The Teenage Word of the 90’s. (#recall 12 series, August)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s great Word each month! This month’s verse is: 

“Fill your minds with beauty and truth.” Philippians 4:8a

recall12 August image 1

“Whatever, Dad …”

My teenage voice echoes in my head every time I hear the word, ‘whatever.’ I said it so many times in those seven years of my teenage life that my Dad eventually started to call me, “Whatever.” It became a family joke. The first time one of my children say it to me will be gut-breakingly funny! Paybacks always come that way …or so I’m told. Whatever.#recall12 August Tweet 1

This month’s verse is followed by a string of ‘whatever’s.’ Let’s take a look at the second half of Philippians 4:8:

“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.” Philippians 4:8b (NIV)

Determining “whatever” is a common challenge, but the author of this verse enlightens the principles we should be steering our thoughts towards. Paul knew that whatever  “people allow to occupy their minds will sooner or later determine their speech and action. ” NIV Notes. 

“Whatever is true…” In the original Greek text, ‘true’ is the Greek word, ‘alethes.‘ It means “loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful.” More than simply honest inclinations, we are called to be an outstretched arm of Truth, Himself.

“Whatever is noble…” Other translations use, ‘honorable.’ God’s character holds the true definition of what is honorable. God is good, all of the time. His timing is perfect, and He is fair and just.  He is Love …and Honorable.

“Whatever is right…” Strong’s Concordance defines “dikaios“(the Greek word for ‘right’) as “a way of thinking, feeling, and acting that is wholly conformed to the will of God.” Jesus was the only one worthy to walk out that definition. When we want to think about things that are right, we can look to the way that He lived His earthly life.

#recall12 August image 2

“Whatever is pure…” Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary says that innocence is“not be limited to sexual purity,” but that we should “keep away from any involvement in the sins of others.” Purity is self-restraint and resisting peer pressure.

“Whatever is lovely…” “Just give me more of Jesus,” an author said when asked what new writers should base their content off of. What is more lovely than Grace? Grace that died on a cross for us before we knew Him. When we know Jesus, we begin to see reflections of His loveliness in each person we meet.

“Whatever is good…” God is good, all the time. To meditate on goodness is to think of Him.

“Whatever is excellent or praiseworthy…” The best way to think about excellent and praiseworthy things is to praise Him. Worship in song or in still admiration of the sun rising puts God’s glory on display.  The primary task of humankind is to give this praise to God (Phil 4:8) and not oneself- Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary

“Fill your minds with beauty and truth.” Philippians 4:8a

#recall12 August Tweet 2“Whatever” is filling statement. It leaves no room for dispute and shuts the conversation down. It can be an open invitation to listen, or a closed door for consideration. Our minds fill up with God’s Words when we are listening to ‘whatever’ He says. Others benefit from Jesus’ love when our arms are outstretched with ‘whatever’ He wills for our lives.

“Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.” Philippians 4:8b (VOICE)

When we meditate in conversation with God, He fills our thoughts with ‘whatever.’

The Voice translation uses the word ‘meditate,’ which lends more depth to the sentiments we consider thinking about. To meditate is “to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.”(Merriam-Webster) It specifies that these aren’t just random thoughts blurring through our brains, but notions we grab a hold of and let marinate in our minds. It’s there, in that pocket of relaxed concentration, that we witness the “beauty and truth” that God instructs us to “fill our minds with” in this month’s verse.

“Think about such things.” Philippians 4:8b(NIV)

Father, Praise You for teaching us so much through one word. Thank You for so clearly defining what we are to think about, speak of, and listen for. Forgive us for the times we don’t hear Your voice because we aren’t listening. Bless our thought-life to reflect Your love. May the Spirit that Jesus died to grant us access to be ever-present in our conversations with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Megs

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#recall12 August Verse Memory Cards PDF2#recall 12 August memory verse cards

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The Nylon Strings (#recall12, July)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s great Word together each month! This month’s verse is:

“The Lord is my strength and my song.” Exodus 15:2

#recall12 July image 1

“TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG….”

I’m enjoying this. I love to listen to her play. Don’t criticize her for playing. Think about something else….

