Living Legacies!

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
Proverbs 25:2

Typically, the beautiful treasures of this life are found only through deep searching. Sometimes, though, the amazing grace of God reveals Truth in moments of mercy. Such glorious truths are never meant for one heart alone. In fact, the light God gives that we do not share becomes darkness. But that’s another topic. Today, I want to share a glimpse of God’s purposeful work across generations. It encouraged me, and I offer it with a prayer that it will energize you as well.

Our family moved hundreds of miles from our ‘roots’ in rural New York State a few years ago. Each year we go ‘home’ to visit those who share history with us. In every life, legacies are worked out…good inheritances and bad. Within all of it, God works! When we receive that work, His good purposes come to fruition.

This year we were invited to attend church with a loved one. The invitation itself was evidence of the work of God in her life. Delighted to celebrate this new connection to the Body, we went with little expectation of anything more than ‘church’ and the joy of being with our loved one. The church was one I had intermittent connection with over the years. And it was a great church service—good fellowship with old friends who were there, an excellent Biblical message, a church that was thriving. It was much more than that, though.

That particular church was part of my uncle’s life legacy. He had been one of the founding members and part of the building team. As I sat in that building, I suddenly realized it was more a part of my legacy than I knew—and more than the church—or its members–could have known. Interactions with that church—and people in it—dotted my memory. In the times those connections happened, they did not feel impactful—and sometimes not even positive. But God was at working His plan in and through those who were faithfully—but imperfectly following Him.
Along with that awareness, there was much more of the weaving God there. The music came from a church one of my South Carolina friends attends…a friend who attends Bible Study in our home. Other worshippers at the service were from a church that had greatly influenced our marriage and family decades before. Every connection I recognized throbbed with the purpose of God and the imperfection of the earthly—and God was in it all.

He was there in my own rebellion and insecurity, in my grief and in my lostness. He was there in the church split that brought new folks to this church. He was there in the message. He is present in the controversies that surround the church that produced the music. God knows and uses it all because His purposes will not be thwarted. God weaves our strengths and weaknesses for our good and His glory. He is never put off by our inadequacy because His strength is perfect in our weakness.

Feeling the presence of God link my past to my present

fills me with enthusiasm for the future!

As I began processing all that I realized that is how God works. We don’t always see what He is doing, but the Great I AM is always present; His plans always underway. And as I thought about that, the complexity of legacies gave me fresh awe for God. My Grandma’s passion for Bible Reading sowed seeds that produced a harvest in my uncle’s life. He, too, fed on the Word daily. Perhaps other legacies being eradicated kept those seeds from rooting in my dad’s life…but they flourish in mine. In the fullness of time the beautiful work of God will overcome the destructive legacies as Light is spread by faithful servants.

That transforming light is SO needed. Because in every life, there are ugly realities inherited as well. Suicides, alcoholism, divorce, broken relationships, and strong-willed independence are part of my inheritance too. The work of the enemy is what Jesus came to destroy. As we seek Him, we produce a legacy of seeds that can do just that. We can’t do it for another…but passionately seeking Jesus individually produces a “Taste and See” life that God will use. He is faithful to His promises. Even when we cannot see it, He is at work.

I’d love to hear how you see God at work in your heart and life.  I pray those of you connected to this piece because of our shared lives will see God at work in your lives in fresh new ways.  He is good and worthy of praise.  Rejoice in Him. Live in Him.

 

Transforming Love for a Rebel

Truth is, he was a worthless pony.

Truth is, love gave value to his life.

An untrained stallion, the pulling pony bullied larger horses, kicked and bit unwary humans and rejected all authority. In the eyes of my pre-teen daughter, he was a dream filled withdakotapossibility. His rebel heart drew out her desire to love—and be loved even in her own rebellions. Her desires are the same desires every heart has—to love and be loved despite ourselves.

Named Dakota by his owners, she saw much more. Under his untamed forelock lay a blaze shaped like a question mark. She re-named him “Moonlight Mystery.” Her love for him reveals some of the great mysteries of love.

Loving his potential, she poured her heart and her time into him. She gained his trust in tiny increments. The rebel in him could not resist the time and attention she lavished upon him. The love of God is like that too. As we allow Him to touch us with His love, we cannot resist its transforming power. The love of God draws us toward the potential He intends for us to fulfill.

