Sunday Song

2 Corinthians 5:17-20
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

About 20 years ago, on Easter, I gave my life back to God. At times, it has been hard for me to just lay the things that cause me shame or dislike about myself, at God’s feet. However, there is a time when you (meaning me) have to acknowledge how it beats you down and leaves you mentally and spiritually exhausted.

I reached that point a year ago. I was backsliding, because I thought I had all of the answers about how I should live my life. I didn’t.

I asked God…okay…I said, “Fine! Blah, blah, blah. . .” Not so nice, but we can go to God in utter frustration, even if it has been caused by our own sinful nature.

How did God repay my sin? Well, after some repentence, God answered some prayer (that I will not discuss here), and He started a year-long process of helping me to realize how He is guiding me and loving me.

He’s been good all 43 years of my life, as He has protected me from so much, even as far back as the day of my birth. God continues to protect me, because even when I fail or when others do things to take advantage me, I know God is ever-present and will rule the day.  I never need to keep a “tally.’  That’s God’s job.

He has forgiven me, has given me a new life, has amazing things ahead for me in the future and I proudly say that I love Him, even though I know He loves me more, because He is my provider, protector, healer and sustainer.  I could never be these things on my own, nor could anyone else ultimately embody these roles for me.

The past 20 years have seen a few broken hearts, illness to the point of temporary disability, and great financial need. The past 20 years have also been ones of great blessing…college, friends I could never in a million years expect to have and a job that a lot of people in my neck of the woods would jump through fire to get.

The most important thing, though, is that God loves me and will never turn His back on me.

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Grateful and blessed…

Over the past year, I have had been working on me.

Most importantly, I’ve been working on my relationship with God.

Two years ago, I battled some personal downs…not many ups to be found, and then coming out of that, I experienced the tragic death of one of my colleague and the slow demise of another. Within it all, I started to slip in my faith, as I allowed influences in my life I knew were not conducive to my spiritual growth.

Last winter, I pulled the emergency brake and shut everything down. I had to. I had to remember who I was and am in Christ.

This process required some hard decisions, but necessary ones. I’m glad I made those changes, including making this blog mostly (if not entirely) focused on my faith.

I am not perfect. I am a sinner and have my struggles; however, God has done nothing short of showing me His faithfulness and goodness as I seek to serve Him and others, as an extension of him, more.

When we begin to feel we can set our own course aside from God, we will experience many frustrations and even failures.  Trust me, there was a battle of wills many times on my way to work…that’s when I do a lot of thinking and praying…with my eyes open.

While I am ashamed of the person I became, I am forever grateful that God gently taught me lessons I needed to learn and gave me the peace to know that a walk with Him is not futile. He didn’t let me completely fall on my face.

I heard this song, today, and it reminded of me of how far I’ve come this past year. I have a long way to go, and Lord willing, He will allow me a lot more time to grow and learn…and positively influence others for Him.

Sunday Song

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

God’s promises are so important to remain a hold of, especially when we are tempted to doubt.

Often, I tend to fixate on the areas of my life that  I view as burned beyond recognition–thinking they are unusable or that I cannot expect blessings in those areas of my life.

Of course, I know these thougths are errors on my part, but I have them just the same…that whole human thing.

I also know, and I am constantly reminded, that God takes all of the “ashes” from the burned areas and uses them for beautiful things.

We only need to look at what happens after a forest fire:  The areas where a wasteland results from a fire experiences the beauty of fertile land, lovely vegetation and the regrowth of trees to bless future generations.

We are no different.

(I was listening to this song, today, as I ran errands. It provides so much hope. We are so blessed to have talented people to verbalize God’s promises in ways most of us cannot.)

Just a beautiful love song…

If you know me, you know I do not post love songs. I just don’t see a point, really. However, today, I heard the most beautiful song, and I felt the need to share it.

Once a week, our kids pick songs to play between classes. Usually, the songs are quite varied or might match a holiday or event theme. Some songs I tune out and others I bop around to, because they are fun. It is always a nice way to end the week.

Today, I heard this song, and just thought there was so much truth in it. Imagine if people were really able to realize the hard work was/is worth it.

So, I will get all sappy, now…enjoy!

Just some thoughts…

Been thinking this evening.

So much makes up our lives: the stages of our development and maturation, our experiences -good and bad- and all of our relationships.

Often, we (meaning me) fail to see how God uses all of those bits, piecing them together like a patch-work quilt of irregular pieces and clashing colors, to make something beautiful of our lives…using what we saw as scraps or unusable parts of our existence.

I pretty much do not understand most of what I have been through, but God does and He never fails…turning so much into good.

Sunday Song

James 1:16-18
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Luke 11:11-13
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

I love giving gifts. I love shopping for them, carefully picking them out–or noticing something rather quickly that just “fits” someone–and I especially love the act of giving the gift. I think I’m more excited to give things than I am to receive gifts (well, I wouldn’t turn down someone’s heartfelt gift).

However, all the gifts in the world…anything I could manage to give, do not compare, nor will they ever, to the gifts that God is capable of giving–beginning, most importantly with the gift of salvation, through His gift of Christ.

I used to have a saying (at times still do), “God doesn’t give snakes.”  (This usually applied to men, especially after the heartbreaking stuff…well, among other things disappointment-related).

Think of everything God has gifted you, even in hindsight of the things that were during rough and/or bad times…everything was good that He gave…He never truly disappointed, did he?

Sometimes those bad things lead to the biggest and best gifts ever…God doesn’t give snakes.