Tag Archive | love

Take Up Your Cross

© Depositphotos.com/ WDGPhoto

© Depositphotos.com/
WDGPhoto

“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.” Matthew 27:32 (NIV)

Take: to get into one’s hold or possession by voluntary action.

To take is voluntary.

Simon was forced to carry the cross with Jesus. He bore the weight that was too much for Jesus in His weakened physical condition. Simon did not have a choice to help Jesus; and yet, through the process of coming alongside Him in this barbaric situation, He grasped the weight and understanding of the cross. He didn’t simply walk away to never again consider the man who would be nailed to that cross. He took in the truth of Jesus on the cross and passed it along to His children. (Mark 15:21, Romans 16:13)

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38 (KJV)

Taketh: to take or get a hold of; to receive.

To take is to get your hands on and receive what is offered.

The cross is a vile form of execution. The cross was so inhumane it was eventually outlawed as a means of capital punishment. And yet, Jesus says if you are unwilling to take up your cross and follow Him, you aren’t worthy to be His follower. What’s up with that? Why would He expect us to voluntarily take hold of a cross? Didn’t He die so we wouldn’t have to do that very thing?

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

Take: To take up or away; to raise up or lift; to take upon oneself and carry what has been raised physically.

To take is to personally participate in the raising or lifting while carrying.

The truth is there’s a cross with your name on it. Because of sin in the life of each person, death is the penalty and judgment. Jesus also says that because He’s been hated and persecuted, as His follower, you will be as well. There will be plenty of people who will want to nail you to your cross. In the midst of struggles and persecution, will you take up your cross or walk away?

The cross of Christ has already been lifted. Because of what Jesus has done, death is not the end of our story. It’s a step in the process rather than the end of the journey. We will face things from our past, things in opposition to our faith, but we don’t have to do it alone. When we are willing to acknowledge that truth, He offers His yoke as well. We can take hold of His yoke to help us carry our cross. He offers us what He’s already done. When we take up our cross, we can also show people what we’ve been set free from. The cross is the cost of our sin. We deserve death. Thank God, in Christ, we receive life.

I found this story of St. Patrick, someone who picked up his cross and followed hard after Jesus. We may not be called to minister to a country, but we each have a family, neighborhood or circle of friends God wants us to reach for Him.

Something to Consider…

Do you have a hard time grasping the truth of the cross, what Jesus did, and why He did it?

Do you have a difficult time acknowledging the truth of your own sin and the reality of the penalty for that sin?

Jesus invites you to follow Him. Where will He lead you? Straight to the cross. Let Him help you understand and grasp the truth of what He’s done for you. Let Him help you acknowledge the truth of your own sin and receive His grace and redemption so you can live free, willing to take up your cross and share His love with others.

Come … Willingly

© Depositphotos.com/Madrabothair

© Depositphotos.com/ Madrabothair

 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a

We have a rule in our house. We actually have several, but this is one we’ve actually been able to hold to pretty consistently. It’s even been used in settings outside our home with others.

If you volunteer someone else to do a job, you are the one who will do it.

Why? Because volunteering requires a willingness and when you volunteer another instead of volunteering yourself, you impose your will on another. You say, “I don’t think I should have to do it. I think you should do it.” And when they don’t, judgment creeps in.

Jesus didn’t sit behind His followers and say, “Pick up your cross and do as I tell you.”

Rather,

“He (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Mark 8:34

And,

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15

Jesus says He will not volunteer you for anything, but if you are willing, here is what is required. He will not volunteer you for anything He is unwilling to do, but as His follower, He will ask you … no, no, He will expect you to do what He has already done.

We have a choice.

Jesus knows we are not perfect, yet here are His ground rules:

  1. Deny yourself.
  2. Take up your cross.
  3. Follow me (Jesus).
  4. Do as I (Jesus) have done.

Jesus has accomplished His purpose of reconciling the world to God. We don’t need to do this. It is finished!

However, as His ambassadors in this world, this is the message we spread. Jesus has paid the price for our sins and set us free to live His way. If we are unwilling to “do”, we’ve stopped short of accomplishing our purposes for God.

We don’t wait for God to show us who to love; we love those we are with. Our expectations of what others should be doing dictates what we ourselves believe is right.

