I’m not one for cliches, are you?
Of course we will wish each other a Happy New Year. It’s what we do. But I’m not one for evaluating the past and making promises for the future. Ones I can’t keep. Those resolutions never stick and who wants to set themselves up for failure?
It is important to continually improve, grow, learn, dream…
Let’s trust God when He says He will do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. Let’s be pleasantly surprised by grace instead of terribly disappointed by empty promises we make to ourselves.
Let’s be intentional about doing instead of saying what we’re going to do.
I found a local dance studio that offers adult Ballet classes. I signed up. I’ve been stretching and twirling in anticipation of rekindling a childhood dream. Getting back to dance. I love it. There’s great health benefits, but actually it’s the grace and beauty I’m drawn to. If you want to get healthy, try doing something you love instead of punishing yourself for eating all those Christmas cookies.
We can believe in the promise of immeasurably more, but let’s not stop there…
The verse in Ephesians goes on to say, “…according to His power at work within us.”
His power is at work within us. To God be the glory because it’s all through His power, yet He chooses to do a mighty work in and through us.
It’s beyond amazing and it’s absolutely true. So clear the doubt, there’s no room for it when His power is there. And there’s no room for it in 2017. Doubt, be gone.
Another popular activity when a new year rolls around is choosing a word.
If I were to choose a word for 2017 it would be discover. It’s time to discover new things, but not only new things. It’s time to discover what’s been covered up.
Like today, I was craving something and I had no idea what. Then hubby puts a subliminal message in my head. It wasn’t all that subliminal actually, it went something like, “How about a chili dog and a chocolate milkshake?” Then suddenly, I wanted it. Bad.
But I discovered something. If I stayed away from the car I wouldn’t drive to Frosty King to pick up the hot dog and milkshake that I’d wind up feeling bad about consuming later. You know what? I stayed away from the car. It wasn’t easy.
Sure, I could have gone as far as turning that ignition. I would have still had time to change my mind, but let’s be real. It more likely would have been the point of no return. I needed His power at work within me, because my own power would have resulted in a chili-dog heartburn right about now. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, but don’t let the word self fool you.
And don’t be swayed by temptation. The enemy is cunning and he can’t tempt you to turn the key in the ignition if you stay clear of the car all-together. I think you get what I’m saying.
My example of avoiding a chili-dog and milkshake was a first right step to better health. Is there a person, place, or thing God is drawing you away from in 2017 so you can draw closer to Him?
Seek Him and you will find Him and He will direct your steps when you surrender your feet. And your car keys.
I wish you a Happy New Year and I would love to hear what’s on your heart.
Take each new day one at a time and remember, you are loved with an everlasting LOVE.
May His all-sufficient grace envelop you in 2017 and always,
Any new wrinkles lately?
Girlfriend, I can relate.
I’ve wondered, and I’m sure you have too, why God designed these jars-of-clay bodies to age.
We spend time and money trying to turn back time—trying to hold on to a more youthful appearance. It’s pretty ironic really. It’s like trying to go back to our old self when we were younger.
I know not everyone feels this way, but be honest, “age appropriate” isn’t a warm and fuzzy phrase. Some would call it vanity, but it’s okay to make ourselves presentable, as long as it doesn’t become all-consuming.
So what does the Bible say about appearance?
The verses in 1 Peter 3:3-4 say this:
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
True beauty comes from the inside out. It won’t matter what shade of lipstick we’re wearing if our lips are flapping gossip and unkind words.
The verse in 1 Peter isn’t meant to deter us from braiding our hair or wearing jewelry, it’s meant to remind us what true beauty is and what truly matters to God.
Besides the regimen of facial cleansers and moisturizers, there’s that whole exercise thing. Staying healthy is important, and regular exercise is a must. But let’s be sure we’re exercising for health and not merely appearance.
Here’s a verse with that word exercise in it. It’s found in 1 Timothy 4:8…
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
While this verse is comparing how exercising self-denial of certain foods, denying the flesh as in tradition, etc., profits little compared to exercising godliness by resisting and repenting of sin, the word still has to do with our bodies. It profits us little to do 50 sit-ups a day when we aren’t exercising our spiritual health.
That’s not to say God doesn’t care about our physical bodies. He absolutely does. He meets our every need.
He provided Manna in the wilderness when the Israelite’s needed nourishment. It was a physical substance from the spiritual divine. The combination of meeting a physical and a spiritual need. Food provided by God because God is our Provider.
