Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sabbath Bread {believe His promises}

All your waves and billows have gone over me, and floods of sorrow pour upon me like a thundering cataract.
Yet day by day the Lord also pours out his steadfast love upon me, and through the night I sing his songs and pray to God who gives me life.
“O God my Rock,” I cry, “why have You forsaken me? 
Why must I suffer these attacks from my enemies?” 
Their taunts pierce me like a fatal wound; again and again they scoff, 
“Where is that God of yours?” 
But, O my soul, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset. 
Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise Him for all that He will do. 
He is my help! He is my God!
-Psalm 42:7-11 (TLB)

"Be bold and believe, 'because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"' Through this promise the Lord gives His people everything ... there is nothing you could want, nothing you could ask for, nothing you could need in all of time or eternity, nothing living or dying, nothing in this world or the next, and nothing now, nothing on resurrection morning, or nothing in heaven that is not contained in in this verse - 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' " (Deut. 31:6)  - Charles Spurgeon 

 Oh God - You alone are the crux, the epitome. You are Everything we thirst for, Everything we need and want - always. Sometimes we think we need things like comfort or power or satisfaction or belongings or fame - but we are wrong. Sometimes we believe our forsaken feelings instead of believing Your promises not to ever forsake us. Forgive our sin of unbelief, Lord. We repent and choose to believe Your promises to satisfy our longings with Yourself. With Your Spirit. With Your Son. All we need is found in Your presence, and had we nothing save You - we would be satiated. You are just that wonderful. Let us put all else aside today as we pursue Your heart, and let Your glory fill every void in our lives today. There is none besides You, Jesus. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Small {Five Minute Fridays}

Good Morning!
I'm linking up and writing with Lisa Jo today. Please jump on in if you like. Fridays are a good day for writing, so let's get to it! We have five minutes to write about the word of the week.



I pray funny prayers sometimes. And after they come out of my mouth, they sound so strange, just hanging there, floating into His ears. And as funny as this one sounded the first time I prayed it, I have found it repetitive on my lips.

Lord, You are God over huge things like stars and small things like atoms. You can take care of me.

It's ironic how He does that. Take charge of minute details when I let Him. Minuscule worries racing toward anxiety of massive proportions when I don't. 

Telescopes and stars declare His glory. Microscopes are windows to His wonders too. 

When cells are sick and chromosomes make humans and mitochondria hold secrets to mountainous ramifications, how can we not choose to worship the One who designed a universe and built it so vast on the blocks of protons and neutrons and electrons? Because that seems tough. I can build a tower like this:

But it takes some serious creativity and talent to build this:

And yet He does things like this with just a breath:

 One Day I'll see His face, touch His hand. This, the One who has done these wonders.


If you'd like to write with me to this prompt, please click here for details and over here to link up with us. Don't forget to visit other five-minute-friday-ers, and share some encouragement too!

And keep writing!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thankful on Thursdays {and a little about comfort}

"It seems the last thing we do when depressed is turn to God. But for believers, He should never be the place of  'last resort.' " - Jim Reimann


Well, not today, but I have been there, believe me. It's like I see this pattern in my life and I hate it, but can't break out of it sometimes. I have been desperate, discouraged, depressed, disparaging, and pretty much every other d- word you want to add, all at the same time, spiraling me down into a pit of darkness that seems to be without escape, once again. And I see myself falling, as if watching myself outside of myself, and do you know what myself does? She scrambles for everything but Jesus. 

Sweets, sleep, venting to friends, taking my frustration out on my husband or kids, caffeine, exercise, obsessive cleaning, crafting, weeping, scrounging, web-wandering - and tons of other attempts to take my own comfort into my own hands and will myself to feel better and do better and be enough ... shew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it, aren't you?

I've learned a break-out-of-the-spiral-free trick, though. At first it took me getting all the way down to the bottom and having to cry out to Him in desperation, but through constant practice I've been trained my the Master in the fine art of how not to scramble, how not to use Jesus as a last resort. Because that's just ridiculousness, that's what it is!

Why would we ever choose to make turning to God our last resort when He is the One who offers it best, most, and to the uttermost? 

"God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort." -2 Corinthians 1:3b (NLT)

And my trick? You guessed it - 


Because since I started counting my gifts from God, the ways He loves me and gives me little pieces of joy every. single. day., well - since gratitude became my habit, I find the comfort I need at the top of the spiraling slide instead of at the bottom of the dark pit, and I find He gives me the strength to step back from the edge and rest in His arms without having to go through the exhaustion. And while I know I have been and can still be guilty at times of choosing Jesus as my last resort, I have also found that it doesn't HAVE to be that way. The other day I felt it - the onset of another cloud of depression. Instead of clawing for comfort with my hands, though, I chose to open them. To look at what He was giving just then, and thank Him for it. Write it in my running journal (I just passed #4,000 this week and had to make myself journal #13 -sooo lucky!), and keep counting the comforts from the Source of all comfort, My Father. 

And lest you go jumping off the conclusion bridge and think I'm bragging or something insane like that, let me just tell you - it's not me. He had to do this, show me this, teach me this, give me this. I would not know this anti-depressant called gratitude if not for my Savior and His glorious love-grace. I would know no comfort outside of His, and yet because I do know it - I would really like to share it with you too. 

So here are a few of my counted blessings, for which I've chosen to thank and praise the only One worthy, and I hope you are counting by now too. Because that spiral to darkness and despair is not one I'd wish on my worst enemy, much less my precious reader. Count with me, Dear One. This gratitude is our tether to hope. Let us choose to make Him what He is - the Alpha and Omega, our first, last, and only resort for comfort.

