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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Lifted…

dock canva x     Recently I saw a video depicting the weight we so often carry around with us. A little girl appears on the scene and scoops up a big rock, lifts it over her head and let’s it fall into her backpack. She is happy, she does this a couple of more times still smiling.

In the distance young children are jumping into a lake, laughing, carefree…

As time goes on she is no longer happy about adding rocks – big or small – to her backpack. She hears the laughter out by the lake.

Others come along contributing their bricks and stones to her backpack. Barely able to walk she makes her way to the dock watching the other children. A little girl motions her to join them. She shrugs her shoulders asking how? Her new friend helps her take her backpack off dropping it behind her, they run to the dock’s edge…

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The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14 NIV)

Do you have a backpack full? I did and I didn’t even know it. After all these years I finally realized that is my way, I pick up everybody’s brokenness because I want to make it better.

But we can’t carry our own broken pieces let alone other’s. So I took a day, I gathered rocks and markers. I thought through what felt heavy and wrote on rock after rock. Then I set out to water’s edge to where I first felt cool water and sand slipping out from underneath.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10 NIV)

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I pulled out a rock lifted it to Jesus and said ‘You are stronger, more capable, and are healer’ and hurled it as far as I could. ‘You are forgiver, more understanding, and accepting’ and away went another. Giving each to Him who carried all our burdens to the cross so that we would never have to be weighed down again.

Oh, if we could grasp our freedom in Him. In our backpack He only puts what He made us for: smiles to lighten another’s load, kind words to touch a hurting heart, joy in spite of circumstances, love big enough to shine His light, peace that only finds its way to us through Him, gentleness when the world is harsh, His Holy Spirit filling us up and lifting us far above all we perceive to be ours to solve…

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

Gulf 1-16 Me 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.

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

 

 


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Freed…

gift boxes pixa x     Sometimes we like to box things up nice and neat. Large box, bottom shelf for my worries about my children. Small box highest shelf for the grief of losing a loved one. Medium box back behind others for fears I just won’t face.

Then we go on our merry way saying how much we trust God or believe in Him or know nothing is impossible with Him.

Except maybe these few boxes that we’ve locked away in the storage shed. Those things we keep a lid on – that we don’t let go of – keep us behind bars. I see it all the time. The young woman who trusts God with her health or job – but not the relationship she’s currently in (for fear she may lose him). The man who trusts God with his wife or children – but not his money (for fear there may not be enough). And on it goes, something we just feel we need to control, or…

Does it control us?

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My friend Michelle expressed her freedom in Christ beautifully: Free to share my time, God created time. Free to share my money, it’s God’s anyway. Free to share my abilities, God will make the most of them. Free to attempt the next trial or test, to fail or to succeed. Free to forgive, as I am forgiven.

“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV) So what is the Truth? “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’ “ (John 14:6 NIV)

The truth, Jesus, opens our boxes – lids flung far – reaches in and says: don’t worry – I will make all things new, don’t grieve – someday no more tears, don’t be afraid – I will never leave you.

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“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:9 NIV) After hearing the message, the shepherds hurried to see for themselves and fear turned to praise “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:10 NIV)

Let us be like the shepherds, let us hear the message, see for ourselves, and replace our boxes with praises. We are freed…

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


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Inheritance…

easter flowers1     Just shy of 2,000 years ago a group of men, inseparable and courageous, scattered and tried to find ‘safe’ places. The man they thought would end all their despair has been killed…

Much like us, 2000 years later – we act courageous until… until we’re confronted with a trying situation, or made uncomfortable about our faith…

Jesus told His followers on several occasions that He would be killed – so many could have life forever. Many of the closest disciples said they would die with Him. But when the time came… ‘well, maybe He wasn’t who we thought He was’, ‘maybe we misunderstood what He meant’, ‘maybe we need to go off and figure this out’…

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These followers were no different than you and I. We believe (but we leave room for doubt). The good news was that within a couple of days Jesus returned from the dead, calmed their fears, promised to be with them (and us) to the very end of the age, and gave them – and all who would believe from that point on – His Spirit…

One of my favorite books in the Bible is 1Peter (highly recommended reading) especially chapter one. Peter reminds us of our “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and of our “inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade” (1Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

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Anything we inherit here is temporary and subject to perishing, spoiling, fading, being used up, being stolen… I have a friend who, on two occasions, has not received the inheritance due her because of unscrupulous people. It has been hurtful in many ways. But my friend has an Eternal Perspective: her inheritance, the one that matters, is certain. No one can cheat her out of it and it will last forever…

Continuing in 1Peter it just gets better… vereses 6-9 are what Easter is all about as we remember the One who so willingly paid the price for our foolishness so that we could forever and ever live with Him – seeing wonders untold and without end…

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed….even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1Peter 1:6-9 NIV italics mine)

Happy, Happy Easter – He is Risen!

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October 8, 2014 I’ll Go With You…

reaching hand1    It’s always more fun to go someplace with a friend. It’s always more comforting to go someplace we’re a little anxious about with someone who cares. I recently went to the doctor’s office with my daughter (yes she is all grown-up) not so much because she was fearful, but because I was. I wanted to be there and hear the doctor. When she had called to tell me about the appointment my first response was “I’ll go with you…”

Years ago I started attending an annual conference a couple of hours from my home. The first time I was unsure what to expect and even what workshops to attend, how to navigate the vendor hall, or where to eat. I asked a friend if she was interested in attending, she immediately said “I’ll go with you…”

A few years back when my mother passed away our lives were crazy busy – we owned two businesses each of us running one and both of us working on both. My mom was a nine hour drive away. I called my husband to tell him that she was in the hospital and probably wouldn’t make it. I wanted to tell him that I could go by myself, but in the fear of the unknown ahead I knew I needed him. The first thing he said was “I’ll go with you…”

When our stomachs tell us fear is with us, when our breathing becomes sighs, when the fears are not ‘what ifs’ but actuals, we need someone who will go with us…

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10HCSB)

God’s Words are true for you – you will never go by yourself. He has told you “I’ll go with you…”