Committed in the Contending

Filtered Through His Hands

Filtered Through His HandsChallenges. Well, we’ve got a few of those don’t we. Recently, I saw a sermon by Pastor Brian Houston from Hillsong Church in Australia, addressing purposeful living. I know for me, if I am going to face, and overcome, these challenges I am going to need to be purposeful. Here are his points, and my two cents, because you weren’t getting out of here without that.

1. I will not be limited by my perception & beliefs. I will let God mold those. One of the greatest battles I have when facing my current, and ongoing it seems, challenges is believing they are always going to be there. I am always going to be this or that. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Those are beliefs and perceptions. They box me in.  They trap me. They enslave me to the challenge. God’s word brings freedom.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NKJV)

2. I refuse to accuse to excuse. My challenges are just that – mine. Whether they are the consequences of decisions I made, decisions someone else made, or they just showed up, as a Christian, I believe that they passed before the eyes of God first. He has seen them. He is watching me to see how I handle them. I could blame people all day long. I could even accuse God Himself of being unfair in handing these to me. Doesn’t change a thing. I am still accountable for how I deal with them. I am the one called to be purposeful in humbling myself before Christ Jesus in them.

Romans 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. (NKJV)

3. I am not looking for exception clauses. It’s easier for her. She doesn’t have to … Well, if I had that then sure I could…. Comparison. Get’s me every time. How ’bout you? How often do I look at the snapshot of someone’s life and think how easy it is for them, completely forgetting that I often Photoshop my own picture to make it look carefree. Bottom line, scripture tells all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), even the girl that looks like she hasn’t. God desires for us all to come repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Forgiveness in Christ is available to all men (Rom. 5:18). God is able to handle, and enable us through the power of the Holy Spirit to handle,  all of our challenges.

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (NKJV)

No exceptions.

4. I will not be guided by my fears. I will not. I will choose faith. I will choose to listen to my Heavenly Father. I will choose to push on, perhaps not knowing the outcome, but trusting Jesus with it. I will not make decisions out of fear. I will seek godly council. I will not be tossed to and fro by my challenges. I will take God at His word.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)

Valid points, don’t you think? Now look, I know (and pray) many of us will read this and have an immediate shift in our attitude. Not because of what I said, or he said, but because of what the Spirit of God is doing within us. I also know that many of us will have to be deliberate about putting these promises before our eyes and into our hearts every day.

God is faithful in both.

May we be found faithful in both.

Committed in the contending.

For we don’t contend alone.

Isaiah 43:26 (NKJV)

Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; …

Rhonda summer

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Brotherly Love – A Sister’s Perspective

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Photo Credit: Katy Roberts Photography

I remember the day my dad was shopping with me for a special dress. We had moved to a new town ahead of the rest of the family, so in a mutual state of neediness in Mom’s absence, I was his escort to a fancy dinner, and he was my shopping buddy.

Standing in the busy department store, I slid the hangers along the metal pole. I would hold one up and check for his initial response. A squinchy nose meant: “don’t even bother”, while raised eyebrows and flattened frown indicated:”perhaps, perhaps!”

I have two distinct memories of that day. The first was what Dad said when I walked out of a dressing room with a colorful tea-length dress on. “Oh, you wear that one well!” My father was always very careful with words. I knew he purposely chose NOT to say what most might, “That dress looks good on you.” He chose to make it about me. “I” wore it well. He complimented me, not the dress.

The second memory is of the conversation that followed. I tried to make a comparison of men to dresses. Some men garnered a “don’t even bother” first impression. While others seemed nice enough at first glance: “Perhaps, perhaps.” And eventually one will be just right for me in that my loveliness is enhanced by the relationship.

Instead of extending the metaphor like usual, Dad offered a bit of a rebuke.

“You just seem to be going about this ‘boy’ business all wrong. Statistically, every male on this planet will ultimately be your friend – a brother of sorts. One special man will be your husband. I see you combating the odds. You treat every guy like he might be your husband, and very few like brothers.”

Wow.

He was right. How many last names had I paired with my first – scripted in cursive on spirals over the years? How often had I allowed my emotions to run rampant and race the relationship across the threshold of healthy friendship?

I thanked Dad for his honesty, but chided him a bit for not offering this age-old advice just a decade or so earlier.

