Sunday, June 24, 2012

LOL: "But God...."

Memory/Meditation Verse: "...and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."~ Phil 4:7 (NKJV)

Living Out Loud (LOL) the chaos, in the noise, in the trials. That's what I write about today.

These past weeks have been a trial. I struggle with what to do with this trial. Do I stay? Do I leave? What if I lose control within it? My stress levels have been very high.
A recent blessing in my life is being surrounded by a pretty strong negative. Resistance is tearing down any confidence that attempts to rise above it. Integrity seems to be overshadowed by its opponent. I keep reminding myself that I am trusting God to carry me through this.
Some minutes have proven too hard to hold on to even that. Several nights of sleep have eluded me no matter how many times I prayed the situation into God's hands. I know better. I know that God always comes through so why would I be weak in the difficult times with my trusting of His control?
 On my birthday a few weeks ago I decided to read the correlating chapters of Psalms to match my birth month, day and year. It was a sweet quite time. Each morning that I found my anxiety hung over me as a dark cloud, I repeated this process. In these readings I would find that "peace that passes all understanding". Peace for a situation that reminds me that God IS in control and He will handle the thorn in my side.

His sweet words written and the timing of His penmanship for my situation now then would confirm over and over His peace. God's sweet peace that would wash over me and calm my spirit. Utterly amazing.
In everything there is a "but God..."
It reminds me of a theme I found as I studied Ephesians 2 for our community Bible study this past week. There are seven words that stuck out to me:
"You were..."
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins (vs 1)
"but God....because"
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us (vs 4)

"through faith..."
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift 
(vs 8)
Now how can I apply this to this to my anxiety and the peace I found in the Psalms I read?
I am not a perfect Christian, nor have I been perfect in every situation of life. There have been some mistakes (past tense) and I have accepted responsibility for those areas. I have been many things in life...many sins have touched my life. I am a stone in the path  that Jesus walked to Calvary.  It is in this knowing I am driven to Him more today.
That "peace that passes all understanding" comes in with the "but God..". This is were my faith and trust is fueled. Notice the "but God...." is followed with "because". Why does he intervene in our lives? Because He loves us with a compassion we do not fully comprehend and I am humbled. It is in His "because" I know that His plan will prevail in my anxiety and I accept it.
It is not through my own professional achievements that I alone will come out victorious in this situation. That has become clear. But I know God, I know His work in my life and though this obstacle seems big at the moment, I am trusting His grace and asking for His mercy in it.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness..."

~Isa 61:10 (NKJV)

Saved by grace is not just limited to can be found in any area of our life. And I am so thankful for it. But God...two of the strongest words in your faith walk.

Striving to Live Out Loud~Pamela 


Monday, June 4, 2012

LOL: Bucket List

Memory/Meditation Verses: In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. ~ Titus 2:3-5 (HCSB)

Living out Loud (LOL)....

I came across this familiar piece of scripture above this weekend and it really grab my soul. I have been reflecting on my daughters own life as she has graduated high school and how I as a mother failed her and helped her. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to reflect on my own life. Our study of Galatians 5 in our community Bible study addressed the offense of the cross and I haven't been able to release those words "the offense of the cross". I find that it drives me spiritually just as it has driven other Christians to reflect on their life, their living and breathing of each day.

The offense of the cross is so powerful and should drive each of us. Mel Gibson portrayed it so well in The Passion of Christ...the inhumanity and cruelty of an innocent God-man's journey to a cross for the failure of human kind to God. It so easy to look away due to the repulsiveness of it but instead we need to look at it strait on and allow it to change us and drive us closer to God. Man-kind wants to alter the value of the cross, our lives should instead model the worth of the cross.

The cross offends men and women, because it is contrary to their ideas of human worth." 
~ Charles Spurgeon

Does the offense of the cross, the injustice and inhumanity of an innocent God-man for our own selfish choices, draw you to change and to live life on purpose? Do you have written goals for your life? 

A Christian author in my current reading wrote she and her husband had written goals for their life when they became Christians and still lived to those goals. They have been very successful in this world and successful spiritually. Today, we have people in the spiritual and secular world talking about having a "bucket list". So I ask, do you have one?