Jesus invites you to come. Will you?

Something to Consider…

Jesus will not volunteer you for the life He wants to give you, but He has set the perfect example and He invites you to come willingly. What is He currently inviting you to come and join with Him in doing?

What expectations do you have of others, yet you yourself are unwilling to do? As you seek God’s kingdom in your own life, let Jesus be your example. When you choose to follow Him, you will be less concerned with what others are doing or not doing because you will be doing what He is doing.

Why Do I…

W“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Sometimes, I imagine conversations with others. I’m not sure if it’s a writer thing, an introvert thing or just a strange habit, but it happens.

I’ve been struggling with the “why” of what I do. Everyone has reasons for what they do. Reasons that to them, make what they do worth doing.

There are a lot of really good things that I can be doing, but each day I need to choose certain good things over others. It helps when I see the end result of my work or receive feedback and appreciation for what I’ve done. There are also times I just need to do the good thing because it’s the right thing in the moment.

So I imagined someone specific asking me why I blog. This is what I said:

I believe God has laid it on my heart to share with others what He’s sharing with me. He teaches me about Himself every day. He shows me things about myself as well. Ultimately it’s all about my relationship with Him. And He has given me an opportunity and desire to share those things with others.

God knows us and loves us and He wants us know and love Him as well. He has really good things for us.

For example, there was this time when my dog was just a few years old. He was a bit temperamental and we were working with Him to help Him learn to trust us. One day, I just stopped and said to Him, “Why don’t you just listen to me? I give you everything you need. You have food to eat and a warm place to sleep. I play with you and take you for walks. I am happy to just be with you. I don’t want to have to put you in your kennel because you’re not doing what I tell you to do. Don’t you know I just want to love you?”

And I stopped and heard God ask me, “Don’t you know I just want to love you?”

He has provided everything I need. He enjoys me simply because I am me. There is joy in our time together. He doesn’t look to give me consequences, but sometimes He has to. He just wants to love me. And that love requires a response.

And that’s why I write:  God loves me. And in order to experience His love, I need to be in a relationship with Him. That’s how we each experience His love – in relationship with Him. Which means we need to acknowledge Him, look to Him and trust Him.

I hope what I write encourages others to do that, to turn to Him and trust Him. I hope others don’t just know they are loved but experience His love in real ways every day.

I didn’t really consider His response in my imaginary conversation, but I realized it was again, a message worth sharing.

God loves you and wants you to know Him.

Something to Consider…

How has God shown His love for you?

Today, how will you respond to His love for you?

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a

God is Life

“And this is the testimony of God: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12 (NIV)

God offers us eternal life after we die, but He also offers the abundant life before we die. We do not need to wait until later to experience His kingdom. In Jesus, we have the ability to experience right here, right now the fullness of life God offers. Life after death becomes the perfection of our current state of living.

Are you living now the way you hope to in heaven later? Are you doing what you can to respond to and interact with others the way you imagine it to be when all things are made right? Do you trust and worship God with absolute devotion?

What does the full life in Christ look like? Here are three ways you can experience all He has to offer.

  1. Be confident.

God has sent His Son to redeem, restore and reconcile you to God, your Father. In Christ, you need never worry about your relationship with God. He does still correct and there are still consequences for wrong actions, but everything God does is to teach you what is best. When we refuse to listen, He lets the outcome be our teacher. When we ask Him for help, He will show us the way. Be confident in your relationship with Him.

  1. Be courageous.

God has given us His Word so we can know Him. His character and heart for people is seen throughout the Bible in all 66 books. When we know about God, we will continue to do what we do with an attitude of “that’s Him, this is me.” But when we truly know God through a relationship with Jesus, we begin to respond to God. We do things differently not because of who we are, but because of who He is. He has responded to us by giving us His Son. Read His Word so you can respond to God and do what it says. As you confidence grows, you will become more courageous in your love for Him.

  1. Be content.

People who don’t trust tend to protect themselves. There is an attitude of what-if and a response that comes out of what they don’t know instead of what they do. God knows our every need. He also knows our every want. He knows how getting our wants will affect our hearts and attitude toward Him and others. When we trust God, we can follow Him and be content no matter where we are, what we do or what we have. His way always leads to life. As you become courageous for God, you will see His purpose for your life unfold and in it you will be content.