Though I had not yet learned the discipline of treasuring platonic friendships, I had spent my whole life enthusiastically enjoying the company of my three younger brothers. My brothers had always provided the purest source of camaraderie. They would poke fun at me relentlessly, be brutally honest, and then unconditionally committed. They told me they love me… and their kind words, quality time and acts of service lead me to believe them.

Today, 20 years into my relationship with my husband, I see even more clearly the wisdom my Dad shared that day. He was right. Only one man has my heart, but several have my back, so to speak. I thank God for the brothers in my family. And I thank Him for brothers in the faith – these men who are friends of my husband, husbands of my friends, partners in ministry, and worthy opponents in the occasional bout of “Words with Friends”.

How rich an existence with access to such provision and protection!

My husband, Philip, is a loving brother to many. He is a good listener and “king of the side hug”. He has rescued stranded motorists, fixed cars in parking lots … he even removed a snake from a mini-van once! He treats others like he wants to be treated.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  James 1:27

I am not a widow or an orphan, but my dad has been in heaven for 18 years and my husband is sometimes called away to work for weeks at a time. Dads cannot be replaced, but the void of their affection and care can be lessened by a sensitive word or a kind gesture from a Godly man.

I had a pastor, once, who spurred me on and encouraged me just like my dad had always done. “You have a great sense of comedic timing … you should definitely write more.”

One Father’s Day, I sang a solo in church, and an older, portly gentleman, put his arm snugly around my shoulders and tearfully shared what a blessing my song had been and surmised how much my father would have enjoyed it.

Once, while Philip was away, we had a storm blow through that ripped a hole in part of our roof. Philip’s best friend was over at our house immediately, climbing onto the roof and patching it the best he could in the rainy darkness.

Another time my boys – who were preschoolers at the time- were missing their nightly rough-housing with their dad. They had become so rowdy, I could hardly stand it. I took them to the church playground to let off some steam. Our pastor and his family were there also. He purposefully and repetitively threw my boys into piles of leaves and wrestled with them against a mountain of gravel until they were squealing and panting – good and worn. In total relief, I whispered to his wife, “I just can’t rough-house like a Dad can.”

There is an older man in our church who often stops me to look me in the eye and say, “I sure love who you are.” as though he were delivering a message straight from my dad.

My dad appreciated me – no matter the dress I wore or the boy I liked. And he left me a legacy of love and a powerful truth – flowing straight from the Heavenly Father’s will: brotherly kindness.

I want my sons – like so many other Godly men in my life – to be highly skilled at brotherhood. Statistically, every girl on the planet will need them to be her brother. Only one will ultimately be his wife. Godly brotherhood – “unstained by the world” – is a life skill and a relational calling. Men should prepare to serve and protect; and learn how to step in and provide. This is true religion and pure love.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.  1 Peter 1:22

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Meditation on Psalm 28

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Psalm 28

1To you, O LORD, I call;

I utter Your holy name with expectation and fear.

my rock, be not deaf to me,

You are the only One on whom I can stand.  PLEASE hear me.

lest, if you be silent to me,

I become like those who go down to the pit.

Our conversations -made possible through Your Son – are what set me apart from this world.

 

2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,

I cry for mercy…I beg for undeserved grace in my time of need.

when I cry to you for help,

When You are all I have…

when I lift up my hands

toward your most holy sanctuary.

When You are all I want…I surrender.

 

3Do not drag me off with the wicked,

with the workers of evil,

Those who get what they deserve,

who speak peace with their neighbors

while evil is in their hearts.

Those who speak counterfeit words to contradict the fullness of their hearts.

 

4 Give to them according to their work

and according to the evil of their deeds;

Let Your justice reign.

give to them according to the work of their hands;

render them their due reward.

Grant what they desire and deserve.

 

5Because they do not regard the works of the LORD

or the work of his hands,

They don’t acknowledge all You’ve done and all You do.  They give You no glory for creation.

They give You no thought as they go about their fleeting days.

he will tear them down and build them up no more.

Destruction is coming.

 

6Blessed be the LORD!

You are content in Your own holiness and pleased to offer grace.  Worthy of Praise!

For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

You promised You would never leave me!  You promised to answer when I call!

