JESUS CHRIST - MY ONLY BOAST

BLOG site of Amy R. Maxwell

I am the wife of B.J. Maxwell (married August of 1997) and mother of our three adopted children. I am blessed with the awesome privilege to care for & love my husband, invest in & love our children, and keep our home. May I steward these gifts well, for the glory and praise of Christ Jesus our precious Lord & Savior!

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus . . . sweetest name I know!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, B.J.!

Merry Christmas, my beloved husband!



Indeed, what a special Christmas this will be for our family. God has blessed us with three beautiful children, two of which will become official "Maxwells" New Year's Eve. We have much to be thankful for!!

I wanted to take time this Christmas to thank you for the many ways you love and serve our family.

Thank you, B.J, for . . .


1. Loving me, and our children, unconditionally.

2. Being the first one to apologize whenever we have a disagreement.

3. Rubbing my hand EVERY night before bed for the past 11 years.

4. Dropping everything when I need you (whether I need help with the kids, or a shoulder to cry on.)

5. Singing to Abby every night (beginning the day the Lord gave her to us), "Jesus Loves Me", and holding her until she falls asleep.

6. Always giving the kids their baths.

7. Calling me "your queen", even though I feel so unworthy to be called such a name.

8. Making family a priority.

9. Never holding a grudge - even when I, or the kids, do something completely disrespectful and selfish. You have never kept a "record" of my wrongs and you always extend arms of forgiveness even when you have been the one offended.

10. Proposing to me on February 13, 1996. I will never forget how sweet and shy you were when you placed your head on my shoulder and asked me to marry you. "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

11. Your love and encouragement through all the health "stuff" (surgeries, hospital stints, trips to the ER, etc.) You have always been by my side.

12. Your patience with me!!!!! (You have had to deal with A LOT of wacky hormones!!)

13. Working through our infertility together. Thank you for encouraging me to keep my heart and mind on Christ Jesus.

14. Always "loving" what I cook (except the green veggies), even when it doesn't taste that great!

15. Always letting me pick the restaurant (even if it means eating Mexican for the 5th time in a row!)

16. Not putting your "business socks" on me :)

17. Training our children in the gospel.

18. Loving the Word! I love the way you teach and proclaim the gospel of Christ Jesus. You are my favorite teaching pastor!!! I could sit under your teaching for hours on end. May God be praised for blessing you with the gift of knowledge and wisdom.

19. Your discipline and self-control in keeping our marriage pure and undefiled.

20. Your love for Christ Jesus! I know that the more you love Christ, the more you will love me and our children. And the more you love me, the more you show our children the beauty of Christ's love for His bride, the Church.

I am blessed, indeed.
God be praised for the work He is doing in our home!!

With deep love and thanksgiving,
amy

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Out of my heart . . . my mouth speaks!

My speech and actions are often a good reflection of what is in my heart (i.e. what I believe to be true.)

Many times, my words (and secret thoughts) are far from peaceful (James 3:18). Instead they reek of murder. When I find myself frustrated, angry, or quick tempered I often blame others or the circumstances around me . . . and many times I question God's goodness.

I was meditating on James chapters 3 & 4 this week. One of my favorite verses from the Bible is from James. "But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, submissive, full of good fruits and mercy, impartial and sincere (without hypocrisy)" (3:17). Is my speech full of this kind of wisdom?

Just before this verse, James says that "where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." Where MY selfish ambition exists, there is always DISORDER and SIN. It is often self and self-pity that causes so much trouble! I deserve this . . . I expect that . . . If God really loved me, this would not be happening.

In James chapter 4 it reads, beginning in verse 1, "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel . . ." I don't know about you, but this could describe me on many days when my desires and expectations are not met (or my feelings are hurt), especially with my husband & kids, and therefore, my words (and thoughts) go into a rampage - murdering, fighting, quarreling.

But how good it is that God has placed within EVERY believer the power of the Holy Spirit. And though the Spirit and flesh are in opposition to one another(Galatians 5:17), we have the power to walk by the Spirit, crucifying the flesh and its passions and desires (Galatians 5:16, 24). Though my tongue may drip with poison (James 3:8), there is HOPE. A mouth once full of rage, pity and despair, can now glorify God in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). A peaceful, fruitful harvest of righteousness CAN be sown.

