We Can Sharpen with Our Struggles

iron sharpens

Sometimes I need to be shaken.

If we are all honest about our walks with God, there are times when we simply check out. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I am one of the few who covets time to simply “do me.” I want to binge on my favorite shows. I want to pursue my favorite pastimes. And the more I do that, avoiding other responsibilities and avoiding spending time with God, the more I DO NOT WANT to spend time with God, nor do I want to obey Him. I ignore his gentle urgings. I tune them out and I do what feels good.

I do not think I am alone here.

These are the times when I need to be shaken, when I need a gracious reminder of what is truly important and of what I truly desire in my inner being.

Today, God graciously used a conversation with a friend that I had over text to shake me out this “doing me” state. This was unexpected, because my friend is struggling today. We were texting back and forth as I attempted to appeal to her, reminding her of her identity in Christ and what I believe she truly wants in her inner being.

But I wasn’t shaken until I reminded her that our decisions today do not simply affect us today; they affect our tomorrow, and they affect our families, and they can even affect future children. My decisions today can have great impact on not just me, but the people around me, and people in the future I do not yet know. This is incredible. As I wrote this to her, it dawned on me that I can’t just “do me” as if there is no consequence. Sure, there is a grace. And, sure, as a pregnant woman, I need to rest. But I know the difference between resting and checking out. Trust.

Friend, you know who you are. I know you will read this. And I just want to thank you for sharing your struggles with me. For even as we struggle, we sharpen one another. And because of your struggle, you shook me out of a dreadful state. God was in the midst of our conversation, working as He always does. And because of you, I am now going to open my Bible and be still before him.

We are not meant to walk this Christian walk out on our own. God created us to do life in community, interdependent and thriving off the various strengths he’s given us.

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

–Proverbs 27:17

 

BUT I DESERVE BETTER!

That moment when you are judging someone else and it occurs to you that you are guilty of the same thing. I know those moments well.

by Atrin on Deviant Art

Like yesterday morning, I found myself shaking my fist at someone recently because they seemed so blind. A person that I respect believes they were treated wrongly by a person who is less mature in the faith; the person believes they were treated in a manner they do not deserve. And the person is right. However, this less-mature individual is currently running away from everyone who could help unveil the trap they are in, and the person I respect is not doing anything about it. I expect this mature person to swallow their pride and chase after this person the way Christ chased after us. In my opinion, Jesus was the exact opposite of this mature person who should be emulating Christ. Jesus did not deserve to be slandered, mocked, reviled, spit on, beaten, and killed. Yet he endured it all to deliver us from our sins and bring us to God. As I thought these things, I felt so justified in my judgement that I nearly contacted the person. Continue reading

Fanning Into Flame My Faith

Yesterday, I confessed what I have been going through over the past few months “to press on and know the Lord.” I stated how my desire to spend time with Him had waned and I found myself hoping in other things, wondering how much we really need God anyway. I looked too often to the world, noting how their lives were not too different from my own and I was frustrated by the sense that no one seems to need or want God. Thus, my drive to evangelize decreased, my faith weakened, and my love for things of the world increased. But as a believer, my soul could not rest in that state of mind. And, finally, I woke up one day and knew something had to change. I am thankful for a husband who always points me in the right direction, even when I am being stubborn.

A few people got to me and said that my post was really encouraging because they are in a similar place. So I thought I would share what has been helping me. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s like I need to get the word through an IV. That’s how I see devotionals. I would prefer to just open my Bible and pick up with my Bible reading plan or a Bible Study, but when I am struggling, I don’t know where to go, because my desire just isn’t that strong. Devotionals are helpful because it takes away the need to figure out where to begin. I prefer Daily Light because it’s still just the word.

A few weeks ago, I found my copy and would read the day’s reading and pray for a few minutes. Let me know if you find this helpful. I posted the morning devotion from Daily Light below:

Morning
Ex. 28:36; Heb. 12:14; John 4:24; Isa. 64:6; Lev. 10:3; Ezek. 43:12; Ps. 93:5; John 17:19; Heb. 4:14, 16

“You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’”

The holiness without which no one will see the Lord.—“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”—We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.—“Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.”

“This is the law of the temple: the whole territory on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy.”—Holiness befits your house, OLord, forevermore.

“For their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”—Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us… with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

After a Hard Summer: An Update on Me

It’s no secret. The last few month have been unimaginably busy. And things don’t appear to be slowing down. Not yet anyway. And I have been struggling. With little community due to traveling and being tired when home, I have not been able to benefit from the Holy Spirit working in His people. My zeal for God waned. I barely have desire to read the Bible and pray. I find myself looking out to the world for hope because many of unbelieving friends seem to be okay where they are. Because the Christian life had become a drudgery, a list of have-to’s and sacrifices, I did not have any good news to share. I was not experiencing any joy. Sure, I believed in Christ. But my faith was growing weaker instead of stronger.

