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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Hope is a seemingly small word, but she packs a big punch
Hope seems fleeting at times, especially in certain seasons of life. I catch glimpses of hope. At times, I even catch glimpses of what I am even hoping for.  There are days where those glimpses seem to fill me up with more hope and motivation, and there are days where hope is silent.  I experience times when I have hope in a moment, and in that same breath feels, like I got the hope knocked right out of me.

I am learning that hope is not meant to be seen or understood, for who hopes in what is seen?  It is the knowledge that unseen things are happening, and the mystery of the unseen that evokes hope.

Hope requires faith and faith hope.

Faith is being sure of the things hoped for and certain of the things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Hope is the desire we have that something we want can and will happen.  Hope is also the desire that things will turn out for the best, even if it does not look anything like how we hoped.

Guest Posting over at Church 4 Chicks today!! Would love your thoughts over there!! Come hang!

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There is a wrestling that comes when responding to tension in life. Living out of a comfort zone requires no wrestling at all. There is a want for both. There is a need for both.

What do we do in the stretching?

I struggle with both tension and being comfortable. I say out loud that I don’t like being comfortable. If I am being most honest, I like my own routines. I appreciate things that are known for me. There is a certain exhale that resides in comfortable. However, the downside of being comfortable can also lead to the shackles of complacency.

Tension keeps me restless and wrestling.

There is a huge tension in my life that I wrestle through every day. Andy Stanley defined this kind of tension as a “need for wanting more.” I do. I am feeling the tension of wanting more.

I live in the tension of the “not yet.” That is my season of life at the moment. On paper, I am considerably comfortable in place of living and job. Honestly, both make me restless. I could choose to settle for life as I know it now, but I would sorly miss out on life all together.

Tension is healthy.

Tension reminds me that God is working on what is in the “beyond me” kind of things. God is great at providing hunger and tension to enable dependence on him. Comfort requires no dependence or movement.

Tension creates a place where faith and ability merge.

Tension can feel maddening, and requires a conscious fight. I am more aware then ever that my response in the tension matters. There is some serious character building in the tension that not everyone is willing to enter into.

There are certain fears that rear their ugly heads in my tension. I know I have a tendency to let them respond for me. I am bittersweetly thankful for when my fears and insecurities surface. Tension builds character. It’s hard.

Choosing to sit in a tension that is unresolvable is so hard. There is nothing quick about tension, and there is no time line for the question of “how long.” I am learning that the process that the tension brings is priceless and worth the hard.

How do you deal with your tension?

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The one thing we seemed to master as children is the concept and value of possessing. From kindergarten on we have had to learn the lesson of “sharing” with others. This world, especially this culture, teaches us to think individualistically. We can take on the attitude of pride and entitlement with our valued “things.”

We hold onto things, and sometimes guard them with our lives. Out of survival, we can hoard our possessions wondering if we will need them.

Our culture teaches us to give out of the abundance of what we have. Generousity is measured not by the whole pie, but the slice that is given. We give because we “have it.” Most often what we term as “giving” is associated with money.

What about giving out of what you don’t have?

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

The widow in this story gave all she had without expecting anything in return. She submitted all she had with a profound sense of freedom from possession. This woman shows us a great example of how she lived her life not saying “mine”, but “yours.

Maybe she did worry about provision. Maybe it took her a long time to release those coins. But she did. This brave woman, already labeled “poor” gave all of what she did not have. She was not safe. She had no security net to fall back on. She gave out of risk and poverty. It means everything.

Do you give in a way that stretches you?

Giving is not just financially related. Giving out of what we don’t have can look like our time, emotion, weakness, struggles, and energy. Giving can look like being present when you are too tired. Giving can look like just believing when your frustrations of waiting are high.

Jesus introduced a principle of love in the gospels. He says, If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectorslove their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that?”

I think the same principle applies with giving. If we give what we have, what risk is that for us? Anyone can give out of their abundance. Be different. Give what is stretching. Give what you don’t have, and even what you may not want to.

Giving out of what we don’t have enables faith. Jesus attributed faith to the widow who gave her last two coins.

