Do you sometimes feel hopeless when it comes to getting your "act together" as a Christian?
You think you've failed the Lord miserably, or destroyed your witness thoroughly, or messed up his plans completely.
Well, you're in good company.
Let me remind you of Jesus' disciple, Peter.
He was a young fisherman by trade, and had a "pistol" of a personality.
Peter was the one that spoke BEFORE he thought.
He also was the one who jumped out of the boat to walk on water.
And...he reactively chopped off a Roman soldier's ear.
And then, on one of his worst days, he denied his best Friend three times.
Words to describe him would be spontaneous, impulsive, and immature.
It's safe to say that he didn't have his "act together."
But the good news is this: Jesus chose Peter, as is. While on the earth, Jesus walked with Peter, talked with Peter, corrected Peter, encouraged Peter, and affirmed Peter. What gives me great hope is that the God-man was able to see this young follower not only "as is", but also what he was going to be.
Peter was a work-in-progress.
And goodness, how he did progress! We can find the rest of Peter's faith-walk in the book of Acts, where the Holy Spirit entered in and transformed him. Amazingly, the same man that shouted, "I don't know Him!" and ran for his life the night Jesus was betrayed, later became the man that took his stand (Acts 2:14) and proclaimed Him as the resurrected Lord and Savior. As a result, about three thousand were added to their number that day (Acts 2:41). And that was just the beginning of his ministry! We can observe how he matured into a great leader through reading his God-inspired letters, 1 and 2 Peter.
Peter's growth that spanned over decades of his life should encourage us!
Jesus CHOSE him when he was not much older than an out-of-control teenager. But through the grace of our Savior, and the power of His Spirit, God did great things in and through him.
And He will do the same with any willing heart.
Don't give up. Allow God's word to mature you and his Spirit to mold you, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
Take hope in the fact that you are His beautiful work-in-progress.
I thought I would repost this advice for those who are in the midst of a bleak long winter...
A couple of weeks ago, on a cold dreary day, I was cocooned in a blanket on my couch for my usual Saturday afternoon nap. With college football on in the background and my little dog nestled at my feet, I couldn't help but feel the oncoming winter, not outside my home, but inside my soul. As I lay there, I was talking to God about it, saying, "O God, here it comes...that old familiar gloom that I'm going to wrestle, off and on, for the next several months. Please GIVE me something to help me move forward in this season."
Wrapped in my blanket, he unfolded a plan.
Before I go further, I want to empathize with all of you who deal with depression of some kind. And also, I want to ask for grace from those of you who do not. A way to explain a depressed spirit is to compare it to a rainy day. When it's raining outside, one cannot say, "It's not raining." Likewise, someone who is dealing with depression, is indeed depressed. To say, "Get over it", is defeating on many levels.
We may not get over it, but with God's strength, we can function in it. Just like opening an umbrella, putting on a rain jacket, and stepping into galoshes all help shield us from physical rain, these steps below can help you and me when the gloom creeps in.
Here is the unfolding that took place as I lay listening to the Lord. Its outline is the acronym GIVE:
G--Give yourself grace, one day at a time. Do what you can do that day. Also "G" stands for these things: Get sleep--so important! Get dressed--I mean that spiritually first. Spend time with the Lord every morning and let him speak truth into your heart. God's word is my life-line. I need him to reroute my thinking EVERY morning. Also, Get dressed physically. Wash your face. Brush your teeth. Simply freshen up. Get out of your PJs (even if you're putting on other comfy clothes). Here are your options: Get up or Give in. Choose to get up, and with grace, inch forward.
I--Initiate. Physically, do something productive. One day it may be as small as clearing the kitchen sink of dirty dishes; another day it may be to write a book! Again, grace for each new day. Also, Initiate relationally. Send one text that asks someone how they are doing or how you can pray for them. Or, make a phone call. Or, meet someone face to face. Think about somebody else rather than yourself. Get "willfully lost in the rain" by praying for dozens of people you know and love. Your choices are: Initiate... or isolate. Today, choose to Initiate.
V--claim Victory "in the rain". The grey clouds may not stop rolling in and spilling out, but you can choose to be victorious as it pours. This is where my faith in Christ becomes my stronghold. HE is with me always as my closest Companion. I am never alone. He is light and love inside of me through his Spirit. His grace and strength move me forward no matter how I feel. In the rain, I can and I will rejoice. Victory in it, or victim of it. Ask the Lord to help you choose the former.
E--This is very practical: Eat well, Exercise regularly, Enjoy a wholesome hobby. Quite frankly, I really don't like eating healthy foods, ugh. I'm trying to develop a taste for broccoli and other green things, but chips and chocolate will always be my favorites. In the aging process however, I'm much more aware of the adverse effects of unhealthy eating. Therefore, I'm inching forward in the nutrition department. Concerning, Exercise, just do it, says Nike. Pick something; anything is better than nothing. I walk with a friend and we pray together; this has been transformational for me in numerous ways and I highly recommend it to everyone. And then, Enjoy. What do you love to do? Make room for this activity (or non-activity; for example, I enjoy my Saturday afternoon nap, "watching" football with my husband.) Eat well, Exercise, Enjoy or... escape into unhealthy alternatives. Again, ask God to help you choose the former.