 

7The LORD is my strength and my shield;

When I am weak, Your power sustains and protects me.

in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

Some trust in fame and fortune and safety and self.

I trust in You alone.  You alone are my solution and Savior.

my heart exults,

Everything in me leaps for triumphant joy!

and with my song I give thanks to him.

I will sing a new song…a humble heart and grateful lips are my offering.

 

8The LORD is the strength of his people;

Without Almighty God, we can accomplish nothing.

he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

We can run to You because You are our place of safety.

 

9Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!

Continue to rescue Your children and assign to us Your priceless inheritance!

Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Lead us, guide us, protect us, carry us always for eternity.

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The Game Changer

The Game Changer

Pilate himself asked this question, “What is truth?” in John 18:38.  It was his frustrated retort to Christ’s statement before it. Pilate was caught between–ready to pardon Jesus and yet politically stuck.  You see, the thing about Jesus is this–no matter how strong your armor of resolve may be, Jesus has come to put you face-to-face with this word called TRUTH–and not the word only, but the Person, the One who says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Jesus is the Truth. The Word made flesh. He has come to stand between us and our altered definitions (…like what do you mean by is? What is the definition of is? Thank you, Mr. Clinton, for being a prime example of the legal twistings of definitions to try to get off the hook) and our re-routes to happiness (…happiness that does not last longer than a moment. But I guess we felt secure in our glass house–before the stone was thrown). Jesus has come to defy anyone, who believes they have a corner on truth–for He OWNS it.

Now I am a bit argumentative–stubborn even.  Often, I keep it to myself.  But for this purpose, I cannot. Call me Pollyanna or whatever you may, but I believe all things are possible.  Oh now, you just read that one too quickly.  Go back and digest it. ALL THINGS are POSSIBLE. Taking it even further, I believe that because Jesus is TRUTH, that He can take anything we see with our mortal eyes and take it beyond what the greatest minds and highest experts in the field might say.

For instance, a doctor might say, “This is it.  This is all you can expect of your healing.” But I defy that statement in the name of Jesus.  My Jesus is the one calling all the shots. He makes what seems to be impossible, possible. Perhaps that healing may occur after death, sure–but often, those words seem like a cop-out to me.  That will not stop me from believing that my God, who does things that are TOO HARD for us, is able to change the plan NOW in His way and in His time. He owns that, too and is not limited at all by it!

Honestly, I pray that way.  I pray defying the rulers and authorities and experts.  I pray with respect to these, but believing and knowing that my God is bigger than all their opinions.  Their opinions are just that.  His Word spoken, accomplishes–and makes a way where there was no known way that our eyes could see, minds could conceive or ears could hear.

Because I pray that way, I have seen miracles happen! He is SO VERY WORTHY. I wish we could talk over coffee about them–for they are the sacred things I could never just write here.  Face-to-face with a friend, I could tell you the wonders that my God has done! Even then, I could not give them the justice or HIM the Holiness, which He deserves, with my fallible tongue. He will tell them all one day–and we can only be undone and fall face down in reverence.

So I dare you.  I dare you to say as those three in the fires said (from Daniel 3):

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

Oh now, that adds another element to this game-changer I am talking about…the first is believing that Jesus is the Truth and He defines it.  The second is what these men spoke and how.  They spoke staking their life on the fact that God is not only the Truth, but that He is worthy of all their trust.  And what did God do?  Well, read Daniel 3 and see…God made the impossible, possible.  That is my God–leaving no smell of smoke and no evidence of the flame. Oh joy!

I don’t know what you are facing this day.  But I challenge you to believe that God’s TRUTH cancels out the opinions of the masses.  I challenge you to stake your life on the fact that Jesus is indeed worthy of all your trust.  And finally, I challenge you to rejoice–CELEBRATE!~–over the fact that God is the One, who makes all things possible.  Rejoice in Jesus. Delight in Him!  It is a safe-keeping for you (Philippians 3).

Before I close read these words carefully.  These are the Living Word’s words–the Truth Who spoke to Pilate with a heart of love for him, who was so caught in the trappings of this world.

