Resilient Beauty

So there’s this tree just outside my hotel here in beautiful Virginia that started showing off these beautiful blossoms a couple weeks ago at our first unseasonably warm day. What’s so amazing about this is we’ve had more than a couple hard freezes since then. But this tree continues to blossom – blessing us with beauty in spite of harsh external circumstances.

As God does so often, He reminded me of spiritual truth through a beautiful natural example. Beauty does not have to be diminished by external circumstances.

It is not easy – but it is possible to be so deeply grounded and rooted in the strength and power of our Maker that the deepest freeze the world has to offer cannot rob us of our beauty. In fact – because of the greyness of the world around us, our beauty will be even more vivid in the landscape of the pain around us.

You see, this tree was probably planted by the hotel owners when they opened the place over 20 years ago. Even though it may not be the largest tree from what we can see, it has had years of developing a deep root structure and careful nourishing and tending to by its landscapers.

May my life be a beautiful testimony of the strength that can only be developed over time as I learn to lean in to the deep abiding power of my Maker.

“They are planted in the house of the Lord. They grow strong in the courtyards of our God.” – Psalm 92:13 ERV

“I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I to you, you will produce plenty of fruit. But separated from Me you won’t be able to do anything.” – John 15:5 ERV

What God Wants Us to Hear the Most

batterson1

The following is from “Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God” devotional reading plan on the YouVersion Bible App by Mark Batterson (Day 4). This reading encouraged me so very much today. Too good not to share! You aren’t the mistakes you’ve made. You aren’t the labels that have been put on you. And you aren’t the lies the Enemy has tried to sell you. You are who God says you are.

You are a child of God.

You are the apple of God’s eye.

You are sought after.

You are more than a conqueror.

You are a new creation in Christ.

You are the righteousness of Christ.

All our identity issues are fundamental misunderstandings of who God is. Guilt issues are a misunderstanding of God’s grace. Control issues are a misunderstanding of God’s sovereignty. Anger issues are a misunderstanding of God’s mercy. Pride issues are a misunderstanding of God’s greatness. Trust issues are a misunderstanding of God’s goodness. If you struggle with any of those issues, it’s time to let God be the loudest voice in your life!

God doesn’t love us because of who we are. God loves us because of who He is.

When we succeed, God says, “I love you.”

When we fail, God says, “I love you.”

When we have faith, God says, “I love you.”

When we doubt, God says, “I love you.”

Love is His answer to everything. Why? Because He is love. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more or any less. God loves you perfectly. He loves you eternally.

God wants us to hear what He’s saying, and we must heed His voice. But much more than that, He wants us to hear His heart. So He whispers softer and softer so that we have to get closer and closer. And when we finally get close enough, He envelops us in His arms and tells us that He loves us.

We’ve been deafened by the voice of conformity, the voice of criticism, and the voice of condemnation, and the side effects include loneliness, shame, and anxiety.

The good news? You not only bear God’s image but you know His voice. It’s His voice that knit you together in your mother’s womb. It’s His voice that ordained all your days before one of them came to be. It’s His voice that began a good work and His voice that will carry it to completion.

Where is God leading you? How is God talking to you?….

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”- Philippians 1:6

Whispers

Today, I started a YouVersion Bible App 5 Day reading plan called, “Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God”. Wow…. did that every strike a chord with what this heart of mine longs for!

In case I’m not the only one who wants to learn to better hear the voice of God – for direction, for peace, for joy, for so-very-much, – I’ve included this link for you to join me in this study over the next 5 days.

I love the new feature of YouVersion that allows you to go through a reading plan with others. All you do is read the short devotional thoughts and Bible verses and then you can leave your thoughts and comments if you want.

Just click here to try it!

Let’s grow together!

Perhaps Our Math is Off?

Sometimes I have wondered why my life seems to be “off”…. off-kilter, off focus, off everything. Perhaps it is because #MyMathIsOff? That’s why I’m learning to live out some “new math”.

Paul wrote about this way a couple thousand years ago. I don’t think he had a cool cartoon from the internet to go with it at the time though!

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” – Galatians‬ ‭6:7‬

It’s a new day. A new year. Let’s grow!

Surrender

In the end, perhaps it’s simply about surrender.

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah‬ ‭64:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’” – ‬‬ Isaiah‬ ‭45:9‬ ‭NLT

“One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.” – Luke‬ ‭14:25-27‬ ‭MSG‬‬

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew‬ ‭16:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hello, I’m Lazarus. Who are you?

So, I’ve been going through a tough season lately and allowed myself to slip into a severely depressed state. So, when I could finally get out of bed – I sought the mental, physical, and spiritual help I needed.

For the spiritual help, I sought wise counsel from my home church, Amazing Church, and was instructed to find the person in the Bible that best matched my current state. To be honest, some days it could be a different persons every minute. (If you’re not a middle-aged woman who is naturally quite emotional anyway and is now dealing with wacked-out hormones – you may not understand this).

Anyway, I was having trouble picking one. But today I figured it out. And it wasn’t a deep exegetical examination of Biblical text that brought my revelation.  I finally was able to say “That’s me right now!” when the song, Lazarus, by Trip Lee dropped into my workout mix this morning!


(Click here to listen to the whole song on YouTube).

Here are my favorite lyrics from the track:

He made the blind see and got the lame up

So it’s no surprise he can raise us
Wake them up now
Believers when your life is looking tough now
When you’re at your all time low
Don’t forget that power that he already showed