Walking Worthy

November 22nd, 2017

  This has been the resounding thought for me this week. I absolutely and regularly notice when I fail to walk worthy, but this week as I pondered this verse a desire has grown where I want to strive daily to learn to walk worthy in this new season in my life.  There are things in life we […]

 

Ephesians41and2

 

This has been the resounding thought for me this week. I absolutely and regularly notice when I fail to walk worthy, but this week as I pondered this verse a desire has grown where I want to strive daily to learn to walk worthy in this new season in my life. 

flourish2

There are things in life we each desire, but right now, today, in this season , while we may not see those desires (yet) fulfilled, our Heavenly Father gives us unique callings through which we can bring glory to His name by allowing Him to shape our character through loving and serving Him, proclaiming His goodness, and loving and serving others.

flourish

Right now, today, how can we walk WORTHY of the calling we have received? 12 attitudes and mindsets come to mind:
  1. Humbly – laying pride and selfish ambition aside to serve those we have been led to serve.
  2. Gently, not allowing the harsh actions of others shake our ability to respond (although sometimes firmly) in gentleness.
  3. Bearing with one another in Love, growing in patience and ability to love broken people especially as we would hope they can love broken imperfect people like us!
  4. With a heart that lays aside the desire to please others and strive to please God alone.
  5. With a Repentant heart for when we need grace and mercy to meet us when we make mistakes or fail.
  6. With a heart of Perseverance that can choose to yet try again after those mistakes or failures.
  7. With a Fearless heart that casts cares on our God and chooses to walk choosing trust and confidence in His sovereign plan for our good and His glory.
  8. With a Steadfast heart that does not look to the right or the left and compare our callings, our strengths, our weaknesses, our blessings or our trials to that of others, but instead takes delight trusting the Lord will show Himself as personally faithful and trustworthy in His way in His time.
  9. With heart of Faithfulness – that desires to be intentional and faithfully do what we’ve been called to do without slacking or delaying.
  10. With a heart of Peace, knowing that as we are walking faithfully doing what we can do, God will handle the rest.
  11. With a heart of Kindness and with a heart of Joy and gratitude for all we have been given, both the blessings and the challenges that are designed to be used to honor God, bless others and to shape us!
  12. And with a Prayerful Heart that knows to walk worthy we will need the strength of our Heavenly Father, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the mind of Christ that happens as prayer changes our circumstances and/or changes us through our circumstances.

Walking worthy of our calling is a high calling, even an impossible one to do in our own strength. But my prayer is that we seek our help from the Lord daily, and that as we learn to rely on Him to walk in a manner worthy,  God’s love and truth would change us and change the lives of many.

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PRAISE + WORSHIP: A DAILY OFFERING GOOD FOR THE SOUL

January 31st, 2017

Anyone who has been raised in or around the church knows the phrase “Praise and Worship”. They’ve heard of “praise bands” and “worship teams” and they’ve been invited to “stand and join us in Praise and Worship”. Lately I have thought and read a great deal about worship and praise, and all the swirling thoughts […]

 

Anyone who has been raised in or around the church knows the phrase “Praise and Worship”. They’ve heard of “praise bands” and “worship teams” and they’ve been invited to “stand and join us in Praise and Worship”.

Lately I have thought and read a great deal about worship and praise, and all the swirling thoughts have become like dots I am seeing connect slowly. It has blown my mind. One site – Got Questions – is referred to a good deal in this post since I find it, in particular, really discusses this topic well in my opinion.

I want to share a little about the intentions and blessings that flow from praising and worshiping God, and encourage us to make it more than a delegated task on our agenda. Not just playing music in your car, and not just praising and worshipping when we are in the sanctuary with a praise and worship team or when something great happens…but rather really look at how God’s Word talks about it and how we can seek to make it a lifestyle.

According to the ministry team at gotquestions.org,

Praise is “the joyful recounting of all God has done for us.”

When God has taught you a new thing, intervened or answered prayers the way you hoped in your life or the life of a loved one in a big way, praise can come quite naturally. This really delights God when we acknowledge His goodness and His hand in orchestrating our circumstances in those moments; however, something that we find incredibly unnatural to do is to praise Him when He does not shield us from pain or sorrow or provide for us the way we hoped.

When we are confused or heartbroken, it can be the last thing we think of to lift our praises to God. However,

it is often the times it is hardest praise God

that our choice to praise Him becomes the best medicine for our souls.

This is probably a big part of why scripture tells us that it is God’s will for us… His desire for us…is for us to give thanks in ALL circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). If you have ever heard of the phrase “offer up a sacrifice of praise” and thought “What’s with that?” This is where it comes in.

The Got Questions team explains it so well:

“Then there are those times when God did not come through the way we thought He would. The medical test comes back positive. The spouse wants a divorce. A child is wayward. The mortgage company calls in the loan. God seems very far away, and praise is the last thing to bubble up from our hearts. We can’t see His goodness, and circumstances scream that He has forgotten us.

To praise God in those times requires personal sacrifice. It takes an act of the will to lay our all on the altar before a God we don’t understand. When we bring a “sacrifice of praise,” we choose to believe that, even though life is not going as we think it should, God is still good and can be trusted (Psalm 135:2; Nahum 1:7). When we choose to praise God in spite of the storms, He is honored, and our faith grows deeper (Malachi 3:13-17; Job 13:15).

The command in Hebrews 13:15 says that this sacrifice is to be offered “continually.” Our praise of God is not to be based on our opinion of His job performance. Praise cannot be treated as a “reward” we give God for His obvious blessings. Isaiah 29:13 says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Real praise continues regardless of circumstances.”

This article goes on to say that it is this type of praise – a sacrifice of praise – that “flows continually from a heart of worship.”  And –

Worship gets to the heart of who we are. To truly worship God, we must let go of our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before God, surrender every part of our lives to His control, and adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Worship is a lifestyle, not just an occasional activity.

When we understand that the our Heavenly Father wants us to praise and worship Him in this way, it involves so much more than just thanking Him for the good in our life or setting aside time to do so.

