Monday, July 21, 2014

Guts, glory, & God's ways win!

This week's message is wisdom rich with life lessons from a baseball field.  "God will often move you to change by moving you through change." ~ Craig Groeschel.

I'm empowered by the truth used in this weeks flick At the Movies with "42". The true-life-story hits a home run with Jackie Robinson, from his signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1945 to his historic 1947 rookie season when he broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  

The Dodger's owner was burdened by the injustice separating players in the sport, and over the years, had robbed him of his love of baseball.  Robinson was hired because of his talents he brings to the team.  In the ninth inning, racial injustice makes a heavy hit in Robinson's life, and like our Savior, Robinson "has to have the guts to turn the other cheek."  

Robinson does just that.  He's hit in his emotional gut as he responds with godly guts. Encouragement spoken from the owner, brought courage and bravery into Robinson's spirit thus bringing change to speak bravery into the legacy of many others.  Now Robinson's courage is modeled by the number "42" in the Baseball Hall of Fame and on many baseball fields.  

Robinson's courageous battle against an injustice speaks volumes in my life.  It takes bigger courage to stand up for what you believe in, rather than what is popular.

"What is impossible for men, is possible with God."  Luke 18:27.  Jesus speaks truth into the lives of the disciples by saying He is the way of Life, and has the power to change people by the authority given to him by God, the Father.
Our vision reminds us the difference we want to make.  

We win when we join God in what He is already doing in the lives of others, and find strength in numbers when we are aligned with His truth.  I am compelled to make a difference by doing what God has put before me.  Vision is hard to focus on, it leaks, and we lose sight of the goal set before us, modeled by Jesus' life.  The rewards are worth it.  However the suffering comes, or whatever hits to the gut that life brings, if we are making a difference,  for the sake of knowing God and spreading the message of Christ.  

The guts and obedience well-played in Jackie Robinson's life is a base hitter and it inspires me to embrace what God has put before us all as kingdom builders to reach everyone with the message of Christ and letting nothing hinder or hold us back from sharing the change that God has made in us.  When God's holy, true change is at work in us, we will be change for someone else.    

"A life is not important except for the impact that it would have on others." ~ Jackie Robinson

Guts for God's glory in God's way win!

God won’t call you to do a team job all by yourself. He will call others at the same time to assist you. When you say yes to the will of God — bringing all your time, money, talents, and tenacity to the Lord — you will discover that other hitters will be right there by your side to help you with the task.  It's a win, win!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Inching up to turtle lovers

Hello turtle lovers, I am inching up on an important celebration.  I thought I would get here sooner but then I realized something...

...dreams progress at a turtle's pace.  That's an inside joke for Alexa Bratcher & Mary Waters.  Ladies, I can hear you laughing out loud at this...admit it!

Speaking of hearing, I hear the Voice.  Specifically, God's, who by the way, is directing this writing gig.  It's in the lonely days that He is refining His Voice and shaping mine.  There are days I don't feel the milestones for the stones that I am asked to pick up along the way.  Or for the ones I willingly pick up along my own way.

Either way, I feel the weight of expressing a voice most days.  When life gets heavy I want to run away...don't you?

I wrestle with time to be here consistently.  Do you wrestle with time at all?  I am being taught that everything is meaningless, if you are doing it for approval.  I am learning everything has meaning and matters if it's "unto the Lord"  Check out 1 Corinthians 15:58.

I just wrestle with a lot of things, so in my meaningful time with God, I am learning.  Always a student with child-like faith.  Like the prodigal running for waiting Father, with arms open wide.  Waiting for me.

Speaking of faith, did you know that I am doing just that?  Living by the faith in the God I know instead of giving power to my problems, I cling to the knowledge of God who is.  Period.  Faith at it's finest.

That is what faith is, what my eyes don't see, but what my heart hopes for and is evidenced in my life.  His love is evidenced in me, and through me and on a daily basis my faith is being exercised and refined.

I read a striking thought yesterday.  Here's my takeaway:  "God will only give you what He can give through you." - Janelle Keith  (Someone needs to tweet this, hint tag me @thejanellekeith)

And on this quote and note, I will leave you to ponder on this day, Thursday's Red Thread thought-provoking post .

Hugs and tugs.