On that cold dreary day in November, I rolled over inside of my cozy blanket on the couch and thanked God for his detailed Counseling session. (To think, it was free!) And then a little later, I decided it was time to get up. I went to the kitchen and cleared the sink of the dirty dishes...claiming absolute victory, in the rain.
I'm in the midst of leading a group of ladies through my ABC devotional in which every letter of the alphabet has a Biblical phrase to live by (https://www.respitefortheweary.com/category/awesome-bible-concepts-abc). Today we came to the Letter "L" and I thought I would share it with all of you. It's a familiar story, but as we enter a New Year, let's hear it again for the purpose of choosing "the good part" from the "get go"...
Loving Lord of my Life? Synopsis of Luke 10:38-42.
In the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Jesus was speaking to a room full of people who were hungry to hear truth. His words were full of life and peace, so the crowd sat a His feet, feasting on every word. Meanwhile, Martha was scurrying back and forth in the kitchen preparing food for the people. When she looked up and saw Mary sitting at Jesus' feet, she became indignant. She asked Jesus, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." Jesus, who loved Martha dearly, said in response, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered by so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one…". At this particular time, Martha was allowing the distractions of the world to keep Jesus from being the Lord of her life.
Loving Lord of my Life! Synopsis of Luke 10:38-42 (same passage).
Jesus continued His conversation with Martha and pointed to her sister saying, "For Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Mary often sat at the feet of Jesus in order to hear His soothing words; they had become life and peace to her soul. She intentionally chose to make room in her life to be still before Him so she could receive His words of grace and guidance; for Jesus, friend of sinners, had become the Lord of her life.
In comparing these two sisters, both friends of Jesus, here are a few questions:
Who do I most resemble, Martha or Mary?
What are my main distractions in my life today?
Do I want to sit still with the Lord Jesus, with His living word?
Ugh, the Martha/Mary story. Oh so convicting at times! Interestingly, my post writing was delayed because I have been scurrying back and forth a lot lately. Whew, I'm tired. Then I hear the words, "(Chris, Chris) you are worried and bothered by so many things…". How quickly I can get off track.Thankfully, Jesus waits for me to be still, both body and soul. I must remember that my morning quiet time with Him is the most productive thing I do all day. There, I make Him the Lord of my life all over again-- listening to His words of healing and hope, obeying Him when He tells me to pick things up or put things down, trusting Him with my Edited agenda. When I am filled up in this way, my heart and mind are different; the scurrying and worrying are changed to peace and prayer, and the things I do become an act of worship rather than a list of frustrations. The day, all day, belongs to my Lord.
Make a intentional decision to be still; choose the one necessary thing…the good part…it will not be taken away from you. Slow down to a complete stop, then really listen at Jesus' feet, so you can be refreshed in truth and rerouted in love. He is waiting especially for you.
I will keep my words brief... This young family, Rachel and Evan Clinkscales and their 3 kids, with #4 coming in February, is so inspirational to me!
They have been in China for the last 8 years sharing the gospel (they learned the language!), and now they are answering God's call by moving to Mexico (they know Spanish too!). Their love for Jesus is contagious and their desire for others to know him presses them radically forward.
As the year ends, would you consider helping them in this transition? Here is their newsletter. If you feel led to give financially or prayerfully, I know they would be so grateful. It is good to support the body of Christ.
The Clinksdale's FUNDRAISING NEEDS FOR MEXICO MOVE
What is happening in January, 2023?
Through prayerful consideration, we are moving to Mexico at the beginning of the year to have our baby!
This will allow us to put down deep roots for the future as Baby Clinkscales will be a Mexican/American citizen, also making us permanent residents.
There are many reasons this makes sense for our mission as well as financially for our future. Due to increased living costs in Mexico with our growing family, we have immediate financial needs.
We pray you will consider partnering with us as we move forward.
What: We need $2,200/mo. to cover living costs, including rent, transportation, schooling, food, clothing, insurance, etc.There are also large setup costs with this move, including purchasing beds, desks, drawers, couches, tables, chairs, oven, microwave, refrigerator, dishes, etc.If you feel led to help with one or more of these needs, please let us know. Thank you!
When: We are asking for monthly support ASAP! And we will begin to set up our house in January.
Where: You can designate one-time or recurring gifts online at www.KaleoInternational.org.
Under the Donate tab, click on the Give button, select Missionary Support and write The Clinkscales in the memo section.
You can also send checks marked
The Clinkscales to:
PO Box 971511El Paso, TX 79910
Blessings,Evan, Rachel, Hannah, Isaac, and Joseph
I have two pictures that keep coming to my heart and mind this Christmas.
It's crazy how opposite they appear; yet, they both reflect one and the same story.
The first picture is found in Ezekiel 1. When I was listening to this chapter on my Bible App earlier this year, the events in this scene "got me."
