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Purpose Amidst Imperfection 

Nestled amidst the sunrise of a fresh week and all the promise it holds is an ever faithful reminder of my inadequacy. I am presently, but peacefully aware that I got more wrong than right last week, and that will surely be my truth this week as well.

My keen sense of insufficiency poses a different purpose for me now, though. Growing in grace teaches me that it is no longer about striving for perfection only to be frustrated, but seeking purpose amidst my imperfection only to be furthered.

 It is an incongruent truth that on the other side of our failures is an intention designed for our prosperity. 

Understanding that falling down is not a shameful thing, but a sacred tool is the genesis of praise. Praise opens the door and welcomes gratitude right into our hearts.

When gratitude is our guest, we see through all the heavy right into the heart of the holy, and joy becomes a source of our strength. 

This week, friend, I pray you have eyes to see and ears to hear all the beauty that your brokenness beholds, and your heart will sing, it is good and it is well with my soul.
You are loved.❤️

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The Emphasis is Not I, But I Am

When I am in a state of spiritual amnesia, which can happen all too quickly, I can get myself wound up over making pending decisions or managing looming outcomes. God has impressed upon me lately to take notes on myself; notes about how I talk to myself and about myself. What is my “self-talk?” Journaling my thoughts and talk has been a VERY helpful thing to do for a vast variety of reasons. Themes emerge that bear paying attention. One line I catch myself saying is some variation of, “What am I going to do; or, I just do not know what to do?” The first red flag in these functionally atheistic statements is the emphasis of I. I am just not that powerful, and that is easy to forget. Making decisions can be hard, especially when they are quilted closely to the treasures of our hearts. I often have to remember that I am not in this alone. I have a Savior who is sovereign and does not get it wrong–EVER. In the midst of our hard predicaments, however, this chart below is the perfect depiction of how to go about making spiritual sound decisions. I know many of you are facing difficult choices in your life. If you aren’t now, you will be soon. I pray you find this helpful, friend! This is the day The Lord has made, and you are loved this day, and all days.

 

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He is Soverign Over Us

 

We all have circumstances in our lives that we wish were different, and this reality is one of the easiest places the enemy entangles us. You may be in an unstable marriage, parenting a prodigal child, facing addiction, disease or significant loss. Whatever the challenge you have been given may be, it may not have come from God’s hands, but it did go through His hands.  It is hard to live amidst our struggles and remain joyful when we traverse difficult paths. The great danger is that as we walk our routes, it is tempting to compare our journey to another’s. Comparison tricks us into thinking others have it easier or have been given favor. Comparison is a liar, and we believe her far too quickly. Observing others casts darkness into our lives, and it is easy to begin fantasizing about a more comfortable life.  We must recognize fantasy for what it is; a fraud who draws you into his web with unrealistic thoughts of “better things.” In the life of a believer, there ought to be nothing better than walking well in obedience the road our Master has assigned us. Perseverance is not possible if we are self-focused. It is impossible if we are contrasting our journey with someone else’s. It is when we fix our eyes on Jesus, insulate our hearts with His Word, and our desire to please our Savior overshadows that of pleasing our self, that we endure and our weeping is joined by worship, purpose enters our pain and joy joins our journey. Consider 1 Corinthians 7:17~And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. Don’t think I’m being harder on you than on the others. I give this same counsel in all the churches. (The Message). I pray today, friend, that you and I believe in the plan of our good and faithful Provider as hard as it may be. He is in the midst of every heartache. Fight to be still and know that He is God, and He is good. When we live as though He is sovereign over us, His strength and peace will equip us as we travel. You are loved!

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Good news

There are many things that I do, feel or say that shock me when I honestly look at my heart.  Self-examination would be defeating, were it not for the good news of the Gospel.  The Bible discusses every one of my flaws as a struggle for someone within its chapters.  I am so thankful those things are there!  Without God’s word I would either have to live a shallow life of pretend and denial; or under so much condemnation that anxiety, fear, shame and depression would likely be my best friends.  The gospel is good news!

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I’m Going Home

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I’m going home.  Recently I visited my grandmother in Texas where she lives in a home and receives full-time care.  At ninety-six her body is strong, but her mind has slipped. Most days she cannot put intelligible words together.  Occasionally, however, she is very clear when uttering a few words.  On the first day after “visiting” with her, I told her I would be back to see her tomorrow, and she very discernibly responded, “I won’t be here.” I asked her where she would be, and again she stated with great clarity, “I’m going home.” At that moment those words broke my heart and brokered tears.  As I have been pondering her words and that twinkle in time, I have realized that those are the most beautiful three words anyone can say with the confidence Pete did that day.  Despite her deficits, she knows her desired destination-Home.  Those three words still make me cry, because I now perceive them as a beautiful declaration of her destiny rather than a brutal depiction of her desperation.  I’m going home.  That is the hope of all our hearts.  I’m going home.  It is the mantra that rings in the background of all our messes.  When we know our eternal home is Heaven, are there any more beautiful words? 2

Corinthians 5:6-9 ~So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.