It would make a sweeter story to tell you that this young girl’s love transformed the rebel pony into a productive, prancing cart puller. Sadly, her love was not empowered by ownership. Disgusted with the pony, the owner sent him away. She never stopped loving Moonlight Mystery—and his life has meaning because of that.

Her love allowed him to teach valuable life lessons on rebellion, love and purpose. Love is like that—it takes a muddy mess and transforms it with purpose into its potential. The love of God not only offers us the chance to fulfill our potential, it includes an offer of adoption into His family. Jesus paid the price to redeem us from the rule of sin—and transport us into His Kingdom as His children.

Love fulfills potential and purpose.

If earthly love does not fail, how can we resist eternal love? Refusing our rebellion, submitting to His sacrificial love, brings purpose to our lives. Jesus believed we were worth dying for…do we believe He is worth living for?

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.
The Message: Ephesians 1:4)

Sweet Post-script to this story:  We learned that “Moonlight Mystery” has since found an owner who loves him and is doing well!  Those seeds of love have been harvested!  Hallelujah!

Wisdom in Action

Yesterday we looked at the Spirit of Wisdom.  Today, enjoy a look at the promise in action from a friend of mine!

The lofty ideas of scripture may make our hearts soar in the pews on Sunday morning or in our morning devotion times, but those ideas brought into the trenches do even more: they allow the glory of God to blaze. Jesus did not come to delight our hearts; He came to give us abundant life! Last week we considered the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that infuses Christ’s character. Let’s walk today with a sister-in-Christ who allowed that Spirit to sustain her in the trenches of life.

The circumstances of our days can either block our view of Christ or lift us closer to Him. Elizabeth, a home school mother, felt overwhelmed as she faced the many tasks a new school year brought. Each responsibility felt weighty on its own: educating her own children, meeting her missionary responsibilities through Campus Bible Fellowship, editing a discipleship course, caring for the needs of family and serving in their church. All of us know the all-consuming weariness and despair the ‘simple’ tasks of life can bring. Sometimes it feels that survival is the best we can hope for in life: that is the lie of the enemy thrown up to block our vision of the risen Christ!

Early in the year, Elizabeth encountered a quote that God used to lift her eyes to the possibilities placed before her: “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Throughout the year, Elizabeth embraced the challenge to view her ‘impossible situations’ as opportunities for God. Mid-way through the year, her pastor quoted a verse she had known for years: ‘Without me, ye can do nothing.’ The Spirit grabbed that truth and immediately brought another to mind: ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.’ Listen to how Elizabeth describes the ‘Spirit of wisdom and revelation’ that infused her with those words:

“For the first time I noticed the identical words in those two verses I had memorized years earlier. Without Christ I CAN DO nothing, but by His strength I CAN DO everything He wants me to do–even what seems humanly impossible.”

Elizabeth gives us a great example of the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation instilling confidence and hope for her earthly walk! Often, our minds know truths but our hearts fail to connect the realities of our life with the spiritual truths of Christ. God has plans and purposes for each of us; we need only to look to Him to have those plans fulfilled. In our faith walk, as we grow more like Christ, the Spirit continually uses the circumstances of life to highlight the truths we have hidden in our hearts and reveal the glory of God. What truths are you storing up for the Spirit‘s use in your heart and for the revelation of His glory?

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Wisdom

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father most glorious, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation through knowing Christ fully. (Ephesians 1:17)

Christ’s spirit of wisdom and revelation infuses the Christian’s character. Christ demonstrated this spirit in all of His human interactions. He saw, listened and comprehended from His Father’s viewpoint. Jesus looked beyond the circumstances presented by those who came to Him and focused on their spiritual needs. He shared the Father’s interests in individuals –and a character built on Him will evidence that same association.

As Ambassadors for Christ, our natural reactions to those we encounter–whether sweet compassion or abrasive frustration–should never be the source that motivates us to action. We are not to be amateur Providences and change people’s lives according to our feelings. God’s ways are not our own; He has measured the weight He puts upon every person. What may seem excessive and unfair from the human perspective may be just the weight needed to save their eternal soul. Alternatively, what may appear to be tremendous blessing in a person’s life may be a curse blinding them to their need for Jesus. As Christ’s Ambassador, we need to share the reason for the hope with which we live and allow Him to guide in every interaction!

