Word of the Week: Complete

Are you ready to rejoice in the freedom He offers us?

Are you ready to feel free from long to-do lists, insane expectations, and accomplishing everything there is to achieve?

I warn you: this might require a priority or perspective shift.

Here it is:

“And you have been made complete in Christ.” –Colossians 2:10

In this context, “to complete” is characterized as to “fill to individual capacity.”

Being complete is about being full.

You can’t be full if you have no parameters to fill. That whole “glass-half” question doesn’t work without a glass.

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Complete doesn’t mean perfect or finished. It isn’t determined by our schemes or dreams. Our “completion” is determined by our maker because He sets our capacity. He shaped our vessel. Purposefully, intentionally. And He fills it full.

His to-do list for you is complete when you’ve crossed off just the parts the Lord asks for, just like Dana wrote about in her post about lists earlier this week.

His expectations for you may not be as insane as your expectations for yourself are.

He calls you to accomplish some things, according to His plans. You don’t have to go beyond that.

Don’t worry about the size of your glass. Don’t chase after trophies with wider bowls. He has filled you full according to the capacities He has given you.

Another way to phrase the definition is that what capacities He has given you He has met. To the extent that you need, He has fulfilled, if not exceeded.

You, today, being in the hands of the one shaping, pouring out, and filling up again, are complete. Because He is filling you so perfectly, there is nothing missing, not a single drop, that you really need.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

In Control We Trust

{The fifth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

If I were in charge everything would be okay. People would do I want them to do, and since I generally care about some people, some people would be better off for it.

I would have everything I think I need, really hard stuff wouldn’t happen, and easier hard stuff I’d keep around to make myself sharp. I’d have no reason to worry and I’d feel fulfilled.

If I were in control.

That’s what I want to believe. More importantly, that’s what trusting in control has me assuming. Too often my life is based on that “if.”  I tell myself: If I were control, I’d have what I need to be okay.

But, control is a lie. It’s an illusion.

None of us are really sure what everything being okay would look like.

We can’t even a little bit grasp how to make everything okay for everyone at the same time. I’m even sure that we are incapable of consistently choosing the best for others, no matter how good our intentions may be.

There’s a reason for this: we’re sinners.

If we were in control, sin would be reigning. Because, let me repeat, we’re sinners in a world skewed by sin.

That we aren’t in control is actually a blessing.

in control we trust

What trusting in our own control really comes down to is trusting in an illusion instead of trusting in God. Illusions aren’t sustainable and can’t function fully. They are, at best, lies.

Proverbs 30:8 says:

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”

The poverty and riches rejected here are examples of forms of control we are deceived by.

Isn’t it often in gaining riches of information, money, relationships, etc., that we believe we gain control over our lives?

But wisdom here is clear: these forms of control are elusive illusions.

We don’t actually need them. They can’t actually offer us fulfillment or make life okay. It doesn’t matter what we gain control over: it won’t be enough.

We do well to ask only for our daily bread.

To have only our daily bread is to have only what we really need to live well. Notice also that our daily bread is given. Specifically by the one who is in control of everything.

control

Seeking control over more than our portion is seeking to have something more than what God has given. This conveys that in our hearts, we don’t find God to be enough. Through this, we deny the reality of God’s perfect control over everything.

There are consequences for trusting in control, or anything we seek to gain apart from God’s giving. The rest of the verse reinforces this:

“Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.”

-Proverbs 30:9

When we live in pursuit of a false power like control, we stop living in pursuit of the Lord. We’re deceived into believing that what we’re going to gain will be enough or will justify our sinful means.

But the “end,”or the “reward” of control, is disappointing.  

Because ultimately, trusting in control means trusting in ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I really disappoint myself when I get what I want. It’s crushing when at the end of all that toil, all I get is more of what I already have: worries, concerns, responsibilities, weaknesses, and sin.

That’s the stuff we’re made out of, folks.

Unless we’re stuffed full of Jesus. Unless He’s reigning on “our” thrones. Unless we recognize that when we fight Him for control we’re trying to take over a ship we don’t know how to steer. And don’t know the course for. Or the goal.

Take a breath and let it go. Thank Him that He knows where we’re going and how to get there. Thank Him that our daily bread is enough.

Praise Him that we don’t have to live by elusive illusion, but can live abundantly by faith.

Praise Him that He has got all of it under control, so we don’t have to. He guarantees it will all be more than good: it will be perfectly completed in Him!

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Trust

Trust. For a little word, it sure is a big one.

