Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Arabah Joy’s “In Christ” E-course

A few months ago, I had the privilege of joining an online e-course for bloggers developed and led by Arabah Joy, a blogger friend of mine.  The e-course was free for those of us who responded to her offer, but I wasn’t really certain what to expect.  After all, I was relatively new to blogging and even newer to things like e-courses. 🙂  However, I was so blessed by the wisdom AJ shared from the Word.  She has a gift for taking people deep into Scripture and for asking thought-provoking questions.

At the same time, I found AJ’s lessons to be incredibly encouraging.  Truth poured forth accompanied by much gentleness and personal honesty that I found refreshing.  AJ isn’t afraid to be authentic.

So, my sisters in Christ, I’m really excited to share with you today an opportunity to learn from my friend, who is also a mom to 4 (one via adoption), a missionary, a wife, a writer, and a committed Christ-follower.  Arabah Joy is offering a new e-course (an online bible study) and registration ends tomorrow!!

Make 2014 a year of spiritual growth with the “In Christ” eCourse by missionary and blogger Arabah Joy. Understanding our identity in Christ is foundational to successfully living the Christian life. This spiritual growth course will aid participants in understanding their identity, how to abide in Christ, and will impart tools for letting the word of Christ richly dwell in the heart and mind (Colossians 3:16). The unique blend of story, scripture, community discussion, and practical application is thoughtfully geared for participants to experience ongoing life transformation.

The 4 week course will begin February 4 and run through March 4, 2014. Registration closes January 31, 2014. Course fee is $19.99

For full course details and to register, visit Arabah Joy’s “In Christ” eCourse page Click here to view more details .

If you are interested in participating in this bible study, the discount code Arabah has given to affiliates to share is “InChrist25″ and don’t forget, registration closes tomorrow!

Praying you’re finding strength and rest in Him today,

Jen 🙂

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Undesired Sacrifices

Imagine waking up every morning to trudge out to your backyard, sleep still in your eyes, and build a fire to offer a burnt sacrifice on a stone altar placed there.  You head back out again later in the day when you choose self over others, and again when you have that unkind thought about your friend, and again when you snap at your husband or child.  In and out of the house all day long, offering sacrifices for sins committed.

I’m sure if I actually offered a sacrifice in my backyard, my neighbors would think I was crazy!  My family would think I was crazy!  We no longer offer burnt sacrifices like the Israelites did in the Old Testament, …or do we?

During my devotional time earlier this week, I read in Hebrews 10 about the futility of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

Hebrews 10:11

    Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices,

which can never take away sins;

“Daily,” the priests stood at their posts; “time after time” they offered sacrifices for the “same” sins, over and over and over.  Such repetition calls attention to the futility of their tasks.

As a mom, I have a lot of sympathy for such a job!  We do laundry and dishes and cook and play, and then we wake up the next morning to do all of those jobs all over again.  Sometimes those daily jobs feel endless.  Sometimes if we focus on the futility of those tasks that are continually being undone, we grow weary.  I imagine that the priests grew weary as well, offering temporary atonement for sin, day after day after day.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains that at the time the letter to the Hebrews was written, the temple had not yet been destroyed.  Thus, Jewish practices of offering atonement for sin on the altars continued to take place daily.  But for those who believed in Christ, such offerings should have been rendered meaningless.  In the first place, such sacrifices only served as temporary substitutes at best.  In the second place, once Christ fulfilled prophecy by offering Himself as the final sacrifice, no further sacrifices were needed.  The work He accomplished on the cross completely and permanently fulfilled the Old Testament Law.

So, why were these Jewish Christians still trudging back and forth to the altar of sacrifice, so to speak?  They were not fully trusting in the blood of Christ as payment for their sins.  They knew of the gospel, the good news that abolished the old system and established a new covenant built on the cornerstone of Grace, but they struggled to let go of their old ways.

At first glance, I’m tempted to think, how silly of them – they’re doing so much work and it’s all meaningless!  I’d like to believe that I would never continue to offer sacrifices – it would be pointless, after all.  But the Lord has been opening my eyes to an alarming truth: I sometimes offer my own daily sacrifices, often without even realizing it. 

Think about it. This is what we like to do. We wake up in the morning thinking we’ll do His work today.  We’ll be the best mom, wife, aunt, sister, friend, child, Christian we can be.  We even have this list in mind. Devotions – check.  Prayer  – check.  Serve others –check.  Play with children – check.  Be a good steward of our home – check.  And we offer these things up to Him as our very sacrifices.

Okay, Lord, I’ve accomplished all of those things on the list.  Here ya go.  Are we good now?  I can go about the rest of my day as I please, right?  You’re pleased with me, right? I pile the sacrifices of good behavior up in a nice neat pile on my altar, thinking I’m all good to go.

Except I’m not.  Because while I was busy trying to check those things off of my good-Christian-girl list, I was withholding my very self, and I didn’t even realize it.  In a Screwtape Letters sort of reversal, Satan has me buying into a system of works all over again!

Look at what Jesus says about such sacrifices in Hebrews 10:5-7:

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,
But a body You have prepared for Me;
In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.
“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come
(In the scroll of the book it is written of Me)
To do Your will, O God.’”

These verses are a repetition of an Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah.  In effect, Jesus says that God the Father takes no pleasure in burnt offerings.  Instead Jesus offers something else – His very being.  He offers only to do the will of the Lord.

The same is true of us, co-heirs with Christ.  The Father doesn’t desire my sacrifices in the first place.  He desires my heart, my very being.  He desires I should abide in Him, moment by moment, fully surrendered  to His will, not out of guilt or an attempt to somehow earn His approval, but out of love for Him.  What the Lord desires is so much less about doing than we like to make it, and so much more about being than we like to offer.

Don’t get me wrong, sisters in Christ.  We should be loving others, choosing joy, offering praise, living in the Spirit. But if any of those good things are done out of a sense of obligation, duty, or an attempt to earn His favor, then they are pointless.  We might as well build an altar in our backyards and start burning animals on it.

The truth is that we who are in Christ already have the Lord’s favor.  We already stand in Grace. That work was finished at the Cross.  All He requires of us, is US.