Life in Christ is experienced when we know God personally, do what He says and trust Him completely each step of the way. God’s greatest desire is that the whole world would know His love and receive the life He offers. What’s yours?

Heavenly Father, you are life. In you, we move and breathe and have meaning. Lord, may my confidence grow as I come to know you more. May I become courageous for you because your love is true. May I be content with all you give me because I trust that you give me all I need. Your word is true, your way is best and your love leads to life like I have never known. Make it the desire of my heart  to know and live this life you offer. In Jesus name. Amen.

Three Nails

Three Nails“Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’” Luke 23:32-35 (NLT)

My oldest daughter lives a few hours away so whenever she comes home, we pray for her safe travels. Her car had been parked at a gas station when, as she was getting ready to come home, she realized she had a flat tire. With her fiancé’s help, they were able to remove the tire, put on the spare and drive to the repair shop. After waiting a few hours, they were told the nail was too close to the edge and thus the tire was unable to be repaired. She was going to have to buy a new tire. Not the news a college student wants to hear. She purchased the tire and they were soon on their way.

The next day we were able to meet up with family members for lunch. We had a wonderful time only to come home to another flat tire. Her car had been parked in our driveway all day and yet, there it was, a different tire flat as a pancake. Her dad was able to help her get the tire off, put on the spare, and bring the tire to the repair shop. This time it was able to be repaired. Knowing her financial situation, we willingly paid for the repair. Her dad was able to replace the tire and she was on her way once again, this time to see friends.

A few days later, we were out shopping and running errands. When we returned home, guess what we found. Unbelievably, another flat tire. A third nail in a third tire. Her car had been parked in the street in front of our house. Since it was not completely flat, we tried filling it only to notice the pressure dropped as soon as we turned off the pump. Again, her dad was able to help get the tire off and the spare on, but because of the time, we couldn’t take it to the repair shop until the next day. We worked out how she would get around in the meantime. Again, the tire couldn’t be repaired. A little more money, a little more time, a little more frustration.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 (NIV)

When we found the third flat, she said she felt like she was being punished. Did she do something to bring about this fate?

I admit, it seems like more than a coincidence that she would have three nails in three different tires in five days. What are the odds? And if she’s not being punished, what would be the point of this situation?

Maybe a better question is, what did God want her to know about Him through this situation?

As we talked, she admitted she felt like she had no control, was helpless, angry, and frustrated. We then talked about how God is always in control, is our help and is never frustrated by our circumstances. So why did this happen? How would this help her trust Him more and draw her closer to Him, rather than push her away?

She realized that she had always been parked, never on the road and she always had help. She was also always able to keep moving. These hindrances didn’t stop her from what she needed to do.

The next day, as we were driving home, I asked her another question. “What did these three nails cost you?”

She said money and time and peace. It was inconvenient and stressful.

Then I asked her, “What did three nails cost Jesus?”

Her answer: His life.

“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:28-30 (NIV)

Jesus Christ took the three nails so we could how much God loves us. Jesus Christ took three nails because only He could accomplish this purpose. He took the three nails so we could be completely reconciled to God and live with Him in peace forever. These three nails were not a hindrance to God’s plan; they were the plan.

How might God want to use the difficulties and hindrances in your life to draw you closer to Him so you could know His love more deeply?

What difficulties are you willing to endure so the love of God can be made known to others?

Lord God, as I see the troubles of this world, experience the difficulties of life and struggle through my own frustrations and desires. Help me remember that it’s nothing compared to what you endured for me. The problems we face are real, they are hard and painful. They wear on us and try us in ways we didn’t expect or ask for. But in You we have hope. In you, we know there is more. You are our ever-present help in trouble. You are our refuge and strength, our shield and strong tower, our joy and salvation. Thank you for your protection, your help and your strength to keep moving. In Your precious and most holy name, Jesus. Amen.

Anxiety, Depression…Anger

DSC06926“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3 (NIV)

Anxiety was my response to the reality of having no control over or in certain situations. Depression was my response to the reality that I wasn’t taking control of what I could.

Anger is my response to the reality that I want control and don’t have it, can’t have it or, actually, don’t want it.

