When Your Husband Gets Beats Up By Your Blender

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So…a few Sundays ago my amazing husband asked me what I wanted for supper and I said, “Actually, I think I need a smoothie. My nutrition hasn’t been what it should be today. I’ll fix you and G whatever, but that’s what I’m going to have.”

A few minutes passed and he said, “Don’t worry about G and I. I’ll fix us both supper and I’ll fix your smoothie too.”

I was super thankful and stayed seated on the couch taking in this awesome gift that I was receiving from my man.

A few minutes later, I heard my Vitamix start up. (If any of you have heard a Vitamix you know that the WHOLE HOUSE knows when it starts. It sounds like a jet engine and is AMAZING at crushing ice, but I digress.) Then, I heard this horrible crunching sound. My heart dropped and I calmly said, “I’ve never heard it make that noise before.”

Nothing.

Crickets.

Finally… “Yeah. I messed up.”

Gulp.

“What do you mean? What happened? Did the Vitamix break? Is my smoothie okay?” (I do have priorities, y’all.)

“Well,” he says, “the plunger got caught in the blade and about ripped my hand off, but I’m okay.”

I would love to tell you that at this point I totally laughed it off, ran to my amazing husband and kissed him, thanking God that he was okay, but that’s not what happened. In fact, I was very angry. I could not for the life of me understand how my man had bypassed the safety guard and managed to plunge the specialized accessory into a roaring jet engine. I had to explain how these smoothies are all I can eat (exaggeration), how this accessory cannot easily be found (slight exaggeration), how I couldn’t understand how in the world he had managed to go out of his way to figure out how to ruin my plunger (ridiculous statement number 27). My emotions went nuts.

After a few minutes, I did calm down. I began to realize it’s just one of those things. I even acknowledged that I, at times, have had the safety lid to slip, and I even asked if his wrist was okay.

After he ordered me a new accessory on Amazon, I took a breath, thanked him for trying to make me supper, and life went on. After all, I’m a Prime member and my accessory was getting here on Tuesday. That would be two smoothies at the most that I would have to “tough it out”.

That was July 24th. Still no special accessory. You guessed it…lost in the mail.

Now, I do laugh. What else can you do? It takes me at least 8 cycles of stopping and starting the Vitamix each time I want a smoothie. I specify “stopping and starting” due to another part of my man’s Vitamix beat down that I haven’t mentioned yet.

After the first fiasco, my guy remade my smoothie (without all the plastic remnants of the special accessory floating around). As he was stopping and starting the machine, so he could adjust the ingredients to finish blending, he removed the lid a little too soon. I hear, “Ugh! Your Vitamix just spit all over me.” At that point, he just walked away… and who can blame him? I finished up and noticed there was smoothie splattered EVERYWHERE! All over him, the counter, the Vitamix itself, and even the ceiling. I had never seen anything like it. I truly think that Vitamix was mad at him for destroying his friend. It was weird, and I was truly thankful that my smoothie was orange and not red. (Think about that one!)

He wasn’t ready to laugh yet, so I just turned away and giggled to myself.

I totally know that this is a “first world problem” and in the scheme of things, whether I have to stop and start my Vitamix fifty times a day is not even the point. The point is that little annoyances pop up every day. Some are a lot more annoying than others, but as children of God, let’s not let those annoyances cause us to be annoying. Let’s shine like stars instead. Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.”

Let’s look around and be grateful for what we do have. Whether we have a $20 blender from Wal-Mart, a Vitamix, or simply food on the table, let’s allow God’s Light in us to shine through so that all others see is Him.

P.S. – We re-ordered our accessory and are told it should be here tomorrow. When it arrives (I’m believing in faith, y’all), I may take a picture of it to celebrate!

*image by 123RF.com

Seeking Hearts Ministries

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Overworking the Dough

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Contentment is something none of us like to talk about, or maybe it’s just me that doesn’t like to talk about it. It is definitely not part of the American Dream and is often seen as a lifestyle with no goals, no ambition and a “going with the flow” kind of an attitude like that not too smart surfer dude we’ve all seen on T.V.

