Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Lord is Trustworthy - A Prayer

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7

Thank You for being trustworthy. I praise You and lift up Your holy name to be honored and glorified throughout the earth. Thank You for being a loving guide. Your love, wisdom, grace, and mercy go beyond my comprehension. Your faithfulness abounds. Your shelter and protection never fail. Let me never forget who You are. Continue to teach me more about You. Forgive me when I allow other things to pull my gaze off of You and distract me from the details of Your plan for my life. Help me to not trust in or act based on my own understanding. Forgive me when I don't acknowledge You. You alone are worthy of all praise! Give me the strength to turn away from all evil. Let it not get as much as a toe-hold in my life. Let me not compromise or be complacent. Help me to be committed to the things You've called me to do and love well those You place in my life. Let every day of my life be filled with service and love.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Closer Walk

Do you ever feel like there's something holding you back from a closer walk with the Lord? I think everyone I know on the journey of faith has felt a barrier at some point. I most certainly have.

As I've moved along my journey, I've seen a variety of things inhibit digging deeper in my faith, growing more mature, and becoming more intimate with Jesus. One of those things is our very own sin. Another can be life challenges. Ignorance of Biblical truth is yet another. And one that I've noticed more and more is deceptions:

* About what the Bible actually says
* About who God really is
* About our standing without faith
* About what faith adds to our lives
* About how our relationship with God is to impact our lives

When we're talking about eternity, these things are essential. Yet, even those of us who have entered into a relationship with God through faith in Jesus can also be deceived and robbed of an authentic, vibrant, abundant life here on earth. We can also miss the great blessing of sharing the gospel with and seeing others come to faith.

This particular adventure and endeavor is to tackle many of the myths that Christians have integrated into our thinking. These myths negatively affect our faith walk and by busting them, we will also bust down barriers to drawing deeper in our relationship with the Lord.

A bit scary, but better than the best roller coaster or vacation in the world, it will lead to peace, joy, and transformation that will outshine the sun.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

God and Your Journey

One thing that I absolutely love about social media is the opportunities to access encouragement throughout the day. I know it depends on who your friends are, but I have very strategically placed almost all positive people in my social media sphere. And it benefits me greatly!

However, once in a while I come across a saying or platitude that's meant to encourage but in reality drives me crazy. This is usually because it's not grounded in biblical truth. It may sound good, make us feel good, but if it isn't based on scripture (accurately), it's worthless and may even be damaging.

I came across one of these sayings today. Someone posted something to the effect of: "Don't forget, God is with you on your journey."

This sounds so encouraging! But it fosters a wedge between us and God. It is based on the premise that the journey is ours and God's just hanging out, along for the ride. Yet that's not His greatest desire for us. Or what's best for us.

His best for us is for us to be completely and totally surrendered to His will. He wants to be the guide on our journey, not the passenger. And wouldn't we want the all-knowing, perfectly-loving, ever-faithful Lord to lay out our steps for us? 

So, yes, God is with you! But not for your journey. He is with you to lead you into a life beyond what you could imagine or steer yourself into on your own.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Is God Enough?

Have you ever asked the question: "Is God enough?"
My first reaction to this question is: "Of course He is!"
However, every time I choose my own way instead of surrendering to His way, my actions show that I'm not really sure God's enough.

     * Is He really enough to carry my pain?
     * Is He really enough to change my loved ones?
     * Is He really enough to be in charge of how I spend every minute of every day?
     * Is He really enough to lead me right every time, all the time?
     * Does He love enough?
     * Is He good enough?

The resounding answer is YES! Of course He is!!
So why is it so hard to surrender to Him?

Oh, if only I had an easy answer. But after focusing on surrendering to God for years now, I have found out that it is much more complex than I ever thought. I've also discovered that the more I desire to surrender, the more my selfish, self-centered, self-gratification-seeking flesh fights it. I have fed my flesh too regularly and that's why it rears its ugly head.

I'm reminded of Paul's lament about his struggle with the war between the flesh and the Spirit:

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. ~Romans 7:19-21

I'm relieved that I am not alone. The struggle (the most intense, impactful) is real. God knows. And He has provided a way out. The way is to know Him, rely on Him, trust Him, and obey Him.
I know I'll never do any of these perfectly, but God has provided a way to release me from the trap of sin through His Son Jesus (Romans 7:24).
I am free to surrender to Him. Or I can stay trapped in the slavery of sin, even though He's given me the key to let myself out.
So today my prayer is that I will get it from my head to my spirit that God is enough. 
For everything.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dear Broken Heart

Dear Broken Heart,

You were once untouched. Unblemished. Pure, like the snow-white lamb with her super soft wool and silky bow. But you, like her, refused to remain on a shelf to watch life pass you by. To be an observer only. If you had, you'd have stayed pure. Unblemished. 
Untouched. Untouched by life. By laughter. By love.