God has been doing an amazing work in me. The past 12-18 months have been some of the toughest in my life and yet I rejoice because I know God is at work in me, transforming me into the person He created me to be. It’s painful, but most good things are at some point.

It takes determination, perseverance, pain, struggle, and failure, along with focus and commitment to do anything that really matters. You will succeed only if you truly believe in what you are doing. Why suffer so much if it doesn’t really matter? (This is a post for another day…)

Because it does matter.

Last summer I posted about the process God had been moving me through, working out in me, to help rid me of anxiety and depression. My fight or flight response to problems was wreaking havoc in my life and the lives of others. In the first post, I stated:

Most attacks at the time began with anger. And not just a little anger. I would get really angry. At times, I felt uncontrollable rage in the situation. I told my husband once that it felt like it wasn’t really me.

So here I am, angry…again. Why?

I thought my anger would subside when my anxiety and depression were gone. I’d just be a happy, go-lucky person. But each layer God removes reveals more. It reveals something deeper, darker, more difficult to deal with.

Anxiety and depression are acceptable issues in society. It’s true. There are commercials touting the positive effects of medication to control anxiety and depression. There is a commercial that encourages people to ask about a person’s depression, ask them if they want to talk about it. They make it commonplace, acceptable and manageable.

But it’s not. Yes, it happens. Yes, we need to be able to be real about it. But God doesn’t want us living in anxiety and depression. I don’t think He really wants us expecting it to just be this way. He wants so much more for us. As I’ve said before, I do believe medication is necessary and helpful in some situations, but I also believe that if you are willing to let medication be your savior in this situation, you will miss the work of the true Savior in your life.

So I choose to let God do the painful work of exposing the deepest, darkest, most painful areas of my life and conditions of my heart so that I can be free of what the world says is acceptable and truly be free in the love of God.

Anger, on the other hand, is not acceptable. It shows no compassion, tolerance or acceptance. But, anger does have a place. Its purpose is to move us toward good, toward making things right, toward ridding ourselves of those things that hurt us and each other.

But anger can be misused. It has been my new form of protection. God is going deeper and showing me that I want control. I do, I want it…BAD! I want it so bad I’m angry about it. I get rude and ugly. It’s truly horrible. I hate it, while at the same time feel completely justified in it.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 (The Message)

My true colors show that I’m not so sure how much I trust that God is really in control. I want God to move faster, if He’s even moving at all. My anger and desire to control shows that I think I can do it better, understand it better and want better than what God can do, knows and wants.

But I know that’s not true. God can do whatever He wants. He wants what is good, what is best. And He also knows exactly what it’s going to take to get to that outcome and He is always on the move. He not only wants this for those people and situations in my life, He wants it for me personally.

The NIV version puts James 1:4 this way: “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

To be or become mature and complete, not lacking anything, not only means I seek to gain wisdom, new thinking, and new attitudes, but that I give up the old foolishness and behaviors. This anger needs to go.

Lord, as I fix my eyes on You and Your goodness, I am thankful for your loving working my life. As You peel back each layer and fresh wounds are exposed, You are my Healer. As You reveal to me those things that keep me from loving You and loving others, You are my Wonderful Counselor. As you ask me to walk into difficult situations and conversations, You are my Strength and Refuge. You have never given up on me and it is my deepest desire that I not give up on You. I trust you with the people I love and the situations I don’t like or understand. Your love is pure and right. It is the best of all things. Help me recognize quickly when I am trying to take control; calm my heart, reassure me of your love, protection and provision and let me rest in You. Give me Your heart for others and peace in Your ways. Thank you, Jesus. In Your name, Amen.

 

 

Give It Up and Gain

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

A number of years back, a woman came to one of the Bible study groups I was attending and said that rather than give something up for Lent, she would start something new. That was the reason she started coming to our study.

I go back and forth between “giving up” something old and “taking on” something new, but I don’t think we can effectively have one without the other. We give something up to make room for more of God in our lives. We turn to Him rather than that thing we gave up. In essence, we do something new.

And to start something new means we do give up an old habit or way of spending time, maybe an old way of thinking.

The problem comes when we focus more on the fact that we had to give something up than on the fact that we have a good and loving God who is better than anything we could ever lose or choose to walk away from.