Recently, the Lord got my attention. And I have been taking baby steps back to a good place in Him. And He used the sermon from last Sunday to show me that I live with fear as a constant companion, and it has been stifling me. Fear of Death. Fear of Not being Liked. Fear of Losing what I love. Fear of failure. Fear of being wrong about life. And I have been frustrated by my lack of faith and not being on fire for Jesus with robust faith that acts with boldness.

Well, this morning, I stumbled upon a journal entry from back in May, written in response to Exodus 27:20-21:

God could keep the fire burning if he wanted to. Remember the burning bush? But he wanted people to bring the pure beaten olive oil, which required work. He wanted Aaron and his sons to tend to the fire to keep it burning. The holy fire. Light of God. Who knows how they understood its morning or if I even understand? But it seems to correlate to the Spirit in us, God’s light in us. We talk a lot about wanting to be on fire for the Lord. God could make us that way. He could just make us love him with our whole hearts, hype for Jesus. But he doesn’t. He chose us, and he wants us to choose him. He has made it so that we must daily sow to our spiritual life in him. We often must fan into the flame the holy fire of our faith. It makes me think of the daily discipline of getting time in the word, of prayer, of obeying God in the small things. We must take responsibility for keeping the fire burning. It really comes down to how much we desire God and how committed we are to our relationship with him.

So there it  is. I can have all the desire that I want, but I have to do my part.

When Scripture Makes Your Heart Sing!

The Heart of Discipling Women

This morning in my quiet time I camped out in Colossians 3:16:

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

And it hit me how key music is for letting God’s Word dwell in me richly.  According to this verse it’s right up there with teaching!  Have I ever found this to be true in my own life.  Most of the scriptures I’ve memorized, especially the longer portions stick with me because they’ve been put to music.  Not always great music, mind you!  But even little ditties help things stick better in my brain.

And it’s not just my brain.

I’ll never forget when my son was three years old, I decided to walk to the gym with him in the stroller, by the time we were headed home huge storm clouds gathered…

View original post 894 more words

Is Heaven Scary?

Every week I take a look over my stats and I am surprised how many hits this old blog post gets. It must be popular for a reason. Let me know what you think.

She Holds Him

Without the future hope promised to me by God, death is incredibly terrifying. My life becomes like a burning candle that will  one day flicker out. It could be tomorrow for all I know. And if there isn’t something to look forward to, then my life doesn’t really matter eternally. The only solace I would have is that my actions may temporarily help someone else. I would die with my hope in the life I left behind. That’s scary! To go from existing to not existing, to a life full of color, people, delight, fear, memories to absolutely nothing.

Hell is scary. To be tormented forever because of everything wrong I did. To be judged by God. To suffer his wrath!  To be thrown in the lake of fire (or the burning furnace) where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth! To know in the end that Jesus really…

View original post 991 more words

Grace Works: An Unavoidable Tension

If I am not careful, grace will just be another Christian buzzword has very little effect on my heart. I can know key verses on grace like Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 as well as I know the alphabet, but if the Lord isn’t illuminating the truth of the grace of God in fresh ways, it will be merely head knowledge. And I will find myself responding to grace like the Roman Christians Paul to whom he wrote, “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15).

I might forget to consider myself dead to sin and alive to God, walking out my salvation in the obedience of faith. Or I may become so legalistic, thinking that I need to still prove myself to God, earning his salvation, that I lose my hope in God altogether. In both situations, I risk losing the ability to treasure Christ as my Beloved Savior.

Recently, while taking communion with my church, the Lord made the reality of his grace in my life more clear. He put it this way. Continue reading

Exclusive Love

Your love, it climbs

and leaps and falls behind,

it surrounds, it comes along the sides,

funnels down deep, ripples

from beneath, lays itself out

ahead of the mud-encrusted feet

of those who trust in him.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. (Psalm 32:10 ESV)

Wine Mixed With Myrrh

My former senior pastor once taught an excellent sermon on savoring the word of God. He offered many ways to savor Scripture, one of them being through art. Poetry. Paint. Music. Storytelling. An old friend from college created a beautiful work of art after beholding our great Lord on the cross and noting how He refused a drink of wine mixed with myrrh. Her poetic insight will stir your soul. Slow down and consider the love of Jesus, how he gave himself up for you. See the video below and be sure to read her explanation. You will not regret it!

Thank you Quina Aragon! I love seeing how the Lord is using you and your husband to spread the good news in Tampa, FL and beyond.