Jesus: Hope for a Weary World

O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

At the beginning of human history, sin came into a perfect world through an act of disobedience by the created toward their Creator. Perfect communion was shattered. Consequences came. But even in the consequences God offered mercy and HOPE. In punishing the serpent God said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) The woman’s offspring would crush the enemy and offer restoration to relationship with Creator God.

Generations waited, hoped, longed for this Redeemer-Restorer to come: Noah, Abraham, Moses, the children of Israel through their centuries of ups and downs, the exiles in Babylon longing for home. They hoped in dark times and in silent times, longing for help in their weary world for hundreds of years. Praying and hoping.

And then the Messiah came! The Light of the World! The Hope of the World! The Restorer – Jesus Christ!

Are you waiting, praying, hoping in darkness? Is the silence of yet-to-be-answered prayer weighing your heart down? Hang on to Hope, your Deliverer is coming! God has heard your weeping. He has a plan. His timetable is not like yours. The enemy knows this and  whispers in your ear, “He’s not going to come through for you.” It’s a lie! Don’t believe it.

silhouette-image-of-person-praying-1615776During those times where God seems silent in your situation, think of your Savior. God was also silent when Jesus asked for the cup to be removed from Him. But God did not remove it; He had a plan for our redemption. Also remember this Old Testament verse: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” ( Deuteronomy 31:6) God WILL NOT leave you. He is working His plan – timing and all – preparing the way for your next step even when you cannot see it. Hold onto Hope!

This Christmas season, cling to Hope in Christ no matter what you face: a court hearing, financial instability, failing health, broken relationships.

God is working on your behalf even if you cannot see it.

When you hold onto faith and hope going to the Father over and over again in prayer, your faith will grow, your spiritual eyes will be opened, your Redeemer will come through for you – in His time. Don’t grow weary waiting. And when you grab hold of Hope and live it out before this weary world, you encourage those around you to Hope as well.

When Jesus came to this earth He didn’t come through a line of perfect people, He came through a lineage of sinners and flawed, ordinary people just like you and me. Despite their sin and imperfections God used them to accomplish His will for the World. We don’t have to be perfect to be used of God either. He has a role for us to play in His Kingdom here on earth. We need to grasp this HOPE of the GOSPEL. Not just for ourselves, but for this weary world. 

This Advent season and in the coming year – as you await the arrival of whatever your heart is longing for… 

  • May you remember the world waiting for the Messiah to come.
  • May you know the HOPE of Jesus Christ
  • May you grasp God’s great love for you
  • May your longing for His 2nd coming and eternal life be greater than any earthly longing you are struggling with
  • May you meet Jesus in a new way through the silent, dark times
  • May healing, redemption, and restoration arrive this year for you!
  • And may you BE A BEARER OF God’s HOPE in the darkness!

In His time, God’s plans and purposes will be accomplished!

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“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. … For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:2 & 6

Love Came Down

This Christmas let the reality of the baby in the manger transform your perspective.

Little things. Lowly things. Unnoticed things. These are some of the rarest and sweetest gifts. It’s so easy to get caught up in the trappings of the season. A picture perfect tree. box-celebrate-celebration-christmas-264988Beautifully wrapped gifts. An impeccably decorated home. A table set intricately with Christmas China. There’s certainly nothing wrong in making your home beautiful, or taking joy in the fun of decorating for the season. It’s only when the “stuff” becomes your focus and your motivation shifts from the Giver of all good things to the good things themselves.

When the focus is on the things, we veer into the lane of comparison. That turns our focus to ourselves and others and takes our eyes off the truth–the Creator took the form of the creation. He allowed Himself, not just to appear in human form, but to live a fully human existence from birth to death. He chose to come as a baby—helpless and completely dependent. He entrusted himself to the fallen ones. He left his throne and stepped out of eternity into the constriction of time. He exposed himself to the sin-infested humanity he knew would, in the end, reject him, beat him, crucify him.

Jesus knew what it was to be weak and defenseless. He knew what it was to be dependent and discouraged. He knew what it was to be rejected and mocked. He suffered sadness and solitude and grief and pain. Yet he did not sin. He was obedient to His Father at every moment. Even to his last breath in his broken, battered mortal body hanging on the cross.