I find many ways to misuse the things God has given me: food, anger, work, relationships, love, and even my sense of right and wrong. Each of these when used to glorify God are good. When I use them to glorify or satisfy myself, they no longer serve the purpose for which God created them.

When I sacrifice my right to eat whatever I want for whatever reason I want, I can acknowledge God’s purpose for food to provide nutrition and energy for my body. It is also serves a purpose in celebrating and remembering relationships. But when food is the focus and not the relationship, I’ve missed the most important thing.

When I sacrifice my right to be angry, I can acknowledge God’s grace and forgiveness that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me to be reconciled to the Father through faith in Him. Righteous anger belongs to God.

When I sacrifice my work as the end-all, be-all of the definition of success, I can acknowledge the opportunities my work provides to serve, testify to and provide means for spreading His Word in my world. Success comes from doing God’s work in obedience.

When I sacrifice my dysfunctional relationships, I can acknowledge the unique treasure we were each created to be. I can see others from His perspective and understand better the value and worth we each have in Christ. I can stop putting demands on others to satisfy my needs and seek to serve God through helping to meet the needs of others.

When I sacrifice my desire to withhold love or manipulate with love, I can acknowledge that God loves unconditionally. His love found in His Word trains, rebukes, corrects and equips so that I can continue to grow in and receive the fullness of His love and then share it with others.

When I sacrifice my understanding of right and wrong, I can acknowledge God as the only good and faithful Judge. I can allow the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of others so they can come to Jesus Christ seeking His truth for their lives. His truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Something to Consider:

How do you view what God asks you to give up for Him? Do you see and focus on the loss or the gain?

What one thing do you need from God today? What will you allow Him to remove from your life in order to make room for Him to satisfy this need?

 

Choose Life

© DepositPhotos/ Klanneke

© DepositPhotos/ Klanneke

I’ve debated this blog and gone back and forth about it for a week now. I speak from my heart and out of my love for Jesus and His for me. I believe that based on my experience, God is bringing good from it by asking me to speak to this issue. There is hope.

In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, Moses is writing about the promises of God. God has given us a choice to trust and accept His promises or reject them. There is life in His promises. There is eternal life in heaven, but there is also a fullness of life in the kingdom of heaven on earth.

I heard Graham Cooke speak at a conference in April of 2013 and he said, “What is true in the natural is true in the supernatural and what is true in the supernatural is true in the natural.”

This is something I try to remember as I see and experience the battles I face and understand that there is nothing we go through in this world, the natural world that He hasn’t already dealt with in the supernatural, the spiritual world.

Here’s what Moses says about life and death:

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord you God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)

God has given us the free will to choose life or death. We can choose life in Him for all eternity or death separated from Him for all eternity. That is our choice to make; He has given it to us.

Now how we receive life in Him for all eternity is on His terms, not ours. He gives us the option to choose His terms or not. And His terms – it’s Jesus. Receive the gift of free grace by repentance and faith through Jesus. Do this and you choose life, not death.

Now, if choosing life in the spiritual world is a blessing, then choosing life in the natural world is also a blessing. What is true in the supernatural, the spiritual, is true in the natural.

Let me give you this example: Say I’m married to a wonderful man who has a great job. He provides all I need: a nice home, food on the table, heat, water, healthcare benefits, a 401(k), vacations, and clothing. He brings me gifts and gives me opportunities to take time for my own needs and well-being. There is one thing he does; He hits my daughter once in a while. It’s only once in a while, here and there. Compared to everything else he does and provides it’s really quite insignificant. And besides, my daughter is weak and believes this is really the best answer. She made some mistakes and she can’t really expect there to be a better outcome than this. She understands all the other good things he does for us so she just concentrates on those things while he hits her.

I hope and pray that if I really was in this situation and believed this, you would think I was nuts! You may even want to call the authorities on me and my husband for allowing this to happen. I hope you would tell me how wrong this is. I hope that you would encourage me to leave this man, at least until he received help and understood the evil that was present in his actions. I hope that you would not settle for this life for my daughter.

The truth is we settle for this type of action for our daughters every day. We live in a society that chooses death. It tells women, even young girls, that there is nothing wrong with death. God says death is a curse; society says death is our right and legal choice. They say death is healthcare.

