Kindling the Fire and Starting New Ones ~ Let’s Play with Matches!

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Those who are on fire already for Jesus are easy to spot, and those who are not, are all around us as well. Do we see them? Do we see them all?

Do we pay attention and set out to look for and see Jesus in others? Is He so known to us, that we can spot Him a mile away, no matter what is going on around us?

Sometimes we have to squint ~ I have to admit it. But other times, He shines through so clearly that we are left just standing in awe.

In awe of the One who is always with us and around us.

He lives inside of us if we are His children and have accepted Him as our Savior.

We get the privilege to see Him working in and through others. As long as we look.

Do you know another brother or sister in Christ that is so filled with the Holy Spirit that the work of Jesus in their lives helps you to know Him even better? Is there someone like this that you have met or know about, and you feel like you know them instantly? The real them? The Jesus in them? Not the nitty gritty of their human and earthly story, but the spirit of the Lord inside of them?

Do you see the fire?

That’s because they are part of Him, friends. Our Lord and Savior lives inside of their hearts. He lives inside of ours too.

The closer we become to Jesus in our relationship with Him, the easier it is to recognize Him in His living in and through others who love Him.

They say that “blood is thicker than water.” I say that siblings in Christ surpass any ties that bind. Jesus weaves Himself through each and every one of us and connects the fires inside. We receive warmth and kinship through this. We see and experience His grace inside out and outside in through this. We are connected to Him through this.

We may get angry at our brothers and sisters sometimes. It does happen. We really get angry at those who say they want to be part of the family but don’t really act that way. But they matter to Him too.

His grace is here for the giving and receiving. Are we looking for the fire?

May we all recognize Jesus when we see Him, whether He is shining through clearly or we find ourselves squinting. May we seek to see Him and celebrate His light, His love, His grace with and for one another. May we rely upon Him as we search and celebrate. May the fire never be quenched or disregarded, but sought after and kindled.

And if we run across someone in whom we see just a little flicker ~ a little glimmer? Let us tell them that we see it, friends. Let us encourage them to let it rip and shine and roar into a bonfire. Let us go a step further and help them to do so.

Let us pour His grace-filled lighter fluid all over it.

It’s time to turn up the heat and melt the ice that is trying to snuff out all that is good. This is the time, friends. Now is the time.

It’s always been more than okay to play with divine matches.

That they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. Acts 17:27

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Death to the Pharisee Inside of My Heart! I Say “Death”!

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But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13

There’s something on my heart about the church today, friends. It’s been there for quite some time now. I have been praying about it and will continue to do so, for it hurts ~ my heart hurts over this.

I have asked the Lord to reveal to me the things that break His heart. I have asked that He not only reveal them, but take it a step further, and break through my own ice-covered heart and make it more like His.

This is one of those things: The unwillingness of the church to meet others where they are at.

It’s true: It’s a dangerous prayer to ask Jesus to break our hearts for what breaks His.

I know that I know that I know that this is most definitely one of those things: His church; His people; or those who profess to love Him ~ not truly loving others the way that He does. The ever-present Pharisee who asks others to meet them in their perfect and upright state is not indicative of Jesus and what He came for…

It’s not a reflection of Mercy.

Are we so busy making sure that we, as the church, try to “live up” to our calling that we fail to meet people where they are at? I’m talking…..like Jesus does.

Jesus meets people where they are at. They don’t have to get cleaned up first. He gets His hands dirty ~ a lot.

We can’t live up to it anyway, you know. We will never be worthy on our own, and if we don’t remember that first and foremost, we are just as lost as anyone else.

Maybe even more so.  😦

Sometimes, I feel that in the endeavor to be “upstanding Christians” that setting an example becomes our true mission and our true God. It’s a false idol ~ when we try to profess how great our faith is. It’s hurting my heart.

It hurts my heart most especially when we don’t even see that we are doing it. I find it happening to myself and I thank God every single time He points it out to me. (He has to do that a lot)

  • Yes. We have a responsibility as Christians to fight against sin.
  • Yes. We have a greater calling to live our lives with God first in all that we do.
  • But if we fail to meet others where they are at, just as Jesus does, we are not truly committed followers.

Not really.

If we really follow after Jesus Christ, we will go where He goes. Although we are not to get caught up in sin itself or things that lead others astray, we are still to immerse ourselves in with the people and in the places they are in. We must go where the ugly resides.

 

It starts right inside of our own hearts anyway. So we should be quite familiar with how it looks.

We are to be salt and light.

So, I have a question for others like myself: How are we to be such salt and light if we protect ourselves and isolate ourselves from the dark places? How can we do this if we expect others to come to us, versus us be willing to really go to them?

REALLY GO.

Now, I’m going to get very direct here. Remember that this is the admonishment that the Lord has been giving to me, and I am sharing it with others who may find themselves in a similar place.

  • Are we asking others to meet US where WE think we are at with Jesus (and in turn, where we think that THEY need to be at), or are we stepping into the mire along with them?
  • Are we willing to get our hands dirty and do the hard stuff along with others, or are we just saying we will, and then cutting and running as soon as stuff gets gritty and messy?
  • Are we acting like Pharisees?

Friends, I see a theme and way of life emerging in Christian circles that makes me nervous and quite frankly, scares me. That is my only reason for sharing this today ~ I can’t stop thinking about the Pharisees and how Jesus despised what they were doing. I can’t stop wondering ~ are we all becoming a bunch of Pharisees, but we don’t even realize it?

I can’t judge the heart of others or the church as a whole ~ only God can do that. But I can make an opinion or a judgement about the situation and what I see. Why? Because I have been a part of it.

I can and I will and I am. 

It comes down to this for me: If our relationship with Christ is truly as it should be, our relationships with others will be a reflection of that. Especially others who aren’t ready for it yet. Especially others who are living in the dark.

If we think we are better than others, it cuts us off from not only them, but from God.

Even if we don’t think that in our hearts, if we display it in any way, we have to make that right.

It is humbling to realize it when we have done this. It is not pleasant to look at the Pharisee inside that has been hiding and trying to come out to play. But God sees it.

God sees the Pharisee inside and He does not like it.

At all.

The day that I cease meeting others where they are at ~ the day that I find myself expecting, even slightly, that their circumstance or state or place in life doesn’t meet the mark and is not worthy of my time ~ well, that day is a day for a God-humbling.

There are times when we are called to dust off our feet. But that is not because we determine that others are not worthy, rather, that we are to be about our Father’s business, and if someone is not receptive to it, we are to move on to those who are.

It is not because that “place” they were in is too ugly for us. And it is not because if they become willing at a later date, we aren’t to be there, ready to open our hearts to them once again.

Synonyms for Mercy:

Leniency

Clemency

Compassion

Grace

Pity

Charity

Forgiveness

Forbearance

I have fallen so short in meeting others where they are at, friends. I have found myself protecting myself from the mire and the muck at times ~ too many times to count. I suppose it will always be a struggle for this girl. But I realize it, and I am praying fervently for Jesus to continue to break my heart for what breaks His. It hurts.  I won’t lie.

Yes. I am making a judgement about our Pharisee-type behavior, as the church who professes to follow Jesus with all that we’ve got. But I can, because I include myself at the top of the list in that judgement and observation.

Only you and God can judge the state of your own heart. I can’t and will not try to do that. But I do love my other brothers and sisters in Christ, and felt God was calling me to share this today.

Because, if you, like me, find yourself even slightly trying at times to get others to meet you where you are at, instead of meeting them with mercy and bringing Jesus to them, simply know that the humbling may not feel very good, but you have plenty of company.

If you,  like me, need to slay the Pharisee inside, know that Jesus is ready to help you to do that.

And this ~ our willingness to bring into the open our whole hearts to Jesus ~ this is one sacrifice that He does expect and desire from us.

