Thursday, April 17, 2014

Making Me New

My devotional for today, Maundy Thursday, is very encouraging.

The title is, "Prayer in the Hour of Despair," and it talks of Jesus' time in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and crucifixion.

The author, Winn Collier, points out that Jesus was in a garden, just like Adam and Eve were. But unlike they, He did not bow to temptation. He overcame. He pressed on and did what God told Him to do. He did not fail.

Yet, in spite of His glorious obedience, Jesus felt despair.

Despair doesn't mean failure.

I needed to know that today. I needed to be reminded that He knows exactly how I feel. Just like Hebrews 4:15 says: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin," (Hebrews 4:15 NASB).

 Jesus did what needed to be done, in order to make all things new. Including me.

And in doing so, he went through things that make Him an expert on despair and suffering and abandonment. He can relate to any hurt you are feeling.

If you are hurting, reach out to Him.

He is making me new. And He'll do the same for you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Living No Condemnation

I'm sure you have heard the story in Matthew 14:22-33, about Peter being in a boat, with the other disciples, and things get stormy.

Here's a summary:

In the wee hours of the morning, they see Jesus coming to them on the water, but they think it's a ghost. Jesus told them not to be afraid, "It is I."

Peter tells Jesus, if it's really Him, to call him out on the water with Him. Jesus calls, Peter comes, and after walking on water he becomes afraid and sinks.

Right when he begins to sink, Peter cries out, "Lord, save me!"

And, in verse 31, it says "immediately, Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him," and also rebukes him for not having faith and doubting.

Next, they are in the boat, and everyone worshiped Jesus.

I watched a sermon today by Judah Smith. The video is below, if you care to take the time to watch it yourself (and I highly recommend that you do so). In this sermon, among other things, Judah talks about Romans 8:1, which says:

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Yes, we've all memorized this verse and recited it to others and used it to beat ourselves over the head with the truth when we are mired in a sinful or shameful situation. But it is amazing, when you truly think about it, what this "no condemnation" means.

We are without God's disapproval and we are without His punishment.

Understanding that we are without both of these is important. We may know and believe we are saved and will spend eternity in Heaven. But it isn't just in eternity that God desires for us to enjoy unfettered fellowship with Him.

He loves and accepts and does not condemn us right now.

Peter, for all his bumbling, did not wallow in condemnation. He was rebuked by the mouth of Jesus, but then immediately praised Him.

How different would we live our lives, if instead of wallowing in self-pity and regret, we turned immediately to Jesus and began to worship Him and to revel in the amazing grace that has saved and restored and redeemed our relationship with our Father in heaven?

What if, instead of trying to "process" our feelings about ourselves, we focused on the Father? What if we live like we truly believe that we are not condemned, in ANY way?

How would that look?

Linking with others for:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

You Want a Peace of Me?

In a previous post, I wrote about the need for having boundaries, or "building walls," in order to protect yourself in relationships.

Not walls that prevent good communication, but boundaries that keep communication flowing in a healthy way. Sort of like speed bumps, so you don't get run over by those who like to control things.

Sometimes, I avoid dealing with boundaries because I don't like conflict. Instead of doing something about the issues, I just pretend they don't bother me.

Part of the reason I have done this is because I (consciously or unconsciously) believe that it is important not to have strife. Because Christians aren't supposed to argue, right? You know, blessed are the peacemakers?

Ken Sande talks about this very thing in his book, "Resolving Everyday Conflict."

The author says avoiding strife, for the sake of avoiding it, isn't peacemaking, it's peace-faking.

That struck a nerve with me because I have kept quiet and feigned indifference or blew off the notion that I was hurt or offended—even though I was—simply because I didn't want the stress of an inevitable argument. 

Conversely, I have stomped into a situation and all over the other person, determined to be heard and for her to know how very, very wrong she was for what she did or said to me. The author calls that peace-breaking.

The word peace has two definitions:

  1. freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
  2. freedom from or the cessation of war or violence. 

