He Will Never Leave

Walking on the Sidewalk --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

I don’t know about you but I am often forgetful. In the midst of living this life I forget that God is bigger, stronger, and keeps His promises. He is not like those of the world He does not leave us, forget us, disappoint us, and hurt us. Sure those of this world who love us and care about us do not mean to do those things either and yet we all do fail one another. So what shall we do in order to not become discouraged?

My dear sisters if you find yourself in a place today of forgetfulness remember that you are not alone! He walks with you.

I pray these reminders of truth will encourage you. Regardless of what life may bring, whether joy or sorrows, He walks with you.

Gen 28:15
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Joshua 1:5
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6, 8
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Romans 8:35 -39
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Heb 13:5b
… “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.”

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Called to Live and Preach Christ

There is a quote that has often bothered me. It just didn’t sit right in my heart. The quote is often attributed to Francis of Assisi and says “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

Quite honestly it just doesn’t make sense to me.  I mean if my neighbor sees me living my life in service to others and being a good neighbor, loving those I homelessmeet, all he will think is that I’m a nice person. He doesn’t  come to know the content of the gospel  simply by watching me live my life.

Shouldn’t  I also speak the gospel so that he will know?

So, I sat down to do some research on the quote. I wanted to know the context of the quote. Maybe the context had been distorted over the years. Interestingly enough what I found was that Francis of Assisi never said it. Read more here.

Mark Galli of Christianity Today says this about the quote, “First, no biography written within the first 200 years of his death contains the saying. It’s not likely that a pithy quote like this would have been missed by his earliest disciples. Second, in his day, Francis was known as much for his preaching as for his lifestyle.”1

I love what Jeremy Carr writes about the quote on his blog One Thing, “ While it commends us to live out the Gospel through our life, it falls short of what it means to preach the Gospel and it actually makes no sense at all. I recently heard D. A. Carson comment that it would be like telling a news reporter to “Give the news and if necessary use words.” After all Gospel means good news. News is something you tell people.”

Some might say who cares who said it, after all it’s still a good statement. Maybe,  but I wouldn’t want someone to say I said something when I didn’t, or take something I said and misquote it. Would you?  I imagine not. So it is import to understand that Francis of Assisi did not say this.

But is it a good quote regardless of who said it? I really struggle with that in light of what scripture says. God’s word is very clear that we are to live out the gospel and we are to preach the gospel.

We live the gospel when we love one another. What if the body of Christ so loved one another that they actually did 1 Thess 5:11-13 and encouraged, built up, showed appreciation, encouraged the fainthearted, helped the weak, was patient, and sought what was good for one another. Wouldn’t that speak volumes to the world if they saw the church living out the gospel in such a way? So yes,  we absolutely must live out the gospel before the world.

We are also told to preach the gospel. Jesus tells the disciple to “go preach the gospel.” (Mark 16:15) and Paul says “for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1 Cor 9:16) In fact as I searched scripture (but did not do an in-depth study) it seems that the New Testament writers often preached the gospel to those outside of the body. They did not leave it up to the idea that “if I just live right before them they will know I am a believer”. No they PREACHED Jesus! (2 Cor 10:16; Rom 15:20; Mark 15:15)

A quick look at 1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” John is telling us that if we speak love only with words and no actions it is not love. When taking the gospel to a dark world we need to both live and preach the gospel. It’s not one or the other. We are called to live and love as Jesus did. He IS our example.

My dear beloved, Jesus both lived and spoke the gospel. His life both showed and spoke the love of the Father. We should go and do likewise.

1 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/mayweb-only/120-42.0.html

A Christmas Longing

Christmas has been hard this year for me. Deep inside there is an ache, a longing. I remember childhood Christmas’s past filled with lots of family, laughter and love. While we didn’t really have any particular family traditions my mother always tried to make the day about family no matter what was going on or how hard 2013-12-10 09.36.20the season of life was. It’s been 27 years since my mom, sister and brother have been together for Christmas and over 10 years since I’ve spent Christmas together with my mom and sister. I miss them all.

So while my heart may be sad it is also filled with so much joy of the season.

I am blessed that I can spend time with my boys and their family. I can love on my grandchildren and make precious memories with them. I am filled with a heart of joy for my husbands family whom I love deeply. Who still gather at Christmas time to share, laugh and love. They may be my ‘married into family” but in so many ways they are so much more than that. God blessed me far beyond anything I could dream for when he gave me my husband and a family who cherishes one another and has a deep faith in God our Father.

Most of all I reflect on the true meaning of why we celebrate the season. It’s the celebration of a precious baby boy who came to earth so that I might understand my need for God the Father.

I am grateful for a God who loved me so much that He sent His only Son in the form of a baby to earth so that I might know Him. Jesus came to earth in the form of flesh so that we might know His Father in heaven. Jesus came so that we might understand the love of the Father. He came so that we would see out need of a relationship with our Creator God. He came so that He could pay the cost of my sin. He came so that my sins would be forgiven.

