Holding and Held

Thinking of Christ as our anchor, we often picture storms raging. Tossed about in the chaos, we think of clinging to Him. Our hands burn, grasping, struggling, to hold on. But the wonderful truth: as we’re holding, we’re also held. Our anchor is bound inseparably to our soul.

Even when we let go, the anchor’s hold is still strong. We’re still in His grip when we lose our own.

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Likewise, as lean into the hard and heavy, forging our way along a difficult path, we’re often reaching out to see if God is there with us.

But He, in fact, goes before us, with us, and behind us.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” –Deuteronomy 31:8

“For the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” -Isaiah 52:12

If the Lord will never leave us, then indeed we are not alone. We are not forsaken by our anchor or abandoned by our guide along the unknown path. Our light will not go out nor will our protector fail to have the victory in the end.

It’s so easy…so easy. To look upon the goodness and the kindness of the Lord in wonder, and miss that the things He kindly does for us are not dependent on us.

This isn’t an excuse to live flippantly or to believe that the Lord will reward us for taking advantage of His grace. But it certainly is a comfort, and a shift in perspective we often need.

“Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

-2 Timothy 2:11-13

Amy Carmichael once described that when the going was rough, the trouble “was His burden not mine. It was He who was asking me to share it with Him, not I who was asking Him to share it with me.”

Sweet relief.

The nature of our God is compassionate. Loving. Hopeful. Gracious. Merciful. Kind. Stable. Steady.

In all that you and I grasp at and cling to, just trying to hold on, we can know that we will not be abandoned or put to shame. We can be certain that we will never be lost, even when we lose hold.

We are held by one who does not let go, even when we do.

Praise the Lord!

(This is a song I sing along to regularly. Laura Story’s lyrics remind of the truth, comfort me, and bring me to praise. I hope it will you, too!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAAsWj-thsY

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

Something breaks my heart extra as tragedy after tragedy arises. I wince over the propeller of much of the outrage being some agenda, not compassion.

People are suffering at the hands of others…

Terrorists. Radicals. Criminals. People of all races. Police Officers. Child Predators. Children. Parents. Even Wild Animals.

Killed and killing.

And People are suffering.

Might the answer involve something related to guns?

Might the answer be training cops more effectively?

Might the answer be teaching children about the equality of all people?

Might the answer be spreading the word about injustice?

Might the answer be more social awareness in churches?

Might the answer be a hashtag going viral?

Maybe in part. Maybe a little. Maybe not.

One thing I know: the answer to the loss of a precious human life is not to turn the departed into a tool.

In this, I observe our world overlooking a bigger issue. One we’re not talking about because it’s offensive, it’s personal, and because we can’t solve or cure it ourselves (Jer 17:9.)

Sin.

Sin’s evil pervades the world and each person in it (Eccl 9:3.)

Evil doesn’t discriminate against weapon, race, gender, age, circumstance, or specie.

It will gladly use and abuse them all.

Because evil sees opportunity in the heart of man.

Evil knows what happens when it takes lives. People, scared, hurting people, get desperate. Showing righteous anger at times, but flailing in desperation. Desperation leads to more opportunities for evil.

It seems like evil triumphs these days.

But God. But our Savior lives. He has the ultimate victory. He can take our desperation and turn it into reliance on Him.

The one answer we know to the problem behind all of this, the one answer that we don’t want to talk about, is the love of Jesus Christ.

We know we need change. We know we need more love and respect. We know we need better self-discipline. We know our world is a crazy, unpredictable mess. We know- God, do we know- that we need hope and healing.

All of these are found in Christ.

To be part of the solution: be part of His work. Let Him save you. When He has, be praying. Be loving those around you. Be listening for the Lord’s instruction. Be sharing the only hope we have in this world, the only hope that remains through every opportunity evil takes. Be in Christ to be living in hope.

Praise the Lord that we have a refuge, a rock, and a protector to turn to in every hardship and tragedy. Praise the Lord that sin will not win in the end. Death and evil will not prevail (1 Cor 15:55, Psalm 18:2.)

This is where we need to start. This is what we need to hear. This is what we need to proclaim.

This is the only hope we have, and the only real, lasting, unchanging, unshakable hope we have to offer.

Christ says it straight, so that we can have peace in this crazy world:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world!” –John 16:33

#LivesMatter indeed matters to God. Your life and my life matter so much to God that He gave His only son that whosoever -any life, any person- who believes in Him may be rescued from sin, saved by grace, and have eternal life (John 3:16.)

Offer this hope with comfort. Offer it with respect.

Please, offer it with compassion.

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.

WordoftheWeek: Knowledge

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Peter 1:3

Said differently:

It is through our knowledge of Him that He has given us all we need for a godly life.

2 thoughts on the matter:

  1. This Knowledge Comes as a Part of His Divine Power

Verses like these remind me logic puzzles. This, then this. But never written in order. So, simplified, Peter says:

  • Everything we need for a godly life we have through our knowledge of God.
  • We have that knowledge of God because His divine power has given it to us.

That we, in our insufficiency, have all that we need to live godly, glorifying lives, is absurd. But the ridiculous statement is true. Because He is that gracious to us. Because He is that loving.

He wants us to know Him. He draws us into knowing Him. God has made Himself knowable to little old us. For example, He gave us the Holy Spirit, sent Christ to become man, and provided His Word . And in so doing, He equips us with all that we need and shows us that He himself truly is all that we need.

divine power

  1. This is Contact-Knowledge

The word for knowledge here is “epignósis.”

Greek to you? Yeah, me too. Here’s what Biblos says:

“   (from…epí, “on, fitting” which intensifies…gnṓsis,

knowledge gained through first-hand relationship.”)

Properly, “contact-knowledge”

that is appropriate (“apt, fitting”) to first-hand, experiential knowing.”

What we need for a godly life is not just academic knowledge of Scripture and theology. Thoughts, and even beliefs, are not what wholly equip us.

Personally knowing God, a gift in itself, is what equips us to glorify Him.

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Do you personally know Christ as your Savior? (Click here to learn more if you don’t.)

And, if you do, do you know Him today, too? Do you speak to Him, do you listen to Him? Do you spend time with Him?

As the definition suggests…are you in first-hand contact with your Lord and Savior?

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

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.

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.

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