October 23, 2013

Throw a Grace Blanket on it!

Sharing this Facebook status update here, for those not connected to that page!  Sorry if you're getting a repeat, but really, can we ever get enough thinking about God's grace?!  :)

Meditating on grace this morning.  Boy, what a gift!  I'm thinking about my need to "throw a grace blanket" over many aspects of my life.  How that would change the way I perceive many situations, encounters, events, and moments!  What do you need to cover with grace today?  Your habitual sin?  Your to-do list?  The stress eating at you?  A difficult relationship?  A fear?

"He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."  2 Tim 1:9-10

GRACE and PEACE to you today in Christ Jesus!

October 19, 2013

Is Your Lens Properly Focused? Mine Wasn’t.

"It hit me hard in the middle of the first session of two-day parenting seminar at church.

To some degree, it had nothing to do with child rearing.  But it had everything to do with me and how I think about myself as a parent.   As a mom.

Our pastor was pointing us to the Scriptures and encouraging us to minister to our children, reminding us of our call to disciple them through instruction, discipline, and relationship.  I think being reminded of all of the good we can do in our children’s lives might be what caused the Spirit to prick my heart at that moment with this thought: ..."

And there I'm going to leave you hanging!  If you want to read on, click here to catch the rest of my article being shared today at itakejoy.com, the blog-home of Sally Clarkson.  I feel so privileged to have recently been invited to join a fabulous group of women as a contributor.

Have a great, hopefully lens-refocusing, weekend!!

October 16, 2013

Broader Perspective

I got to thinking the other day about how fear so quickly drives out faith, revealing how much we need the Lord to change our hearts and broaden our perspective.  Here are two examples.

1. They're building a new Islamic Center just outside of town.  This can feel threatening.  But as I was considering a conversation I had about it with a friend, I thought to myself, My goodness, should our response not be one that says, 'Oh boy, opportunities to minister to and share the Gospel with Muslims are right in our neighborhood!'?  But alas, when we feel threatened and fearful, our desire is to protect ourselves, to wish away that which threatens us, to move away from the Lord rather than closer to Him.  I wish my natural inclination were to think about God's saving grace and sharing it with the world, (especially when He's so kind as to bring "the world" to my back door)!  Change our hearts, O God.
2. I'm new in town.  And (though I know it's wrong and I'm embarrassed to admit it) I size people up judge people based entirely on what my eyes can see and the "vibe" I get form them, before I have even exchanged one word with them.  I am proud.  I fear being rejected and judged myself, so the defenses go up and judgments fly around in my brain.  So, rather than jumping in with both feet and "risking" the opportunity to make a really cool new friend, I hang back, feel justified in my assessments, and miss those relationship-building moments.  Am I alone in this behavior?  I don't imagine so.  Again we must cry out, change our hearts, O God!

God's call on our lives as Christians is to love Him and love our neighbor.  His perfect love sustains us in these good works that He's given us to do.  Resting secure in Him and remembering, as I heard someone once say, that "the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing," will drive out those fears and broaden our perspective to His.

I've been hanging out this week in 2 Peter 3.  (You should totally read it today!)  Peter is reminding God's people that judgement day is coming and instructing them on how to live in light of that promise.  Peter says beautiful, perspective-shifting things about God's patience with mankind and His desire to see men everywhere repent and believe the Good News.  He also reminds the believers of the importance of looking ahead to that day and living in light of it.  This is not it, we're looking forward to something better!

Our fears seem so silly and uncalled-for when put under heaven's Light!

There's a much bigger picture than what my eyes can see as an Islamic center is constructed down the road and as I venture into new relationships.  Biblical and personal history remind me, however, that God is in control.  He turns some of the most unexpected hearts to Himself.  (Like, say, mine and yours!)  He also has taken relationships where I've misjudged, and turned them into wonderful friendships.  Scripture reminds me that there's far more to live for than the here-and-now.  The Lord is coming!  One day we will live forever with Him.  Let's pursue righteousness and take some folks with us!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory both now and forever!  Amen.   2 Peter 3:18

October 1, 2013

Blog Series, Coming Your Way in November!

The last few years I've joined with many in cyberspace and blogged daily in October or November.*  The first year, 2010, I simply wrote about something on my mind or what we did that day. In 2011 and 2012 I got more serious and picked a topic and worked my way through it, forcing you inviting you to join with me.  Getting fancy around here, isn't it?!

For 2013 I've got an idea brewing that I wanted to get started today, October 1, but wisdom's telling me to hold off till November.  You've surely read about our move and my husband's new job.  Well, he's busy with his first semester teaching, which means I'm far more busy at home than I usual.  I won't have time to devote to developing the topic as I go this month, but if I spend this month reading and preparing, it will be much more manageable to invite you along for the ride in November.

Here's what's cookin'.

Presently, I'm working my way through 1 & 2 Timothy using a Kay Arthur study.  Her studies are inductive and thorough.  A couple of weeks ago I found myself hanging out around these verses:

[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:9-10

I run in circles that (I believe) rightly spend a lot of time focusing on the grace of God in saving us.  As these verses say, God saves us not because of what we've done, but because of His own grace.  Amen to that!  However, that's not the only thing that Paul says to Timothy.  He adds that God saved us and called us to a holy life.

I want to know what that means!  What does that look like day-to-day?  How do we lean wholly on Jesus' name and pursue this calling to a holy life?

I have so many questions, and I want to search out some answers!  That is what November will be all about at Life in the Valley.  I've been mind-mapping, coming up with questions, and reading an old book, by a fellow named William Law, called A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.  I'm also thinking about how the holy life relates to and/or is defined by the two greatest commandments, Micah 6:8, and the fruit of the Spirit.  I wonder, is the holy life something we do or something that is wrought in us?  Or both?!  Is there a difference between holiness and righteousness?  How can we keep from relying on works-righteousness but also not feel like Christ set us free to do what ever we want?

I believe the Scriptures have answers to these questions.
I hope we find ourselves surprised by some of them!

Please join me in November for this exploration and invite your friends.  I'm fairly certain we'll just scratch the surface, but I pray it will cause us to grow up together into the Head, who is Christ.  Also, if you have read any good books or can think of any verses/passages that relate to this topic, I'll take any and all suggestions.

With affection,

*I got the first image from http://www.theroadtorollergirl.com/tag/nablopomo/.  The link feature isn't working at the moment.