living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Cruise Ship or Rescue Vessel…

cruiseship     Given the choice, most of us would choose a cruise ship over a rescue vessel.

Each generation thinks their days are harder than they used to be in the past. Adam and Eve suffered the loss of their son Abel at the hands of their other son Cain. The loss was no less devastating than the mom in Chicago who loses her son to a drive-by shooting, or the mom who loses her daughter in a drunk driving accident.

Job was wealthy and had many children. He lost it all and then even lost his health. His reputation in the eyes of those who knew him was ruined. All thought for certain Job surely had brought all this on himself. The depths of questioning and worry and fear were not any less than they are for those who lose their job and home, lose their marriage and their children, or those who are accused wrongly and pay the penalty for something they didn’t do.

Noah worked hard for years on a project that made no sense to anyone at that time. He and the other seven on board with him left everything, listened as all they knew was destroyed by flood, and once on dry land almost a year later found nothing familiar and no one but themselves to start over. Their bewilderment was no less than what we face when no one believes in what we are doing, or when we must start from scratch after time and effort didn’t pay off as we planned.

storm

A cruise ship might sound good right about the time we have reached our end. But cruise ships aren’t on a mission. They aren’t searching for the distressed. That is the job of a rescue vessel. In our day to day we don’t need a good time, temporary distraction. We have to ride out the storm and that is best done with a ship and a captain who know they can get us home safely.

Jesus had one mission when He came and lived among us:  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10 NLT) How did He rescue us? He gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:4 NIV)

The Captain has rescued us, we just need to hold on, choose the rescue vessel and know it is done “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:19 NIV)

lifepreserv


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Give Brave Away…

flower hand pixa     “Sometimes there are days where it’s braver to give your brave away.” Aliza Latta

Hope. With earth eyes we don’t see it, but with faith eyes we sense it. Some days we are focused on what will be, confident in One who loves perfectly our imperfections. Others have us staring into what seems hopeless and we are again adrift, flailing and wondering why we even hoped.

This world wants to define us, box us up, categorize us. But those defined by the promises of God can’t be held captive in the world’s definitions. Who living only for this life can say: I am forgiven, covered by grace, rescued, secure? But those and more are the promises of God.

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When faced with the widower freshly having buried his wife, the daughter missing her mother – it is to us to hold out our brave. When seeing animals cruelly treated, the child sold into human trafficking – our brave must be given. When depression steals humanity, when illness steals vitality, when brokenness threatens to swallow all hope – we must share our brave.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

He hears our cries – He is mercy, grace, righteousness, refuge, peace – and does not change. When we get lost in all that is wrong He calls out that someday all will be right. When we tremble with strength long gone He beckons to look beyond and see joy and remember the promises. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:5 NIV)

woman praising pixa

Though we are in this hard world  we are not lost – but some are. Our brave comes when we see what He puts in front of us instead of turning away, turning to self and circumstances. Bravely speaking what we know to be true, deciding to trust. She who is brave is free – no longer captive to what threatens. Free to proclaim He is with us.May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Not our power to change the world or one soul, the power of God to use us to reach the world or one soul. When we surrender our lack of courage and trust in the brave that is beyond self we are truly free. Somedays we just need to give our brave away…

hippo pixa x


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Light Load…

 feather hand pixa  How do you carry? With arms bent in weight or hands lifted light? Is it even to us to carry?

The world has not changed much over the last couple thousand years. Jesus commented of those who were the rock stars, political leaders, ‘respected’ of their day “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see.” (Matthew 23: 4 NIV)

What loads are we carrying today, ones others put on us – ones we’ve picked up ourselves. The world is a heavy mess, it will always be til the return of the Savior.

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There is really only one burden we need carry “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

But what to do with all the weight we feel “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7 NIV) Even in this, no conditions. It doesn’t say ‘then He will care for you’ it says ‘because He cares’. Already done, regardless of what we do. At the ready to lift us up, enabling us to carry Him with us and to others.

An alcoholic spouse, a wayward child, a dementia bound parent, unfaithful friend, lost job, ill health, these are not ours to carry. Cast them – heave, thrust, toss, hurl – really, just let go of. These are things best carried in arms bigger than ours.

