living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Almost Missed It…

Sea Shell treasure chesst pixa x     I live in Florida, on the Atlantic side, it’s hard not to have collections of sea shells. Cleaning the garage I found a plastic grocery bag discarded from a beach outing months ago. Inside were a couple dozen shells.

I told myself ‘no more shells, just toss these’. Then I couldn’t help it, I had to at least briefly sort through them. As they sifted through my fingers I saw familiar shapes and colors. Just as I was about to toss them I felt a couple of odd shapes. Two that aren’t as common to find. Treasures almost discarded.

Sometimes we can feel like that. Unappreciated, unnoticed, unneeded – discarded.

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Sometimes, ouch, we cause others to feel that way. We drive by the man with the sign that says ‘Hungry’ and turn our head. We pass by the nursing home, hoping we never find ourselves there. We don’t have a kind word for someone different than us in line or wherever we are.

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

Jesus doesn’t miss even one face in the crowd. He sees us as treasures – you, me, the homeless, the handicapped, the foreigner, the poor, the rich. His hand always extended, His heart longing – an invitation to accept Him. And when we do, considering us precious and dearly loved.

treasure chest pixa x

“Then He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.” (Luke 7:44 NIV)

Those at the gathering saw her as worthless, a woman of the street, behaving shamefully. They averted their eyes, they whispered. Jesus knew her heart and He knew Simon’s. Hers was repentance and longing for forgiveness, restoration. Simon’s was judging, conceit, only wanting man’s approval.

Next time we see the sign that says ‘HELP’, can we at least acknowledge them, smile, perhaps say hello? Find a few minutes to ask a senior citizen to tell us about the old days? Make someone feel comfortable who doesn’t feel like they fit in?

I almost missed it – the treasure He sees…

family ocean pixa x

 

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Away from me…

applex     I think I could walk with a lot less fear if I could just get over me. It’s as old as time… Eve feared she was missing out on something, so she took matters into her own hands – all about Eve, and Adam right there with her, eager to see what he was missing, all about Adam. And so it goes in our world, all about self – and so sin abounds…

When we have our temporary moments of walking selflessly and life becomes more about another, our anxieties seem to disappear and a brave we never knew takes over. Think about the times you brushed off a skinned knee, handed a homeless person money, helped an elderly person in need…Out of the element of self we walked in courage.

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“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” (James 2:8 NIV)

A sweet husband, father died tragically last week – car accident. At his memorial it was clear he had touched many lives. It was clear he spent himself on others, and lived courageously as few of us do.

This morning it rained good and hard, much as I love waking to a sunny, blue sky, sometimes the rain has to come. Sometimes it takes a drenching, cleansing to reveal the Light… “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12 NIV)

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When we wash away self out of every thought and fill up on His every thought, we can see more clearly…

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see more clearly…” (Matthew 7:5 NIV)

Away from me I can see Him more clearly and see others the way He sees… Will I reach out to the stranger who could be in a car accident today with the Good News of salvation, or do I keep it to myself? A hurting world full of self needs a few who can, even temporarily, be brave enough to see beyond our own doubts, anxieties, worries – and offer hope for theirs…

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Failure (ugh)…

thumb down1     Failure – one of the scariest words in the English language – to most…

Fear of failure begins in school – not wanting to see red marks on our papers, or raise our hands and have the wrong answer…

It continues in our ‘coming of age’ years – that fear of not being popular, of liking someone who doesn’t like us back…

As we mature failure can seem to mean not making enough to support our family, not pleasing our spouse, losing our job…

So we fear failure… Few other words put more dread in our hearts and minds…

In a broken world with imperfect people, ‘failure’ is inevitable at times – and what might appear as failure to some, may not be so to the One who is most important…

The husband may not make enough for any extras, may not make enough to pay all the bills – but the world doesn’t see his kind heart for his wife and children, and they are rich because of it.

The teen girl may not be ‘popular’ by whatever the current standards are – her volunteer work with the homeless or the elderly goes unnoticed, yet those she serves thinks she is amazing.

There is One who never fails – “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

In the midst of our ‘failures’  fear will lose its grip when we can remember this:

“God’s love isn’t based on me, it’s simply placed on me.” Lysa Terkeurst

Take heart and be brave – His love and His approval is not based on our past failures, nor on any future blunders. Because of His great love – that love is not bestowed based on performance, it is simply lavished on us because we are His…

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“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” So yes, in our flesh – you know, all that striving we do day in and day out… the worrying about woulda, shoulda, coulda – we will feel like failures and at times we truly may be, but take heart dear friend:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God as done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV italics/underline mine)

When failure tries to point its finger at you, remember His great love – if you are seeking first to please Him – the rest will simply fall into place…

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Crazy Generous…

hands11     Nine days until Thanksgiving… Are you feeling generous? If we are giving thanks, then someone was generous with us – someone who wants us to have every good thing

“…but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:10 NIV italics mine)

Do you ever have a hard time being generous? The kind of generous beyond what you ‘have to do or give’, the generous beyond ‘out of my extras’. I know I do. Why are we so afraid of being generous?

Generous doesn’t just mean money – how about a listening ear, a shared meal, a ride for someone who has to walk, a kind word, a complement?

Fear says what if? What if I give the homeless guy a twenty and I don’t have enough next week or next year? What if I stop to listen and they take too long and I’m late? What if I say something kind and they think I am weird?

What if all that does happen? Is God not big enough to take care of the what ifs?

God is crazy generous with us… Eyes to see beauty, smell to breathe in the rose, touch to stroke the kitten, taste to savor the sweet, ears to listen to raindrops, symphonies, voices of praise… Crazy generous… a mind to dream to imagine to wish, a heart to love to have compassion to give mercy. Crazy generous… lips to feel a kiss, toes to put in sand or puddles, hands to hold a babe or brush away a tear…

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 1:6 NIV italics mine)

Give thanks, be full of thanks, let’s be crazy generous with someone this week –  we have every good thing in Him…