Monday, December 14, 2015

You're 18 Today...

You're 18 today...
I'm not sure how I thought today was so far away, it's always seemed to be off in the distance somewhere. 
Maybe because I'm not ready for you to be grown. 
Everyone says time goes fast, but dear God, it really does. 
And nothing has really prepared me to see you fly. 

When I look at your beautiful face, I still see this face sometimes. 
It's always in my mind's eye - the precious, sweet smelling bundle of you curled up so tight into my chest. 
I can still feel the weight of you in my arms, your tiny hand holding my finger and your eyes locked onto mine. 
I've never loved someone so fiercely in my life. 

Your Dad and I had no idea how much you would change our lives; would expand our knowledge of love and life and faith and grace in abundance. 
But you have. 
You are the best thing we ever did. 
You made us a family. 
Not just because of your presence, but because of YOU. 

We've watched you grow, and in truth, we've grown alongside you. 
In trying to make your world a better place, you've taught us that it already is - because you're in it. 
We had a life before you joined us here, but honestly, it's hard to remember those years. 
We were missing you.

I wish for today that you could truly see yourself through our eyes, through the eyes of all who know and love you. 
Whatever words I write here will never be able to tell the story of how you make everything better in the world. 
But I will try...

In short, you are JOY personified. 
You carry light and breath and warmth with you wherever you go.
And yes, you make everything fun

You are the light in the center of the room that draws everyone in, knowing they will be loved and warmed and accepted.  
Your compassionate heart and fierce loyalty set you apart from the crowd and you've never, ever known a stranger. 

Em, you have a passion for life and a desire to make the world around you joyful and grace-filled. 
You are kind and caring and strong and funny and wise and have a sense of justice that simply floors me at times. 
You have a way of seeing the truth in someone's eyes and a heart big enough and wide enough to embrace them in their pain or distress or lostness and give them a place of peace. 
Your friends feel safe with you. 
Loved by you. 
No judgment from you, just safe. 

Even those who don't share your faith or value system know that they can trust you, can count on you, feel at home with you. 
Because Em, you know who you are and you know WHO you belong to and you are firm in your convictions and you don't back down when you are challenged. 
There's not enough of that in this world and you have it in spades. 
And you have the respect and love of your peers for it. 
Never change that my sweet girl. 

When I think about these 18 years, the memories flood my heart and it's just overwhelming, this love I feel for you.
You know, I've been winging it all these years. 
You didn't come with that handbook everyone talks about so your Dad and I have been kinda making it up as we went along. 
But we watched you, and learned you and loved you every day.

And we prayed for you. 
Every. Day. 

We still do. 
Because it's how we can love you best. 

To pray to the God who loves you more than anyone else ever can or will be able to. 
To pray that you love Him with all your heart. 
To pray that He gives you direction and purpose and meaning and ability and a heart that longs to serve Him with whatever you choose to do in life.

We pray for your friendships, that they will be strong and lasting and real. 
We pray for the man who will eventually be your husband. 
That he will love Jesus more than anything and that he will love you with every fiber of his being and that he will always be true to you. (Find someone like your Dad - if he's 1/2 the man your Father is, you'll have a keeper.)

Emma my love, today is your day.
Embrace this moment as you do all others in your life - with passion, with courage and with JOY

You are our greatest joy and most precious treasure. 
And I love you baby girl. 
I simply love you. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Words in the Middle

I've been reading in Galatians 5 this week - if you've been a Christ-follower for longer than 10 minutes, you know this as one of the 'Fruits of the Spirit' passages, or the 'impossible to live up to' passages.
And as much as I've been convicted by those wonderful Christ-like traits, I was more convicted today by a few words we easily (and conveniently) skip over because they are buried in the middle of another verse. 

"Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another." Galatians 5:26

Conceited, check. 
Jealous, check. 
Both are bad behaviors and most of us work hard at keeping them at bay.
But look at the three little words in the middle - "provoke one another". 

