living braver

one faith step at a time…


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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…

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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.

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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…

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Chooseday…

white flower pixa x     Ever rescued a frog from the swimming pool? He got himself in there, but he can’t get out – and though he can swim, he can’t swim forever… So I take my net and scoop him in – but he hops back in the water before I can toss him in the grass. We do this ritual a few times before I win.

How many times has our Father tried to scoop us out of what we think seems like a great pool of fun? He tries and we hop right back in – we know best…

We start early in this knowing best – as a toddler we choose the ‘no-no’ thing and our mom swats our bottom, teens choose to try the forbidden and consequences teach them (or not), and so it goes.

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At some point we stop hopping out of His safety net, that day is Chooseday. “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 14:14-15 NIV)

But Chooseday becomes every day of the week when we walk in the courage of our Rescuer. Choosing to stay in His net or hop out and try it our way again. “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:19 NIV)

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Delighted in me? Yes, because dear one, once you chose His Son, no amount of net hopping will make Him give up on you. You are a cherished child, needing your bottom swatted now and then but delighted in by a Savior ready to lead you in the way everlasting…

“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:24 NIV) We have many offensive ways, we live in a world of offensive ways, hurting hearts all around us. Chooseday is all about Living Braver as we empty ourselves of offensive ways and forgive the offenses of others…

pink flower pixa x 

 

 

 

 


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One More Time…

childx    Ever seen a child thrilled with something simple like being swung around in a circle, or tossed up in the air, or awed by a ‘magic’ trick. The response is always ‘Do it again, do it again, one more time’…

There is hope for all our frailties – those times when we fall back into the old habits, know we shouldn’t but still do, thought we had moved on… f o r g i v e n e s s

There is hope for all the hurts others impose – those times when words cut deep, actions longed for don’t materialize, the judgment is crushing… f o r g i v e n e s s

Self or others – can we do it? Probably not…

Self: “As far as the east is from the west,” (that’s forever far from) “so far has He removed our transgressions” (the failures, the lapses, the self-condemnation) “from us.” (Psalm 102:12 NIV)

We, like children – Do it again, one more time, Oh how we need His f o r g i v e n e s s one more time…

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Others: Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” (instead of angry, instead of vengeful, instead of defeated) “just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

Do it again, one more time, Oh how we need the grace to f o r g i v e one more time…

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Elisabeth Elliot, if you don’t know her story, you really should look it up – by His grace Mrs. Elliot turned evil to good by the simple, oh so complex word …f o r g i v e n e s s. Her secret: “Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”

Oh yes, we have forgotten one more time, that He who created our very breath, yes the One who took all unjustness for us, that His final request was F O R G I V E…

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

 It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

(lyrics from Matthew West Song: Forgiveness, link to listen:

https://youtu.be/h1Lu5udXEZI )

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

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Stress Less…

Stress Less2          Stress, pretty much an overused word – as if the very act of living would be anything but…

Why are we so surprised in a fallen world that we find the events happening around us, the changes occurring constantly, and our personal sagas stressful?

“Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1Peter 4:12)

Stress is part of life – yet maybe we can stress less? When the bills pile high, when the winter flu keeps you down, when you’re late for work – it is our response that will determine our stress level.

Our response… Will it be worry? Fretting? Defeat? Depression? Anxiety? A challenge for you today… Will you let it be gratefulness for the blessings all around? Will you let it be forgiveness of the trespass of another? Will you let it be a lifting of your eyes to the only true source of stressing less?

Right now whether you’re stressed or not choose a response and practice it. Then practice it again. And when, dear friend, that stress creeps up and makes your hands shake or makes your breath short, you will be ready to respond. To Stress Less requires a response uncommon in this world we live in:

“Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18 underlines mine)

Stress gives way when we choose a response that brings light to the darkness of stress – the light of joy, the light of prayer, the light of thankfulness…

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October 14, 2014 ReNew Your Normal

heart&key2     Fear can become our ‘normal’. At each turn of our day we get into the routine of being ready to face fear. Almost holding our breath as we anticipate what’s next…

It becomes so normal for us that we don’t see we are in bondage – held prisoner or paralyzed unable to move without fear. And the enemy wants to keep us there…

For some captivity in fear is a result of bad choices along the way – to the point we don’t think we can find our way back, nor do we feel we deserve to be allowed to walk away from the pit we feel we are in. The enemy shames us into believing this is the way it will always be and no one cares if we ever leave and return…

It’s time to re-new our normal “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2 NIV) Being in bondage to fear is not where God wants us to be and he offers freedom…

The key to freedom: forgiveness. Oh, you say, I am beyond forgiveness. Perhaps you feel no one on this earth will ever offer it, perhaps they never will. Or perhaps you say, oh I know I’m forgiven but I need to pay for my mistakes. Don’t forget Someone, Jesus, already paid. Forgiveness is God’s free gift.  His forgiveness is the biggest fearbuster there is.

Those who are saved forget to walk in freedom and instead allow the enemy to direct our steps of fear. Forgiveness, once accepted, can still be hard to live out, but by the transforming work of God and the renewing of our minds with His Word, we can walk braver into freedom away from the hold of fear…