The Butterfly Circus

If you have 20 minutes I highly recommend you taking the time to watch this short film.  It is a beautifully written, directed and acted film.  This short story poignantly demonstrates how God can turn ashes to beauty.

If you receive this through google reader or e-mail you will have to click through to my blog to view it.

Recommended Book: Journey of Desire

Twice a month, I co-lead a Women's Group in my home.  This summer we had the privilege of going through the book Journey of Desire by John Eldredge.  It was an amazing time and I think I can fairly say that all of us ladies received a lot from it and are still reveling in the beauty of the truths.

Journey of Desire was written by John the year after his best friend Brent tragically died in a rock climbing accident.  Beautifully interwoven throughout the book is the journey that John went through in his thought processes during that year.  The book discusses how God has given us desires and how to keep desire alive in the process of life and all the hardships life throws our way.  It acknowledges that sometimes it is way easier to curl up and stop caring.  But it also tenderly speaks to the truth of who God is and what He desires for our lives and while acknowledging the pain it challenges us to keep going.  Unlike the book I read earlier this year Why is God Ignoring Me?, I truly believe this book acknowledges and is comfortable with the depth of pain that people can be in and tenderly calls us forth to life again.

I believe this book is a tool of the ministry of Jesus described in Matthew 12:20:
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.

Finally, I believe this book is a great book to do with a friend or a group.  There is so much in it, that I believe for you to receive the fullness of it, you should be discussing it with others as you go through.

In Christ,

Lessons from my children: 2 Why we have relationship

You would think after my last talk with my children, they would stop picking on each other, right?:)   Not so. 

Lesson 2: Why do we have relationship?

I heard my son, James, yelling at his sister, Mercea the other day.  For the first time, it didn't seem like my daughter was actively participating in annoying him.  I asked him if he was being cranky with his sister or if they were just pretending (sometimes it is hard to tell) and he said he was cranky so I sent him to his room for a time out.  Then I called my daughter in to see if she was being an instigator and she said she wasn't.  After his timeout I had him come to me so we could talk.  I asked him what was wrong.  James said his sister was being silly.  Was she interfering with what you were building?  No.  Was she touching your stuff or getting in your way?  No, she was just being silly. 

I had to chuckle to myself when James said this.  In order for the rest of this post to make sense you need to know that  my son and daughter have 2 very different personalities.  James is the oldest and has a serious streak to his personality.  He pays great attention to detail and needs to do things the "right way."  Mercea, on the other hand, is very carefree.  We call her "Messy Missy" because she cannot make it through a meal without creating something, and it usually is a mess.  She is very artistic.  And silly, well that is one of her main character qualities.  Of course, it is obvious to see why these 2 different personalities could cause constant conflict, but it is also easy to see why these 2 personalities need each other.

So back to our conversation.

"So your sister was being herself, and that was bothering you?"  "Yes."

So we called Mercea in and we had a chat about the purpose of relationship.

If there was only seriousness and order everyday how would the colors of life shine through?  However, if there was only a carefree, messy life, how would anything productive be done?  We talked about how often my son enjoys his sister's silliness and how often it makes him laugh.  We also talked about the need to not always be silly all the time and how to be sensitive to what the other person is feeling.

We need relationships with others because they bring beauty and color to our life.  If we choose to let the times their personalities challenge ours and annoy us define who they are to us we will soon view them as  "annoying" and disassociate ourselves with them.  Then we are the ones who will lose.  So instead of cutting people out of our lives or trying to change their personalities we need to look at the many ways they enhance our lives.  And those few times (which we tend to exaggerate to be all the time) their personalities rub us the wrong way, we need to give them the grace to be themselves.

Relationships are challenging but they are worth fighting for.  Sometimes we need to evaluate what lies are beginning to dominate our relationships with others and challenge those lies.  As adults, we don't have our parents to sit us down and help us talk it through, but that doesn't mean that sometimes we don't need to give ourselves a timeout and work through why this relationship is becoming a problem.  If you have a relationship that is being defined more by conflict than peace I would encourage you to step aside with the Lord and allow Him to speak His truth over it. 

In Christ,

Lessons from my children: 1 Valuing Relationships

Have you ever been in the midst of teaching your children a life lesson and felt like God was holding up a big mirror in front of your face?   The words that were coming out of your mouth were flying right back at you like they are coming out of a megaphone?  Maybe you should be the one being talked to?  The next 3 blog posts will contain a snipet of the lessons that I am currently learning as I am simulatenously teaching them to my children.

