the perspective that changes my day (because it changes me)

I feel like I always end up writing about the “hard” things in life. Maybe because those things can too easily become my mental focus. And I need lots of help/therapy/personal preaching sessions to turn my thoughts away from the challenges in this world and onto the goodness of my God. Which is a WAY more awesome soul stance.

So the other day God stirred up a thought in me in the midst of a perfectly fine internal whining session. (And I know it was God because the thought lined up with His character as revealed in His Word. Always a good test.) The thought began with “what if.”

 

bending future generations

 

What if. What if that trial, that challenge, that difficulty, that discomfort — the thing you wish was easier or flat out different — what if that particular circumstance was actually God’s appointment in our lives meant to bend future generations towards Himself.

What if.

I’ve started thinking and praying more “generationally” lately. It all began one morning in my time with the Lord when I caught a glimpse of my kids’ artwork hanging on the wall. And it hit me. This day-in, day-out seemingly mundane living is generational work.

I can so quickly become self-focused. My well-being. My ease. My day. My time. My everything. The natural thing is to ask God to make my life easier. That’s what we as humans want. We want easy. We want comfortable. We want to know how this is all going to play out. Whatever this is. And how it will affect me.

But what if the most challenging of situations in our lives are actually catalysts for bending future generations towards worship because we have an opportunity to respond to those circumstances with bold faith in our God, in turn affecting those whose lives we touch. And what if wishing those situations away would actually mean depriving those who come behind us of a vibrant walk with their Maker.

If that were the case, then maybe I’d stop asking God to change things so that it was easier for me. Instead I’d remember that this world is not my home. I’d remember that God is faithful to His children — those who have come into relationship with Him through Jesus — and He has a plan. And I’d pray something like, “Lord God, do what you need to do through me and to me to bring the absolute most glory to Yourself through my little life.” And then, I’d trust that He is.

That kind of perspective changes my day because it changes me. That kind of perspective causes my heart to find rest in the sovereign goodness of my God. If we are in Christ, then He’s promised to work all things — every. single. thing. — together for the good of those who love Him. He promised. And He always keeps His promises.

Yes, we can pray for things to change or get easier. We can. But the real freedom comes when we’re motivated in our short lives by a deep, intimate, vibrant love for our God. Because that kind of love leads to trust which leads to the clause, “Lord God, not my will but Yours be done.”

 
Fill me, Lord…

How would that perspective change your today?
 

(Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.)

run with endurance {a tribute}

For the last five months a dear sister-friend of mine battled a viscous form of leukemia. She spent the vast majority of those days in hospital rooms being poked and prodded by nurses. And by God’s grace, I had the privilege of witnessing her faithful fight to the end. She crossed over to be with Jesus last weekend, leaving behind her husband, her two young kids, her extended family, and many friends.

Today her family will receive friends and tomorrow those who loved her will celebrate her life, cry for the gaps her death will leave, and stir up hope and joy that she is with her Lord, one day to be seen again.

For now I process. I’m a writer. It’s what I do.

 

run with endurance

 

Her story is not mine to tell. So I won’t give you details of her powerfully influential life. But maybe just maybe the stuff God is stirring in me as a result of her passing will encourage or inspire or challenge you. So. I write.

I’ve walked through the valley of death before — the most difficult being my dad dying when I was 19. But every death experience presses uniquely on the people affected. I don’t claim any understanding of what it’s like to lose a child or to lose a spouse or to lose a sibling. Or what her sweet family is specifically feeling during these dark days. My prayers continue and continue for each of them. I’m simply sharing what God is doing in me in this specific loss of this specific friend. No more. No less.

