Detangled Creations

Isaiah 64:8-9

Still, God, you are our Father.
We’re the clay and you’re our potter:
All of us are what you made us.
Don’t be too angry with us, O God.
Don’t keep a permanent account of wrongdoing.
Keep in mind, please, we are your people—all of us.

I love to crochet and I love yarn.  I really love yarn… a lot.  It is impossible for me to into a yarn store and come out with just one yarn, I have to touch all of them and some of them are always very sticky and follow me home.  I have so much yarn that I have a yarn room in my new house.  I already have enough to keep my fingers busy for my (and several other’s) lifetime.  At this rate I will live forever.

Whenever I crochet something I have to untangle the yarn.  Inevitably the yarn that I use has knots galore in it so that I must work out all of the knots to make somethiA work in progressng beautiful.  If I tried to crochet a sweater with knotted yarn it wouldn’t work out very well and it wouldn’t look very good either.  My best friend has called my crochet projects “Detangled Creations”, and that is exactly what they are.

We are like that aren’t we?  A tangled up mess of emotional knots.  And yet Jesus patiently works on each one of our knots that He might make something beautiful in us.  Even if we should miraculously have no knots in our life Jesus must still work with our “yarn” to create something useful.  Perfectly good yarn is nothing if it is left alone; it’s just a ball of fiber.  Similarly we are nothing without the Lord as our Savior.  We may even look good on the outside, but inside we are just a ball of fiber or a lump of clay if you prefer pottery.  It is only by the grace of God, the blood of Jesus Christ that we can be created and renewed into a “Detangled Creation.”

I chose to allow the Creator to create in me something useful for His glory rather than just sit alone – a ball of yarn without purpose.

Psalm 51:10-12

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

You Are Glorious!

Romans 3:23-24 MSG

“[God Has Set Things Right]But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.”

Glorious lives…. I look back at the life I’ve lived and what I see is the long and sorry record I’ve written as a sinner.  But what God sees is the glorious life He has willed for me.  He sees me through the veil of the blood of Jesus Christ.  He sees the perfect creation I will be when I enter into His glory.

What is a glorious life?  Is it one of self-destruction and self-pity? Is it a life of hiding in the shadows or is it a life lived in the light cast upon us by the wonder of Easter?

I recently reconnected with my very first boyfriend via social networking.  He is married and has a small son.  I love that!  Having someone to share your life journey is so important.  What does this have to anything?  Exchanging emails with him made me think about the girl who was so excited to get letters from him in the mail.  Life was ahead of me and for me everything was glorious.  I’m not sure when the “real world” stepped in, but in the matter of a few years glorious turned to gloomy.  Heart break and personal struggles created shades of gray for many years.  After my husband passed on the rainbows we’d had together turned to shades of black.

I have determined though that I will not sit in the blackness and feed into my own personal pity party. I am surrounding myself with color and I will use every tear I’ve cried to embrace the glorious future that God has created for me and paved with blood of my Savior.

Heavenly Father, help me to see the glory of this day that you have created for me.  I thank You for the colors of Spring that fill my soul with joy.  I thank You for my friends and family who fill my heart with hope.  I thank You for Your all-consuming love for me that sees me as glorious in spite of my sins.  In Jesus’ name… ~Amen

Who Says You’re Not Perfect

Who Are You Trying to Impress?

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Je...
Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in the former Mosque (Cathedral) of Cordoba, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hidden Away by Josh Groban

 

Galatians 2:20 MSG

“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”

 

How are you living out your Faith?  Do you live by rules and regulations of religious traditions or are you living by the resurrection of living Savior?

I’m afraid to say that I often try to hide behind legalisms, judging others for things that I would not want to be judged by.  Justifying myself to myself.  Backing myself into self-created corner of the world.  Trying to compete in an imaginary pageant of righteousness.

Can I possibly hope to impress God with anything I do?  Who is it that I’m trying to impress with my show?  Others, who aren’t even watching, or myself?  Just how much righteousness can I create for myself anyway?