God cares about our overall fitness, the physical and the spiritual. He provides physical and spiritual strength.
I guess we could call it seasonal strength. He gives us the strength to do whatever we are called to do, in whatever season of life we find ourselves in. And God isn’t as concerned with age as we are. He chooses to use us for His purposes at any age. Isn’t that encouraging?
Let’s not miss what God has for us today. Divine appointments and incredible interactions with God are right before our eyes. Like Manna.
We want people to notice Jesus in us. When our beauty comes from the inside out, it radiates so brightly a few wrinkles won’t even be noticed.
And what’s even lovelier than a woman aging gracefully?
A woman who ages, full of grace.
Share your thoughts.
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4
Do you know someone in a downward spiral?
You may feel like giving up. You may feel like you’ve recited so many Bible verses, if they don’t get it by now, oh well.
I know how that feels, and truth is, sometimes I don’t get it either. Hello plank in my own eye.
Yet, our own shortcomings aside, we feel compelled to save, fix, and resolve. We love that word resolve, don’t we?
Resolve in music means the note that makes the piece sound finished.
Take the song Jesus Loves Me. At the end of the song, it goes “yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.” When you hit that last note on “so” the tune resolves.
What if the song ended at me? It would sound unfinished, unresolved.
We want to be that note, don’t we? That final note that resolves everything. Well we’re not meant to be that note. Jesus is that note.
The cross resolved the sin of the world, and the final resolve was His resurrection. He did it all for everyone. He is our note, our resolve.
It’s a sweet, sweet song, and we need to sing it for others. Even if we can’t carry a tune, we can sing His gospel, so the ends of the earth will hear it.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3
That downward spiral? We can’t resolve it. We need to stop taking responsibility for it. Yet, if the song feels unfinished, unresolved, we can keep singing until others start singing it too.
We also have to realize, some won’t feel like singing.
That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. He gives us the voice, and opens the ears of the hearers. But He won’t make them sing, because they have to choose. Let’s love them through it, and allow the compassion to flow.
It’s like when you hear a song you love, and you want the entire world to love it too.
Well, not everyone will love it. And we don’t get that do we? Why don’t they love it?
For some, it sounds like noise. For others, although they may not instantly love it, it will grow on them. Then it will grow in them.
It reminds me of that old Coke commercial, “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony….” If you don’t know it, you can google it.
We need to teach the world to sing, one person at a time.
It’s not us who stops a downward spiral, but Christ in us.
Pray for direction, because what we enable may actually disable.
Hang on to faith, and keep praying and interceding on their behalf. I have a feeling they’re counting on us, even when we’re ready to throw in the towel.
Seek wise counsel for serious situations needing professional intervention. When we are over it, it may be because it’s over our heads. We need boots on the ground to fight spiritual battles. Armor up, and put out the prayer warrior call.
We are not alone.
We want what’s best for others, but God knows what’s better. Let’s trust Him with the resolve, while we seek which note we need to play next.
Be encouraged, and never stop singing. Our note of resolve is Jesus, and His love song is our saving grace.
Seeking? Check out the Meet Jesus tab.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 NIV
I lifted the yellow baby brush, gently gliding it through his soft hair. He was beautiful, eight pounds twelve ounces. Looking into his dark-brown olive eyes, I cradled him as he cooed and gurgled.
How did I get here?
A mom at eighteen? I had no clue what I was in for. Thank God for a supportive family.
It was my senior year. We all remember high school, the drama, the cliques, the inclusions and exclusions. I joined clubs and went to parties. All was going according to plan. Then things changed. Friends moved away, dropped out, drifted apart. I was vulnerable, searching for something to fill the empty places.
I began working at a grocery store as a cashier. There was this older guy in the produce department. He flirted with me, and the attention made me blush. He asked me out and there you go, the beginning of over-my-head.
When we build relationships on physical attraction, the foundation is foolishly built upon the sand. tweet that
It was nearing Christmastime and I came down with the flu, or so I thought. It was my mother who first realized this flu might eventually need a name. We did the test.
Home pregnancy tests back then didn’t have lines, they had donuts. If a donut shape appeared, the test was positive. I would never look at a donut the same way again.
I told him. We made plans to marry.
What was happening to me?