Biblical contentment is so different from this picture. In fact, I think that the Biblical rendition of contentment is some of the hardest work we are called to do. There is nothing lazy about it. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4 that he had learned to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself. He says in verse twelve, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Notice he says there is a secret to contentment and he had to learn it. He admits to us that contentment does not happen naturally. It takes work, but Paul doesn’t leave us in suspense. In the very next verse he tells us how he has learned the secret of contentment. It says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Paul willingly admits that only through Christ’s strength can contentment be a part of who he is and who we are. That doesn’t sound lazy to me. In fact, contentment sounds like hard work if it can only be accomplished through the strength of Christ.

We see that contentment is not defined by laziness, it’s defined by resting in Christ’s strength. There is a big difference. Laziness is simply sitting on your bum and not doing the work you are called to do. Resting is completing necessary tasks and then, you guessed it… resting.

It reminds me of baking bread. When baking bread, you get your recipe out that the great recipe creator of all time designed (Betty Crocker). You put your ingredients on the counter. You mix all of the ingredients at their proper time and in their proper way, checking your recipe continually and then, you work the dough. You knead it until your wrists are going to fall off. Then, you let it rest. You might go to another task, or you might read a book for a while, or even watch T.V., but you leave that dough alone. Are you being lazy? No! You are content with letting the bread rise. When the time is right, you go back to the dough, work with it some more and once again allow it to rest. At the proper time, the dough finally gets put in the oven where once again you will rest while the bread is doing its thing. The awesome aroma of baked bread fills the space and you are content knowing that the recipe you followed has helped produce the results you want.

In our spiritual life, just like in the process of physically making bread, we get the recipe out (the Word of God) and we get the ingredients together for the task He has before us (Don’t worry. His Spirit will tell you through His Word what those ingredients need to be). As we check the recipe continually, we are sure to mix the right ingredients at the proper time and in the right amounts. Then, we work the ingredients until His Spirit in us says to let it rest. I think this is the hardest part. We look at the lump of dough and then back at God and say, “But, it’s not finished.” We try to work the dough more and finally He has to stop us in some way knowing that we will ruin the dough if we don’t allow it to rest. This is what contentment is all about. Trust. We have to know that even though we aren’t “working the dough”, He is.  Second Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” This verse tells us that we are called, but ultimately, He does the work. He is completing the perfect work while we rest in Him. Are we lazy? No. Some of the hardest work we will ever do will be resting in Him, learning contentment and not over-working the dough.

I might just nail that phrase to my forehead: “Don’t overwork the dough!” If there is something that drives me to distraction, it is an uncompleted task. Learning contentment is knowing when to step back and let the dough rest in Him. That doesn’t mean it’s unfinished. It just means He has it handled. Contentment is remembering that if I keep working the dough it will become an unusable, elastic mess, but when I allow it to rest in Him, it will turn out perfect every time.

Let’s press in close to Him this week, allowing Him to speak to us as we read the recipe of His Word over and over again, teaching us what ingredients to place on the counter (knowing that He has already provided every one) and then allowing Him to gently remove our hands when our part is completed in the task knowing that He who began the good work will complete it (Philippians 1:6). That’s the secret of contentment Paul was referring to. That’s allowing Him to be strong in us. That’s allowing the dough to be perfected. Rest in Him today.

 

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

 

Photo by WiseGeek.org

Staying Hydrated

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Water… we all need it. Some of us hate that fact and some of us are okay with it, but all of us know that we must have water to quench our thirst.

Over the course of my life my feelings have changed regarding water. When I was little, I would drink it, but I really preferred other things. When I was a little older, because I could get my own drink, water was seldom on the menu. After a few years, water became a necessary evil. I knew I had to drink it, but, “yuck”, I really didn’t like it. I simply thought I was a person who would never care for water. Today, I GUZZLE water. I love it. I can’t imagine not wanting water! My relationship with water has definitely changed.

Even though I now love water, there are still days when I go too long without a drink. When that happens, I must sip water for a while or it’s too much for my system. If I were to guzzle water at that point, it would do more harm than good. It would cause my body to release even more hydration and I would keep getting weaker. Of course, we know this would cause dehydration.

