Melanie Guest Photography

Melanie Guest Photography
I am very excited to announce that Melanie Guest Photography has agreed to provide images to accompany my posts!  I love having pictures joined with my words but I have no skills when it comes to taking photographs.  I am personal friends with Melanie and have been watching the images that she posts on Facebook over the past year.  Her photographs capture the beauty of God's creation.  I have literally been on the road before and thought, "I need to call Melanie to get outside and take a picture of this sunset!"  I finally took the time to ask her if she would be willing to provide photographs for my blog and she said, "Yes!"

Melanie not only takes beautiful scenic photographs but she also does family sessions, weddings and senior pictures.  She did happen to take our family photographs for Christmas last year and she did a fabulous job.  She also took the photo that I use for my profile picture.  If you are looking for a photographer, I would highly recommend her.

Finally, I think Melanie's life matches up with the theme of this blog, For His Glory Alone.  You can read about her Red Heart Sessions at her website.  Melanie truly has a gift and I feel honored that she is allowing me to display it on my blog.  I hope you will be blessed by this added dimension.  All photos displayed on For His Glory Alone are available for purchase through Melanie and they are copyrighted, so please do not use without permission.

In Christ,

Full disclosure: I have not been paid to advertise for Melanie Guest Photography.  All thoughts expressed are mine and mine alone.

First Sunday in Lent


Every Sunday, I am including this week's readings from the Lectionary.  You can find the reasons why in my post, A Story to Embody.

If you take the time to read through them you will realize why I included a picture of a rainbow.  As I read through the readings, I was once again amazed at the connections through Scripture.  I also was reminded of the invitation we have to rest in the promises and character of God.  Finally, I was in awe of how Jesus embodies the covenant promises of God.  Be blessed.

Genesis 9:8-17
Then God said to Noah and his sons, "Now I am making my agreement with you and your people who will live after you, and with every living thing that is with you—the birds, the tame and the wild animals, and with everything that came out of the boat with you—with every living thing on earth. I make this agreement with you: I will never again destroy all living things by a flood. A flood will never again destroy the earth."
  And God said, "This is the sign of the agreement between me and you and every living creature that is with you. I am putting my rainbow in the clouds as the sign of the agreement between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and a rainbow appears in them, I will remember my agreement between me and you and every living thing. Floods will never again destroy all life on the earth. When the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and I will remember the agreement that continues forever between me and every living thing on the earth."
  So God said to Noah, "The rainbow is a sign of the agreement that I made with all living things on earth."

Psalm 25:1-10
Lord, I give myself to you;
  my God, I trust you.
    Do not let me be disgraced;
       do not let my enemies laugh at me.
  No one who trusts you will be disgraced,
       but those who sin without excuse will be disgraced.

  Lord, tell me your ways.
       Show me how to live.
  Guide me in your truth,
       and teach me, my God, my Savior.
       I trust you all day long.
  Lord, remember your mercy and love
       that you have shown since long ago.
  Do not remember the sins
       and wrong things I did when I was young.
    But remember to love me always
       because you are good, Lord.

  The Lord is good and right;
       he points sinners to the right way.
  He shows those who are humble how to do right,
       and he teaches them his ways.
  All the Lord's ways are loving and true
       for those who follow the demands of his agreement.

I Peter 3:18-22
 Christ himself suffered for sins once. He was not guilty, but he suffered for those who are guilty to bring you to God. His body was killed, but he was made alive in the spirit. And in the spirit he went and preached to the spirits in prison who refused to obey God long ago in the time of Noah. God was waiting patiently for them while Noah was building the boat. Only a few people—eight in all—were saved by water. And that water is like baptism that now saves you—not the washing of dirt from the body, but the promise made to God from a good conscience. And this is because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Now Jesus has gone into heaven and is at God's right side ruling over angels, authorities, and powers.

Mark 1:9-15
At that time Jesus came from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Immediately, as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven open. The Holy Spirit came down on him like a dove, and a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with you."
Then the Spirit sent Jesus into the desert. He was in the desert forty days and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels came and took care of him.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, preaching the Good News from God. He said, "The right time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Change your hearts and lives and believe the Good News!"