Lesson 1: Valuing Relationships

Have you ever sat and listened to your kids fight?  It's not much fun to listen to, is it?  Often times their fights are well, pointless.  They often times are fighting about something that in our minds' eye is shall we say, infantile.

My kids, for the most part, are very good friends.  They enjoy each other's company and are kind to one another.  But in the past couple of weeks, they have started to pick at one another on a more consistent basis.  It is little, nitpicking back and forth and it not only gets under each others' skin it also gets under their mother's skin.

So the other day, I took them aside to have a little chat together.  During that chat, I said, that they need to work on valuing their relationship with one another more than they value getting their own way.  We talked about how Mommy and Daddy like different things, but because we like each other more than those things, we are willing to set aside our personal desires and take turns doing what the other person likes in order to make the other person happy.  Again why?  Because we value our relationships more than we value our personal desires.

Of course, as I was talking I felt more like I was listening to the Holy Spirit than talking out of my own wisdom.  And I began applying what I was saying to my own adult life.  I wondered to myself, how many times the Lord looks down at our adult fights and feels that the arguments are pointless.  That often times we are more interested in getting our own way and being right instead of valuing our relationships and making the changes necessary to show that the relationship is more important than getting my way done for the moment.

Galatians 5:13-15
You, my brothers, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;
rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command:
"Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other,
watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I encourage you to take time to pause and consider what you are valuing right now in your relationships.  Are you taking the way of love and service to one another or are you choosing your way.  What is more valuable?

(Hint: The only things that are eternal are relationships.)

In Christ,

Journey to Understand Grace Part 5: The Beauty of His Grace

Here has been the journey thus far:
1. Jesus hates sin.
2.Christians still sin.
3.God is Holy and before the cross sin caused a separation between us and God.
4. Because of point 2 we often try to resolve what we see as a problem caused by the truths of 1 &3 by living according to our own righteousness.  The result is frustration and condemnation.

Which brings us to today.  The beauty of God's grace!! So remember the sermon that sparked this journey?  The definition of grace discussed in that sermon (Applied Grace by Sam Dharam on 11/1//09) was this:  the enabling power of God.  

Think of that in light of the journey we have been on.  We know that sin is dangerous and deadly.  We know that by our own strength and power we cannot overcome sin.  We know that God is a Holy God.  Often times people conclude that God's grace is the answer.  However, their definition of that grace is simply a "get out of jail free" card, so whenever you do something wrong you don't have to feel bad about it that in  fact you can just keep doing it over and over again.  This understanding of grace just covers the problem of sin but it doesn't provide a solution to sin.  I strongly believe that grace is bigger than that and rather than erasing the conflict between God's Holiness and His hatred of sin, it allows the beauty of all of His character to light and the result is freedom for His children. Grace provides us access to the throne room of God, where God sits in Holiness and where Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Father.  Jesus has defeated the curse of the law of sin and death.  He has set you free and His grace ENABLES you by the power of God to be FREE.  It is a beautiful thing.

We talked last time of how we still try to walk according to our righteousness.  If we walk out our faith by trying to walk on a tightrope of perfection, we end up failing (daily) and being miserable!  However if you pay attention to the verses I've shared and will continue to share with you, you will see that because of God's grace we don't do it according to OUR righteousness, rather we are invited to live out our lives THROUGH Him.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

Again, if we could succeed through our own righteousness then Jesus didn't need to die.  Don't set aside God's grace, it is the key to living in His righteousness.

Romans 5:20
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Because of God's grace we get to live through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  If you've been following my blog for a while you know that I am a strong advocate of putting your armor on daily.  Why?  One reason is because it is a great reminder of the truth of God's word, including the part: putting on the breastplate of righteousness.  Whose righteousness?  Not ours, His. 

Last time we started looking at Romans 8.  Here are some more beautiful verses that we all know but I think in this journey of grace they shine even brighter:
 8:9,10, 13-17
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit,
if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ,
he does not belong to Christ.
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin,
yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die;
but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear,
 but you received the Spirit of sonship.
And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

8:26, 27
...the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

What, then, shall we say in response to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—
how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns?
Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—
is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 4:15-16
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