We’ve seen athletes get dehydrated over the years. We’ve even seen some athletes become so dehydrated they collapse. Their medical staff doesn’t run over and pour water down their throat. No, they gently see to their needs and give them sips of hydration. Sometimes an I.V. is required, and once again the needed liquid has a slow release into the body. This is the only way the athlete can get better. A slow release is much better at that point than a waterfall. A gentle drink is better than guzzling. Their body is craving hydration, but it must be taken in slowly.

Sometimes, this is what our Great Physician must do with us. We are so spiritually dehydrated that we collapse. He lays us back in His arms, as we see medical staff do with dehydrated athletes, and He allows us to sip at His wellspring of life drop by drop and sip by sip. The spiritual athlete in us is craving hydration, but we have been too long without replenishment. Guzzling is out. Sipping is in. This way, when the time is right and when we are rehydrated with His wellspring of life, we are able to keep running our race that He has set before us. At times, we’ve had to stop and lay on the side of the road because we have forgotten that we need to run in His strength, with His hydration and not our own.

Oftentimes, when I am in a dehydrated place I want to hurry and get the nourishment I need and keep running. I just want a quick fix, but this is where the trust comes in. God knows that I need more than a quick fix. He knows if I begin running again too soon, the collapse, the spiritual dehydration, will happen once again. I need to trust and lie back in the arms of my Savior. I need to be open to His nourishment in the time He knows my system can handle it.  In His arms is the most hydrating place on the planet and this is where I should have been all along. I should have been running the race with His Living Water running through my veins.

Think about a child who has been sick all night. When dehydration sets in, we are told to place an ice chip in the side of their mouth. We wait a little while to make sure their system can tolerate the moisture and then place another, but only if their little body is able to absorb it.

That’s our God. He places a truth in our mouth and waits for us to absorb it. He gives us a gentle sip that our system can handle. The well of God is too deep for us in the moment. We can’t guzzle it yet. We are too dehydrated and are now finally willing to sit and sip. He places truths in us slowly to absorb like ice chips. Truths like…

“I’m here.”

“I’m always good.”

“I see you.”

“Forgive.”

“I am your strength.”

“I love them even more than you do.”

“I love you.”

“I am your Healer.”

“Talk to Me.”

“You are NEVER alone.”

“Trust Me. I’ve got you.”

“I am for you.”

“I AM…”

Whatever truth we need, He places it gently into the side of our mouth and helps us to absorb it into the core of our being. We are so thirsty and we want to guzzle the truths of His Word, but He knows a truth absorbed deep into the heart is worth a thousand truths resting unused in the mind.

At times like these, I sometimes look around and see so many others guzzling truth after truth and I want to quote verses to Him like Psalm 81:10, “…Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” God’s response to me is, “Not this time. Be still and learn. Rest in Me. Sip. Absorb. Sip a little more. Rest in My arms.”

Some truths must be sipped. God uses these times of spiritual emptiness to place His truth into our very bones. Some lessons can only be taught when all other voices are gone, when you are so dependent on His next drop of moisture that your senses are only alert to Him, to His voice and to His rain.

Dehydration is never good, but God uses this place as He uses all things for the greater good (Romans 8:28). He takes these times of need and places us in His arms to take the burdens that we would otherwise never give up. He looks at us drenched in sweat and dehydrated to the core and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me…you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

When the truth He is teaching enters our body and has truly been absorbed, our Great Physician will allow us to start running once again. We are rehydrated, but still weak. He will look us in the eye and keep placing replenishing truth deep into our souls, one drop at a time. That’s our God. That’s our sweet Savior. He’s always teaching and always giving us the hydration we need. Just like Psalm 16:11 says, He reveals the path of life to us.

As we make our way on the road once again fully hydrated and fully restored, we have His voice still in our ear, “I am here. I am good. I am your Healer. I am your Great Restorer. I love you…” Whatever lesson we were taught is in the very core of our being maturing and bearing fruit. We were so empty and the truth we needed to learn was too deep to do anything but sip, but sip we did. Restored we are. Running once again with His hydration filling every pore with the full knowledge that our Savior restores, redeems and refreshes all who are willing to lie in His arms and trust.