"Provoke one another".
I have to confess that as much as I don't like arguments or confrontation and the unpleasantness that comes along with them, I don't shy away either. In fact, for me, I'd much rather confront the elephant in the room than ignore it. The way I process my feelings, good, bad or indifferent, is to DEAL with them.
Get them out in the open so I can examine them and work through them and learn the lesson and move on.
But for those I love, my dealing with things becomes their dealing with things when their personalities are exactly the opposite of mine.
So what do I do when I'm bubbling up inside? When I'm spilling over the edge with unresolved emotion? 

I pick a fight.
I provoke my others in to engaging with me so I can work through whatever is crushing me at the moment.
In other words, I become the selfish, prideful bully that demands her own way (1 Corinthians 13:5 anyone?) and steamrolls her way into 'getting it off my chest'.
Not very Christ-like is it?
Not much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness there is it?
Definitely no self-control.
That's a big "Fruit of the Spirit" FAIL. 

And usually the biggest reason for my failure is that I didn't run to the One who can heal my hurt and my heart and redirect my anger and pain over whatever the situation may be.
Thank goodness my sweet family loves me in spite of myself, but the One who loves me most is the only One that can carry my burden for me. And He can handle my anger and self-righteous indignation and pride.
After all, He nailed it to the cross and died for it.
For me. 

Dear Jesus,
Let me remember to always bring my hurt, pain, anger and tears to YOU. You are the only one who can calm my unsettled heart and wipe my cheeks dry and comfort me in my distress.
Remind me that instead of provoking my loved ones to join me in my anger, to pray for peace in my relationships. To hold my tongue until sweet, encouraging words can roll off it. To love them as you have loved me.

With a Courageous Heart, 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

God is Never Late

Somedays I live in 'late'. 
Always trying to squeeze out one more minute of getting something done before I have to run to the next task or event or meal. 
I have a house to manage, a business to run and a family to care for - I am a BUSY woman! 
Time is of the essence people!
Needless to say, all this running and squeezing creates a less than peaceful Robin for my family and friends. 
Heck, it's not so great for me either!

My heart and my body long for a slow-down, a respite, a breath as I trap myself in a world of 'what's next'. Living in 'late' has fed into my life of worry and anxiety and my tendency to charge ahead and get it done without waiting on the Lord to lead the way. 
Busy-ness is one of my biggest struggles and because of it, sometimes I miss what my precious Father God is trying to say to me as I urgently whiz past Him, running on to the next thing on my agenda. 
Late yet again. 

Can I get an 'Amen'?! 

(I don't like this word usually because it tends to negate whatever came before it, however this time, it belongs here), 


GOD is never late. 

I know you've heard it before, just let it sink in this time: 

GOD is never late. 
He knows our need and He knows our hearts and He continues to wave his arms about, trying to flag us down and get our attention. 
And I for one am oh, so grateful that He loves me that much. 

It takes a lot to slow me down some days. 
Last night, oddly enough, it was a video game. 
Ha! No, I wasn't playing, but Emma and I were sitting together watching Mark play Xbox - getting great enjoyment from his angst as he "died" many times over. (I really should video tape it sometime - it's pretty funny stuff. But I digress.)

I was working on posting yesterday's blog post on Facebook when I ran across my friend Shannon Long's Scripture Writing Plan for July. 
I'd seen it before and fleetingly thought "Oh, I should do that." and then went on to 'what's next'.....

But last night, God said, "No, not this time. Stop. And breathe. And DO this."
So, I'm listening. 
And Oh, what a sweet release it was to me. 
Day one spoke right to my heart. Right when I needed it most. 
It's allowing me to breathe today and feel peace in the crazy. 

Read this now my friends. 
Let it's truth wash over you and bring peace to your heart. 
I know God is right on time for some of you reading this today - I'm praying for you!

Philippians 4:4-9

Always be full of joy in the Lord. 
I say it again—rejoice! 
Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. 
Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. 
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 
Fix your thoughts 
on what is true, 
and honorable, 
and right, 
and pure, 
and lovely, 
and admirable. 
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. 
Then the God of peace will be with you.

With a Courageous Heart, 
(Be sure to visit Shannon's Blog and download or print out the July Scripture Writing Plan. I'll be doing it every day this month and I challenge you to join me!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Gospel - From the Beginning

My dear readers, 

There's been a lot going on in my life since I last posted here, but mainly, God has been working in many ways, both large and small. 