Death to the Pharisee inside of my heart.

Death to the Pharisee!

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17

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Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:12 ESV

I rarely make reference to what others may be writing about out there, due to the fact that I don’t understand everything about their theology, ministry, or commitment to God’s Word. But today I am going to do so ~ because I have prayed about this for a long time now.

Before I do, I must admit I have not investigated everything this particular man believes, so please understand that I simply think this article is well worth reading and putting to prayer, especially if you are a Christian involved in ministry of any kind.

To reiterate this in a different way: It is what he is saying that has me thinking today ~ it is what he is saying in this particular article that I am seeking God over and pouring over God’s Word about today.

Here it is:

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/5-signs-you-glorify-self/

Friends, I struggle with this all the time. I am constantly having to do heart checks about so many things, not the least of which, is my approach and my heart as to how I share Jesus with others. This article simply emphasizes what I find the Word of God admonishing us to consistently remember: It’s supposed to be all about HIM.

But life gets to us in sneaky ways ~ the enemy does, rather. It is so easy to think our hearts are pure, in the right place, or hide behind our good intentions and motivations and ignore the seed of self that is planted right behind it all ~ waiting to sprout.

So what are we to do then? Do we hold back sharing Jesus because we fear that behind it all, there is still some small glorification of self going on that is tainting it?

No. God is bigger than that, friend.

BUT ~ we must admit to ourselves, God and others when we find that we are doing this. This is part of how He works in our lives and how he might work in the life of another! The way He reveals our failures, our sin, our weaknesses to us is part of the gospel because it points directly to our need ~ our deep need for our Savior.

Only Jesus saves.

This is part of how He speaks to others through us ~ not through our wonderful successes and our uber-pure hearts, but through that which falls short and can only be redeemed by the Perfect One.

I am here today to admit without question some of the things that I still do that have seeds of self behind them. I thought about making a list, but realized that’s impossible, because when I think about it and am really honest about it, it’s pretty much……. everything.

This is a big (HUGE) reason I don’t want to “promote” my blog. I started this to commune with the Lord and draw closer to Him, because something special happens when I write about (to) Him. If it happens to encourage or speak to someone else at the same time, that is wonderful and is HIS work, not my own.

But even here, I sometimes get caught up in it all ~ I sometimes wonder about the posts that no one decides to read. I sometimes worry that someone out there will misunderstand and be led astray.

And that’s when I know I am getting away from the whole purpose of even doing it. That’s when I know self is getting in the way, and I have to accept His humbling.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 ESV

As His child, I get to accept even more of His grace in the process of receiving the uncomfortable humbling too. So it is not MY awesome humility (ha ha – doesn’t exist) that blesses anything that I do ~ it’s God and His grace that brings about such blessings even though I need to receive a good God-humbling every single day!

In spite of my own failings, God continues to place His mighty mark in my life ~ in spite of the stuff that tries to sneak it’s way in, He continues to be faithful and honor my desire to speak of Him and His perfection, Him and His glory, Him and His truth, Him and His love.

In spite of my flesh.

In spite of my sin.

In spite of my pride.

In spite of my selfishness.

In spite of my coveteousness.

In spite of my everything that’s not of Him.

We have a greater responsibility as Christians to check our intentions and our actions every single day and make sure we are not promoting self, friends. This starts in our immediate day-to-day interactions with others in our lives, and spills over into what we do ministry-wise. Truly, it starts in our direct relationship with Jesus.

There are certain things we are to speak up about. There are certain things we need to zip our lips in regard to, friends.

Is it Jesus talking today through our lives, or is it us?

In all things, if it is not Jesus Christ who is shining through, it’s time to check our hearts, our minds, our souls. It’s time to accept a humbling ~ and also His grace.

Let us take a hard look in the mirror, friends. Let us look every day not for glory or vanity, but for truth. Let us cut through all that is us and seek His face alone.

And let us look forward to the beautiful hope we have in Christ for the day ~ that beautiful day where mirrors are just…..no longer needed.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:30 ESV

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Unbelievable Praise and Glory!

Friends,

Won’t you take five minutes today to be blessed and revel in the love of God as you watch this beautiful video of worship? I promise, you will be so glad that you did!

Pleasing God or Pleasing Man?

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This is a groaning-of-the-heart post. It’s not well-written. It’s not meant to be. I typically share from the  heart, but it comes across more coherent than today’s musings will do. But that’s the point. The Lord is asking me to share the raw stuff that I can’t fully do justice with mere words today. So, if it strikes you as you listen with your heart – as you think of the times you prayed and couldn’t even utter the words, but had to let the Holy Spirit just read your heart, please understand that you are hearing me as I do the same thing. I am typing it as I am praying this way today. Words do not suffice, but I hope you will still be blessed in some way by what I share as you read on.

Is it possible that sometimes we Christians hide behind the whole “you only have to please God” stuff in order to bypass our responsibility to honor and fully love one another? In not doing so, we aren’t pleasing Him anyway, are we?

This is what has been on my heart lately, and it’s been squeezed to the point of feeling it quite literally, friends.

Today, driving home from work, God gave me some clear revelations. This is that big thing that I think He was trying to tell me that I shared was “on my heart” about a month ago. I didn’t know what it was and it’s been driving me nutso!!!

But it was worth waiting upon the Lord to come to this place, which is still a strange place to be in, but wonderful too. Quite frankly, I didn’t expect to get this revelation at all driving home today. But God’s timing is interesting and always perfect, is it not?

I think we are often quite well-intentioned about this, so don’t get me wrong on this one. Sometimes though, we can get duped into thinking that if all we do is focus on God and pleasing Him and Him alone, that is enough. It may be enough for salvation, but it certainly isn’t enough to bear the fruit of it to the fullest.

We then do the exact opposite of living for Him and bringing Him joy when we focus on not needing to honor and please others because we start thinking we are in some kind of special relationship with God where we don’t have to answer to others IN FULL.

We stop placing value on the needs of others and the attributes that He asks us to live out.

We stop living like Jesus lives.

I have been so focused upon loving others well, that I forgot about some of the things that are equally as important.

Things like total and complete loyalty when it’s hard or doesn’t make sense.

Things like being okay with wanting to please others, especially when it comes from a heart of love and letting Jesus shine through that endeavor.

Things like being all right with wanting to know I am adding value to the lives of others, and to know it from them as well as from the Lord.

See, I don’t necessarily know that I need it from others – but it’s good to want it from others and I am starting to make peace with that again in my life. Telling ourselves that it’s not important is a lie from the enemy. As long as the intentions and motivations are right, then I believe God is telling us that it is part, and  a good and important part, of the greater purpose of edifying and loving one another.

In focusing upon pleasing God and only answering to others out of obedience, my heart started to leave the building in many places and situations.

Oh my aching heart. No wonder He was squeezing it for me!

Yes! We are to do all that we do for God’s glory, not to please everyone around us for the sake of pleasing man and fitting in with this world. That wasn’t my problem. I get the whole  “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) I buy into that and want to live that out fully.

And, Yes! We ultimately answer to God and get our true value, worth and identity through Him, and who we are in Him, not this world or the men in it or all the stuff that we do or don’t do. I get that one too.

BUT……

This is just all the more reason to remember how very important it is to look at scripture as a whole.

God also tells us to…..

aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” 2 Corinthians 8:21

Oh, and this too…

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31

Integrity: Doing the right thing even (especially) when it’s hard or may not make sense.

By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever.”Psalm 41: 11-12

Honor:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these thingsPhilippians 4:8

Upright:
But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Titus 1:8

Pure:
So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” Acts 24:16

Faithfulness and Loyalty:
“A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:20

We are to “love others as Christ loved us.” That means to answer to Him and always remember HE alone is our God.

But at the same time, it means to love and  honor and cherish His bride in EVERY way possible.