Praise and Worship, when joined together, honors and glorifies God by allowing us opportunities to strengthen, purify, apply, and walk out our faith in any and every circumstance and season in life as we:

1.) REMEMBER all God’s done for us with a joy-filled thankful heart…His faithfulness and provision in the past.

  • When we accurately remember who God is and what He is capable of, we have a more accurate view of ourselves and our limitations and need for such a faithful God!
  • When we praise God, and recount the marvelous ways He has been faithful in the past (in scripture, in the lives of others we know, and in our own lives) it can remove the doubts, distractions and discouragements we may be facing in our present and help us to then enter into true worship – truly agreeing with who God is and all He’s capable of according to scripture, and fully able to humble ourselves to trust His ways over our understanding and obey Him with submissive trusting hearts. As a commentary I once read from Deuteronomy once noted – REMEMBRANCE LEADS TO OBEDIENCE.

2.) PRIORITIZE our present thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

  •  Speaking about God’s goodness and truth reminds our minds, emotions and spirit of the right attitudes to have, words to speak, and actions to take.
  •  When we remember how God has provided for us financially in the past, for example, it helps us choose to trust and obey God’s instructions on finances in our present and trust He will provide faithfully for us again in our future.
  •  When we remember His faithfulness to us in the past, it helps us defeat doubts about His purpose and plan for our present unknowns and surrender and obey in the present.

3.) PROCLAIM God’s goodness to those who do not yet know God as Lord and Savior.

  • When we offer praise and worship God, what we are inwardly experiencing often is evident in our outward expression, which proclaims the truth, love, and power of God to the people around us. Biblical praise and worship often leads to an outward expression acknowledging who God is – which can encourage those around us who are followers of Christ in their faith and compel others who are living life without faith to seek the Lord.

4.) ANTICIPATE God’s faithfulness in our future. 

  • Remembering God’s Word and His history of faithfulness, and proclaiming it focusses our attention to His ability to be faithful to His promises in our future.

One of the portions of scripture I fell in love with when focussing on true praise and worship is 1 Chronicles 16…after the Ark of the Covenant has finally been brought to Jerusalem and David leads Israel in giving thanks and establishing a life of continual praise and worship for the nation. See how David helps those who hear his words to remember, prioritize their thoughts attitudes and actions, proclaim God’s glory to others, and anticipate God’s wonders through every circumstance as He writes:

David’s Song of Thanks

fOh give thanks to the LORD; gcall upon his name;

hmake known his deeds among the peoples!

Sing to him, sing praises to him;

tell of all his wondrous works!

10  Glory in his holy name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

11  iSeek the LORD and his strength;

seek his presence continually!

12  jRemember the wondrous works that he has done,

khis miracles and the judgments he uttered,

13  O offspring of Israel his servant,

children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

14  He is the LORD our God;

lhis judgments are in all the earth.

15  Remember his covenant forever,

the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,

16  the covenant mthat he made with Abraham,

his sworn promise to Isaac,

17  which nhe confirmed to Jacob as a statute,

to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

18  saying, o“To you I will give the land of Canaan,

as your portion for an inheritance.”

19  When you were pfew in number,

of little account, and qsojourners in it,

20  wandering from nation to nation,

from one kingdom to another people,

21  he allowed no one to oppress them;

he rrebuked kings on their account,

22  saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,

do my sprophets no harm!”

23  tSing to the LORD, all the earth!

Tell of his salvation from day to day.

24  Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous works among all the peoples!

25  For ugreat is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,

and he is to be feared vabove all gods.

26  For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,

wbut the LORD made the heavens.

27  Splendor and majesty are before him;

strength and joy are in his place.

28  Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,

xascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

29  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

bring an offering and come before him!

yWorship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;2

30  tremble before him, all the earth;

yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

31  zLet the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

and let them say among the nations, a“The LORD reigns!”

32  bLet the sea roar, and all that fills it;

let the field exult, and everything in it!

33  Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy

before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

34  Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever!

35 cSay also:

“Save us, O God of our salvation,

and gather and deliver us from among the nations,

that we may give thanks to your holy name

and glory in your praise.

36  dBlessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting!”

eThen all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.

Praise and Worship from scripture includes singing, playing an instrument, shouting, and proclaiming truth of scripture to yourself and to God aligning your heart in agreement with Who He is and surrendering your will to His. There is probably so much more to learn about how to praise and worship Him, but I hope this encourages you as it does me to focus my heart and will towards glorifying God through true, continual praise and worship!

Because music helps connect our head with our heart, here are three songs I adore –

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Stripped Away

June 10th, 2016

It’s no secret that the majority of my inner struggles in my life have stemmed from insecurity. Even in my earliest experiences with being judged and criticized for my stature and appearance in middle school, it was plain to me that I had a poor self-image. So it’s no surprise that, when I began submitting […]

 

It’s no secret that the majority of my inner struggles in my life have stemmed from insecurity. Even in my earliest experiences with being judged and criticized for my stature and appearance in middle school, it was plain to me that I had a poor self-image.

So it’s no surprise that, when I began submitting my life to Christ’s authority near the end of my high school season, I brought to Him my brokenness and asked for freedom, redemption, and the ability to see myself the way He sees me. To find my whole identity in Him. I was on a positive self-image mission…which has been a beneficial process! But there is this one thing.

This path I’ve taken to seek Christ’s truth in how I view myself does not end where I thought it would. And it’s probably not over yet. It actually has far less to do with my “self” than I ever thought.

I still have complete awareness of my imperfections and I still see all that I’m not…and I do have more gratitude for all that I am, peace about it in light of my confidence in who Christ is, and who God says I am. BUT. I am also learning that having a positive self image is not God’s end goal. The end goal is about reflecting Christ’s image. Not mine.