  1. Life is short. I know we don’t like to think about the brevity of life. But wow. This life is a breath. Five months ago she would have never ever guessed that this would be what February 2015 would hold. We only have a few minutes on this planet. And her passing has reminded me afresh not to waste the time I’ve been given. Not to waste the health I’ve been given. Not to waste the relationships and gifts I’ve been given.
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  3. Stop with the excuses. There are a few things that God has placed in me to do or create. And I know that I know that I have at times made excuses in my not following through. Netflix does that to me. True, God’s timing is perfect. True, He is sovereign. But while this urgency is burning in me, I’m crushing the excuses and simply saying, “God, use me however You will. No excuses. I’m Yours.”
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  5. This world is not our home. This world is broken. It’s sick. It’s diseased. It’s longing for full redemption. Our hope is not found on this earth. Our hope is found in our Maker. In Christ, we’re sojourners here. When we set our desires solely on temporal things, we will live a disappointed existence. But when we set our hearts and our minds on eternal things, hope rises. Endurance wells up. Soul victory comes.

My friend is in the “far better” place, as Paul says in Philippians. (Philippians 1:21-23) She is. Just as that person you love who died in Christ is in the “far better” place. So until we see them again, let’s run this faith race with endurance. Let’s love hard and live well. Let’s not forget why we’re here.

 

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21

 
In honor of Bethanne Jennings — You fought the good fight. You finished the race. Well done, good and faithful servant of Jesus.
 

meet my idols

I’ve been asking God a tough question lately: “Lord, what am I chasing other than You?” Or in the less politically correct verbiage, “what are my idols?”

You know me. Always full of light conversation over here on the blog.

I mentioned that my word for 2015 is “deeper.” Wanting God to take my faith deeper, my intimacy with Him deeper, my experience of His presence deeper. But going deeper means He has to shed some stuff from my heart. Because we can’t go deeper if we’re clinging to something other than Him to give us life.

So I’ve asked Him to show me my heart. Which is always a slightly scary prayer. And He’s been showing me some things about myself — things that steal joy or peace or freedom.

 

meet my idols

 

One idol that He has revealed is the idol of my reputation. {insert dramatic organ music here.}

My dinky. little. reputation. Which I would assume is linked to the other idol of wanting the approval of certain people. Which is just a twisted desire considering that the God of the universe wants to be in relationship with me (and you) and the voices of man can’t change who we are in Christ. How could our confused heart want anything more than that?!

I’ve seen my spirit get a little panicky when I hear through the grapevine that someone has misrepresented things I’ve said or misunderstood my intentions. But it isn’t a holy, selfless panicky feeling — like I want to make sure God is represented well. It’s a selfish, self-preservation feeling — like I want to make sure I am represented well.

Yet the One I follow was reviled but didn’t revile in return. He was misrepresented and betrayed. He was lied about and spit upon. All the while entrusting Himself and His reputation to the Father. He didn’t scrounge to defend His glorious name — though He had every right to do so as the majestic Son of God. He didn’t feel sorry for Himself when people rejected Him. He communed with the Father and released Himself to Him.

 

“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
(1 Peter 2:23 ESV)

 

There was and is only one Jesus and we obviously aren’t Him. Can I get an amen? But in Christ we’ve been sealed with His Spirit. He indwells the believer. And His will for us is that we find our life and pleasure and fulness in relationship with the Father.

In Tim Keller’s book The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness — yep. I’m still reading. Miracles do indeed happen. — Keller talks about how Paul lived out of his identity in Christ. Paul didn’t care what people thought of him. He didn’t even care what he thought about himself. He didn’t link his sin or his accomplishments to who he was. He lived out of the truth: I am a child of God in whom my Father is well pleased because of Jesus.

So today I confess my lovely heart issues to God in your (virtual) presence — acknowledging that the approval of man is a worthless pursuit. And I ask Him to cleanse me — healing those deep places of my heart that are still tempted to look to mere humans to gain pieces of my identity.

And I challenge you to ask yourself the same question. What are you chasing after other than God? This is when you probably wish that this was a cooking blog.

 
Fill me, Lord…

OK brave daughter of God, what is He wanting to shed from you these days?