It's been challenging and overwhelming at times, all shaping me more into who He's called me to be and to do what He's called me to do. 

Recently I've been privileged to co-lead a new Bible Study as we begin an official Women's Ministry in our church. 

#RealWomen #RealImpact came about from a simple 'meet for coffee' with two other women I am blessed to serve with at Impact Church NOVA. As we met that morning, it very quickly became abundantly clear that the Holy Spirit was working specifically in each of us three, speaking to us and prompting us to begin our Women's Ministry in earnest. 

3 hours passed and we left that Starbucks with a full 6 week outline in hand including lesson topics, breakout group activities, retreat plans and committed dates on our calendars. 

We began to meet the first Saturday in June and we've seen God do some wonderful things in the hearts and lives of the women we're meeting with - in short, He is amazing! 

Today, I'm sharing Week 1 of #RealWomen #RealImpact with you. 

It's a look at The Gospel from a different perspective. One that begins, well, at the beginning and leads us to The Word made flesh. 
My prayer is that it speaks to you and challenges you as you continue your adventure with Christ. 

The Gospel - From the Beginning

The Bible, as we know, is God’s story. It’s a compilation of His love letters to us in one book. 
This book has stood the tests of time and challenge. It’s a book that remains both a lighthouse and a lightning rod because of the truth it contains. 
All attempts to discredit its truth have failed because it is ultimate truth. 
Infallible truth. 
And it’s pages are woven together with a singular thread - the blood of God’s son Jesus. 

All books have a beginning, a middle and an ending. 
And a compelling storyline to keep you engaged from cover to cover. 
The Bible is a story of perfection and failure and restoration and failure and redemption that’s possible because it was written by a God who loves His creation and has a beautiful purpose and plan for the lives He’s created. 

No matter how many times His creation fails Him, God still loves, still pursues, still redeems. 
And there is no missing that storyline as we read of His love revealed in the pages of His word. 
This video is a wonderful summation of His love for us: 

The Story of God from Josh Sliffe on Vimeo.

So, there you have it, our salvation, our restoration - 
God’s perfect plan for us is reflected in the entirety of His story from beginning to end. 

**Let's start at the BEGINNING and look at some scripture together. 
  • Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”
  • Colossians 1:15-17
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.”
  • John 17:5
“Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.”
  • 2 Timothy 1:9
“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
  • John 1:1-5
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

**Scripture clearly shows us that Jesus - the Messiah, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Sacrifice; was, is and always will BE. He is one third of the Holy Trinity - God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

So, why did Jesus have to die? 
What is the purpose of his blood? 

To answer that - we need to look back at the Garden, back to Adam and Eve and the serpent. 

God, even though He created Adam and Eve to walk in perfect communion with Him, God created them with FREE WILL
They always had a choice between good and evil; obedience and disobedience. 

  • Deuteronomy 11:26-28
“Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.”

**God planted the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and told them it was the one tree they could not eat from.

  • Genesis 2:16-17
“But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.””

**You would think being told you would DIE would be enough to keep you from doing the thing you’re not supposed to do. 
Especially when the one telling you is the one who created you. Isn’t it reasonable to assume He knows more? But in our sin nature, our human nature, we don’t like being told what not to do, do we? 

God also created the serpent and placed him in the garden: 
  • Genesis 3:1a
“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made.”

**And as the story goes - his first victim was Eve: 
  • Genesis 3:1b - 6
“One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.”

**Once the serpent deceived Eve, tempted her to eat of the tree and she shared the fruit with Adam, we know what happens next - scripture tells us that “their eyes were opened, and they felt shame at their nakedness.” (Genesis 3:7)

**Sin never takes us unaware - built into each of us the choice to do good or do evil - FREE WILL - just like Adam and Eve discovered when they disobeyed the one command God had given them. And you have to wonder why? 
They had it pretty good. 
Perfection in their Garden home. 
Communion with God. 
The perfect man. 
The perfect woman. 
How rough could it have been?
But verse 6 tells us that Eve “wanted the wisdom it (the fruit) would give her”. 

Aren’t we always tempted by what we don't have, by what we are told we can’t have? 

