Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Hammer

(sacredhearterie.org)
This time of year I normally share my version of a Christmas story. The way I see it, you can't have the life-giving joy of the nativity without the gruesome, life-giving joy of the crucifixion. One is pointless without the other.

Without further suspense for those of you who’ve not read it, and with no more waiting for those who have, here it is.



The Hammer
by Helen Williams!
Mary and Joseph had been turned away from the inns and told they’d have to stay in a barn; their child would sleep in a manger after he was born. That’s where they found themselves the next morning, sheltered with the animals.

Their child had been born long into the night, a boy child. They named him Jesus. He lay quietly on a bed of hay in the manger. As Mary sat there watching him sleep, she couldn’t help but notice what a beautiful manger it was. Considering it was built to hold hay for the cows, she wondered why its maker took such care and put so much delicate work into it. Her husband, being a carpenter, might know. She called it to his attention and asked him why he thought the carpenter that built it would have made it so ornate.

‘Well, either he just takes a lot of pride in his work, no matter what he’s making, or he had nothing much else to do and decided to put all that detail there to keep himself busy. Or perhaps God told him that our child – His child, would lay there. Only the carpenter himself knows. And yes, he did a wonderful job on it. But, we’ll probably never know who made it, dear.’

As he was answering, Mary saw straw from the hayloft sift through the boards and they heard a rustling coming from above.

‘But then again,’ he whispered, ‘one never knows.’

He tiptoed around to steps that led to the hayloft and as quietly as he could, climbed them. When he got to the top he boldly asked, ‘Who’s up here?’ He waited for an answer. At first there was silence. But, when he saw the straw moving, he asked, 
‘Shall I come see for myself?’

At that, the straw moved a lot and from it emerged an old man. He tried to stand, but lost his footing and sat down.

‘Hello, master. It is only I, the keeper of the animals. I mean you no harm. I sleep here alone. I’ll be on my way about my chores now.’

He got up and hobbled to the top of the steps as Joseph descended. He came down slowly. By the time he reached the last step, Mary eagerly asked him if he knew who had made the beautiful manger.

He nodded his head. ‘It was I, ma’am.’

Mary noticed that even though he was on the ground now, he didn’t stand up straight. She complimented the craftsmanship he’d so skillfully used on the manger but had to ask, ‘Why did you make it so special? A manger is for animals to eat from. You made it look like a piece of furniture for a king’s house.’

‘Ah yes, ma’am. I did make furniture for the king’s palace, and he did like it to be perfect. I can still work as well as I used to, even though I’m all bent over now. So my work carries on. Though the only job I could get was here. You see ma’am, once you’ve worked for the king and been let go, no one wants you. I’m a reproach among men and they don’t even know why. The king didn’t like the way I look. When I was young and strong looking they liked to have me as the king’s carpenter. But as I’ve aged, time has not been so kind to me. The longer I live, the more bent over I stay. When the king dismissed me, with little appreciation for my work, no one would even look at me. I felt as though he’d spit on me. All I managed to bring with me was that big ol’ hammer there.’ He pointed it out.

‘So now, you must know that God’s hand is upon me for me to make that beautiful piece using such a big hammer. The other tools I use, I’ve made myself. They too are meager, but that big hammer was once in the king’s carpenter shop. I guess it’s rather special to me. I worked there a long time.’

As he rambled, he came closer to the baby, straining his neck to see him. Joseph sat down behind Mary, putting his hand on her shoulder. They smiled at the man. Mary asked, ‘Would you like to see our baby? Come closer. He’s awakened by your voice, but he won’t cry.’

‘Why, his eyes are opened and he’s just a newborn. I’ve never seen the likes of him,’ the old man said with a chuckled. ‘It looks as though he’s looking right up at me, almost as if he knows me. Precious little boy. What did you name him?’

Joseph spoke up, ‘His name is Jesus. Come closer. Would you like to hold him?’

‘Oh, you can’t trust my back. I don’t think I should.’
But, there was a look of yearning in his eyes.

‘God’s hand is upon you, remember? You said so yourself.
Pick him up and hold him close,’ Mary said.

The old man bent lower to pick him up, praying he’d be able to hold the boy Jesus. As he stood up, he kept straightening himself to a standing position. At first he didn’t even realize he stood up straight, as he did in his youth. He smiled at the child and talked to him ever so quietly. He looked at Mary and said, ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was trying to tell me that he knows me. Just the wishing of an old man…’ His voice trailed off.