I felt shame. I felt branded. I was no longer a high school girl going to parties, I was that pregnant girl who had to leave school to plan a shot-gun wedding, minus the shot-gun.
I wouldn’t go anywhere, and as the baby grew, my shame grew too.
Sin may be fun for a season, but what we hide in darkness, will be exposed by the light. tweet that
I loved my baby and that never changed, but something did change, or rather someone. This man I planned to marry wasn’t who he portrayed himself to be. My engagement ended.
I now know God had other plans for who my future husband would be.
Fast forward two years and I meet the man I was meant to marry. The man who cared for my son, and made me feel loved and treasured.
As my son grew, I was proud of him every moment of his life. Still, I couldn’t shake the shame of my teenage pregnancy. I cringed as people did the math in their heads, even as I got older.
Teenage moms can feel a loss of identity. I longed to fit in with friends, but I just didn’t anymore. They were going to parties and planning college, while I was breastfeeding and changing diapers.
I felt like what I did made me who I was, that pregnant girl. Then I met Jesus, and the truth set me free.
What we did in the past doesn’t make us who we are; it’s what Jesus did for us that confirms our identity.
Jesus had already taken my shame to the cross, it just took me a while to find that out.
When Jesus overcame our shame, years of disgrace were replaced by grace. tweet that
I shared this story while speaking at a women’s event. After stepping from the stage, countless women couldn’t wait to say “me too.” This is why we need to tell our stories; because we overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
When we share how God brings beauty from ashes, our past story becomes part of our grace story.
So goodbye shame, Jesus took you away, and I will gladly step into the light and tell others about it. My fearfully and wonderfully made son is now thirty-five. I’m fifty-three. I’m smiling as you do the math.
This post was included in a compilation of encouraging posts on Kelly Balarie’s blog. Please visit her site by clicking the link below. I know you will be blessed by the other writers, and the words God has given them to share:
Blessings to you beyond measure, and thanks for stopping by.
Forever Walking Deeper and shame-free In Him,
We’ve all felt it at one time or another, haven’t we?
We’ve all done things we certainly wouldn’t expect to see announced in the church bulletin.
Could you just imagine?
“Pot-luck dinner Sunday at six, and speaking of pot, Sylvia used to smoke it, and sources say she still does.”
Or how about this one:
“Prayer walk on 42nd street, same block Samantha worked a few years ago.”
“AA meeting in room 105, Sunday School building-and by the way, Kathy fell off the wagon again.”
Now imagine this: What if everyone found out everything?
I know I’ve done things I’m not particularly proud of, and I’m sure you have too. I’ve even had women say to me, “well, someday I’ll tell you about it.” And I say, “well, why not today?”
Truth is, some people already know about some of it, and God knows about all of it,
so instead of letting shame hold us hostage, let’s look to the One who paid our ransom.
Because after all, what are we so ashamed of?
Of course, it’s sin. Sin makes us shameful. But we have this hope; confess our sins and they’re washed away. Repentance brings freedom. Right?
So if Jesus washes away the sins, why do we keep buying spray and wash for the stain of shame?
Because the enemy lies, telling us we have to keep treating the stains. We’ve got to stop believing it.
Here’s the truth: The stains are gone, and Jesus shamed shame.
In researching death on the cross, we find it was considered a death of shame. The Reformation Study Bible tells us that Roman citizens were forbidden to be put to death on the cross, and the Jews believed everyone who hung on a tree was cursed by God.
But Jesus shamed the shame by turning that tree of shame into our saving grace. Then He rose from the dead to seal what He was sent to accomplish.
So yeah, we need to be the church of the redeemed, not the church of the shamed. I don’t mean to sound preachy, but while we’re at it, let’s take the plank out of our own eyes. The plank called hypocrisy.
Through Christ we can throw off shame and stop throwing it at others.
I told my Grace Story at a women’s event a few years ago. Teenage pregnancy, shame, feelings of not fitting in anymore, abandoned by most friends. Then I had a beautiful son named Michael. I wasn’t ashamed of my son, but for years I felt the shame of being that girl who disappeared from school.
You know what happened afterwards? Countless women in the audience couldn’t wait to tell me it had happened to them too.
What are you going through today?
Whatever it may be, there are others who have already made it through.
How did they make it through?
They were changed through Christ, and their faith sustained them. That’s the Grace Story.
Maybe you are the one who made it through. Your testimony can be that common thread of hope to share with others.
We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, those who have gone before us to show us the way.
