I'm a visual learner therefore I journal most everything that I want to know and remember. One of the consistent little pictures that I draw every morning beside the current date on my journal page is a quick sketch of two hearts side by side, slightly overlapping, with a cross going straight through the middle of the hearts. The hearts are meant to represent Mac and me, and the cross, of course, represents Jesus. When I draw this simple picture, I pray something like this over our relationship:
Lord, may your strong love pull us together.
May your love fill us and flow through us towards one another.
Bind us together and make us move towards other people.
Use us, O Lord, however you want, and where ever we go. Amen.
Well, not too long ago, Mac and I went to Spearfish, South Dakota. We stayed at the Secret Garden, a lovely Bed and Breakfast near the bubbling Spearfish Creek. In this small historic town, our hope was to visit some young friends of ours, John Michael and Erica Elder. Mac got to fish with John Michael, and I enjoyed coffee with Erica. We saw their new home, met their adorable little a six month old JJ, and had dinner with Erica's parents. What a great weekend of new sights and new relationships!
To top it off (no put intended here), John Micael took us on an uphill hike on his in-law's property. It was quite vigorous, OR I'm quite out of shape! However, when we reached the pinnacle it was well worth every upward step. From this vantage point, the view of Spearfish was spectacular: the Black Hills were in the distance, the green valleys lay beneath us, while blue skies and cotton clouds completed the work of art.
But what caught my immediate attention were the three dark wooden crosses that stood prominently at the crest of the hill. I loved to see them there, making a strong statement without words. I asked John Michael to take a picture of Mac and me in front of it, simply because it was something I wanted to remember from our trip out west.
It wasn't until the next morning in my quiet time, when I was sketching the hearts-and-the-cross-picture that I realized that my "journal art" had become reality. God is so sweet like that. I never want to miss his intentional intimate gifts he designs just for me! (He does this for ALL his children! We just have to open our eyes.)
After making this journal/reality connection, I went one step further, which is the TRUE reason God allowed me to live out my paper-sketch:
I believe with all my heart, that God will answer the prayers that I lift up for our marriage as I draw the simple picture.
I'm mainly posting this "evidence of God at work" to encourage you, wives, to pray for your husbands, and to love them with the unshakeable love of Christ. It's vital to him, to you, and to your marriage, no matter if you're six months in or 31 years like Mac and me.
Today, Mac and I are in a new place, literally. He's had a job transition, coming out of 27 years of doing the same thing at the same office. My prayers for him and my love towards him are a key factor in this faith-filled change. I have recently added to my prayers for us: Lord, show us where to live, give, work, and play.
Remember being a wife is a divine gift. Culture may shout to you that it's not; that it's a burden even, and a second rate role. But think about it, what a powerful privilege to be someone's "wind beneath their wings". Embrace your call and pray your man into the Lord's heights, which is way higher and far greater than any position this fleeting world can give.
You may not need to draw a journal picture right now, but maybe take a minute to pray the prayer above for your marriage. And in time, with a surrendered heart, watch your prayers become reality.
Here is a seven year old "journal entry", still filled with simple yet saving Truth:I was talking with my son this morning about the basic beliefs of Christianity. The conversation got started because we were kindly talking about a friend of his that thinks he's a Christian. I told him that he should gently and respectfully challenge his friend with the fact that he can know he's a Christian, not just think he's one. It was a delight to review the fundamentals of faith with my maturing 17 year-old son by using ...legos. You're never too old to play with legos, especially when they illustrate the beautiful simplicity of the gospel! Here is a review of the familiar "Colors of Salvation" method of sharing one's faith, usually portrayed with a beaded bracelet:
BLACK represents sin. Humans are born in sin; thus, we cannot reach God on our own--no matter how hard we try. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
RED represents God's love found in Christ's blood that was shed for us. Jesus, the perfect God-man paid the price for every sin, past, present, and future, when He was nailed to the cross. He chose to die for us. God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
WHITE represents the forgiveness of sin. When we confess our sin and believe in the truth of Christ's death and resurrection, we can then stand fully forgiven in the presence of God. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).
BLUE represents the Holy Spirit, given to us, alive in us... an amazing thought... a life-changing truth! We are buried with him in baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by he glory of the Father, we too might to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
GREEN represents growth. Because of the Holy Spirit's indwelling, we have the ability to understand and obey God's word. A beautiful relationship begins! Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
GOLD represents God's eternal kingdom that we as believers in Christ will inherit. For God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).I think many people "casually" believe in the concept of the first three colors (black, red, and white). First of all, can someone really be casual in their faith? If so, I think that's why this person may never experience a life marked by all of God's "colors", possibly making the Christian life hard and unattractive. He misses out in knowing that he has the capacity to house the living God, the Helper, in his own soul (blue). And he doesn't get to experience the awesome reality that he can talk to Him and walk with Him each and every day (green). And THEN...there's the daily hope-filled anticipation of ETERNAL life (gold)!
I challenge you, as I did my son, (and myself!), to grab some legos, markers, or colored beads and share your faith with a friend sometime in the near future. Who has God put on your heart while reading this?
But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them unless someone is sent to do it? That's why Scripture exclaims. "A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!" Romans 10:14-15, The Message
May your life and mine, and the friends we tell, be lives that are marked by His true colors.
Do you need peace--the kind of peace that passes all understanding? (Phil. 4:7)
Soul Sisters Ministry is an on-line group of women who come together daily (M-F) to be encouraged in God's word. We are starting a new study called Forty Days of Peace. (For more detail on this study, see my previous post entitled "The Order of Peace").