Suddenly realizing he was standing tall, he exclaimed, ‘Why, little Jesus, if you could see me now! I’m standing again! It’s a miracle!’

He held the baby close to himself and began to dance around the room. Joseph smiled at Mary and she said, ‘It’s not the first one to happen in this barn.’

After returning the baby to the manger, the man said, ‘I’m blessed by the hand of God, indeed. I can’t repay God for the miracle He’s done in my life, but I do want you to take my hammer with you when you go. I want you to teach this young child to be a good carpenter. As he grows, show him how to bring life to something as simple as a piece of wood. And tell him about me when he’s older. And tell him about the manger. I wish I could tell him myself. If you were going to be around for a while, I’d make him something to take with him, from me. But, I’m sure you’ll be moving on shortly here. So take the hammer, please. The hammer reminded me of when I worked for the king. But, my walk will remind everyone that now I walk with the King.’

His eyes gleamed with joy and delight. Joseph accepted the hammer from the old man and promised it would be Jesus’ to use as he grew, knowing that he’d have to be quite a little man to swing that hammer. It was a big one, indeed.

When Jesus was big enough to lift the hammer, the first thing he made was a manger for his donkey. Though, he didn’t really use the heavy hammer much, he used other tools to carved, as best he could. He took his time and a great deal of care and lovingly made it after the pattern his mother had described so many times. When he’d completed his work, he called his mother to see it. He led her by the hand into the workshop where he and his father worked so diligently. She was proud of his work and her eyes filled with tears.

Jesus said, ‘Mother, if my donkey can come into the house, we can keep it there! It looks beautiful enough for a king’s house, doesn’t it?’

‘It sure does, my son. But, the donkey stays outside.” She laughed as she nodded her approval. “We’ll keep the manger forever. It’ll remind us how our heavenly Father wants us humbled before Him, so He can lift us up with His blessings. The manger you laid in was a blessing, to me, as well as to the old man. I wanted you to have the best, but God wanted you to be born in a barn. Yet, in the midst of that barn, He let us know that He was there with us. Oh my Jesus, I love you.’
She hugged him tight.

As Jesus grew older, he grew in the wisdom of God and in love. He always showed his love graciously, never esteeming himself more highly than others. He knew that it was better to give than to receive and he knew that he would give the ultimate display of love at the appointed time. He knew that when you lend, not to expect back what you’ve lent. And he always gave his best, which is why when a city boy came out to where Jesus lived, looking for the biggest and heaviest hammer he could find, Jesus gave him his.

The boy told him, ‘My father is the biggest man in the city and he has a big job to do. I told him that I would find just the right hammer for the job and I’ll keep looking until I do.’

Jesus stopped him and said, ‘Why did you promise to find this
special hammer for your father?’

‘Wouldn’t you?’ the boy replied. ‘Besides,’ he added with a whisper, ‘if I do bring home the perfect hammer, he won’t send my mother and me away.’

Jesus told him, ‘Well, you’ll need a little help to carry my hammer. It’s very big; just right for that big job. I’ll help you carry it.’

They walked together for almost a mile. Pointing, the boy announced proudly, ‘There’s my father. We live over there. He’ll be pleased.
Would you like to meet him? Come on.’

The boy ran ahead of Jesus, calling to his father. Looking up, the angry looking man saw them coming.

‘I’ve found the biggest and best hammer for you, Father!’ the boy declared, disregarding his father's furrowed brow.

‘Do I know you?' he asked Jesus. 'Your look says you know me.’

‘No,’ Jesus replied, ‘you don’t know me yet.’

He handed him the hammer and shook his other hand. After Jesus turned to walk away, the man looked at his hand, the one that held onto Jesus’, running his fingers over the palm as if he were feeling for something.

‘He was a big man, wasn’t he, Father? He sure had a big hammer,
and he gave it to us, Father!’

Years later on a hill called Golgotha, Jesus saw that hammer again, and it was certainly being used for a big job. After the soldier swung the last blow of the hammer, he looked at the man he was nailing to the cross. His eyes filled with horror as he recognized his face. He fell to his knees, but, quickly got back up before anyone would realize that his heart was being pierced. It seemed like forever as he looked into Jesus’ eyes, everything he’d ever done came up in his mind. He felt so helpless and he somehow knew why.

