A New Song

This morning I opened my Scriptures and found it turned to where I left off reasons during Sunday’s sermon. I found myself in Hebrews 4. A passage that starts with the sobering reminder of Israel’s failure to trust the Lord to lead them to the promised land. I am realizing mire and more how applicable this is in our walk. No wonder the Bible exhorts us to be steadfast! It’s harder than it looks! In Galatians 6 we are told to faint not because there will come a day that we will reap from our efforts. But what if you are already fainted? What if you have fallen and now, looking up, you wonder what to do now?
I have been encouraged lately by reading Psalm 40. It says, 8 waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
My God picks me up when I fall! He cares and sends the rainbows after the storm. When I falter, He doesn’t send judgement, He beckons me to come so He can put my pieces back together.
Thankfully, our High Priest (Jesus) knows our wandering hearts. He spent 33 years with the crazies on this earth. If anyone knows struggle and defeat it is our Savior. He humbled himself so He could experience life as we know it. He knows what it is like to be alone and in need Spiritually as well as physically. He is now sitting at the throne of God interceding for my fainting heart. Christ is my advocate. I am so thankful for His grace. I am made strong with the confidence that there is abundant mercy and healing before the throne.
We can move on and be stronger Christians as we climb out of a pit back on to solid ground. Standing in the light of His grace, I have a new found love for my Savior who will never leave my side.

Intentional Faith

The Smiling Christians

This is a post from last week but it when I posted it something crashed my site! So I wanted to repost it today, hope you enjoy!

Being close to God doesn’t happen by accident!

There are a lot of days where I just roll out of bed and hope that I can stumble through the day successfully. My hope is usually that I will be a good Christian during the day but it will magically just happen. I don’t think about the fact that the closeness that I desire requires work. I never think about how being connected to God intimately takes intentional actions and decisions.


 

If we are going to be closer to God we have to do a few things first.

1)Decide we are going to be close to God. Half the battle is won when we take the 1st step towards God.

2)Pursue God. We…

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I Can’t Do It

No, really… I can’t! Many times I feel like I have completely drained my will power and am just done. My will power is miniscule in comparisson to God’s eternal power source. John 15 says, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Nothing. My own power amounts to nothing. When I spend my time apart from Christ and rely on my own power, I fail! Thankfully, that is all part of the plan. I’m not expected to have strength of my own. God clearly says that I am only a branch… completely dependant on Him to be my vine, my source of life. That relieves me of the stress of having to make the cut. My responsibility is to follow His will and rely on His power. I am not responsible for outcomes. The fruit that is produced in my life is only His.
My biggest failure has always been taking on too much. I think I can do it. I get my head down and push through. Eventually, I realize that I have neglected to pray over things. I have my own agenda, a beautiful schedule, plans to do great things…. but I am disconnected from the true power and run out of steam. I can’t even tell you how many times I come to a rolling stop and find myself once again in the same spot learning the same lesson.
Every time I find myself flat on the floor wondering how I could be so stupid (again), I find that the grace of Christ is always there. Every time. His grace is sufficient in my weakness. He is calling me to come rest in His peace. He wants me to abide in His power on a daily basis.
There is unimaginable grace and power when resting in the presence of my Savior.

Live my life or love my God?

My heart is creative and free; My heart also craves direction snd strong leadership. I hate being told what to do; I need rules and standards to feel grounded. I hate that my thoughts are so insanely opposed to each other! I am thankful for a God who foresaw these exact problems. My flesh is constantly battling the Spirit. It is just a fact of the Christian life.
People are constantly trying to figure out what exact the lines are. Occassionally I wish it was as easy as a simple do/don’t list, but life can’t be summed up in lists. As a human, I think, feel, have emotions… everything gets more complicated when you start to factor that in! Don’t get me wrong. I love being human. I enjoy being able to love and connect with friends and family. I enjoy shopping with friends. I enjoy a good meal with good company. I enjoy being exhausted after a hard day’s work. We are created to live our lives to the fullest! Ecclesiastes has several passages that commend the persute of joy. We should eat, drink, and be merry! We are all free to and encouraged to seek happiness.
There is another side of that thought that must also be balanced in. My favorite way of putting it is found in Colossians. It says, since you have been risen with Christ, seek those things which are above… set your affections on things above, not on things on earth. As a Christian,  my joy is found in the glorifying the Lord. I love Him because He loved me enough to redeem me from hell. His love goes beyond my understsnding and prompts me to a love that makes me want to follow Him in all I do. Psalms says, delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. It is hard to quote that when it seems like I am leagues away from a happy ending, but I am choosing to trust that the Lord is faithful. My desire is to please the Lord in what I do and living a life that is blameless is fulfilling because I know it brings honor to the Lord’s name.
Being blameless and seeking heavenly things occasionally gets in the way of my perceived happiness. That’s hard! It really does stink when I have to choose not to go places or see people that I really like. I believe that I have liberty and can choose my own standards that are right between me and God. There are times when pleasing God means denying what feels good. That is a point where every Christian has to decide for themselves what their next move is. Please God or please my current desires?? It is easy to get swept into following your heart and doing what feels good, but in the long run only the grace of God makes each day worth living. My love for Christ should far outweigh my love for myself.
My walk from day to day should be seeking to do His will. That is the only way I can feel satisfied at the end of my day. A day of shopping rocks, but it doesn’t fulfill. It is only one component to living a Christian life. Likewise, I would say that living by a rigid rule book and neglecting to do things that bring you enjoyment will also leave you feeling unfulfilled. We all need both parts. It can be a struggle to figure out what it looks like to you, but it is worth it. The only way you will love your life is by loving the Lord with the way you live.