In the beginning stages of my daughter’s love for her ukulele, there was a lot of inward coaching I had to do in order to let her discover her own sound. It was music to my ears to hear her musical genius uncle tell her that her instrument had nylon strings …and she was  going to knock them out of tune by banging on them so hard.

“But I just like to jam,” she argued.

“Well, you need metal strings if you want to jam like that …” he explained.

“TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG-TWANG….”She still wasn’t convinced.

“You heard what your uncle said,” I reminded, “if you snap a string on that uke because you’re stubborn, I’m not replacing it.”

Eye-roll …but compliance.

Oh, the sweet sound.

This month’s verse highlights the stubbornness of humanity …and God’s people. Fresh off a victory over Pharoh’s army and witness to them being swallowed by the Red Sea, there is abundant praise for God and His provision and protection.

“I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. -Exodus 15:1

It’s on the heals of this that this months verse is bellowed for all to hold dear forevermore:

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.#recall12 July tweet 1
He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” -Exodus 15:2


How easy it is to give praise on top of the mountain of victory…
When the trumpets are blaring and the confetti is flying and the finish line tape rips across our chests and the publisher loves our idea and our children are successful ….

But it’s quite another thing to elevate our hearts to this level of praise before we witness the victory we seek. It’s not always going to look so big.

Sometimes, victory as we see it doesn’t come. God seems quiet. The nylon strings seem to be holding up just fine. So we jam on. Hard.

Until we snap.

That can look different for everyone. Temptation of all manner is waiting for opportunities like these. When we’re sitting in the pocket of victory,  we’re most likely to snap.

“The Lord is my strength and my song.” Exodus 15:2 #recall12 July Tweet 2

This month’s verse isn’t situational. Whether you are jamming on your nylon strings, staring at a snapped one, or have moved on to more durable metal strings …jam on. Because unlike an instrument, God’s song is not interrupted when we break. He doesn’t miss a beat. Whether we know it, see it, or hear Him  …He always hears …always cares …and always loves.

Our omnipotent God is unstoppable.

We are not Him, but we are made in His image.

“Music played a major role in the lives of people in biblical times. It was used in both sacred and secular activities and was most often associated with joy and celebration.”  Dictionary of Bible Themes

In Exodus 15:1-21, music celebrates victory.

victory-a success or triumph over an enemy in battle or war. -dictionary.com#recall12 July image 2

Victories are not exclusive to armies and athletics. They are the stuff of our Savior. Everyday miracles and tally-mark wins. Tempers calmed and callings chased. Jesus knows what it’s like to be human, and He knows that we are not capable of handling ourselves as He …the very Son of God and Spotless Lamb …did.

We’re incapable of carrying a tune without Armor. Hand Him what you can’t handle.

He is our strength.

We were never meant to be as strong as we try to be. We were created to lean in …to Him.

In the small victories and challenging moments of this month, let’s remember this verse …and sing a song … to our Strength.

#recall12 July image 3

Father, Praise You …for You alone are our Strength and our Shield. In times of trouble and in times of naivety, thank You for protecting and upholding us with Your just hand. We confess to snapping strings in the process of seeking our own method of progress. Forgive us, and send Your Spirit to bless us and fortify our hearts with Your Word and will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy Singing!

Megs

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#recall12 July memory cards

#recall12 July Verse Memory Cards PDF

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The Witness (#jammed daily devo, day 154)

June #jammed: Under the Blanket of Grace.

Day 154: The Great Grace Witness.

“But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15image 3

A snap-chat hit my phone. NCAA records were being smashed, and pre-race nerves and anticipation were in the air. Technology allowed me to witness a little bit of greatness through my friends’ lens. And because of my passion for distance running, I could feel the blood rush all the way to my toes as I watched a runner take a curve of the track.

Greatness. Witness. Passion.

Joshua pleads in today’s verse that God’s people fear the Lord, and choose to trust, serve, and worship him. (NIV Notes) In his life-time, he witnessed the movement away from the dreaded accounts of the past where God’s people had gone astray and worshipped other gods. Towards the end of his life, he warned them that times like these would come again.

Some people might have been discouraged by this pessimistic view of the future, and others arrogantly sure that they would not falter has their ancestors once had. But no matter where they stood, nothing could move the will of God. His timing is perfect, and unfettered by that we think we can and cannot do.

