A Prayer to Escape Doubt

“For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love.” Ephesians 1:4 

(NET)“Are you ready?!”I asked my daughter excitedly as we drove away from the school day and onto a new adventure.“Mommy …” she trailed off in amazement as the ballet company practice came into our line of sight. Nervous, but sure of her dream, she stretched and gazed upon the very thing she had envisioned herself doing so many times.

Our dreams are road maps to God’s growing process for our individual purpose. He chose us so specifically and specially to walk out into the world equipped with the ability He put in us, to spread His love in the way that only we can.

The word chose in the above verse is the Greek word, eklegomai, a verb that means “to choose, set apart, elect.” “It sometimes refers to decisions made by people …but can also signify the electing activity of God according to his divine purpose and grace.” -Mounce’s Complete Expository DirectoryDo we realize, when we walk out into a day filled with clouds of doubt, that the God of the universe is concerned about what we’re up to?

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A Prayer for Peace in the Job Search

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and you get the feeling that what they are saying isn’t what they really mean? It can be hard to extract a straight answer in this world. We’re so obsessed over keeping the peace and accepting everyone’s truth, that we’ve muddled the conversational waters with FOOP – Fear of Offending People.

God doesn’t operate like this. His Word is Truth. When we are unemployed or desperately seeking for another career to replace the one we have, it can seem hard to understand God’s good plan for our lives. But take His Word to heart. When He says that He will supply all of our needs, He means it. However, it’s not always what we think we need. He knows, beyond our own ability to discern, what we truly need. “According to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).

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#saywhat?! …What’s Up With My Mouth?

Hashtags are now a part of verbal communication. The words we # have power the power to create searchable content. The words we verbalize, type, text, share and air hold the power to dignify or deflate. 

My current parenting resolution is #dontraisemyvoice. Once I factor out school, playing with friends and extra curricular activities, I only have to hold it together for 3 or 4 hours on weekdays. Most would say my odds are pretty good, and I wish I could tell you it’s been a smashing success … but there’s a reason for resolution. #stillyelling

“The more you talk, the more likely you will cross the line and say the wrong thing; but if you are wise, you’ll speak less and with restraint.” Proverbs 10:19 VOICE

“Mom, you don’t have to apologize to us …we don’t even deserve you.” 

What did I have to apologize for? #yelling. Unfortunately, lofted above the apology are the hashtags formed while I was losing my patience. My careless words distort and begin to plant seeds of deceit …#lies.

Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” We don’t always like, much rather love, God’s law in our everyday lives. Which is why our bad attitudes drip down into our words, and the opportunity to water lies in the minds of their recipients.

Great peace. “Complete security and well-being,” to be accurate. (NIV Study Bible Notes) People that have peace don’t need to make #dontraisemyvoice resolutions. What was I missing? Love.

Proverbs 10:12 says that “hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.” (NIV) The love in this verse is different. This love accomplishes what we cannot: love for a law that we don’t understand, like, or want to follow in the moment. The love of the Law, Himself. (Strongs 157/160) 

My mouth represents my heart, which could be undergoing all manner of spiritual battles at any given time. The risk of blowing up at my kids is that they will start to believe and apply the wrong hashtags. Above the endearing and encouraging words I speak and pray over them for the 3 hours and 58 minutes I have with them some weekdays …they start to carry around …wear around …the other 2 minutes that I was overly critical and terribly impatient while they acted like the 8 and 10 years olds they are. 

“Oh, yes I do have to apologize,” I explain, “because no matter how disobedient you are or impatient I am …I know better than to react like I did.”

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1Peter 4:8 NIV

Again, same English word, different definition of Biblical love. This time, “brotherly love, affection, good will, love.” This New Testament love is possible because of Jesus. Through Him, we can love each other with the same love that covers a multitude of sins. We can become living channels of His love. 

When my bad attitude leaks out of my mouth, it’s a heart problem. My problem. Not my children’s fault. Not my husband’s fault. Not the ridiculous pendulum of a midwestern winter’s fault. (And not the Brown’s fault for not clinching a spot in the playoffs …OK a wild card spot -let me dream.)  It’s a hearth issue. So, how do I fix it?

“The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” Proverbs 10:8 

  • Get the Right Advice. The way to peace and love is through their Author. There’s no shortcut to this. I have to set aside time to read God’s Word before I talk to anyone else. Maybe you can handle conversations before Jesus and coffee, but I can’t. 
  • Listen to Your People. God doesn’t do coincidence. He places us purposefully. I can choose to walk through daily life paying attention to the people in my live, and focusing on how to love them well.
  • Do it. Submission means to drop my way for the right way. Repeated, it becomes a reflex. In the case of my bad attitude controlling my mouth …I can consciously reroute that authority, choosing to apply wisdom before my words fly out. 

Matthew 12:34 reminds, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” 

I speak love when I know who I am. Forgiven in spite of my 2 minute meltdown, and loved before I can find the discipline to fix it. When I wear those hasthags, I’m more likely to pass them on. #neverlovedless #alwaysforgiven.