So yes, there is a longing in my heart this Christmas for family, for the ideal Christmas celebrations, for traditions but I am reminded of an even greater longing inside the heart of every man, woman, and child. The longing for purpose, for love, for the God who created them.

I am reminded that there are many who will spend this season alone. There will be many who will find the emptiness to be too much and try to end the pain anyway they can. There will be many who will be hungry, cold and without the warmth of any type of celebration.

All this remembering and thinking makes me wonder if I’ve missed the meaning of Christmas all together. What have I done this season to reach out? How have I helped relieve the pain of aloneness? What have I done to show the love of Christ?

If I have missed the meaning of why Christ came and what my response should be what will I do about it now? What will I do tomorrow? Next week? Next year? It’s never too late to share the story of Christmas. It’s never too late to reach out and tell others about the baby that came to save the world.

It’s never too late to show the love of God who came to die for my sins and yours.

Merry Christmas my friends. May we share the joy of Christ’s birth all year long!

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid ; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people ; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 1″This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:10-14

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you,unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 1 Cor 15:1-5

A Thankful list for Thanksgiving

TENDER – He is tender and compassionate toward us.

stockvault-grungy-vintage-paper133316He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies.(Ps 103:4)

The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. (Ps 103:13)

God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:8)

HEAVEN – It’s our Home!!

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down when we die and leave these bodies we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. (2Co 5:1)

For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come. (Heb 13:14)

AMAZING – a word that describes all that God does!

Then everyone will stand in awe, proclaiming the mighty acts of God, realizing all the amazing things he does.(Ps 64:9)

How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in him should ponder them. (Ps 111:2)

Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!(Ps 126:3)

NAILS – It is His nail pierced hands that show what He did for us.

Then they nailed him to the cross… (Mark 15:24a)

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. (Gal 5:24)

So this is the point: The law no longer holds you in its power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ on the cross. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. (Rom 7:4)

KING – He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

For at the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of kings and Lord of lords. (1Tim 6:15)

On his robe and thigh was written this title: King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev 19:16)

FAITHFULNESS – God showed His faithfulness through Jesus Christ.

So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. (John 1:14)

For the law was given through Moses; God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

UNITED– We have been united with Christ.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was.(Rom 6:5)

And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. (Gal 3:27)

LOVE – He loves us!!

I am overcome with joy because of your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.(Ps 31:7)

Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you! (Ps 63:3)

Others died that you might live. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. (Is 43:4)

 

Verses are quoted from the New Living Translation

What I Have Learned After 30 Years

wedding1983

Thirty years ago today I said I do to a man I wasn’t sure I loved the way a wife should love her husband. I am not even sure I knew what love was at that time. What I did know is that he was my friend and in the two years I had known him he had already supported me through so much. He had loved me during moments that many men would have walked away.

Since that day I have learned a lot. I have learned about marriage, love and life as we have journeyed together. It hasn’t always been perfect and yet it has been good. We have learned that we can argue and yet work things out in love. We have learned that there will be times we may feel like we want to give up but we would fight for one another, for our love and our family.

We have also learned…

Marriage is a covenant. A covenant not to be broken except by death. We choose to be committed to one another no matter what life may throw at us. We also understand that it is not just the two of us involved in the covenant but God is the administer of our covenant. He watches over us.

Love is a choice. You only fall out of love because you choose to. It gets too hard, we stop trying, but love chooses to stay and work through the hard places. Love chooses to keep going even when you feel like giving up.

You have to laugh. At times we must laugh hard and long. It helps put the day in perspective. God gave me my husband because God knew I would need to laugh. Keith is the only one who can make me laugh at almost anything, even when I am really stressed out. Even when I am upset with him.

Neither of us are perfect. We each have areas of our heart and life that God needs to expose and work through in order to mold us into the image of Christ. Giving room to grow into the man and woman God has created us to be is important.

Marriage is about growing. It’s a process of growth and maturity. A process that requires grace, patience and a willingness to walk in forgiveness. It’s growing in our relationship with God, with each other and within ourselves. We need to encourage and spur on growth in one another.

Marriage is about friendship. Be willing to work at the friendship. Spend time together. Talk about everything, share your hopes, dreams, joys and sorrow. Be life long friends.

Marriage takes hard work. It’s true, marriage isn’t easy. You can just glide along hoping things will be fine. You can not just push everything under the rug praying it will work out. You need to keep dating your spouse even when schedules make it seem impossible.

There is so much we’ve learned after 30 years, this is only a small list. How can one possibly list everything?I don’t want to sound as if it’s been easy, it hasn’t been. Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows it takes work, prayer and God.

There is a book on my shelf that I have never read, it’s called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I am sure it’s an excellent book. When I first got it I opened it and read 2012-12-24 20.49.01this sentence, “What if marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy?” I closed the book and put it on the shelf. It’s the best book I never read.

That sentence in many ways has totally changed my thoughts on marriage. What if God intended marriage to make us holy? What better way to live a life of “iron sharpens iron” than within the marriage relationship?

