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.

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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)

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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?

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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?

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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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Needy…

blue ornament pixa x     It’s December… Everyone’s shopping… Needy?

Always, always we seem to be seeking to fill some need. An emptiness that we perceive as an empty shelf, closet, or plate.

Never having the courage to look deep and see where the emptiness really is. Knowing that it is heart deep, never seeming to be filled, and needing covering so it won’t be exposed for any to see. “For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.” (Psalm 109:22 NIV)

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Wounded – by a hard world that seems to be getting harder. Leaving us poor and needy, except that…

Except that a Savior, whose birthday celebration is weeks away, came that we no longer have to seek to fill that needy, empty place. “I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:16b NIV)

It is in the letting go of other’s expectations of us, of our expectations of others that we can finally see we are not needy, we are not empty and exposed. “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10b NIV)

Certainly not our righteousness, as we are sorely lacking in that department, but even in this God has provided. And not just with words but in action. Sending His Son that not only does His robe of righteousness cover over, it heals and fills – and we are arrayed – and God sees His righteousness as He beholds us.

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As we anticipate not just a holiday, not just a day off from work, not just a family event – but as we await the celebration of a quite wondrous gift, will we stop the online seeking of deals and rush of the mall search? Only in the quiet will we see the abundance.

For if we seek Him, the things that fill shopping carts and drain bank accounts will pale in comparison. Then we can fill up those around us and just maybe the awe of what God has done by sending His Son will dawn on many hearts.

“When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child” (Luke 2:17 NIV)

gold bell 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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Willing…

red leaf pixa x     It must have been an interesting scene… A man in ragged clothes, the smell following around him, the pasty skin and sores. He came and knelt before the King.

He didn’t look like a king but the man knew in his heart and his spirit this One was the real deal. Mustering up all of his courage and ignoring the taunts of ‘unclean, unclean’  and ‘away with you, sinner, unclean’ he boldly approached and knelt.

“A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ “ (Matthew 8:2 NIV)

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Jesus didn’t ask questions, nothing about how long have you been like this. He didn’t look on him with disgust or cover His face to block the smell. But what He did was lasting and noticed by all: “Jesus reached out and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ He said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:3 NIV)

To this man the miracle wasn’t so much the restoration of his health but the look in the eyes he gazed up at. No one had looked him in the eye for a long time, yet the King of Kings not only looked directly at him, He touched him. You can believe that touch was like no other before and none after. That touch didn’t just heal his wounds, it healed his heart and eternity was his as a believer in the Savior.

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That is why, my friend, Living Braver is possible. Fear may prevail in those moments that grip our world. But being brave isn’t about what we do, it’s about what He does – every day.

He sees us raise our head towards the sky or fall in our chair exhausted, He looks on us with compassion and says ‘I am willing’ – willing to carry our burdens, lighten our load.

Are we willing? Willing to face what our day brings, the finality of what we were begging wouldn’t happen, the consequences of own waywardness? Willing to lay it at His feet – kneeling and looking into the eyes that only our heart can see. Not asking for the hard thing to go away, unless that’s His will of course, but asking for the bravery to come out on the other side of the hard thing.

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12 NIV)

yellowleaf pixa x

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


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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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Perfect…

perfect rosex     I’m a failure… because I don’t look perfect, my house isn’t perfect, my kids aren’t perfect, my marriage isn’t perfect, my health isn’t perfect, my bank account isn’t perfect – the liar says because of these and all my other ‘imperfections’ I am a failure…

Are you perfect – what is perfect – who is perfect?

Perfect life – no worries, no fears? Perfect marriage – no doubts, no regrets? Perfect parenting – healthy children, successful in all they do? Perfect job – recognized, paid well? No?

My lack of perfection leaves me worrying what will others say, think… Ah, there it is – perfect is all about performance, impressing… It’s ‘me thinking’ but we’re called to ‘Jesus thinking’…

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV) While we were still imperfect, without us having to perform or impress, for eternity…

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Perfect is in the eye of the beholder and if you have Jesus as your Lord & Savior then God sees you through the righteousness of His Son – and he beholds you perfect

 We are blind in our looking, in our idea of perfect. Did you know that if a person loses their sight and then regains it, they have to learn to ‘see’ again? Or if a traumatic injury happens that affects the optic nerve or brain, the eyes may see just fine but the brain interprets what they observe and the brain may be unable to ‘see’.

In our flawed human view of perfection we must learn to see the perfect that God acknowledges – that of a life surrendered to Him – leave behind our misconceptions, shut out the voices telling us we are not enough, have messed up too much…

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“But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:22 NIV) Wow, without blemish, free from accusation – perfect…

Watch the story of Ian & Larissa Murphy and you will think of perfect in a whole new way… They have learned a secret that we all need to know when haunted by perfect: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” ( https://youtu.be/AEBzPi2GbkI )

Let’s live in His perfection so we can extend grace-filled love to those who may just be worrying about what we’re thinking of them…

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Getting Lost, Finding…

sign directionxx     Lost? Ever right where you’re supposed be but can’t find your way?

Strangers on this earth, it’s easy to wake each day, do all the things we’re supposed to and suddenly look around and question – why?

Is there purpose in all this daily doing?

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When Paul was on a ship adrift, lost, and bound for wreckage, all the men on the ship were despairing, but he calmly said to them: “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.” (Acts 27:22 NIV) Paul was not lost, wherever he was, he knew his way Home…

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In the wreckage of our days: suicides, terrorism, financial ruin, tornadoes, famine – maybe not so daunting but still our stuff – wayward children, lost job, car accident – maybe even just the frustrating – lost keys, late to work, broken window… we can feel abandoned, adrift, lost…

Remember  “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10 NIV)

So today in the midst of the delay in your expectations, the disappointment of hopes not fulfilled, the deceit of worldly pleasures you can still find the Way for He has told you how to get Home… Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV italics/underline mine)

In the lostness rest in this “Like the wind, grace finds us wherever we are and won’t leave us however we were found.” (Ann Voskamp underline mine) When you find yourself in Him you can be sure who you were will be radically made new with each step you take towards Home…

Join me in the journey leading straight to where we want to be?

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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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To the Rescue…

Jesus to the rescue1     Ever notice Hollywood is all about super heroes? Movies where someone or someplace is in distress and only a hero can save the day. Superman to the rescue…

Don’t we all wish that in our moments of despair swooping down through the air would be a Captain America to make it all ok?

Like when the 85 year old grandpa finds out he has an inoperable clot in his leg and it has to be amputated. Like when the house you just put down new flooring in floods. Where is a super hero when you need one?

“The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT)

Our God is much more than any superhero could even imagine. Will he restore the amputee or the ruined bank account – not necessarily in this life, but in the life to come those who confess Jesus as Lord will be restored and much more…

“Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10 NIV)

What we really need saving from is ourselves. In our selfishness we have let sin separate us from the love of God. Daunting and terrifying as the tragedies here on earth may seem, they are nothing compared to a forever without God. Our God sent His Son, swooping down from the very presence of His Father to save us – not just in one time of calamity, but for all time.

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Jesus did what no man – no matter how wealthy, strong, influential, or intelligent – could ever do. He stepped into humanity and lived a perfect life, that He could be a perfect sacrifice once for all and forever, to those who will believe…

“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.” (1Peter 3:18 NLT)

Jesus to the rescue, now that’s what I’m talking about… 

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If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!  Click on the Back to Paris Renae link at the top, perhaps a look a the extraordinary ordinary would lighten your day…