When Jesus promises us peace that surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7), I do not believe He meant that our lives will be filled with Pollyanna perfection and no feathers would ever be ruffled.

Can we fully exercise our faith in God and apply the principles in the Bible, if our lives are free from disturbance, always tranquil? Who needs faith to live that way? It's a piece of cake.

Rather, I believe the second definition is what he promises us, from an internal perspective. He will give us a peace that keeps us from feeling undone in the face of trouble. 

Jesus gives us a ridiculous, no-one-can-understand-it peace that makes people puzzled when we are calm in the midst of the storms of life. And it only comes by the power of God. We cannot conjure it up. We cannot fake it.

As Ken Sande points out,"Our problem isn't knowing the right thing to do, but having the power to do it. (pg 25). He goes on to say:

"If we forget the gospel is for now—for sins we struggle with today, for areas where we still want to grow, for relationships that are broken—then we miss the rich treasure that belongs to us in Christ...Through the gospel we enter a journey to become more like Christ. The Lord continually works in our lives to change us into his image. Among other things, he constantly works in us to change how we deal with conflict."
 After all, Jesus Himself said:

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another," (John 13:35 NASB).

What about you? How do you handle conflict? Do you struggle with being a peace-faker, or a peace-breaker?

Linking with others for
Missional Women

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Paint {link up}

Today is a writing day where the inner editor doesn't get a say, a day when I can be spontaneous and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about how I write.

Today, it is writing for fun, for the joy of putting words on the screen. Letting creativity run amok for five minutes, while grammar and punctuation stand on the sidelines and smirk.


Sound like fun? Please join in. Click here to find out the details.

Today's prompt is: PAINT

Paint People

We rage and we cry and we despair in the midst of our pain, wondering what good can possibly come of it.

We wonder if God knows what He is doing, allowing us to trek through this barren way, this desert where we feel deserted.

Our pain is ugly and it can be fierce. It may be quiet, but it is still raw. We feel it, even if it doesn't look so much like pain on the surface.

What does God do? He says Trust Me. Trust. Me.  

I Am.

I Am in control.

I Am near, even when you don't feel Me.

Trust Me.

And He takes our Trust and caps our PAIN with a T and turns it into PAINT that he uses to turn ashes into beauty.

It is something only the master artist can do.
And oh, how wonderful it is!

Linking with others for:
Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Keeping An Open Eye

Fire Eye

 Burglars are afoot in my town. Just a few weeks ago, a neighbor of mine had her back door kicked in and several thousand dollars worth of valuables were taken from her home. The thieves had been lurking around her home for a while, leaving footprints in the snow, before finally breaking in while no one was home.

Apparently, there have been over sixty burglaries in our area over the last few months. Our cars were unlocked last summer, and we had a GPS and phone taken, along with some other miscellaneous stuff. But we didn't know doors were being kicked in.

We've inadvertently left our garage door open over night. More than once. Obviously, we were far more careless in doing so than we imagined.

Even though it is creepy that people are breaking into houses and stealing things, it is far worse that I allow the devil, the thief, to steal from me.

Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, " (John 10:10.)

My eyes are easily distracted by what I see in front of me—the messy house, the piles of laundry, the calendar full of things to do—and instead of keeping a watch out for my enemy, I get bogged down.

Meanwhile, he is free to steal my joy, my peace, and he openly robs me of my sense of hope and security. I practically hand it to him the way I dismiss a child asking me for a cookie while I'm talking on the phone to someone.

In a devotional I read today, the late David Wilkerson wrote:

"In our most trying times, we are faced with a choice. We either must trust God with our life and future, or we must charge him with willful negligence."
I am not about to charge God with willfully neglecting me. He is God. He is Sovereign. He knows what He is doing.

No matter how fiery my trial, if my eyes are fixed on Him, then I will be protected, just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, when they were cast into the furnace for not worshipping the golden idol of Nebuchadnezzar. 

If my focus is on Jesus, then my witness through the "flames" will cause others to cry out, like Nebuchadnezzar, "Look! I see. . ."

