Monthly Archives: June, 2018

The Sufficiency of Christ in all Things at all Times

A new friend of mine posted the following on Facebook.  With her permission, I am sharing it with you today.  We both pray it encourages you to see that Christ is sufficient in all things at all times.  Thank you, Rebecca, for giving us all a glimpse of real life, real pain, and a very real God!

So, today it’s June 28, 2018. One year since my precious husband went Home to Jesus. It’s been the worst year of my life. I feel like I’ve been running a 365 day marathon, bare foot, over a bed of broken glass, non-stop. The pain has been so intense at times, that I’ve literally cried out in agony. I’ll continue to run, walk and sometimes crawl for the rest of my life. But I can honestly say, in these past twelve pain-filled months, I have truly learned what oneness with Christ is. He IS my ALL IN ALL, my ROCK, my COMFORT, my PROVIDER, my FRIEND, my COUNSELOR, my JOY. He’s never, ever left my side for a second and together, we will continue to press on.

As a part of the journey to healing, for the past 8 weeks I’ve been compiling some of the things I’ve learned this past year and what the Lord’s been teaching me and speaking to me. I hope it encourages you as well.

-When grief paralyzes me, just do the next thing. Even if it’s just sitting up in bed. Then stand. Then walk.

-Say the word, “breathe” out loud and then do it.

-Allow others to do for me. It helps them in their grief as well.

-Having joy again in my life is definitely possible, but it’s not going to just show up on my doorstep. I’ve got to seek it, choose it and claim it.

-Time DOES NOT heal all wounds. (Whoever said this anyway!?!) Working THROUGH my grief with Christ will heal me and make me stronger.

-Professional counseling is a really, really good thing. Everyone should go.

-If I’m not sure how to do something, GOOGLE, usually has the answer!

-To experience the fullness of Christ, I must first experience the emptiness of everything but Christ. (I say this almost daily!)

-Walmart grocery delivery is a gift.

-YOGA.

– Every once in a while, lift my head up out of my own grief and encourage someone else.

-Friends who tell me they’re praying for me in the middle of the night, early in the morning, or anytime are treasures.

-I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

-Single moms are heroes.

-When I’m drowning, just sit, breathe, and pray for strength. He always delivers.

-My faith is greater than my fear.

-Faith is work, not a feeling.

-People are not “in my world” all the time like I am. They’re not mind-readers, and don’t always know what I’m feeling or what I may need. So keep expectations at a realistic level and exercise grace and forgiveness when needed.

-Plan my weekends ahead of time. It’s no fun to be alone.

-There is really nothing in this world I can control. The only thing I have COMPLETE control over is how I will respond to others and Jesus.

Through losing Mark I’ve learned that my very presence makes some people uncomfortable. Sometimes people don’t know what to say. Some people are afraid to talk about Mark around me. Afraid it’s too painful for me and they don’t want to cause me further pain. I get it! I was there one day before and know that awkward feeling too! But please know that talking about him is something I LOVE doing. It brings me joy to know he was loved by so many. And he needs to be remembered. So, talk about him! A LOT! Laugh at the memories. CELEBRATE HIM and his life! That’s a very good thing. But more importantly, live your life every day with the joy of Jesus like Mark did. And share that joy with others. Take his life and go forward with it with how you love your children, your spouse and your family. He loved well and we should all carry on that beautiful “Mark-ism”.

As I step into day 366 of my grief, I’m looking forward, not back. I have wrestled and struggled a lot with feeling like I’m abandoning Mark if I move forward. It hurts to the core to think of continuing my life without him. But I have come to realize that in order to have life and have it abundantly, I’ve got to look ahead with hope, joy and expectation for what God has in store!

My sweet memories with Mark are gifts to me and these gifts have been and will continue to be opened and enjoyed frequently. I thank God I have them. They are blessings and reminders of what a good, good God we serve. But God has more in store AHEAD and that’s where my focus should be and will be.

I still have work to do on this earth. I still have a little boy who needs a momma who can laugh, love, and celebrate life! I pray that I will live each day to the fullest, with a heart of gratitude for the years I had with my best friend and the love of my life. I carry him within me and will for the rest of my life. One day when Jesus calls me Home, I’ll see Mark again and I’ll hear the words from my Heavenly Father, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And it will truly be worth it all.

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Reflections on the Quest: Let me not be counted as a fool

I camped in Psalm 16 recently.  Several verses stand out in this great text, but one which always arrests my attention is verse six:

“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.”

In other words, life ain’t so bad.  Or–to put that in a positive manner–God has not given me what I have earned.

Grace.

There are a variety of graces that God bestows: Saving grace (God’s grace in choosing those He will save), Sanctifying grace (God’s grace in transforming sinners into the image of His beloved Son), Restraining grace (God’s grace in preventing us from sinning more than we do), Sustaining grace (God’s grace in ensuring we have what we required to go forward) and Common grace (God’s grace in giving us our needs and some of our wants).

“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places” means that God has granted the common/regular gifts of life in abundance.  Perhaps your list is similar to mine.  It may be different.  The point to remember is that the daily blessings of life are undeserved, not earnings God is obliged to pay.

Most of you would have to admit that your list of blessings is long.  You can easily see that God has been exceedingly kind to you.

How should we respond?

I thought of three ways today, implied for us in Romans, chapter one.

Put in the negative:

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”      Romans 1:21-23

What should our positive response be?