Joshua stated what they …we …can do.

“We will serve the Lord.”

By the grace of Jesus, no matter what we’ve done, we can come to God for forgiveness in the life of a new day. Our obedient strides are witness of His greatness and passion.

“You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:22 (NIV)

Chosen. They chose. As we choose.

“Yes, we are witnesses.” Joshua 24:22

When we witness greatness, we tweet about it …hashtag it on instagram …tag our friends on Facebook. But God …

He uses the triumphant and the painful moments of our lives to inspire souls we may never know in this life. His reach is much farther than the capability social media has to cast an image or a message. When we live life in pursuit of a heart like Jesus, ‘we are witnesses.’

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for the things that we are passionate about. Thank You for instilling remarkable abilities in us. Forgive us for failing to recognize Your hand in every facet of the life we were born to live in Your purpose. Bless our steps to follow Jesus, in humble acknowledgement of Your will for our lives. Make us great witnesses. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Witness-ing,

Megs

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The Great Thirty-eight. (#recall12 series, June.)

Welcome to the #recall12 series, where we are memorizing a little bit of God’s Word each month! This month’s verse is :

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

#recall12 June image 1

“Thirty-eight is going to be great.”

God has been whispering this blessing over my life as I peer into the next year of it. The last decade of my life has been riddled with challenge and laced in blessing. Each encroaching birthday is little scarier than the last.

With each year, more are diagnosed, suffer, and pass away. The people that it’s happening to are getting closer and closer in direct contact with my life. Friends, family …cancer.

“Cancer sucks,” my 8-year-old daughter declares …and I sigh.#recall12 June tweet 1

Cancer is scary. Life is terrifying.

Parting is unfathomable.

With each passing year, I have more to lose …and that particular fear would like to plant it’s paralyzing seed right smack in the center of my heart. Fear of loss can only be overcome by perfect Love.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Lying in the first part of this month’s verse is the fan to fear’s flame. “The thief…”

thief-One that steals especially stealthily or secretly. -Merriam-Webster

The NIV Study Bible Notes declare, “His interest is in himself.” Indeed. Selfishness is akin to theft …and fear.

#recall12 June Tweet 2selfishness- Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. Merriam-Webster

Excessive and exclusive leave no room for the devil’s care for us. He’s messing to make us miserable enough to forgo the blessings in front of us. Worry and anxiety play an important role in what he’s trying to accomplish. His hope is that our hold on the world will overshadow the joy of Jesus’ heavenly embrace.

His breath filled all things

    with a living, breathing light—
 A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
    blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched. John 1:4-5

Jesus is Life and Light. No new worry we discover to fret over is new news to Jesus, who sat with God from the very beginning of time. He knew us before birth, and I imagine that the Words He ordained to be written in the Bible for us to read were spoken with all of us in mind.

Through the darkness then, and murky bottoms now, He is Light and Life. Unstoppable. Unbeatable. Alive.

#recall12 June image 2

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” John 10:10 (VOICE)

There is a joyful and abundant life to be lived here on earth, knowing that He wins. We win. Death may part us from our friends and family. Cancer will steal time and break hearts. There’s no need to reach for wretched news to wreck our day. But just as it surrounds us, so does He. In the sunrise, He reminds us He is here. In the smile of a child, He reminds us Life is good. Through the unexpected note from a friend or a hug from a stranger, He shows us that He cares.

Are we looking for life, or waiting for death?

“The Greek word for “life” is found 36 times in John, while no other NT book uses it more than 17 times.” NIV Notes.

Life … “zoe”in Greek, means both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence. The Lord intimately shares His gift of life with people, creating each in His image which gives all the capacity to know His eternal life. (Strong’s Concordance.)

Someone said to me recently that sometimes doubt can mean we are actually on the right track. Knowing the full scope of what the devil is up to, that makes perfect sense. He can’t make us do anything …but he can cause us to wobble in and out of doubt and anxiety. Fear is an attack on every good thing the Father has in store for us. All of the joy that Jesus died to lend us. Life was not promised to be easy …or fair …or painless …or always happy. There are times in this life that we will barely be able to lift our heads to the sky and ask Him , “why?”