Lately I have found myself facing one test after another, and I have a mental picture that has been stuck in my mind to help me see what is happening. Up to this point, I have chosen the narrow way. The way through the narrow gate  of following Christ. And, right now, it is as if I’ve been entering a series of tight narrow tunnels along this narrow way, and I cannot bring with me all that I intended to bring. And so the choice is mine each time I am presented with a new narrow tunnel along the way.

Whose image do I want to push through? Both will not fit. Whose image do I want to Protect? Proclaim? Profess? Proceed with? Flesh or spirit? My image, my reputation, my my my? Or His? God’s Word says we cannot do both.

Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV) Keep in Step with the Spirit  

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Part of this in my case of various forms of insecurity has been learning to confront the hesitation of  “why in the world would I want to serve in ministry in a public way where people will see every mistake I make?” Perhaps it’s to remind me that it’s not about preserving my image, but about promoting the truth and hope of Christ, working His image and character into my heart through serving, and growing through experiences both successful and challenging to shape my heart like His and show others what a work-in-progress for Christ looks like so that they might be bold enough to step out too.

And part of this has been learning to ask myself – “when someone offends me personally, does it matter?” My normal response would be to defend myself, my character, what is “fair”, and my cause…but would my normal response burn a bridge for them to see the love and truth of Christ in me? If it is not kingdom essential (meaning if it is just me alone they are insulting, belittling, criticizing, undermining, or disrespecting only and not involving injustice to another or an attack on God’s truth) , it is not worth taking up my cause at the expense of the cause of the kingdom. I am learning it is best to respond in love and kindness despite my offenses so that maybe the love and truth of Christ may still shine through and be exalted and made known to my offender. There is a right and wrong time to turn the other cheek and pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:29), to “tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecc. 3:7) The Bible talks about being ready to give an answer to what you believe  and standing up for the oppressed and needy, but time and time again it tells us to seek peace, pursue what builds up others, and leave vengeance to God when it comes to personal offenses. Boy this is new to me. And so challenging. Why is it this way? Perhaps to keep us focussed on what is most important. Perhaps it is because we can win a battle in defending our names and lose the war in participating in the great commission of winning souls for God’s Kingdom.

I don’t know if you’ve been in this place, where you constantly have to choose “self or Christ?” And answer “Who are you seeking to magnify in your actions?”…but I feel like it’s been a peeling process. Stripping off the old self, and walking in the new. Because there is only room for one if we are to walk along narrow way to which we’ve been called.

Old and new self

This reflection I’ve been having brings me to Ephesians 4, which is worth reading and proclaiming to ourselves over and over! Each day, possibly multiple times a day, we must choose – who are we ambassadors for? For whose cause are we filtering everything else through today? If we are filtering everything through a self-preservation lens, our responses will be quite often very different from a Christ-and-Kingdom-centered lens. And our response determines our reach (Lysa TerKeurst). So may we choose well today,tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…and walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1)…because things done to the glory of God for the kingdom have an eternal weight and glory!

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My Weirdest Blog Post to Date

April 27th, 2016

Well this is going to be humiliating. In fact it was almost a year ago I drafted this and only now do I feel bold enough to put it out on the blog for all to see. But as I find it more true than ever at this particular moment in my life, I feel […]

 

Well this is going to be humiliating. In fact it was almost a year ago I drafted this and only now do I feel bold enough to put it out on the blog for all to see. But as I find it more true than ever at this particular moment in my life, I feel like now is the time. You know since I am blogging this I love you (readers) because the message is more important than the sacrifice of my image! 😉 And if it shocks you, maybe it will be unforgettable and you’ll remember the point of the story haha!

Let’s begin and get this over with – Ladies and gents, getting older is no fun sometimes for so many different reasons! The one I am going to talk about today is a little “hairy”.

About 8 months ago (gosh now that is like 17 months)  I looked at Bryan to say something and he reached over and plucked something right off of my chin. I think the fact that it was attached to my face scared us both. To my utter disgust I had grown a hair. Don’t leave the blog yet! I have a point other than to paint a gross portrait of myself! 😉

This disgusting production on my face has made me think lots of things…but it also weirdly reminded me of sinful strongholds in our lives and some important things to remember when coming to Christ to be free of them.  You ready for the weirdest illustration of this possibly ever? Here goes:

1.) Like sin, I wanted to hide this hair on my chinny chin chin from the world. I still do! God help me if you ever see it on my face, but by God alone He knows that maybe the humiliations of telling you here on the blog will keep my pride in check and paint a picture of sin that you’ll never forget haha! But just like hiding this chin hair will save my pride but lack any chance to relate to other imperfect human beings, hiding sin is the most destructive thing you can do with it. It’s pointless because the Bible tells us that your sin is always sure to find you out. May I remind you that I was also not the one to notice my “issue” first? Sometimes others can see your sin and it’s nasty effects in your life before you are ready to acknowledge it for yourself. Even the most secret of sins will eventually grow and begin to manifest itself in other parts of your life. And even if no one else knows the details of that secret, they’ll be effected by the consequences of the sin that it will have on you and within you. What is worse is that attempting to hide your sin is almost always most destructive to you! It is not healthy! And of course secret sin is never hidden from God. It’s nothing more than a frivolous effort that – like a boulder gaining momentum as it rolls down a hill – that will be more destructive to you and others than you ever intended. Andy Stanley once quoted that “Sin always has a pleasure and a payment. The pleasure is like this big and lasts for this long (showing a small amount) but the payment will sometimes affect you the rest of your life.” On the flip side, sharing the sometimes embarrassing struggles you have can help both you and anyone else who may share a similar struggle – so the uncomfortable task of bearing one another’s sins can promote liberty for more than just yourself – and it’s a testimony of how we all fall short and yet God can work in the imperfect one’s life, exposing anything less than the image of Christ and then helping redeem and transform them. In fact scripture says it is in confessing to one another that we begin to find healing.

2.) Like sin, when I recognized this hair was a part of me I was utterly ashamed of it. I wanted it gone. Similarly, once we recognize the sin that has a hold of our hearts and our habits, we usually want it gone too if we recognize the damage being done.

