living braver

one faith step at a time…


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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.

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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…

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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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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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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)

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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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The Reason…

sun leaves pixa x     Thank you, Father, that when all seems wrong – You are still right. When all seems out of control – You are still our Rock. When all seems to overwhelm – You keep us steady.

Here in America we are about to set aside a day to give thanks – but throughout the world over, all have reason…

Our very breath, our life, and whether we have much or little. Whether this world has been kind or brutal, still we have reason…

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

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Living Braver at this time and in this place, wherever we may be, is acknowledgement. Acknowledging we have a God who knows no bounds to the love He has for us, no bounds to His power, no bounds to what He has in store for those who believe.

“He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.” (Proverbs 2:7-8 NIV)

Is our walk blameless? Are we just? Are we faithful? In and of ourselves – NO. But we have such a great salvation that in Him we are blameless, we are just, we are faithful. What a mystery – we mess up everyday, we are so unjust, and we waiver in faith moment to moment. But greater is He who is in us – and it is through Him that the Father beholds us.

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“We are courageous because Jesus breathes bravery into the core of our fearful bones, and when we take a terrifying step toward the place we believe Jesus wants us to be, we’re living testaments of an audacious God.” Aliza Latta

Living testaments – you and me. Let our testimony be that of unending thank-full-ness. So full of thanksgiving that we overflow into the lives of others. Though hurting may we still show joy, though worried may we still impart hope, though anxious may we still share our overflowing blessings.

Thank you again and again Father, it is our desire to be courageous for You, trusting in Your boundless power and forever love…

orange poppies pixa x

 


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Wrestling…

autumn leaves pixa x     There are times in this life where the best description of what we are going through is called: wrestling.

That place where you’ve had the air sucked out of you…

That place where you walk slower and find yourself staring a lot…

Much as I don’t like this place, experience has taught me that growth comes during these times.

Experience has also taught me that the growth comes only if I rely on the Father to see me through to the other side, not when I take control and try to fix all the mess. This is hard for me, I’m a fixer. So this time, I’m hoping I can let Him fix, in His time, in His perfect way.

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I think I will try this advice: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2Corinthians 4:18 NIV) Help me, Father, to remember that all this mess of stuff is temporary, fix my eyes on You and the hope of eternity.

We are also reminded that “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.(Hebrews 12:4 NIV) Whether it is our own sin or that of others – but Jesus shed His blood for all man’s sins. So no matter the pain of our own foolishness or the fall-out of other’s selfishness, we do have eternity awaiting us — a no more tears, no more sorrow – no more wrestling eternity.

fall x

For today, and tomorrow, and however long it takes I will wrestle through this uncertainty — wrestle in prayer, wrestle in His Word, wrestle to try and keep my thoughts on those things I’m called to fix my mind on. All that’s evil wants me to dwell on the pain and drown in the fear, but I need to remember ‘whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy’ (from Philippians 4:8).

I am reminded where our strength for the battle comes from – “Finally be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10 NIV)

sunflower field at sunset pixa x


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Unfailing…

leaf beach love pixa x     His love endures f o r e v e r……… This morning a few months old kitten showed up at our back door. His little bell and collar told me he belonged to someone, but right then he wanted to belong to me.

Purring and stretching he worked his way into my being in less than thirty seconds. BUT I already have a kitty and I do not need another one. So I shall have to put up pictures of him and try to reunite him with whoever loves him already.

kitten pixa x

Voices want to tell us daily that we are alone, that we are not wanted, that we don’t matter. Unlike this sweet kitty, when we wander off, we don’t leave the presence of the One who is in us and promises to always be with us. Even when we shut out the sound of His calling, even when we can’t seem to find our way.

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.” (Psalm 118:5 NIV) Who else can we call out to in whatever our need and be answered with freedom? Freedom from? “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6 NIV) Freedom from being afraid…

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Though fear may surround me – being afraid is not my captor. I am captured and free in the answers of the voice that calls my name, ‘Dear one’, ‘Beloved’. He calls and I breathe in and rest in the embrace of His promises: ‘I am with you’ ‘I will never leave you’ ‘I hear you when you call’ ‘You will search for me and You will find me’. “May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant.” (Psalm 119:76 NIV)

“He’s in us & with us & for us & He is enough, … and His absolute perfect love for us kicks all you …Lying Fears right to the curb.” Ann Voskamp

Let’s comfort those who wander our way and sing together: “God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to You; unfailing love, O Lord, is Yours.” (Psalm 62:11-12 NLT)

heart love pixa x


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Power Like…

rain boots and umbrella pixa x     Summer rain is different than other times of year rain… It’s urgent, and drenching…

Fear and dread, questioning and worry pound at us much the same way. Amazing how we can be raising hands in praise and then hearing that ‘in this world we will have trouble’ and say in our hearts ‘no, no – I can’t’…

Forgetting that we are absolutely right, we can’t… He can – because of the promise…’I will be with you’…

Before we run ahead of today we must walk with Him in each moment – otherwise we will be drenched with doubt, timid to move on. But He tells us “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (2Timoty 1:7 NIV underline mine)

Oh that power, that is what I want to be drenched in. The urgent working of Him in all my little things and all my overwhelming things… “…His incomparably great power for us, who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19 NIV)

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Incomparably – immeasurably – unlimited – exceedingly  – GREAT POWER…for who? Us, who believe. Who believe when no one else can fathom why, who believe leaving behind any brokenness and straining towards today’s wholeness.