All that Jesus did, He did out of a great, unbelievable, unimaginable love for us. He could have come as a conquering King. He could have come as a Mighty Warrior. He could have come in power and majesty, but He didn’t. He chose to make Himself vulnerable. He chose to live in a fragile human body. He fully experienced what it was to live a mortal life. Hunger, thirst, exhaustion, loneliness, pain, joy, laughter, weeping, grief. He lived his life so we could run to this High Priest, this Messiah, this Savior, who is well acquainted with our mortality. He knows your heart. He knows your struggle. He knows your hurt. And He loves you. More than mere words could ever express.

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This Christmas, more than most, I’m spending more time soaking in the majesty of who He is. This reorientation is the gift of a struggling season. A season where the Lord has asked me to visit some terrifying places, and His goodness is there, His love is even more visceral, tangible. My heart is overwhelmed. Unable to take in how beautiful and how gracious He really is. It seems the more threatening the darkness, the more I understand how great His love is. How even the hard things of the past prepared me for these very moments of discovering His abounding love and overflowing compassion anew.

This Christmas my prayer is that your heart is reoriented. That your eyes are refocused. That your mind is caught up anew in the incredible gift of the baby in the manger. The baby who changed everything. The One who came to give us hope. The One who came to bring us from death to life. This Christmas take intentional time to step away from the twinkling lights and gift wrapping and decorating and shopping and remember the powerful gift of the love of a Father who gave His only Son, and of the obedience and love of a Son who went to His death so that you would live.

Love came down and changed everything.

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All the Things For All the Reasons

I hadn’t seen my friend in a long while. Whenever we see each other she hugs me big. I am not a big “Hugger.” Some people are. Some people will throw their arms around another and squeeze. I’ve known some Huggers to even make a um-um sound as they give the Huggee the Hugger’s most valuable form of affection. Most people find it surprising that I am not a hugger. The conversation usually goes a bit like this:

Me: “ I am not really much of a hugger person.”
Hugger: “What? No! I’ve hugged you lots of times. I wouldn’t have guessed you weren’t a hugger.’
Me: “Usually I stiffen up, brace myself because I know you are a hugger. Have you never noticed that?”
Hugger: “Hmm, now that I think of it I have.”
Me: “The stiffening is usually a good indicator of a non-hugger.”

As my friend saw me coming down the work hallway, maybe she heard me talking because before I knew it she was coming at me full throttle. Her arms were in the ready position before I had time to lock my knees in preparation for the inevitable impact. She squeezed and even twisted a tad. She told me she sure was glad to see me and I told her I was sure glad to see her. She then explained she couldn’t visit long because the one for whom she had been caring “Has all the things.”

All the things. A quick survey and I saw that she was correct.

All the things, for all the reasons.

A this to manage a that. A one of those for some of it. A little thing for a small amount. A large one for substantial volumes. One of those objects for that particular purpose. That implement for that impetus.

All the things, for all the reasons.

I have pondered much on that as of late. All the things that is. I have found myself saying it often.

“I am going to the Big Box Store because I need all the things and they have all the things.”

“I am not able to do that because right now I have all of the things to take care of.”

“She isn’t feeling well. She has all of the things.”

I have found that I casually say “all the things” all the time.

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I was pondering all the things when the King whispered, “But there is but One thing.”

I was transported back to one of my favorite stories. The one of Mary and Martha from Bethany. I have said many times I am the Mother of the Modern Day Bethany Three perhaps it is that kinship that keeps the Bethany Three in my mind in such a way I knew exactly to whom the King was referring.

The story goes a bit like this. Jesus and his dudes were welcomed into the home of Martha. Martha had a sister named Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him teach. Martha was distracted by all the things and said to Jesus, “Don’t you care that I am doing all the things for all the reasons and Mary is just sitting there doing none of the things?” To which Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 41-42

The One Thing. Not all the things. Mary chose the One Thing. The One Thing, unlike the numerous unnamed all the things, has a name and it’s Jesus.

When we chose the One Thing, all the things are no longer as overwhelming. When we chose the One Thing, the King himself said, we are choosing the good portion that can not be taken away from us.

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What Does a “Christian” Marriage Look Like?

Part 5 – How to Fight the Good Fight

I do not fight fair. I get angry. I accuse. I threaten. I say “I hate you.” I twist words, and remind my husband of his previous “failures” like this one. I’m really a mean person. I tell you all this to be transparent, all the while holding my breath that I’m not the only one, and that you will give me grace.