Maybe we come into marriage with the wrong expectations? We enter marriage thinking it is to make us happy, whole or so that we are loved. But what if it is more about learning to know God and to make us holy. It’s just a thought.

I pray that we still have many more years ahead of us. I love this man, I love being married to him for better and for worse, in sickness and in health and for poor or rich. I pray we have more years to love and to grow.

A Father’s Love

a-fathers-love_thumb.jpgEven before I was born I was loved deeply and very precious to my Father. The moment He fashioned me He fell in love. He had never seen anyone so beautiful. His beloved daughter. Tears fell down His eyes as He held me, His precious daughter. He watched me grow; I made Him laugh with the silly things I’d do. My tender heart caused Him to smile. How beautiful I was in His eyes.

There was also a sharp pain in His heart as He watched me, for He also knew what was to come. He knew I would not understand what was to be apart of my life. At such a tender age it would seem that people would want to destroy me. My Father would weep for the pain and suffering I would endure. He knew He had the power to stop my suffering; a suffering that would leave me numb and lost. He understood because His Son had suffered an even greater suffering for the sins of all mankind.

My Father knew I would someday grow to understand the suffering of His Son because of what I would suffer. I would see His suffering and understand the pain and the torment He went through to no fault of His own. He knew I would see the hope, and the beauty in His suffering. His beauty would then reflect in my face.

During my suffering I would feel so alone and abandoned. I felt alone not because He was not there, but because I could not see. I was blind to the truth of Him. I did not see that He had His arms wrapped so tightly around me, loving me.

As evil took over my body tears would run down His face, He would weep loudly and painfully. His groans would be so loud that all of heaven could hear. He would feel all my pain. He would feel the tearing of my soul and the tears that would not come. “Vengeance is mine He’ll cry!” “You will not destroy her! For out of evil I will create beauty. Out of ashes I will create a garland.” “Oh my child, I will not leave you.”

As I sit on His lap tears run down His face. He knows that His precious little girl will walk through years of pain that she will not understand until she is grown. He held her tightly and whispered, “My Beloved, I love you, I will walk with you.”

 

Originally written on Quiet Reflection in 2008.

This is Life. This is Marriage.

We took our wedding vows and made a promise to live together until death does us part.

No one told us how hard it would be those first couple of years. It was the little things that caused frustrations. Like laundry on the floor, who slept on what side of the bed, what kind of toothpaste  would we use. Whose house would we go for the holidays. Everything seemed to cause a struggle. It was a struggle for two individuals becoming one.

ID-10033333.jpgIt takes time for a young man to gain confidence and take the lead. It takes time to become a man.

It takes time for a woman to grow and realize the role God places her in. She will grow to come along side and be a helpmate to her husband.

It goes against our flesh, it goes against what the world tells us about marriage. The only hope is that God must be allowed to work in our hearts. In our marriage.

There are many years filled with love, laughter and tears. Learning to understand one another, to love one another. There were sorrows and disappointments shared. Deep struggles that caused growth in both of us.

There were children, moving, losses, death, and decisions to be made. All allowed by the grace of God to mold and shape us.

This was life, it was our life. It is still life.

Marriage is an amazing life shared with one who loves deeply, sacrificially and unconditionally. Dates planned, intimate talks, holding hands or just sitting in silence knowing we are not alone. Sharing our future, hopes, dreams, desires, and our fears.

Oh, and those moments when you look into one another’s eyes and know just how loved you are. You see your beauty in the way they look at you. You feel safe in their embrace and you know the depth of their commitment to you.

This is life, this is marriage. Both are filled with love, joy, pain and sorrow.

We made a promise on the day of our wedding, but we have grown to a place where we realize that marriage is more than a promise, it’s a covenant. A solemn binding agreement between parties, made by blood, and not breakable. God is the sovereign administrator of this covenant.

A covenant means that you become one flesh, its death to independent living. You will put your partners needs before your own. If someone hurts your spouse they hurt you for you have truly grown to be one.

A covenant means that you will stand and fight for as long as it takes to defeat the enemy. You’ve got one another’s back. It means that you will be there for one another no matter how hard the road is. You are in it for the long haul. There is no giving up when it gets hard and messy. There is no divorce – it’s not even in your vocabulary and certainly never mentioned.

When recently asked how we have managed to come to almost 30 years I simply said,“we made a covenant, and a covenant is more than a promise. A covenant can not be broken. We are committed to making it work. We choose to love one another even in those moments when it’s hard.”

Marriage does not come with an easy button, it takes work, sacrifice, steadfast commitment and prayer. It also takes those around you to build a community of faith and support. We allow others int our lives to help keep us accountable. We allow them to speak truth into our marriage.

It means allowing God to rule over your marriage and be obedient to do what you know is right. It means that you WILL be there for one another no matter what. You will always choose to stay and work it out instead of leave and give up.

Marriage is more than the worlds definition of a promise which is so easily broken– it’s a covenant.

 
Photo courtesy from  photostock,  at www.freedigitalphotos.net