Monday, July 14, 2014

God mowed me over with His grace

This message has resonated deep within my spirit, my mind drifted back to a season where God released me of the same unforgiving spirit.  The story goes likes this...

It involved a lawn mower, a fence post and whole lot of sweat and tears.  It was hot summer day, I was about the business of mowing our yard, my weekly chore.  I didn't want to be there, I never did.   Because our yard is only modified pasture grass, there are country surprises hidden like dirt holes, tire tracks, mole mounds and tunnels.  There was one obstacle that I had forgotten, that was hidden and deeply planted.  It was an old rusted and buried and broken-off steel fence post buried 3-feet-deep in the yard.     The top of the jagged steel was barely peeking over the blades of grass.  I didn't notice how close I was mowing next to it, until of course, it was too late.  Thwack!  Imagine the mower blade-on collision with the post.  It stopped my mower cold.  

Hitting that cold steel place with the mower blade also collided my heart attitude.  It stopped right my unlovely temperament too.  "Time to cool off". I told myself.  I had to catch my breath a little.

I went to cool off in the house and I swigged down some icy cold refreshing water, cooling me inside and out.  However, I felt anger rising up in my frustrated heart.  Did you know that mowers have a sense of humor?  Deep inside it's grass laden underbelly, that old mower was laughing hysterically at me .  My frustration fueled by escalating anger equaled an invitation to the biggest pity party on the mile section that day.  

It was a party of two.  Me and God.

I looked down at the problem post and said, "This is all YOUR fault!"  Then I saw it...the jagged angry edge of the fence post...politely buried, blinking at me snickering a little too.   
I snapped with a waterfall of frustrated tears.  God kindly tapped me on my sweaty shoulder and immediately asked if He could help out a little. 

Of course God...please start this mower again.... 

"You see that fence post, it's buried like the unyielding bitterness you have buried in your heart.  You have held on to this unforgiving spirit for a while's time to give that to Me.  I have watched you dig resentment, cemented with the deep-seeded feelings around your hurts and you sweet sweaty little girl....might I say...including the people who have wounded you."    

His truth just sliced through my tears.  The Holy Spirit hit my heart with heavy conviction.  I had some clean-up to do.  I realized I had been burying some deeply hidden junk, as God uncovered the tangled and overgrown weeds that had lingered too long in my most sensitive place.  He brought grace and forgiveness into those hardened, buried places.  

This is the part of the story where I tell you that I forgave those who had wounded me and then I jumped right up, with the most joyful heart and resumed the task at hand.  That didn't happen.  I spent some time crying, forgiving, and listening to God.  And more over releasing more hurt places, like I was skipping stones over the waters of God's grace into the deep endless ocean of forgiveness.  Not only for them, but for myself, because all I had to bring to this teary water's edge were guilt and shame.

The walk of shame is long and deep.  But God changed me that day to release to Him all the hurts I had suffered.  The big stones, the little pebbles, a few boulders.  I was literally "mowed down" by my Creator who cared enough to put a fence post in my way, along the way of His grace, so I would be stopped in harboring anger in my ways, and He caught all my stones.  

This message unlocked this memory I had forgotten about, but it also freed me to remember God's forgetfulness that is a part of His forgiveness.  As God completely loves us, He completely forgives us, He completely forgets our sins.  He doesn't keep a tally of my sins, nor am I a sum total of my sin.  I now forgive others and myself continually as I have been completely forgiven.  Going deeper though, I must forget my sins and the hurting sins of others, as my wonderful Savior has already forgotten mine and has torn up the tally sheet.

Forgive and forget.  Completely.  Wholly.  The way God does it.  May I always imitate His forgiveness AND forgetfulness.  In doing this, it brings complete healing in my wounded heart, the calloused scars, the sensitive places, the dark parts that need His light. Holy healing is unlocked, undone, and redone.  Restored, whole, and full.

God didn't intend for us to carry the burden of an unforgiving spirit. It only holds us captive and binds us up tighter than a straight jacket. If you have some resentment in your heart, let God tap your shoulder and mow you over with His wonderful gift of grace!  We serve a God who commands us to forgive, over and over, continually.  He forgets about your sin, so we must do the same, fully forget.  It's our for our benefit that we release all our wounds, no matter who has hurt us or how we were were injured.  