3.) Like sin, I have to cooperate to get this undesired thing out of my life. To rid my face of this horrible hair, I have to participate. God is able to free us from sin but He needs our cooperation with him… to come to Him, confess it, and use His truth, prayer, and apply the other armor of God to protect us from ending up back where we began. It takes our effort.

4.) Plucking this nasty hair and keeping our temptations in check takes maintenance. Unfortunately, once it is plucked, I never know when it might rare its ugly head again! I must always be checking for it before I go out in public – God forbid! Like this, many times the sin we struggle with is a habitual one that gained momentum over time without us realizing it… making it usually something we are defensive about at first, reluctant to confess, and it often involves a lengthy struggle to get it surrendered to God and defeated in your life. Once we have initially brought our sin to God and experienced freedom from the pull of it, we must not forget that we are never too strong that we cannot fall again. The sin that once has such a stronghold on our hearts and behaviors can also rare its ugly head at any time in various forms to catch us unguarded and vulnerable. For instance, though I’ve allowed God to correct my insecurities in some areas of life, insecurity tends to pop up like a new monster when I face conflicts or misunderstandings in new situations, friendships or when I don’t meet my own expectations. Same struggle default, different scenarios. I need maintenance with this area in my life! It is not on our own that we are freed from sin, and we must continue to be aware of the possibility of our weaknesses taking us by surprise and thus seek God continually to guard us from it and help us when unexpected temptation and struggle might arise.

5.) Sin in our lives often grows in a blind spot that we will overlook without the help of others. I look for this hair EVERY. DAY! And do you know what? I still just 2 months ago was riding in the car when Bryan laughed and said “Brittany your hair is back!” He was half amused and I am sure half cringing – haha! Let’s face it- the last thing a bride wants her man to see when he looks at her is this! But though it is humbling to have Bryan aware off my imperfections, I need him. We need other people to help us see in our blind spots. I apparently cannot always see myself accurately in the mirror, and I need some one with my best interest in mind… Someone willing to bare with me and expose my ugly faults, point them out when I fail to see them myself, and sometimes even help me get rid of them. Sin is very similar! Accountability is humbling, ugly and uncomfortable – but it is essential. We as people have blindspots sometimes and no matter how we look for things, we can only see one perspective. Having someone you trust, or a small group of people who are trustworthy and who have only your best interest at heart who are available to lovingly point out and be a part of your sin maintenance is more than beneficial to living a life liberated from the ugly effects of sin.

So as icky and awkward as it is, and as this story is like toothpaste that once squeezed I’ll never be able to cram it back into the tube of privacy…I am thankful that God can use this unattractive happening right on my face to give me an eternal and internal picture to teach me and affirm to us the truths about temptation, sin, and freedom. Hopefully this brought to light some good truths and reminders…And hopefully we can still be friends! 😉

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PART 3 OF TWO BROTHERS + AN OVER-TOLD STORY : MAIN TAKE-AWAYS

February 4th, 2016

After looking at the events that took place in Exodus 31-33ish in post 1 and observing each brother’s response to the circumstances in post 2, this 3rd post will highlight what I believe are some further take-away applications for anyone seeking to grow as believers in Christ. In all honesty, we can find ourselves relating to […]

 

After looking at the events that took place in Exodus 31-33ish in post 1 and observing each brother’s response to the circumstances in post 2, this 3rd post will highlight what I believe are some further take-away applications for anyone seeking to grow as believers in Christ. In all honesty, we can find ourselves relating to either of these two men who served God…so it is beneficial to store away some Biblical wisdom for times in our life that are not too unlike this time in both Moses and Aaron’s walk with God.

What we can take away from this – 

This is what brothers are for – God can do anything and everything, yet He often uses our family of believers to help each other and come alongside each other – both to teach us how to live when we feel like Moses in this story as well as reveal insight, truth, and hope to us when we might find ourselves more like Aaron. When we can see our lives in light one of these two brothers, we realize God can use us in the lives of others to help us see, know and understand our Lord’s heart more, and He can work in our lives to shape our hearts to be more like Christ and more suited for the plans He has for us if we choose to come to Him in our time of need. As it is in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “ Two are better than one, … For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” God doesn’t have to involve us in the work He’s doing in other people, but He chooses to often to teach and stretch and shape us both through our life circumstances if we seek Him in them. Are we there for others when we could be? And do we come to Him when we realize we’ve wandered?

For times we could be Aaron – When we are unsure of our calling, We need to trust that God has a plan for our lives, especially if we’ve experienced Him before, and rest assured that He planned what he wanted us to do long ago (Ephesians 2:10). Meanwhile, if we feel like we do not yet know specifics about what God has called us to do, we need to carry out the great commission while loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength… and love our neighbors as ourselves (the general call on all believers’ lives Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 28:16-20) and continue to seek Him wholeheartedly lest we be led astray to temptation (2 Peter 3:14-18).

And For when we feel like a bystander like Moses – We need to first check our hearts and ask God’s help in making our hearts like His. Moses was overcome by anger – which tends to cloud our ability to keep perspective and leads to poor reactions. I believe we need to make sure we ask God to help us exchange some of the raw reactions of our heart for a heart that more reflects that of the Holy Spirit  (specifics of what God’s spirit exemplifies in the fruit of the spirit and definition of love in Corinthians)  before we’ll be able to be most useful in the given situation. Once we have done this,  we should pray to God fervently for mercy for whoever is an Aaron in our life…and be willing to act when God invites us to share the truth in love and point to Christ to our Aaron.

Moses and Aaron. Two imperfect brothers…One Holy, Mighty, and Loving God, and a chord of three strands that was not quickly broken. May we always have someone to help us when we fall, and may we always be there to help when another falls, and may we come to know the heart of our awesome God through it all!

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Part 2 of Two Brothers + an Over-told Story : Response is Key

February 2nd, 2016

In part one of this post, we looked at the events leading up to this crucial moment in time in the events in Exodus. Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites all experienced God’s awesome undeniable power and deliverance and yet, while Moses was coming down from a mountain top experience with God, Aaron led the charge […]


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In part one of this post, we looked at the events leading up to this crucial moment in time in the events in Exodus.

  • Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites all experienced God’s awesome undeniable power and deliverance
  • and yet, while Moses was coming down from a mountain top experience with God, Aaron led the charge of creating and worshiping an idol despite the amazing plans God had for His future (more details on all this in the part one of this post series). So – as I said last week – here they are – Moses frustrated and enraged, and Aaron leading a charge against everything he’d just witnessed. What’s a brother to do? Let’s look at their responses:

First, Aaron’s initial response when being confronted by Moses was deceitful to himself. Aaron made it seem like he had needed to please the people, but the truth is that other people can only tempt us, not force us to sin. (Matt Henry) Rather than responding in recognition of his wrong, he rationalized and justified his choices. Until we recognize and own up to our choices, we cannot recognize our need to repent, we won’t desire forgiveness, and thus cannot find or accept mercy or grace. If you are Moses and you are watching your loved one self-destruct and enter denial or try to hide it from you, it sounds hopeless right? But Moses is an example of what one in the bystander situation can do.

Moses pleaded with God for mercy for his brother and the people even before Aaron or the Israelites may have recognized their wrong and need for mercy. If you look at the text, it is the act of pleading for mercy on behalf of the people in sin that invokes God’s compassion to work in tandem with his justice all while still accomplishing His purpose. I believe this is an all too symbolic picture of how Christ pleads to the Father on our behalf. (Matt Henry) God wants us to have a heart like Christ and to teach us forgiveness, love, grace, and mercy …and yet He also wants to teach us and help us understand the cost of it to the one who gives it. When we can be like Moses and go to God on behalf of a brother or loved one for mercy – especially at the risk of it costing us in some personal way…whether it be time, upset between you and that person when you need to speak truth and expose sin, energy invested in prayer, or heartache and submission to however He might choose to use us to encourage change in the individual – we experience and understand just a tiny glimpse of the cost Jesus paid on our behalf. This scripture is encouraging to me because it shows that Moses’s prayer for mercy on behalf of an undeserving, cretinous people did have an impact on God’s response to the people. Our prayers for people, even before they recognize their need for change, are heard and are not in vain.

Though Moses pleaded for mercy on behalf of Aaron and the Israelites, there eventually came a time where they were called to choose sides and decide their own destiny. Moses asked “Who is on the LORD’s side?” What happened then and there was a deciding factor that preceded the death and destruction of those set on persisting in wickedness. While it is God’s decision and timing alone, there will always come a point in time where every person makes the ultimate choice, and those who persist on continuing in sin, who openly stand forth as those that choose openly and firmly to stand against the Lord and thus the ones on the Lord’s side – and are firm and happy in it – they are destined for judgement and ruin. (Matt Henry)

And Finally, Aaron – praise the Lord – did not stay in denial long before returning to God’s side. The Bible says that He who began a good work in us will carry it out to completion (Phil 1:6). I believe we saw the good work begun in Aaron back in Egypt, and despite his foolish choices, God’s mercy in this situation made it >

  • possible for Aaron to still live the calling to which God intended for him >
  • but with a deeper level or understanding that he was unworthy of his calling apart from any reason other than the grace of God. (Matt Henry) What good is it if we have an exciting and important calling from God, yet we somehow deceive ourselves into thinking we are worthy of it in any way apart from under the righteous goodness of Christ? Like the specific and intricate priestly garments he would soon wear (that symbolized the righteousness of Christ that we all must wear to appear justified and blameless and redeemed before a holy God), Aaron needed to know full well that it wasn’t he who was worthy but God whose grace and mercy and righteousness that made him worthy.  This is also so true for us. Aaron may have fallen to temptation and experienced a major defeat, but God took what Satan meant for evil and worked it for good in the end so that any pride and boasting about the high call on Aaron’s life may be silenced and prevented.(Matt Henry) Instead of anyone thinking it was he who earned the position, or instead of him beginning to think he’d deserved any of the positions God would place him in, he would now know he was undeserving and that he would fulfill his role because of God’s grace alone. The grace and ability of God would be the only thing magnified in his role as a priest…not his own ability.

There are some main take-aways I see after looking closely at this part of scripture….and I cannot wait to dig into them with you in part 3! Stay tuned! :)

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Two Brothers + An Over-told Story That Taught Me a New Lesson Pt. 1

January 27th, 2016

Wo! I just read Exodus 31-33ish and it was some stuff that blew my mind! Before diving in I want to note that many of these thoughts are from reading the scripture as well as Matthew Henry’s commentary…so many of these thoughts are paraphrased as my understanding from some of his writings as well as […]

 

Wo! I just read Exodus 31-33ish and it was some stuff that blew my mind! Before diving in I want to note that many of these thoughts are from reading the scripture as well as Matthew Henry’s commentary…so many of these thoughts are paraphrased as my understanding from some of his writings as well as scripture.

In these chapters, God was specifically telling Moses about the very special and honorable and high calling He had for his brother Aaron. Aaron was to be set apart as a high priest and all his sons after him were to have this calling. What a calling on someone’s life! But wow the sequence of events to follow. This first of three posts will summarize the sequence of events and insights gleaned from it.

A little back story is that Aaron had just encountered multiple amazing, undeniable God experiences. As Moses’s brother and right hand man, he literally was used by God to do many of the signs and wonders with his own hands and staff before Egypt – the events that led to Pharaoh letting them leave (Exodus 7). It was Aaron’s staff – not Moses’s – whose staff became a serpent before Pharaoh and swallowed the magicians’ and sorcerers’ serpents up. It was Aaron’s outstretched arms who turned the waters of Egypt to blood, his hands stretched out and brought the plague of frogs and then brought the plague of gnats. He’d just seen God use him to perform miracles, to send plagues against Egypt while also distinctively preserving and sparing the people of Israel, and he’d seen God provide miraculous deliverance leading them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13), parting the sea (Exodus 14), creating drinkable water out of a rock and providing food in the wilderness (Exodus 17). He also was one of the two holding Moses’s arms up to God and witnessed God’s intervention that led to battle victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17). And as if that weren’t enough evidence to authenticate God’s existence and power, the entire people of Israel just watched a mountain shake as they audibly heard God speak and call Moses up to the mountain.