The really bad thing is this – my husband is the kindest, gentlest man in the world. He is patient, considerate, and loves me dearly. Our first few years of marriage he wouldn’t even fuss with me. He’d just sit there and take it. But over time I trained him to be defensive and return harshness for harshness. Now we can have a really “good” fuss if we allow ourselves to, and abandon all self-control and godliness.

anger-18615_1280.jpgThat’s what this real Christian marriage looks like.

Sad, isn’t it?

He and I are each flawed, sinful, selfish human beings.

The really good thing is this. My husband and I are both Christ-followers. And Christ never touches anything and leaves it the way it was. He makes all things new! There is hope for our marriage and for yours! We have seen this newness come and this hope take over throughout our marriage. So maybe you can learn from our mistakes and things we have absorbed through the years.

Within the first few years of marriage my husband’s company required all their employees to go through a course on handling conflict. My husband came home from the conference and we got into a fuss that very night because he told me I wasn’t fighting the right way! Yes, you understood correctly! We started with one argument which turned into a fight over how to fight! We learned this important habit that we have developed over the years:

  • Argue using “I” statements, not “you” statements. This helps us to “fight fair.” “You” statements are accusatory. “I” statements take responsibility for how we feel and for our reactions. Quite often it is the reaction, not the action, that starts one of our arguments. The action might have been done innocently, yet it triggered a negative reaction when it touched on an already inflamed nerve.

For my wise mother-in-law who was a first grade teacher for 30 years we learned this truth:

  • Grab a snack or take a nap or both! Her philosophy was that kids misbehaved because they were either hungry or sleepy. It’s often the same with adults. Everyone understands “hangry” behavior. I can testify we often stop the argument to take a nap and wake up not even remembering what we were angry about.

Scripture has given us a wise instruction on fighting fair. It tells us:

  • Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Ephesians 4:25-27 ESV reveals several important things to us. Here’s the whole section of scripture:

“Having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor [or husband – our closest neighbor], for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

  1. Don’t lie, tell the truth. If it hurts your feelings, just say so. If you sinned, just say so. If you just want to be mad, just say so. …
  2. We are part of one body – the church. And one body – husband and wife (the two shall become one, Matthew 19:5). So why in the world would we injure our own body?
  3. “Be angry and do not sin!” It’s ok to be angry at times. It’s the way we do it that can be wrong.
  4. “…Do not sin!” A command. Enough said. We all know how to disagree correctly, and we know when it turns into sin. We can do it correctly with certain people at certain times, which goes to show, it’s our choice. We are giving ourselves the selfish freedom to react in anger.
  5. The word for that angry means “being exasperated with.” But in the following phrase we are told not to let the sun go down on our anger – and that is a totally different word. It is the word meaning “wrath or rage”! So… its normal to get exasperated/angry with someone, but resolve it and don’t go to bed in a rage.
  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Quit grumbling. Quit arguing. Just do it. Apply the Thumper Rule from Bambi: If you cannot say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” The entire scripture is as follows:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16

Our witness to the world will be greater as we live out scripture and give up our grumbling and arguing.

  • Last but not least. It all goes back to part 1 Philippians 2:3-4 – Unselfishness.

Now I’m praying that you and your spouse will grow and mature and be far more fair fighters than my husband and I are. May our mistakes prevent you from making some of them. May our experiences be redeemed through using them to teach and encourage others around us.

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Give Thanks in All Things

Father we come to you today with grateful hearts. No matter our situation, we choose to be thankful.

Thank you for the sun and the rain, the crispness of fall and the varied joys of temperature changes.

Thank you for the breath of life in our lungs this moment as we read this.

Thank you for the beauty around us: trees, aromatic flowers, exotic animals and cuddly pets, art and music and architecture you have allowed man to make, the face of a baby, clouds and soaring birds. Allow our hearts to find beauty in whatever situation we find ourselves.

Thank you for hardships that strengthen us.

Thank you for relationships where we can show love and tenderness and know we had a purpose in that moment to help and comfort.

Thank you for food and tastes and the bounty we celebrate this day.

Thank you for Your Word that speaks truth to every situation we face.

Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die on a cross as a sacrifice for our sin so that we may have eternal life.

Amen

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What Does a Christian Marriage Look Like?

Part 4

As I revealed in Part 3, my husband and I heard Gary Thomas speak at a retreat on Sacred Marriage a few years ago. Two of the ideas he put forth changed our marriage. Today we’ll cover the second idea. When we can grasp this and keep it in our minds we will treat each other differently. Respectfully. Valuing each other. Loving as Christ loved. But when we forget, we get in a “crazy cycle.”