  1. Honor God
  2. Give God Thanks
  3. Cherish the Incorruptible Glory of God

First, we should honor God.  And while I am sure I have written upon this subject earlier, I would like to share my current thoughts on the subject for no other reason than that it be fresh for me.  Yet anything I have to say simply will not be as good as what I found here:

http://www.gotquestions.org/honor-God.html

Did you take the time just now to read that short article?  I found it helpful in my quest–my daily striving for reality. The Apostle Peter stated that all of God’s people are to proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).  In the very next section, he exhorts us to keep our behavior excellent (2:12).  We are verbally to praise God and visually praise God. Our profession and our practice should all point to the truth of the existence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Second, we should give God thanks.  Without a doubt, He has not treated you as your many, many, many sins deserve. This is particularly true if you are one of His adopted children (everyone is a creation of God, but not a child of God).  One of the good habits I have developed this year was verbalizing to the Lord ten reasons for which I am grateful each morning.  It is easy to come up with that list!  It is also helpful to begin that way each day regardless of how my night of sleep went or what I am about to face in the coming hours.  Give thanks with a grateful heart!

And, third, we need to cherish the incorruptible glory of God.  The glory of God is the glorious attributes of God on display for all to see in creation but particularly visible to His children in the face of Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote these words in 2 Corinthians 4:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

The glory of the gospel is the glory of Christ.  The glory of God is most clearly seen in the face of Christ.  Can you see it?  If not, plead with God for that ability TODAY.  He alone can remove the veil even as He did for the Apostle Paul (Acts 918 [See also Ephesians 2:1-9]).  Only God can open the heart as He did for Lydia (Acts 16:14).  Why would you allow yourself to be satisfied with the created instead of the Creator?!  If you can see, cherish the glory!  Value Christ above all else.  He is the treasure found in the field (Matthew 13:44).  He is the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46).  He is that which your restless heart desperately needed.

Honor God. Give God thanks.  Cherish the incorruptible glory of God.  If these actions and attitudes mark your day, it will be a day well-spent.  If they are on-going practices, your life will not been lived in vain. Let us not be counted fools by Him who weighs the heart (Proverbs 21:2), especially if the lines have fallen favorably!

Hearing from Him before Speaking for Him

“Listen and obey.”

I can’t recall how many times I have said that to my own children.  I also wonder how many times that the Lord has communicated that to me over the past thirty years.  “Listen and obey.”  A while back, I was drawn to this section in Isaiah, chapter fifty.

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not disobedient
Nor did I turn back.

If I desire to do anything with the remainder of my life, it is to “sustain the weary one with a word”!  The more I mature in my walk with Christ, the more I deeply desire to speak with “the tongue of disciples”!

Did you notice in the text how that is possible?  “He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple”!  In order to most effectively speak as a disciple, I need to listen as a disciple.  Calvin wrote, “he (Isaiah) shews that God efficaciously teaches all whose ministry He intends to employ for the salvation of His Church” (Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, Vol. IV, Eerdmans, 1948, p.54). In other words, God successfully instructs those He plans to use significantly in the lives of others.

“Here am I.  Send me” (Is. 6:8)!

Those were the heart-felt words of the prophet Isaiah after seeing an amazing vision of our thrice-holy God and after hearing that a ministry position was available.  They are my words as well.  I, too, live among a people of unclean lips (6:5).  I also live in the midst of a race of the weary (50:4). How many times have you told others that you were weary? How many times have you heard others tell you that they were tired?  And that fatigue isn’t limited to the physical.  It very much affects the spiritual.  Thus, we all need to be encouraged.  Daily.

Speaking of daily, Isaiah stated that God awakened him every morning.  And that is when he listened.  He heard from God.  He obeyed God.  He encouraged the weak and the tired.

What do your mornings look like? What is your habit for seeking the Lord? There is an argument to be made from this passage and others that a time seeking Christ in the morning reaps benefits throughout the day ahead.  Perhaps one of those benefits is our ability to say the right thing in the right way–something I very much want to do!

“Listen and obey.”

That’s my plan for tomorrow.  What about you?

Striving for Reality and Faithfulness

I recently heard a song entitled Dream Small, sung by Josh Wilson.  I am including it here as a regular reminder for me to always remain faithful even as I strive for reality.  In an earlier post, I stressed that today matters.  It really does.  Honoring God in the small things is just as important to Him as doing so in the big ones.  So that is my plan today.  One day at a time.  Living well.  Not missing the minutes–the minutes to glorify God and bless people as I prepare for eternity.

DREAM SMALL
It’s a momma singing songs about the Lord
It’s a daddy spending family time that the world said he cannot afford
These simple moments change the world
It’s a pastor at a tiny little Church
Forty years of loving for the broken and the hurt
These simple moments change the world

[Chorus 1]
Dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time
Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall
Dream small

[Verse 2]
It’s visiting the widow down the street
Or dancing on a Friday with your friend with special needs
These simple moments change the world
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with bigger dreams
Just don’t miss the minutes on your way, your bigger things
‘Cause these simple moments change the world

[Chorus 1]
But dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time
Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall
So dream small

[Bridge]
Keep loving, keep serving
Keep listening, keep learning
Keep praying, keep hoping
Keep seeking, keep searching
Out of these small things and watch them grow bigger
The God who does all things makes oceans… from river

[Chorus 2]
But dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time
Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall….
Yeah, five loaves and two fish’s could feed them all
So dream small
Dream small