Emily P. Freeman recently said “May we remember to treat fear like an armed enemy, refusing to let him come into our homes, sit at our table, and feast on our hope. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the HOPE to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV caps mine)

hearts pixa x

The eyes of our heart – that is how we must…trust Him – heart trust, hope in Him – heart hope, see Him – heart vision.

When the dark clouds have spent themselves leaving behind saturated ground, rays part the sky and puddles warm beckoning us to step into their warmth. Just like our Father beckons in the whisper, ‘I am with you to the very end of the age and forever…step with Me…’

 puddle with leaf pixa x


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Restless…

suitcase in field pixa x     Restless – good or bad word? The frenzy of the world makes us want to escape – the restlessness of a world bent on seemingly destroying itself. The pace of our own lives often leaves us breathless and longing for that escape – the restlessness of trying to pay the bills, or to please everyone, or get it all done. One would think then that restless is…bad?

Yet isn’t it really our soul that is restless? Restless to have our Savior return, to right the wrongs, to make all things new. Out of the restlessness of our souls we then reach for anything, everything to satisfy – to put to rest – the longings…

Our longing is what David wrote in Psalm 63:1 NIV “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

stormy road poppies pixa x

In our lostness we think the longing is for a better home, a better job, a bigger bank account, a happier marriage, power, popularity… If we would listen to our thirsty soul, we would recognize our true longing – what makes us so restless is our need for our God.

Like a planted field laying dry, thirsting for quenching rain, so our spirits when not alive with Christ lay dry, thirsting but not knowing the source of refreshment. And those of us who are alive in Christ still sometimes get caught up in the noise of the crowd and lose our way – forgetting the source of all fulfillment.

As Jesus told the Samaritan woman “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14 NIV)

water pixa x

Restless is normal – restless to be in the presence of Jesus. Praise God, who knew our restlessness before we did. After Jesus made His sacrifice for us, He did not leave us without a Helper… The Holy Spirit indwelling us redirects our restless ways towards our Help.

Be restless to find Him each morning, to seek Him in the rush of the day, to long for Him in the night. Then we will be quenched: “But the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6b NIV)

running at night pixa x

 

 


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Convinced…

daisies-with Bible1     If you’re like me, you want to Live Braver, you want to Live Courage, you want to Fear Less – but about the time you think you’re there, you find yourself lost in the battle all over again…

We can convince ourselves of a lot of things… lawyers are great at convincing a jury… politicians are great at convincing voters… but what about this:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

If we would let ourselves be convinced of this wonderful, freeing truth, how would our lives look? Paul, who wrote the verse above, was thoroughly convinced – assured, persuaded, made a believer, won over. But Paul wrote those words from jail. Paul wrote those words after beatings, shipwrecks, illness, and the list goes on…

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So how can we be convinced? God gave us His Word to immerse ourselves in so that we would be so assured of His amazing grace, His free gift of salvation, His forever love that when those struggles come we would know where to go. Where to go? Straight to the only One who listens, the only One who hears, the only One that will not let anything come between us and His love.

Sure, here I will worry about my children, I will cry with those who suffer tragedy, and agonize with those who are deathly ill. I will at times walk those roads myself. But someday it will fade away. Someday I walk a new road – with no tears, no worries, no fears.

For now, His courage is my strength, His sacrifice my reward, His love my assurance…

“This his how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1John 4:9-10 NIV)

Join me in walking CONVINCED?

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Whose Limits…

??????????     A dear friend who often cares for her grandchildren had numerous errands to run that she couldn’t keep putting off. She loaded her almost 4 year old granddaughter in along with her infant sister and off they went.

After the second stop, as she was loading them in once again, the 4 year old said “Ok, grammee, two is enough for me, let’s go home.” She knew her limits and one more errand was going to put her over the top…(and probably her sister too)…

Sometimes our limits are pushed too… One more crisis and we feel like we’ll lose it – sometimes it’s the little things, one more broken glass as your heading out the door…

Sometimes we just want to be like the four year old and give up and go home…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Corinthians 12:9 NIV) As we draw on our power we find our limits pushed, our strength waning.  Friend, our own power is an illusion, in this sin marred world we are weak in and of ourselves, but thanks be to God, we are not alone and His power is made perfect in our weakness…

We may know our limits, but even better is to know our limitless God “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV italics/underlines mine)

Trusting His limitless power makes us lean into our faith. Tracie Miles said “I’ve finally learned that when we take a leap of faith, with God, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose but fear.” Notice she said ‘with God’ – we never have to be on our own…

Limitless love, limitless grace, limitless power, limitless strength, limitless knowledge… To finish the verse above “to Him be glory…for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:21 NIV)

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