So, if we’re laying all of these “good things” down at His feet while failing to truly surrender our very selves to Him, then He is not pleased.  If we become consumed with doing, doing, doing to the point of neglecting just being with Him, then we’ve missed the point entirely.

And for some of us, myself included, this being rather than doing is a difficult doctrine to accept because we are natural-born doers.  But we cannot offer doing on that sacrificial altar at the expense of being.

Consider this: if I fail to check off a single item on my spiritual to-do list, but I’ve sat at the Father’s feet with a willing spirit, then I have given Him what He desires.  Self.  Control.  Being.

Yet what about Paul’s call to offer ourselves up as living sacrifices?  Here’s the problem.  We humans get it backwards! We try to live right in order to make ourselves acceptable.  Even those of us who are in Christ and who understand Grace might catch ourselves living in this way – making meaningless sacrifice after sacrifice, knowing that Christ’s death alone was enough yet still striving in our hearts to “earn” favor.

being vs. doing 2

The real equation for right living comes by first understanding and accepting that there is absolutely nothing we can do ourselves, that it’s all about Him and the life He gave.  Once we begin to live in that place of grace and embrace being in relationship with Him, then those good works naturally overflow from us as a result of being in the presence of the Father himself!

Doing never leads to being; being always leads to doing.

Just look at Jesus’ example given to us here in Hebrews.  He pleased the Father by simply offering Himself, his very being, up to the Father’s will.  And out of that offering came the greatest sacrifice known to mankind for all eternity, the sacrifice to end all others.

So, ask yourself.  What am I offering up to the Lord today?  Am I offering meaningless sacrifices in an attempt to please Him so that I can go about doing what I really want to do?  Am I focused constantly on doing and not on being?  Am I weary with the futility of it all, trudging back and forth to the altar in the backyard?

If you find yourself weary with all of the doing, the Lord has good news for you today,  stop.

Just stop.

This section of scripture in Hebrews concludes with the following words:

“And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.
Now where there is forgiveness of these things,

there is no longer any offering for sin.”

Hebrews 10:17-18

He desires not our meaningless sacrifices.  He desires instead that we would just be with Him.  Find rest in the being first and let your doing naturally overflow from His work in you.

being vs. doing 1

What the Father desires most then is really very simple and has little to do with how we mother, how we serve at church, how clean our houses are or how happy we make our husbands.

What He desires is you.

Simply  you.

What a sweet relief to realize that our falling down at His feet in surrender is enough!

Father, help us to let go of the doing and embrace instead the being. Remind us that if we abide in You, the doing naturally overflows.   Help us to rest in the grip of Grace, for Your Son was and is enough.  The debt is paid once and for all.  Now we are set free. 

Set free to just be.

Amen.

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

30 Comments »

Waiting While Sea Billows Roll

Image

It’s more than a bad hair day and more than spilled milk.  It’s one of “those” days, the ones you really do weep over, when wave after wave of some new trial sweeps over you as you struggle to swim.  And just as you gain your feet, another waves swells up before you.  We all have them… those days (sigh).  In the midst of such trials, we can do little else than cry out for mercy, for deliverance.

And sometimes “those” days last longer than just a day or two, or even a week.  Sometimes, we experience whole seasons of “those” days, whole seasons of trial, and illness, and heartache.

If you read regularly here, you know our family has been in the midst of such a season for a while now.  I’ve been wanting to share with you all some of my “discussions” with the Lord about this spot He has us in, but I’ve honestly been confused about the message He’s trying to give me.  I don’t want to wallow in self-pity, but I do want to allow myself the grace to rest and recover when needed.  I want to keep using  those Grace-colored glasses He’s been teaching me about.

You see, it’s not just the practical and physical difficulties of a trial that make life on one of those days oh-so-difficult, but it’s the emotions that come along for the ride, too.  Emotions like frustration, guilt, doubt, confusion, sorrow.  I’m frustrated by the condition of my physical body and even by the condition of my fragile emotions.  They’re letting me down!  And I feel guilty about my absence as the Mom, the flusher-of-toilets, the light-turner-offer, the schedule-keeper, the cooker-of-food, the kisser-of-boo-boos, the one who makes a home a home.  I see my husband grow weary with the extra burdens, and I wish I could bear my fair share.

What I really wanted to give you was a how-to post:  how to survive when Mom can’t be mom.  I do have a few ideas about that one, a few tips the Lord has been helping me with.  He’s been telling me to lower my expectations.  So what if the twins watch an extra hour of cartoons?  So what if beds go unmade and the soccer shirts aren’t clean on game day?  If at the of the day, we’re all fed and alive, then we’re surviving!  Or what about Teamwork – be a team with your spouse?  Yes, that’s a good tip, too.  When I feel overwhelmed by circumstances in life, I often fight against my husband instead of with him.  In return, I reap the added burden of marital strife to an already trying situation. So, teamwork is good, blaming my husband for my own limitations and frustrations is bad.  Okay, I got that. 🙂

Resist Satan’s Lies – tip number three.  Of course, I know that in spite of my guilty feelings, I’m doing the best I can and that’s enough for the Lord.  Of course I know that He promises to be my Deliverer.  But sometimes I just don’t want to wait for deliverance.  I’d rather try to fix it myself, right?  Are you with me here?

Lean on the Lord for both physical and emotional strength. That’s a good one, right?  Chin up, soldier because God is on your side.  If God is for us, who can be against us?  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  And all of the other platitudes we like to splatter about when someone is suffering a trial.  They’re all true; they really are, but sometimes they do little to comfort the weary soul. Sometimes instead of lifting us up, those verses make us feel like crummy Christians.  Because if I’m not “counting it all joy” every single day of this trial, then I’m once again failing somehow, am I not?

And what about “count your blessings,” which goes right along with “think of those less fortunate”?  You know some days that really works for me. Most of the time, I can see all of the good things around me that the Lord has blessed me with.  I can find the silver linings.  I know that my temporary suffering pales in the face of what others have gone through before me, namely Jesus.  But some days I can count my blessings, think of others,  and still feel frail.  Some days I know I’m not clinging to joy, I’m not embracing peace, because I have no strength left to do so!