Love your life, love your God.

Let’s Be Real

I am an insanely positive person. My favorite books of the Bible are epistles. They are full of encouragement, cliche quotes, and shine with the hope of a conquering Christ. I have read Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and James countless times. I just love them! I can grab a verse that is already memorized at the beginning of my morning and meditate on it throughout the day.

But what happens when life isn’t sunny? When the burdens are piled high and it seems like you have no support? When you’re starting to faint under your load, it is hard to only have that positive viewpoint. Life stinks sometimes! I tried to stick to my quotes of encouragement. ‘I can do all things through Christ.’ That is a blessing to quote, until it becomes a mask that you hold up to the world while you crumble inside. When people disappoint or situations don’t go your way or your desires are unfulfilled. What do you say then? Do you continue to quote optimistic phrases with a false hope displayed?

I don’t think so. David set an good example in the Psalms. When he walks through a fiery trial, he acknowledges the hardship. The Psalms give us a glimpse of the heart wrenching pain he experienced. 

I recently had the priviledge to see Tenth Avenue North in concert. (Their song, Worn, has been my hearts cry this year.) The nugget that I took away from the concert will forever be with me in song. A blessed hope for Christians everywhere is that we are free to struggle because we aren’t struggling to be free. As we go through rough places on our journey, we will encounter hardship, grief, and lose. Those firey trials refine us and cause us to be stronger Christians on the otherside. No matter how dark the pathway, remember you know who holds tomorrow. The struggle isn’t forever. You are loved so much that you have been released from the penalty for your sins. While that might not seem to apply to today’s difficulty, it changes the game because it represents the boundless love of our Father.

Yes, but it hurts. Life stinks. I have been let down. What do you do with that? Who can you say that to on the dark days? Part of what makes those days dark is the lonliness from pretending that life is good. Being a Christian doesn’t make you immune to singing the blues! Be real… tell people what you are thinking and feeling before you find yourself sunk in a place of despair that is hard to dig out of. Lean on those friends who can recall with you times of heaven-sent joy. Beware of the smile and mask that says, ‘I’m good! How are you?’ Instead of allowing your Christian brothers and sisters to lift you up. Really people, we have all been there or will be soon.

This is not a license to constant negativity, it is rather an invitation to express your heart in order to be lifted up. Sometimes in order to allow your heart to be encouraged  you need to acknowledge the state that it is in. Give up the brave face and open your heart to see the grace that flows from our loving God. He is there to embrace you in your time of need. Run to Him; He is a healer like none other.

When All You Can Do Is Wait

Loving My Lot

Photo courtesy of http://calledintowork.com/articles/article.asp?articleID=47

I’ve never met anybody who loved waiting rooms.  Think about it—nobody schedules a doctor’s appointment to read the AARP magazines in the waiting room.  You don’t call Cox Cable to listen to the music they pipe through the phone while you’re on hold, and you don’t go to a restaurant for the fun of holding a buzzer in your hand.  Embracing the concept of “waiting” defies our sense of logic.  Waiting is what we put up with to reach the goal.  We endure it.  Deal with it.  Grumble our way through it.  But we certainly don’t embrace it.  In many ways, “waiting” is the enemy.  It is the hairline crack in our perfect plans that terrifies us, secretly makes us question if we’re deficient…if God’s deficient.

I use to view “waiting” as something akin to being a bench warmer.  You’re watching the game, all the while…

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Hey, I’m talking to you

“God isn’t going to replace your suffering with glory, but He will transform your suffering into His glory.”

I love when God so clearly speaks to me through preaching. The last few Sundays have been prime examples. My soul is weary from so much going on… I am about to leave the haven of a week long vacation and jump back into my psycho school year schedule. I am not looking forward to getting back to many things that I feel like have just been paused for the past 10 days while I spend time with my family. I’m also not quite ready to leave my family and it’s many burdens right now either.

Yesterday, the preacher was speaking out of  out of 1 Peter 4:12-19. Peter was encouraging people who were being persecuted for their faith. We should all expect to go through times of trial!  Problems build faith in a way that success can’t.  They press you closer to the Lord; they make you increasing dependent on His grace. I was given this nugget of encouragement, “When you deposit your life with God, you deposit your treasure into the trustworthy hands of Christ. Commit because you know He is faithful. There is no one else you can trust like Him.”

As I head back to my set of problems and leave a set of problems with my family, I know that God is faithful through it all. He is stretching and molding us through these times into stronger Christians, who are knit closer to His heart. My prayer is that I can continually draw nearer to Him when doubts and fears creep in and I am tempted to withdraw my treasure from Him. May I say with the Psalmist, “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.”