If it’s your time to sip, rest in the fact that God is faithfully holding you, teaching you and restoring you. He will NEVER leave you or forsake you (Hebrew 13:5), and remember some truths are just too important to gulp. So be still and sip in the arms of your Savior.

Seeking Hearts Ministries            My Story

*image by Mark’s Daily Apple

 

 

Is it up to God, or Me?

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If you’ve been around me at all recently, you know I’ve been reading a lot of Andrew Murray’s books. The one I’m currently studying is called “Absolute Surrender” and I highly recommend it.

As I was reading along this week, Mr. Murray took us to Galatians 3:1-3. This is what it says, “You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?”

After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete (KJV says “perfect”) by the flesh?” That really hit me. Did I receive Christ by the Spirit? Yes. But, how am I receiving power for each day? Am I depending on Christ’s Spirit in me, or am I depending on my own self will and determination to live the Christian life? Am I white knuckling the Word, or resting in the completion that Christ has gifted in me?

His Spirit is in me for a purpose and yet I find myself thinking I have to figure out how to get all these “good works” done in my own strength. Christ is in me to fulfill all He has called me to do, not so He can simply whisper where I’m supposed to go and leave me to it, but also to empower me every step of the way. I forget that.

I’ve deceived myself into believing that I’m supposed to work out my completion in Christ. By studying His Word and praying, I’ve thought that I knew what I was supposed to do. So each day, I’ve taken Jesus by the hand and powered on in my own ability. I am discovering though that I will never be able to grow in Christ. Only His Spirit can accomplish that in me. My flesh, my will, my determination is not what makes me a mature Christian. Only my absolute dependence on Christ makes me complete.

Look at all the times we have failed Christ when our intentions were good. Look at all the times we made new commitments, renewed vows, or even woke up thinking “Today, I am going to………., or not …………. like yesterday”, but then lunchtime comes and we look at the day and wonder, “What happened? I was so determined to make it work this time.”

I’ll tell you what happened. We tried to do it in our own strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We forget that this verse is describing Christ’s strength in us. It’s not describing walking along the path of our Christian life in our own strength and when we need help, Christ giving us a boost. Philippians 4:13 is reminding us that in order to do anything  it’s all about Christ’s strength and not just using Him as our spotter.

Are you familiar with who a spotter is? This isn’t something that’s usually in my scope of everyday life, but my oldest is into weight lifting, so I’m learning. Wikipedia describes it this way, “Spotting in weight or resistance training, is the act of supporting another person during a particular exercise, with an emphasis on allowing the participant to lift or push more than they could normally do safely.”

 I confess, I have treated the Holy Spirit as a spotter when in reality He simply wants me to be the weights in His arms. It’s His job to lift me to heights I never realized were possible. It’s by His strength I am able to join with others in tasks we never imagined. It’s by His power that I can do all things because as a weight in His hand, I am relying on His force, not mine.

That’s when verses like Psalm 112:7 are possible. It says,He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the LORD.”

This is a good example because I’ve actually memorized this verse and tried to will myself into the completion of it in my life. In the past, I start to imagine a bad scenario that may, or may not happen in the near future. I remember this verse and will myself not to fear. That works for a while, but what I’m finding is that I need to go a step further. When I am simply a weight in the arms of God, I rest in His strength. I tell Him I can’t accomplish this verse without His muscle and He lifts me by His strength into the empowerment of this verse. I truly then do not fear bad news because I am living in His strength. He will pack me where I need to go. He will lift me to where I need to be and because I am in absolute surrender to a faithful, trustworthy God His strength becomes my reality. Our flesh cannot accomplish this in us…only our God can make this happen.

“O, foolish Galatians…”

“O, foolish Christians…”

“O, foolish Melissa…”

Our Lord never intended for us to complete our lives on this earth in the power of the flesh. Our God has given us everything we need to live out our Christian faith and it’s not willpower, it’s Him. Simply and totally Him.

Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

That’s His desire for you. Rest in His arms today and let Him lift you higher than you ever thought possible.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

** Image by Fitness Health

God’s got the Details

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(I originally wrote this before going to Cuba last year, but I NEEDED to be reminded…again.)

I Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

I really need this reminder today.

My guy is a visionary. He gets an idea, knows a certain path and that’s it…he’s ready to take the plunge.

I, on the other hand, am a detail girl.

I love the big ideas, but my mind automatically goes to the how.

If we are my moving, I remember every detail that needs to happen to get us there.

If we are remodeling a space, even though I am not a construction person, I seem to be the one to remember to buy the nails.

If we are going on a mission trip, I think of every little detail…over and over again.

That’s what kept me from sleeping some last night…a mission trip we are going on this summer. Details, details, details. Even though details are good, they can also drive me insane.

During my mental list making last night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of I Thessalonians 5:24. He reminded me that I am called to go and He will accomplish what is supposed to be accomplished. Yes, I need to remember to bring my toothpaste, but He will take care of the details of loving on the people, teaching what needs to be taught, the team’s health and so much more because “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

Rest in that this week. Write your lists and use the gift of details that God has given you, but then set the pen aside and trust Him to accomplish the call on your life. Depend on Him for every detail knowing that He is always faithful.

*image by Europeon Vacation Travel Blog

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

 

Staying Broken

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In Watchman Nee’s book “The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit”, he expresses that in order for Christ to flow freely out of us and into the world around us, we must be broken vessels. He gives example after example of life being released only once a vessel has been broken.

One example Nee uses is a seed. In John 12:24, Jesus says, “Unless the grain of wheat falls in to the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He explains that it’s not a matter of whether the grain has life, but whether the outer shell is broken. How does this happen? Through temperature, rain, and the earth itself. All come together to break the shell of the seed, so the life of the grain can be exposed and grow.

Another example Nee uses is the alabaster flask in John 12. Unless the flask had been broken, the pure oil would not have been released. Without the breaking, the precious ointment would have still been inside. The value wouldn’t have been released without the breaking of the outer shell.

As I was contemplating this first chapter, trying to absorb new truths, I remembered that Nee asked, “What if the broken places in our lives, the very wounds that we try to keep covered, what if those are the very places Christ can shine through?

Wait a minute. You mean all those injuries, all those hurts, all those cracks in this hard shell are supposed to stay open? You mean I don’t have to “pick myself up and dust myself off”? You mean as I lay broken in complete surrender at the foot of the Cross, that’s when people see God in me? It’s not about “having it all together”, but really about falling apart?

Wow. Just wow.

I’ve always thought that putting my broken pieces back together made me a “good Christian”, a stronger Christian, when in reality that was defeating the purpose. When I cement the pieces that God has broken away from me back with self-recrimination, doubts, discouragement, self-judgment, or whatever adhesive I’m using that day, all I’m doing is removing the places that the light of God can shine through. Then, He has to get His chisel out once again.

When I realize all the wounds, the hurts, the disappointments that have become broken places in my life are for God to shine through, then it’s all worth it. Why would I try to put pieces back together that have always been meant to be exposed? How can I be the light of the world if I’m not willing to let Him shine through my broken places?

I’ll admit, this is completely foreign territory for me. I’m really into “having it all together”. Believe me. But, I’m more into what God wants me to be, and this feels right. This concept of staying broken before Him makes sense. It’s about absolute surrender. It’s about being the branch and depending on our Vine. It’s about being the light in a dark world. If I have a hard shell, that doesn’t happen. If my alabaster flask stays closed, His life-giving ointment cannot flow onto others. I’m not talking about staying a victim. That’s unhealthy. What I am talking about is allowing God’s hand to remove the dry, crusty shell of a girl who has places in her life that are hard as a rock. Nee says that we can’t speed up the process, but we can extend it. I have definitely seen this in my own life.

So, my prayer has changed quite a bit over the last few weeks. Instead of praying for ways to “get it together”, I’m praying for the places that need to be broken to be removed in His time and in His way. I’m praying for the continued willingness to let the pieces fall where He wants them to fall, and allow them to stay that way in order for His presence to shine through me.

Let’s be broken together so that all people see is His light shining through.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by prayers4america

 

Can You See Me?

