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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Towards…

airplane     Sometimes we just have to move. I am finding that moving with a sore back has to be deliberate. If I find a comfortable spot, I just want to stay put. But in the end, that leads to more pain.

It is the same in our relationship with God. We must always be moving with Him: growing in our knowledge of Him, seeking His wisdom, knowing His Word and His ways better and better.

Sometimes we find a comfortable spot in our God relationship – we want to stay there. To move would not be easy. But when we don’t move beyond this comfortable spot, we stagnate and grow stiff and in the end it’s not so comfortable after all.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28a NIV)

boats

We have a heavenly destination. In this earth suit we wear we will not reach it, but when we close our eyes to this world and open them in the next we will have arrived. There is fuel for the journey: the Bible. There is protection for the journey: the Holy Spirit. There are travelling companions for the journey: fellow Christians.

Along the way there will be potholes, wrong turns. At those times satan will try to convince us that we are stuck, that our past is all we are, ever will be.

“The next time satan reminds you of your past, remind him of your future.” Sue Edwards

balloon

For every disappointment – be they backaches, financial downturns, loss of innocence, and so many other heartaches – there beats the heart of a loving Father who is with us. Nothing can touch us. Oh yes, here we will feel pain, but here is not our destination.

Buckle up, the journey is crazy good, crazy hard, but soon you will be home…

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight…So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (2Corinthians 5:6-7, 9 NIV)

girl in field

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


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The Answer…

red rose     All of heaven must have held its breath.

The Shepherd was now the Lamb, going to be sacrificed.

I’ve learned something recently. Without even realizing it many of us find our self-worth in what we do. We spend lifetimes doing ‘things’ to earn another’s love, approval, appreciation, complements.

Then comes a time where an injury or an illness or some life event prevents us from the usual ‘doing’ – and we’re lost. We’re ashamed. We’re worried we will lose the affection of the ones we’ve always ‘done’ for, or that they will be disappointed in us, or that we are making their lives harder.

My head knows that this is not true, my heart even knows, but somewhere along the way my soul lost touch and got duped into believing the lie. The lie that if I don’t ‘do’ then I have no value.

rose dead

The deceiver, the enemy of our souls, is the master of deceit. And oh so very patient. Years of relentless messages aimed at our soul – ‘no one will care unless you do this’, ‘you’re letting everyone down when you can’t do that’, ‘even God can’t use you unless you do this better’. And so we push ourselves and we think that we are being selfless and find out that really, all along the ‘doing’ is about self.

Our souls instinctively search for the truth. Knowing that all the ‘doing’, while admirable or maybe even necessary, isn’t where our value lies. The Truth is our worth is in Christ alone. He chose to die for us, He chose to redeem us, and He chooses to spend eternity with us. And when we live our lives to please Him – all the other falls into place.

Self-worth is not in what I can do – it is in what He has done!

Jesus

Stop – do you sense it? Easter comes but once a year. The remembrance of the greatest sacrifice ever made, that ever can be made, that ever will be made. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 NIV) Just the right time. He knew You before the creation of the world, He knew your place in time in this world, He has a grand plan to use you for good in this world – but none of it depends on you. For everything that had to be done has been done.He said, ‘It is finished!’ Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30 HCSB)

Now we get to partner with Him in bringing glory to the Father and lost souls to the Truth. The Answer to all the ‘doing’…

Happy Easter, He is Risen

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Long Look…

chair sunflowers pixax     Brave comes when words are controlled.

Brave is often defined as bold actions, but perhaps its more that fruit of the Spirit: self-control. More harm has come to weary hearts from sharp tongues than from actual punches.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24 NIV)

honeycomb

Jesus always looked long into the eyes and heart of those He encountered. He made that connection before He spoke. What if in this world we looked long enough to see the soul before we judged? This will not happen much on this side of eternity, but maybe if it happened a little more often brave would come without fear. Courage would be found in en-courage-ment. Words meant to give courage instead of cause division.

Palm Sunday is a few days away – it commemorates Jesus riding into Jerusalem receiving the praise of the people along the way. But those with the power to help or harass wanted praise only for themselves. Words were used for lies and treachery and the One who came to redeem and heal, was betrayed.

palm pixa

As we prepare to celebrate Easter we must remember His story is: Come, See and Go, Tell. Take a long look into the life of the One whose words healed hearts and beckoned us to go tell all about the good news.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT) Oh we are a work in progress but with each triumph blessing will come not only to the hearer but to our weary hearts as well.

Come, see, look long – go, tell; your Savior reigns and He will return for you…

sun

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


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Gathering Place…

bench pillows pixa     There is a place, a gathering place, it is calm there and peace whispers your name with love.

Don’t need to travel far but you have to turn away from the day to day to find it. It’s as close as a deep exhale and as far as the heavens that stretch into eternity.

“He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV)

Close to His heart, gathered in His arms, the gathering place…

pink sunrise pixa

Can’t see it, but we can feel it. Can’t be lost in it all the time, but we can never leave it. This place, the heartbeat of Jesus, is at once where our head lays and where we find brave for our next step of faith.

We’re there when all the world is shut out and we lay bare our hearts seeking His wisdom, His grace, His healing, His power, His forgiveness, giving thanks in all circumstances.

We’re there when open in our laps is the Word of life, living and active, new every morning mercies, the answers before the question forms.

Bible pixa

There’s a great song by Casting Crowns ‘Just Be Held’, the chorus reminds us Who gathers us close:

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

“I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4b NIV)

This, then, is how we Live Brave: in our weakness we let ourselves be gathered to the heart of our Sustainer. We surrender our effort to the timing of our Rescuer. We lift up our eyes and empty our hands of control. The Gathering Place, tell everyone about it…

man on hill pixa

 


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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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Revision…

heart chain link fence pixa x     Ever felt like some chunk of your life needed a revision, a do-over? Maybe a regretted moment, an out of your control circumstance, a chapter needing to be rewritten.

It’s easy to get lost in the guilt of those moments needing revising, succumb to anger, give way to wanting to fix the past.

Maybe we aren’t supposed to linger in wanting the revision but ask our Father to change our vision, a new vision, to truly Re-Vision us. Looking beyond what we think shouldn’t have happened, what we think should happen now, or why we’re stuck because of it.

Re-Vision says I choose to see this through His eyes. Re-Vision says I trust He sees the whole picture not just this part. Re-Vision says I’m willing to let Him turn my longing for a do-over into beauty I may never see this side of eternity.

fence in fog pixa x

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1Corinthiiians 13:12 NLT)

Instead of living the shattered dream again and again we must Re-Vision to see beyond. There are no mistakes in the lives of those God loves, no surprises that caught Him off guard. Jesus never told us that this earthly life would be carefree, worry-free, absent of pain. In fact, He told us “…In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b NIV)

orangey tree and clouds pixa x

There is a beginning part to that verse and ending that I left off. They are what gives us new vision: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.” (John 16:33a NIV) Regardless all the trouble that sin has wrought in this world, peace in our soul is possible. When the peace of Jesus reigns we can loosen our grip on our vision for how things should be or could be.

The verse ends: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33c NIV) Oh, there is my Re-Vision. I can’t see how all this mess turns out, but I can take Him at His word that He can see forever. The enemy wants my vision clouded with what seems failure. My Savior says He works all things for good for those who trust in Him – Fix Your Eyes on Me…

dasy in orangey filed pixa x