John 8:37 (The Message)

Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”

Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”

Read it again and then pray with me:

King Jesus, You are the Truth. Help me to recognize Your voice of truth and to hear You.  May I see, as You see.  Help me to conceive how to pray for my impossible situations.  Then, Lord, I ask for you to give me the ability to trust You.  You are Worthy, Lord.  I delight in You.  My heart rejoices in hope!  For You are my Game-Changer.  I thank You, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

With Belief in God for His Possible Answers to all my Impossibles,

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Do You Trust the Author?

Do You trust the Author?

I am an avid reader.  I love a well-woven story…the kind that I can read and re-read, when I feel inclined.

The thing about a good story is this–when I read it, it evokes emotion and transcends the normal everyday thinking that goes on in the on-going, thought conversation of my mind.  Somehow it lifts my thinking to a new plane.  This alone makes good reading.

Even if I disagree with the author, I believe that at least I have given consideration to other modes of thinking.  It is good to revisit those opinions, lining them up to scripture again, and assess whether those opinions I hold are based on truth.

But most of all, I love reading an author, whom I trust.  I am trusting them to weave the story.  Even when all goes wrong, I trust that the author will take that journey and make it an exceptional ride.

Some books I read, and am glad I read them–but will never read again.  Why?  Because in some way, I feel the author has let me down.  They were not trustworthy with my heart.

Then there are those books that are happy in a methodical way, but not stirring beyond the gladness that it ended and ended well (I call these books “Bubble Gum” books–satisfying to chew on until the flavor wears off. Still I like Bubble Gum once in awhile!).

Finally, there are those books, which divert my attention.  I read them slowly, so as not to miss on ounce of goodness.  They are the kinds of books, which I finish and happily sigh, and then I spend the next week thinking about what I loved about that book! These are books I revisit.  They become like dear, old friends to me–worth savoring and worth investing my time again and again.

So as I consider books and how I love them, I especially am riveted by this TRUST in an author.  And of course, it makes me think of God.  For, you see, He is writing our stories.  In our freewill, we are choosing the pathways, for sure.  But also, there is that element of God’s will and purpose for each of our lives. As the Author (and as a Gentleman), God comes in and weaves tales in our lives that are riveting, valuable and praiseworthy–and He lets us choose to accept the way He tells it or not accept it (which is another post altogether about disappointment, bitterness and feeling betrayed).  Some of the stories are quite hard, indeed. Yet, from those stories, He begins to create something marvelous and beyond our comprehension. He makes all things beautiful in their time!

It’s funny, too.  I seem to trust God for YOUR story with greater faith and fervor than I do MY OWN story.  There is something to be said there.  Something worth pausing for a moment and reflecting on WHY that is so.  Perhaps it is our investment in our own story–that we are unwilling to surrender it and distrusting how God might allow it to be woven. We want our names on the byline of the title page, too.  In fact, we want it FIRST.

All these thoughts have been stirring in my mind…and I consider the WHAT IF’s.

What if we surrendered our story to God and let Him write it?

What if we believed with all our hearts that God is really and truly FOR us?

What if we stopped the grumbling and arguing and simply began to rest all our weight upon the fact that this particular Author is also the One, who created us, loves us unconditionally and is unrelenting in His ardent and gentle care?

 

He doesn’t place any of us characters aside with suspicion, prejudice or disfavor.  He knows us intimately.  He weaves wonderfully. He knows the end of the story.

So my challenge for you today is to consider your story–the high-highs and low-lows. Surrender your story to your Abba, who does all things wonderfully and well.

HIS is a story worth re-reading.  Take time today…and be as fervent trusting the LORD with your story, as you do for others.  It’s okay to HOPE for a good ending, because it IS a good ending.

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I Fought the Lau-(ndry) and the Laundry Won

I Fought the Lau-(ndry) and the Laundry Won

I Fought the Lau-(ndry) and the Laundry WonJust added some more laundry detergent to the washer…I am rewashing these same towels for the third time. It’s not because they were so dirty, no. It is because I keep starting to do the laundry–with good intentions–and I get side-tracked for a day or so, then shew-eee, it smells. At least we live in dry Colorado and not mega-humid East Texas. I would have the blackest mold crop in my washing machine, if we still lived there. Ug. Sometimes, the chores get the upper hand on me. And I raise my white flag and surrender to it. It shall never be done.