Just a few of the things God demonstrates to us about trust…

  1. Trust Makes a Way and Keeps Us In It

Isaiah 26:3 states that:

“(God) will keep in perfect peace

those whose minds are steadfast,

because they trust in (Him).”

Trust that makes a way for a steadfast mind. Trust in God keeps us in God’s perfect peace.

  1. Trust is the Choice to Put That Which Is in MY realm into HIS realm.

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  1. Trust is a Combination

To trust involves making a choice to:

  • Surrender “mine” to make it “His.”
  • Have faith in Him as my security.
  • Be confident in who He is.

A word to ponder and live!

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

He’s Got the Battle If We’ve Got the Praise- The Word Works Series

If there’s anyone I know who is comfortable being uncomfortable, it’s Christine. I mean that in the best way. She’s always bravely sharing about the gritty, not-so-fun parts of life on Precepts and Life Preservers. But she also always bluntly calls us to come with her, nearer to Christ, and to the comfort He provides while stretching and convicting us. Be blessed by her words today.

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Life likes to bring along impossible battles, doesn’t it?

They span a variety of things that threaten our very faith, and our very purpose. Or at least, that’s how it feels.

Infertility. Chronic illness. Job loss. Depression. Divorce. Natural disasters. Oppression around the world.

Maybe you were like me this week, needing to get through something and you felt ill-equipped. Like it loomed over you, solid and imposing and you gathered what little battle gear you have knowing the enemy rolled its eyes at how futile your little pile of armor was.

But sometimes we need to change our definition of armor, of doing battle. After all, we have a Mighty King who thrives on conquering the impossible.

The Father has me camped out in the book of Joshua lately, and the timing is no coincidence. Joshua faces the impossible. Like, major impossibility at every turn.

He’s supposed to fill the shoes of one of the most compelling leaders ever. He’s supposed to get an entire nation of people to a new land inhabited by a people so fierce that they stop the entire bulk of Israelites in their tracks and have them considering going back to captivity. He’s supposed to devise a way to scale massive sets of walls built one atop the other while facing an army of defenders.

Impenetrable.

Impossible.

I love when the Almighty directs us to His Word and places us right where we might witness His provision span thousands of years. The same Jericho-provision given Joshua lays waiting for us right now.

We stare up at our own personal Jericho and wonder the best way to assess it, approach it, scale it, win it, own it.

What gear do I need? What kind of armor is going to make a difference? What’s my big plan, Stan?

We worry, we get ready to pass out, we become frantic, we’ll take advice from anyone, we despair, we become stubborn.

Meanwhile, He waits to complete the provision He’s already said is ours, if we’ll just follow His instruction so that we might witness His glory in all its fullness.

He waits for us to heed His instruction. And He waits for us to let Him do battle while we step into our only role.

To praise Him.

Yep. We get to praise.

Our weapon is lifting our voices and hearts.

Our armor is the victory declaration of His Provision.

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Your Promised Land that looms large? He has said it’s always been ours. We just have to step into it.

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower. Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

And how do we take the land?

We lift victory-praise. We surround, we encircle our Jericho with shouts of His mighty faithfulness and glory. We shout with everything in us that He’s got this. We march and shout and sing and trumpet His goodness until He reaches a mighty hand beneath our battle ground and with one shake reduces it to rubble.

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king, and its army. March around the city once, with all the armed men flanking the priests. Do this for six days. Have the seven priests carry trumpets of ram’s horns in front of the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day, march seven times around the city, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast, have the all the people give a long shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”
Joshua 6:2-5

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And do not for a moment think your praise will end your battle, beloved. Your praise itself does not bring your Jericho down.

Your praise is the proof that your God is about to bring your Jericho down!

“The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded all the people, ‘Shout!!! For the Lord has given you the city!”

-Joshua 6:16

He will reduce your Jericho, your battle, to rubble… to stepping stones that will take weary feet into the Promised Land.

How do we know we have this same promise?

The same hand that brought down Jericho is the same hand that shook Golgotha and rent the veil with His Son’s last breath. It’s the same hand that wrenched keys of death from our enemy and freed every captive. It’s the same hand that beckoned Christ from the tomb.

This is who faces our battles. That verse in 2 Chronicles 20:15 that says the battle is the Lord’s? It’s our truth for today, more so than ever.

Psalm 22:3 says the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.

Look at Acts 16 and see how praise created an opening for God to break shackles, open jail cells, even saved the jailer.