We need His Spirit to give us deep understanding of situations and the Truths of God that will speak to hearts. We receive discernment to help us intercede for others–never to judge them. The wisdom of God is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). As we listen to the hearts of others through the Spirit, He will give us words that encourage others and reveal His beauty. He may impress upon our hearts the need to provide direct help or He may simply burden us to pray and love. As we heed His guidance, we will learn more about Him ourselves and grow ever closer to His likeness! Might we each increasingly embrace the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation He offers so freely!

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Prayerful

The prayerful spirit of Christ offers a shining facet to our transformed character! Christ’s commitment to communing with the Father is a design we must emulate. Despite being God incarnate, Jesus Christ demonstrated a high priority on prayer fellowship with God, the Father.

Scriptural accounts show Christ seeking private prayer time throughout His earthly life. He arose before down and climbed mountains to be alone with the Father. He walked away from crowds of seekers to commune with God in heaven. He chose fellowship with His father over sleep on some nights. Private times of intimate communion with the heavenly Father under-girded the earthly walk of Christ. Such an example by the One who creates and sustains all life should impress on us our desperate need. Prayer must have a higher priority in our lives than our comfort, our service and our physical needs.

The communion of Jesus and the Father was not restricted to private times, though. Prayer was an integral part of Christ’s every day. He instructed His disciples on ‘how’ to pray. He prayed for His followers through the ages. Sometimes He prayed for the benefit of listeners. The scripture records indicate a prayer life that was as ‘real’ and natural as the human conversations in which He engaged. Indeed, Christ’s prayers are often in the midst of human dialogues. Clearly, the presence of the Father was as much a reality to Jesus as the people with whom He walked each day. This reality of continual prayer must thread throughout our own lives.

In the Garden of Gethsemane prayers, Jesus reveals communion in the deepest sense. The Son’s cries enter directly into the Father’s love. God’s love answers with angelic delivery of divine strength that enables Jesus to complete the purposes of His life. Prayer is not a divine wishing well. Prayer is entering the essence of God. Prayer is receiving the Father’s love and power to accomplish His plans and purposes for our lives.

Science and illusions of self-sufficiency often veil miraculous answers to prayer in the western world. Our unchanging God was—and is—a miracle worker. When you seek the Lord in prayer, expect Him to reveal Himself in you and through you.

Joy in the Journey

God is always present.  He is the Great I AM.  Sometimes we struggle to see His fingerprints on our lives.  Joy in the Journey comes as we seek to recognize the work of God in our lives–and in the lives of those around us.

Joy in the Journey is a tool box for those wanting to know more of the presence of God.  This book is useful for individual or group study.  Workshops for small group leaders or multi-week studies can be arranged for groups wishing to dig deeper into the topic.  The books are available for individual purchase at Amazon and CreateSpace.   A PDF version of the book can be ordered below:

Joy in the Journey PDF

God desires for us to ENJOY this life! He has given it to us as a gift. Joy in the Journey provides tools for unpacking the gifts He has given! Exploring the seasons of life–and God’s presence in each–deepens understanding and reveals the fingerprints of God in every detail of life. Utilizing journaling and insights from such greats as St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila’s ‘Interior Castle’, Joy in the Journey leads you toward the abundant life Jesus desires for you!

$1.99

More information on Workshops is available here.

If you cannot afford the suggested donation, please fill out the contact form below and indicate the specific resource you would like to have.

Joy in the JourneyJoy in the Journey Back

Celebrating Heartsong’s Sir Barnabas

12011203_10206373999700891_2684319076143043947_nSir Barnabas of Chester is ONE year old!  He is an ‘abundant life’ dog for sure.  Named in honor of Barnabas in Scripture, his destiny is to become an encourager.  His first year of life has been one of expressing himself and learning to be part of a family.

And in doing that, he encourages all around him to do the same!  That’s a pretty good start in legacy building.  Join us in celebrating and may each reader BE ENCOURAGED!906112_10206577955119649_1065774115508889853_o

Barnabas came to Chester as a gift of love and appreciation.  Craig faithfully provides our family with love and care…and has done so for nearly a quarter of a century.  The kids and I wanted him to have joy in loving…in the form of a squirming, wrinkled bully.  Barnabas wiggled into that role perfectly.