- fluffy snowflakes, and the courageous song of one bird this morning

- hugging J tight before he goes off to school, and these arms to hold him

- "... no one has ever done more to show you the you were unloved than God has done to show you that you are loved." - Beth Moore, on the sin of unbelief [in Breaking Free]

- laughing with T about our common difficulty with people who don't finish their sentences

- this novel on my Nook, and enjoyment of a page-turner 

- the warmth beneath heavy blankets

- the privilege of helping my Guy

- for this sustained focus in my thoughts on heaven and on You - it's been weeks now ...

- for Your forgiveness again today, and Your Blood that cleanses to the uttermost

- sharing a verse with K on our new chalkboard

- the privilege to write for others who ask

- "I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering." -Isaiah 48:10 (NLT) 

Lord, once again this is my gratitude - not only my survival tether, but my worship - and the benefits go both ways until we are united as one in this dance of grace. I ask that You help keep me here, and show others the way to make You the first resort to comfort instead of the last. You are so worthy, Father. And we are so thankful. Amen

photo credit: Donna Brok

Care to share a couple of your counted blessing-tethers also? Please slip them right into the comments box below, and add your praises rising...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Power of Together

One thing that rubs me the wrong way sometimes: Competition.

Yeah, yeah - I get it. Not everyone can be a winner, and sometimes teams or athletes lose. I like the Olympics for that reason. Sports are great fun, to play and to watch. And I want my kids to grow up learning how to be good sports, and lose with grace. I also want them to try hard to be the best at what they do - their best. Competition drives prices down for us savvy consumers. Capitalism has a place. Sure. So, in some places competition is great.

But not when it comes to God's Kingdom. Church, love, justice - these are not competition's arenas.  

I'm a firm believer that the best kind of victory is one you can share

So, can we please exit Competition out of our churches and out of our Kingdom-driven non-profits? Please? It's getting old.

That's why I believe in coalition, especially when it comes to fighting modern-day-slavery. If we're competing for attention and money, how will that ever set anyone free? If it's me-first, look-at-us, give-us-your-donation-instead-of-them ... of course we know that can't be God's way. It's just not how He operates. You know it and I know it, and I don't even have to quote this Scripture to prove it, but I will:
"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-controlagainst such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:19-23 (ESV) [emphasis mine]
Anti-trafficking efforts are so vast, so overwhelmingly difficult, time-consuming, emotionally-consuming, and insurmountable (30 million slaves world-wide was the latest estimate I read), we've got to come to grips that we must work together. 

Which is why I love organizations like The Exodus Road. They call themselves a coalition, and they are. They target the rescue pillar of the abolition movement, but that's not to say they don't work with other organizations, individuals, and leaders who address awareness/prevention and recovery/restoration. When I was doing my research and asking God where I could invest time, resources, and talents into the fight for justice - they stood out as an organization that aligned with my passion for cooperation. That's my shameless plug. Go ahead - check them out. Read, give, engage, fight. You won't be sorry to put down your competitive spirit for these guys. 

So, I've been thinking along the lines of non-profits, churches, ministries a lot lately. Call it transition, or whatever you like - I'm here and this is me and if you don't like it then let me know, or maybe just pass me up on your way to wherever you're trying to go. I'm done with insecure competition anyway. I think I was done way back in 9th grade, but that's a hard prison to escape from - not gonna lie. 

I'm just sayin. If we're all His kids, can't we just work together toward the same goals? Is it not common sense that we'll accomplish more for Christ's eternal Kingdom if we unite instead of compete? 

Okay - I get it. Easier said than done. Tell this to Luther. Denominations do have a place, so that's not what I'm arguing against. I suppose I would just like to see some ecumenical networking for the sake of justice here. Maybe that's too tall a mountain to scale.

Or maybe we have a God Who's not only bigger than mountains, but Who can move them.

If we fight together, Freedom wins.

photo credits:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sabbath Bread {desire}

"Trust in the Lord and do good.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,

    and He will give you your heart’s desires.
 Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.
 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
    and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
    and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
    or fret about their wicked schemes."
                        -Psalm 37:3-7 (NLT) [emphasis mine]

Father - we are hungry for Your will, and our food is to do it. We wait for You to act, and choose not to worry when wickedness seems to prosper all around us. What we want most is what You want to give us, the desires of our hearts both planted and fulfilled by Your sovereign hand. Today once again we choose to trust You, doing the hard work trust requires - the hard work of opening our hands and releasing the control. Be it waves, flames, or river's current - we will brave it all with Your help that we may get to You. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sabbath Bread {The Way to Joy}

What is better than any treasure, greater than anything I'm offered?

"The revelation of God is whole
    and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
    and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
    showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
    and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
    with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
    down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond,

    better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
    better than red, ripe strawberries." - Psalm 19:7-10 (Msg) [emphasis mine]

Thank You, Father, for the revelation, knowledge, and power of Your truth. I long for You and find satisfaction, delight in seeing You on the pages. Your wisdom is more valuable than any earthly gift, better than all treasures in the universe. Thank You for making Yourself, Your wisdom known to me today. I choose to open these hands, this heart to You. Would You fill me with an overwhelming measure of Yourself today ... 

Drink deep of the Lord's presence today, Dear Soul. He is here, waiting to be found by those who seek with desperation, contrition, and reverence. May you be blessed this day by the revelation He gives of His wisdom and good ways. May we follow His good paths and find Him here.