To paraphrase (and it will only scratch the surface): the prophet Ezekiel is standing by a river when he has a vision of God. The heavens open up and there's a brilliance accompanied by a thunderous noise, along with supernatural beings bearing faces and wings. With all of this, there's a chariot with four gleaming wheels that all dart back and forth, moving in unison. This kinetic-radiance is a mere backdrop to what Ezekiel explained next:
"And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire, and seated above the likeness of a throne, was the likeness with a human appearance...and there was a brightness around him...such was the appearance of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face..." Ezekiel 1:26, 28
To fill in all the blanks with brilliant, word-for-word truth, please read ALL of Ezekiel 1!
In contrast to this other-worldly picture, and because we're now in the full thrust of the Christmas season, I can't help but think of Luke 2 (another great read!).
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The great I AM in a lowly feeding trough.
The Light of the world wrapped in a blanket.
The Creator was willing to be cradled.
He emptied himself...he humbled himself...
to be WITH US.
There is no greater love!
This Christmas, and then throughout the year, let's be awed by both
his glory and his grace,
his majesty and his mercy,
his light and his love.
The King of kings,
the Holy One,
the Humble One
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
"I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly,, and to revive the heart of the contrite." Isaiah 57:15
Have you ever wondered why we bring a tree into our house at Christmas time? I did a little reading on its more recent history and there certainly is a time and a place that the modern Christmas tree began...
BUT... I also found something in antiquity (in the book of Leviticus of all places) that mentioned using tree foliage to decorate "houses." Listen to God's explicit instruction to Moses concerning the Israelite's yearly celebration, the Feast of Tabernacles:
You shall celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. Now on the first day you shall take foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord... Leviticus 23:39-40.
The Israelites were to put all of these beautiful branches in and around their tent to signify His goodness to them as they wandered in the desert for forty years. He protected them, He provided for them, He was with them both day and night...
And now, do we not have even more reason to celebrate God with us?
He dwelt among the Israelites in a tent; He dwells among us in our hearts through Jesus Christ.
He has brought light into our darkness, hope into our existence, Life into our soul.
It is now our turn to decorate with meaning and rejoice before the Lord!
So yes, a tree is in my house! And it is adorned with lights and balls and berries and bows. For it represents the abundant Life I have found in my Savior. He became poor (think of the tree He died on, the old rugged cross), that I might become rich (the tree of Life!).
I am rich because my Wonderful Counselor, my Mighty God, my Eternal Father, my Prince of Peace has filled my hollow heart with love and joy and peace. You see, it's not really about the tangible, temporary gifts under the tree, the gift is the Tree, the ever-green-abundant-life-giving Tree.
Rejoice, rejoice, again, I say rejoice.
I challenge you to do two things this Christmas; actually, I think God does:
One, like our ancient brothers and sisters, bring in the foliage of beautiful trees into your home. As you set your Christmas tree up in its prominent place, worship the goodness of your God-- because He is with us!
And then two, go to the world, your world, and tell them why they have a tree in their house; keep this in mind, they are dying to know.
Thanksgiving week is just around the corner. It's time to gather together!
As we start our holiday lists that can get rather long and stress-filled, let's remember that fellowship is our main focus. The people in our homes are more important than the four walls of our homes. The decorative table is the mere backdrop to the conversation around it. We want the food to taste delicious, but we want the laughter and love to be just as rich! It's embedded in us to desire unity in our family, but how do we gain this gift? I want to suggest a key ingredient is prayer. The Lord reminds me often that prayer is the "secret sauce" to any gathering.
So, as we start our lists this week, as we go to the grocery store, as we lay out our meal plans and clean our bedrooms, etc, let's decide to use this time in quiet prayer, thanking God for each individual that will enter our homes during the holiday season. Name them out loud as you lift them to the Lord.
Thank God for the opportunity to gather!
Ask Him to be present in every conversation and every interaction.
Ask Him to be the strongest voice and the greatest love and the sweetest blessing in the midst of your family.
Ask Him to bless your home with both his presence and his peace.
Our homes are our a gift from the Lord. I've never been without one, and I would imagine, the majority of you have been blessed in this way as well. Our hospitality is our gift back to God. He delights to see us gather together!
"How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity." Psalm 133:1
So let's trim down our to-do lists and beef up our prayer lists. In doing so, we will be more eager to open up our doors with warm and thankful hearts.
Thank you for the gift of our homes. We take for granted the pleasures of kitchens and bathrooms, comfortable beds and cozy dens. Again, we praise you for your tangible goodness to us! As a gift back to you, help us to prepare our hearts for this upcoming holiday. As you know, where people gather, so do potential problems. Relationships are hard to navigate at times! We ask for your mercy and your grace even now. Please Lord, bless us richly with your unifying love. Amen.
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" John 12:13
Dear Lord Jesus,
Just as palm branches were waved before you 2000 years ago, may we bow before you now, not merely as a temporal savior; but rather as an eternal King. Open our eyes to more and more of who your are so that we may have hearts that praise you every day, until we finally see you face to Face. Amen.