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

Let’s continue to lift our heads and hold onto hope. It’s not a fairytale wish, but it is the stuff of fairy tales. Our Redeemer King has already rescued us. Live what He saved to the fullest.

#recall12 series June image 3

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

Father, Praise You for Life. Thank You for Jesus’ gift to us. Grace surrounds us, yet we fail on so many occasions to face it. Forgive us for looking past You for comfort, and help us to fiercely follow Your Son’s footsteps each day that we are blessed with on this earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Happy Birthdays!

Megs

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recall12_pdf_june_image

#recall 12 June Verse Memory Cards PDF

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“What Does It Mean?” Week 3: Joy.

Joy

A source or cause of delight –Merriam-Websterjoy-image-1

Joy differs from happiness in that it is an emotion.  -Wikipedia

Is there greater delight than the wonder of Santa, or the glee witnessed as a child unwraps the present they wished for? Can there be a sweeter tear than the touch of a Christmas memory?

 Yes.

Set a part from the fleeting feeling of happiness, joy defines what Jesus came to give.  It’s constancy flows through the entirety of our days, and allows us to laugh our way back to right. Joy is accepting who we are in confidence that we are cared for.

Acceptance & The ‘Damn’ Centers

Joy is the acceptance for who we are by the One who made us.

“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.'” Genesis 21:6

joy-tweet-1She was ninety …of course she laughed at the thought of giving birth. (Genesis  18)  Yet as God promised, she and her 100-year old husband Abraham had a son named Isaac …which means “he laughs.”

We often place God far off in the distance or high in the sky. But one of the endearing qualities of the Lord is that He is funny. I believe, in reverence, that Biblical conversations reflect the humor of a God for whom nothing is impossible. How often are we able to make light of our circumstances? Life isn’t always funny, but it is overflowing with joy …if we choose to accept it.

joy image 3.jpgMy six-year-old daughter exudes joy. It’s hard to discipline her with a straight face. When I asked her one afternoon why she had to stay in for recess, she said:

“I had to finish my damn centers,”  and rolled her eyes.

What else could I do but excuse myself to die of laughter?  She’s six! #longroad It further confirmed the spitfire personality that I love, along with the list of reasons she’ll never be allowed to go on spring break…

“Lo” doesn’t fall in line or take adults too seriously. Her laugh is loud and ever-present. I may joke about her tendency to test the rules, but embrace the tender heart behind those twinkling blue eyes. My love for her allows me to witness the brightness of her light.

God is not surprised by us. He loves the complete creation, and we are made to journey in joy! His love doesn’t lessen when we fall down. In fact, He seeks to share a laugh with us and reveal joy in hard moments. He’s accepted us. That’s why Jesus was born.

Christmas is closeness with God.

Confidence …For the Birds

Joy is the attitude of gratitude.

joy-tweet-3In the North where I live, Christmastime signals every bird that can’t bear the winter’s cold to start flocking together.  Millions of birds dance together in the sky, instinctively gathering and swooping and soaring until they’ve accumulated enough of a mass to drift as a dark “bird cloud” away with the warm air.

“…Look at them fly. It looks like God is taking pretty good care of them, doesn’t it? Remember that you are more precious to God than birds!” Luke 12:24

Birds are not even in my top 100 of favorite …or even likable creatures. Yet, over the years, I’ve come to admire the way they just know what to do.

“…God cares for every little sparrow …Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail—down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment—you can be secure and unafraid…” Luke 12:6-7

Birds don’t realize they are small or incapable. They operate confidently on carefully designed instinct.

“My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.”Luke 12:32

Humans seek to be loved because deep within the design of our nature is a Creator who is love. Our confidence is found in Him, through Jesus.

joy-image-4

He came into this world a small baby in a manger. His light caused others to flock to Him and follow Him, shifting and moving and gathering and cackling and spreading the Word. Long after Christ gave His human life on the cross, the birds continued to fly and stories of Jesus spread. His Word still flutters and gathers. Christian faith is moving and shifting. God’s not surprised. We all instinctively seek the joy of Jesus.

    He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations,
        and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.” Luke 2:32 (The Voice)

Joy to the world, indeed. The greatest gift. #yulesee 

Happy Christmas,

Meg

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