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Scripture has so many mandates for us to live by. For example, “Be ye holy, for I am holy,” I Peter 1:16; “…overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21; “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” Romans 12:10a. We have MANY more, not the least of which is the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. An example in the Beatitudes is found in Luke 6:27, “…do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Scripture is full of expectations for the Christian life. We are not to touch certain things, look at certain things, or even dwell upon certain things. AAAGH!! Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed? I mean seriously, “do good to those who hate you”?

We also have MANY Scriptures that assure us that the Lord’s yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew11:30). That everything He calls us to do, He is faithful to complete in us (I Thessalonians 5:24). So, what’s the deal? Are we required to fulfill all the regulations and rules that overwhelm us, or is His burden light? The two seem to be polar opposites. After all, being devoted to one another and not our own desires is not easy. Overcoming evil with good is a full time job as well. What is easy and light about those things?

When I was feeling overwhelmed about all the seemingly impossible expectations that God had place on me several years back, God led me to remember some Scripture that I would have rather not remembered. Isaiah 64:6 says that my righteousness is as filthy rags. Romans 7 reminded me that I constantly have this war within me between God’s Spirit and my flesh and must come to the conclusion that, “…nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;”.

So, if God is faithful to accomplish what He asks, how does all of this rectify? How am I to be holy when nothing good dwells in me? How is He completing His good work in me when I am so full of struggle?

Isaiah 61:10, says, “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with jewels.”

This verse tells me that God clothes me with His robe of righteousness. Only His righteousness is clean, mine is filthy. Only His righteousness is holy, not mine. My works are nothing, His are pure and perfect.

Think of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. Yes, Harry Potter. If you have seen any of the movies, you will recall that when Harry placed the cloak around himself, no one could see him. He roamed around the school and no one knew that it was him. They didn’t see Harry as long as he was wearing the cloak. Harry chose to wear the cloak, or robe if you will, and it changed how others viewed him.  

So it is with the robe of righteousness that is given to us. It is our choice whether we wear it, or not. Just as the verse in Isaiah describes a bride adorning her own self with jewels, it is the bride’s choice whether she places them around her neck, or hair, or leaves them off entirely. She made the choice to wear the jewels and we make the choice whether to wear the robe of righteousness that is freely given.

Isaiah 45:24 says, “…Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.” Jeremiah assures us in chapter 33 that the LORD is our righteousness. II Corinthians 5 reminds us that just as Harry disappeared under that cloak of invisibility and he was completely changed, so our old man dies and our new creature in Christ now reigns in us. Verse 18 of this chapter says, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled Himself to us through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” Even our “new man” and the things that our “new man” accomplishes are given to us by God. Nothing in us is good. It is ALL Him.

Now, when I see a Scripture that seems to have a commandment that is overwhelming, I use it as a checkpoint. I ask myself, “Do I remember that nothing good is in me except the Holy Spirit?”

“Have I been taking credit for anything that only God can do through me?”

“Have I submitted myself and bowed before Him in order that He can place His robe of righteousness over me today?”

“Am I feeling overwhelmed, or do I know that God has got this?”

When I am out from under His robe, I think it is all about me. When I am under His cloak, His influence, I remember that it is all about Him. When I am covered in His righteousness, His burden is light because it is all up to Him. Whatever He wants accomplished through me that day, it happens. Other things being on hold are okay because I am under HIS cloak, HIS righteousness. When I poke my foot out, there are problems, but when I am totally under His robe, I am exactly where He wants me to be.

A beautiful picture of this is found in Revelation 19:7-8, “ ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (holy ones).”

Here, we see another bride (us) making ready for her (our) wedding day. She chooses to clothe herself in garments that were GIVEN to her. She didn’t have to work for them. She just had to accept them. The garments are fine linen, but the Scripture goes on to tell us that the fine linen is the righteous acts of the holy ones. Yet again, we see that acts that we think we have accomplished on our own were given to us. We see yet again that there is nothing good in us. It is ALL God. If we have ever accomplished the smallest task for His kingdom, He gave us the idea, the strength to do it, the time and desire to accomplish it. Everything good, pure and clean is from our God. He will give us fine linen, bright and clean just as He has given us His robe of righteousness for today.