How?

Christ Jesus! Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! He has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 7:14-8:2). Paul tells us in Romans 8:6 that the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. So, how can I emulate life and peace through my words and actions? How can I face trials, temptations, and confrontations without first rushing to self-pity, doubt, frustration, and anger?

James continues in chapter 4, urging his readers to submit and draw near to God. "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you" (4:10). For God "opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (4:6, Psalm 138:6, Proverbs 3:34). We must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). I love what Galatians 5:5-6 gets at: "For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love." My Bible notes remind me that faith is not just believing God exists, but it's a living trust in God's grace that expresses itself in acts of love. Therefore, I must conclude that when my mouth wants to fume and run with hate, I MUST crucify those fleshly passions and, by the help of the Spirit, humble myself and believe that God is good in ALL things and is worthy of my loving obedience. With God's Word as my comfort and guide, Christ's example to follow, and the Spirit's help, I can run this race with great endurance, "fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:1-3).

My children . . . Forgive Mommy when I have chosen anger over gentleness. Forgive me for being unkind and selfish when I don't get MY way. How I pray to emulate our Father's LOVE for His children . . . not just when you obey, or in the silly times; but I pray to model patience, love and gentleness when I must discipline and correct.

My husband . . . Forgive me when I have been critical and harsh. Forgive me for not submitting and respecting you in front of our children. I pray that your needs will always be my JOY and priority. May our children rest in the love and peacefulness of our home - which ONLY comes through Christ Jesus.

Praise Him! Praise Him! In my thoughts . . . words . . . and acts of loving, trusting obedience.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Godly Woman & Esther Ahn Kim

A couple of books I am currently reading are:

A Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper

Both are FANTASTIC books! I highly recommend them to any Christian woman.

A couple of quotes . . .

The life and ministry of Esther Ahn Kim is incredible. She lived in Korea during the Japanese occupation (1937-1945). This was a time of SEVERE persecution for Christians. She endured years of persecution and suffering (always on the verge of death) and is quoted as saying:
I began to think that life might be worth living in this time of persecution. It might even be a truer picture of the believer to agonize, to suffer, to be hated, and tortured, and even to be killed in obeying God's words rather than to live an ordinary, uneventful life . . . Although we were poor, we were never in want. We were filled with the Holy Spirit and were convinced it was more than an honor to die for the Lord. We constantly lived in fear of the police, but we were happy and satisfied, envying no one . . . For us it was a joyous blessing to have been born in such a place and for such a time. I realized that it was because of this persecution that I was able to truly experience God's presence and trust His promises." (Noel Piper's book)


Amen! What a beautiful picture of a joyful, suffering servant.

In Barbara Hughes' book on discipline, she begins with the most IMPORTANT discipline of all, the discipline of the gospel. Even though this is such a basic truth, we so often forget the beauty and joy of the cross. She makes the following statement:
The Gospel shapes everything about you . . . As women who understand and embrace the Gospel, we find God's Word so dynamic that it at once defines us, satisfies us, and motivates us.


How I pray that my life would be defined, satisfied and motivated BY CHRIST JESUS!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Shattered Dreams

How can I view pain and suffering rightly?
Does God want me to suffer?

I have struggled with these very questions. For the past month or so I have been in a great deal of pain. The weight of my sorrow has been overwhelming. There have been days where I have not felt like walking closely to God. The only thing I knew I could (and wanted) to do – was hurt.

But I praise God for His ever present (and GRACIOUS) hand. I am also thankful for the insight and encouragement I have received from reading a book by Larry Crabb entitled, "Shattered Dreams: Life's Unexpected Pathway to Joy". A dear sister in the Lord recommended this book. Indeed, what a blessing!

