living braver

one faith step at a time…


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In Spite Of…

cherry blossom pixa     Making decisions is a daily task, so many things tug us different directions. The toughest decision can be in those moments of frustration, fatigue, or fear – the decision to love in spite of…

Jesus made that decision 24/7. When a hurting soul approached with nothing to offer but himself, only his hope in this Messiah, Jesus chose love. Even when a follower and friend said ‘I don’t know Him’, Jesus chose love. Jesus always chooses love.

Our human love can be so fickle. In our marriage love is easy when we’re on the same page, but what about the times when we strongly disagree about finances, children, jobs, relatives, etc. Loving our children is easy when they’re moving through life seemingly doing their best, but what about the times when they rebel or make foolish mistakes stemming from immaturity. Loving our friends is easy when we laugh and cry together, but what about when we feel neglected or wronged, betrayed.

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“When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36 NIV)

We don’t see the crowds that way. We are ever on the defensive. Seeing the crowds as obstacles, as something to be feared, as unimportant. So we look with eyes that see statistics or nameless faces. Thank goodness Jesus sees us individually. We are never just part of the crowd. He knows our name, he knows our heart, he even knows the number of hairs on our head. (Luke 12:7)

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When it comes to those in our circle – spouse, child, friend, relative – we will choose love, mostly. But I think we’re asked to see individual faces in the crowds, to pray in our heart when prompted for the stranger, to help the elderly woman with the door, to speak a kind word to a frightened child, to trust Him just enough that today’s decisions aren’t just about self.

Sometimes Living Braver means touching a life. The book of Hebrews ends with this: “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2 NIV)

Each day is a decision: to love only the lovely and lovable or to show love, compassion to the overlooked, the bitter, the forgotten. One soul at a time…

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Restless…

suitcase in field pixa x     Restless – good or bad word? The frenzy of the world makes us want to escape – the restlessness of a world bent on seemingly destroying itself. The pace of our own lives often leaves us breathless and longing for that escape – the restlessness of trying to pay the bills, or to please everyone, or get it all done. One would think then that restless is…bad?

Yet isn’t it really our soul that is restless? Restless to have our Savior return, to right the wrongs, to make all things new. Out of the restlessness of our souls we then reach for anything, everything to satisfy – to put to rest – the longings…

Our longing is what David wrote in Psalm 63:1 NIV “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

stormy road poppies pixa x

In our lostness we think the longing is for a better home, a better job, a bigger bank account, a happier marriage, power, popularity… If we would listen to our thirsty soul, we would recognize our true longing – what makes us so restless is our need for our God.

Like a planted field laying dry, thirsting for quenching rain, so our spirits when not alive with Christ lay dry, thirsting but not knowing the source of refreshment. And those of us who are alive in Christ still sometimes get caught up in the noise of the crowd and lose our way – forgetting the source of all fulfillment.

As Jesus told the Samaritan woman “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14 NIV)

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Restless is normal – restless to be in the presence of Jesus. Praise God, who knew our restlessness before we did. After Jesus made His sacrifice for us, He did not leave us without a Helper… The Holy Spirit indwelling us redirects our restless ways towards our Help.

Be restless to find Him each morning, to seek Him in the rush of the day, to long for Him in the night. Then we will be quenched: “But the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6b NIV)

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October 5, 2014 What If…

Swan Cropped2      In her small town everyone knew everyone and all their business too. Good stuff brought pats on the back but mistakes left you pulling down the shades. Today downtown was crowded because a man with a reputation for helping those who needed a miracle was passing through. She was born and raised here, no one noticed as she ventured from her quiet home to the busy streets. At first when her embarrassing medical condition wouldn’t go away she told a couple of friends, but they had no advice and had each told their neighbors. Feelings hurt and pride wounded she dared not tell anyone else or even let on like the problem still existed. She had suffered for years. She tried doctors but no one had answers, most had ridicule…

Fear has a funny way of keeping us captive – we have a problem but don’t dare let on, someone might…, might what? Judge us, embarrass us. We read or hear great advice, but hesitate to act on it, because…, because what? It might not work for us, we might not get the same results.

Fear has the same number of letters as: jail and trap.  When it has hold of us we are confined to the what ifs. The ‘what ifs’ we ask are always negative – what if I get seasick on the cruise, what if I raise my hand to answer and I’m wrong, what if I tell him I love him but he says I think you’re a great friend, what if the doctor says it’s cancer…

The woman quickened her pace to get nearer the front of the crowd. If she could get close enough, maybe she could just pull him aside for a moment and he would point her to someone who could help. Drawing close she stumbled and reached out and touched the edge of his sleeve… the man stopped and said “Who touched me???”

“Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed. Then He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:47-48 NIV)         What if  – you reached out for Him and found His peace….

 

 

 


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October 4, 2014 I Know You…

skyname2    Do you ever have those dreams…the ones where you’re back in high school and you can’t remember your locker code, you look down and notice you have fuzzy slippers on, and when you walk outside you don’t know anyone – but everyone is staring at you?

Don’t you love going someplace far from home and running into somebody you know? Isn’t it more fun to stand in line with someone ahead of you that you can chat with?

Fear of the unknown is the most common anxiety maker of all. The first writing conference I ever went to was very small, no more than 40-50 people, the speakers were published but not well known, it was on the other side of the state, I had no idea what to expect. By the time my husband pulled up to drop me off I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up or pass out – all I knew was I probably looked like my daughter did the first day I took her to kindergarten – and confident wasn’t it…

What about when we are in our comfort zone, part of the crowd where we know pretty much everybody? Does it occur to us that there is someone there that doesn’t, that wants to run, whose longing for the event to be over?

There are two favorite things I love to hear in a crowd either “Why don’t you sit with us?” or “I’ve been looking for you.” Psalm 139 tells us God knows us – He knows us like no one else does (and He still loves us, wow). Next time I’m walking into that conference or travelling by myself, let me look up to the sky and hear Him whisper “I know you…”