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So I’ve found in sitting next to the death bed, speak of Him. In fear of losing all, lift up Him. Take the worry and heave it on Him in prayer. Take the fear and hurl it on Him with lifted eyes and hands. Take any regret and thrust it on Him living for now, not then or when.

Deep breath before the appointment, quick prayer before the reaction, song of His in our soul when laying down, Word buried in heart to start each day. These are light and lift our hands, arms are freed to move beyond our heaviness and quickened to carry Him to another burdened soul.

heart sand pixa

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 

 


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Open Arms…

angel pixa x     Ten days and counting…celebration or chaos?

Is it possible to have both but still have peace, still have courage, still have Him…

I watched a children’s Christmas production recently. The youngest came up at the beginning and sang their song, so sweet – one little guy was so proud of himself at the end of the song, he folded his arms across his chest and beamed the biggest smile. As they headed down the aisle to exit one looked a little nervous, about that time his daddy appeared with arms open wide. He flew into those arms, relief flooding his face.

That’s me and you, you know. I make lists for gifts, I spend money as wisely as possible, have hopeful expectations that the gifts will please. But what if they don’t?

I make cookies or send cards, trying to express love, but is it enough?

stars tree pixa x

That’s when I realize my focus is on the trimmings, not on the reason. Jesus came in the midst of chaos, most too busy to notice. An angel chorus announced the Good News to those who were quiet, not to the boisterous crowds. In the quiet, we can hear “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV) All the people may not listen, the quiet may only hear, but still the news is for all…

So when I’m unsure, when my heart is apprehensive, there is a way. A way made to open arms that will calm my doubts, soothe my feelings of not enough. Do you know those arms?

cross pixa x

Those are the same arms that not so many years later were stretched out on a cross. Arms open wide Good News laid down His life, taking on all the sins ever committed, all sins yet to be committed. Once again good news was proclaimed, through ragged breaths “…Jesus said ‘It is finished.’ With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 NIV)

Finished – do you believe? Will you accept? It is finished, sin no longer has to chain us. It is finished, fear no longer has to be our master. It is finished, joy ours in the midst of any pain. It is finished, assurance of forever life after our last breath here. Just wait til you fall into those arms. Can you see Him standing there, arms open wide? Can you feel them envelope you? If you can, you have Christmas every day…

tree ornament heart pixa x


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In the Cave…

flower yellow black bkgrnd pixa x     The Lost Sea Adventure is in southeast Tennessee. To tour it you descend several hundred feet on slippery paths. Part way the guide stops and says “At this point we are going to turn off all lighting, you’ll understand what complete darkness is. Hope they come back on.” (Not funny.)

You stand there waiting for your eyes to adjust so you can see the outline of the person standing next to you. But you never do, because in complete darkness you can hold your hand right up in front of your face and never be able to see it.

That’s a lot like us without Jesus. We can commit terrible acts, knowing exactly what we’re doing. But never see it for the evil it is.

hands darkness pixa x

It reminds me of the recent tragedy in Charleston where the barely adult young man sat through a Bible study with a group of people and in the end, opened fire killing nine.

So lost, so needful of something to make sense, so deluded into thinking his actions would make his world right in some way…

Like marriages that abuse verbally or physically – hoping it changes something. Like drugs or alcohol – hoping for a release from the reality of what isn’t wanted. Like any crime – hoping to fix a perceived problem but creating a worse outcome.

cave pixa x

Pastor Larry Adams recently said “That young man may have to pay for his crimes, but he doesn’t have to die for them.” Meaning someone already did – Jesus has paid the price in full for whatever the sin. A lie about something as silly as where we were to one as devastating as killing innocent people. The point is, we will likely face earthly consequences for our sins, but those who put their faith in Jesus don’t face an eternal consequence.

The Lost Sea is at the end of the tour deep into the cave. A very large lake discovered in 1905. But God knew it was there all along.