But there is One who goes before us who is The Way. He replaces our shame with faith.
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus.
What does fix mean anyway? If you google it, you get this:
direct one’s eyes, attention, or mind steadily or unwaveringly toward.
fasten (something) securely in a particular place or position.
So let’s fix and fasten.
- Fix our eyes on Jesus, and fasten our faith to Him.
- Activate dormant faith through seeking God ~ the Holy Spirit brings fresh eyes to see the needs of others.
- Initiate a training program to run the race – the prayers, the Word, the work.
- Train others~ because faith comes through hearing the Word, our training manual.
- Hand off the baton ~ multiplying workers for the harvest. We’re not meant to go it alone.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
It’s time to put off the shame, and put on faith with works.
Where are you called to serve?
Where do we go and how will they know?
I never tire of reading the book of Ruth. Sandwiched between Judges and 1 Samuel, God breathed a lifetime of legacy onto the pages, and in just four chapters.
And you know what I love about Ruth?
It didn’t matter where she came from , or what she came out of; a heritage of pagan roots and false gods. She chose new roots of righteousness.
And the fruit of her good decision? A clue would be the family tree from that point on. Here’s a hint, her great grandson was King David. Wowzer, right?
She left her past in the past. I think we all could learn a thing or two on that subject.
If you haven’t read Ruth in awhile, or ever, take time today. It reads like a Cinderella story, but sorry Disney, this is real life awesome.
Our past story does not discredit our Grace Story, it becomes part of it. tweet it
We all have a past, but we don’t have to live there. In Christ we can walk forward in God’s plans for our future.
His desire is to use you and me to take the gospel to the nations. Don’t let the word nations intimidate you. Your neighborhood is in a nation, so start there.
God doesn’t require a spotless background check. When we are in Christ, we’ve got the job.
All believers have a story of grace and redemption. We’ve got to practice telling it. Cause lost people haven’t found theirs yet.
- We won’t be effective if we’re telling it by yelling it; or sharing but not caring. Sharing our faith is relational. Get to know people and allow them to get to know you. When people know you are real, they will hear what you say. And don’t forget to listen.
- What do we mean by Grace Story? If you’re married, or perhaps have a bff, people may ask “so how did you both meet?” Our grace story is telling others of how we met our ultimate BFF, our husband. How our lives were transformed. After all, Jesus is our friend forever, and we the church are his bride. See how that all ties in?
- We’ve got to remember this: Jesus died for every person. Then He rose and conquered sin and death for every person. We aren’t sales people trying to sell salvation, we’re more like archeologists, helping people dig deep to discover the truth of their salvation. We share the truth, but they have to choose.
- Many belief systems believe in a god or several gods. Some may say they believe in the one true God, and even Jesus. What we want to ask is, who do they say Jesus is? Even Jesus asked this of His own disciples. Peter got it right. See Mark 8:29.
So where do we go?
- The post office, grocery stores, libraries, banks, schools… Where do we go consistently? We see the same people there consistently too, don’t we? They may see a lot of people throughout their day, but they will remember the ones who take time to talk to them.
How will they know?
- Words are not the only way we share our faith in the gospel. They will know we are Christians by our love; by our deeds, by our service. You don’t get to heaven by good works, but by our good works we reflect Christ in us, the Hope of glory. Hope through the gospel. People need it. We have the key to that hope. Let’s not leave the key under the mat, or our Light under a bushel.
We need not apply for the position of heart changer. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job; we are workers in the harvest and He does the rest. Amen to that!
I did a Bible study called “Why Do You Believe That?” by Mary Jo Sharp. Girlfriend knows her apologetic stuff. Here’s a paraphrased snippet of what resonated with me:
When you meet someone of another belief system, ask them why they believe what they believe. Strike up good conversations of faith, not in a confrontational way, but in a conversational way. You may uncover some misconceptions about Christianity, and be used by the Holy Spirit to clarify them.
Being too casual in sharing our faith, is like wearing shorts to the prom. Let’s not be too formal either, but bring transformation through conversation. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead.
But we too must be prepared to answer the question of why we believe what we believe. Don’t be afraid of a little good ole’ studying. Here’s the link to the study I spoke of. Good stuff:
- Find another person, or a group to study the Bible with. Accountability will keep you on track.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
Tell me the story of how you met Jesus. Let’s Walk Deeper together.
Love In Christ,