Jesus said to him, so quietly that no one else heard, ‘Now, you know me. And yes, I’ve always known you, and I love you.’

(lightstock.com)
It was no coincidence the man’s marriage began to mend the day he took hold of that hammer.

It was also no coincidence that his son was standing there beside him - also in a Roman soldier’s uniform.

He dropped the hammer and walked away from the cross, looking back only once. In his heart he grieved. But, he knew that God knew of his grief when Jesus cried aloud from the cross in the air,
‘Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.’

Soon afterward, he followed the disciples
– forgiven and alive for the first time in his life.


Have you yet to hold that hammer in your hand?

The house the King desires to live in is your heart.
What have you let Him build there – with His hammer?

(joeycope.com)
(www.lynnmosher.com)





Sunday, December 13, 2015

Holy Breath

(en.wikipedia.org)
Breath. Whether our first or our last: beautiful!

I wonder how it feels to be the doctor that delivers babies for a living; how it feels to be the first to hold a child leaving the safety of their mother’s womb – as they draw their very first breath.

Holding a newborn just minutes later is so incredibly awe-inspiring and emotionally overwhelming!  Snuggling that same child a week or a month or a year later is, to me, invigorating and life affirming.

I wonder how it feels to be the nurse who holds the hand of the sick or elderly drawing their last breaths.  That, too, must be profound, touching one’s heart and soul in countless ways.

(theguardian.com)
What about all the breaths in between? Do we cherish them, or do we take them for granted? We seldom even pay attention to our breathing unless we’re struggling to do it when we have a cold or are out in temperatures when the air feels like it’s freezing our lungs….or when we’re either so happy or so sad that we’re gasping to catch our breath.

Incredible beauty and anguishing sorrow can both seem to “take our breath away…”

It’s been shared with me that when God created Adam and breathed life into him, the word breathe translates to the word inspire. When I look up the definition of the word inspire, I read: “to fill with an animation, quickening or exalting influence.” God filled Adam, and all of us – with animation; He quickened us, bringing us to life. We respire, which means to breathe. We can only respire once God has inspired us.

As you’ve read this piece, how many breaths have you drawn? God knows, but we pay so little attention to the miracle held in each breath. We’re alive! We’re alive to glorify the giver of Life, Himself!

(angierayphotography.com)
As we draw breath during this holy holiday season, bring to mind the scene; however it looks in your own mind, of when the Christ Child first breathed our air, first cried. I don’t know if they slapped babies on the bottom back then, I’ve not seen a doctor do it these days, either, though. It was probably Joseph who held Him first; we hear no mention of a midwife showing up in the stable. The giver of Life draws breath among us for the first time!

And recall his last, as He called out to our Father, “It is finished.”

(erniearagonjr.wordpress.com)
And think to cherish each breath He drew as He walked on earth in flesh, like we do – leading to the day He’d sacrifice that life for ours; so that we can live with Him eternally in perfect peace.

Each breath is a reminder of the peace that can fill our lives as air fills our lungs – when we let Jesus reign in our hearts!

Hallelujah!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men…. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)
full of grace and truth.” – John 1:1-4, 14 (KJV)
















Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Inner Dialog



(loddymicucci.com)
What’s your mantra? Does it line up with what you want it to be?

I use the term ‘mantra’ lightly, as it’s not necessarily a prayer or incantation I refer to, but the definition that says it’s is simply an often repeated word or phrase.

To me, your mantra is the word or phrase your mind plays back to you regularly. For example, one might hear her own voice daily declaring, “I’m so fat, I’ll never lose this weight….” Or, one might hear her inner voice telling her something like, “I’m powerful, positive, healthy and strong!”

Which voice is likely to empower you and help you to get the most out of your day? Which is likely to take you in the right direction?

We may think we have a positive mantra because we want to be a positive person. But, if things aren’t going as we want them to, or if people are less than enthusiastic about hanging out with us, maybe we’d better take a closer listen to what we tell ourselves every day.

(examinedexistence.com)
Admittedly, it can be hard to make a positive profession about our weight when our jeans get tighter every time we put them on. When everything around us seems to be going wrong, it’s not always easy to declare, in a whisper, that we are successful, happy people.

We too often tend to look at our circumstances, and then – access the situation. Our attitude can change our situations!

No one else knows your secret thoughts, your hidden fears. Well, accept God Himself. We can become masters of deceit when we don’t want the people around us to know how we feel or what we’re thinking.