As I read through the verses I was also reminded of Ezekiel 1:27-28 so I am including these verses too:
 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.    This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. 

 In Christ,

A New Day is Here


Isaiah 9:1-8 has been a Scripture that I have been returning to frequently this year.  In the OT, it is titled "A New Day is Coming" but as you read through it, you realize that this prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled and that a "New Day is Here" today.  Reading these verses has challenged and encouraged me to recognize what God has offered us now and to begin to live in it on a daily basis.  Here are the verses in the NCV:

But suddenly there will be no more gloom for the land that suffered. In the past God made the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali hang their heads in shame, but in the future those lands will be made great. They will stretch from the road along the Mediterranean Sea to the land beyond the Jordan River and north to Galilee, the land of people who are not Israelites.
2 Before those people lived in darkness,
but now they have seen a great light.
They lived in a dark land,
but a light has shined on them.
3 God, you have caused the nation to grow
and made the people happy.
And they have shown their happiness to you,
like the joy during harvest time,
like the joy of people
taking what they have won in war.
4 Like the time you defeated Midian,
you have taken away their heavy load
and the heavy pole from their backs
and the rod the enemy used to punish them.
5 Every boot that marched in battle
and every uniform stained with blood
has been thrown into the fire.

As I read through verses 1-5 the concept of contrast stands out.  There is a definite difference between the way things were and the way things are now:
  • Before there was gloom, suffering and shame now there is GREATNESS
  • Darkness but now there is GREAT LIGHT
  • War and heaviness now there is HAPPINESS, VICTORY and JOY
Scripture repeats over and over again that there is and should be a distinct contrast between the darkness that was and His great light!  It began in Genesis 1:1, where God spoke to the chaos that hung over the world and said, "Let there be light."  You can imagine what a huge contrast there was between those two moments.  The same God who said, "Let there be light" in the very beginning now declares it over us, who have new life in Jesus:

Declare the praises of Him who
has called you out of darkness into His wonderful light . 
 Once you were not a people,
but now you are the people of God;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
(I Peter 2:9-10).

We are His people and we are benefactors of His great mercy!
Isaiah 9:6-7
6 A child has been born to us;
God has given a son to us.
He will be responsible for leading the people.
His name will be
Wonderful Counselor,
 Powerful God,
Father Who Lives Forever,
Prince of Peace.
7 Power and peace will be in his kingdom
and will continue to grow forever.
He will rule as king on David's throne
and over David's kingdom.
He will make it strong
by ruling with justice and goodness
from now on and forever.
The Lord All-Powerful will do this
because of his strong love for his people.

I just love these verses.  It starts out saying that, "He will be responsible for leading His people."  This revelation has been very freeing for me.  I've spent much of my Christianity, trying to get God to do things "for me and for others."  There was a sense that I had to beg Him in order to get Him to move on my behalf.  But looking at verse 6 along with what was said in 1 Peter 2:10 it has become clear to me that God is leading me - not the other way around.  We have already received His mercy, His grace and His love and we have the opportunity to follow His leadership in what He is doing.

What makes this so much easier to do is to look at who He promises to be for us: Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace!  I will admit that there are situations and times when fear begins to seep in again.  At those moments, I've been taking the time to stop, breathe and remember these truths.  "You God, have promised to be my Wonderful Counselor, I am listening for your counsel right now!  You are the Prince of Peace I receive that peace right now!"  These truths have released me from the "need to always be in control" of how situations turn out and instead turn to trusting in Him to lead me and guide me.

"Power and peace will be His kingdom and His kingdom is ever expanding. He rules it with justice and goodness."  These words have helped calm me and give me insight into how to recognize His hand.  His kingdom is always growing, am I making room for it to expand in my own life? 