This second idea is simple:

2. View your spouse as God’s own child.

Your first reaction may be, “Well of course I view him that way. We’re all God’s children.” Or maybe, “That’s too simplistic. What difference does that thought make?” Or maybe even, “Lady, I’ve got real problems in my marriage. Tell me some hands-on tips to help.” I understand. We reject easy things because they seem too simple to offer any real help.

But let me share our experience.

As my husband and I drove home from Asheville after that marriage retreat at The Cove, we talked about this concept extensively. On a day-to-day basis we looked at each other as just another human. A person of flesh and blood. A person affected by stress and their own personal issues. A person who sinned and sought God. A person who was often selfish and unkind.

While that is normal, it is not totally accurate. We humans are more than just flesh and blood, thoughts and action, sins and good deeds. We are spiritual creatures created in the image of God. Not just my husband and I, but you every person on this earth (saved and 69001-creationofadammichelangelodetail-wikimedia.1200w.tnunsaved, American or from any other nation, male and female, and people of every race) bears the Imago Dei. This image of God in us is a reflection of His divine nature and unique characteristics and qualities that make us different from any other living creature. We are rational, creative, self-aware, and able to go beyond what seems physically possible all because we were made in the image of God. (Check out this article from Christianity.com for further info.)

 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

 

On top of that, we who claim to be Christ-followers, Christians, have become adopted children of God Almighty. We become children of God at the time of our salvation and are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ Himself. You are God’s child. Your Sunday school teacher is God’s child. Your grocery store clerk who knows Christ is God’s child. That co-worker who knows Christ is God’s child. And Your husband or wife who is a believer is God’s child too, just like you.

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:7

So God not only made your husband in His image, your husband is also God’s little boy whom He loves dearly.

Now think for a minute as if God were a human walking this earth. The day you wed, you married the son of someone very important! God’s very own child. God became your father-in-law on that day. God, who knows all,  because He’s omniscient you know, knows how you teat His child. He knows when you’re kind and considerate toward him and when you’re… not. He knows when you use your mouth to pray for him and when you use it to shout at him. He knows when your heart is hateful toward him or tender. Your father-in-law is aware of your behavior and thoughts. And He is a very important person. He is the God of the universe, the One who created you!

As my husband and I talked through this whole concept I began to feel small and embarrassed. It was one thing just to be fussing at a man, but I had been fussing at God’s child! I had been discouraging God’s child by my words and behavior. I had belittled God’s child and wounded him and not supported the ministry God had given him, and I had not forgiven him when he wounded me. How could I of flesh and blood presume not to forgive God’s child when Father God had forgiven me so great a debt! As we allowed ourselves to meditate on this idea, and this concept to deeply resonate through us it was extremely humbling. It was a behavior-changing moment.

The next few weeks after we returned home found my husband and I behaving more gently, lovingly, and circumspectly toward each other. The problem with us humans, is that we that we are sinful and selfish by nature, and we are forgetful hearers. We hear a lesson from God’s mouth through a godly speaker straight to our heart. We are intent on learning it. However, we shortly forget and fall back into our sinful, selfish habits.

The good news is this: The Father wants us to live a new life even more than we want to for ourselves. So Father God sends us reminders of those lessons we learned and forgot. I get regular reminders that my Sweetie is God’s precious little boy, and I am humbled once again and reminded to treat my Man as the Beloved of the Father, an important Son of the King of Kings, and not just as any ole piece of flesh that we humans so easily disregard and devalue. No matter how old they are or what they did or didn’t do – they are God’s dear child.

In light of these thoughts I encourage you to write this idea down if needed and think on it. It will change the way we treat our spouses when we remember that 1) they are created in God’s image and 2) they are God’s very own little child. As our thoughts change, our behavior toward that mate will change as well.

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The Wedding Supper of the Lamb

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” Revelation 19:9

It is wedding week here! As the Mother of the Groom, I’ve been in the throes of planning a huge celebration for the rehearsal dinner for weeks now. On this, the night before his wedding, I’m up to my ears in satin, candles, flowers, menus, and last minute details. It will be a time of rich, delicious foods, drinks, and desserts to go along with the celebrating, meeting new friends, and making the initial steps toward long and happy family relationships. What a joyous time it is! And what a privilege I have to prepare this feast to honor my son’s beautiful bride to be.

beautiful-blooming-bridal-1702373Taking on this role has taught my heart something of Our Heavenly Father. I’ve caught a glimpse of His joy over us. I’ve considered for the first time His delight in preparing for a celebration of eternal love and commitment. He’s revealed to me His heartbreak over guests who won’t be coming to this wedding feast. I’ve realized the lengths He must be going to to “prepare a place for us.” But most of all I’ve come to understand His great love for His son, Jesus, and by extension, for us, because we are His Son’s chosen, cherished Bride.