But I nearly had it complete for the first time in several months a little over a week ago. True story! I had everything folded and put away. Then some syrup found its way to the kitchen rug, and I lost the race, again. Now, I have to climb Mt. Laundry to even get to the washing machine. One week+a family of six+women’s retreat+Bible study+prayer group+over 30 hours of web design work+volunteering at school+ etcetera, etcetera, etcetera = (sing-song-y) I’m getting behind-er, I’m getting behind-er (ala Becky Freeman Johnson).

Interruption: Stopped writing, mid-sentence to get Sydney a snack and move the towels over to the dryer–take that, laundry! Bam! Little steps in the right direction.

But this post is not really about laundry or being busy–no, it is about getting up, fighting back and continuing to fight until the race is finished–all with Jesus. For this life is full of messes and hardships and relational goo, like the syrup on my carpet…and we need a Savior. We need an umbrella from all this deluge of muddy life. We need a Gentle Healer to come and put salve on our wounds and knit us back together stitch by stitch.

For as much as I try to think upon it, I CANNOT do this in my own strength.  There are not enough charts, plans, books, classes or lists that can set me to rights–even with gumption.

For I am Humpty Dumpty, and I have fallen. Only the glue that Jesus applies can restore me, making me firm, steadfast and reliable. He places me safely back on the wall.

For Jesus never forgets me.  He does not, for one instant, forget that I am His treasure–valuable and worth restoring. He washes me white as snow– again and again and again.

I don’t know about you; but sometimes, I just want to give up and let the laundry (ALL of life’s laundry!) have the final say. I lay face-first in the mud and begin to think it is ALL too much, too hard, I M P O S S I B L E.

Then I bring this to mind, I serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who created all that I see. He is VICTOR over the prince of this world, who would like to have sway over me and those I love. Jesus has WON over the enemy, and Jesus will win over those I love.  Then Jesus tells me, I am right.

He says, “Dear Holly, you cannot. But I can.  I am the God, Who makes ALL THINGS POSSIBLE. My Word spoken accomplish-eth ALL that concern-eth you (He often speaks to me in the KJV). Now, Holly, will you join me?  Will you believe me?  Will you take my hand? WE can do this, one day, one believing step at a time. For I say that it IS possible. And I say that you and me, we win–we have already won. Now get up and do the next thing, dear one.”

He is FOR us.  Now who’s getting up with me?

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Delays, Disappointments, and Going Deeper

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Delays and disappointments are common to man.  However, if you are a friend of God delays and disappointments are often gifts from His hand to take us deeper and allow us to be someone through whom He can display His glory.

In John chapter eleven we see this lived out in such an extraordinary way we may miss the implications for our own lives. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were friends of Jesus.  They had a history and were intimate friends.  When their brother, Lazarus, became ill  they sent word to Jesus.  They knew Jesus healed, they had seen Him and they heard the testimonies.  Jesus received that word and this was His reaction,

“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.  When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was.” John 11:5-6

Notice that love motivated His delay.  Love allowed the disappointment. Love allowed the death of Lazarus,  and the devastation to ultimately take them deeper and display His glory.

Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him; but Mary still sat in the house. John 11:20

Martha called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here, and is calling for you.”  And when she heard it, she arose quickly, and was coming to Him. John 11:28-29  When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:31-33 

For those of you who know Mary and Martha’s history it may surprise you that it was Martha and not Mary that instinctively and quickly made her way to Jesus. People may act in unexpected and uncharacteristic ways in crisis. When thrown in prison, the bold and fiery John the Baptist questioned the validity of the One he had previously proclaimed.  Disappointment or disillusionment in the way Jesus allows things to unfold can shake us to our core.

We read that the Jews who were with Mary were comforting her.  The word comfort literally means to “relate near.”  On some basic level just the presence of people who care about us can provide solace, but eventually they go home and we are alone.  We don’t know why Mary didn’t run to meet Jesus but I suspect she was deeply disappointed that Jesus didn’t respond in the way she thought he would. We  don’t know why she didn’t go until Martha told her that He was calling for her.  One of the simplest things we can do for the hurting is to remind them that Jesus is waiting for them to come to Him with their grief and questions.