0219160922Although he didn’t realize it (and sometimes still doesn’t), Barney didn’t come to rule his own kingdom.  He came into a home with two doggy siblings…and a myriad of DSC07193 (2)other critters.  He had to find his way to harmony, and it hasn’t always been easy.

Sometimes you have to surrender to be a part of the pack!  But sometimes you can just charge on with pack and have a good time, too. As Barney found his place in his new ‘kingdom’ everyone else learned a bit more about themselves too!

Sir Barnabas knows who he is created to be and he lives out the design with a strong will and determination.  Sometimes his rambunctious pursuit of what he wants aggravates others–and gets him in trouble.   That doesn’t really slow him down; he just loves with equal passion.  This first year, Barney has spent encouraging his house mates to live and love!  We celebrate that and anticipate the expansion of his legacy in year two.

flip barney

 

Happy Birthday, Heartsong’s Sir Barnabas!

 

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Holy Fear

This series of articles, “Let’s Look Like Jesus” complement the perpetual prayer list for Christian Character.

Holy Fear is actually the antidote to the horrible fear immobilizing so many in the world today.  Fear is a common part of our world; in fact, sometimes it seems fear makes the world go round.

Proverbs 28:14 challenges us though:  ‘happy is the man who is never without fear.’ The words stop me as all of the foolish fears of life eddy through my mind: the fear of aging and infirmity, the fear of disappointing or offending others, the fear of failing, and the fear of shame. The list is endless of those things that we can fear. Yet, those are the fears of evil which destroy life.   Dr. Caroline Leaf explains the deadly impact of fear-based thinking in this brief video:

 

Clearly the wise writer of Proverbs spoke of fears which lead to blessing and life.  There is a reverent fear…an awe…which protects from evil and leads to life.   There are earthly things which inspire a reverent fear. Electricity is one. We often take its power for granted but unleashed electricity is indeed a fearsome, deadly force. The wind is another. At times it is a gentle, refreshing breeze and others a destructive force beyond the control of our best efforts.

The only fear, though, that leads to happiness is awe of our eternal Creator. As a Christian, holy fear is that aspect of our character which flattens us before our mighty God. It is the reverent awe of lying prostrate before the King of Kings which transforms a child of God. It is an attribute of great value in the character of a child of God.

With reverence and fear as an integral trait, we will not only read the Word of God, we will seek to see it become alive in our relationships with others. We will take His Word not only as our standard but as the reality in which we long to live. Our choices will never become completely perfect…our humanity is not eliminated as the character of Christ controls us more fully.  Less of us and more of Him is a life-time process.

Fear of God, though, will lead us to trust in His design, to obedience to His ways. His blessings will overflow into the details of our days. Our lives, and the impact of our lives, will reap eternal rewards with a heart that is humbly reverent. Rejoice today in trusting submission to the Creator…in laying before Him every worry and care knowing that He can and will bring good!

A Life of Faithfulness

We looked at the quality of faithfulness in our study of Christian Character.  Today, though, I want to share the story of a faithful saint God blessed our lives with.  This saint exuded the characteristic of faithfulness.    Miss Marilyn Davis.

Sixty-nine years of teaching Sunday School is a pretty solid example of faithfulness.  Yet, it only scratches the surface of this saint’s example.  Courageous conviction lived with humble meekness are the right words, but the reality is so much more beautiful than the words.  Miss Marilyn lived consistently…she was the antithesis of the double-minded man in James.

Miss Marilyn could always be counted on to do what she said–even to living her entire life without electricity or running water because she made a commitment to her father years before.  I never heard her complain: she hauled coal buckets (and ashes) for heat and cooking; she carried water; she used an outhouse.  Yet all those things were simply the backdrop of a life that constantly reached out to others in faithfulness to her Savior.

She planted hundreds of  ‘Impatience” seeds each year to give to the ladies of the church on Mother’s Day.  She shared the bounty of her garden with all but the woodchucks; she had a gun and knew how to us56821_1545096159393_6199181_oe it!  She loved her woods and walking through God’s beautiful creation; and she shared it with those who wanted to walk with her.  She saved stickers and cards to give to the children.  She shopped for presents and candies to encourage the children’s attendance in Junior Church.  She shared Missionary stories to give little hearts a glimpse of devotion to Jesus.  She shared her life with everyone to give a glimpse of Jesus.