He knows all about us too, when we’re lost… When we finally ‘discover’ Him, we can see our actions for what they are. In Him we find our way to wholeness. Then no matter the troubles we face in this world, we know He will see us through, right there with us. Someday we will see Him face to face. In the light of His glory that shines on our forever, free from anymore bondage to sin… With Him the light is always on.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

sunflower bw bkgrnd pixa x

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 


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Willing…

red leaf pixa x     It must have been an interesting scene… A man in ragged clothes, the smell following around him, the pasty skin and sores. He came and knelt before the King.

He didn’t look like a king but the man knew in his heart and his spirit this One was the real deal. Mustering up all of his courage and ignoring the taunts of ‘unclean, unclean’  and ‘away with you, sinner, unclean’ he boldly approached and knelt.

“A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ “ (Matthew 8:2 NIV)

curled leaf pixa x

Jesus didn’t ask questions, nothing about how long have you been like this. He didn’t look on him with disgust or cover His face to block the smell. But what He did was lasting and noticed by all: “Jesus reached out and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ He said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:3 NIV)

To this man the miracle wasn’t so much the restoration of his health but the look in the eyes he gazed up at. No one had looked him in the eye for a long time, yet the King of Kings not only looked directly at him, He touched him. You can believe that touch was like no other before and none after. That touch didn’t just heal his wounds, it healed his heart and eternity was his as a believer in the Savior.

green leaf x

That is why, my friend, Living Braver is possible. Fear may prevail in those moments that grip our world. But being brave isn’t about what we do, it’s about what He does – every day.

He sees us raise our head towards the sky or fall in our chair exhausted, He looks on us with compassion and says ‘I am willing’ – willing to carry our burdens, lighten our load.

Are we willing? Willing to face what our day brings, the finality of what we were begging wouldn’t happen, the consequences of own waywardness? Willing to lay it at His feet – kneeling and looking into the eyes that only our heart can see. Not asking for the hard thing to go away, unless that’s His will of course, but asking for the bravery to come out on the other side of the hard thing.

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12 NIV)

yellowleaf pixa x

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Café, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!


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Soul Language…

pale rose pixa x     I think the first thing we’re going to recognize in heaven is God’s voice…

For all of us that’s how it began: in Genesis 1, eleven times it says “God said” and whenever He did, something came into being. I have to wonder, is that how you and I came into being? Did He call forth our name at the instant He began to knit us together and form us? “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NIV)

Strange then that a voice that should be oh so familiar seems so illusive. Perhaps it’s our selective hearing.

sprout in dirt pixa x

Think about it, there was a time He got through and we heard – that would be the day we accepted His free gift of salvation. That’s the voice we need to continue to seek – the One who was once our sin-bearer, and is now our grace-giver.

Maybe we don’t hear Him because we fear He doesn’t hear us – we feel too unimportant, too estranged, too needy. Throughout the Psalms the writers speak of God’s very good hearing: “When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalm 138:3 NIV) That’s my Living Braver desire — to be bold, stouthearted.

Hearing Him then isn’t audible words, notes of exact instruction, answers we want. It’s living a life in constant pursuit of the One who spoke us into being, hears our every sigh and cry, and answers in soul language that is only heard through trust. Loud enough for us to put one tentative step in front of another…

pink geranium pixa x

His promise is so great that it leaves no reason for fear and every confidence to be bold and stouthearted… “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28 NIV) Again He emboldens us “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24 NIV)

I think I hear Him now, reminding me ‘nothing can harm you’, ‘forever is yours’, ‘trust me, seek me’…

pink poppy pixa x

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Hope Like That…

tulip yellow pixa x     ‘Like That’ – we use that phrase a lot… I wish I had a house like that – I wish I looked like that – I wish my children/spouse/siblings/parents/friends treated me like that – even, I wish I had the courage to be/to do/to act like that

Shush the chatter that keeps us from walking in Hope, keeps us walking in ‘I wish’. The bantering of: ‘I wish I could be successful like that‘ – ‘I wish my past wasn’t like that’

Do we forget “Man is like a breath, his days like a fleeting shadow?” (Psalm 144:4 NIV) We are a dash between two dates, no time for being lost in our idea of ‘like that’.