Never really thought of yourself as deceitful? Me neither. But, who are we deceiving more, those who surround us, who love us – or ourselves?

(silvieandmaryl.com)
Walk past a picture window and glance at your reflection. What’s your immediate response? Yes, the one that flashes through your mind before you clean it up to tell me about it.

Granted, if your physique isn’t something you struggle with, that might be a bad example.

Maybe you view the people around you as more powerful than yourself. Maybe you’re intimidated by them. When the man from the next office over strides by with his shoulders back like he owns the world, does that bother you?

Or maybe, you think you’re better than him. Maybe your ego shouts over any voices of intimidation.

(linkedin.com)
Okay, so maybe I’m coming up with bad examples. What comes to your mind?

Where is it hard to say something nice about yourself? Where do you find it hardest to take compliments? Where is it most difficult to believe what God says about you?

It just could be that the soundtrack playing your mantra has become so familiar to you, that you don’t consciously hear it anymore. But, it’s still feeding you a lie. And the part of you that’s being fed that lie is the part of you you’re least comfortable with, it may even embarrass you.

So, take a minute to listen. Hear what you say to yourself every day. The best place to listen is in front of a mirror. Write it down. Is it good? Is it something you’d proudly share with others?

Within the secrets of successful people is tucked away a precious nugget that says they can be who they want to be, because they already see themselves that way.
 
(prepare1.com)
If I see myself as fat and lazy, I’m probably not going to find it easy to live the life of a healthy, productive woman. Logical. But, we take our thoughts for granted. Only we can change them, and it’s our choice to do so or not.

Where will you start making changes today? That mantra won’t magically change overnight. You’ll have to work at it. You’ve lived with it for how long now?

But, let the changes begin right now!

You might know what Jeremiah 29:11 says. You might know that God has good thoughts of you; good plans for you. But, do you tie His hands with your own unbelief? Do you sabotage His plans with your negative mantras and insecurities?

Whether it seems easy to do or not, - trust Him.

(familytreecounseling.com)

“How precious also are they thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand…” – Psalm 139:17 – 18 (KJV)

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pebbles

(KonstantinChristian/Shutterstock from mommyish.com)
"Father, what good is my one, broken prayer?"

The wise old man shared a pebble from his handful. Impetuously, she threw it into the beautiful, calm ocean waters.

After laughing and marveling over the ripples she made, she asked for another. Pebble after pebble brought her great pleasure as she watch the ripples roll out into the distance.

As small waves began to mount, the old man threw his handful of pebbles far out into the deep.

Now, even happier with the waves than she was with the ripples, she teetered on the sand, dodging the splashing water. Laughter rolled from her mouth as she chased the waves, then turned to run away as they chased her.

(miriadna.com)
After she'd had her fill of running and giggling and falling on the beach, she took the old man's hand and they made their way to drier sand to sit down.

Soaked and covered with sand, she plopped beside him and gazed up into his smiling eyes; she admired him more than anyone else in the world.

She laid back and asked again, "Father, you didn't answer me. What good are my simple little prayers? How can they do anything?"

"Little one, do you suppose there's a child in the sands on the other side of the ocean?"

She thought but didn't answer.

(deeperchristian.com)
"As each of your pebbles plunked into the water, tiny ripples made their way out into the ocean. Suppose those ripples sent waves to the other shore."

"And she splashed and laughed as I did?" she asked with great anticipation.

They looked out over the great body of water.

She smiled and said softly, "Now, she's my friend!"

He smiled down at her. "One little pebble did all that?" asked the old man. "I wonder what one little prayer could do."



“…Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” – James 3:4 (NIV)




Have you read The Butterfly Effect (How Your Life Matters), by Andy Andrews?

Now called The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions, the Butterfly Effect began as Edward Lorenz’s hypothesis that said: “A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules if air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air – eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.”

You can very affordable get a copy of the book here: The Butterfly Effect
It’s a quick read, minutes, actually. It makes a great gift to those who matter most in your life. 

 

Since YOU matter so much in my life, I’m giving away a copy of the book to one randomly chosen reader who comments on this blog post, whether here on the actual blog site, or on Facebook, my social media of choice.

Insignificant? No. I don’t think so!
You’re impacting everyone. Do it purposefully.


Borrowing a season from my friend, “Happy Lovember”!