His bride is part of HIM. A very, very big and important part!

Guess what? For now, my heart is resting. I still don’t have all the answers, but God does. I know that it’s okay to want to do right by others. Especially when it’s hard.

Are we bondservants of Christ or not? Take a moment and look up the definition in full of bondservant. And I shall leave you with this last word from the Lord:

“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” Colossians 3:22

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Is it Okay to Live for Today?

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God surprises me all the time. Just when I think I have “come a long way” with some certain issue, He helps me to see that I still need Him in that area too. I am grateful for that.

Over the last year, I have let go (or thought I had) of a lot of what I call my “control issues.” I left a very stable job that I’d  had for a decade, lots of great relationships there, to move on to….well, I didn’t know what.

For a planner, the unknown is a dark place.

After yielding to His will, and praying a lot, I thought (twice, actually) that He had led me to the place that I was meant to be job-wise. Both of these places were wonderful, and everything just seemed in line with what His will is for me, and my family, when I accepted those positions.

Surprise!

Then, for reasons that didn’t make any logical sense, I just knew that He wanted me to  move again. I did so, and now I am at a wonderful place that I hope will be the place He has for me to remain in for a while.

Now, understand something: I am, and have never been a quitter. This has been really hard for me. I know it’s hard to understand that when there are so many out there in the world without work at all.

What? She is saying it’s  hard to have been fortunate enough to  have been offered the ability to work in three places since she quit (of her own accord) a job that was already awesome?

That’s not what I mean by hard though. I realize that it is a whole other level of difficulty to contend with when one cannot find work at all and I completely sympathize with that.

But when one is seeking the Lord’s will and voluntarily making changes, hoping that they are doing the right thing all along, and things don’t work out – well, it makes the mind and the heart ripe for battle, let’s just put it that way.

I have been at war with tomorrow.

So  here’s the thing: I have still been battling inside in spite of the fact that the Lord has led me back to a place that I call my home away from home when it comes to my employment. I am so thankful to be where I am at, and it wasn’t easy, but God just opened all the doors every step of the way. He encouraged me through the Holy Spirit by making me feel unsettled so that I would continue to move. All the while, He has allowed that uneasy feeling to get better and better.

But a version of uneasy is still there.

And I realized that it’s because I am still too much of a planner. I’m still to much about worrying about the unknown, wanting to feel dug in, settled. See, in the face of throwing the stability and the comfort and the ease of just staying where I was at right out the window, I was still counting upon being able to plan a little.

I wanted to plan within the chaos.

I thought that if I took steps and even leaps of faith with the big stuff, that then I could still plan with the little stuff once I “got to where I needed to be.” And I am reminded once again, that it’s not even about me.

Oh yah.

I feel such a weight lifted from my heart today, friends. I realize this is what has been causing me to periodically battle in the midst of this triumph and blessing at my new, beautiful job!

I don’t have to know what I hope to do there long term. I don’t have to feel unsettled at all. I can enjoy it for what it is (the position I have taken – the job itself) and love the whole of what I am doing and the wonderful ministry and family I am NOW A PART OF WITH NO DOUBT!

I can be at home at work.

How many people in the world are blessed enough regarding their employment to feel that? I feel like such a schlump!

I can focus on the big picture of why I am there. I can think about the mission of the organization, the people there, not whether I will stay in a processing job or move on to do something else.

Maybe I can feel eventually like I am actually GOOD at my processing job!

It’s not about the processing anyway. Where I’m at, it’s about Jesus and the people no matter which position you accept. How beautiful is that?

And then I realized something else….I was being taunted by fear. Fear NOT of being left behind for better jobs that come up that I can’t take right now. But fear of settling in!

Fear of settling in and being content. Fear of feeling at home. Fear of comfort.

Can you believe that?

 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

As Christians, we can get caught up a bit too much at times in wondering if we are aligned with God’s plans for us. It’s good to self-check and do heart checks regarding this, but if we miss out on enjoying God and time with Him and His people in the process, it is completely defeating. That alone can take us out of His will for us.

I can’t profess that I know how to do this, even though I have had this wonderful realization. But I can say that I am excited about it. There will be easy in this as well as hard throughout, I am certain. But I plan to do all I can with the help of the Lord to enjoy this time.

It’s okay. It’s okay to live for Him in my today.

As long as we are doing it to glorify God and be the light of Jesus first and foremost – every single day.

I’m sure there will be a blog post in the future about the struggles I am facing after getting “settled in” and then some other calling within the ministry comes my way. It will be hard to get comfortable in the uncomfortable, only to have to change again. But, that’s okay too. I am just going to trust Jesus and the leadership we have at my work to tell me what to do and where to go, if anywhere.

I’m going to focus on today.

God tells us not to worry about tomorrow…today has enough challenges of it’s own. He is giving me permission to live for today and the people I will encounter as I do so. He is giving me permission to focus upon Him and the others I am interacting with to the fullest.

He gives me permission to trust in Him and love thinking about Him today.

What greater calling can any of us  have than to make the most of what is right in front of our noses? How freeing is it to know that the Lord’s plans and purposes will be fulfilled in the face of our stubborn opposition and the battles and games we play?

If you are struggling with letting go in a particular area, I encourage  you to ask the Lord if you have fully surrendered. Sometimes He allows us to be uncomfortable because we are not walking in His will for us. But other times, He just wants for us to rest in Him, throw our incessant need for planning right out the window, and allow Him to smash it to pieces.

What is your plan for today? Ask God to help you to make it His plan and then go for it.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 ESV

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We Got Ta’ Move It, Move It!

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Today our ministry had a field day and we all worked together on teams to support our well-loved field countries and celebrate the children around the world that we love so very dearly. We had a day of it and the display of teamwork and unity under Christ was most certainly a sight to behold. It was a privilege to be a part of it all.

Fun was to be had and crazy (in the good kind of way) was the standard for the day. Just my kind of thing!

I will say this: Doing even the smallest of physically active things today, in our cushy little shoes, and our nice little park to run in, along with coolers full of plenty of water, amongst other things that we are blessed to have for our comfort in this land, this 46 year old sister was still feelin’ some pain by the end of the day! Yes Sir-eee!

Most of my problems occurred due to some crazy (in the not-so-good kind of way) allergy problems that became exacerbated throughout the daily activities. But I must admit, some of the reasons I believe we are physically “hurting” in some ways tonight are due to the fact that we are, even when we try not to be, such sedentary creatures here in the United States. It’s just a fact of life for at least a good part of the work day in most instances.

This girl works out, friends. I really, really do. I am someone who is pretty consistent in jogging and getting some cardio activity in at least three or four times per week. I go on walks on my breaks during my work shift, and try not to take the short way from the parking lot into the building when I am out running errands and such. But that’s not enough.

No… it still doesn’t make a dent in helping to counteract this sedentary lifestyle we live!

We Got Ta’ Move It!

I was thinking about the children as well as the adults around the world today that our ministry supports. I thought about how so many of them are so very active in their own lives, yet they have so few of the comforts that we have to make activity more – well, comfortable.

We often think they are just forced to be more active due to the lack of conveniences they have that comes from the poverty that envelops their lives. That may be true, but at least they are on the move. Movement is a good thing when one is following after Christ. Living a sedentary lifestyle can become kind of a poverty of it’s own, can’t it?

We have to work much harder, much more intentionally at going against the grain of inactivity in the midst of our luxury. My friends and I at my work are certainly not sitting around out of laziness – we work very hard and integrity and stewardship is of the utmost importance to each and every one of us as well as the ministry as a whole!

It’s just that our world has become so technically driven, that our jobs, for most of us, entail sitting at a computer. A lot!

We do certain things to help ourselves, like stretch together, in unity, every couple of hours. We are grateful to be able to have a few outings once in a while too. Many of us get physical exercise in several times per week on our personal time outside of work, and that helps a lot.