Psalm 149:5-9 says,

“Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them— this is the glory of all his faithful people. Praise the LORD.”

So weary friend, unsure about the looming impossible…

He excels at impossible.

And He’s got the battle if we’ve got the praise.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Memorizing the Mind of God- The Word Works Series

There’s always something to learn on Michele’s blog Living Our Days because Michele is a true learner. Writing frequent book reviews, commentary on Bible studies, and posts on lessons she’s learning, Michele is a sit-at-His-feet writer. Eager to plop down and dig in with her today!
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“I want to keep it handy in case I need it,” she said, matter-of-factly.

She wasn’t talking about a flashlight.

Not a package of tissues.

Not a cell phone – they hadn’t been invented in 1978.

She was talking about Isaiah 55.

I liked it,” she went on.  “So I memorized it.”

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

The words poured from her lips, because they were, indeed, handy, and although the pale yellow V.W. Rabbit continued on its way south down Route 1, I had been stopped in my tracks at the miracle of memorization.  My friend had captured for herself the treasure of thirteen verses of exquisite beauty and stunning promises — mountains and hills bursting into song and trees clapping their hands – all for the LORD’s glory and renown.

There is no way she could have known that my view of Scripture would be forever changed on that bumpy pot-holed ride, for I saw clearly that, in my friend’s mind, the Words of God were a banquet — all delightful — and she would have devoured them all given the time and opportunity.      

I decided to start in the Psalms, words of praise to fill a mouth that was unpracticed in the exaltation of a majestic God.  I knew that I was supposed to “appreciate His attributes” and “thank Him for His blessings” in prayer, but a dusty list of multi-syllabic theological adjectives caught in my throat and felt forced, unnatural.  However, borrowing the words of Psalm 103, thanksgiving pours from my heart even today, because God:

“. . . forgives all my iniquities, heals all my diseases, redeems my life from destruction, crowns me with loving kindness and tender mercies and satisfies my mouth with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s”

Tired and empty, I find that Psalm 63 frames my soul’s thirst “in a dry and thirsty land where no water is, to see [His] power and His glory. . .  because His lovingkindness is better than life.”

This is more than just having good theology or thinking God’s thoughts after Him.  Memorizing Scripture forces the mind to turn over the words, to consider their order, to linger over their meaning, and to recognize patterns and parallels.  This is allowing Truth to change the folds and creases of my gray matter so that my every thought is impacted.  Could this be what my wayward heart needs in order to stand with Paul in “bring[ing] every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ?” (II Corinthians 10:5)

When I go for a walk, it is not unusual for me to carry a few 3×5 cards in my pocket so that I can review verses that I am working on, because even my pocket isn’t near enough when my thoughts need adjusting, when my outlaw heart starts hammering itself an idol out of scraps and trinkets, or when I hear the hiss of lies about the basis of God’s love for me.  When this happens, the Truth that holds me in the faith is a reset button to “set my mind” on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5), on things above (Colossians 3:2).

Like any spiritual discipline, memorization creates space in my life for God. It heightens my awareness of His scandalous grace, deepens my listening to the voice of the God who has spoken into space and time, and puts my mind into a posture of intent to obey and to follow.

Living and powerful, His thoughts sift and winnow my own,

revealing motives that I would rather not see.

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Through Scripture, I am able to absorb the intimate vocabulary of worship, the raw expressions of lament, or the wisdom of instruction that sets me on a right path – not because I’m racking up points on an “Extreme Discipleship Scorecard,” but because in the process of memorizing Scripture, I find the true meaning of learning the Truth by heart.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

When Loneliness is a Blessing -The Word Works Series

Writing on her blog Fearfully Made Mom, Abby reveres the Lord and His workmanship in her words and life. Sharing stories and thoughts that many of us encounter in daily our lives, Abby is quick to point straight to the truth we need to hear. Listening in gladly today!
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I remember the first time we drove through this small town tucked into hills of Western Maryland. It was a cold, rainy day and a heavy fog hung over us like a blanket.

As we made our way across the overpass and I looked down at the place I would later call home, I thought, “Oh God, what have I done?” My husband and I were going to be living here in a few months, and I had agreed to the move here sight unseen.

I looked out my window and I thought about the friends we’d be leaving, the church where we’d thrived, and the snowy peaks outside our doorstep in Utah. Had we gone crazy? On what planet did we decide this was a good idea, to pick our family up and move cross country for the second time in five years?

And yet, in late January during one of the coldest winters on record, that is exactly what we did.