 Linking with others for:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eye Am Uncomfortable

Red is my favorite color, but not in my eye. In keeping with the theme of my "One Word" for 2014,  I hurt my eye this past Sunday morning.

Not intentionally, of course. I was pulling a shirt off of its hanger, and the hanger jumped off the clothes rack and poked me in the eye. My closet is dimly lit, so it gave me a good jab before I knew what hit me.

The doctor said I didn't hurt my eye on the inside, which is what I worried about. It's just superficial. A contusion, he said.  (My kids just keep saying, "Eeww...")

Maybe God wants me to consider where my focus is?

Not sure.

Regardless, I'm trying to keep my focus on what is true, not on how I feel. Because when I focus on how I feel I tend to get dramatic (shocking revelation to those who know me, I'm sure), and then my feelings inflate the reality of what I'm going through, and that makes everything seem more overwhelming than it needs to be.

I wish it didn't take a poke in the eye and other such painful things in order for me to see more clearly. But I am thankful that my God will give me whatever I need in order to be in His will.

Including a poke in the eye.

Linking up with others for:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nominated for A Blog Award. How Nice!

My friend, Jessica, at Redeeming the Home, nominated me for this award. Like she mentions in her nomination post, I also have never heard of it before. Until now. (Thank you, Jessica. I feel so in-the-know now.)

The Liebster award is passed around to help connect readers to blogs and hopefully increase readership.

Part 1:  The first part of this award involves thanking your nominator, and then answering questions that he or she asks you.

Part 2: Then you nominate some other blog friends and ask them some questions. And on and on. Sort of like a blog chain letter. Only you (hopefully) get more readers instead of lots of letters in the mail.

(I like getting letters in the mail, so you can send me one, if you care to. :)

Part 1: 

1.  Why do you blog?

I blog because I enjoy writing and this is a way to do it sporadically, since that's all I can manage right now. It also is a less scary way to write, since you don't necessarily get feedback from anyone. I don't like criticism. I get enough of it from my own inner editor.

2. If you could turn any hobby into a full time career, what would it be?

Um, writing. And that might actually happen, if I overcome the fear of rejection and actually send out queries.

3.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love France, so if I could live in some beautiful stone cottage in a flower infested area and meander through antique shops all day, that would be wonderful. (And also incredibly irresponsible, so this will never happen.)

4. What horrible, fake food do you secretly love?

Wild Cherry Pepsi. That's a drink. But I love it.

5. Greatest achievement?

Although not a solo effort, my greatest achievement is having my children. They amaze me moment by moment.

6. If money were no object, what would you go out and buy tomorrow?

A Land Rover SUV of some sort. I hate driving in bad weather, and I think Land Rovers are cool.

7.  If you had to pick another time period to be born in, what would it be?

Not sure, since I love the comforts of modern society (such a flushing toilets and other sanitary advances). But, I do love the English dramas that tell of society balls and the like. I think that would be far more fun (and real) social interaction than facebook.

8.  Your absolute best quality?

I can write well.

9. If you could go back in time and tell your teenage self one thing, what would it be?

Your body is a wonderful gift meant only to be opened by your husband. You will save yourself immeasurable amounts of grief, if you wait to share it with him only.

10. The best thing about your life right now?

That I know the Savior of the world and He promises never to forsake me, no matter how much I mess things up.

Part 2: 

My nominees

Positive Adoption

The Joyful Home

WV Urban Hippies

Life and Lessons Learned

Everything Beautiful

Random Thoughts

Life In Every Breath

Their Questions to answer:

1.  What is your favorite thing to write about on your blog?

2.  What do you dream about the most?

3. What is your favorite non-fiction book, besides the Bible? Why?

4.  What is your favorite fictional story? Why?

5.  What is your best organizing tip for paper clutter?

6.  What is your ultimate goal for your life?

7.  What is your favorite kid-friendly, easy-to-fix meal that feeds a family?

8.  Are you a structure and routine person, or do you usually feel like you wing it?

9.  What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

10. Which is more important to you: who you are, or what you accomplish?

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