But, if you ask me, we still need to do more to counteract this lack of movement that is becoming an epidemic in this world in which we live (sit?).

Thankfully, I was reminded today that although we have work to do in order to stay physically fit in the face of this sedentary life, God is moving His people in great and mighty ways! The same goes for our spiritual health and relationships. It is far too easy to start going through the motions and becoming statue-like if we don’t work those muscles and get out of our comfort zones intentionally and regularly!

Isn’t it awesome that when a body of believers comes together in unity under Christ, and is committed to keeping that oneness of spirit whole and healthy for the glory of the Almighty, that movement is then something we can count upon showing up time and time again?

He’s got ta’ move us!

Jesus and the disciples were on the move all the time. The only exception was when Jesus needed to make it a point that we should be intentional about rest, prayer, and time with the Father. Of course, we need to work on remembering that as well.

He moves us to love more. He moves us to get down and get messy and in the icky of it all – together. He moves us to step, skip, run, jump, create, learn, flex, and sing to bring glory to His kingdom and praise Him with more than we ever thought we had. He moves us to laughter, to tears, and tells us when to plant ourselves down with the Word and folded hands or when to jump up out of our seats and shake ourselves into an awakened and enthusiastic state.

No matter what, He is moving us as we follow after Him with all our “minds, hearts and souls.”

That’s not something many of us will sit around and celebrate quietly. THAT is something that will get us right up out of our seats, jumping up and down, and squealing with the joy of Jesus every last time we recognize it.

We’re Goin’ ta’ move it – more and more and more. He’s moving us right where He wants for us to be.

And oh yes. Yes, we shall follow!

Just look for the war painted, sunburned, and allegy-ridden people who have big fat smiles plastered all over their faces.

Those are called JESUS SMILES. And hopefully, you will see them more and more often and in more and more places as  you look for them in your day to day life.

If you feel complacent, bored, stagnant, or just plain antsy, press into the Lord and ask Him to help you take the steps needed to counteract the sedentary stuff of life and get moving. He will be faithful and guide your steps. He will heal you and transform you along the way. You may get a little sore, and yes, it might hurt at times.  But it will all be worth it as He continues to move you where He wants for you to be.

But to follow after Christ, sometimes we got ta’ move it.

And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Matthew 19:2

Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Matthew 19:27-30

follow-jesus[1]

Can I Tell You Right Now?

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Can I tell you right now?

Open….

Can I tell you right now?

Waiting….

Can I tell you right now?

I’m listening….

Can I tell you right now?

Understanding…

Can I tell you right now?

Empathy…

Can I tell you right now?

Relating…

Can I tell you right now?

Loving…

Can I tell you right now?

Helping…

Can I tell you right now?

Intervening…

Can I tell you right now?

Translating…

Can I tell you right now?

Conveying…

Can I tell you right now?

Just Keep Praying.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray
for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too
deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV

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Sabb What?

rest[1]
Sabbath? Reeeeeaaallllllyyyyyyyyyyy!

Yah, this is where I am being convicted right now – in a big way.

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places. Leviticus 23:3

Since I haven’t done a good job of finding my way when it comes to honoring the Lord and being commited to the Sabbath, I have decided to make time for a little bit of Sabbath every day.

Tomorrow, since I am blessed to not have to go to work, I am going to sleep in and then ponder this big idea that God has about taking time apart.  Actually, it’s a command to honor the sabbath, but I have trouble even resting in the Lord on a day-to-day basis still – this is being made clear to me.

I know this is part of why I am in trouble. I also know that one day apart plus some time each evening for devotions is not going to do it.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27

I need to learn to move through each day, one simple day, one simple task at a time. And I need to make big changes – so does my entire family (we are a unit, after all) in order to honor an entire day as sabbath as well.

I thought I had grown in this area. Guess that’s just another reason why my brain is in overdrive, because – well friends –  I thought wrong.

I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know when, or even all the whats or the wheres.

But I do know the why: It’s because He says so.

More to come as to what I learn and how it all shakes out over time. But if you, like me, need to learn how to follow after this important command from the Lord, our God too, I am open to hearing your story, as well as your ideas, struggles, challenges, and triumphs in this area.

Sabbath. Rest. Peace.

Time apart, versus falling apart.

This should be quite interesting.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a
chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and
get some rest.” Mark 6:31

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Too’s Day

www.gospelgifs.com

           www.gospelgifs.com

Today is “too’s day”.

We can be encouraged that every day, no matter what we might face, can be too’s day when we turn to the Lord and to one another for support, guidance, love, and encouragement. No matter what happens, we always have God’s truth to hold onto.

Here’s an example of how my Monday was a too’s day…….

Pixabay

          Pixabay

I woke up with a headache, and I was tempted to act pretty cranky. But then I remembered:  There’s this too………………

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”1 Corinthians 10:13

geralt via Pixabay

         geralt via Pixabay

Then, I was running late and felt a little bit stressed. But then I remembered: there’s this too…..

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

mickyroo via Pixabay

        mickyroo via Pixabay

Later on in the day, I felt attacked a bit. But then I remembered: there’s this too…..

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Pixabay

                       Pixabay

No matter what happens, whether it is some small annoyance or a serious and tragic event, we always have this too…..

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.

Psalm 103:1-4

Yes, we can always praise Him too. No matter what day of the week, no matter what moment or circumstance. We can always praise Him.

And He will never forsake us or leave us.

Not ever.

That’s good to know “too.”

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Family Matters

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not
received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s
Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba,
Father.”For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s
children.
Romans 8:14-16

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I love my earthly family. But what I am most thankful for, is that as a body of believers in Christ, those who live by His word, and those who put it into practice, those who lean upon Him for our light and love and salvation – we are a part of His family.

How awesome is that?

paul lee via www.heartlight.com

paul lee via www.heartlight.com

Family matters. In the now, and in eternity once we leave this earth. Let’s take as many with us as we possibly can, friends.

For our God? He doesn’t want even one of us to be lost. Not one. He wants all of us to know Him, love Him, and be a part of His family. Then, one day, we will go to our real home – the one that will last forever and ever and in which we will be in His presence continually. The one true home in Christ, where we will see Him in all His glory. And the one eternal place where finally, we will rest in the assurance that our family, with our Abba Father, will always be whole.

via turnbacktogod.com

via turnbacktogod.com

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that
is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we
are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already
God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ
appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he
really is. 1 John 3:1-2

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Who’s the Boss?

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“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.”  A.W.Tozer

What does Love Sound Like?

What does love sound like?

I think it can be heard in many ways, but what is most important is the heart through which it is delivered.

When we sing out with joy to the Lord, what do you think it feels like to Him?

Probably pretty awesome.

Today, whether we are sad, happy, frustrated, energized – no matter what we are, where we are, or how we feel, we can shout out with joy to the Lord.

Do you know why? It’s because His love for us is unending and utterly constant through all of our life experiences, feelings, situations, or circumstances. And we can always praise Him.

Isn’t it wonderful that nothing can take that privilege away from us? He never changes and neither does His love for us. He loves to hear from us any time – and really, as much as possible. We don’t have to come to Him only when we feel awesome.

If today you can’t muster up the energy to audibly shout out with joy to the Lord, you can still do so in your heart. And it will do your own heart good and bring great joy to the Lord, our Father.

He can read our hearts, you know.

And if you can do it with an audible shout of glee, then do it! Maybe you can even help someone else to do so along with you. I bet that really makes Him happy.  🙂

Imagine the sweet sound it will be to His mighty ears.

All the earth. All His children. All to Him.

It’s all a part of what real and true love sounds like – and it speaks volumes as to the fullness of joy and the fullness of life that we have because of Him.

Thank you, Jesus. We love you.