Instead, you were dragged along the adventure of life. Dragged through play dates and arguments. Outside in the sunshine and rain. Cuddled with at night and rubbed thin. Wrapped around a finger too tightly and forever changed to get loose.

You were washed, like the little lamb. She with soap and water, you with blood of The Lamb. But never to be pure again. Unblemished. Untouched. Not here, anyhow.

You, like her, are no less loved, however. With your smudges  and bruises. With your stitches and scars. With your tattered threads and cracks. 

You are just as loved. More so, even.

You were loved enough not to be placed on a shelf, for without being dragged through life, you'd have missed out on all the good. The laughter. The excitement. The joy. You were loved enough to be bought, cherished, brought along on the journey of life.

So, Dear Broken Heart, don't hold on to the injuries. The hurts. The "imperfections." Instead, cling to the Healer. The Father. The Lover. For He has been with you every step of the way, holding you tenderly, even more so than those little growing hands which loved, caressed, and brought along that little lamb.

He is the Lamb who loves with a perfect love. An everlasting love. Aimed right at you. Bruises, scars, cracks, and all.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 36:7

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Perfect Day

Several years ago I read the book The Cure for the "Perfect" Life. There's a huge amount of information in it! I found it so very relevant to me and my life. Some lessons I already had learned and put into practice. Some lessons I'd learned previously and needed a reminder of. Some new lessons that are a nudge to deeper greater growth. 

Here's a reposting of how God used it in my life:

It's rich beyond many books I've read. And practical. It doesn't give you a bunch of information and leave you wondering what to do with it. It gives you lots of ideas to implement and steps to take to both bless your journey and grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord.

I highly recommend it.

I'd also like to share just a sampling of how God's used it with me this morning. My book has been sitting on the shelf for a week or more, unfinished. I had a few things to take care of (writing deadlines, laundry, procrastination...). Last night I decided to finish those last three chapters. And I did. (Yay!) In one of them, Cheri or Kathi included a quote from a devotion in Sarah Young's Jesus Calling. This morning I got up and as part of my quiet time read today's devotion (something I do regularly, but not every day). Imagine my surprise when I read the exact devotion quoted in the chapter I read just last night! And with that, God reminded me that: 
His timing is always perfect and He is in all the details

Once again, He reinforced what I already know: my job is to trust in, rely on, cling to, and obey Him. If I simply seek His face and follow His guidance, He will lead me perfectly. I don't have to be perfect. There's a lot going on in my world at the moment that's up in the air (waiting for a lot of answers that will come in the next week and month that could change SO much in my life!), but today, all I have to do is rest in His love and let that overflow in my obedience. 

Praising Him that today I don't have to stress about a single thing. I do have work to do, but He will strengthen me for everything He's called me to do. What a great way to start the day. Now to start every day from here on out like this...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Looking Ahead

One morning I got up early, trying to get back into a routine. I passed by the exercise videos to take a walk in the brisk but refreshing 45 degree morning. And what a treat it was! The sky still pitch black, but clear as could be and dotted with hundreds of stars visible to the eye. It was truly wondrous. A sight to behold.

Eventually, though, I drew my eyes away from the early morning sky and focused on getting down to business: making it around the about two mile loop as quickly as possible. Now, one thing was different about this morning. I'd brought a flashlight with me. Not a necessary item in the summer months, but as the days draw shorter and night still has it's hold on my piece of the world I thought it'd be a good idea to help navigate and be seen in the areas without lights.

What I noticed as I walked along, is that I tended to focus on the ground right in front of me, the illuminated ground. Usually, I maintained my gaze up ahead, searching, watching, judging what would come next. And this is what I came up with:

When we rely on ourselves, we spend a lot more effort trying to predict what's ahead. We plan, we conjecture, we strain to see. Now, not that planning's a bad thing - it's necessary for many things. But, God doesn't want us to live in all that hard work of our self-guidance. Instead, He desires we rely completely on Him, only glancing at the path immediately in front of us, which He promises to illuminate.

That's surrender, trusting that God has our best interest at heart and will not lead us astray. Even when times are tough, He will guide and lead us, offering comfort and peace beyond human comprehension. Not having to know the future, not straining to see what He'll have in store for us, but letting go and resting in the confidence that God is our Guide, even to the end. {Psalm 48:14}