When Mary got up her comforters presumed she was going to the tomb to weep because that is a very human response.   We visit the grave, we relive the events, we cry, we leave tributes, but I personally have never found consolation in those acts.  But I have, with countless others, reached the place where Jesus is.  It was there at His feet that Mary and Martha released their hurt and disappointment.  It was there at His feet they received a deeper revelation of who He was.  He took them beyond what they already knew.  “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”  Mary and Martha knew Him as healer, but He would take them deeper.  He would show them  that He  is the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Jesus shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Jesus shall never die. John 11:25-26 What a revelation, what a promise, and what an amazing Savior.

We all have our own ways of coping and making it through tough times.  Where do you go when you are wounded, disappointed, or grieving? Mary and Martha went to the place where Jesus was. We too need to get there by faith. Stand on His promise that He is near to the brokenhearted and to those who are crushed in spirit.  He will not fail you.  You may be disappointed because you know what He could have done and didn’t.  But you don’t know what He can do if you trust Him.  When He doesn’t meet our expectations He wants to exceed them.  He will work it for our good and His glory. He wants to take us deeper still. Get to the place where He is.  He is calling for you.

MY PRAYER:  Lord, whatever you allow in our lives is meant to draw us deeper into our understanding and experience of you.  Help us to run to you for the healing and comfort that we need.  Only you can bring life in the midst of brokenness, hurt, and confusion. In Your beautiful name, amen.

 

 

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The Gospel of Rest- the Freedom to Work

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These words from Horatius Bonar speak volumes themselves, so I am going to just let them…

The gospel does not command us to do anything in order to obtain life, but bids us live by that which another has done; and the knowledge of its life-giving truth is not labour but rest – rest of soul – rest which is the root of all true labour; for in receiving Christ we do not work in order to rest, but we rest in order to work.  In believing, we cease to work for pardon, in order that we may work from it;  and what incentive to work, as well may work from it; and what incentive to work, as well as joy in working, can be greater than an ascertained and realized forgiveness?

Are you living out of what Jesus has done for you?  Or what Jesus has done for you + what you can do for yourself?  I have been living the latter – it’s a horrendous cycle I find myself in time and time again.  I know the Gospel, I know that how I was saved is how I am to walk – nothing of me, all of Jesus – by faith…and repentance…and faith…and repentance….  As I look only to Jesus in faith, and nothing of myself – not my lists, not my “responsibilities”, not my reputation, or fear of damaging my reputation, I am finding freedom in my heart and soul – my breathing is lighter, my nerves are not so edgy, and I am doing things that felt like burdens, with joy and peace – almost without thinking.  The outside might not look much different (although I am sure my countenance does), but inside is less weighty.  I can’t…I can’t…but He can through me…and even without my help.

I like this place.  Too bad I’m going to take it all back again tomorrow.  Or by lunch today even. Yep…I ‘m sure I will.  It’s what I do.

Day by day…minute by minute…moment by moment…I dance the dance…faith…repentance…faith…repentance…repentance…faith…my Jesus…He does love me.

I live out of His love.

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Straight Out Of My Journal…

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I think we all have this idea, this goal, this vision of what we want our life to look like. But life never really works out that way.

Robert Burns wrote a poem about it. John Steinbeck took that poem and wrote a book about it. “Even the best laid schemes of mice and men go awry.”

A wrench always gets thrown into our plans, no matter how perfect those plans seem to be. It’s just a fact of life. And it’s a fact of life that keeps me from wanting to do things in life. Nothing goes according to plan, and I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it anyway.

I have all these great intentions, all these plans and things I really wish would work out, but life circumstances are making these plans seem impossible. God seems silent. Everything just keeps getting worse.

Last night I went to church with my friends, and the message was really relevant. I sometimes dislike when that happens, because lately I’m always trying to find reasons to be bitter and uninterested. But the pastor talked about how when we decide to follow Jesus, our lives get better, not easier. There’s a difference. And a lot of us (myself included) are ready to throw in the towel on this whole Christianity thing because life has actually gotten harder since following Jesus.

But, he said, we don’t need to have faith when things are going well. We need faith when life is in shambles and we can’t see what God is doing. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is confidence in what we hope for an assurance about what we do not see.

Christianity is and always has been about trusting that Jesus is who he says he is, even in the face of persecution, oppression, uncertainty.

It’s not that I left church with some kind of epiphany. It’s not like stuff is suddenly better. I get the point though, I do. And I’m processing it. Sometimes, that’s all we can do.

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