Let’s allow Him to cover us fully so that others will only see Him. Let’s choose to disappear into His cloak of righteousness. Let’s willingly submit to what He wants to accomplish through us and see the pleasure on His face when he says to us, “Well done. That’s just what I envisioned you wearing today.”

*image by CNN.com

Seeking Hearts Ministries

God’s Perfect Preservation

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Psalm 32:7 says, “Thou art my hiding place; Thou dost preserve me from trouble; Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.”

The Lord will preserve us from trouble. He is our hiding place. He surrounds us with songs of deliverance. You might be thinking, “Really? All I see is trouble. All I know is abandonment and all I hear is madness.”

Look closely, my friend. He is here. He is your hiding place. He was in your past. He will be in your future and He is here now, in your today. Even if your trouble surrounds you, you are winning your battle because He is on your side. In the midst of it, know that He is preserving you.

Remember what it’s like when you are canning vegetables from your garden? Things get hot. This is all in the process of preserving, isn’t it? Through that process, things get hot and uncomfortable (for us and the vegetables). Just like those garden goodies, we would like to stay on the vine, being watered gently daily and basking in the pleasant sunshine. We don’t like the boiling water bath, but that’s the only way true preservation can take place. God’s preserving methods sometimes feel just as uncomfortable as canning must feel to a vegetable (if it had feelings), but rest assured you are being protected, preserved and sheltered for the winter ahead. I Peter 5:10 says, “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm,  strengthen and establish you.” What better preserving could we ask for?

To take our example a little farther, nothing tastes sweeter than fresh vegetables from your own garden. You can buy things from a local Farmer’s Market, but the absolute best is knowing that through God’s provision and your own hard work, the food you are eating came from your own plot. So it is with God’s spiritual provision for us, we can hear other’s testimonies (and they are encouraging), but there is nothing like experiencing our own tests and coming out victorious. We are then experiencing our own fresh fruit from our own God-given garden. Spiritual preservation can then provide fresh faith for us in the middle of our spiritual winters. We “open up” our jar of faith and remember God has already provided in times past and He can and will provide for our now. We just have to open up what’s already on the shelf. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that we have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing.

It is so  frustrating to buy tomato juice at the grocery store only to discover another stack of homemade, well-preserved juice ready to use. Somehow, I always manage to shove a few jars behind some green beans, or jelly of some sort. They are forgotten for a time. When I finally find those jars, they can still be used, but oh, how great it would have been in that homemade soup last week!?

Just like those forgotten jars of juice, we need to remember that God has provided for us. He has preserved us and established us with exactly what is needed. Sometimes though, His provision gets relegated to the back. Let’s ask Him to help us remember what has already been preserved in us. Let’s open up what He has already established in us! Let’s feast on what He has already provided.

Psalm 32:7 also talks about God surrounding us with songs of deliverance. I really enjoy singing when I’m in the kitchen, don’t you? There’s nothing like humming (or belting out) a little tune while going about our tasks. So, just imagine that while God is in “our kitchens” preserving us for the coming winter’s trials, He is actually singing over us as He works. I love that! He is molding us and preserving us into the men and women that He designed for us to be. God is excited throughout the preserving process knowing that what He is making us into now is exactly what we need to be in our future. The process may be hot at times, but He is lovingly watching the clock, knowing exactly how many minutes we need in the boiling water to produce the desired results, all the while singing precious songs over us. When we allow Him to guide the process, He never allows a jar to crack; He never ruins a batch. He is the Perfect Preserver.

No matter if we are in the middle of needing to hide in Him, being preserved by Him for the coming winter, or hearing clearly His songs of deliverance, let’s rest in Him today. Let’s rest in Him knowing that He will never leave us, or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will not ever stop loving us (I John 3:1) and He will always perfectly preserve us for the coming days (Psalm 41:2).

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

 

** Photo by simplyeclectic.com

 

Pickin’ and Choosin’

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Several months ago I saw a Facebook post come across my feed that said, “Half the world is starving while the other half is trying to lose weight.