Miss Marilyn revealed the faithfulness of Jesus by the way she lived her life.  She was a woman who helped people know what the Bible said even if they didn’t open it.

As a Christian, that is how we are to live.  I am thankful for her example and so are hundreds of others.  I pray you have such an example in your life.  And I pray that God will help each of us give a glimpse to the world of what the faithfulness of God is all about.

 

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Faithful

And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  Ruth 1:16

The Spirit of Christ exudes faithfulness and the character built on Christ can be equally steadfast!  During Christ’s earthly life His Spirit demonstrated fidelity to the heart of the Father; the character of the Christian is intended to do the same.

The ancient words of today’s scripture model the attitude of the Christian:  ‘whither thou goest, I will go…’. While Ruth’s words were spoken in loyalty to her earthly mother-in-law, our commitment is to be to  God alone.  Our character, embodied with the life of Christ, readily responds to the movement of the Spirit.  Obediently presenting our lives as living sacrifices to God necessitates a Christ-like character.  It is only such a character which demonstrate fidelity to the cause of Christ.

Our natural selves continually demand loyalty to our own dreams, desires and felt needs.  Sacrificing our self-will for the will of the Father is possible only as we surrender ourselves to Christ’s transforming power.  The glory of God will flow forth from a character rooted and nurtured in Christ’s character.  Ask God to reveal to you the sacrifices of self which would please Him most today.

Another aspect of ‘faithful’ is trustworthiness.  Jesus was reliable; from his earliest days, he knew–and expected others to know–what he would be about.  When separated from his family at the conclusion of a religious celebration, he asked his distraught parents, “Why were you looking for me?  Didn’t you know where I would be?”

Every activity and aspect of Christ had an inherent integrity which made Him wholly trustworthy.  In 1 Corinthians 4:2, Paul exhorts believers of the need to be found faithful–to be trustworthy.  That word is the essence of Christ’s life: to be ‘faithful’ meant to be steadfast to one’s Word and promises, to be worthy of belief and to be a believer.  Christ was all of those things and as His servants, we are to be the same.

Those who walk this life journey with us need to be able to trust us.  Our words must be fulfilled in our actions.  Our promises must be certain lest those we walk with draw a conclusion that our belief in Jesus is not trustworthy either.  Throughout scripture we have examples of faithful, trustworthy characters.

Daniel’s detractors were unable to accuse him because he was so trustworthy and never negligent to his duties.  Joseph had the complete trust of those he served–whether the prison guard or the pharaoh–because he was trustworthy.  Living the Christian life is about ‘how’ we live not just what we do.  Growing into the likeness of Christ will involve a character that resonates trustworthiness.

Such a character trait must be intentionally integrated into every activity of our life.  In our world, there are so many opportunities to do good things and be busy for the Lord.  Yet, we are only vessels of clay and can not do all things well.  We are to be busy about good things, but we must never allow ourselves to be so busy we can not be faithful in all that we do.  We are to do all things for the glory of God and if the activities we choose are so excessive that this key spirit of reliability is lost, we fail to bring Him glory.  We also fail to evidence another aspect of faithfulness:  right-focused belief.  Our belief must be in God’s power and provision, not our own productivity.  Solid belief in our Lord, will help us live in a way that others will believe too!

Can people trust you to do what you say you will do?

How do you feel when someone promises something and then does not follow through?

What should you do if you make a hasty commitment and then have to withdraw?

Verses to read and discuss:

A few of the examples of faithfulness in scripture:  Luke 2:49; Nehemiah 13:13; Daniel 6:4

What does Jesus say about being faithful?  What do scriptures say about the blessings of faithfulness?   Matthew 24:45-46; Psalm 101:6

A key trustworthy part of our life is?:  1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 2:11; Revelation 21:15

Allow your life to be flooded with Christ’s character and you will be awed by the expansiveness you have entered into!  The world will be changed by His presence.  Faithful and True is a treasured name of Christ.  His Names are a great way to understand more of His character.  Fixing Our Eyes on God is a resource to help you know Him more!

The character of Christ is a treasure God has entrusted to our clay vessels.  Receive Him!