1 Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven, praise him from the mountaintops; 2 Praise him, all you his angels, praise him, all you his warriors, 3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, you morning stars; 4 Praise him, high heaven, praise him, heavenly rain clouds; 5 Praise, oh let them praise the name of God –  he spoke the word, and there they were! 6 He set them in place from all time to eternity; He gave his orders, and that’s it! 7 Praise God from earth, you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps; 8 Fire and hail, snow and ice, hurricanes obeying his orders; 9 Mountains and all hills, apple orchards and cedar forests; 10 Wild beasts and herds of cattle, snakes, and birds in flight; 11 Earth’s kings and all races, leaders and important people, 12 Robust men and women in their prime, and yes, graybeards and little children. 13 Let them praise the name of God –  it’s the only Name worth praising. His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky; 14 he’s built a monument – his very own people! Praise from all who love God! Israel’s children, intimate friends of God. Hallelujah!  Psalm 148  The Message

Getting Our Hands Dirty Keeps the Flowers Purty!

Man Holding Sprout

If we want to grow, we are going to have to be willing to get our hands dirty, there’s no question about it. And it IS the will of God that we grow in Him and draw closer to Him. In fact, He wants for us to utterly flourish!

“Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will
produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to
know God better and better.” Colossians 1:10 NLT

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What is something that stunts growth quite rapidly? Sin we don’t bother to confess. The stuff we just leave alone – avoid bringing to God, friends. Yah…that sin.

It’s so crucial for me to be constantly watchful of how sin tends to slink it’s way right into my heart and life. I try to remain ever-vigilant about the obvious temptations –  watching my mouth, trying to take an approach of service towards others (versus selfishness) , being honest about my intentions and motivations with myself and with God, avoiding laziness and coveting, focusing on being loving to others, and lots of other things. And I fail sometimes – too often, in fact.

But then there are also the less-than-obvious things in life that allow sin to creep up on us, aren’t there? As always, there are new weeds of sin just ready and lingering- waiting in the shadows for just the right time to plant themselves firmly in the garden of our hearts, prevent new growth, and attempt to overtake that which is already blooming there.

Nemo via Pixabay

Nemo via Pixabay

Weeds are mean. They are ugly. They breed and spread their baby seeds everywhere with the sole intention of smothering any and every thing that might be in the way. They like to choke, cut off, and squash out love and life, while they take on  far-reaching lives of their own. They are resistant, resilient, and just plain stubborn!

And leaving them alone is not an option either. Very little will stop weeds in their tracks if they are left to their own devices.

Weeds are savvy too – they are survivors by nature. We have to outwit them and work hard at killing them. More often than not we can’t do this on our own and we have to call upon experts to help us. Then we end up wishing we had just done that in the first place.

So it is with God and the temptations we struggle with in life – we may be saved by grace, but we still sin and have to be on guard with Him as our lead commander in the war against the flesh. To do so, we need to rely upon Him to expel the weeds of sin in our lives; and we need to partner actively with Him in that endeavor.

A big reason for this is that no matter how intently we seek to stay away from sin, if we try to do so apart from God and in our own ability, sin weeds will eventually win out. Weeds are driven by the motivation of prevailing as top dogs, and in all honestly, in the fleshly realm, the physical realm, they often do “win.” They tend to be stronger than all the rest. Their goal is to utterly dominate – seek and destroy –  KILL anything in their path; and to have no mercy in the process whatsoever.

I told you…weeds are mean. And they are ugly. Especially sin weeds.

But the truth is, that those suckers are fallible. They want us to think that they have already won once they rear their ugly little heads, but that is a lie. They CAN be conquered!

weeds

I found a new weed in the garden a few months ago. I realized that even though I don’t have any outwardly visible barriers between myself and a particular person for the world to see right now, that there was still a nice-sized weed creeping into my heart in relation to that certain someone. And I hadn’t even really noticed it. Actually, I guess that I had noticed it, but I didn’t recognize it for the weed of sin that it was. I justified it not as “sin” in my life because it had come through something that the other person did to me.

See what I mean? Weeds are creepy.

This person had hurt my feelings – more than once, but probably not even intentionally. They aren’t someone that I interact a lot with in my world, so why give it a whole lot of energy? I just decided when I first started feeling bitter towards them that I should set it aside -just let it go.

But I forgot one very important thing: To confess my own sin in the matter to the Lord. How can I continue to forget this stuff? It just blows me away how dense and deceived I am sometimes.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and
purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NIV

Friends, I hadn’t let it go. I hadn’t repented of all the ugliness that I had allowed to invade my heart in relation to this person. I hadn’t even seen it, yet somehow, I knew it was there – no excuses! I had swept it under the rug under the guise of “letting it go.”

Then, when I knew without question that it was there, I chose to ignore it. And not only did I choose not to confess or open my eyes to my own role in the matter, I certainly hadn’t even thought about forgiveness!

weeds

And so it grew………………….

“I can’t believe that ___________ would do that to me. I have never asked them for anything before. Why can’t I get some support from them for once? Don’t they even care?”

And it spread…………………………

“__________ must just be absorbed with themselves right now. I should be okay with that, but if I really look deep down inside, I just can’t move past thinking that they really do come across as selfish, self-centered, and non-caring. How hypocritical of them! They are so all about just themselves!”

moreweeds

And it choked…………………..

“I don’t want to be nice to ___________ the next time I see them. But I have to. I wish I could show love to them, but isn’t that kind of hypocritical of ME? I mean, they are the one who caused ME to feel bad. It is due to their selfishness that I feel this way, not mine.”

And it snuffs out beauty. Smashes love………………..

“Yah…I still feel bitter, but I am working on forgiving. It’s a process. I think I just won’t be mean, but I won’t be overly nice either the next time I interact with them. Should I think twice about being overly supportive and investing any time and energy into them the next time they need me? No, that’s the flesh talking. But I still feel bitter and resentful toward them in my heart. I hope I can get better about this. This is really bad. Gosh, I am a really bad person – this is not very Christ-like of me………..”

And on and on and on the enemy goes in the feeble mind and heart of Annie B.

coffee

Ug. I greatly abhor the enemy.

But I love my Lord and Savior!!!!!!!! He saves me from the enemy, and He saves me from myself. He saves me from the weeds, and He yanks them outta there roots and all! Then He fills me up with this wonderful thing….this thing called love. And this other thing….this thing called forgiveness.

The fact is, we are called to forgive as Christ forgives us. We are commanded to love others the way that He loves us. We are asked directly by the Lord Himself to come to Him to help us to purge sin out of our lives (through HIS power, and our willingness to obey), repent of it, and keep the garden healthy and growing. We have to ask Him to do it in us – He is the weed expert! He is the exterminator, the weed killer, the gardener, the gate keeper, the powerful one who knows what it is to conquer, and knows just how to do it!

Waiting to forgive until I feel like it or because it’s a “process” is a bunch of trash! Working through feelings may be a process, working through repairing damage may be one too, but we can forgive right away with God’s help – and He asks us to.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one
another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Our pastor shared with us not too long ago that he thinks truly being able to forgive as Christ forgave us will sometimes involve the commitment to cry out to the Lord for His power along with a realization that sometimes forgiveness is on a kind-of daily continuum on our part. This is especially true when someone continues to do something over and over again, or something has happened that continues to have lasting ramifications that renew and show up day to day.

New bitter weeds can spring up even when the primary offender seems to have been yanked out of the ground (uh-hem…..heart).

I have asked the Lord to forgive me, but to also help me to forgive this person….completely. But I realize that I will have to go to my Savior in prayer every day – over and over again to ask for Him to help me remove any residual bitter seeds that remain. Why? Because the sin weed in relation to this situation may have already sprouted little babies into the air that just haven’t landed on the dirt and taken root quite yet.