I fully understand that there will always be people in this world who will choose the world’s system over that of God’s. They will believe the lies they are told, that they are weak and need to get rid of their mistakes, make up for their mistakes on their own terms.

But God says we can’t get rid of our mistakes, our sins, on our own terms. Our sin is only removed through the blood of Jesus and we can only receive the blood of Jesus by choosing life, not death.

So as I have opportunity to call people’s attention to the outrageous acceptance of organizations that provide abortions, that say it’s okay to choose death, I will.

Yes, they provide various healthcare options and services for women all across this country. Yes, they meet the needs of many women. But, on occasion, once in a while, they kill babies.

I mean, women are weak (that’s what one woman told me), they are weak and this is the only way they know to deal with their mistake, their accident. It’s completely reasonable that we would overlook this atrocity for all the other benefits these organizations provide. We can’t really be expected to choose life when it hurts, when our situation is difficult, when it’s inconvenient for our own life, can we?

I’m here to tell you this thinking is nuts! This is wrong! Why on earth would we support this thinking for our daughters? When do we stop looking out for our own benefits and comforts and realize the horrible position in which we have helped to put other women? Maybe ourselves?

I choose to stand here and tell you life is a blessing and when you choose life in the natural, you are choosing a blessing. Death is a curse. Death is the consequence of sin in our own lives and the evil actions of others. And while we can’t undo the curse of our own or others actions, Jesus can.

When we stop choosing death and choose life in Christ, He alone removes the curse and gives us abundant blessings; life that never ends.

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…” Deuteronomy 19b

Life is a blessing. Life is a blessing when it hurts, when it’s difficult and even when it’s inconvenient. Even what we think is an unplanned life is a blessing because God planned it.

“For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

Something to Consider…

Through Jesus, God redeems completely. If you have experienced the pain of an unplanned pregnancy and have chosen an abortion, I want you to know that God loves you and understands your pain. He wants to bless you through your choosing life in Jesus. If you are sorry for having chosen an abortion, tell God. He will forgive you. It’s a promise. You can know the full and abundant love and life found in Christ.

If you believe life is a blessing and death through abortion is not okay, help stop the lie and share the truth of the life found in Christ. He alone can right the wrongs and bring blessings when all that is seen is a curse. Help others understand and know they can choose life!

Be Intentional!

FSE019“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

I have not always been a fan of the female gender. And yes, I do belong to this category.

Backbiting, jealousy, gossip, envy, manipulative and down-right malicious behavior is how I would have described many of my relationships with girls growing up. I would usually have one or two really good friends, but at some point they would end; occasionally because someone moved, but usually because of a rift or a drift. Something about the relationship seemed difficult to maintain so it was easier to let it go. While it takes two to make a relationship work, I admit I owned much of the issue.

But God is good and as I had the privilege and honor of raising two beautiful daughters who He entrusted to my care, I learned more about the female mind, character and heart than I thought I would ever care to know. Wanting for them more than I ever knew I could have, my desire has been to teach them how to be confident in who they are as daughters of the King of kings, precious treasures not because the world has deemed them such, but because Jesus paid the ultimate price for them. They are valuable…as is each woman, man and child in this world.

I now spend more time with more women than I thought possible. Between social activities, retreats, studies, and volunteering, I have met and fallen in love with the nature of women as created by God and seen through His eyes and heart. We are made in His image and it is His nature we long to imitate as we learn who we truly are in Him.

There is a group of women who meet at my home weekly to support, strengthen and encourage each other. This past Tuesday, our group met and talked about the different seasons of life we are each experiencing. We are in different stages of marriage, ages of children, career experiences and because of these different stages, God is working in each of us in different ways, teaching us what we need for our current or next season. At the same time, He is teaching each of us to be intentional with our time and other resources as well as in our relationships.

As we serve God, we serve others in His name and to His glory. God’s gifts in us and to us are not just for us personally. They are to be used to reach the world for Him.

We are intentional about serving each other in our group through helping with child care so more women can attend and be encouraged. We are intentional about truly getting to know each other, trusting each other and caring for each other in practical ways. We also pray for each other regularly.

