Refuge

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

We are promised peace as we trust in Christ for our forgiveness before a holy God.

          Is God your place of refuge? Do you run to him when you are struggling?

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Cleaning Dirt

I almost want to start a new blog. Because Spring is around the corner! With new beginnings and possibilities and the wonder of plants growing.  My new blog would be clean, and white and wittty. But I won’t. I may change the look of this one, but I will continue here.

I was thinking the other day that it might be helpful for someone to hear that I used to resent the dirt of my life. Literal, physical dirt. I would get mad that the laundry needed doing and the floor never stayed clean. The fridge needed cleaning, the walls never stayed white and the bathroom……oh, the bathroom.  My struggle with priorities will probably always be a part of my life but I have learned not to hate the dirt. To be content with never ending tasks.

Repetition isn’t something I find joy in easily.  I rarely read a book twice, almost never watch a movie more than once and love to start something new. But there is a beauty in finding a thing and looking at it from all angles. Spring is new every year, yet it happens every year. I am learning to find contentment and yes even joy, in the daily repetitive task of cleaning dirt.

My heart has repetitive dirt that needs continual cleaning as well. Besetting sins that are more easily brushed under the rug than taken care of. I praise the Lord he continues cleaning out my heart with His mercies that are new every morning.

Lamentations 3:17-26

my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;

so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the LORD.”

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

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Uniquely Created for His Glory

I have a friend who recently added baby number 5 to her beautiful family. Her life doesn’t stop. She is probably the busiest person I know and it doesn’t bother her. She can graciously handle it all. I can’t. I watch in amazement at all she can do and it inspires me, but when I compare it gets ugly.

Night is a struggle for me and always will be, My thoughts spiral down and I can’t sleep. Those thoughts spill into the next day and the next until I generally break with a day of crying and feel better.  If I could bring myself to spend time in the Word at this time it would be most beneficial. I wish I could get there at the time. But often I can’t.

God has made me very different from my friend. And that is OK. Our world is always telling us to compare in order to make us feel inferior so that we will buy a product that will improve that deficiency. What we have to realize is that it isn’t a deficiency to be created differently. The question needs to become less of “What can I change in order to improve my life and who I am?”, and instead more of “Who has God created me to be and how do I use that uniqueness to impact the world around me?”.

Separating out what is sin and what is a created uniqueness can be difficult. Generally any strength can become a weakness and vice versa.  Focusing on the strengths God has blessed me with, without putting someone else down for not having those strengths or wishing I had their strengths instead is important. As well as asking the Lord to show me any sin in my life.

The only successful way to do this is to point back to God and continually give Him the glory.  In the Westminster Catechism kids are asked “What is the chief end of man?” and the answer is “To Glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. Oh that I will learn and apply that question and answer daily to my own life!

Psalm 139

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

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Obedience for Today

From the REC book of Common Prayer
Prayer for Grace to Enable Us to Perform that Resolution

But, O God, who knowest the weakness and corruption of our nature,
and the manifold temptations with which we daily meet;
We humbly beseech thee to have compassion on our infirmities,
and to give us the constant assistance of thy Holy Spirit;
that we may be effectually restrained from sin,
and incited to our duty.
Imprint upon our hearts such a dread of thy judgements,
and such a grateful sense of they goodness to us,
as may make us both afraid and ashamed to offend thee.
And, above all, keep in our minds a lively remembrance of that great day,
in which we must give a strict account of our thoughts, words, and actions to him whom
thou hast appointed the Judge of the quick and dead,
thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Yesterday our family read this prayer and what struck me was the italicized sentence above. To have such dread of the judgement that is coming, that I start to see his merciful kindness toward me in my sinfulness, and in my gratefulness am both afraid AND ashamed to offend him.

It is hard to keep walking a path you were so sure God wanted you to walk, when your unsure of how to walk it. You were so sure of His voice at the beginning of it all and as you continue it gets harder to walk. You pray and plead and can’t see what He wants you to do and doubt creeps in.

It is in the middle of things that I believe He wants you to just keep walking. As in a long distance race, character is revealed here. The dross of sin is brought to the surface, and you are called to continue trusting that He has it worked out. His ultimate goal is the purity of your heart. Your task is but to obey. What a task it is! Obedience is never easy. As Nancy Wilson says in this wonderful post, “The Christian life is simple, but it is not easy”.  Putting one foot in front of the other, fasting and praying every step of the way.