So while I sit and think on all of these good things I feel I should be doing to try to help myself in this season of trial, the waves grow all the stronger and more ominous around me. Crashing, crashing, always crashing, this storm in my soul. I feel like Jacob, wrestling with the Lord, and I wonder, what’s wrong with me? Why can I not seem to overcome?  Am I not obedient enough?  Not trusting enough?  Not hopeful enough? Have I sinned in some way I’m not aware of?

Then,  I read this post here about not having a formula for success in the midst of trial but just “hanging on for dear life” and this post here about resting in the mud, in the mess of it, because He’s willing to sit right there with us.  I began to wonder if I was seeing it all wrong, if I was trying to earn favor rather than be willing to receive favor.

I’m beginning to hear a new song from the Lord, a new song to my weary soul. His song tells of a Shelter in the storm, strength found less in doing and more in waiting, a peace gained not from a change in circumstance but from His very presence.

In my devotion time this week I feasted on these lines that seemed to be meant just for me:

“We must learn to wait on the Lord and look for His return…. As you wait on Him, you will discover that this attitude renews your spiritual strength, clears your perspective, and reduces your giant-sized problems to manageable size.  Let David’s words become your marching orders: ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.’” [Excerpt from Joy of Living Bible Studies: Hebrews, pg. 102]

Image

In the original language, this word wait is qavah (pronounced kaw-vaw’) and is a verb meaning to look for, to wait for, to hope for.  I found it even more interesting that the original meaning was one of binding together by twisting, as in a rope.  And here I am, dangling at the end of mine. 🙂   I found that this verb is very active, not an idle sitting by the wayside, but an expectant waiting.  We are to actively be on the “look out” for the Lord to work on our behalf. While we wait, qavah, we are also to be strong.

The phrase “be strong” from the Hebrew word chazaq (prounounced khaw-zak’) is also a verb.  Maybe you’re not as nerdy as I am about grammar, so that might not mean much to you.  However, in essence, this chazaq is an act, something done rather than a state of being.  It was used numerous times in the Old Testament to describe a scene of supernatural strength: David vs. Goliath, Samson’s final act, Joshua’s entrance into the Promised Land.  So this being strong is an act that comes not from any natural or human means, but only from the Lord.  Thus, it’s impossible for us to “be strong” in the chazaq sense on our own. [NASB, Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible]

So, how does that look, practically speaking?  I mean, how can I wait and be strong without striving and stressing?  I can be quick to meet Satan’s lies with truth from the Word.  I can earnestly seek moments of joy in a day full of trials.  I can watch to find His hand already at work in the situation and trust that it’s happening even if I can’t yet see it. I can speak words of hope.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it?  Because some days I don’t have it in me.  That’s the key right there – it’s not in me to wait and be strong.  What is naturally in me is to despair, to cry “Mercy, Father, it’s too much!”  And maybe sometimes that’s just the best place to be: at the Father’s feet, completely undone, utterly dependent on Him alone.  No strength of our own left.  Completely at His mercy.  Humbled and low-down.  At the end of the proverbial rope.

I’ll be honest, that’s a really hard place to sit in.  I much prefer to jump up and busy myself doing something because at least then I feel useful.  But what if that’s not what He desires?  What if what He most desires is to hear me admit, I can’t do it, Father – I’m not capable –  I need help I think the most difficult aspect of learning to walk a road of suffering is understanding when to “be still” and when to “soldier on.”  I still don’t have it figured out. I seem to pendulum swing between the two, trying to find that balance.  Some days I’m all “onward Christian soldiers” and others I’m moaning about like an Israelite, lost in the desert. 🙂 It’s all part of His work in progress in me.

So this is the heart of my struggle, really.  What is it you require of me, Lord?

Here’s how I believe He’s answering me:

Daughter of mine, wait for Me.  Listen for My voice.  When it’s time to get up and walk, I will tell you.  And when it’s time for you to sit and take rest at my feet, I will tell you.  And when it’s time for me to carry you because you have absolutely nothing left to give, then I will carry you.  Stop trying so hard and just rest in my embrace.  No squirming now, not yet.  Sit. Relax. Cry if you need to.  Confess if you need to. Question if you need to.  I’m big enough to handle all of that and more.  Just let Me hold you because that’s all I really want.  You, beloved daughter.  I want you.  Take heart; rescue WILL come, for I am the Faithful One, God of all Hope and Comfort.  But for now, just wait.

Because the truth is that our Father God loves with a perfect love, so much more perfect than ours.  Which one of us mothers would look at wounded, heartbroken child and chide her for her tears? I’m not talking about tantrum tears or even repentance tears, but tears of helplessness and hurt.  Does their sorrow not bring forth our very compassion?   And which one of us mothers would not come rushing to the aid of a child calling urgently for help?  Which one of us would refuse to comfort and console?  Which of us would leave that child to struggle alone?  We would not.  We cannot because our love compels us to respond.  If this is the way we imperfect humans feel about our children, how much more so does our Father God have compassion for us, His beloved, chosen ones?

With that perspective, those crashing waves don’t seem so ominous anymore.  They still knock me down from time to time, but maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly where I need to be.  Perhaps those waves of trial aren’t reaching up at my waist in order to suck me under, drown me, but to push me to a better shore.  If I would just quit fighting them, give in, and ride the momentum, I’d find myself safely on the other side.  And there I can find the rest my soul is so desperate for.

My sister in Christ, if you’re struggling in the surf of suffering today, take heart.  You are not alone. Rescue is near.  He welcomes you into His embrace and asks that you just sit a while. Listen for His voice.

And just wait.

Jen 🙂

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

http://sarahjofairchild.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/just-one-of-those-days-again/

I’ll also be linking up at any of these places.

23 Comments »

Bags of Hope

Image

Today we saw the fruits of months of labor for a new ministry at our church, a ministry called Bags of Hope.  These bags will be given out to parents of infants in the NICU at a nearby hospital.  The bags contain handmade blankets, bottled water, snacks, quarters, a journal, a new testament, and other encouraging materials.  They are meant to bring Hope and comfort to families who truly need it.