If you are interested, please join us in reading these daily devotions. We would love for you to be a part of this journey!Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/752566431555141/?ref=share
May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Yesterday I was discouraged. I won't go into detail, but I cried (literally) to the Lord about some things with my writing; bottom line, technology has never been my friend. And then today... I received two random but timely texts about the same prayer found in my devotional book,The Heartbeat of God. (By the way, it's on Amazon, if you're looking for a devotional prayer book). Since this scripture-based prayer spoke to these two people, in two different states, decades apart in ages, I thought it might also encourage you:
O God, You are the One who Calms. I confess to You right now that my thoughts and emotions are in a whirlwind. I cannot rest. I want to manage and control each and every situation and make it "right." I know this is impossible in and of my own strength, but it doesn't keep me from worrying and trying! So I come to You, and I pour out my complaint before You and tell You all my trouble; for You are my safe place. Thank You for Your patience as You listen; thank You for Your lovingkindness as You work. As I pour out my issues, O God, I pray that I will be attentive enough to the peace-filled words that You long to pour in. Allow me to learn from the disciples of long ago: Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord, Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them "Receive the Holy Spirit." Dear Jesus, sweet Savior of mine, hallelujah! You are in my midst! Please breathe Your peace into me once again so that my troubled heart will be quieted. And then Lord, help me to focus on You, the One who Calms, instead of my present circumstances that only stir up unproductive strife within my soul. For You promise in Your word: You keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You. Therefore, I will trust You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding, and I will also choose to meditate on who You are: You are all-knowing, You are able, You are strong, You are good, You are sovereign, You are at work. Ah, in remembering who You are, I can rest. Yes, I can now hear You gently whisper these words of promise into my quieted soul, Cease striving, and know that I am God. Indeed, You are the One who Calms.
Psalm 142:2; John 20:19-22; Isaiah 26:3; Proverbs 3:5; Psalm 46:10
What brings peace? Where does it originate? Where can I find it?
Over the last month or so, I've asked these questions in order to put together a curriculum that I'm currently working on. I've gathered a large number of peace related bible verses and they've accumulated like a mass of puzzle pieces (or should I say, peaces), waiting to be put in a specific spot in order to create a meaningful picture. This may not be new news, but what I found in my organization process, is that each verse fell into three different places. Soon, the order of peace was clear:
First things first, peace with God, a magnificent and ETERNAL gift offered at the cross--nowhere else. All your mess will be wiped away by the only One who can do it, Jesus. Next, let His peace flood and flow within. Allow the Lord to calm you, teach you, and redirect you. Then, and only then, go and give God's peace to others. Brothers and sisters, the world needs this order of peace.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:13-14
Are you carrying an unwanted burden at the moment? Maybe you have an armful, or I should say, a heart full of worries that are weighing you down.
Because I tend to hold onto anxious thoughts, a bible verse that I revisit over and over again is this one:
...casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)
And this one:
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you... (Psalm 55:22)
The word "cast" means to throw forcefully in a specified direction. In these two verses, we are given the simple instruction to throw all of our anxieties and burdens off of ourselves, into the direction of the Lord, who will then take them upon Himself for our benefit. I wish this straightforward instruction was as simple to obey. Why do I hold onto things I cannot control? Why do I think I am stronger or wiser or more able than the God who made me, knows me, and loves me?
Casting is a choice, and it takes practice. And just like everything else in life, the more you do something the better you get at it.
Let's you and I choose to develop and strengthen the healthy habit of casting. Let's name each worry that we naturally accumulate, and then hurl it in the direction of the One who can not only catch it (He never misses), but also can do something about it (He's always productive). Decide today to hurl with hope. Throw your worries faithfully and fervently into the direction of your Savior. In His hands, each troublesome pebble has the opportunity to become a precious stone.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)
I was talking with a friend who had questions about what a daily walk with the Lord looks like. I know each faith walk varies person to person, and even season to season, but in a broad way, here are three words to live by: seek, pray, trust.
Seek. Seek God in His word, every day. Daily is key. Don't we live life every day? Then, let's seek Him every day! His word is truly the lamp to our feet, and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105). God's word teaches us truths about who He is, and His great love for us. His word also gives us guidance for the smallest and biggest decisions we make, or the vast range of emotions we feel. He promises if we seek Him, we will find Him, if we seek Him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
Pray. Where seeking is God talking to us, praying is us talking to God. God tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we talk to God all the time in our heart, it leaves little room for other negative or self-defeating thoughts. In prayer, we can turn anxiety to peace. We can release anger or bitterness. We can actually help others by simply talking to God! The more we pray, the stronger our relationship with the Lord becomes.
Trust. Trusting God is crucial. If we seek Him daily, and pray to Him all the time, but we don't trust Him, and then choose to go our own way because we think it's better, then our faith walk is really "all for naught." Why seek and pray when we don't really trust? However, if we fully believe God hears our prayers, then our souls can rest, knowing He is at work, doing things we could never do in and of our own power. And if we trust Him in His word, we will confidently follow Him down His paths, believing His way is the best route, even if it's not fully revealed. A simple example: when driving into an unknown destination, we type the address into Google Maps or Waze. Isn't the next logical step to follow its directions? Trusting God is obeying God. It is faith-in-Him winning over the feelings-in-you. I've lived long enough to know that feelings are NOT trustworthy. So friend, every day, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Seek. Pray. Trust. A habitual, yet divinely exhilarating way to live.
How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Genesis 26:17
May we never forget your holiness. May we never cheapen your grace. Keep us mindful of your glorious presence so that we will whole-heartedly worship and humbly walk with you. Amen.