John 15:1-11

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

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Supplement Faith

II Peter 1:3-11

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.   For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities  are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  Therefore, brothers,   be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.  For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I am called to supplement faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self control, self control with steadfastness, THEN with godliness, brotherly affection and love.  I realize everything circles in on itself rather than being linear but it was good to read this.  I keep getting stuck on self control and steadfastness. Because it doesn’t come easily, it is sometimes hard to determine what is discipline and what is worship. If I am supplementing my FAITH however, then that won’t be as much of a temptation. If that has BECOME my faith then it will be my idol.  Let my faith dictate my actions but may I become master rather than allowing my desires to rule.

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Stories in the Moment

We all have a story. Some look better on paper than others.

Most stories are pretty mundane in the moment. There are splashes of bigger things, some people more than others.  The people in a war torn countries long for the mundane. Others chase a cause and find themselves fighting a different kind of war.

Growing up, my generation was  told to live large and dream big. That the world was our playground, to rebel against authority meant one was a leader and would go far.

When your told that often enough, you begin to desire more than you should. Your big break always lies around the next corner and your positive something better, will come along eventually. But life keeps happening around you. And if all your doing is looking forward, your missing the moments right now.  Maybe you never wanted to be  in the spotlight (watch out, because generally that is exactly who get’s put IN the spotlight), but your looking for that peaceful moment. Occasionally you find them because when we look we can find it. But the general, over-arching theme is disappointment.

Discontent, Discouraged, Disillusioned, Defeated. Is this all that there is?

Life seems more like the sea than a sea side vacation.  There are moments of calm with beauty all around.  Then there are moments where your riding on the waves and enjoying the ride. But it can get violent at any moment and all you can do is hang on and pray.   We all want to sit on the shore and gaze at the grand beauty but you can’t truly experience the sea until you are on/in it.

It’s as if we are swimming against the tide to get to the shore and what we forget is that, as Christians our shore is death.  We will then be able to view the beauty of the sea without fearing it or getting frustrated by it.  It’s keeping this bigger view in mind that will help us navigate the sea of life. We have a lighthouse. It is Christ.  Look to him and ask for his help.

James 1:2-18

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

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Compassion and Love in a World of Doubt

Jude vs 17-25

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.   And have mercy on those who doubt;  save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

The more I meditate on scripture, the less I feel I have to say. If I am in Christ and honestly loving the people God has placed in my life, He will love them through me. He is the only one able to keep me from stumbling and present me blameless before him in glory. He will know when my silence is His voice of thunder in their heart. He will know when I need to speak and the truth will come with a vengeance that I will quake at later. He will give me wisdom so I am able to know how to show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh but still showing mercy.

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Effectual Prayer

As I grow older I am hearing about and experiencing more death than I ever have in my life to this point.  In many ways I suppose I’m blessed. But life happens and eventually death will affect everyone.  In response to this I have been thinking a lot about life. What I’m doing with mine, what I should be doing more of, and how to reconcile that I only have 24 hours in even an idealistic day.  I’ve landed on prayer.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b). Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m doing much of anything when I pray.  Often there is nothing else I CAN do for people.  What I need to remember is that when I pray I am praying to a loving God who is alive and working! When I can’t speak with someone about Christ for whatever reason, my life and my prayers can.

Occasionally God will lay someone very heavily on my heart and I will pray very hard for them and often, that appears to be the end of it.  But I am promised it isn’t the end of it.  For God is working in ways I can’t see or understand.  I don’t know the specifics of how or why prayer works, but I am promised that it does work.

James 5:13-20

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

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Fight Against the Flesh

Galatians 5:16-26

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.   Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

This group of verses could be the entire post. It speaks for itself.

I had always thought that there would be some point in my life where I would ‘arrive’ and the sin struggle would lessen. What I failed to realize was that I’m not promised there will be no fight. I am promised that when I’m walking in the Spirit, I will have a way out. I won’t give in. I won’t gratify the fleshly desires that I am struggling with.

Let us walk in the Spirit, sow well and not grow weary in our fight.

Galatians 6:7-10

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

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Memory and Truth

I read the other day that ‘memories’ can be suggestively placed in our head.  In my relentless search for truth I have always found this to be true. I rarely trust my memory. I have been known to swear I met someone in high school when in fact, it was college where I had met them. The funny thing is that as little as I trust my memory for past truth, I still don’t write anything down.  But there are pictures in my head I know to be true.  Memories worn down by time, leaving the feeling clear and the specifics murky.

A walk across a snowy lake. Treks through the woods, sunlight streaming through the trees and leaves falling all around. A coffee shop where they let me sit for hours, uninterrupted, staring out the window. Sparkling water under a tube on a slow moving river.

The search for truth can get as muddled as my memories unless I counter it with Biblical truth. The written word of God is where I come back for my truth again and again. I believe this book is the Word of God.

Everyone believes, has ‘faith’, in something. Worships something. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something. (unabashed Princess Bride reference)

What is your truth?  What are you worshiping?

Hebrews 4:11-13

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

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