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Who or What Are You Trusting

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Right now it seems all the world has to offer is unrest, uncertainty, division, fear and anger, but God gives us His word.  It is the balm and the pacifier for all things.  Last night I was reading in the Psalms before I went to bed.  Psalm 112:7-8 says, they do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.  As I meditated on that, I immediately felt lighter.  I cannot just read God’s word.  That does me no good.  I must believe His word.  Perception without practice is unbelief that only leads us down dirt roads disillusioned by fear.  The degree to which we trust the Lord at His word is directly proportional to our level of peace. We are all trusting in something.  When I find myself anxious, afraid or mingling with any of their cohorts, I know I am trusting in something or someone other than my Savior.  May you find freedom and rest in the Word, not the world today, friends.

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Are You Waiting?

  
Are you waiting?
I am a fairly patient person but when it comes to waiting on matters close to my heart, I am a work in progress. Waiting for answers to my desperate prayers, especially the ones I have been praying for a long time challenges my patience and tests my faith every day. (Psalm 119:81)

I am learning to train myself to remember that my wait is God’s welcome. It is His invitation for me to grasp a deeper dependence on Him, strengthen my trust in His plan, not mine, and to spend more time in His presence. Also, I have come to realize that when I am waiting, He is working in me the most. He is pruning me and perfecting His plans for me.

God answers some prayers immediately. Some take us through many intervals of being on hold. I think in one way or another we are all in a season of waiting. I am practicing being grateful in my wait because I believe God’s word. (Lamentations 3:25)

I know that His timing is perfect even when it looks imperfect to me. I am practicing praising Him in my waiting because I am certain it is a conduit He uses to work all things for my good. (Romans 8:28.)

Sometimes my wait ends in an outcome that my earthly eyes view as unfavorable, but God has eternal eyes, and I trust His superior vision above my self-centered sight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If you are in a time of waiting, do not let it be wasted. Practice prayer. Practice trusting that God is perfecting His plan for you. Lastly, practice praising Him for the good things He is doing for you that no man can immediately see or imagine. It will transform the weariness of your wait, and give greater purpose to your grueling pause. (Psalm 33:20-22)

Keep fighting the good fight, friends!

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The Trail of Life

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Yesterday our family set out on what was supposed to be a short hike.  It turned into four-miles.  I realize for a lot of you that is short.  Not for me, especially in muddy, rocky, uphill terrain, with altitude as a contributing barrier.

As I was struggling through a large uphill span of our hike, I was noticing all the ways nature mimics life.  The trials of that riddled trail were a parable of life.  There are times in life when we are sucking air just to survive, and there are times we are enjoying the view.

Struggles are often long and appear as if they will never end.  Giving up or giving in becomes an attractive option.  Fears are frequent and real.  The bends and turns are prone to placing us in barren places rather than beautiful spaces.  We have this great hope, though, that a great joy awaits, so we pick ourselves up and continue walking.

When we experience those moments where we catch our breath and enjoy the beauty around us, we appreciate them more because we know the effort and intention it took to get there.  The experience gives us a fresh supply of endurance for our trek knowing those encounters are just preludes to something greater.

The walk goes on.  We cycle through stages on a spectrum somewhere between worn and wonderful.  It is within the worn corners we grow in determination and perseverance.  In the wonderful places, we cultivate grateful hearts, and our eyes begin to see the fountains of grace poured into our pilgrimage.

Life is a necessary combination of both, the broken and beautiful so that we remain steadfast with our eye on the ultimate reward ahead-Home.

Yesterday for me, the grand reward was the sight of our car.  As we walk the path of our eternal home, though, knowing for certain the joy that awaits us is sustenance for the trails of our hike.

Keep walking friends.  If you believe the Bible to be true, there is unimaginable and everlasting gratification at the end of your journey.

Hebrews 12:1~Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

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It is About Relationship not Religion

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A religion is defined by rules, a relationship by righteousness. Religion focuses on practices; a relationship focuses on purpose. A religion nurtures obligations; a relationship nourishes obedience. Guidelines are the foundations of religion. Grace is the foundation of a relationship. Religion is typically acquired from childhood; relationships tend to be acquiesced from crisis. It was when I met pain that I lost the details of a religion and gained the depth of a relationship. That made all the difference!
1 John 5:20~ And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

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Free to Be Inadequate

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I do not just want to read my Bible.   I want to reap my Bible.   I do not just want to go to church.   I want to be the church.   I do not just want to explore my Bible.   I want to encounter God in my Bible.   I do not want to just understand truth.   I want to stand under truth.   I am not adequate because I read my Bible, encounter God or stand under truth.   I am free to be inadequate because I know the gospel.   Thank you Jesus for completing me.