Are You a Diamond in the Rough Being Buffed?

Fortify Your Faith in Troubled Times

A ceramic bowl is not valuable when it’s only a lump of clay. A knife left unsharpened is a useless tool or weapon. In the same way, diamonds in the rough are much more valuable after they’ve been cut, chiseled and polished.

We also are not as valuable to the world until the Crafter’s Hands have refined, sharpened, molded, cut, shaped and polished us. However, all this Craftwork can sometimes be painful to our emotions, and  circumstances.

God knows the people, places, jobs, habits, and situations in our life that need to be removed. And sometimes for these things to be removed we have to endure a dry season, a quiet time, a time-out, a testing time, a trial time.

God wants our life to be worthwhile. Whatever it takes to get us to be the person God wants us to become, He will do it.

You probably can reflect on times in your life that were a struggle. Yet looking back you know during that rough time of life you grew the most in your relationship with God.

Valuable things like gold and diamonds take time and work to purify.

So be truly glad. There is a wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire test and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when you faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor and on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. ~ I Peter 1:6-7

Take a few moments to enjoy this beautiful song from an artist I recently discovered: Ginny Owens.

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Freedom

Rejoicing In God's Grace In The Midst Of _______________

Find freedom in the midst of:

Sickness

Addiction

Oppression

Poverty

Pain

Anguish

Depression

Worry

Strife

Temptation

Whatever our struggles are, even if God doesn’t deliver us from them but allows us to walk through them; we know His grace will be sufficient to carry us. This is where the joy and the “re-joying” comes. As we trust God’s plan, results and timing we can find the free grace that brings with it true freedom.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. ~ Philippians 4:4

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Are You Sinking? Reach Up… Jesus is Near!

Life sometimes makes us feel like we’re drowning. Maybe you’re there now.

Overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn…  JESUS IS NEAR.

Life presses us down and we can’t breathe…  JESUS IS NEAR.

Stepped out in faith yet suddenly sinking…  JESUS IS NEAR.

When the Lord calls you to come across the water, step out with confidence and joy. And never glance away from Him for even a moment. You will not prevail by measuring the waves or grow strong by gauging the wind. Attempting to survey the danger may actually cause you to fall before it. Pausing at the difficulties will result in the waves breaking over your head. “Lift your eyes to the hills…” (Ps. 121:1) and go forward. There is no other way.  ~ Streams in the Desert

Contemplate God’s Creation

Finding Peace In Times of Despair

Scriptures abound that teach us to look at God’s creation in wonder and amazement. How many of us look at God’s creation with eyes of wonder and amazement? Scriptures abound encouraging us to pray for others. How many of us pray for others when we ourselves are struggling?

In a recent devotional reading I was in Job chapter 42. Job has spent 30+ chapters being accused by friends and family of being a terrible person. Job’s accusers believed God was punishing him with all his suffering.

After all this rejection and verbal abuse, Job takes it out on God and pridefully begins to complain to Him. Of course, God sets both Job and his friends straight. Then Job humbles himself before God in remorse and apology.

Job recognized God’s goodness among all creation which brought him to humility. This humility then brought Job to a place where he could pray for those who had accused him. It was in this place that his vindication and restoration began.

AFTER Job stopped arguing with his accusers.

AFTER Job stopped trying to tell God what to do.

AFTER Job stopped his pity party.

AFTER Job stopped looking at himself.

Only then was he able to pray for his friends. Then God was able to bring about restoration. This was actually more than restoration because the Bible says God blessed Job with double what he had lost.

You can’t stay in a pity party and contemplate a tree blowing in the wind.

You can’t stay in despair and listen to the birds sing.

You can’t stay mad at your spouse and play with your pet.

Whatever your struggle is today, step outside and contemplate God’s marvelous creations that surround you. Find peace and grace there.

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Launching Out!

When I look back over my life there were many times of spiritual complacency. Yes, I knew the Lord and was walking with Him. But my walk wasn’t what God wanted for me. He wanted me to know Him better, deeper. I believe this is when God allows trials and tribulations to come into our life.

God knows that when life is settled and calm we have a tendency to stop depending on Him. We begin to float quietly and stay safely tied to our shore, whatever it may be… family, friends, work, money. We begin to see these things as our purpose for living, maybe even our source for life. God has better things in store for us than a safe shore.

If you yourself do not cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will have to use a storm to sever them and to send you out to sea. ~ Oswald Chambers

The Apostle Paul says to be thankful in all things. I am thankful for the struggles of the last two years. They have brought me much closer to God. In the last few weeks God has allowed various things to fall in place that are launching my ministry to a new level. Today I truly feel like I have been unleashed from my safe shore and launched out into deep. It’s exciting and a bit scary traveling in uncharted waters. But I know God will guide me safely as I stay close to Him.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you… Do not be afraid, for I am with you. ~ Isaiah 43:2;5

Are you tied safely to someone or something other than God?

Watch this beautiful video and let it help you step out into the deep with God!

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The Holy Companion

Your Best Bestie!

In 2005, when I was rebuilding my relationship with God, my dog, Lady, who I had recently rescued, stayed very close to me. She was always following me from room to room around the house. She rarely left my side. The Holy Spirit reminded me that that’s how He is. He is always my companion but even closer than any human or pet friend can be.

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  

So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear…”

Hebrews 13:5-6

Pets are sometimes our best friends. And for some their only companion. Our furry friends are a gift from God to be sure. But we need to remember that we have a friend that is even closer and better. Someone who is there for us at all times. Not just for our lifetime. But Forever. He’s only a conversation away, only a thought away, only a prayer away.

Are you feeling lonely? Do you sense God is far away?

I hope you will take a few minutes and watch or listen to Misty Edwards beautiful song below. It’s one of my new favs!

