The God of All Comfort

Comfort food soothes the soul of both the one who makes it, as well as the one who eats it. I made this thick, French-style beef stew in a red wine broth yesterday. It took several steps, and then was cooked low and slow in my old, gorgeous clay pot, all day long. There is something so comforting about taking the time to prepare a detailed but classic recipe. Circumstances can spin out of control, but a good beef stew is reliable.

Words of comfort, via post.

That word "comfort" in Scripture means to be summoned to God's side, and drawn very near to Him. It means to be spoken to, given reassuring counsel and instruction. It means to be given strength. It means to be relieved, calmed, soothed, and salved.

It also infers that I allow myself to be console-able. That is an important part of the process, and one rarely talked about. To be inconsolable is to, in fact, be proud. It is to think that my problems are unique, and my pain deeper than anyone else's.

To all who are thirsty, weak, exhausted and discouraged, our Great God says "Come here, child. Tell me the problem."

"Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest..." this is to be comforted by the Only One Who Can...summoned to the side of the One who alone has the power to restore your soul.

Oh, to be a vessel of comfort! I should be quite satisfied by a ministry of pure comfort - doing my small part each day to soothe a precious saint. None of us, by ourselves, has the power to bring the full spectrum of comfort that a grieving heart needs. None of us should even try to bring "all" comfort. That would be pretentious. Rather, we should look to the God of all comfort, trusting Him to show us our part.

So someone brings a word. Someone brings cookies and flowers. Someone sends a card. Someone checks in, briefly, each day via email - no strings attached. Someone brings a meal. Someone gives finances. Someone organizes a level of ongoing assistance. Someone takes up the slack.

It is all comfort, and all true comfort originates with God.


In the title of this post, I am not taking the Lord's name in vain. It isn't mere euphemism. Truly, it is the prayer of my heart in this season. God knows.

For whatever reason, the Father in His magnificent wisdom has decided that my pastor-husband and I are not permitted to preach the gospel academically. He has decreed that we must "live of" the gospel, to the deepest, most profound levels in our lives. might spin out from under me, were it not for His everlasting arms underneath. This is an adventure, this could be dangerous, this is the most hopeful journey a woman can undertake, and it is definitely not under my direct control. I'm just trying to keep my feet under me, and learn to navigate the curves.

In the past one year alone, we have had to teach and preach and stand against both unBiblical extremes to the gospel - legalism and license. As well meaning and near and dear as those persons are in your life who are committed to either extreme, if you "live of" the gospel, you cannot sit back and allow that leaven to creep unwittingly into the lives of those for whom God holds you responsible. Either extreme is deadly to right relationship. Either extreme is not the gospel, see.

We are called to preach the gospel.

To stake your claim on the gospel of Jesus Christ, of grace-through-faith, of living in the new creature, of love being the fulfillment of law...well, it means you have just strapped on a pair of roller skates, my friend. There will be pain. There will be wipe-outs. You will live with constant, ever-present excitement, because God does not perform miracles in your midst because you kept the law - and God is still on the move miraculously today. Every new day could bring another Mighty Act.

Simultaneously, you will feel surges of pain and panic, because the gospel is a dividing line. It threshes and separates the worthlessness of legalism and license from the preciousness of the seed of the Word.

And sometimes legalism and license each wears its own face that is nearer and dearer than words can ever convey. But you must not compromise the gospel.

Ours is not a life of behavior modification, because righteousness is a gift. At the same time, ours is not a life of continual, open sin and rebellion, because that also indicates non-reception of the life-altering gift of righteousness. To each extreme, must be held out the hope of Christ Alone.

The Gospel, and nothing but. Grace, plus nothing. You cannot attach your own lifestyle of good behavior, and you cannot attach your own lifestyle of sin. Both must be swallowed up in a righteousness outside yourself, both must kneel before the God Who alone is Maker.

Academically speaking, this is easy stuff to preach. But to illustrate it with your life takes days, months, and years, and is very, very difficult. Oh. My. God.

Quotable Quote

In the Apology, Socrates rebukes the Athenians for caring more about their pleasures than they cared about virtue:

"… it does not seem like human nature for me to have neglected all my own affairs and to have tolerated this neglect for so many years while I was always concerned with you, approaching each one of you like a father or an elder brother to persuade you to care for virtue..."

It isn't "human nature". Only a God-besotted pastor or mother or father or apostle or believer in Jesus can be that concerned with the health and wealth of the soul of another. When God infuses human nature, we care long and we care hard.

Baby, It's Hot Outside!

We missed setting an all-time heat record in my city today by one little degree...and I remain convinced that we shattered the record here at my house. My tomatoes love this heat, but not I.

Playing with the camera, shooting what is blooming 'round the garden this week:


...and more dahlia...

verbena and lantana...

broken chimnea, used as a planter...

mophead hydrangea...

...and so much more, really. Cottages must have cottage gardens, see. Mine is just beginning to look maybe like a cottage garden. But I'll save those pictures for another post for another day.

I received two of the most precious gifts this past week - and neither giver consulted the other! Take a peek~

I am totally into wearing cute summer skirts, tee-shirts, my Oka B flip flops, and aprons. This one was from my daughter Sarah.

And this one, from a dearest, says it all.

God is in His heaven, saints, and that means all's right with the world.

This is What the Gospel Gets You...

From the perspective of a pastor and pastor's wife, this is what carefully and faithfully unpacking the gospel, week in and week out,staying on the same theme, gets you:

....a harvest.
Read about it here.

This is the good news I woke up to this morning. Some believe in grace. Others depend on it. This is what you get to be part of in others' lives when you depend on grace. When you live of the gospel.

How is it that my heart can be utterly broken, yet profoundly rejoicing? Sounds to me a lot like being pressed but not crushed...cast down, but not destroyed...

In Which Sheila Declares

that the grace of God is where she has staked her claim and it has so been worth it and that's that...and that the sun is shining, and, for the first morning in months she awakened without so much as an ache anywhere in her body (much less everywhere in her body). This makes no sense to her natural mind...

...and, just now, she has received some of the best good news of her whole life. In The Top Ten List Of Best Good News Of Her Entire Existence. Maybe even top five. (I'm not even stretching the truth, here, friends.)

And that she'll See you in Harvest Church! She is happily and hummingly off to prepare for worship...

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Gratuitous Beauty

I have a room divider I can paint like this...

A white kitchen never goes out of fashion.

I'm going to replicate this shed in my back yard.

And I am so going to do this over my jacuzzi tub!