Does He, Father God, gently fret over “Oh I hope they love it as much as I think they will?!”

Does God spend His holy energy making sure the whole event is bathed in love and tender remembrances and joyful moments of pleasure that will never be forgotten?

baby-shower-birthday-buffet-587741Does He decorate with gusto and rearrange and consider the seating and double check to make sure the foods are fresh and steamy, seasoned to a T, or chilled to perfection?

Does God long desperately to see that glint in the eye of the Bride that reveals she is obviously thrilled with the Feast, enamored of her beloved, and overwhelmed with joy to the core of her being?

What a glorious celebration awaits us as children of God! What love the Father has for us! We are His beloved bride awaiting that wedding day when we will be united with Him for all eternity!

Revelation 19

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: 

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

 

And again they shouted:

“Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”

 

The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:

“Amen, Hallelujah!”

Then a voice came from the throne, saying:

“Praise our God,all you his servants,

you who fear him,both great and small!”

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

banquet-catering-chairs-1395967“Hallelujah!For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and be gladand give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

 

 

 

Whirling Storm Clouds

“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 107:28-29

As my daughter and I started out on our trip a soggy drizzle accompanied by a pea soup fog surrounded the house as we loaded up to leave. We made it only 10 minutes down the road before the bottom dropped out. Traffic was heavy, and the road spray from a constant stream of cars and 18-wheelers on the interstate made visibility iffy. I was nervous. I’m a nervous passenger anyway. But this day had me gripping the door handle and signaling to my grown daughter with my body language that I did not trust her driving.

action-bicycle-buildings-763398.jpg“Do you want me to pull over where you can drive?” she asked.

“No, Sweetie. I trust you. You know me, I just like to be in control,” I replied.

“I know. That’s why I’m seriously offering to swap drivers now,” came her kind response.

I reluctantly declined, determined to be a real adult, and not wanting to send her evidence I was insecure with her.

The truth is I like control. I don’t like storm clouds, dangerous driving, or being out of control in any way. But God is taking me on a journey of faith. Faith in Him lived out by trusting God through whatever situation is going on around me.

As we traveled on God was teaching. Teaching me to let go of control, and more.

We were at the very beginning of a 10 hour mother-daughter road trip. Could I trust God enough to trust my daughter’s driving on a rainy day and thereby set a good tone for our whole trip? At the moment I declined her offer for me to drive, I decided to relax my grip, put on my big girl pants, and simply rest in God. I turned on my seat warmer, leaned back and tried to remain casual. My physical mind swirled as my spiritual heart worked to retain peace.

asphalt-atmosphere-cloudy-sky-2739010.jpgThe rain worsened. It became a full fledged storm with thunder, lightning, thrashing rain, and blowing wind. The battle between spirit and flesh within me was real. We turned on some light praise music. I sought to recall verses from scripture to still my fearful heart. Time seemed to drag on. A minute can seem like an eternity. In reality, in just about 20 more minutes the rain turned back toward a drizzle. We were able to see actual sky instead of just gray haze all around. A definitive line of the edge of the cloud bank appeared ahead with a sliver of clear, sunny sky just beyond. And within 3 more minutes we were out from under the storm clouds, sunlight streaming all around, with the landscape beautiful and refreshed by the downpour.

The other 9 hours and 27 minutes of our trip were perfect: sunshine, beautiful sights and sounds, light traffic, and great conversation. A glorious time for Mom and child, now two adult friends.

Storms in life are the same way. They build up, make us feel out of control, scare us, and test our faith. They force us to choose faith over fear. They seem scary at the moment. They seem endless. We feel helpless and hopeless. Time drags and we wonder if the storm will ever end. The lesson of my storm that day is four-fold:

  1. Turn loose of control and have faith in God. Trust that whatever happens God will take care of you and strengthen you to bear it.
  2. Saturate your mind in God’s Word to calm your nervous heart.
  3. Know that the storm will come to an end. The edge of the cloud is just around the corner. It will come. It will surprise you.
  4. The sunshine is there behind the storm cloud the whole time. God’s answer, His love, and His glory are often obscured by our situation. Don’t trust what you see with your physical eyes; trust what you know is going on in the heavens.

