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Proverbs 4:23 (CJB)

23 Above everything else, guard your heart;
for it is the source of life’s consequences.

Philippians 2:1-4  (CJB)

Therefore, if you have any encouragement for me from your being in union with the Messiah, any comfort flowing from love, any fellowship with me in the Spirit, or any compassion and sympathy, then complete my joy by having a common purpose and a common love, by being one in heart and mindDo nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves — look out for each other’s interests and not just for your own.

I have had the honor of walking with several ministry teams over the years, all coming together to bring healing, hope and restoration to vulnerable and hurting people; from living with teens in a court-ordered wilderness program, adults with developmental disabilities, teen moms during pregnancy and single parenting, women healing from abortion, women coming out of addiction, domestic violence and sex trafficking...Each of these teams and settings were unique and the level of ministry and philosophical approach was different.  What was common, regardless of the secular or religious nature of the program, was how the level of care given to the team and the awareness of each team member to each other greatly affected everyone's ability to do their job well.  Working with those coming out of hard backgrounds, seeing grief, heartache, trauma and abuse takes a phenomenal amount of work to "guard your heart" and it is my observation that only when the Holy Spirit is allowed to move, operate and minister among the team will everyone make it through with a whole heart and greater love for each other focused on the mission and purpose they started with.  

Sometimes I think we get so focused on a cause, on helping someone out of their pain we easily let down our guard to the slowly growing wall of protection that we put up against the Spirit of God and it looks and feels like a wall that keeps others out.  We begin to operate as a social service with the creeping cry of justice over mercy, retribution over forgiveness, and law over grace.  We harden our hearts to each other as the ones serving and carelessly bruise and batter the ones meant to be help mates and friends.  The raw and ugly of this world is not something the human heart can encounter without getting hurt, and so many times the ones coming to help end up just as, if not more, bruised, battered and rejected than those they are called to love and serve.  If we are to see change that comes from the heart, we need to ask Jesus to open our eyes to those serving with us to love and protect the lost, the broken and the hurting.  If we are to succeed at keeping our motives pure, operating in the Love of God then we cannot close ourselves off to His Spirit even when He is revealing our weakness, our need and our hurt. I pray that you will also see those walking with you as the ones you are called to serve, to love and to protect.

May you remain tenderhearted!  May you move in common purpose and love with those you are working with!  May you be one in heart and mind!

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John 5:2 (CJB)

25 Yes, indeed! I tell you that there is coming a time — in fact, it’s already here — when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who listen will come to life.

 

There are many points where I struggle in sharing life with others.  Still after 14 years I get frustrated when I can feel the restlessness of change coming.  At certain points when the rhythmn of days or needs of others impacts my routine...there are so many details of how I think things should be and challenges to communicate expectations and accept differences.  I was challenged recently with a simple question "what does the gospel mean to you".  I honestly had to stop and had no answer.  I have been moved by compassion, motivated by the tasks in front of me, praying for salavation and hope for others...but the simple truth that God so loved the world he gave His only son...The simple truth that is really why I am here and what I am called to.  To live out that love...

I realized that some of the struggle in doing life with others is working through how I face and respond to the places that are unredeemed...in myself and in others. I realized I should not stop recognizing the need to live out and share Jesus.  He is calling out through me to bring the dead to life.  So, "what does the gospel mean to me" it means love.  It means recognizing that the work of sharing the gospel is not a once and done thing spoken only in words or through a message on Sunday...it is living out and being open to be the voice of Jesus to speak love, to act in love and to pause when I am leading from a place of frustration or the natural selfishness I feel over use of time, sharing space and giving up the way I think things should be.  The love that motivated Jesus to die on the cross for the sole purpose of seeing me "come to life", that is the message of the gospel and that is the love I want to live.  

May you know the hope of the gospel!  May you recognize the voice of Jesus calling to you!

May you be infused and encouraged with the love that died to bring you life!

 

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John 6:67-6 (TPT)

67 So Jesus said to his twelve, “And you—do you also want to leave?” 

68 Peter spoke up and said, “But Lord, where would we go? No one but you gives us the revelation of eternal life. 

69 We’re fully convinced that you are the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God,[a] and we believe in you!”

 

There have been many points on this journey where the Lord has revealed a "hard teaching" much like what was shared in John 6, learning what it is to "eat His flesh and drink His blood".  These hard lessons that come in the experiences of loss, hurt, the cost of loving hurting people, the cost of choosing to yield and submit, the cost of following Jesus. 