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Without Jesus “We were like sheep going astray (1Peter 2:25 NIV) No more…

I want to walk in freedom, abandon, total reliance on the One who sees all my tomorrows. To be satisfied, satiated  because I am so full of the truth that what I hear is His voice… “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Today can be filled like that, overflow like that as the power of His Spirit shows us the way…

flower sunrise pixa x

Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as Heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”Max Lucado

Everyday is a new chance to set our hope on nothing less, nothing other than a Father who calls us by name and offers grace, strength, joy abounding.

Hope is not a thing, hope is a Savior. I want a HOPE LIKE THAT…

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV) Yes, Hope like that

anchor pixa x

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 

 

 

 

 


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Do You Stand? (& Give Away…)

cushion in field with hat pixa x     Longing for a day without…hurt, pain, grief? Longing for a family with…love, contentment, plenty? Longing for a world without…strife, war, chaos? Longing for…peace?

“The world’s idea of peace: no conflict. That doesn’t exist. Peace is the quiet calm in the conflict.” (Larry Adams pastor) Ah, that’s what we’re longing for: the quiet calm. To stand each morning, at every turn in the day, and before the starry night and know that though there be no peace now….someday…

The truth is “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11 NIV) So whose plans do we stand on? We can plan every next step, but our plans are fleeting…no matter how grand or right or seemingly worthy. The plans of the Lord, they stand firm forever. How to enter and stand there, in His plans?

basket of flowers pixa x

Wait – are we His children? Is Jesus our Savior? If our answer is a resounding YES, then “…I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” (1Corinthians 15:1 NIV) The good news, the gospel, is where we take our stand and…

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:1-2 NIV) We now stand in His grace? Grace – that loving kindness, forgiveness, wholeness – all ours…

“If life is going to be hard, why not live in such a way that struggles bring glory to God?” (Jay Holland, pastor) And life is going to be hard, maybe not every minute, maybe every minute. But if we can live that hard in such a way, stand in such a way that our little lives bring glory to Him?

lavender bag heart pixa x

Take our stand on the good news, stand in His grace, and with faith did you know that all the enemy’s fiery arrows will be extinguished? When we sit at our loved one’s bedside, last breaths coming, still satan has no power. When no more money is coming, beloved possessions being taken, still satan has no power. Though none stand with us, worry our only companion, still satan has no power!

Do we stand? After everything, He is able to make us stand – on the heights, of His love – in the depths, of His mercy…an ever present help in trouble…

  DWJBdayBash x

GIVE AWAY: Dance With Jesus by Susan B. Mead addresses the grief of a mother losing her son and a God who taught her to dance through her pain. If you, or someone you love is dealing with a loss, email me at parisrenae1@gmail.com and mention today’s post. I will randomly pick two who will receive a copy of the book and a bookmark. I will be sending them out on 8/22 so be sure to include a mailing address.

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!​​

 


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Landing Strips…

small plane pixa x     My step-dad had his pilot’s license, off and on he had a little plane that two to four people could fly in. He rebuilt most of one in our garage once. I remember the first time we flew and had to land in the early evening. It was almost dark and I got scared. I asked how he would be able to see where to go…

In our darkest hours we often don’t know where to go, but there is light for us: “Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me.” (Psalm 43:3 NIV)

I watched a beautiful short film about a wondrous cave in China. Instead of stalactites, this cave had openings here and there from the top of the hill where light filtered in. Throughout those areas of the cave there was lush vegetation. Green ferns and mosses and other delicate plants. Wherever the light touched there was growth…

As we are touched by the Light so we grow in our faith: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

fern pixa x

I took a guided tour in a cave where no light reached in. There was no life in it, just rock. Lights were stationed along most of the trail but at one point deep in the cave, where it was very cold, they had us all stand still. All the lights were turned off. I had never been in total, black, deep darkness before. Our eyes did not know what to make of it. A far away light came on, our searching eyes caught sight of it right away. Light, even the tiniest amount, permeates the darkness…

Our eternal souls are saved by His Light: “For you have delivered my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Psalm 56:13 NIV)

candle in dark pixa x

My step-dad had me watch closely in the last minutes before we landed. As we came closer and lower I could see the little running lights. They seemed like an arrow pointing the way: land here, this is the place… And so our Bible points the way for us: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NIV)

Let’s choose His light to lead us out of our darkness…

 landing strip x

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!