The serpent made it sound so good. His words offered her something new, something extra. 
We always do want more, don’t we?

And when we give in to our temptation, we are left with the consequences. 
We end up asking ourselves the very pointed question -

“What have I done?” 

And it’s followed by blame, regret, shame and fear. 
Nothing good, ever. 
  • Genesis 3:13
“Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?””

**Eve blames the serpent - “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”
But Eve didn’t eat simply because the serpent deceived her, she ate because she wanted what he told her it would give her. Remember?
  • Genesis 3:4-6
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.

**Eve believed the serpents’ lies because they sounded good to her - enticing her with what he knew she wanted. 

With that single, simple act of disobedience, Eve set in motion our redemption story. 

When she went after what she wanted instead of obeying God, it resulted in drastic, life-altering (life-ending) circumstances. 

First, for the serpent: 
  • Genesis 3:14-15
Then the Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, you are cursed
    more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
    groveling in the dust as long as you live.
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
    and you will strike his heel.

Next, for the woman (Eve):
  • Genesis 3:16
“Then he said to the woman,
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
    and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
    but he will rule over you.”

**It is so compelling that God directly addressed Eve’s desire for special wisdom, His curse was directed at the very heart attitude that caused the break in their intimacy with Him. 

Lastly, for Adam:
  • Genesis 3:17-19
“And to the man he said,
“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
    whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
    All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
    though you will eat of its grains.
By the sweat of your brow
    will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
    from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
    and to dust you will return.””

And without a perfect, sinless sacrifice we all face eternal separation from God.

So, the answer to our question - 
Why did Jesus have to die? 
What makes Jesus this perfect sinless sacrifice?

Jesus is fully God, yet fully man. 
He IS God. 
Jesus is living, eternal and holy.  
His death, and resurrection sets him apart from any other sacrifice that could be made. 
No one but God himself could make a way for us to return to Him. 

Jesus not only died for our sin - the sin that is unavoidable because of what took place in the Garden;  Jesus - because He is God - raised himself from the dead and provides a hope that no other faith, sect or religion can boast. 
Our salvation is in THE living Christ. THE Son of God. 
THE Word made flesh. 

“The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.” 
- John 1:4

With a Courageous Heart, 

Friday, February 13, 2015

No Fear in Love

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

My cousin Tina and I were born on the same day, May 25, three years apart.

Through our childhood, we were frequent companions, sharing birthday parties and being playmates and giggly girls, trying hard to be good for Grandma.
The climbing tree in Grandma's backyard always beckoned us to sit in it's high branches and play 'house'. A trip to the store might mean an ice cold Coca-Cola in the bottle and a box of Barnum's Animal Crackers to share.
All in all a life filled with the innocent fun of girls who were oblivious to ugliness and pain and abuse.

Or so I thought.

It was a visit to Tina's home when I was 13 that opened my eyes to the truth of her world.
Her home was not the safe harbor that I knew and my most distinct memories of that visit are of fear and silence.
She was 10 years old.

Soon after, her sister Leasa was born.
Barely surviving her birth, she was deprived of oxygen during the process, and a victim of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, her precious life was tragic from the start.

Over the next several years Tina and I began to drift apart as we each grew into our own teenage lives. The Summer and Holiday visits were different now - we were different now, each of us shaped by our singular circumstances and personal choices.

My path took me down a road where my heart was yearning to be loved and I lost my innocence in the process.

Her path took her down a road of drugs and alcohol in an effort to escape the actions that were forced upon her. Her innocence long shattered.

After high school, we as individuals seemed to find our inner strength and sense of purpose that compelled us to try and make something of our lives. To walk away from the former and leave the memories behind.
I was entering the police academy as she graduated high school and began work in a dental office, eventually working her way up to a skilled dental hygenist.
She moved away from home and seemed to be building a better life, with different friends and different goals.

But as in so many cases of abuse victims, Tina met the man she would eventually marry and who would eventually be her complete undoing.