We are intentional about serving our community through our church partnership with a local public school. They have a number of ways individuals and groups can volunteer and maybe someday become mentors for kids who need as many positive adult role models in their lives as they can get…just as each of our children need. Our group is taking on the task of at-home projects for the teachers and staff. Since we often have children with us, we can continue to meet, grow in our relationships with each other and God, while at the same time meeting a need in our community.

We also have the desire to be in intentional in our relationships with family members, friends, co-workers, etc. – whomever God places in our path. As we step out in faith to acknowledge and love others in our lives, we pray God would use these opportunities for His love to be made known through us.

Life gets crazy and at times, maybe too often, time runs short. But, all that will matter at the end of the day is how we loved God and loved others. We choose to be intentional in all we do.

Something to Consider…

What season of life are you in? What is God teaching you about Himself, yourself and others in this season?

How can you be intentional in this season to invest in and grow relationships based on how Jesus loves? What gifts has He given you to use so others can know His love and grace through you?

Daddy! I need you…

photo

“the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15b-16

I saw this in the grass the other night when I took our dog out before bed. It looked like a little bird, but I had no idea what it was. It’s still there and I still don’t know.

photo (2)

 

This morning I saw something next to it. Now, some of you may know exactly what it is and I would certainly appreciate it if you would share you knowledge with me, but it’s got me a little befuddled!

Is it some type of exotic mushroom?

Is it a hive or nest of some kind?

Is it a seed pod from a tree or a body snatcher pod from the movies?

If I get a long stick and try to flick it, will something fly out of it?

Will it know I flicked it and come after me?

Will my neighbors know I flicked it into their yard?

I would love to put this off and leave it for my husband to remove. (I do that on occasion, but don’t tell him.) The problem is that he’s not going to be able to deal with it for a while and it’s right where we take the dog out so it would be easy to forget and overlook. The last thing I want to do is accidentally step on it or have the dog try to eat it.

And even as my mind goes through all the scenarios of what could be and how I could take care of it if should I choose to accept the mission, I am reminded of another such situation over a decade ago.

In our family room two houses ago, we had a bar type counter with a space for a waste basket. I was cleaning, bent down to remove the garbage and in the corner of the cabinet was a big, dark, furry looking creature. I was armed with a bag of garbage, an empty can and a broom. Maybe some of you can relate to the idea that this was not going to cut it. The bag wasn’t heavy enough to crush it if I should get it out with the broom. If I was able to capture it with the can, how would I then get it out from under the can? And besides, it would probably grab onto the broom and climb up the handle before either of these could be valid options!

So what did I do while my husband was at work?

I called my dad.

Yep, at the time I was a thirty-something wife and mother and I’m calling my daddy to kill the bug. Of course, that meant my mom would come as well. Never mind that they are older and move slower than me so whatever reaction time I was worried about with my own abilities would be cut by some fraction. Never mind that they lived half an hour away so I would need to wait and keep an eye on the cabinet lest it get away. Never mind that they were always out and about enjoying the retired life so they might have to stop what they are doing to come to my rescue.

In spite of all this, I called anyway.

And my daddy came; He answered my call. He always did. I never doubted that he loved me because his actions always showed me he did.

I understand this isn’t the truth for everyone. Not everyone has a dad who answers when called, who loves at all times.

But there is a heavenly Father who loves unconditionally; who is ready and waiting to answer your call for help and is already intervening in ways you don’t even know. He knows you, loves you and is for you. All you need to do is call out to Him.

Because of my dad, I’ve had a better understanding of God’s love for me which leads me to ask the question: will my children understand the love and sacrifice of Jesus better because I am their mom? Will they know the importance of faithfulness and kindness, peace and patience? Will they understand the difference between punishment and discipline and be grateful for me choosing to do the hard thing?

When I’m not sure if what I am doing is the best for my children, I know I have a Father in heaven who will answer my call for help and show me His loving ways.

By the way…the big, dark, furry bug ended up being a candy bar wrapper that missed its mark. My dad had a great laugh, too!

Something to Consider…

Do you know God as a loving Father? Why or why not? Who in your life has painted the picture of who God is to you?

Do you believe He is always available, ready and willing to come when called…already by your side in times of trouble?

Who in your life will know the truth about Jesus because you have given them an accurate picture of who He is through your words and actions?

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son (Jesus) into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba,Father.'” Galatians 4:6