So flash forward to the mountain top experience for Moses. While much of the talk would be about the law and instruction regarding the tabernacle, a substantial portion of the conversation concluding Moses’s time up there was about Aaron and how God has a high, specific, and purposeful calling on his life. But meanwhile, the people forgot God and assumed that Moses was gone, so they cried out for Aaron to make a god for them. I should know this story inside and out but was actually surprised at Aaron’s role in the horrible decisions that followed. Did Aaron remind them of God? Did he rebuke them or stutter in his answer? No! The Bible simply records a very willing and participating Aaron who actually led the charge on creating and worshipping the golden calf.

How could someone with such an incredible assurance of God in his life, such previous experience of His goodness and faithfulness, turn so quickly and do something so opposite? So against God? Have you ever found yourself in Aaron’s shoes? Where you have experienced God in a powerful, personal, undeniable way in your life and then found yourself doing the unthinkable? In her book  Arm Yourself Against the Enemy’s Schemes: A Taste of When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Beth Moore suggests that actually after a personal failure or a spiritual victory is often when we are incredibly vulnerable to fall to an attack of the enemy. So, this is not as surprising as it seems when we know how Satan can attack us… but to the one caught in the schemes and finding themselves in a situation against everything they once stood for, it can totally catch you off guard. If this has never been you, perhaps you have you been like Moses and known an Aaron or an Israelite in your life who has seen or possibly experienced God but chose to chase after other things. I think of a few things about this in particular about Moses and Aaron –

1.) Moses knew of Aaron’s calling, Aaron did not yet know God had this awesome continued plan for Him. Moses was enraged to say the least to learn what was going on when he got back. As a bystander, it can be heartbreaking and enraging to be so sure that God has great things in store for someone you love, they hold so much potential, and then you look and they are drowning in ungodly strongholds.

It can be so heartbreaking and frustrating (especially if their struggles affect you personally) to say the least to come off a mountain top experience with God like Moses and realize how broken the world is. From an experience of everything good, true and right to everything corrupt, twisted and provoking. In much of how Moses responds (some right ways some wrong ways), we see that – as a light for Christ and thus ministers to those we love and influence – our role is to help “expose the greatness of sin”. We can only help reveal the wickedness, but we are helpless to fix it for anyone. The truth we hold  can only help expose, but it cannot fix the situation. Similarly, the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses cannot make us righteous…it can only make us knowledgeable of our sin, but the laws will never cure anyone of sin. The cure for sin is only found in the atonement and acceptance of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. (Matt Henry)

2.) Aaron had not yet known God had a high and purposeful calling on his life for his future, BUT he had seen God use him and work in his life. And as the one in the middle of the struggle, sometimes we don’t know of what God has planned and we lack vision for ourselves and do not seek God with all our hearts which leads to abundant opportunities for temptation. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Prov. 29:18). Aaron could have and should have, – and if he would – have stood firm in what He already knew and experienced of and with God, and fled temptation and sought God with all his heart, he most likely would not have gotten lured or wrapped up in something so far off from what God wanted for him. Not to mention his actions led and encouraged many others to go astray.

So here they are – Moses frustrated and enraged, and Aaron leading a charge against everything he’d just witnessed. What’s a brother to do? We’ll look at their responses and some powerful insight on each brother’s situation in the next post.

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And My Shame is Undone.

January 13th, 2016

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on […]

 

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on their plate than I do, but nevertheless the perfectionist in me is still more than unpleased with being less than excellent in my roles and responsibilities.

  • As a wife, I want to know what I am making for meals ahead of time rather than repeating meals out of lack of time to get creative and standing at my fridge with last minute grocery needs. I want the meals to be delicious and healthy. I want my house cleaning to find a consistent medium rather than spic-and-span to it-looks-like-we-threw-a-party. I want to be amazing at serving my husband since he works so hard selflessly serving me.
  • As a serving hand, I want to be helpful and reliable in any roles I have in ministry and in my role as an FRG co-leader.
  • As a friend I want to do my part to love and connect and fill gaps in communication that are my fault.
  • As a photographer, I want to get back  to focussing on and enjoying my passion photography and serving and blessing my clients.
  • And generally, I want to be ahead of my schedule rather than feeling like I am always running to try and catch up. I need time-management and organizational improvement. That should do it for my 2016 goals if I had any! 😉

I have begun reading about realistic organizing and scheduling for women with important but fluid and flexible and ever changing time blocks of availability. I am beginning this journey to improve these things and was feeling accomplished the night before last when I had succeeded in making meals ahead for much of our busy week. Bryan had liked them, was impressed with the change in my norm, and told me he felt like a king. THAT is how I want to treat my husband and I was so encouraged to love and serve him better like that! But it never fails that, because I am still a work in progress, I will always inevitably rest my head at the end of a busy day seeing things that fell through the cracks. I didn’t message her back. I should have prepared more for this. I should have made time to be there for that. I totally forgot about this…how could I forget?!?!

Yesterday, for just a tiny example, I woke up early to spend time with the Lord and prep everything for my day according to my new to-do list. Bags for lunches, ministry items, items to bring over to friends, ingredients for food for our FRG meeting and a photo collage to show-off our troop activities to encourage family involvement, my purse to pay for things, and makeup to put on on-the-go. I made a trek to our post with everything I had noted I needed to bring so that I wouldn’t have to drive an extra hour home and back for anything. I ushered in all of the items I needed to bring to our chapel’s women’s ministry for the day…and soon realized I totally forgot something essential. One of the roles I volunteered recently for was to photograph events for this ministry, and with another separate responsibility in mind, I completely forgot my camera. Like it didn’t even make it onto that list I was so sure was going to make me fool-proof. I swallowed a healthy dose of humility when I informed our ministry leader and received her sweet extension of grace and understanding for my mishap. Inside though I hated feeling like no matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to avoid screwing something up. I slapped a smile on my face – which stayed there once surrounded by so many fun witty and loving girls in our community. But I couldn’t shake feeling discouraged, disappointed in myself and just aggravated.