And because my heart is not as it should be.

I wake up every day and there is a new chance for sin to enter or re-enter my life. But Gods grace, mercy and His compassion….. they are new every day – and we must remember to turn to Him for it.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

I have no excuse. I am guilty of not watching for the weeds in this area with this person. I am also guilty of excusing myself when I did see them show up. And finally, I am guilty of turning to myself instead of to my Savior for help.

I took for granted the fact that the flowers are still flourishing and looking beautiful and smelling good. I decided to do other things since they didn’t seem to need any water or attention for the moment. I didn’t neglect them completely, no not at all. I still enjoyed their beautiful colors and took time to gaze upon them. But I did forget to pay attention to the ugly invaders that were starting to grow. And that is my responsibility – to bring my sin to the Lord day by day.

We have to ask the Lord to give us clear vision to kick the enemy out of our hearts the moment a new growth of ugliness starts to appear. We then, by beseeching Him to equip us with HIS power, need to yank it out by the roots, burn it, and relegate it to the trash can that resides far, far away from the garden of growth in the Lord. And we need to take care of the garden every single day.

trash

It is not my garden anyway, it is my Savior’s. It is not meant to be the playground of the devil, it is the realm of the Lord! The enemy will always try to sneak in and vandalize or destroy it, but he doesn’t belong there. And the true owner of this domain is quite territorial – as He should be!

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is
in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

God’s message to me is quite clear: Put on the reinforced gloves, keep your shovel handy, and get to work. Stop and smell the flowers along the way, enjoy the beauty of all that He has created, but never forget to treat that which is the Lord’s with tender loving care. And although we have been redeemed by Christ Jesus, we still live in this world – which is just filthy, any way you cut it. We may not live for it any longer, but we still reside within it – hence, the need to take care.

I shall dig down until my fingers bleed, if necessary. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty. Besides, I have the mighty hand of the Lord upon me – and He isn’t afraid to get HIS dirty either.

In fact, He still has the scars to prove it. And those scars mean something: OWNERSHIP.

“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…..” Isaiah 49:16

I’m sure grateful that my Savior wasn’t afraid to get HIS hands dirty for me – He certainly went FAR beyond that for us, friends. And amazingly, His are the most pure, holy and lovely hands that we shall ever see!

Thanks be to God, we don’t have to relay any messages to the enemy to make sure that he knows who is the Ruler of All and Who will reign in power and glory for all eternity.

The message has already been sent  for us…….

via C28 Christian Graphics

via C28 Christian Graphics

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” Matthew 6:13

Whatz the Word?

via stockxchg

via stockxchg

“Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalms 119:105

***

One thing that helps me is to constantly ask myself, “What’s the Word say about that?” This world we live in is utterly confusing – so many conflicting messages are sent our way, even by those who may be well-intentioned. But the Word of the Lord is always true. It contains everything that He has deemed necessary or good for us to know. And it is written by the Almighty God – the One who is never confusing or fickle.

***

 God does not send us mixed messages. God does not tell lies. His message to us will stand up against everything – even time.

The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures  forever. Psalm 119:160

***

It has always been there for us; the Word – Just like God Himself.

It will always be – Just like God Himself.

It is a gift the Lord has given to us.

***

It is hard for me to understand why we don’t go to it frequently, enjoy it, and look to it to find the comfort, conviction, and utter truth that He provides to us within it. For in it, we find HIM.

“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments….if you seek it like silver  aearch for it as for hidden treasures; then you will find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5

*** 

In God’s Word, we find many, many things – it is our treasure chest! It always dazzles, constantly fills us with wonder, awe, and inspiration, and being that it comes from Him, it shall never run dry.

 Here are just a few of the wonderful gems we find within it:

~ What does Jesus say about how we should view and live out our lives?
~What would God want us to know about this particular situation, feeling, behavior?
~ What would the Lord have us think upon, focus on, ponder, and act upon?
~ What does He want us to always be reminded of; hold close to our hearts?

And Most of All:

~ What does He wish to reveal to us about Him, who He is, and all that He has done for us? How very much does He love us?

***

For it is HE who is found in the Word. It’s His love letter to us. It is the key to helping us to look up in all that we do – it contains the essence of how we can live the Christian life to the fullest, just as He intended all along: A life focused upon worship and adoration of our Lord and Savior – here – now – while we wait to be reuinited with Him in full in our forever and eternal home.

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Psalm 119:18

***

Maybe we should open it? Maybe we should read it? Maybe we should do so over and over again.

Could it be that we can live it out – Every last thing that He tells us? I want to have my eyes opened to as much that the Lord wishes to reveal to me as possible, don’t you? I want to partake of God’s treasure chest each and every day.

And we can.

Another thing of beauty about the Word of the Lord is that we can carry it with us in our hearts at all times. This is a source of great joy for the Christian.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2

***

I admit, that I used to really struggle with being in God’s Word. I didn’t understand it, and failed to be uplifted, guided, and enlightened by it. This was due to the fact that I wasn’t surrendered to the Lord yet. I was trying to grasp the Word based upon my own understanding of things.

Epic Fail!

But once we ask the Lord to help us to understand what He would have us to, and we dedicate ourselves to spending time in it, we will come to find we love the Word of God. We will find that we cannot get enough of it – that we continue to crave it more and more with each passing moment. He will feed us through it. He will open our eyes through it. He will love us through it. And He will equip us to love Him in a deeper way. It is the same way with prayer: as long as we remember to listen too.

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

***

Most importantly, we will find that it helps us to develop an even deeper, richer, more personal love relationship with Him the more time we spend in it. Because by doing so, we are spending more time with HIM.

He in us. Us in Him.

***

Today I challenge you, just as I do myself: If you are lost, confused, sad, lonely, hurt, happy, joyful, looking to praise, learn, seek, draw near, ANY thing…simply ask yourself:

“Whatz the Word?”

What does the Lord share with me about this in His love letter to me? What would He want me to know, feel, understand today? His Word is power – and He wants us to tap into that power. He would not have given it to us otherwise.

“For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

***

Let’s go there. Let’s spend our time there. Let’s live there -in Him.  For in so doing, we draw ever closer to Him. Our Mighty, Our Wondrous, and Our Loving God.

Romans 15:4 ~ “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

***

via Jessica Birkelo

via Jessica Birkelo

I

Keep Looking

“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV

Of course, this is true – it’s in the inspired word of God. Yet, as I prayed for God to lift the burden of all I discussed yesterday, and help me to get back to a focus on Him and others ( ug, such selfishness I was wallowing in yesterday!), I knew He wanted to lead me to something else in His word as well. So I kept looking. And I kept praying.

Here is one of the places He took me….

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

He’s waiting expectantly, this little boy. He knows He must live by faith, but that doesn’t mean He has to stop looking. As long as He looks because He believes, he is still living not just by sight, but by faith. AND….with joyful anticipation and delight in the hope of Jesus and His return!

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Today, I reflect on the fact that I believe in Him. I have faith in Him. I trust in Him. And I love Him.

This is my prayer for you as well: That you will keep looking – with joyful anticipaton and expectation. We can live by faith, not by sight and keep looking all at the same time. That is what He reassured me of last night. He is risen – and He is coming back one day!

Until then, we can look while we hold Him close and He lives through and within us – what an absolute blessing, indeed. Be blessed today. Bask in this along with me today.

Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

:…….while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our
great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Titus 2:13 NLT

Via FreeChristian Images.Net

Via FreeChristian Images.Net

Dude looks like a Maybe

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I used to think my belief in Jesus should be kept private overall. Stepping on people’s toes by talking about Him? Well, that’s just not appetizing to everyone we come into contact with in life.