My pregnancies and deliveries were all unique, just as unique as my children and each delivery came with a challenge.  I had decided during my first pregnancy and delivery to do everything natural and with the exception of labor induction I had no medical interventions.  In my second pregnancy and delivery it was much the same going through intense allergy symptoms, but a releatively quick delivery and struggle with post-partum.  By the third pregnancy and delivery many factors had changed, our choice to be live-in house staff in a maternity housing program had greatly challenged and altered my eating habits, my time spent in exercise and preparation...I had other young moms and their children, volunteers and team members as well as my husband and daughters who all had part of my time, my schedule and my heart.  I was learning the sacrifice and hard lesson of loving others over myself and with it came a great emotional and physical struggle that spilled into the circumstances and my readiness for the delivery.  I felt unable to push through and asked for an epidural during the labor...for me it was a weak moment that caused more pain and discomfort and came with longer term discomforts and physical pain. 

My choice to share my life with others deeply affected and challenged me.  The birth was dramatic and the post-partum difficult but I had tasted and was convinced that God is good and this struggle was only temporary; looking back I knew that I would choose the hard path of doing life with others where Jesus led over the comfort of living life on my terms and in my control. In the middle of the delivery struggle I also knew that the delivery and birth of my baby was promised, there would be an end and the outcome was worth it. 

I have had this experience again and again getting through a hard season of challenge and struggle [emotionally, physically, spirtually] then I get to the top and see the view and know that I am not going back.  This new place I have been brought out to and what lies ahead is where I want to go following after the heart of Jesus.

May you be fully convinced that Jesus is the Son of the Living God!  May you see the view ahead and not loose heart! 

May you follow after the heart of Jesus!

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You are the ones who have stayed with me throughout my trials.

Just as my Father gave me the right to rule, so I give you an appointment,

namely, to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom and to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Luke 22:28-30 CJB

"For I tell you this: the passage from the Tanakh that says, He was counted with transgressors, has to be fulfilled in me; since what is happening to me has a purpose."

Luke 22:37 CJB

process

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to undergo the activities involved in hiring or firing personnel:The recruits expected to process in four days.

The words appointment and purpose jumped out at me as I read Luke 22.  Jesus in preparation for the changes and challenges facing his followers set an appointment when they would meet again and see the ultimate purpose of the trials ahead. Jesus was exemplifying yielding to a process, that has a purpose leading to an ultimate appointment in His Kingdom.  Process is a word we do not often care to hear.  I have found myself in a renewal process after a long season of operating in crisis and hyper vigilance.  It is not dissimilar to the process that we have lived out over many years with those living with us.  This experience of yielding to authority, finding a healthy, healing rhythmn of life, and practicing new responses when faced with the unseen obstacles of abuse, trauma, hyper arousal, conflict, ...   

Over the years I have observed most of the women we have walked with bucking at this and sabotaging their success because of the monotony, constancy and misunderstanding of the process and purpose of being changed, pruned, and living out a new life.  Just as glass is put in the fire, tools are used to form and recreate what once was merely grains of sand into beautiful, delicate, reflective objects for practical use and for admiration so is the process of being made new in Christ.  The question is "Am I willing to walk through this same process in my life?  Am I willing to do what I have counseled and taught others?  Am I aware that Jesus has given me an appointment and what I am yeilding to has a purpose?"

May you be willing to yield to the process!  May you be encouraged that you have an appointment in His Kingdom!

May the Holy Spirit reveal to you the purpose!

 

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Romans 4:6-8  (AMP)

And in this same way David speaks of the blessing on the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:


Blessed and happy and favored are those whose lawless acts have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered up and completely buried.

Blessed and happy and favored is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account nor charge against him.”

 

It snowed today.  A beautiful ground, tree and building cover of white has settled in every direction.  The beauty of the snow covered landscape was accented by sunshine and the promise of sledding and a playful puppy and cold but happy children.  It is the cover of the snow that reminded me of how completely covered I am. That I am blessed and happy and favored! 

There are many days and times when I have not realized that I am so.  I spend more time thinking of how I am not blessed, how I am not happy and how I am not favored than I care to admit.  It often takes a season of loss of control and change of perception for me to realize that God's blessing, God's happiness and God's favor are with me and have been even as I have walked through trials, transitions and training.  I am reminded how even my anxious thoughts, my negative thinking, my eye on lack or failure cannot remove the beautiful snow covering and it will not melt into mud, mire and muck.  {Isaiah 1:18}

The joys this week of enjoying the work of my hands, possible opportunity to serve a new maternity client, writing this simple blog and the ability to cook a meal with my family...these speak of blessing, happiness and favor.  My sin, my failure, my lack are covered and completely buried.  This blessing, happiness and favor are for me to share much like sharing in a beautiful, snow covered day and so I pray that you too will know this for yourself and share it with those whom you love and serve.

May you experience the blessing, happiness and favor of forgiveness!  May you know for yourself that the Lord has covered you! 

May you no longer listen to the lie that there is an account against you!