The offense of the cross and my devotional reading yesterday of Titus 2 lands me here contemplating a "bucket list" of goals for my life. I couldn't help but cringe at my own failure towards these verses in Titus 2, those things that drew Jesus to that cross. My longing to change grew as I reflected on the implication of these verses. What a good "bucket list" for the Christian woman. Read it again...

3 In the same way, teach older women to be holy in their behavior, not speaking against others or enslaved to too much wine, but teaching what is good.4 Then they can teach the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,5 to be wise and pure, to be good workers at home, to be kind, and to yield to their husbands. Then no one will be able to criticize the teaching God gave us. (NCV)

The Christian woman's "Bucket List" would entail...
  1. To love the Lord her God with all her heart, mind and soul and to love others more than herself (Matt 26:36-39)
  2. To be godly in behavior (vs 3)
  3. T be truthful and kind in speech (vs 3)
  4. To be disciplined and self-controlled (vs 3)
  5. To be a teacher and encourager of good things (vs 4)
  6. To be devoted to her husband and honor him (vs 4)
  7. To be a blessing to her children (vs 4)
  8. To be discreet and wise in her actions (vs 5)
  9. To be chase and pure inside and out (vs 5)
  10. To be focused on her home (vs 5)
  11.  To be a message of Christ (vs 5)
To be holy so that others are drawn to put others before yourself and be free of be a model wife and love God above all other things...driven by the offense of the cross.

What would you add to this  bucket list" for the Christian woman? How does the offense of the cross compel you?

Striving to Live Out Loud~Pamela

Sunday, June 3, 2012

For my daughter Emma...

I don't know how to even start this letter to you Emma, I struggle to find the words that are qualified to speak my heart.  I know I could start with...

I blew it...

I really messed it up...

I tried and failed miserably...

You and I know how true those words are. But these words resound even louder from my heart...

I'm sorry...

I love you more than what these words can imply on this screen...

I will never stop believing in you...

As you end your journey of childhood and enter adulthood, I could also leave you thoughts from my broken but redeemed heart. Somewhere in my mess there is a message for you. Such as.....

Life is hard and it will get will only succeed by holding onto God... 

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him,
    for he shields him all day long, 
and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. ”
~ Deut. 33:12

Mistakes come easy, forgiveness is hard but the freedom from forgiving is far easier to live with than the bitterness of unforgiveness. We hurt ourself more when we hurt others. Healing starts in forgiving yourself so you can forgive others...
All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. ~ Eph 4:32 (HCSB)

We were created for more and you will find that more when you give of yourself to others...
 Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."~ Luke 6:38 (Message)

Scars from our past can be made beautiful but not by anything that we do but what God does in and through our life...
 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord 
and put their trust in him. 
~ Ps. 40-1-3 (NIV)

Joy is not found in self-gratification but rather in self-denial. Putting the needs of others before your own will fill your life with contentment...

And most importantly...
Nothing you do is too great to be forgiven.

Your mother learned many of life's lessons the hard way and you seem to be falling into those footsteps. but what choose to give you andwhat I wish I would have done differently in my own life  would be this...

I wouldn't walk a day without first walking it with God and being in His Word.

Every decision in life will affect you-either for the good or the bad. Our choices make us who we are. As ugly as it can get, and it was at times for me, there is peace,there is joy and there is healing from brokenness and poor choices in life. My own unhappiness and bitterness has been replaced with these things: joy, peace and healing when I  searched for God and grew in my knowing and believing of Him. When all else was chaos around me, I could pull a piece of scripture to meditate on and move forward without anxiety, pain or fear.

I have learned you can't do life without God and succeed.

I can look back on my life with so many regrets but my biggest regret is that I did not live each day for God. I know some of my decision could not be a part of His plan for my life but they have shaped me for His ultimate plan. I don't want you to be sitting at a laptop at the age of 49 saying those same words. 

As your mother I have wanted so much more for you. I had a plan for your life and wanted the best for you and from you. You choose a different path than my plan and I have come to accept that this path is part of God's bigger and better plan for you. Everything up to this point has happened for a reason. Find that reason...find His purpose for your life!

Let the mess of my life be a message to you to consider what God wants from you in life. Allow Him to turn your own choices into a message that will blow this world away with who you really are...

"The King is enthralled by your beauty. Honor Him for He is your Lord." Ps 45: 11

I love you Emma and I can't wait to see what God is going to do in and through you! ~Mom