For you, what does it mean to give what you don’t have?

 

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I often use the phrase, “I’m working on it” when referring to my heart. I am learning that in reality I use this phrase as a shield to guard against actually having to confront my messy heart.

I used this phrase recently, and afterward I had to ask myself the question, “am I really working on it?” I can play this card as a safeguard – as if saying, “I’m working on it” lets me off the hook for responding out of my fears. By hiding behind “working on it,” I give my fears permission to take root in me.

The reality is that our mess is really hard to work on. It takes courage to confront our own hearts. My heart resembles a crater field after the dust has settled from battle. It displays the wounds of life. I have craters with other people’s names on them. I also have holes that echo the natural consequences of my unwise decisions. I get overwhelmed when staring at all the craters in my heart. I have also experienced seasons of ignoring my wounds and walking away to find comfort elsewhere.

The false advertising of life is that pursuing comfort elsewhere does not add wounds to the already broken heart.

As the wounds of my heart run deep, they manifest in different masked ways. If feels scary to confront them. Saying it out loud makes them more real.

The foundation of my crater field happened in high school when the affair of my father came out. The news shattered my world and brought on a deep level of pain I never knew could be reached. This grief sowed seeds of real fear in the core of my heart. These seeds manifest themselves in ways I am aware of as well as in ways I am still learning to identify.

I struggle with abandonment in paralyzing and infuriating ways. I guard my heart so tight that pain can’t find a way in. This fear paralyzes me from taking risks to experience real life and real intimacy.

I also fear being replaced all the time. I fear intimacy as it forces me into places that require the risk of being vulnerable and my heart exposed. I fear being a “meantime” friend as if it were only a matter of time before my friends find someone better than me. I am not using “better” in a prideful way, but voicing my deep insecurity that keeps my heart on lock down. I hate the nagging feeling of always holding my breath in waiting. I even imagine, and play out in my head, being left by the other person as a way to prepare myself for pain. By actively staying in this place of fear, I voluntarily place the shackles on my life of being enslaved to those fears.

I hate this long standing pattern of life for me. God has already done a ton of healing in me. I can honestly say that I am more whole than I used to be. It is a conscious effort to choose to trust people. I am trying to get used to sitting in a place of discomfort and lack of control. That place is terrifying for me.

There’s still the question of what if someone did decide to leave? This is a real possibility. I still grieve the loss of some really close friendships. It is even more of a possibility as our culture moves further away from commitment.

God is my redeemer. He promises that he “began a good work in me and carries it on to completion.” I have now edited my comfort phrase from “I’m working on it” to “He’s working on me.” I cannot heal my own heart. God is gentle as he waits for me to surrender my white flag to him. God has been redirecting my life out of the desert. I have spent too many weeks/months/years living life there.

Instead of adding bricks to the Great Wall of me, I desire to begin surrendering myself to him. Hillsong has a great song with lyrics that state,“rid me of myself, I belong to you…lead me to the cross.” This is my hard prayer to pray.

What are you “working on?”

How is He working on you?

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Joseph is a man who’s life bleeds character. Joseph’s story is one of abandonment, heartache, injustice, steadfastness, faith, and redemption.

You see, Joseph had a dream. Joseph was given a dream by God. He had no idea what it meant or how it would even come to fruition, but he had it. Joseph was also a punk kid who didn’t have very many hardships in the beginning of his life. He was the favorite child among his brothers. He was given much freedom and favor from his father. This made for some bitter brothers.

Joseph’s family had a different dream for him. It was not one of success or even joy.

Let me give you the big picture of Joseph’s life.

  • Assaulted by his brothers and abandoned for dead
  • Sold into slavery by those same family members
  • Framed for committing adultery with the wife of his boss, Potipher
  • Thrown into prison
  • Served as prison admin.
  • Forgotten by a man who could have freed him from his prison days.
  • Stayed in prison life for two full years after that hope
  • Went from prison administrator to right hand of pharaoh
  • Saved a nation from famine
  • Reconciled the broken relationships with the same family members who assaulted, abandoned, and sold him into slavery.