This ministry began in the heart of my friend, Kasandra Begley.  Kassy (as we call her) gave birth prematurely to a son, Logan, who spent 17 days in the NICU before he passed into the care of our Father God.  But that wasn’t the end of the story for Kassy.    She could have easily given up there that day, given in to the desire to die within, given in to the numbness that consumes those who are grieving monumental loss.

And perhaps she did, for a time, give up.  Goodness knows she still grieves and probably always will, who wouldn’t?  But she kept choosing to live, even if sometimes only barely, and she kept seeking something to fill that gap left behind by an infant son.

I met Kassy nearly a year ago when she began to attend our church with her boyfriend.  She was very quiet at first, yet friendly. After a time, I asked her if she would like to do a bible study with me, and to my surprise, she agreed! 🙂  We spent quite a few months going through The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, a chronological approach to the gospel.

I sensed that Kassy yearned for a relationship with our Heavenly Father, but something was standing in the way.  At times, I felt she was but a moment away from trusting in Him, only to experience a quick withdrawal.  I knew what was bothering her.  How could a loving God allow her to become pregnant, live through difficult circumstances, carry a baby, birth a baby, and watch him suffer for seventeen endless days before losing him?  How could He?

What does one say to a question like that?  I don’t know.  I don’t always understand the ways of the Father, but I believe He wants to bring good out of even the most despicable situations. So, that’s what I told her.

We continued to work through our study, right up to the suffering of Jesus, God’s one and only Son, as He willing surrendered His life for our sin.

while we were still sinners

It was then that Kassy loudly proclaimed, “Me and God have something in common!”  I was a little startled and not sure what she meant by the statement.  I prodded, “What do you mean?”  She excitedly explained that God was showing her that He had lost a Son, too, watched Him suffer physically, be beaten, scorned, and hung on a cross to die a slow and agonizing death.  God allowed His Son to die, not only for His Son’s glorification, but also for the good of all mankind.

And suddenly I realized where she was going with it.  God knew her pain, felt her loss, understood her life-draining sorrow.  He, too, lost a beloved child.  The hair on my arm stood on end as I literally felt this truth she was experiencing right before me.  It was a moment so powerful and beautiful that every fiber of my being stood at attention. I couldn’t move; I couldn’t speak.  The only thing I could do was furiously bat my lashes in an attempt to stem the floodgates.  She said, “Oh, man, I just got the chills!”  Me, too, Kassy, me, too.

That was the aha! moment for Kassy, the moment she realized God is accessible.  He’s not just some faraway deity who metes out punishment when necessary while apathetically ignoring our most desperate pleas. He knows pain is real, wounds are real. He doesn’t turn away from the raw and often ugly emotion that oozes forth from us in our most wretched moments.

No, instead He comforts us with a comfort only He can give, overwhelms us with His very presence, and lavishes love upon us even as we cry out, Why?  Why, Father, why?

I imagine Mary Magdalene felt a similar despair when she found her Savior’s tomb empty.  The words of the angels were of no comfort to her.  The Promised Messiah was dead; what hope was left?  She couldn’t even have the satisfaction of caring for his body. In her despair, she turned away.  In her despair, she failed to see Jesus before her.  In her despair, she questioned.

John 20

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

And then He said her name.

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

When Mary saw it was her Messiah calling her, the questions faded away.  All that mattered was Him, standing there before her, Hope in the flesh. She left quickly to spread this comfort that she’d been given.

What it really comes down to is this: do you believe that He loves you? I don’t just mean that you say you believe it, or that you want to believe it, but do you truly believe – heart, soul, mind, and strength?  Because if you do, if I do, then we can let go of the whys and embrace the gift, the gift of total, unconditional love and acceptance for those who believe in and call on the name of  Jesus.  When we look at Him, the author and perfecter of our faith, when we truly see Him, Lord of Lords, Blessed Redeemer, those doubts, those questions, those fears, walls, wounds, and chains…..they all fade away into the background. 

So, after my friend Kassy accepted this gift, she began to grow and change.  I started to see the real Kassy, the one who isn’t shy or quiet at all,  the one who likes to laugh and often threatens others with bodily harm (but she doesn’t really mean it, ….well, most of the time). 😉  One day she approached my husband and I about this idea to crochet baby blankets for infants in the NICU.  She wanted to honor the memory of her son by doing something she enjoys, something that brings her peace.  She also knew that our twins spent some time in the NICU four years ago when they were born prematurely, so we understood the difficulty and fear many parents experience.  She thought the church might want to be involved as well.

After discussing what NICU parents might need during an extended stay, we developed a list of items to give along with the blankets.  Eventually we settled on a name – Bags of Hope!  And just like that a new ministry was born from the pain of her situation, beauty from ashes, joy from sorrow.

Isn’t He amazing? Isn’t His comfort amazing?  It is a comfort that we just can’t contain; we are compelled to share the comfort we have received with others.  We are compelled to tell them:

There.

is.

Hope.

There is Healing.  There is Joy. There is the Promise of a better tomorrow and a perfect everlasting.

What comfort have you received, my friends?  Are you still searching for it?  It’s there for the grasping – look to Jesus.  He’s waiting for you, calling for you. If you already have comfort, are you passing it along?  Our stories, our testimonies are powerful tools in the Father’s hands.

Praise be to God, for His name is Comforter.

Jen 🙂

Would you bless Kassy and Bags of Hope by liking the facebook page and helping us spread the word?  Click the graphic below.

bags of hope button 2

13 Comments »

A Savior Who Never Grows Weary

I’m privileged to attend a women’s bible study on Tuesday mornings most weeks.  We’re currently studying the book of Hebrews in depth, and this week the focus was on the latter part of chapter seven.

In this chapter, the author spends a great deal of space demonstrating why Jesus is the ultimate High Priest, even greater than Melchizedek, who was a pillar of the Hebrew faith. Because Jesus is eternal, He is superior.  Because He is perfect, blameless, He is superior.  Because He continues to intercede on our behalf at the Father’s right hand, He is superior.