Have you ever experienced a season(s) of trial and suffering? Have you had a dream shatter? Or perhaps a prayer (that was good and right) that went unanswered? (i.e. pleading to God to make your desire for holiness stronger than your lust for pornography, food, or other addictions; praying for a closer relationship with a parent, friend, or church member; desiring a spouse, or even children; begging God to save your marriage; trusting in Him to heal your cancer; needing financial help to get out of debt . . . etc.) If you have ever thrown your fists up in the air at God, wondering why He seems to only punish the righteous, well, this book will be a great encouragement for your soul.
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A few truths I am learning from Shattered Dreams . . .
Note: I weave in and out of several quotes I selected from Larry's book.

When dreams shatter we hurt and often the pain won’t go away.
**So what then becomes our goal?
Handle the pain! Relieve the pain if you can. Live through it if you must. Whatever you do, handle the pain!

In our struggle to handle the pain of shattered dreams, however, one question is rarely talked about with honesty: What do we do with how we’re feeling toward God? What we want is good; it’s not selfish. Why won’t God let us have it? Do we even like God, let alone love Him?

In the chaos and heartache of dreams that crumble, God so often seems to pull away. When we cry the loudest, He sometimes turns a deaf ear. Nothing changes. Like a nurse who never responds no matter how hard we push that little button next to our hospital bed, God is not coming to help. He is unresponsive to our pain.

So, what can He be trusted for? Exactly what is He doing with His considerable power? All of this centralizes around HOPE. When dreams shatter, we lose hope.

What does it mean to hope in God as we continue to live in a world where good dreams shatter and God seems to do nothing about it?

The problem sincere Christians have with God often comes down to a wrong understanding of what this life is meant to provide. We naturally and wrongly assume we're here to experience something God has never promised - a good time. When we uncover the deepest motives that drive our actions, we discover a determination to feel now what no one will feel until heaven. We long to experience a compelling pleasure that eliminates all pain.

As long as our purpose is to have a good time, to have soul-pleasure exceed soul-pain, God becomes merely a means to an end, an object to be used, never a subject rightfully demanding a response, never a lover to be enjoyed. Worship becomes utilitarian, part of a cunning strategy to get what we want rather than a passionate abandonment to someone more worthy than me.

It’s harder to discover our desire for God when things go well. We may think we have, but more often all we’ve found is our desire to use God, not to enjoy Him. Shattered dreams are the truest blessings; they help us discover our true hope. But it can take a long, dark time to discover it.

**What usually comes to mind when we think of hope?
We want things to get better.

What God will one day provide in heaven is different from what He provides now.
What He provides now, however, can be difficult to appreciate.

For instance, take a look at Hebrews 11. We are all very familiar with this chapter - a Hall of Faith! But many of these saints,"who gained approval by their faith, did not receive what was promised." They suffered the worst kind of trials and died without ever being saved from them. Their gratification was delayed until heaven.

And yet we can almost hear the Trinity bursting with pride as the Spirit inspires the writer to say of those who endured the worst horrors, “The world was not worthy of them.” (v38) and then this most discontenting chapter ends on an even more troubling note; the writer insists that these people held on to their faith, they never lost hope, even though “none of them received what had been promised. (v39) So, perhaps we should rethink our ideas on hope. Maybe what the Bible wants us to hope for in this life is very different from what most of us think.

Does my hope merely consist of a desire to have a pain-free life? A hope to find happiness NOW?

Also, take a look at Luke 22:39-46. Have you ever paid attention to verse 43 before? And how that verse PRECEDES verse 44?

Whatever the angel said to strengthen Jesus, the effect was surprising. I would have expected Him to dry His eyes, smile bravely, and get on with His mission. But instead Jesus cried harder, so hard that His sweat become like drops of blood. That happened after He was strengthened. Perhaps we’re meant to learn that the richest hope permits the deepest suffering, which releases the strongest power, which then produces the greatest joy. Maybe there is no shortcut to joy. Maybe God sometimes frustrates our desire to experience Him in order to deepen it.

When dreams shatter, we long to experience God’s nearness in a way that dries our tears. Instead, deeper tears are released . . . God does want us happy; He’s gone to great lengths to ensure our eternal joy. But the happiness He provides now is the strange happiness of longing for what we were designed to experience but must wait to fully enjoy. It’s the happiness of serving a God we trust enough to let us cry today, knowing He has promised to wipe our eyes tomorrow.
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Indeed, God is good. Isn't He?!