Happy #-ing …

Megs

The Radical Resolution

RADICAL …Living Life Within the Love of Christ.

“Always forgiven …and never loved less.”

Fresh tears hit my shoulder. After-school conversations leave my throat hoarse and my heart raw. Moments earlier, my daughter let shreds of hopelessness bounce off the bright kitchen walls.

“I don’t even know who I am, anymore.”

Walking through change is never easy, and tween life had been taking it’s toll on her. We’ve been able to laugh through many moments of out-of-character outbursts, but today was not one of those days. 

“Well, I do,” I assured her. “Do you see that girl?” I asked. 

A square plastic frame atop my desk holds onto the picture of her 3-year-old face. Below it, a sticky note contains carefully scribbled out words from a daughter who had witnessed her momma in pain: 

“I love you 

Mommy and I’ll always

be there for you. 

I just want to let 

you know you can tell 

me anything. 

Luv, BB.”

 “You are still that girl,” I pushed the words out through the lump in my throat, “You will always be that girl.” 

The truth I spoke over my first-born knocked the wind right out of me. As I listed one attribute of her character after another, her eyes slowly brightened.

“You will grow wiser and change in some ways …but you will always be that girl …and I will be here to remind you when you forget.”

Christ utters the same truth into my heart, and yours. Romans 5:2 says, “Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace.” (VOICE paraphrase)

In one half of one paraphrase of one verse of one book from one Testament of the Word of God …we wrap our arms and minds around who Jesus is, what radical means, and how grace saves our lives. 

When I look at my life I hardly recognize anything I would classify as “radical.” It takes strength to be radical, joy to be strong, and faith know joy. But if we look at this verse a little closer, we’ll realize how radical our everyday lives can be …and perhaps already are. 

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2 NIV

“…we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand…” (emphasis, mine.)

Paul is talking about the grace fundamental to who we are. In Christ, the way we were created to be, causes us to rejoice in our everyday lives. By continually coming back to Him, and seeing who we are in Him, we are able to find peace and joy in life. (Strongs 5485)

…”Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith …” (emphasis, mine.)

Faith is the conviction of the truth. The character of one who can be relied on. (Strongs 4102) I can’t be relied on, but Jesus can be. Him in me allows me to be reliable for someone in a moment when they need to know that He knows they are alive and desperate down here. Hurting and barely holding on. 

2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]-“ (AMP)

Walking by faith means to pay attention to the world around us, ready and willing to participate in opportunities to love others each day. (Strongs 4043) I don’t always do that, because sometimes I just don’t feel like it. I have a bunch of problems, failures and missed opportunities I don’t air out on facebook, nor does anyone we’re still following after the political season. But outside of the confines of social media, we need to live radically authentic lives. 

My daughters, friends, and others placed purposefully in my life need to hear the disappointments I wouldn’t trust to my facebook friends. God has placed us purposefully in this life. If we hide our gaping wounds, no one heals.

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight  …” (emphasis, mine.)

Faith doesn’t operate on what we can see. Even when we’re walking like we should be, we can’t always see the struggle behind the smiles. (Strongs 1491) If we want to have radical faith and live radical lives, we have to turn the “this makes sense to me” filter off, and start operating on the truth of God’s Word. I choose to remember His radical love for me, in the shape of cross.

For the last decade I’ve treated motherhood like a career, reading books, seeking advice and praying harder than I have ever prayed. Being a mom has taught me how quickly I reach the end of myself, and every stage of motherhood includes a part I don’t like to willingly embrace …letting go. With the onset of every aggravated tween-age tone and frustrated glance, I’m reminded. 

But I choose to remember who she is, and that makes all the difference. 

To function below the surface we have to foster and fight for our faith. Everyday reminding ourselves that we are part of something bigger and going somewhere better. Choose to remember. Aim to receive this radical love every day, from whomever or whatever His delivery system is …then look around to pass it on.

“I love you 

_________ and I’ll always

 be there for you. 

I just want to let 

you know you can tell 

me anything. 

Luv, Jesus.”

Have a Happy and Radical Year,

Megs

4 Christian Principles for Making New Year’s Resolutions

Resolutions are strategic reminders for our repentant hearts. As Christians, they should be set in place to progress of the will of God in our lives. Before compiling a new list of goals, celebrate each step of progress that was made in the last year. Pay homage to the work God has done in our lives, before surging onto the next stage of growth. Giving God glory in worship for the accomplishments we achieve is a necessary element in the Christian attribute of fostering a grateful heart. Taking our failures into account, as well, shines light into the areas of our lives where prayer for clarity is needed. 

Through it all, God is guiding us. Jesus is walking with us, promising never to leave us. Prayerful consideration of the counsel of our good Father prevents needless brain-wracking and unreasonable goal-setting. His will is always in our best interest. The Voice paraphrase of Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that He promises to do more than we can ask or imagine in our lives. He can not only help us with our resolutions, but holds the key to the progress that will usher His peace into our lives.

“Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory…” (Ephesians 3:20-21). 

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