It wasn’t until being in the middle of worship at the end of this program that God would prick my heart. Singing a beautiful song, we got to a verse that says:

Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
[in] Your presence, Lord

Y’all. I felt tears just roll on down and struggled to sing the words. The Lord was revealing to me something in my heart I needed to bring to Him. My Shame. I new somewhere along the lines I was believing lies that were resulting into inward shame, and I knew that was not what I as a believer in Christ should be continuing in. But I felt stuck.

There wasn’t a moment of time to myself the rest of the day, so this morning it was still on my heart. I began to search for Biblical wisdom and insight and found a really really well-written extensive article on shame in the heart of people. It defines Shame as:

SHAME: the painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt or shortcoming or impropriety.

The part that resonated most with me was that there is well-placed shame (or I like to think of it as conviction and a lack of peace) which is the result of doing something or saying something or believing something that dishonors God, and  there is a shame that is misplaced. I knew nothing in my heart sought to intentionally dishonor God in my current actions, and that none of the things that actually made me ashamed were in themselves dishonoring to God. Thus I was dealing with what I had already presumed that morning prior in worship – that I was believing a lie and experiencing misplaced shame. Shame that I had no business feeling, but that brought about conviction on some things that I did in fact need revealed to me so that I could confess and seek God’s grace and forgiveness and redemption for (so my misplaced shame exposed a root of well-placed shame…something I was not living according to God’s truth thus not honoring Him). The article, along with scripture, hit the nail on the head for me –

“much of what makes us feel shame is not that we have brought dishonor to God by our actions, but that we have failed to give the appearance that other people admire….Much of our shame is not God-centered but self-centered. Until we get a handle on this, we will not be able to battle the problem of shame at its root….So in the very act of wanting to avoid shame as the world sees it, they (talking about the people of Corinth but I might as well replace they with I) fell into the very behavior that God counts shameful.”

With so much of this in mind and a clear identification of where my thinking and heart have ventured off the path of God’s truth, I knew what I needed to bring before the throne. If you are experiencing shame of any kind, I highly recommend reading scripture, checking out this article, and praying about it. This is my prayer (below)…and I share it in case it can be one we pray together if you find yourself in a similar situation!

     Lord, I have bought my accuser – the enemy’s – lies. I have shamed myself wrongly and in doing so I did not see the root of my sin which is the vanity of wanting to please or be acceptable to others, the pride of wanting to be perfect (which is a pointless pursuit), and the selfishness of wanting others to think I have it all together. But what glory does it bring You, Father, if I lose sight of my need for You and my depravity apart from You and without Your grace, strength, and ability to be exalted in my weaknesses? 

     Culture says to cover your weaknesses and put up the best front. To seek success, recognition, comfort and/or power. Your Word says to rather boast about our weaknesses and not in our abilities but in You alone. 

     Thank You Lord for not letting my efforts to appear perfect prevail. Thank You for reminding me of my weaknesses (daily) and need of Your sufficient grace and strength and power, that I may not continue to buy lies or pat myself on the back, but instead look up to You, smile, and Praise Your Sweet, Tender, Mighty, Name. 

     Forgive me, Father, for getting this wrong lately. Lord, redeem me back to where my heart needs to be and help me guard my heart and mind from this continually. Thank You for Your Truth, for revealing it to me in the midst of my struggling with lies and for bringing me back to the path walking in Your Truth. I know my weak areas well Lord. You have allowed me to recognize them plainly and publicly that I might not cover (despite my best efforts) or ignore my need for You to work in me and through them. 

     Help me submit and be obedient to You to work in them each step of the way, and may I keep a humble heart having godly humility, selflessly only looking to You, and seeking to honor and glorify You King Jesus!

In Your Name, Amen. 

“God is the giver, and we are the receivers. His richest gifts are bestowed not upon those who do the greatest things, but upon those who accept His abundance and His grace.”

– Hannah Whitall Smith

 

I believe this needs to be a constant reminder in our lives, and I pray we never settle for living in shame! He has come to redeem us, to bring us abundant life and the richest form of freedom. May we not miss out on what He offers us!

shame undone

 

 

 

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Tightening the Belt of Truth and Breaking out the Sword of the Spirit when destructive thoughts run Rampant.

December 16th, 2015

These past three years have been paramount to my personal walk with Christ in discovering that “Lies reign in the absence of truth (Lysa TerKurst)” but that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.(2 Cor. 3:17)” Yet sometimes, daily circumstances accompanied with my default mindset and limited perspective can creep in. I am […]

 

These past three years have been paramount to my personal walk with Christ in discovering that “Lies reign in the absence of truth (Lysa TerKurst)” but that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.(2 Cor. 3:17)”

Yet sometimes, daily circumstances accompanied with my default mindset and limited perspective can creep in. I am learning to recognize that, when I feel robbed of my joy, peace, patience, self-control, or my ability to love, be kind, or to persevere, this is a sure sign that I am forgetting to arm myself with the what the Bible refers to as the Belt of Truth and I am not consistently combating lies with the Sword of the Spirit which is God’s Word and our only offensive tool in what scripture calls the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:14). Looking back through my journal, I’ve been most encouraged when I have recognize this lack of peace, joy, etc. as an attack going on in my heart and mind and choose to combat it with God’s Word and/or truth. Here are a few things I have declared to myself when this happens that have been an effective spiritual, mental, and emotional reset for my heart and mind :