Living by my faith in Jesus Christ creates a balance and content in me.  Living by my charades of religion leaves me grouchy and needy.  So why do I continue to live in pageant mode rather than by the grace allowed to me through my Savior?  Good question.

 

Heavenly Father, I come to you again asking for holy blinders to keep me focused on the cross and the sacrifice You made to grant us the way to eternal life with You.  Let us not forget the power of Easter and the freedom it brings to us to live in Your grace and mercy.  “Thank you”, is not enough to express the gratitude and humility for this unsurpassed blessing.  Help us to not keep our hearts hidden away.  In Jesus precious name,…~Amen

And Thery’re Off…

Todd Agnew, The Love of God

Hebrews 12:2 MSG

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

We live in a race.  Some call it a rat race, some call it a maze.  Either way it’s a lot of energy expended on doing things that don’t need to be done.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, right?

I don’t know about you, but I can get so caught up in the small stuff that I lose sight of my destination, my goals.  This happens in my day-to-day activities as well as long-range objectives.  I can get on the computer to send encouragement to a friend and get so caught up in everyone’s Facebook status updates that I completely forget what it was that I started out doing in the first place.  For me cleaning house should be a marathon event.  I spend so much time walking back and forth after the supplies that I thought I already had with me that I’m exhausted before even one room is done.

Getting caught up in day-to-day activities prevents me from keeping my focus on what I’m supposed to be doing for Christ.  I allow the busyness of life to weigh me down and drag me under to the point where I’m completely useless as His ambassador.   We’re talking lead blankets on all my limbs type of weighted down.  Dragging the lead blankets against the current of a mighty river weighted down.

That is not what Jesus wants us to do.  Paul tells us that we are to strip down and start running.  Pretty sure he didn’t mean our clothes here, but rather all of the stuff of living that just doesn’t matter.  I love the Message version of scripture.  No spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Your sins have been forgiven, leave them behind you and keep running.  Don’t get so caught up in religion that you lose sight of the Savior.

Read the Gospels and get back to the important tracks of the race.  Embrace Easter and live!

How Much Can YOU Handle?

Held by Natalie Grant

Daily Devotions April 3, 2012

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13-18Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

 

I’ve got a few pet peeves.  Probably more than a few truth be told.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone says, “God will never give me more than I can handle.”  Says who?  It’s not in the Bible anywhere, so who decided that God will never give us more than we can handle?

 

There are people all over the world lying in hospital beds that are facing more than they can handle.  There are millions of people dying from the unsafe water sources they must rely on.  There are more people alive right now that are dealing with more than they can handle than the total population combined just a generation or two ago.

 

Try telling an abused child that God will never give you more than you handle.  Tell a mother whose baby just died that God will never give her more than she can handle and I bet she won’t give you a smile back.

 

The promise of God is not that we will never be given more than we can handle.  Watching my beloved husband die one day at a time for 365 days from terminal brain cancer was more than I could handle…. Alone.

 

God’s promise is that He will help us handle whatever life gives us.  Ephesians 6:13 tells us exactly what life will give us.  “13Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.”

The enemy spends endless energy trying to give us more than we can handle and his greatest desire is that we blame God when we get too much.  “Why did God do this to me?”  God didn’t do it to you.  The enemy is doing it to you so you will turn your back on the one true God.  We are also told what to do when life gives us too much.  We are to be prepared, we are to, “Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life.”

 

Where are we to find these tools?  “God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.”  The Bible is where we find the strength God is offering to us to make it through this earthly life.  Life is hard, God is good.

 

Dearest Lord, Thank you for the weapons that You offer to us for our battles in this life.  We ask that you nudge us every day to spend time in Your word that we may learn how to apply Your armor and be prepared to enter the battle.  In Jesus’ name…. Amen

Restoring Places Long Devastated

Until the Whole World Hears

March 6, 2012

Daily Devotions written by Shelley Brandon, Grief and Encouragement Coach

Isaiah 61: 4 – 6

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

The village that we worked in building houses is situated on land that was once a thriving but now abandoned plantation.  Few of the original concrete buildings remain.  Anyone who had been fortunate enough to claim one was blessed indeed.  Most of the dwellings were mere shanties thrown together with rusted scrap metal.  No light, no window, a blanket for a door, dirt the only floor.  The floors were swept every morning by women who carefully tended their meager homes, grateful for some type of shelter from the elements.