What will the results and effects of His kingdom look like? 
  • power 
  • peace 
  • justice 
  • goodness. 
James 3:17 gives us more things that we can look for:
  • purity
  • peace
  • gentleness 
  • easy to please

Knowing the fruit of God's operation will help us to recognize His leading and become more confident in following His voice.

The foundation to help us move in all this is - love (vs 7).  Not just any love either, His strong love!  These are the places in which we can and should rest.  We are living in the times declared by Isaiah.  Let us walk confidently and joyful in the light of His love, mercy and grace following Him in His wonderful counsel to expand His kingdom.

In Christ,

Photo courtesty of Melanie Guest Photography

A Story to Embody


I wanted to start this post out today, with a reminder (mostly to myself) about why I write this blog.  Sometimes as a blogger, I ask myself, "Why do I write and why in the world should anyone care?"  I can answer only one of those questions, why I write.  I write because I hope that somewhere along the line a piece of my story, intersects with a piece of your story.  My prayer is that when those two pieces intersect, you may find something you were looking for: where there was hopelessness, hope, where there was discouragement, encouragement, where there were questions, answers but most of all that you would see that the heart of the Father is LOVE and that He loves you today, right where you are at, in your story.

I've been a Christian for 25 years and I've always had a heart for His people.  I grew up at a Christian school and a majority of my fellow classmates, ended up "walking away" from the faith.  Then as an adult, I've seen the other side of Christianity, the side that many people hide away from Sunday morning.  There is discouragement, pain, brokenness, hopelessness and a sense that perhaps this thing doesn't work.  Because of these experiences, there has been an angst in me to bridge that disconnect between our everyday lives and the reality of God.  As I've walked through my life, I have seen the faithfulness of God time and time again in my own story.  He has given me freedom in my thought life, my marriage, my parenting and my relationship with others while confirming daily in my heart His deep love for others and myself.  So I write because I know that I am not alone in my questions, struggles and discouragements but also because I've seen the Lord be faithful to me over and over again and I know that He will do the same thing for you.

I often share the names of people of faith that have influenced or are currently influencing me.  It's not that I think "they have the answer" but it is because their walk of faith has provided a place where I can relate, I have found answers that I was looking for, and I have found a place to rest.  By sharing their names and resources, I hope that perhaps you too have had similar questions and perhaps their journey of faith can and will also speak into your life.

That is why I write.


Since October my husband and I have been listening to Todd Hunter, from Holy Trinity Anglician Church in Costa Mesa, California.  By listening, I mean, going back to the very first messages available and listening to every single one.  One of the things that has attracted us and kept us going back for more, is the Lectionary.  As I've said, we've been Christians for many years, but the spheres of influence that we've been around have not included Lectionary readings.

The Lectionary (in my terms and as I understand it) is a group of readings shared by certain denominations of the body of Christ.  Each Sunday, all these gatherings are reading the exact same Scriptures.  In the course of a year, the "story" of the Bible is read, and in the course of three years, almost the whole Bible has been read aloud in church.  Each week's readings contain an OT Scripture, a Psalm, a Gospel reading and a reading from the Epistles.  Then, at least at Todd's church, the sermons are derived from the Lectionary readings for that week. (If you would like a better explanation of what I am talking about you can listen to Todd's sermon Not too much for You 7/19/10.)

There are several things that have captured our heart with the Lectionary.  First and foremost, is that the Lectionary readings capture the idea that God has written a story and is still writing a story today.  The Lectionary readings are pieced together in such a way that it shows the connective thread of Scripture.  As Todd says, "When you hear the Story, It invites your participation."

Ephesians 4:14 describes what my Christianity has often felt like:

Then we will no longer be infants,
tossed back and forth by the waves,
and blown here and there by every wind of teaching
and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

I know this is a description of what our faith shouldn't look like, but I often felt like it was a description of what my faith felt like: I was on a boat being tossed to and fro.  I often felt like God couldn't make up His mind, one day He loved me, one day He didn't.  One day I was in His will, the next day I wasn't.  The Lectionary readings have eliminated those waves for me.  It has elevated God back on His throne; He knows what He is doing, He has been doing it since the very beginning and He is continuing to do it yet again today.  Words cannot express the awe, I have had for God these last several months.  There is a reverence, a respect, a love and a safety that I have found in this expression of worship.  I will fully admit that there has been a woundedness and a tiredness that I have carried in my heart for the last several years but the gentle wooing that I have heard from God through the Lectionary readings and Todd's sermons have truly been streams of living water to my soul.