That is a ton of bumps in the road for Joseph. He knew deep grief and hurt. Joseph had times of believing in the false summit. Potipher was high up in the kings army, maybe that could be his way to the top? A cup bearer being reinstated to a job even closer to the king, could that be his way out?

God gave Joseph a dream. There was something just for him to do. Nothing about the road that got him to his dream was easy. Joseph never treated God like an easy-button God either. He never asked for an easier situation of circumstance. I am sure he might’ve had unrecorded words with God, but he never took control of his path. Joseph believed in the real summit. Joseph held strong to his dream. Not only did he hold strong to his dream, he held strong to the dream giver.

Everything Joseph did along his path cultivated his character. Everything he was in charge of equipped him for the greater dream.

John Maxwell described Joseph’s process as one “who paid the price of preparation.” He also stated that, “every time Joseph faced adversity, he used it to develop his character. Joseph was able to follow each setback with a comeback.

Joseph spent thirteen years cultivating his character before he was appointed right hand man to pharaoh. By that time his character showed that Joseph was not bitter about any of us unfortunate turns in the road and mistreatment’s. Joseph did not right his wrongs.

One important aspect about Joseph’s story for me is that when Joseph entered into his dream, he did not “arrive.” Joseph still depended on God. He still spent time cultivating his character. In the world’s eyes, Joseph obtained the top job. He made it. But it is in those moments where God will always point upward and say, “keep going, you’re not there yet.

Does your path resemble an unknown way that is cultivating your character?

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One of my favorite phrases in the scripture is, John 16:7 “I tell you the truth.” Even just saying it now makes me exhale. “I tell you the truth.” How freeing is that phrase?
 
The phrase seems kind of weird to use when responding to a question or even an accusation. However, Jesus would begin the majority of his responses with, “I tell you the truth.” I mean just in case there was any question about His integrity or the reliability of His words. Ha!
Jesus is about truth. He is truth.
 
You have to admit that He said some illogical things. He told stories that seemed too wise for His own educational stature. Jesus performed miracles on the body and heart all the time. He healed the sick, multiplied food to eat, raised the dead, made the blind person see in eyes and heart, and He redefined life as people knew it to be.
 
Jesus was about the “hard to believe.” His life looked and sounded like the “you’ve got to be kidding me.
 
Read more here! 
posting over at Church 4 Chicks and would love your thoughts!

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Every New Year I feel very ready to kick the previous year to the curb. I am ready for all things new come January. New Year’s always gives me the hope of just that…NEW.

For the past two years, I have joined in the growing community of choosing a OneWord for the year. To be honest, each year my word has made me its _______. Still trying to live a life of FOLLOWING in 2011, and continuing to work on my jealousy through CELEBRATING others in 2012.

This year….this year I need new. This past year shattered me on so many levels. Sitting here at the table and looking at the proverbial puzzles pieces of my heart, I wonder where to start.

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Have you ever had those seasons in your life where you feel like more than the wind has been knocked out of you?

There is hard and then there is feeling defeated with no fight left. I am exhausted from pain, brokenness, discouragement, conflict, transitions, rejections, and deferred hope. I need a break.

Every war has times when the fighting ceases for sleep and rest. Every boxing match has rounds when each fighter gets a breather to regroup.I am that fighter in the corner needing a breather. I am that wounded soldier needing rest from the front lines of life.

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SO my ONEWORD for 2013 is HEALING.

To be honest, slowing down and healing is not easy for me. Whenever I broke a bone or sprained an ankle I was bad at heeding to the instructions for healing. There is a reason doctors say it takes six weeks for broken bones to heal. I always that it was just a suggestion. I should have committed to waiting.

The patchwork and Band-Aide management of my life has become unstitched. It is time to let the Healer do His thing.

This year, I am focusing on the healing stories in the gospels. I want to learn about the what, who, why, and how of Jesus’ healing miracles. Hoping He heals me there.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.”

These are some promises I am holding onto this year as I put back the pieces of my weary self. My hope for this year is that of a renewed hope, trust, peace, and forward motion through grief. 

What is YOUR OneWord of 2013?

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