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  Psalm 145:8

Colossians 3: 12-17 "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

Yes, even that person you are thinking of right now.   

Jesus teaches forgiveness with the finest example of asking our Father to forgive those who put him on the cross.  My sin put him on the cross.  In God's infinite, relentless, all-encompassing love, He didn't turn a blind eye to my wrongdoings or injustices, sin or unrighteousness, weeds, stones, or any other dark placed sin I could mention here.  HE didn't let anger fester in His heart.  He freely gave the gift of forgiveness and releasing me from guilt and shame and gave me the keys to unlock my freedom in forgiveness.  

Who do you need to forgive today?  I am changed by God's deep forgiveness for me. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

The currency of God's love

"God's love is always now." ~ Judah Smith

God is real and so is His love.  God continues to show us in so many ways.  It's summed up in Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  

God is the only one that sent someone to die for me.  That's speaks volumes of forever love for me. ~ Janelle Keith

Before we were a thought, He loved us.
Before you took your first breath, you were loved.
Before time began He loved, and before your time began, again there was God simply loving us and expecting nothing in return.

This is hard concept but we have to get this by faith to receive this.  

Let's be honest, it isn't something that you can feel on some days, but it's by faith we receive and understand it.  And when we get it,! His love hits us between the eyes and goes straight to the heart.

When I think about God's love, it sends me to a place that I like to wander to and stand in awe of.  It's relentless, never gets tired of chasing our wayward hearts.

His love can reach to deepest depression and give us a hand up.  It can lift our eyes to the highest emotional high to encourage us, and wraps us warm all over.  We can't be separated from it on our worst day.

It's for us now, as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow.

It's current, fresh every morning and walks with us through our days.  Knowing that we are that "someone special" for God should make a difference in our daily life.

All this love talk is sometimes hard to swallow when rejection and pain come from the corners of our lives, but God's love is perfect and doesn't judge.  It's long-lasting and eternal. It never gives up on us.   His love always hopes for us as God is our hope!

God's love is described quite nicely in 1 Corinthians 13: 4- 8  "Love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. ...And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love wins.  Each and every time, always, now and forever.   God's love changes our nows and our forever.  God's love changes us, be changed by God's love.

You (fill in your name here), yes you, are loved.

What is one of the hardest things to understand about God's love for you?

To hear a great message on God's love listen here!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

There is one thing God can't do

We believe that God can do anything, in fact we trust Him to do the impossible, yet there is one thing that God can't do.

He can't not love us.  He can't contradict His own character.

1 John 4:8  "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

God is love, and He loves us with a perfect agape love that is impossible to reciprocate.  His love is so right, good and holy. 

And so consuming.  He pursues us with intensity.

He is so perfect in His character that He can only love so perfectly.  And that blows my mind when I dwell on it.  I know how I have messed up so many times, and try so hard not to do wrong things, so it's in my character to need the forgiveness of God.

Isn't that the most loving God?  That He has the very thing that I need the most?

Our loving God is still in the grace business, He loves us no matter how much we mess up, and everything that He says and does is out of His deep love for us.  When we come to God asking for His help in anything, He is so obsessed with helping and pursuing His best in us.  

That's why His answers will always look better or different than we think they should.  He gives them out of His love and for our very best.

We can trust Him to know what is best for us because of His character of love that He has.  

He sees our desires to be better, to change our behavior and He sends His Spirit to help us change to be the potential He sees in us.  We'll never be perfect or cleaned up enough for God on our own volition, that's why He sent His one and only Son, Jesus to so die for us.

Our lives here so worth dying for, our eternal destiny was so worth the sacrifice.

He made the first move toward us, and had a  plan way back in the Garden of Eden.  He so loves us that much, so much, that He lavishes His infinite love upon us because that's who He is,  not just what He does.  He adores us, that's a win win with me!  He so loves us to the moon and back and back again forever!

Okay, so you're thinking you may not feel so lovable?  Ask God to show you the many ways HE does love you.  And guess what?  He loves to show how much.  He is jealous for you.  So intense is His love that...

He bled for you.  
He carved your heart on His tree of Calvary.  
He choose you to love, with purpose.    
He created you to copy His love back.

YOU are not a mistake.  He loves you enough to stick with you until you receive His love.

He loves you with an everlasting love.  That my friend is a promise you can love.