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My Mother’s Day Floral Adventure

Helping Prepare Love Deliveries

On Mother’s Day weekend in May, I was blessed with the unexpected opportunity and honor to work behind the scenes in a large florist business. If you’re like me you are unaware of the incredible amount of hard work that goes into preparing and designing professional floral arrangements. The Mother’s Day holiday is upstaged by only one other holiday, Valentine’s Day. So needless to say, it was a hectic day for the florist shop and warehouse where I was working. 

During the six hour shift I worked, there were at least 16 people feverishly working to send love out the door in the form of flower arrangements. There were floor cleaners, box preppers, vase preppers, flower preppers, floral designers, office staff, delivery drivers, and of course, the owner, Sue, over seeing every step of the process. 

When I arrived I was quickly assigned to vase washing. It wasn’t long before I was reminded of another monk who is famous for washing dishes… Brother Lawrence. Once I thought of him, the rest of my day was an incredibly contemplative experience. 

When ordering professional flowers we usually think how we are sending our love to a friend or family member. I never imagined the amount of physical labor that goes into the florist business. Back breaking, sweaty hard work is attached to every professional flower arrangement especially those prepared for a major holiday. 

This experience will stay with me for the rest of my Life. I am grateful to God for providing this opportunity for me. I hope it won’t be the last time. 

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

~Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

 

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Chasing Karma

Trusting Good Works to Save Us vs God

 

Sometimes we’re so focused on getting that we do things for the wrong reason.

We might be doing the right actions but our heart motives are wrong. Just because you are doing something good doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to get good back. Yes, there is the law of reciprocity, give and you shall get. But if our heart is resentful while we are giving, what we will receive will match our heart motive.

The Old Testament believers were under the Mosaic Law which meant they had hundreds of rules to follow every day to stay in right relationship with God and their future. When Jesus came he abolished that law and provided grace to make the way for our way to God and our future. Thanks be to God! Grace replaced rules!

Instead of following a bunch of laws and rules, or chasing karma and expecting a high return on our time and energy investment, we can relax and accept the grace that Jesus provides for us.

The Bible says, Trust God and do good. (Psalm 37-3). That means as we are doing the good things that we have the ability to do, we can trust God will bring about the best outcome for us and our future.

Let’s make a commitment to do something good for the right reasons with the right heart motive!


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A Hard Reboot

Has Your Life Been Restarted Without Your Permission?

 

After children misbehave, have been too self-dependent or possibly rebellious, parents will sometimes give children a time out to their room, restrict them from activities or friends. They’re given time to evaluate their behavior and hopefully reset their attitudes.

There are times when our computers freeze up for various reasons. Maybe the memory is low or too many programs are running at the same time. The computer won’t respond to any keystrokes or instructions from the user.  Whatever the case, in these times the only way to get our computer back in working order is to perform a hard reboot.  A hard reboot is done manually by pressing the power button until it shuts down the computer and then pressing the power button again to restart the computer. A second hard reboot method is done by completely unplugging the computer from its power source then replugging it into the electricity and pressing the power button to restart the computer.

In much the same way, God may perform a hard reboot on our lives when we have, as my daddy would say, “gotten too big for our britches.”  We may be edging God out by allowing our ego to run the show. We’ve become self-dependent thinking we know the best way to run our lives. Whatever the reason, God knows exactly how to reboot our lives in a way that will humble us and get us set straight back on His path.

Is life challenging for you today? Do you feel like you’re in God’s timeout? Take a few minutes to watch/listen to this incredible song sung by Jenn Johnson. It’s given me much hope in the last week. I pray it brings peace and hope to you as well.

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Befriend Your Empty Spaces

Fueling Life on God's Grace

We all have empty spaces in our lives. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time for a life companion or maybe you’ve removed a bad behavior and are now left with a nagging empty spot with cravings to boot. Whatever your empty space looks like chances are you have more than one to deal with.

My personal empty space is connected to many things that have been removed from my life in the last year… Job loss has forced a move to another city to live with a family member while we get back on our feet… loss of home, car, finances; possessions; freedoms and privacy; our only grand children have moved to eastern Europe; my two elderly dogs went to heaven; health challenges that require a new very restricted food plan; not to mention trying to stay sober while living in a home that isn’t. Lots of empty spaces that could be filled with complaining, anger, resentment, and depression.

Last Fall I read Addiction and Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addiction by Gerald G. May. This book has been a life changer for me. Since reading it I haven’t looked at God’s grace in the same way. My favorite quote comes from the last paragraph:

The specific struggles we undergo with our addictions are reflections of a blessed pain. To be deprived of a simple object of attachment is to taste the deep, holy deprivation of our souls. To struggle to transcend any idol is to touch the sacred hunger God has given us.

May tells us to make friends with the empty space and its pain, because that pain is God’s grace reaching out to us. You may have heard that empty space called a God-shaped vacuum a term coined many years ago by Blaise Pascal. We’re always trying to fill that empty space with anything BUT God!

With our EGO in charge we’re always Edging God Out fueling life with temporary worldly fixes. A food diet run on the empty calories of foods that either are sugar or turn to sugar, won’t lead to a healthy body. In the same way, trying to fuel our spiritual life on the empty things of this world will lead to an unsatisfied spirit that longs for more.

All through Scripture we ‘re taught to empty ourselves of worldly desires and fill that empty space with God. When St. Paul was given his “thorn-in-the-flesh” he asked God three times to remove it. God’s reply was, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Whether our empty space is from putting down an addiction/behavior or because something/someone was removed from our life involuntarily, we are still dealing with an empty space. God’s grace gives us the power to endure, to press through, to be obedient, to lean on Him when we have the cravings or the loneliness hits.

Why not allow God’s grace to fill that empty space? Life will be much better when we do.

“My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

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