TRUST HIM
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Threads of Thankfulness

by guest blogger Carol Stewart

I just got my lesson from heaven today:

As a seamstress I have thousands and thousands of spools of thread in my sewing room. Four walls full of thread, but I lacked the perfect color for a new baby’s stocking to match his big brother’s. The new mom-to-be and I searched every spool of thread in the sewing room looking for that perfect match. Finally we found an old wooden spool that had to have been my grandmother’s or my mother’s, both of whom have been in heaven for 23467081_1734816529893514_9134393487656663119_omany years. The little wooden spool of thread had never been used previously, and the Vintage thread was a perfect match and still strong, but very small. This was a very important item and I didn’t have any other thread to fall back on, so I couldn’t stitch it out for a trial run. But the little spool of thread came through with only a tiny bit to spare, and we made it through the task.

It made me stop and thank both my mother and my grandmother for teaching me first in sewing to keep all those little items that may be useful one day. But most of all they taught me that even though you may be small you can accomplish great things. I remember sitting in my grandmother’s lap and her telling me that good things come in small packages.

These were just some of the thoughts I had as I was using that spool of thread, just some fond memories of two precious ladies that taught me a lot through life. Most of all they taught me to be thankful for the little things. Today I’m thankful for a little spool of thread. (AND, Mom and Mamo)

Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away I challenge you to find something to be thankful for every day for the next two weeks. Jot them Down and if you’re coming to Thanksgiving at my house bring them with you.

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Construction Zone: Fans & Fixtures

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

When the new houses across the street from me are being built there is an order, a process. Although the flooring and countertops and fixtures are what makes a house complete, those things are not part of step one. First, there is measuring and digging for the foundation. Then laying pipe and pouring the foundation. Afterwards comes a string of other things that I, not being a builder, have no concept of the order. Things like studs, wiring, sheetrock, paint, etc. Then at long last the decoration of the structure is allowed to begin.

action-digging-equipment-2058738.jpgJust like a skilled builder, God is a god of order as he makes our lives into new living structures. He comes in and digs up the dirt, excavates the heart. Then he slowly and precisely builds the foundation before a wall is ever erected. The difference with God building our lives is that it’s not just a three, six, or nine month project. The excavating may take years. The foundation may take years. Erecting the physical structure may take years. Are you getting a picture here?

When we first come to know Christ we want the transformation He offers. We want our old mess made into a totally new creation. But we want it overnight! To continue my metaphor, we want to purchase a manufactured home, already completed and ready to move right in. But that is not what the Master Builder of our lives has in mind. He doesn’t just want a sudden beautiful structure to appear; He wants a structure built to last and made of quality materials that will display His glory and operate in excellent fashion.

So while we are eagerly wanting to pick out the light fixtures and ceiling fans, Our Father is saying, “Hold your horses! We have a bow in this wall right here. The floor isn’t level in the back, and the basement has to be sealed properly before we can go any further.”

Dominion and awe belong to God; He establishes order in the heights of heaven.   Job 25:2

We chomp at the bit to be finished new creations. While that is a noble desire, it is also naive. In our youthful exuberance, like a kid waiting on Christmas morning to arrive, we want to be completed now. We want to be used for His glory now. Have a glorious ministry now. Be known for our deep faith and wisdom now. When we have a storm in our life we don’t really like those verses about “waiting on the Lord,” and we certainly don’t like those verses when we are so eagerly wanting to be “grown” in the Lord.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Rev. 21:5

As the years have passed, I am slowly learning to love the process. I’m learning that each season brings slow progress. Just looking at the passing days one at a time, it seems that I’m not being re-made in His image at all. But looking back over the years I can see the progress: the years He dug anger out of my heart, the years He poured faith into my foundation through a storm that seemed to be destroying me, the lifetime He has brought me into His lap to teach me while I didn’t even notice the massive construction going on around me. Looking back at that first slab I was seems like another lifetime. chandelier-2523029_1280.pngToday as I look I see a cozy little cottage taking shape. There’s still numerous projects going on, some I like, some I don’t. And who knows when or if I’ll ever get to install those beautiful chandeliers I dream of. But the Builder gets to pick the time and the pace and the design, I just need to cooperate. I know I’ll love it once I see it from the perspective of a new heaven and a new earth.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
   a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3