Because of the beauty and rest I've found in the Lectionary readings, I have decided to start sharing the Lectionary readings each Sunday with you.  It is straight Scripture so enjoy:

Last Sunday before lent

2 Kings 2:1-12
When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.”

But Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”
4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho.”
And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.”
And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.
7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.

Psalm 50:1-6
1 The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
2 From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
3 Our God comes
and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
and around him a tempest rages.
4 He summons the heavens above,
and the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me this consecrated people,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
6 And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for he is a God of justice.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6
 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers,
so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ,
who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves,
but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a]
 made his light shine in our hearts to give us the
light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.

Mark 9:2-9
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

In Christ,

One less Orphan

Awhile back, I did a review on a book called Love You More, which was a story about one family's journey through adoption.  The book gave light to the journey of adoption, how it works and how you can help.  Our family has not felt a call to adopt, but to say that adoption has not captured my heart would be a huge understatement.

The Lord, has intersected my heart with a couple of families that are currently going through the process of adoption.  It is a long road, filled with heartbreak, waiting, hope, heartbreak, waiting and more waiting.  But through the process of waiting and believing there is also a lot of expenses.  On average an international adoption costs between $20,000 - $30,000!

One of the families, whose story I am following just launched a website, called One Less Orphan.  It is a website where you can purchase merchandise and 100% of the proceeds will go to support theirs and a friend's adoptions.  But their dream is bigger than that too.  If their website is successful, they would like to link together and support other families in adoption.

As I sat reflecting on these things this morning the Lord brought me back to the book of James.  In James 1:27 it says,

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
 to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Also, throughout the OT we see that the heart of the Father has always been towards the orphans and the widows:

Deuteronomy 10:18
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow,
 and loves the foreigner residing among you,
giving them food and clothing.

Deuteronomy 24:17
Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice,
 or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.

Deuteronomy 26:12
When you have finished setting aside a tenth of
all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you
shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner,
the fatherless and the widow,
so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

Psalm 10:14

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.

Psalm 68:5
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.

Psalm 82:3
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

I think you get the point (but if not, there are even more verses in there!).  God loves the fatherless! It is something that we as the church should also love and find practical ways to support. 
I know that there is lots of things vying for our money, attention and time ~ I in no way want to guilt you into supporting this specific cause.  My desire, however, is to encourage you to look around for families that are pursuing adoption, hear their story and find practical ways (James 2:15-16) to support them in their process.

Finally, as I was reflecting on these courageous Moms who have to fight for their children I was reminded of the battle against the Amalekites:

Exodus 17
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered,
and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning,
but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and
put it under him and he sat on it.
Aaron and Hur held his hands up—
one on one side, one on the other—
so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

As I've watched the process of adoption, I've realized it is a very long road.  We as the church, can and should come alongside these courageous families and hold their arms up as they wait.  We know that the heart of the Father is for these children and we need to keep supporting them prayerfully and practically on their journeys home.
In Christ,

Remembering love

I hesitated to post today, not wanting to bring a damper to everyone's day of love but as I pursued my Google Reader I was deeply reminded that true, enduring love comes with a cost. When we take the risk to love we also set ourselves up for the risk of pain but let us never shy away from love to save us from pain. I also realized that there is a strength comes from hearing one another's story and knowing that we are not alone.

Four years ago today my precious niece entered this world with half-a-heart. However, that did not stop her or us from loving and living our lives to the fullest. Here is a poem I wrote in her memory:

A sweet melody is missing from the symphony of life.
We keep waiting for your grand entrance into the music
but silence is all we hear.
Silence has never been so loud.