Hebrews 7

“23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”

When asked to reflect on these verses, the end of verse 25 jumped out at me.  “He always lives to make intercession for them.” That is His purpose at the right hand of the Father, to intercede on my behalf, continuously, for all of eternity.

Did you catch that?  Our risen Savior didn’t just choose us at the cross. He chooses us now; defends us now; redeems us now; intercedes for us now, moment by moment, forever and ever, hallelujah! 

I often grow weary of my children (let’s be honest, now :)). I often grow weary of my husband, of others, and sometimes I even grow weary of my Lord. My love fails.

But His love never fails.  

He never grows weary of being my Savior.

He never grows weary

It wasn’t just a one-time act, that choice to suffer on the cross, that forgiveness of even the most unpardonable sins. He continues to act on my behalf, acts for my forgiveness, over and over again. Today, and the next day, and for all of eternity.

As humans, we cannot even come close to that kind of love!  In fact, even our most sacred vows end with ” til death do us part.” One day we will come to an end, and with that end, our imperfect love will also cease.  We says things like, “I’ll love you forever” but that promise is impossible for us to keep.  And even if we manage to love one another for a lifetime, our love  is full of faults, imperfections, wounds, conditions.

But His love is not our love. He alone can keep the promise of a perfect, forever love.  Our High Priest claims us time and time again. “Father, you see that one right there?  I chose her. I died for her.  Her sin is covered by my blood.  She belongs to us now. I call her beloved.  I love her as she is.”

Oh, the overwhelming grace!  It’s almost painful in its power.  It floods us and we drown in it, dying to self and rising anew.  Rising to bone-deep gratefulness.  Rising to undeserved confidence in our eternal position. Rising to true love.

Grace floods us

If you’re feeling low-down and unworthy today, unloved or under-appreciated, overwhelmed by sin or temptation or trials, or maybe just a little weary of life in general, remember who your Savior is.

He is real.

His love is real.

And it never ceases.

He sits at the right hand of the Father and proclaims, “Covered by my blood, covered by my blood.”

Rise anew, beloved, rise anew.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: A Little R&R

See the Favorite Link-ups tab on my sidebar to find the other blogs I’ll be linking to.

19 Comments »

Power to Produce

Image

If you are anything like me, then cleaning out the fridge is low on the totem pole. You might occasionally reach in for some sustenance and pull out rotten food instead. Instead of giving life and energy, the food is wasted, worthless, and sometimes even downright disgusting.

Our spiritual fruits can be that way, too!  Have you ever tested your fruit?  Held it up to the Lamp, the faithful Word of the Lord?

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love,

joy, peace, patience,

kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,self-control;

against such things there is no law.

 

In my bible, beside this passage I have written two small words: the test.  Do you want to know how closely you are walking with the Lord? Examine your fruit of the Spirit!  Do they pass the test?  Are you overflowing with patience, joy, peace, kindness, love, goodness and so on?

All too often I find myself trying to produce these fruit all on my own. I wake up in the morning thinking, I’m going to be patient with my children today.  I’m going to be kind and loving to my husband.  And later in the day, when strength runs low, I feel frustrated and out of control. I wonder, “Why am I acting this way?  What is the matter with me today?”  as if some sort of spell has come over me, and I’ve been rendered incapable of obedience.

In truth, my fruits show that I’m not out of control, I’m off of the vine.  I’m not abiding, not remaining.  Instead, I’ve chosen my own path, my own methods.  I’ve chosen doing rather than being, resisting rather than submitting, striving rather than resting.

I’ve somehow forgotten that most basic truth of Christianity, that we cannot produce fruit on our own, for there is nothing good in me.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;
for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
Romans 7:18
When I lift my fruit up to the Lamp, I see it – that bruise there when I chose to be selfish rather than selfless.  The wormhole caused by putting off time alone with God.  The blackened area of sin left hidden and unconfessed.  Surprisingly, some of my fruit appears to be pretty and polished, but on the inside the core rots, the result of a valiant effort to do things in my own strength.
It’s ugly fruit.
It’s rotten and worthless.
It reeks of self.
I have to toss the bad fruit out and start anew: reconnect to the Vine, drink the Living Water, break the Bread of Life.

2Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,

for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

so that the man of God may be adequate,

equipped for every good work.

Only then, in the hands of the Master, can I produce beautiful and bountiful  fruit, sweet-smelling fruit. No matter how often I fail the fruit test, He is faithful to forgive, faithful to redeem.  His grace is sufficient for my weakness!
Today are you feeling weary, impatient, overwhelmed, dissatisfied, or out of control?  Test your fruit.  Hold them up to the Lamp of Truth and see what they reveal.
come to me all who are weary
Matthew 11:28-30
 “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, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
We have no power to produce good fruit on our own!  Instead of trying and toiling, why not take His yoke and find rest? Turn to your Maker and Sustainer for the power to produce!
Which fruit is most difficult for you to produce?  What verses help you to rely on the Spirit rather than self?  Please share with us in the comments!
Jen 🙂
8 Comments »

Be a Transformer

Have you ever put off saying (or posting) something because you feared the repercussions, how it might be received?  If so, then this post is for you.  Even as I wrote it, and re-wrote it, I felt that same fear because being bold in my witness does not come naturally to me, rather it usually results from conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, I have put off posting this message for too long now, and God has  convicted me that I’m not trusting in the Him, the God “who goes before me.” I have spent hours crafting the message so that it will hopefully ring true without causing a permanent loss of hearing. 🙂

So I hope that when you read it, you will consider my heart (even though some of you might hardly know me).  My heart beats for God’s people and for His truth, it yearns for us all to strive toward Christ-likeness not for the sake of personal pride or satisfaction with self, but for the sake of His glory, that His name and His Truth should be known around the world!  My heart aches for the lost, those who are searching for His Truth without even knowing it.  You can blame my parents for this since I spent a great deal of my growing up years as a missionary kid. But that’s another story for another time.   Today I want to ask you some tough questions in relation to the following verse:

do not conform

Recent conversations on Facebook and other media outlets have opened my eyes to a developing trend in Christianity today.  Being a Bible-believing, truth-defending, Christ-follower is no longer popular even in many Christian circles!