The homes that we built for them were smaller than my bedroom.  One 8’x10’ room with one window, a plastic skylight in the center of the metal roof, a real metal door, cement floor, dry-walled inside and cement board with stucco on the outside made a home.  A metal awning in front for a covered porch nearly doubled the living space.  Most of their days are spent outdoors and this awning provided both shelter and shade.  This modest building was more than most of these families has ever known.  The simple gifts we brought along for the families were for them more extravagant and overwhelming than any Christmas I’ve ever experienced.  Tears of gratitude and joy filled their eyes as their new homes were dedicated to them.  Tears of overwhelming humility filled ours.

As each home was dedicated, the team that built the dwelling went inside with the family, the mission directors and a Guatemalan Pastor named Hermanos Jesus (does it get any cooler than that???  Sir Jesus!)  The other teams surrounded the house in a human chain of prayer.  As Hermanos Jesus presented each family with the Gospel of Jesus we all prayed for the Holy Spirit to break through the bond of Mayan religion that had been co-mingled with Catholicism into a warped and twisted belief system that had glass-topped coffins in the churches with a wax Jesus inside.  In two of the houses that bond was broken!! In another it was cracked as the mother committed her life to Jesus in spite of the controlling fear that had been instilled into her children by her absent husband. The fourth family was not yet ready to make the commitment, but did not outright reject our Savior asking that the evangelism team come back to talk with them more.  This evangelism team held discipleship meetings in the village every week.  They would not be forgotten.

We weren’t prepared for the spiritual battle that we’d been warned about.  Everything from the noise of the village children, dogs fighting with each other near us that had been napping together earlier, loud music from somewhere that had not been heard all week, a Pepsi truck driving back and forth on the narrow dirt road trying to sell his sodas to the villagers and some guy with a P.A. system on his truck verbally running his own commercial for whatever it was that he was trying to sell.  Anything that could distract us from our prayer vigil was used against us, even the weather.  The only rain we encountered all week fell in those few hours.  Our mission for the eternal destination of the wonderful people was under attack.  When the distractions became too much, we sang.  Any song we could remember the words to we sang, from Jesus Loves Me to Revelation Song.  I have never been so spiritually exhausted as I was when we were finished but I have never been so content in the moment either.

To Be Continued…….Image

It’s All In The Attitude

Philippians 2:13-17 New International Version (NIV)

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.

I love the book of Philippians. It’s so full of positive attitude. Depending on the version you have the words “joy” and “rejoice” are mentioned about 10 times in Philippians, a book with only 4 short chapters. It is also the home of the “whatever’s”.

Philippians 4:8

8

philippians_banner
Image by bridget_willard via Flickr

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

It is the former verses that hit home today however. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”. I want to quote this verse to my son, like constantly. I think it would be more productive if I modeled this verse to him instead. Lately I’ve been a grumbler. My energy level is down to zero. I don’t want to do anything. My attitude is….”who will care anyway?”

Who will care? God cares. He cares if I give in to the desire to sleep all day long. He cares if I make a promise and then decide that keeping it isn’t important. He cares about all of it because He cares about me. It’s not so much the condition of my floors that concern God as it is the attitude of obedience and gratitude.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing”. Everything? Yes, everything! But there is so much to do, I don’t know where to start. Where do I start? It doesn’t matter where you start…. Just start. Complete something, gives thanks for the energy that you had to finish it and move to the next thing. Pray for the energy to complete that next thing and when it’s finished give thanks again. Everything we need can be found in Jesus. Jesus can give us the drive to carry on. Do everything without grumbling or arguing…. Even to yourself. Don’t grumble, pray. And then change your “whatever’s” to the “whatever’s” listed in Philippians. It’s a short book, give it a look and start your days with an attitude boost.

Open The Eyes of My Heart sung by 10-year-old Autistic, deaf boy.