I miss your million dollar smile, the waving of your hand,
the sweetness of your spirit. All the things that made
you uniquely you.

We knew each moment with you was precious; that it
was a gift. We hardly knew how precious now
that you are gone.

You are forever a part of who we are.
Never will we be the same.

Our family isn't the only one experiencing Valentine's Day in bittersweet memory. To my other blogger mom's thank you for sharing your story and your hearts this day. May you know you are loved Jeane' and Amanda.

The Laughter of Love

So I told you in my last post that I would spare you from having to read Surprised by Laughter but still get the benefits.  Here are a few quotes from the very end of the book:

  • In regards to laughter and God Lewis reminds us, "When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased."  Our laughter therefore, increases when we keep it in its proper place. pg 445
    • I picked this quote because so often Christians talk about "struggling" to put God first.  As this quote captures, I've learned that when God is first, everything else in life is so much richer and enjoyable - which in turns makes it not so hard to allow God His proper place.
  • To know God's mirth, however one must first know Him and His love.  He then forgives those who come to Him.  It is the act of forgiveness that transforms those who would submit to the comedy of His grace.  Therefore, laughter must be linked to love and forgiveness if it would last. pg 448
    • You know I love to discuss grace.  I've never connected the concept of grace and laughter before reading this quote.  But grace truly is a light load.  Perhaps if we as Christians would move grace from the serious, theological debate, to actual living in it and enjoying the benefits of it - it would be more contagious to the world?!
  • "We must, as it so happens, give our own lives for others, but even while we're doing it, I think we're meant to enjoy our Lord, and in Him, our friends, our food, our sleeps, our jokes, and the birds and the frosty sunrise."   For this reason, just as hell is the only place outside of heaven where we can be safe from the dangers of love, heaven is the only place where we can be endlessly immersed in the laughter of love.  The charity of God transforms natural laughter into a "tuned and obedient instrument," of Love Himself.  It began with the Creation, was lost and limited, until Christ returns.  It began with Creation, was lost in the Fall, but was gloriously reclaimed through the Resurrection and dispersed through Pentecost... Most people expect the worst from an encounter with God.  Our guilt and shames chase us away from the gladness of His presence.  He must then become the Hound of Heaven pursuing us, not simply to chide, or punish us, but to embrace us and lick us with His love." (pages 451-452).
Let Him embrace you today with the strength of His love.  May the result of that love bring love, laughter and joy into your life with Him and with others.

In Christ,

Book Review: Surprised by Laughter - The Comic World of C.S. Lewis

I finished Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis by Terry Lindvall, PH.D, last night.

This book was a look at C.S. Lewis life through studying his humor.  The author approached the book by combining lots of excerpts from C.S. Lewis' works and showing how the different types of humor were shown in those works.  The person who wrote this book is highly intelligent and knows a lot about C.S. Lewis and other types of literature.  However, in order to read his book you also have to be highly intelligent.  I was only able to grasp about 1/4 of the 450 page book.  Unlike the author of Bonhoeffer, this author did not make the works and life of C.S. Lewis accessible to the "common man."

As I plugged through the book, I gleaned what I could so that it wouldn't be a complete waste of time.  It motivated me to finally take my little course on speed reading, which I learned how to do and helped get me through the book.  I also contemplated whether the church today and our society would be able to produce a man with the caliber of influence that C.S. Lewis had - my conclusion was probably not.  Finally, the book showed me that it is okay to lighten up and have joy in our life.  Lewis loved to read, discuss, argue, drink, and celebrate with others.  I believe he lived his life to the fullest, enjoying life and yet managed to still have a profound and lasting influence on the kingdom of God.  (However, I don't know what it says about a person who needs to read a 450 page book to be reminded to lighten up:).  I did end up admiring C.S. Lewis even more after reading.  The book said he would write letters back to anyone - young or old, sane or insane - who wrote to him. 

In conclusion, this book provided a unique approach to studying the life of someone.  If you love the works of C.S. Lewis and have a larger vocabulary than I do, you might enjoy the book.  If not, then read my next post where I will share a few quotes from the book and it will give you the benefit of the book without the work of reading it.

