Rest Here

Sun Rays Through The Clouds

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Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!   Psalm 4:6

Surely, this prayer is answered for those of us who believe! The Lord’s turning toward His own is an eternal turning, a never rescinded invitation sealed in Christ’s own blood.

We live our lives abundantly beneath His watchful eye, encompassed by His love, safeguarded by His protection and encouraged daily by His help. The light of His face upon us offers forgiveness for sins, growth in our sanctification and a promise of our future and final glorification.

His love is never divided between His children, but exponentially multiplied, grace upon grace.

His attention is a benefit unlike any other offered by mere mortals even though they be men of power and renown. His is an attention to the most minute detail our souls can require with an eye towards our good end. And, He not only has our good in mind, but the absolute power to bring it to pass!

We imagine that friendship with the rich and famous may afford luxuries and opportunities that will give rest to our souls, but the truth is that relationships like these take a lot of work. One must be able to keep up, wear the right clothes, exhibit the appropriate level of intelligence and match resource for resource in an ever evolving appreciation for the finer things in life. And, should we be unable to reciprocate, our worldly alliances wither and die. Amity based on our ability to perform is absolutely exhausting.

How much better to be a friend of Christ!

Because of the Gospel blessings we have in Jesus, the relationship we have with God is not based on our performance but upon the performance of His Son. He took on human flesh. He was tempted and yet did not sin. He humbled Himself unto death on the cross. He took the punishment we deserved. He paid the death penalty that we owed. He rose again and conquered even the grave on our behalf.

It is finished. We need not work. We need not fear. When we fail, our Father does not fold His arms in anger nor sigh and turn away but calls us back with open arms, accepting us in the beloved for Jesus’ sake. And so we pray along with the psalmist, “Look here, Lord! Shine the light of your face upon us!”

This is the saving reality of the Gospel. Rest here.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


A Little Bit of Heaven

kitty2

My fourteen-month-old grandson will learn that there are times when play must be set aside for duty. In fact, my ordinary adult concerns usually trump his childish inclination to toss a ball again and again and yet once again or sit outside on the curb to practice our meow sounds and pet the neighbor’s cat.

But, playtime is not a waste of my time nor his. No, these welcome respites from the business of everyday responsibilities are (at least part of) the building blocks of our future relationship. I can tell my grandson that I love him and that I am interested in him, but in the mind of a toddler, actions do speak louder than mere words.

Recently, during one of our playtimes together, I was overcome by the most extraordinary sensation. I felt as if time stood still or was suspended somehow. Of course as soon as I realized what was happening, the moment slipped away. Perhaps my attention was so focused on what we were doing that I became unaware, even if just for a few seconds, of the passage of time.

Thinking about it later, it came to me that my grandson isn’t quite aware yet of how tangled up we are in the constraints of time. He isn’t worried about what comes next or how many minutes have ticked by. He has nothing planned and no to-do list. It’s as if he has all the time in the world…

I long for Heaven where I am positive we won’t experience time in the same way we do here on earth. After all, we will have all of eternity!  If we are freed from the necessity of the clock, imagine the joy of spending an infinitude of moments in the company of fellow saints. Think of the timelessness of our happily-ever-after in the glorious presence of Christ our Lord! What an amazing Inheritance we have in the Gospel!

Could it be that playtime with my grandson is a foretaste of what’s to come? A glimpse of eternity where the urgency of our busy schedules is no more? At the very least, these moments are a gracious gift to this grandmother–a little bit of Heaven on earth.

Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.
Isaiah 60:19

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Today’s Poem

…I will tell of all your wonders. Psalm 9:1b

My days pass swiftly. They are filled with joy and sadness, confidence and worry, victory and defeat. But each day, each moment, is purposeful, never meaningless, and worthy of consideration.

Dear Reader, grant me that each day is poem-worthy, a gift from God and deserving of our attention. And then, pray to the Giver of days for the right words and the imagination to express the wonders of everyday life.

TODAY’S POEM
by Terrie van Baarsel

Each day begets a poem:
An open window
A raised eyebrow
The fellowship of the saints.

Each moment speaks its cadence,
Lives its own existence
And then,
Travels inescapably to legends past.
Meekly, sometimes wearily,
But surely nonetheless.

Now, recite to me the poem, young ones!
Where will the flight of fancy
Carry you today?
What far-off lands
And winged remembrances
Ascend on strange dilemmas and delights?
Will barren diversions
Or concerns of the hour
Quash the timid play of words?

Or will the day’s poem emerge
A limerick or a dirge?
A sonnet or free verse?
Listen closely!

When shadows grow long
And dreams come whispering.
There hang the words
Warm, like sun ripened plums.

Pick them.

plums


Grace, Grace, Glorious Grace!

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God’s Grace is immense. It spans the universe. His Grace lends significance to everyday life. Grace plucks the sinner from the mire that is despair and sets him on a wide place, the Rock that is Jesus Christ. Grace asks no favors; it is the favor of God. God’s Grace is deep. God’s Grace is wide. It is also pointed and precise. A blade that cuts to the quick, then heals and quickens. Grace preserves, transforms, destroys and builds up. Grace is the hammer that softens the blow. Grace does not flinch at the truth. It is safe and predictable. It is dangerously wild. God’s Grace reaches to the heavens. It stoops low to illumine the dark hearts of men. Grace is freely given, yet its worth is incalculable. Grace sentences the God Man to a tortured death on a wooden cross. Grace absorbs wrath. Grace gives life. Grace will have its way. Persistent, constant, irresistible Grace!

