; never to speak more or less than I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding” (Moule, 77).

He makes an observation that is true enough to sting every person who has ever been tempted to adjust Scripture to fit a system.

Of this he [speaking of himself in the third person] is sure, that there is not a decided Calvinist or Arminian in the world who equally approves of the whole of Scripture . . . who, if he had been in the company of St. Paul whilst he was writing his Epistles, would not have recommended him to alter one or other of his expressions.But the author would not wish one of them altered; he finds as much satisfaction in one class of passages as another; and employs the one, he believes, as freely as the other. Where the inspired Writers speak in unqualified terms, he thinks himself at liberty to do the same; judging that they needed no instruction from him how to propagate the truth. He is content to sit as a learner at the feet of the holy Apostles and has no ambition to teach them how they ought to have spoken. (Moule, 79)”

I love this view! Oh, if we each could humbly and faithfully delight in that balance and be satisfied with the truth of Scripture wherever it leads us!

The Semi-Broken but-not-so-naturally Contrite Heart

The other day I listened to a sermon by John Piper that heavily encouraged the importance of a daily contrite heart before God. He made the argument that if we have a weightier understanding of our depravity we are able to better adore God’s graciousness. Like a boat, the heaver the body is (contrition), the higher and larger the mast can be raised and the sails can fly(praise and gratitude!).

That makes sense to me in my little head. But after listening to the sermon, I didn’t quite know how to do it. I used to think that the people who were very sensitive to their sinfulness and who can perseverate on it continually where…I don’t know….wrong. I thought, “Stop looking at how gross you are and look at the cross, look at grace! Grace! Grace!” That’s what I do! Piper poses that though that OF COURSE is step two, it is ever so important to do step one of having a broken and contrite heart before the Lord. We are not supposed to be internally destructive, but we are to remember our sins for humiliation before God and glory to God. Looking at our vileness should lead us to His praising his OVERWHELMING grandeur.

Okay, so I was ready to do this! I wanted to have a contrite heart.

So I made a list.

I wrote out on a page a list of all my “Top Sins” in life. After I had wrote them out, I went back over and slowly read and sort of unpacked each one as I went through.  Wow. Let me tell you, that was NOT a pleasant experience.  But when I was finished, and went to the Lord in prayer, I understood more why it increases my adoration for God. My prayer to Him went something like this:

Lord, I am no where close to being a woman who completely follows you and is completley devoted to you. I too often compare myself with others and think, “Oh I am not that bad” though really I am! I should be looking only to your Son as the one I measure up to, and not to your other subjects. And oh do I fall short. My sin is such a wicked offense against you, your role, and power in my life. It is so constant, so belittled; how are you not enranged with disgust against me? Yes, you are slow to anger-but how long will you put up with this blatant disrespect I show you, O Lord? How long will I ungratefully abuse your grace, mercy, and forgiveness before you declare “enough!” and send me to hell where I belong? Why do I think I can trick you to being pleased with my sparatic offerings and diddys of praise when more often than not, I am ignoring you and your ways?  

(step two :))

HOW REMARKABLE IS YOUR STEADFAST LOVE OH LORD. THOUGH NEGLECTED AND UNAPPRECIATED, YOU WILL NEVER LEAVE ME NOR FORSAKE ME. THOUGH I HAVE DONE AND CONTINUE TO DO NOTHING THAT MERITS YOUR FAVOR, YOU HAVE GRACIOUSLY CHOSEN TO ALLOW ME TO BE YOUR DAUGHTER. I AM LOVED WELL BY YOU THOUGH I DO NOT LOVE YOU WELL. YOU HAVE PLANS FOR ME THOUGH I MAKE MY OWN SELFISH, SELF-PROMOTING PLANS. LORD, I HAVE DONE NOTHING TO DESERVE YOUR MERCY, FAVOR, GRACE, OR LOVE. THANK YOU THAT THOUGH MY NATURE IS TO OPPOSED YOU-YOU HAVE GIVEN ME A NEW HEART. ONE THAT THOUGH CONSTANT IN IT’S FAILURE AND WANDERINGS-DESIRES TO PLEASE AND SERVE YOU. WITHOUT YOU PLANTING THAT DESIRE IN ME, I WOULD STILL BE MOVING FORWARD IN LIVING TO PLEASE MYSELF AND SERVE MYSELF AS RULER AND LORD.

I am wicked. You are glorious.

I am guilty. You are perfection.

I am a breath. You are eternal.

I am selfish. You are righteous.

Yet. Yet you chose to redeem this undeserving, wicked child to give her purpose and joy in you!”

My prayer is that this post encourages you to dip deeply into your heart to see what it means to be contrite for the purpose of growing closer to our wonderful Lord and King.  I long for us to see Him more clearly and more lovely. I want our love for God to increase, and if remembering and being broken over our sin is the way to get there-then that is what we should do! Let’s pray to God to help us see our depravity in a way that honors Him and increases our understanding and affections for Him. Though a broken and contrite heart does not feel natural to many of us, we need it to see Jesus Christ magnified in more glorious splendor and overwhelming majesty!