Somewhere along the line, some of us Christ-followers have become so conformed to this world that we are afraid and/or unwilling to take a stand on issues that the Bible clearly addresses.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve found myself in this camp before, keeping quiet because it’s just easier.  Some believers even go so far as to throw their total support behind worldly ideology, political correctness, tolerance  – whatever you want to call it – and then condemn their fellow believers for being “judgmental,” “close-minded,” or “intolerant.”

While criticism from the world is to be expected, criticism from fellow believers often surprises us!  We are not accustomed to being labeled (or  dare I say “judged”?) by those who should be our support.  How warped is it that Satan has convinced some of us that simply standing on God’s Truth is being judgmental, and is therefore wrong?

Allow me to clarify: the Bible DOES speak strongly against judging others and becoming self-righteous. We are all familiar with the words of Luke 6:41-42.

speck or plank

Only God can see, and therefore judge, the motives of the heart.  Therefore, we should not pre-occupy ourselves with the sin of others; rather we should be too busy dealing with our own sin.  However, God also calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and to be bold in our witness as transformers.

Unfortunately, well-publicized, so-called “Christians” have recently taken a stand for their so-called “truth” in ways that ARE harsh and hateful, tarnishing our witness.  Furthermore, we have Christian brothers and sisters actively ridiculing others on forums such as Twitter and Facebook, adding to the world’s negative perception of us Christ-followers. While I fully support upholding God’s Truth, when we haughtily shove our beliefs in someone’s face with a sarcastic turn of phrase, a witty cartoon, or a picture that belittles others, we end up conforming to the world and looking just like it!  How can we then be salt or light to a world that is in dire need of God’s truth?

I believe Satan has seized hold of this shame over others’ behavior and used it to confuse believers (as well as the world!) and convince many of us that upholding God’s truth is wrong in and of itself, when the reality is that the fault lies in the method of delivery. We have only to study Christ’s example to see how he gently revealed truth to people, often with a single phrase or sentence, and always while caring for their needs, whether physical or spiritual.  He did not skirt sin issues, neither did he humiliate the lost.

We must follow Christ’s example in our efforts to live as transformers.  When the Bible speaks clearly on issues of right and wrong, we are called to uphold God’s Truth with – and this is the key – LOVE and RESPECT.

prepared to give an answer

The key lies in our delivery – a delivery which requires a balance between Truth and Grace, not the absence of either or both.  A total-grace perspective can lead to conformity, while a total-truth perspective can lead to self-righteous bullying .  Is it wrong to bully others into sharing our beliefs?  Yes!  Is it also wrong to be silent on issues that the Bible clearly addresses?  Yes!  Why then have we allowed the world, the Great Deceiver, and even fellow Christians to tell us that it is un-Christian-like to be a Christian? Ironic, isn’t it? 🙂

My purpose is this: consider carefully how your life and your actions or statements appear to others (especially in regards to social media).  Do they see a difference?  Are you being transformed by Christ, or are you choosing to conform to the world?  There is no middle ground!

power of risen savior

I know it is risky voicing the unpopular Biblical perspective on many current issues, but then Christ wasn’t all that popular with the worldly and falsely religious leaders of his day, either.  You may lose friends.  You may lose popularity.  You may even be judged by the very people who accuse you of “ being too judgmental!” Have the courage that Paul had when he wrote in Philippians 3:7-11:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Amen??

If at the moment you find that you’ve been conforming (and haven’t we ALL at some point or another??), remember that God’s grace is immediate and His power to provoke change in us is immeasurable.  On the other hand, if you are already actively trying to live out a transformed life, take heart. You are not alone!

I encourage you to look to God’s Word and the Word alone to form your opinions, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your thinking.

Questions to ask  before posting or sharing a “truth” statement via social media:

  1. Is your audience one you love and one who loves you in return?  In other words, will your message be received in the manner in which it was intended?
  2. Is your message one of God’s truth rather than man’s truth?  In other words, do you have contextual biblical support  for your message?
  3. Is God leading you to share this truth at this particular time in this particular fashion?  In other words, has the prompting come from Him or do you just love your soap box? 🙂
  4. Have you achieved a balance between truth and grace?  In other words, how is your method of delivery – gentle or smug?

overcome evil for good

Telling the truth in grace and love is such a delicate balance to achieve, but as Christ’s image-bearers, we must work toward that balance!  We have amazing technology and a unique opportunity to show the world what Christ-like love truly is, so let’s allow Christ’s love to shine through us without diminishing the light of His message.  Don’t conform.  Be a transformer.

Because of His love,

Jen 🙂

You might also enjoy this post:

http://www.godspotting.net/2013/06/god-is-not-republican.html

20 Comments »

Faithful Friend or Critical Chrisitan?

Image

I have a soft spot for those who struggle with chronic health issues. Just this past week, I had yet another bout with sinusitis and was reminded again how much I dislike being ill. I have a medical history complicated by allergies and asthma along with an immune system that just doesn’t work well and never has.

I have often joked about my health– that if something is medically rare, it’s bound to happen to me. During high school, I suffered from malaria for months before it was correctly diagnosed. We had tested for so many different illnesses that I was beginning to think I was either crazy (literally), or there was something very wrong with my body (like cancer). What a relief it was to be able to name the problem and find a solution. Truthfully, the ONLY positive medical rarity I’ve experienced in life thus far is giving birth to twins! 🙂

While my medical issues pale in comparison to so many others, I struggle often enough to understand some of what it feels like to battle chronic medical conditions. I understand that chronic sufferers often feel lonely because illness keeps them at home in isolation. I understand the judgment sometimes felt from uncaring medical professionals, unsympathetic friends, and even gossipers who relate physical health to spiritual health. I understand the weariness of facing yet another day of pain with no end in sight. I understand total helplessness.

Over the years, I’ve heard people say some pretty harsh things about our sisters in Christ with chronic conditions, and I’m very ashamed to admit I’ve even had these same thoughts on occasion:

They’re just depressed. They need to get help.