  • When I am overwhelmed, God’s Word redirects my focus. (Philipians 4:8, Romans 12:1-2, Philipians 4:6-7, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:2, etc.)
  • When I don’t know where to turn, God is near, present and available. (Psalm 145:18, Psalm 16:8, James 4:8, Isaiah 43:2, Zephaniah 3:17, Hebrews 4:14-16)
  • When I don’t know the way, HE is the way (John 14:6), He desires to, He can, and He will direct my path if I trust and follow (Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 16:9), and He will make my steps firm (Psalm 37:23)
  • When I am weak, He gives me strength, I can do all things through Him, and to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Philippians 4:13)
  • When I have been broken and when I have failed, His Love has restored me. (Psalm 23:3, Micah 7:7-10) When I stumble or fall, I will not be hurled headlong (or in my mental picture – I will not fall on my face) because He holds my hand (Psalm 37:23-24)
  • When I feel defeated, I know that victory is in the Lord (Proverbs 21:31), that in Christ I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), I know that The Lord will fight for me (Exodus 14:13-14) when He sees fit, that He delivers me from all my afflictions (Psalms 34:19), and that we may be “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)
  • When I struggle or am in need, God will provide (Philippians 4:19)
  • When I have asked why, I believe Him when He says His ways are higher (Isaiah 55:8-9), that His Promises work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) and for the ultimate purposes He has (Ephesians 1:11) and I remember His faithfulness in my life thus far (Let’s just raise an Ebenezer 1 Samuel 7).
  • When I bring it all before Him, choose to trust Him, and exercise an obedient heart, He delights in me (Zephaniah 3:17Psalm 147:11) and is faithful to guard what I entrust to Him (2 Tim 1:12)
When I feel unvalued or devalued by people –
  • I do not serve for recognition.
  • We were not saved by good works but for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) . Good works are not the root but the fruit of our salvation (quote from a devotional somewhere).
  • I am not consumed by the need to please man, but God alone. (Galatians 1:101 Thessalonians 2:4Colossians 3:23).
  • Perception is not reality. Reality is reality. And perception is often wrong. But it is not my job to manage the perception others have of me. My job is to be obedient to my God, and to honor Him. I cannot control the perceptions or judgements of others about me and it is a lie to think that I can or to think that it is important. It is an utter waste of time and a trap from the Devil to get my mind off of glorifying Christ instead trying to glorify the perception of myself in the eyes of others. However, it does matter,  and it only matters, “whether Christ is honored by the way people think of us. Does Christ look great because of the way we live? It matters to us whether he does” (full wonderfully expounded sermon on this dichotomy of what matters in what others perceive about us by John Piper).
  • I am not perfect, but I am NOT the labels I give myself or the judgements or labels given to me by other people. Things that are actually true: I have been bought for a price (1 Cor. 6:20), I am precious in God’s sight (Isaiah 43:3), wonderfully made in His image (Psalm 139:14), set apart (2 Timothy 2:21), protected, defended, loved, valued, understood and I know that He is with me using all things to shape my heart.

 

If you sense a lack of joy, peace, patience, love, self-control, hope, faith, etc., I pray that it be an indicator of an area in which God’s Word and Truth can identify a chink in your armor  in which you may be vulnerable to the lies of the enemy. I pray we continually dive in to His Word and Truth so that His power can combat our enemy,  renew our minds and hearts, and boldly claim freedom and victory in our hearts and minds today.

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Like Apples of Gold…

December 9th, 2015

Recently I’ve been learning a lot  about how to better love and honor people, and I find myself eager to look for and find praiseworthy things in people among me to build them up or compliment them. I know how it is to be a woman (or just a human being in general), and sometimes […]

 

Recently I’ve been learning a lot  about how to better love and honor people, and I find myself eager to look for and find praiseworthy things in people among me to build them up or compliment them. I know how it is to be a woman (or just a human being in general), and sometimes it means everything to hear some one say a kind word about how you look, the efforts you are making in things in your life, and simply acknowledging and praising the good in who you are. My goal has become to genuinely see the beauty and good in people and, when I look for it, it is always possible to find something to sincerely appreciate and share in an encouraging compliment to brighten their day. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced what it’s like to be down, and my heart doesn’t want that for anyone.

torn down

I know I am probably not the only one, but sometimes it seems that this life choice to be an encourager can be a lonely one way street.

What God’s been teaching me through it is to find my encouragement in Him alone, and yet to be grateful when He does use someone to brighten my day with a kind word.  Recently I walked into a gathering and was surprised to have multiple people compliment me. I will be the first to tell you that – for me – THIS IS NOT NORMAL. But looking back I will say that I never knew how much I would have needed it. After this gathering, I would soon experience the opposite end of the spectrum and find myself at the end of the day feeling defeated and like a failure. It wasn’t until I talked to my Mom that I burst into tears. But it wasn’t what you would think.

I was indeed sad and discouraged and feeling less than loved or valued, but I didn’t break down to tears until I remembered the unusual and beautifully kind encouragement God had sent my way just before He knew I would face temptation to feel worthless. How extra loving it was to send this gift of encouragement my way, and I was reminded He is always working to teach and shape my heart in the good and the hard. I  am so thankful that, when I need it, His Word never fails to overflow with the lasting encouragement I need. It is my help in filtering out negative or destructive thoughts or assumptions I may make and editing my thoughts to only the truth in His Word about who I am, who He is, and what really matters.

When I worry about what others might criticize about me, I know He knows my heart and I have peace and choose to accept that that is enough. And I am also thankful for those people who loved on me with their thoughts and words when they easily could have kept their thoughts to themselves or chose to pick me apart and identify all my flaws instead of praising the good. My new and true hope in reflecting on my own experiences is that we never hold back a kind word…because we may never know how much that word means or how God may just use it to send some extra love and encouragement to somebody when they need it most.

Unfortunately encouraging words aren’t always received when we can use them, but this is how we learn to go to a faithful and overflowing source of encouragement – God’s Word. When I need a word of lasting encouragement, I am never disappointed to find it in scripture.

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And being the pinterest quote saver I am, here are a few quotes and scriptures about the power of kind words and looking for the good and praiseworthy in others!

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And this brought to mind this song written for people to encourage each other in the Lord. What a favorite!