I didn’t want to be rejected or considered a Jesus Freak, for one. Secondly, I didn’t want to make people feel uncomfortable by talking about my Savior because, well…I just really liked their approval of me so much. If people aren’t comfortable with you, they don’t want to hang out with you either, so fear of being alone and shunned played into my reserved nature about sharing Christ with others as well.

Bottom Line? No matter which way you cut it…..I was ashamed of my belief in Jesus. 😦

I no longer feel this way. and I will no longer act this way.  I now see why, when truly making Christ the center of our lives, we can’t help but to want to cry out “rejoice in the Lord, I say rejoice!” (Phil 4:4)  I not only have a different outlook about being bold for Jesus, but I am finding He is giving me what I need in order to actually act upon that and proclaim His name loudly.

A big part of how He is helping me has been through growing my heart –  love – a true and genuine love for others. I never thought I’d see the day that I would have even a smidge of that kind of love in my creaky heart. I’m talking about the REAL stuff here – the TRUE kind of love that can only come from what God can fill us with through the Holy Spirit and His grace. Only His kind of love is sufficient. Only He can give it to us. And He has plenty of it to go around.

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It’s so crucial to make sure that we truly do reflect the light of Jesus and His love in unmistakable ways in our world. When there’s so much darkness around to contend with, the lights need to be turned on full force. If we look to Jesus and the way he approached people when he walked on the soil of this earth, we can see pretty clearly that His concern was not as to whether or not speaking the truth would be an imposition to others and their comfort level. At the same time, He spoke the truth in love, didn’t He? He pierced the darkness then and He still does so now, without question.

I think some of the problem is that we can often forget about the importance of that love part.  Part of being loving is being honest. I’m not talking about the kind of “honest” that people like to hide behind in order to just say whatever they want to say or do whatever they want to do – that’s actually called “no tact”, and can be quite heartless. But I am talking about the kind of honest in which we speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – His truth, in love – and then we leave others to decide for themselves how they feel about it and what they are, or aren’t going to do with that.That’s a decision that only that individual person can make.

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I thought a lot today about the days Jesus walked as a man on this earth; He walked and loved amongst men and women that sometimes cried out to Him for help and love and healing and He did the same with those who decided otherwise; they decided instead to mock Him, chastise Him, beat, spit upon, berate, ostracize, and eventually crucify Him. I wondered about how He looked as He moved amongst these people – these souls who were just like we are today?  Did He ever look confused or not sure of the truth? Did He ever look like He might love them today only to turn against them tomorrow? Did He ever portray a lack of fairness, compassion, mercy, or forgiveness?

No. Not even during His darkest hours. Jesus doesn’t withhold honest. And He doesn’t withhold love. But did this ever bother Him? Was He ever………………..

Sad?

  • “Jesus Wept”. John 11:35

Angry?

  • “And he [Jesus] said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to  do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at  them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was  restored.” Mark: 3:4,5

Sorrowful?

  • “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

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Our feelings can be maybe’s sometimes, but there is no maybe involved when it comes to Jesus and all He offers us – all the love He has for us – all that He was and is willing to do to save us from an eternal life apart from Him and the Father when He allowed Himself to be sacrificed on that cross. There is no maybe that He is risen, that He loves sinners, that only He can save us, and that He doesn’t want for one single soul to be lost to Him. There is no maybe with Jesus.

Should my life reflect any maybe’s then, in relation to professing my faith? Doing so would be akin to a slap in the face in light of all that He did for me, don’t you think? I owe it all to Him. And then some.

And like the twelve, I know I am soooooo very flawed, and I will fail when I operate in my own strength. Jesus was betrayed and denied by His very own, and He knew that He would be. So I pray all the time that He will give me the power and the faithfulness and the love for Him I need to never, ever back down and never, ever intentionally fail Him……to be willing and privileged to stand strong for Him until the very end. Because to say He deserves that from me? Well, that is a grand understatement if you ask me.

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I tried to imagine how those disciples of His all looked, acted, and spoke as they went out amongst the nations, professing that Christ is risen…that He is Lord…that we can only be saved by Him and through Him. Although these men of God had very different styles and personalities and approaches, Jesus made it abundantly clear they were to be unmistakably His and to make that known – to spread the gospel to others, no matter what the circumstances – no matter what the cost – and to do so with absolute and total reckless abandon. Aside from Judas, they did so, even to their deaths. They did so with no probably’s in the view – they did so emphatically, faithfully, and uncompromisingly. Those dudes? They weren’t maybe’s any longer. They were Jesus honest. They showed Jesus love.

I don’t want to be a maybe either. When people interact with me, I don’t want them to have any question that Jesus is my Savior and lives in me – that He is the absolute center of my life. As I mentioned, we really just can no longer afford to shine dimly in this world – and really, could we ever? Haven’t we seen this with our very own eyes?  People need to know, with no shadow of a doubt what we believe and why we believe it if we are followers of Jesus Christ. They need to know how badly we want to share this beautiful gift with them. They need to know He is alive, and that He loves them. They need to know they are invited. And they need to know with no doubt of any kind overshadowing that truth – that His love and the salvation He offers to us is the greatest gift of all.

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It’s not even about what I believe in – it’s about who I believe in! We have to have the Spirit of God living within us to reflect that clearly and boldly to the world. No action on our part could ever do it brightly enough or could ever be adequate. So that means I can’t approach my personal walk with the Lord as a maybe either. I have seen enough to be fully convinced that the Spirit grows and grows and bursts forth only when we seek diligently, dedicate the time and energy to spending time with our Savior, and allow Him and seek for Him to grow us through our obedience and desire to know Him more and more each day.

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So for me, maybe is definitely not where it’s at. I’m all the way in. I hope it shows to the world and the people I come into contact with each and every single day. I don’t want to be the dude who looks like I might be a follower of Christ at all. I want them to see Him in me in an unmistakable way. Because I want to show them Jesus love. I want to worship my Savior through this. I want for Him, through me, to bring glory to His name.

This dude – dude-ette? – She’s an emphatic and absolute “yes.” And “maybe” is a definite and total “NO”.

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.
But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:8

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is
faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

“Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day”.  Psalm 96:2

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**All images in this post used with permission from CreationSwap.com – no attribution required or desired.

Upon this Rock.com

Upon this Rock.com

Neediness Nudges

White Chrysanthemum

Today I need.

I was thinking all day long about the fact that it is good to know that we need the help of our Savior, isn’t it?  And yet, I continue to have things come up in which I realize I am not relying upon Him to meet those needs like I should.

It’s so difficult to remember that we are always in need! The enemy, working through just our personality, circumstances, or messaging from the world, can often deceive us into thinking that we are okay – that we don’t need any help – and that in fact, self-sufficiency is what we should strive for in life. Lies!

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I like freedom – but I have come to realize that a need to feel in control is not only an illusion in regard to liberty and freedom, but a very deceitful ruse as well.  It’s a deadly trap. It’s an ambush. Self-reliance is not true freedom at all. It’s utter slavery.

We can fall into this web of lies so easily, and I will be the first to admit that I struggle immensely in this area. Sometimes, if I really look to the root of it, I start to become self-sufficient out of fear. Other times, it’s due to an underlying pride of sorts, a false idol of it’s very own! And then there’s just plain selfishness. That ugly, icky, dirty selfishness. I guess that’s not too “plain.” But all of it is then laced up and covered with a nice little layer of “goodness” on top. That’s what makes it so deceptive – it’s just a pretty little weed.

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The moment we forget our need for Jesus, we are beginning to spiral out of control whether we recognize it or not. Isn’t it ironic that the more self-sufficient we think that we are, the more deep (up to our necks, actually) in need we truly are? By the time we do figure it all out, we are in danger of drowning. And this happens over and over again. Sometimes, I figure out the trickery that has been going on in one area, only to find there are three others that have piggybacked right on top of the original one. It’s exhausting!