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
This is what the Lord says— the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel— to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
– Isaiah 49:6-7 (NIV)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Healthy Habits

(puatraining.com)
It’s easy enough to list them out and expound on why they’re healthy habits.

(human-movement.com)
Exercise – we all need exercise, even those of us who consider it a chore. Actually we’re probably the ones who need it most. Exercise strengthens our muscles, helps rid us of unwanted fat, give us energy, releases endorphins in our brains, relieves stress and lets us prove to ourselves just how strong we really are. What’s not to like about it? Yet, many of us don’t.

(pixbam.com)
Clean eating – logical, common sense. When we eat “junk food” or convenience foods, we’re filling our bodies with chemicals and toxins that can’t lead to anything good except a temporarily content belly. Even our belly complains eventually. That kind of eating leads to more body fat, which leads to other health problems. It gives way to becoming sluggish and we lack desire to do anything. Eating real foods that don’t count on chemicals for flavor and other addictive traits contributes to healthier bodies that serve us better.

(theguardian.com)
Adequate sleep – we know this, our bodies need to be well-rested to perform at their best! Yet so many of us toss and turn well into the night, only to glare at the blaring alarm clock just as we finally enter that restful phase of sleep. We need to rejuvenate like we’re suppose to! I’m preaching to the choir leader here, because I’m up late with the rest of you. But, we know better.

A list of healthy habits could quite long, but this next one could potentially be the healthiest habit we can adopt: thankfulness. Can we make a habit of being thankful? Can we become grateful for all we have instead of daydreaming about all we want?

Think about it. If we purposefully wake up every single morning and reach for that attitude of gratitude before we even put on our glasses, before we stumble to the bathroom, before we throw the covers off – what benefits could we quickly see unfolding in our day?

(crosscards.com)
Every November we pull out our lists of what we’re thankful for and post them on social media for all the world to see. And, yay – sharing them is great! But, what if this year, we put a little more pondering into our gratitude? It’s pretty easy to write out a list of things we thank God for, perhaps even getting carried away with how long our list is becoming. If while we’re writing out that list, or even just composing it in our minds, we actually take the time to say thank You to Him, the list making might take longer and be even more fulfilling.

Plus, He loves to hear from us!

If it’s not a habit already engrained in our lives, it’s an addiction that will benefit all of us. Making new habits is much easier than breaking old ones. It makes sense that building new habits that will eventually replace our bad habits will erase the need to battle the ones that were dragging us down.

“In all things, give thanks….” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
 
(etsy.com)




Sunday, October 25, 2015

Proof

“Being God’s witness means being proof of His love on the earth.”

I got to sit next to one of my grandsons this morning in church. I loved it! Just being around my grandchildren infuses me with happiness. Do they wear me out sometimes? Of course, let’s face it – I’m old. But - the energy and life they pour into me far outweighs anything they get from me; they drain off the negative energy!

So, as we sat there trying to pay attention while making paper airplanes, I wrote out a line from the sermon that snagged in the web of my brain. If it’s not exactly what he said, it’s what I heard and processed.

When our children were younger, sometimes after a church service I’d ask them what they brought away from the message. Presuming that Joe’s parents might do the same thing to make sure I wasn’t distracting him with my verbosity and antics (yes, I’ve been known to perform antics during sermons… like the time I squeezed eye drops from my bottle into the ears of the man in front of me. Yes. I have adhd and sometimes it shows, but I digress…), I also wrote on my notebook page, “In case your parents ask what you learned in church, learn this.”

Wow. Bad grandma! Was that cheating?
(reddit.com)
I have to give the boy credit, though. He can multi-task like nobody’s business. He was totally paying attention to pastor and the videos we watched, interjecting his thoughts from time to time, while producing better paper airplanes than I could. Truth be told, he may have taken away more from the sermon than I did! And yes, he memorized my note, having glanced at it just once.

Yesterday, I attended a teaching on how to effectively share the love God pours into you, with others in a very brief moment. It’s a method that may or may not create lifelong friends, but, it’s a way to open the door for dialog with someone you know, or with a stranger. If you’d like, you can check it out here, it’s called the One Minute Witness .


Witnessing about God’s love isn’t something we do, it’s something we are.

We are His witnesses, because we are the proof of His love in the earth.

Okay, so some of us don’t show it as well as others. But, it’s not because we don’t have God’s love within us, it’s because we’re weary or fearful or just too busy. We need to do something about that.