April 1990.
I made the two hour drive to Tina and Gregg's small apartment in Richmond, VA.
It was a happy occasion, their wedding was in September and we had dress shopping to do. After spending the day among satin, lace and tulle, reminiscent of our girlhood trips to the dress section of my Grandma's favorite department store, I stayed overnight to extend our visit. It had been too long and I missed the close companionship we'd once had.

The two of us stayed up long past midnight, talking and sharing memories when our conversation turned to her fiancé.
What Tina shared with me that night - trusted me with that night - should have been enough for me to pack her up and get her far away from her nightmare life.
Once again, the lies abuse victims tell themselves in order to survive won out as she assured me that he was different now. He had changed. He promised her that he'd never do those things again.
Lie after lie after lie until she had me convinced to leave it alone. It was her life to live as she chose.

I woke up the next morning to the stench of drug smoke and alcohol in the living room - where he had spent the night - and I cowardly made my exit.

If this story had a happy ending, I'd take you there now.
My heart hurts and my thoughts are dark as I unpack this tale for you here. It's almost too hard to tell it knowing now what I should have known then.

But I never had to worry about having a Father that loved me.
A Father that protected me.
A Father who had control over himself and his actions.
A Father that would have given his life to see mine preserved.
I hadn't yet met my husband, but because my Father was the kind of man he was, he provided the blueprint for the man I needed to marry.

Tina didn't have that privilege and it was never more evident than on her wedding day.
As I look back, I can see her stuffed pain, her hidden tears, her wounded soul, her crushed heart. All pushed aside for her determination to make the most of her fairytale day.
It was to be her only taste of any fairytale.

Years later, Tina's sister Leasa graduated from her special high school.
I drove my Mom and Grandma down for the ceremony and party afterwards.
It was the first time I'd seen Tina face to face since my wedding day in December of 1991.

She was a shell of her former self. Her face and body ravaged by years of alcohol and drug use and the suffering of unspeakable acts of violence.
I couldn't even look at her husband.
It was with a superhuman effort that I'd even agreed to make the trip and stand in their house to celebrate Leasa's accomplishment.

You see, it was only a few years earlier that we learned through my Aunt, Tina's Mother, that Tina's husband was not only a drug abuser, but he was a sexual deviant.
It was discovered that he had sexually abused Leasa multiple times in their home.
Times when she would stay with them overnight to give my Aunt a break from her care.
He was arrested and charged with the crimes, but because of reasons still unknown to me, he wasn't convicted of the crimes that should have put him away for life, but merely placed on short probation and allowed to go home.
Apparently the testimony of a mentally challenged victim isn't enough. And her sister, a victim all her life, was unable to break free of her own cycle of abuse in order to speak out and change the outcome.

So, as victims do, Tina chose to stay with him.
And I couldn't comprehend it.
Couldn't comprehend personally how that kind of fear rules your life and causes you to make choices that are appalling to most.

Her life came to an unimaginably horrific end seven years ago.
Tina's husband had kicked her out of their home and for over two years, she had been living either out of her car, or with another man who was prostituting her for drugs and money.
She was found dead on the side of the road on a cold early spring day.
The physical cause of her death is unknown to me, but in all honesty, I've often wondered if she was dead before she was even given a chance to live.

I write this story today because as many of you know, the highly controversial movie "50 Shades of Grey" premieres this weekend.
Valentine's weekend.
A time when love is celebrated.

50 Shades of Grey is not love.
It portrays an outward personification of hurt and pain and fear.
It is a portrait of dark desires and deviant actions that have been fed by fuel that should burn no one.
It is not a love story.
It is a fear story. It is a pain story. It preys on our emotions and the dark places in our hearts that we more often than not don't choose to explore.
It is a story of desperation and sadness if you but choose to see it.

Those who see Christian Grey as a romantic figure might do well to ask themselves what caused him to discover and then feed the deviance he embraces.
Those who see Ana as the girl who saves him should perhaps ask why she is drawn to him at all.
This is escapism some say. This isn't reality, it's harmless fun between two consenting adults.
But the people who live these lives outside the pages of a book or the scenes in a movie might not be all that they seem. Some may be hiding pain and hurt and anger so deep inside that they either aren't aware of it or are unable to acknowledge it as they pursue anything to fill up the empty void in their lives.