But, lest you think I am in a mode of self-condemnation, fear not, my dear friends. I realize that, thankfully, and ever-so graciously, the Lord can handle things for me if I can simply remember to surrender – daily. Second by second. I am asking for His help with this, because I clearly do not have a good memory. 🙂

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See, He wants to be there for us from the very beginning – to lean upon, to help, to guide and direct, to answer, and to fulfill. He wants for us to realize that we need him all of the time, not just when we perceive troubled waters and storms on the way. So often in life, I have waited until I am in the middle of the hurricane before I even think to call upon Him. You would think I would learn my lesson from these near death experiences, but stubbornness and sin breeds more, well…….. stubborn sin! But even when I mess up, and don’t call as I should have right away, He is there for me – every single time.

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So, neediness nudges us closer to Jesus doesn’t it? I often wish I could manage to truly remember my need without having to be reminded through stupid mistakes and things that show up to reflect my lack of faith. But then, that’s just me trying again to be something that I am not – not on my own, at least.

Today I need. And today I know it. Today, I remember. And I am thankful for the nudge.

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Guess what else? We are being nudged closer and closer to that day, friends of mine; that glorious day when we don’t have so many wimpy, shallow little needs. That day when we will see no more weeping,  no more crying, no more shame or violence or hatred. That day when we will not battle with the mind and the flesh. That day where we will get to live within His presence and light constantly, never overshadowed by the sin of self-sufficiency or anything else for that matter. That day where we only will be focused upon basking within His light and love, not the muck and quicksand of self  here on this earth. It will all be about worship, of Him, our One and Only, the Mighty One. Great is the Lord!

I guess, if we really think about it, every breath we take moves us one step closer to that glorious day – the one that will last forever and evermore. That’s why Jesus did what He did for us – to give us the Blessed Hope – that we will reign with Him in His kingdom forever and ever some day! I can’t wait.

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Let’s wallow in that promise instead of the muck and mire of self, shall we? Let’s listen and wait upon the Lord and revel in the nudges when we feel them within us. Let’s embrace our need for a Savior, and look forward with delight to that day in which we can continue to sing His praises, rest in His ever-present light and warm arms, and never, ever, need nudging again.

For today, I still need.

How about you?

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“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16: 23-24

 

All Images in this Post Used with Permission from Microsoft Office

Flabby or Soft?

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds (Photo credit: epSos.de)

So, I backed off a little bit on my exercise this last month or two – I decided to scale it down a little to give a muscle I had injured some time to heal. That muscle definitelly started to feel better, but the rest of me does NOT. So, that’s over now and it’s time to get back to work!

Anyway, what I have noticed is that although I still worked out about three or four times per week, I kind of let other things go too – I ate more chocolate (which I have always indulged in, but I in-DULGED!), allowed myself more treats (like torilla chips – yum!) AND didn’t do a very good job about my water and green tea intake (which is VERY important for me to not be a slacker about!).

I did a wonderful job of backing off!

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See, I am kind of one of those really interesting types who doesn’t really give stuff like that my personal best if I am not going at it pretty much full-force. Some might say that means I am an extremist, and I guess in some ways, I am. Honestly, I think it’s because I know myself pretty well – I am a slacker at  “heart ” (tee hee) and if I don’t stay focused, I can lose it pretty quickly. Sad, but true.

I think the Lord tells us, when we are seeking Him, when it is to our benefit and within His will to be extreme. For example, I believe in being an absolute and total follower of Christ – a overboard, ultra-committed, way-out-there-on-fire-for-Him full on disciple! I am a Jesus Freak and I am not ashamed to say it.

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I also find that I fall into the category of being “extreme” by the world’s standards when it comes to how much I actually find that I need to exercise to stay fit. The world likes to tell us that three to four thirty minute sessions a week is just fine. But it definitely is not for me!  I lead a pretty sedentary life during the week – I have a customer service job, I blog and do a lot of computer work, and I sleep during the day as I work at night. Sure, I have errands and housework to do, but those things do not keep me fit at all ( I know some women who swear by it, but I am not one of them – it just doesn’t do enough for me – never has, never will).

Anyway, I digress. What I really meant to talk about was that I noticed that although I am not into a different size of clothing, or haven’t really gained a ton of weight (maybe five pounds, but I am not getting on that scale, no siree!) that everything has just gone – well, kind of “soft”, since I took this little “break.”  Gummies, anyone?

Hearts and Candy

Hearts and Candy (Photo credit: Rdoke)

After working for a couple of years to lose a lot of weight the healthy way, I am not about to allow that to get out of hand again – God really helped me through that endeavor and I don’t want to blow it after all of the grace He threw my way.

And soft, in this sense really isn’t just “soft”, is it? Let’s be honest; it’s just plain “flabby.” And flab is baaaaaddddd.

Yes, flab is bad, both physically and spiritually. It causes heart disease, makes one lethargic, can lead to depression, anxiety, and a whole bunch of other things that are not what I would categorize as good. One then becomes a slave to their poor health, rather than spending time focusing on the good things – like Jesus, family, friends, and enjoyment of all the blessings that God has placed around us. Like this coffee, for example!

Cappuccino with heart

Cappuccino with heart (Photo credit: litlnemo)

Uh-hem….hold the whipped cream please.  Smile.

So, let’s just assume that flabby is not okay. At least it isn’t for me.

BUT, soft is a different thing altogether. I have really been praying that Jesus would soften my hard heart and He is starting to work on me in that area. Not even a year ago, I just felt like my heart was icy in a lot of areas – especially towards people. I knew this wasn’t good and that I needed to ask God to soften it up – give me HIS heart – HIS kind of love to feel and show to others. I was scared to pray for this, let me tell you! And I still need a lot of help from Him – every single day (I always will, because I NEED Him). But, He has shown me, as He has chipped away at the black ice that had built up inside of me, that it is definitely rewarding to live with a softened heart. It’s starting to melt!

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Heart outtake (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

You know, I was just thinking about that difference between flabby and soft in relation to the living Spirit of God. When we are flabby, we can’t zip up our jeans the same way, things are more restrictive and tight, stuff just jiggles around and has no order to it – it is just chaotic and irritating. But when we are just a bit soft hearted, well, to me, that would be a better kind of place to live in than inside of a hard heart – because God is just so big, so vast, so without limits, He needs our hearts to be pliable – moldable to Him – movable – flexible, and certainly not rigid.

When I was a young girl, I cared about practically everyone – I would cry for others at the drop of a hat. Although that isn’t a terrible thing, when I look back on it now, I see that my motivations and intentions weren’t really pure. Sometimes it was because I truly did care about and love others. But other times, it was just because I got a sense of identity, acceptance, or satisfaction about being that care taker. That was not a soft heart, but a flabby one.

So I have been to both places, my friends. I have had the flab-ridden heart and the heart of a black iceberg – neither one is fun, and neither one is the heart of Jesus.

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As good as heart can wish (Photo credit: harold.lloyd)

I am grateful that my Savior is finally starting to soften up that heart but keep the flab out too. I know that it will be a process and look forward to him proceeding at whatever rate of speed He deems as good. I have yielded to Him and plan to continue to do so, as I know He has a lot of work to do inside there. He has taken away my fear, allowed me to embrace vulnerability once again, and reassured me that soft as it is becoming, He will not allow it to be pierced without His permission or protection.

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Isn’t it wonderful to yield ourselves to our Lord and Savior?

I have always loved hearts and what they symbolize – but now, I love them for what they always should have represented first and foremost in my life – I love hearts because they remind me of Jesus and HIS love for all of us. I love hearts because although at times they are broken, He can repair them and remind us of His wonderful power and grace. And I love that He fills mine up with all of Himself and keeps making it softer and softer by the day.

I love hearts. And I love soft.

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Thank you Jesus for living in mine.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you
your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26