(encourageyourspouse.com)
In Christ, we can surrender our fears.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear….” – 1 John 4:18 (NIV)

In Christ, we can surrender our busyness and the stressors that wear us out. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

In Christ we can surrender anything that holds us back or fights within us to keep us down: our past, our job, our friends, our families, our anxieties – anything.

The things we surrender don’t vanish into thin air. This isn’t a magic show of lights and mirrors. The power of love that lives within us inspires us in the midst of those things.

Today, consider allowing the life you’re living in Christ to yield proof of God’s love to those around you, everyone around you.

(layman.org)







Sunday, September 6, 2015

Yes, He's Still There



 As intimacy with our Creator grows, it becomes easier to abandon doubt.

How does intimacy grow between two individuals?

We stop holding back from each other, we dare to reveal our whole selves to each other and in doing so, love grows, trust grows and intimacy grows.

Once we’ve been betrayed and hurt a process of withholding begins within us, for the sake of self-protection.

In our relationship with God, disobedience is betrayal. Yet, when creation betrayed our Creator, He already had His arms out waiting for us.

“But God commends His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

(discovermagazine.com)
God didn’t wait for us to make the first move. He didn’t wait for us to recognize our wrong doing or to come to Him to ask forgiveness. No, He provided a plan for our redemption and the reconciling of our relationship with Him before we even rebelled.

God’s love for us is unconditional. Nothing can separate us from His love!

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)

(cafaweb.com)
Right in the middle of our ugliest sin – God loves us!

Most of us have known personal betrayal and the agony of the pain it causes. Who among us hasn’t felt that anguish?

We know trust is seldom easily restored, and as the betrayals amass, trust can completely fade away.

And even before we consider trusting our offender again, we’re confronted with the dilemma of forgiveness.

I believe the best way to enter any relationship that’s expected to last, especially marriage, is with the intentional plan to forgive. Offenses will come.

(allthingsclipart.com)
“Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!” - Luke 17:1 (NKJV)

Many of us attempt to enter into relationships with each other and with God, and expect to never be offended.

While walking out the gospels, Jesus even said things that offended His followers, many stopped following Him when He told them they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Without understanding, that does sound sick and disgusting.

When God confronts our sin, our pride, our disobedience or even our lack of participation in the relationship, sometimes we tend to get a bit bent out of shape. Don’t we? Often we’ll flat out deny our part in the matter.

(memegenerator.net)
Relationships between people require attention. If you routinely ignore your spouse, they’ll become offended, thinking they’re not important to you. How can we expect to ignore the most important relationship of our lives?

Our wounds can make us do crazy things.

But, unlike people, God is always anticipating our return, always looking to the reconciling of our relationship with Him. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” - 2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)



God, being God, reaches out to us continually.

Yet, we, in our fear or pride, attempt to hide things from Him, perhaps because we get away with hiding them from ourselves and others for a season.

We all need validation; to share our story in our own way. (I realize not everyone feels the need to talk to anyone, anywhere, like I do.) Yet, we think we can hold back parts of our story from the One Who’s seen it all.


As much as we crave intimacy, we’re the ones who stand in our own way.

God desires intimacy with us so much so, that He chose, out of love for us, to cover the cost of our offenses. He lovingly provides endless intimacy for the taking.

God loved us first, so that we could love Him. “We love Him because He first loved us.” - 1 John 4:19 (NKJV)

It’s our move.

It’s your move.

Decide now; what is your next step?

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But, as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15 (NKJV)






Monday, August 31, 2015

More Mercy

(pinterest.com)
Lord, forgive me. Forgive my selfish ways and rid me of them.
Could it be anything but pride that rises up in me 
insisting on my own way?
Offenses come too easily for this Princess!
I yearn to be more like my Father, creative and loving.
When criticism takes control of my tongue and lashes out words that don’t resemble love in any way, 
sorrow and anguish squeeze my heart
and every soul it encroaches upon.
You live in me, O Lord! If the colors I spill out into my world fall through the facets of the stained glass windows of my soul, clean them - so that only Your love shines through 
the uniqueness You designed into me.
With Your healing hand and the Balm of Gilead, through the life-giving power of the Blood of Jesus, wash me and make me new; again.
Rejoicing with gratefulness, I thank You; again.
Taking in Your mercy, let’s unfold today, together; again.


Day One……

(jacqueswatkins.com)
“…We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” – Daniel 9:18 (NIV)