In Christ,

P.S. I received this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of review.  I was not paid and all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Taking back life

I have walked around before with a disconnect about being in LIFE right now. I have experienced death, and it stung - stung badly. I have struggled before the Lord with the verse:

I Corinthians 15:55
"Where oh death is thy victory, where oh death is thy sting?"

These words rather than producing comfort, produced a frustration within my spirit. After the death of Nevaeh, my world went spinning out of control in many ways. For about 6 months, I would wake up every night in panic and fear. I would replay the entire day of her death over and over again in my mind. Then during the day, I would worry about every little and big thing my kids were doing. If my kids weren't up at their usual time I would wonder if I would walk into their room in the morning and they would be dead.  The fear of death had begun to take over my life. 

I remember the exact night the Lord freed me from walking in this terror. That night as I was replaying playing her death over and over again in my mind I realized that I was trying to change the ending of her story. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I played it one more time, she would wake up. On that night, the Lord showed me that ending was the end - of that chapter - but it was not the end of her story. The Lord took me another step further through a conversation I had with my mom. She said, "So many people live their lives like they are never going to die, instead of living with the understanding that their life on earth is going to end." After these events, I was released from the fear of death that had been dominating my life. I also surrendered the life of my children into Jesus' hands, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Trusting in Him and the story He is writing has allowed me to release the "control" I thought I needed to have to avoid death.

In the last several months, the Lord has been taking me farther, challenging me to see that another reason I do not need to be afraid is because eternal life is now.  For the last month I've been reflecting on the following quote by Todd Hunter:  "Most of my life we've asked this question, "If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?" But I think this is a way more interesting question, "What if you knew you were going to live tomorrow, next week and next year, and decades longer - what would you do with your life?"

Whenever I hear a new perspective I don't immediately jump on it.  I have to take time to let it sit and test it against Scripture.  The following are Scriptures that the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind as I've reflected on this quote:

  • John 10:10 I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
  • John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.
  • I Peter 1:23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.
  • I Peter 2:4-5 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ
  • Galatians 5:16, 22-25 So I say, Live by the Spirit! The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
We have been invited to - life - here, today, right now.  Obviously, heaven will be the culmination of our hope and there will be great joy in seeing Jesus face to face; but I think, as these Scriptures show, we were invited to so much more. 

When we live according to God's word, we are living a life that will never spoil, perish or fade.  We are a living stone in a house that God is building.  The Good News contains the message that we have hope that our life right now, truly matters and it has a purpose.  How then do we live our lives in life?  By walking according to the Spirit.

I entitled this post "Taking back Life" because I believe that is what Jesus came to do.  He came to give us life, abundantly, and it starts now.  This concept has allowed me re look at verses like 

I Corinthians 15:55
"Where oh death is thy victory, where oh death is thy sting?"


Philippians 1:21
"For me to live is Christ, to die is gain."

Through these experiences and the thoughts about eternal life starting now, the Lord has helped me step back and see the bigger picture.  We have been given life, now today.  We are part of a bigger, grander picture, called God's kingdom.  As Christians, let us take back life, today and walk with the knowledge that we are His living stones.

Finally, I leave you with these quotes from Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Letter 15 (I heard this quote in a sermon by Ellis Brust called Celebrity or Service 5/24/10 @ Holy Trinity Church):

The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them for eternity.  He therefore wants them to attend chiefly to two things - to eternity itself and to that point of time which they call the presentFor the present is the point at which time touches eternity.  Our business, as demons is to get them away from the eternal and the present.

It's far better to make them live in the future, all their passions point in that direction.  The thought about the future inflames hope and fear.  It is also unknown to them so that making them think about it will make them think of unrealities.  In a word, the future is of all things the least like eternity.  It is the most completely temporal part of time - for the past is froze and no longer flows and the present is all lit up with eternal rays.  Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future.  Gratitude looks to the past, love to the present, fear, avarice, lust and ambition look ahead. 

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

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