They obviously can’t handle pain well, so they exaggerate their symptoms.

All they do is complain!

They are not living a healthy lifestyle. If they would just eat right, exercise, etc. then they would feel better.

They are not disciplined enough. They should just do what’s right in spite of how they feel.

They’re not trusting God enough.

While all of these statements have the potential to be at least partially true in many cases, they come across as self-righteous. Is that a little harsh? Perhaps. However, such thoughts or even voiced opinions do nothing to uplift or encourage that sister in Christ who is so lonely, so overwhelmed, so discouraged, so needy.

Consider these excerpts from Job, who suffered for the glory of the Lord.

Job 12
4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends,
though I called on God and he answered—
a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!
5 Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune
as the fate of those whose feet are slipping…

16 Then Job replied:
2 “I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief…

19 Then Job replied:
2 “How long will you torment me
and crush me with words?
3 Ten times now you have reproached me;
shamelessly you attack me.
4 If it is true that I have gone astray,
my error remains my concern alone…

Job was “blameless and upright”; he had done nothing to deserve his suffering, and he continued to turn to the Lord throughout. Yet, how did his religious friends respond? They criticized him. They questioned his faith. When he needed them most, they failed him. How sad that they missed the opportunity to demonstrate brotherly love to Job!

As sisters in Christ, we are called to minister to those in need! Even if those suffering are not as blameless as Job, we are responsible to love them through the difficult times. I know from experience that suffering from a medical condition can make a person pretty needy, and sometimes we grow weary of giving to someone who cannot give back. Trust me; I’ve been on that side of the coin, too. As Job said, “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune…” How quickly we forget the depth of the dark when we are bathing in the light. I’m guilty of it myself.

So, how can we avoid being unsympathetic know-it-alls like Job’s friends?

Image

1. Check your attitude. Don’t condemn or condescend; show compassion instead. You cannot possibly know how difficult your sister’s life is unless you’ve been there yourself. Try to remember a time in your life when you suffered great physical pain or discomfort. Now imagine dealing with that on a daily basis with no end in sight! “Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another….” Eph. 4:32

2. Remember that dealing with medical issues can be scary and lonely, especially when an issue lacks a confirmed diagnosis. Doctors are not always correct and sometimes they lack the medical knowledge or the compassion to find answers patients need. Just because a person does not yet have a diagnosis does not mean “it’s all in the head.”

3. Before you offer advice to your suffering sister, consider your relationship with her. Are you close enough to her to have ALL of the facts, or have you made assumptions based on partial information? Have you first spent time in earnest prayer for her? Do you have a strong enough relationship that she will be able to hear you in love without being wounded by your words?

4. Be the Body of Christ! Offer an encouraging word, send a card or note to let her know you are thinking of and praying for her! Additionally, offer some practical help – making a meal, providing child care, cleaning the house, running an errand, even giving financially to help with medical bills in the case of severe illness. Don’t say, “If you need help, let me know.” Instead say, “I want to help by _________. When is a good day or time?” A specific offer of help is much more difficult to turn down. 🙂

On the other hand, if you, my sister in Christ, struggle with chronic medical issues, remember that you are not alone and that God IS in control, even when it doesn’t feel like it.    The Word can be a tremendous source of encouragement during such trials.

Image

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

We don’t always understand His ways, His reasons, for allowing trials in our lives, but we can trust in His compassion for us.

Hebrews 4:15-16

“ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Jesus suffered. He suffered physically, emotionally, even mentally in his life as a human on earth. He was betrayed by friends and rejected (albeit briefly) by His own father. He suffered horribly and then He died. If anyone can understand your pain, He can!

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

This verse brought much comfort to me during a trial of lengthy physical illness in my high school years. I had no diagnosis, and the waiting was frightening and difficult. In that time, I did not understand the why, but I took comfort in the fact that there was a reason, even if I didn’t yet know it.

Over the years, I have learned that God often uses illness to get my attention, to bring me back to that place where I am totally reliant on Him because my physical body has failed me. I don’t always know or understand why God allows such frequent illness, but I am secure in the fact that He only allows things into my life that He can work for good (Rom. 8:28). I hope you find that same comfort!

So as we go about our week, let’s remember those in our circles who are hurting. Let’s ask God to help us see our suffering sisters with the same compassion He does. I challenge you to put a little time and effort into encouraging a suffering sister in Christ this week! Who’s with me?

Jen 🙂

What great ideas or verses do you have for encouraging our suffering sisters?

If you know someone who is struggling spiritually rather than physically, here’s an excellent article on that issue:

http://lori-benotweary.blogspot.com/2013/06/when-someone-you-love-is-struggling.html

14 Comments »

The Superwoman Myth

Image

This will be a slightly interactive post since I’m adapting it from a Mother’s Day talk I’ll be giving this weekend.  I’d love for you to take the time to actually do the interactive parts (at beginning and end), if you feel so led.

Beginning Activity:  Write down (or think of) the personality trait that you dislike most about yourself.  For example: I am shy, I am too loud, I have a temper, I am impatient, and so forth.  Hold onto this until the end.

……………………

A few weeks ago, my seven-year-old son came to me after receiving a scolding and said something that shook me to the core: “Mom, sometimes I feel like you expect me to be perfect.”  Immediately my eyes burned with tears because I knew that feeling, the feeling of not being good enough, and I certainly did not want my child to ever fear that he wasn’t “good enough” for me!  Nevertheless, somehow I had sent that message to him, and although unintentional on my part, I felt overwhelmed by conviction and sadness, and then by guilt.

It was one of those mommy moments when I realized that I had become exactly the kind of mother I did NOT want to be.  You see, God’s been speaking to me about this issue lately, about my tendency toward perfectionism.  When my young son brought this problem to the forefront I realized that I’m not the only one affected by it.  It’s not only frustrating for me, but it’s something that often negatively effects my relationships with others also. For these reasons, perfectionism is a trait I have that I greatly dislike.

So why do so many of us women struggle with perfectionism and other personality flaws?  Because we have bought into the Superwoman Myth.  You know, the myth about the woman who does it all and does it perfectly!!  Wouldn’t we all love to be that supreme woman, to bask in the knowledge that we ROCK at being women – everyday in every thing and all of the time.