Oh, to be the recipient of such a Grace as this! And so I am. Herein lies a mystery. How can it possibly be? By Grace the Son is my salvation. By Grace I am the object of the Father’s love. Grace invites me to fellowship with the Spirit. Bound by Grace, I am a willing slave. Utterly dependent, I am set free. Saved by Grace, unto Grace, and for the glory of God. In and of myself, I stand empty-handed save for God’s wondrous, astonishing Grace!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  2 Cor 13:14

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Confessions of a Kingdom Builder

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I am a kingdom builder. My kingdom is self.

I build my kingdom according to my will. When circumstances or people fail to meet my expectations, I respond in impatience, disbelief, and anger. Sometimes I am willing to compromise a bit, but my reasons for doing so are selfish. I give a little to get a little for my kingdom.

The problem is that my idea of what the Commonwealth of Terrie should look like is in direct opposition to the Lord’s. Not only that, but I try to build my kingdom at the same time God is tearing it down. This is futile, frustrating, and absolutely exhausting.

Sometimes, a wrecking ball is called for. Sometimes the Lord uses more subtle means. But either way, my kingdom must fall. The foundation is pride, and it must be destroyed.

But this I know and believe: His Kingdom is best, His realm, the most beautiful. His authority is trustworthy and true.

My kingdom will end. It is mere vapor, all smoke and mirrors. His Scepter reigns forever.

My kingdom is constructed on a lie, His on the Truth.

I build my kingdom on shifting sand. His Kingdom is founded on the Rock that is Christ.

This morning, first thing, circumstances thwarted my kingdom yet again. I had plans. But a dead battery in my car put an end to what I had intended for my little empire today. I did not respond well.

But, there is good news.

If I should try to build my personal domain ten thousand times a day, God’s mercy and grace demolish each beggarly attempt. It is for love’s sake that my Heavenly Father will not allow my kingdom to stand. And, it is for the Gospel’s sake that my prideful response to its dismantling is crushed by the cross. He meets me there, and I am magnificently ruined and gloriously wrecked.

Jesus died for kingdom builders like me.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  Psalm 45:6

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


It’s Been Awhile

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My last post here on Gospel Apprentice was in October. It’s been awhile.

For me, writing has always been an outlet. It’s a process I enjoy, even the editing part. In fact, it’s probably the editing part that I enjoy the most. Weird, I know.

I do write almost every day. But, those words are just for me. That’s not to say that my daily musings are profound or mysterious, on the contrary, they are mostly quick notes, thoughts about what Bible verse I happen to be reading or commentary on the day-to-day.

The seasons of our lives bring change, and I am experiencing such a season of change now. For about a year, I’ve been babysitting my beautiful little grandson, and I’ve never felt my age so acutely. On the days I watch my little one, we begin early. By the end of the day, I’m ready for bed by 9 o’clock. Ok, maybe even by 8:30. On my days off, there is housework to do, shopping to be done, errands to run. Even on those days, bedtime can’t come soon enough. And so, as a result, posting on Gospel Apprentice has been put aside.

The main reason I started blogging was so that someday, my children (and now my grandson) would have a record of how the truth of the Gospel worked itself out in the heart and mind of their mother. That reason has not changed. To anyone who reads it, my hope is that this blog will tell the story of an ordinary woman and her very extraordinary Savior. It is to magnify the unfathomable kindness that has been extended to me, a sinner, and to point others to the excellence and beauty of the Gospel of Christ.

I am blessed, albeit exhaustedly so, to write for my children and for our grandson, but also, as we recently discovered, for a new grandchild expected in August by my oldest son and his wife. Praise God!

This morning I got up early and left the house. I am sitting at a local coffee shop as I write this. Last night’s dirty dishes and today’s laundry await my return, but an uninterrupted block of writing time is more important.

I must be more deliberate about making time to write and for the Gospel’s sake, so be it.

So, even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those who come.  Psalm 71:18

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Learning My Lessons

I am a life-long learner.

But, sometimes I look around and think that everyone else is more accomplished than me. Everyone else has it all together, right? Although that’s how it may seem, the reality is far different. You are a life-long learner, too.

English: School room.

English: School room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With that in mind, and in the spirit of encouraging one another, here is a short list of things I am learning and in some cases, re-learning!

1. Don’t worry. Trust God.
Worrying about things that I have no control over is just crazy. But this is what I do. If only I could finally and fully learn that I can trust God. This is one lesson I fear will need to be repeated again and again until my life on earth is done. What a relief it will be someday to finally rest from worry. I am beginning to seriously question my personal sovereignty, but I guess that could be a good thing.

Those who know your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10)

2. Life may not be perfect, but there is still much to be thankful for.
I yearn for my life to be in order. I like all my ducks in a row and everything on my list to be checked off. For me, busy-ness begets the blues. I love to be around people, but I also need time alone to think and to process. And, I detest conflict.

But, my life is not in order. My ducks are not only out of line but chaotically quacking like crazy. It takes a Herculean effort to check even one thing off my list, and “Busy” is my middle name. Moments alone are few and far between. Conflict is a given.

Yet, in all of this the Lord is faithful to remind my harried heart that there is still much to be thankful for. My life is filled with blessings, and even the difficulties I face are being used by Him for my good and His glory. Always.

Even if all else should give way around me, let me be found “joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” (Col. 1:12)

3. God is sovereignly working.
There is no graph, no algorithm, no equation that indicates exactly when or how our Heavenly Father accomplishes His will. But, He is working and always in a million different ways.

Life is not a math problem, but a grand story with eternal scope and perspective. God writes life stories that are rife with plot twists, filled with quirky characters, and include conflict (both resolved and unresolved with real-time cliff-hangers). We turn each page not quite knowing what the next chapter may bring, but we do know the ending and it’s a happy one.

He is working in me. And, although I don’t always see it, I can trust He is working in my loved ones, too.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:10)

What about you? What life lessons are you learning?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


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