It definitely made me think about the physical starvation of people, but it was like a punch in the gut when I thought about the spiritual side of things.

Most of us pick and choose our Christianity like we pick and choose items off of a buffet.

Millions have never even heard the name of Jesus, yet I decide which teacher I like best, which ministry I’ll support and which translation of the Bible I deem as appropriate to study from. I gorge myself and then look around in condescension on those who aren’t choosing the same things off the menu as I am.

Meanwhile, in the real world, others are starving to hear the Word. They are hungry and trying to fill their empty plates with anything that even seems like it might fit.

What am I doing? I’m standing in the line at the buffet.

Desperate people are simply trying to find the door to the restaurant while my back is turned refilling my plate over and over.

Can you tell I’m a little mad at myself? I’m actually sickened. I’m sickened by my excuses and lack of love.

Oswald J. Smith said, “No one has the right to hear the Gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.”

Hudson Taylor said, “Perhaps if there were more of that intense distress for souls that leads to tears, we should more frequently see the results we desire. Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our want of success.”

I find myself getting into lulls with praying for the lost. Sometimes, it’s an intense burden to pray for individuals by name, literally begging God to break through a particular heart so they will receive Him. At other times though, it’s as if I’ve never met a lost person in my life. I’m clueless, and heartless, and a day becomes a week before I mention a lost soul in my prayers once again. Am I not doing Bible study during this lull? Am I not going to church? Am I not memorizing Scripture with my youngest? Am I not writing the blog? The crazy thing is that I AM! Don’t worry… I’m still at the buffet filling my own plate. Apparently, I’m just not willing to share.

I’m finding that Hudson Taylor must be right. It’s my own hardness of heart that stops the growth of Christianity in my generation. Where’s the distress over souls?!What is wrong with me?! Have I become narcissistic in my Christianity? Is there such a thing? How can I be a Christian and obsessed with myself? Isn’t that impossible? If I’m a “little Christ”, aren’t I obsessed with others and dying to self daily?“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

The very next verse of Romans 7 says that only Jesus Christ can deliver me and oh, I know that’s true. He’s delivered me over and over again. He’s replaced this hard heart so many times I’ve lost count. I’m so thankful He never gives up on me. I am so thankful that He has convicted me once again and is reminding me of the millions who have yet to know Him. I thank Him that He does not want one soul to perish without Him (2 Peter 3:9). I thank Him that He is the Good Shepherd that continues to find the one little lost lamb (Matthew 18:11-14).

I am thankful for this buffet that He has for me, but I need to remember that I have been given this buffet to lure others in. The tantalizing aromas of grace and love must be all over me so that others want to come and partake as well. I have been able to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) so that I can point others to the choicest meat. I’m supposed to share with others who are starving and not simply sit around looking at another person in line at the buffet talking about how good everything is. Yes, I am supposed to feed myself, but only so I can have the strength to feed others. That’s what this buffet is really for…to sustain us all, not just one, or two.

I’m reminded of the time when Jesus fed the massive multitude of over 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread (Matthew 14). He commanded His disciples to share and not hoard it. Can you imagine the rebuke they would have gotten had they just hoarded it away and kept it all for themselves? Such a thing is laughable to us because we know the hungry crowd was right in front of them, but isn’t the hungry crowd in front of us as well?

We have been given so much more than two fish and five loaves. He has commanded us to go and share, but we have become hoarders of God’s provision. I know in my own life… I’m sick of smelling the fish. When I am tight-fisted with God’s buffet, no one benefits, including myself. Blessings are meant to be shared.

When did we get so scared of losing what God has given us to begin with? 

As I stare at my buffet of Bibles, talents, study guides and so much more, I have to ask my Lord what the next step is. Would you be willing to do the same? We all have our own buffet of provision. How does God want you to share yours?

“Half the world is starving while the other half is trying to lose weight.”

It’s a real shame that this statement has become so true when all along the food has been for us all. Thank God for His provision today, but let’s stop pickin’ and choosin’ and get to sharin’ instead.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story with Christ

** Picture from Noka’s Lavish Buffet Spread