As a police officer I learned the importance of asking why. Of digging deeper into a situation until I found the underlying cause.
Those whys take you to some very dark places.

To this day, I wish I'd asked why more often for Tina's sake. And for Leasa's.
I didn't, but it's made me more determined to pay attention to what's unsaid. To what's observed when it seems out of place. To persist even when assurances that all is well are present.
It's that regret that brings me here today.
To share their story to hopefully make you think about the dark places in our human hearts.

We all have them, and in truth the only thing that can permanently break through that darkness is the One who is Himself light.

There are no shades with Christ, only light.
Truth and light and a love that never causes pain or fear.

If you are reading 50 Shades of Grey, ask yourself why.
If you are planning to view the movie, ask yourself why.
The only path for the temporary high of a dark thrill is another dark thrill.
And another.
And another.
Until you find yourself trapped in a world of darkness that causes pain and more darkness.

I can only urge you to look to the light today. To find a place of freedom from whatever has you in chains today.
Christ waits for you with open arms and a grace that allows no darkness to invade.
No shades, just light.

With a Courageous Heart,

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Feel His Pleasure

There's that moment, in the middle of what to some would be a mundane task.
The moment that you know you are right smack dab in the middle of God's purpose for your life.
You know He's working out His plan and you feel His pleasure.

To others it's a motion that deserves no more than a passing thought.
It's a stop in time that could, by many, be done on auto-pilot.

But not you.
Your heart catches in your chest and you feel your eyes become wet with tears of joy and the only thing you can do is stop.
You close your eyes, hold your hands up to the sky and tilt your head back and you can feel your Creator smiling right into your soul.
He's singing His song over you and it rolls in waves over your heart.

And you just whisper "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

The tears roll down your cheeks in the small miracle of that moment.
When everything is at peace in your heart.
When all is as it should be because you know you are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to do and it is bringing Him glory.

My heart is bursting wide open today.
I was just granted one of those moments of precious, joyful worship of the God who loves me more than anyone deserves to be loved.
Because I know, I know, that I'm right where I'm supposed to be and He's working out His plan for my life.

I am reminded today of the Olympic runner Eric Liddell.
He's probably most well known because of the movie about his life - Chariots of Fire.
He knew he was called to the mission field in China, but God had also made him a gifted runner. And as he worked out his faith publicly - refusing to run the race he had trained for because it fell on the Sabbath - God honored his faithfulness and in an unforeseen turn of events, Eric Liddell ran an entirely different race.
One he had not trained for.
But he won Gold.
And gave the glory to God.
And the whole world witnessed it.

He is often quoted as telling his sister - whom he would eventually join on the mission field in China, "I believe God made me for a purpose - for China. But he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt. You were right, it's not just fun. To win is to honor Him."

Eric Liddell had felt the small miracle of his moment of worship as he used his talent for God's glory and he knew that the world could see Christ in him.
Another quote says this -
"We are all missionaries...Wherever we go, we either bring people nearer to Christ 
or we repel them from Christ."

And that's all I ever want anyone to see in me - Christ Jesus.
Nothing I ever do is for me or my glory or fame or renown - but all to make Jesus famous.

With a Courageous Heart,

Monday, February 2, 2015

How We Live

It's the greatest challenge for us to care more about how God wants us to live, than we do about how the world views us. 
Our lives are not meant to be lived out in a popularity contest, but in following the calling God has given each one of us.

This is how God says we are to live.

The world says it's important to be proud, self-promoting, fame-seeking.
Humility is an invitation to be a doormat.
The world says it's important to speak your mind, be heard, be seen. 
Gentleness is for wimps.
The world says life is short, make things happen now.
Patience is for the un-motivated.
The world says you need to love yourself first.
Loving others is futile.
The world says it's ok to be different unless you are different than they are.
Unity is for those without knowledge.
The world places inner peace above living peaceably with all.
Peace is for fools.

Dear Jesus, if it serves you best; if it allows me to live out the calling You have on my life, allow me to be a doormat, a wimp, un-motivated, futile, un-educated, foolish.
I would rather be a fool in the eyes of the world than to live a life un-worthy of Your call. 

With a Courageous Heart,