After living with my in-laws for a few months while looking for a house, we finally found a place to raise our growing family. We were expecting our second son, and I was eager get active in the community. But the more we tried to fit, to find a church family and make friends, the more elusive our desires became.

I wondered if we’d heard God wrong. Even though we’d prayed fervently before making the move, I couldn’t help thinking we’d made a mistake. What I didn’t realize was that even in the midst of my grief, God was working.

God can use some of our loneliest seasons to draw us closer to Him.

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As we push back against the isolation and wonder where He is, He’s whispering, “I’m right here, my love. Come and sit with me a while. Everything you need is right here.”

During those months where I grieved the life we’d lost in Utah, God drew me to his side and comforted me like no friend ever could.

He gave me an understanding of his Word which can only be gained by living it.

I remember coming across this verse in James during those first few months of transition into our new town.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

James 1:2 NIV

I used to look at verses like this one and think, “Seriously? That sounds really nice in theory, but how can it apply to my everyday?”

But the move changed me.  It took James words and put skin on them in a way I never expected.

After spending some lonely months in my recliner nursing my newborn, I saw that James wasn’t delivering some clichéd phrase to sound religious. He was speaking truth and life.

joy

I wasn’t happy about my situation, but I had joy. Because friends, joy goes so much deeper than being happy. It is knowing no matter what trials life brings, we cling to a hope which will withstand it all.

As God worked on my heart, he prepared a place we would later call our church home. He brought people to our doorstep who ministered to me in my sadness.

When a new spring dawned and buds formed on the trees outside our window, I knew our winter of isolation was over. And I thanked God for everything He taught me during the cold.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

21. BEHOLD: The Unifier

Treaties are signed, even temporarily, for Christmas. In families and between countries, the agreement to live in peace for even just a short time is often made for the holidays. People step out of their normal routines, paying more attention to the needy and giving more than any other time of the year.

At Christmas, people seem to feel more unified.

There’s a reason for that, even if it’s wrapped up and stuffed away inside of many, many layers of worldly tradition and philosophy: Christ unifies us.

He came as a baby. We’ve all been babies. He had a childhood, friends, and even a job. Christ was fully man, making Him just like us. He was even tempted as we are tempted, so that:

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

Hebrews 4:15

Though He did not sin, Christ died. Just like all of us, He had a time appointed for his life to end. We find unity in that life, and that death.

For those of us who know Him, we also find unity in the hope and promise we have that we will also live –and die- and then live forever with Him. In light of who Christ was and that gift He freely gives, we have every reason to join together in worship, gratitude, and praise.

Our model for unity is found in the trinity. All belong to each other because selfish ambition and pride is absent. In belonging to another, the will in the same, and the goal of each shared. Each one unified is unified for a reason:

“I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:23

That godly gift of unity is found most when we enter the presence of the Lord, coming near to Him, because He is the unifier.

Behold, the only reason we can be unified despite out warring flesh.

Behold, the One who unifies us in praise.

Behold, the unity found in the Christ was fully man and fully God.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, and 
#Intentionally Pursuing

1. BEHOLD: Our Comforter

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3

As the weather gets colder and the season busier, we tend to seek out creature comforts. Big, soft blankets get piled on couches. Rooms are decorated and dimly lit to provide a warm, inviting glow. The seasonal food we enjoy is comfort-based, most of it served toasty and sweet.

Think of your favorite Christmas-time comfort. God designed it.

In all the little comforts we find, we also find the comfort of God.

Comfort, at its core, isn’t pretty and polished. We don’t find our comfort in glistening, freshly cleaned rooms or at fancy dress-up holiday celebrations. It isn’t in the gift-giving or the busy-busy of preparing for the perfect Christmas.

Instead, comfort is found in messy, flour-dusted kitchens where cookies are still baking. It’s in the tired, wet hugs of loved ones who have traveled to visit.  Our comfort comes from the crooked Christmas trees that took comedies of error to put up but warm us when lit in the evening while watching that worn-out old video that we know every line to.

The comfort the Lord provides is like that. Familiar. Given as a part of the tradition, the promise, that He is here and He cares.

“Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.” –Psalm 119:76

Our comfort is found in a straw-stuffed manger, in someone else’s barn, not according to our perfectly-laid plans, but according to that promise: He is here! And He cares!

Behold, the comfort of a newborn baby.

Behold, the comfort of the Lord with us.

Behold, the comfort of the familiar, a promise remembered year after year.

This post is being shared on: #WomenWithIntention and #TellHiStory