I hope you will take time to read all those Scriptures and meditate on them.  Do you see the beauty of His grace?  Sin was a barrier and before the cross it kept us from being able to even survive in the presence of God.  However, now because of the death of Jesus Christ, sin no longer keeps us from the presence of God.  Instead, we have full access to the THRONE of GRACE and we can approach with confidence.  Better yet, at His throne we are given His righteousness through His grace, which is God's enabling power to OVERCOME sin.  He still is a Holy God and when we come into His presence, He is still an all consuming fire, now however that fire consumes only sin and it no longer consumes us.  It is by being in His presence and living through the grace of Jesus Christ that we walk in freedom.  We don't need to be slaves to sin anymore.  We don't have to live out of our own righteousness.  We can live through Him.  And did you see in Romans 8, you have incredible support.  You have the Holy Spirit interceding to God on our behalf and you have Jesus Christ interceding.  The beauty of grace is that because of the cross sin is no longer an issue for God.  He has cast our sin as far as the east is from the west.  Sin no longer has the power to prevent us from access to God.  Because of Jesus we have full confidence that God is for us

Hebrews 12:18-28
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire;
to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words
that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,
because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned."  The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.
You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,
to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape
when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we,
if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth,
but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."
The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things
—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."

This is how I've been applying this knowledge of grace. 
1.  I still put on my armor daily.  It reminds me that I am saved by grace and I can only walk in this life through His righteousness. 
2.  When I sin, which I do, I bring my heart in confident expectation to the throne of grace.  I no longer cower away from God in shame and guilt, or try to fix  my darkness by being "a better person."  Rather, I say, "Lord, here is my heart, here is my sin.  Please show me how to overcome this by your grace."  I realize that He wants to set me free and that any exposure He brings to my sin is an invitation from the Father to be free.  What a beautiful place to be, in the presence of God, the all consuming fire, who is able to consume the remains of our sin and set us free.

So thank you for reading my journey to understand grace.  As I said, it is a journey and by no means am I perfect at it.  But I'm living by God's grace, His enabling power, and I'm walking with much more confidence knowing that I have a loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit cheering me on and inviting me to rest in their arms when I fail.

Living Through Christ,

Journey to Understand Grace: Part 4 Our righteousness

If you've been following along in this series Journey to Understand Grace, you will remember that we have already established that:
1. Jesus hates sin
2. God is Holy

(Wow, it seemed so much more profound when I was writing about it:) 

Because of these 2 facts, Christians often manage to override grace and come up with their own solution to living with these truths about God.  The solution: RIGHTEOUSNESS.  It goes something like this:

We know we are forgiven.  We know we serve a holy God.  We know that we still sin.  We feel like Jesus paid such a big price that now He is now tapping His toes in heaven because He is waiting for us to pay Him back.  That something we owe Him is a holy life.  We can do that no problem!  So we jump head first into "being good Christians" by our own merit.

The apostle Paul describes this type of living in Romans 7:15-24:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 
And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Can you relate to Paul's description?  When you live according to your righteousness you will find that there is a great war within you, one that you always lose.  Paul sums it up, "What a wretched man I am!"  How often do we walk away from situations in our lives feeling exactly like this?  But Paul ends this frustrating passage of Scripture with a question, "who will rescue me from this body of death?"

The answer, Romans 7:25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

Do you know what follows Romans 7:25?  Romans 8:1!!  And do you realize what popular verse opens Romans 8?

Romans 8:1
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Here's the real shocker: we don't have to live in the description Paul described in Romans 7.  We end up in that predicament when we try to live out our Christianity according to our own righteousness.  Do you know what the Bible describes our righteousness as? 

Isaiah 64:6
all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

I don't think many of us would walk around handing out filthy rags as something valuable.  However, we still think that now attaining righteousness by our own merit will get us somewhere.  It does; that somewhere is the land of confusion, frustration and condemnation.

But God has a better way for us to live and it is to live according to His grace!!!!  However, you'll have to wait for the next post to read about it!

In Christ,

Sanctified Together: In His Arms

I had the opportunity to write for Sanctified Together's publication again.  The topic of discussion this time was The Measure of a Woman my article is called In His Arms.  I hope you have a minute to stop by and read mine and check out the articles written by the other ladies.  There are some great articles such as 5 lbs of Grace, Dot, Dot, Dot, A Mother's Adoption story, Who's Kids are these and why are they calling me Mom, etc...!

Here is the teaser for mine:
As I considered writing for Sanctified Together Publication's June topic, The Measure of a Woman, I have to admit that I was intimidated by the subject. I have been involved in ministering to women for the last 6 years and the overwhelming similarity that I have seen between women is that they have the same common fear: they are not good enough and they do not measure up.

I believe a large percentage of American women walk around with an inferiority complex, always measuring themselves against the woman next to them. Are they pretty enough, skinny enough, a good enough wife, mother, friend, etc? All the while wishing they were somebody else not realizing that the "somebody" else they want to be is also wishing to be "someone" else.

You can finish reading it by clicking here.


Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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