Unfortunately, we realize that we often fall very short of this ideal.  If Superwoman truly exists, she certainly is difficult to find in our everyday lives.

The first contributor to this myth is self.  How many times have you written yourself a to-do list a mile long and actually expected to get most of those tasks accomplished?  And at the end of the day when you have only made it to number 4, how do you feel?  Frustrated? Discouraged?

Or consider this: How often do you feel like you’re making so much progress in one area, only to discover you’re completely falling apart in another?

Image

Although some of us may come close on a given day, soaring above the circumstances of messy homes, sick family members, extra hours of work, and so forth, the perfect mother, the perfect wife, sister, friend, daughter, child of God – she does not exist!

Instead of listening to the lies perpetuated by our superwoman-wannabe selves, let’s listen to the truths our Creator God has to say about us.  Psalm 139:13-14 tells us,

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”

God created you purposefully and intentionally to be who you are.  While he did not create you to sin, He did create you with your unique personality, your unique strengths and weaknesses. Even those things we tend to see as our weaknesses can become strengths with His help.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The personality traits we so often view as flaws have positive aspects to them, sisters. For example, while my perfectionism easily leads to worry and sin, it is incredibly helpful for tasks that require attention to detail.  Likewise, people who are argumentative may be difficult to get along with, yet their make excellent lawyers and advocates for others.  Those who are easy-going may lack organizational skills, but they are great friends and listeners.

Let’s find the beauty in being who God created us to be.  Let’s allow Him to work in our weaknesses to make us strong.

Although prideful self has much to do with perpetuating the Superwoman Myth, prideful self is often accompanied by a focus on others. While self focuses more on our own perceived character flaws, a focus on others leads to a whole other host of lies.  How many of us can honestly say that we’ve never compared ourselves to another woman...ever?!

None of us can.  Especially in this age of social media, we are very aware of the skills other women have, whether the skills lie in business, in being friendly, in being a great parent, in being an excellent cook, in being an artist, and on and on and on.

Furthermore, we often envy those things in others that we feel we are lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to admire others and to challenge ourselves to grow.  We definitely want to be the best wife/mother/sister/daughter/aunt/whatever we can possibly be.

The problem is that sometimes when we see all of this womanly awesomeness out there, we wish that we could be someone we are not, someone we were never created to be.  We wish we could be more … more pretty, more popular, more successful in a career, more creative, more successful in homemaking or parenting – you fill in the blank!

But the beauty of a relationship with God is that it’s personal, unique to the individual.  While all women are similar in that we are imperfect sinners, saved only by the belief that Christ’s shed blood paid the penalty of death we so deserved, we can be very different in the way we live our faith out.

Image

 I Corinthians 12:12-20 confirms this idea:

 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

We each have a part to play in the body of Christ, and He’s created each of us uniquely to fulfill the role He’s planned out for us.  So the next time you feel unworthy, inadequate, or that you just don’t have anything “special” to offer, remember that God created you to be you, and that He created you to fulfill your role and yours alone.

I know some of us overachievers like to think we can take on ALL of the roles, but that’s not God’s intention. 😉 His intention is for me to be the best Jen that I can be, not the best Suzy or Katherine, and the best Jen might look very different from the best Kelly or the best Michelle.

Now, isn’t that truth freeing?

Look for Part 2 of the Superwoman Myth here.

 

Jen 🙂

 

17 Comments »

Choosing Mary Moments in a Martha World

Like many women, I’ve been really busy this week with a lot of good things.  In addition to my everyday tasks, two things in particular have taken up a fair amount of time: a Mother’s Day talk I am working on for church and a future blog post that just isn’t quite right yet.

They are both really good things, both uplifting to the Body of Christ and instructive for me, the writer.

However, last night and this morning God was working in my heart to show me a truth that I had learned before, but temporarily forgotten.  Good things can become bad things when they distract me from the BEST thing – my relationship with Him!  You see, I thought I was doing good by feverishly working on these projects in my spare time, which you can understand as a mother of four children is indeed very spare. In my zeal and enthusiasm for this good work, I forgot to turn to the Source from whom the words flow.

Sounds an awful lot like Martha, doesn’t it?

Choosing Mary Moments in a Martha World, Mary vs. Martha, Mary and Martha, choosing the best thing, abiding in the Lord

Luke 10:38- 42 reads:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was busy doing good things – taking care of others, preparing food to serve them, and so forth.  They were necessary preparations.  But when she expressed her frustration to the Lord about her sister Mary, He actually rebuked her instead!  He told her that Mary’s choice to fellowship with and learn from Him was the better choice, the BEST choice.

I had the opportunity earlier this year to attend a women’s conference, and the main speaker, Kimberly Sowell, so aptly narrated this story to us.  She reminded us that we live in a Martha World – full of work and busy schedules.  Those tasks, those good and necessary things that we do on a daily basis (raising up children, working, serving others, preparing meals, even work related to ministry) have to be done, but we must be careful not to let them distract us from the most important thing – abiding in Him.

Don’t make the mistake I made; don’t choose simply good things over the BEST thing.  Choose to make time for a Mary moment in spite of your Martha world!  And as soon as you make the choice to be Mary, don’t be surprised if something needs your immediate attention!

This morning, as soon as I sat down on my bed and opened my Bible, my preschoolers who were playing so nicely together suddenly needed my TOTAL attention.  Thankfully, God reminded me that Satan is always at work, and rather than getting frustrated and giving up, I was able to quickly attend to their needs and come right back to my Bible.

It wasn’t easy with two distracting 4-year-olds at my feet (and on my bed, sometimes even in my lap), but it was worthwhile, and I know He was pleased with my obedience.  I know because when I finished, I had peace.

Jen 🙂

Question:  What “good” things tend to distract you the most from the BEST thing? (feel free to share in the comments)

Other articles you might enjoy:

http://pastorswifeslife.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/what-am-i-chasing/

You may also find me linking up at any of these lovely places.

 

20 Comments »