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Posts Tagged ‘encourage’

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

For years, I’ve struggled to understand.  How can there be rest in a world like this…in the here-and-now reality of government sponsored terrorist attacks, state approved drug consumption, and families reeling from the long-term effects of terminal illness…abuse…divorce?

Religion tells us we’ll find peace in doing…living life in a certain way…proving to God that we are worthy of approval. 

Television “experts”  and self-help gurus reassure that we create our own peace–“Happiness is in your spiritual DNA. It is what you experience when you accept yourself…” (Dr. Robert Holden).

The world promises we can find peace in the anesthetized power of sexual encounters…bank accounts brimming with wealth…or the uninhibited consumption of a non-demanding, high-resolution screen.Fish Symbol on Cross

No…religion robs us of joy and promotes the desire to help others–a desire born of a self-centered motivation to earn heavenly favor.

If happiness were  innate, then there would be no such thing as genetically based mood disorders.  Say “goodbye” to depression.  Adios, anxiety!  We have the power!

And money?  Sex?  Inanimate screens?  In and of themselves, they aren’t bad.  As givers of hope, though, they are only mere fillers for unmet emotional and spiritual needs!  As soon as the money has been spent, the comforting arms have disappeared, or the ‘off’ button has eliminated the constant Twitter and Facebook feeds then what remains?  Lonely, broken people.

Jesus?  He promised something more….a one-of-a-kind, once-and-for-all, happily ever after.  It may seem slow in coming, but there is a place prepared with you in mind, Dear One–your forever home with a tender Father willing to temporarily move into time and space in order to bear your burden and mine .

This is a sort of rest that extends beyond the ten o’ clock news and personal problems.  Soul-rest exists in the glorious triumph of Christ’s resurrection, His assurance of  forgiveness, and the holy grace of eternal restoration.

Scripture for Reflection–

Isaiah 53:3-4

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I read the child’s name and my throat constricts.  The words seem detached from the page and I wish I could wrap my hand around each letter–crushing the message they bear.  Dead.  Eight year old.  Mother attempted to revive.

Pausing, I think of my own children and something like guilt washes over me.  My children have been spared death.  They have escaped from the clasp of pneumonia…the rebellious actions of desperate youth…and the threat of childhood illness.  My daughter survived when she was resuscitated–and the memory of unmatched pain still lingers within.  And my heart aches for this mother.

Then, I think of the little boy–thin and frail when I knew him as a preschooler–and marvel at the way God used him to touch the lives of so many.  On Christmas Day, the boy drewMP900438983 his final breath.  And because of that boy several other children received an unimaginable Christmas gift–the gift of hope.

A blind child awakened to the colors of an undiscovered world while another now touches tender flesh marred by stiches–proof that much had been sacrificed for hope.

And my thoughts are of the boy–and of Hope.  The one who fully restores the brokenhearted mother…the dying child…the blind and desperate.  And I Ask for the grace to accept Hope’s promise for today.

 

Scripture for Reflection

“Put your hope in God and know real blessing.” Psalm 146:3-9 MSG

“Blessed are those…who have made The Lord their hope and confidence.” Jer. 17:7

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As we prayed together, her tears fell onto our intertwined hands. My heart broke as she uttered desperate words, “Lord, help me.” My precious friend, horribly abused as a child and still suffering its repercussions as an adult, looked up and asked, “Why?”

I don’t know, but God reassures us that pain will not go unanswered, ” [I], God, see the trouble of the afflicted; [I] consider their grief and take it in hand. …[I] am the helper of the fatherless.” (Psalm 10:14)

The young woman shifted nervously in her the seat; embarrassment and fear apparent in the quaking of her voice . “The baby and I were just evicted and my husband moved to Seattle. Why couldn’t they wait?”

I don’t know,  but be encouraged! God loves those who are in need–spiritually or otherwise. His promise is for you. “[I] rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” (Psalm 35:10)

Her baby, surrounded by wires and tubes, lay in the small bassinet. His tiny chest bore the mark of an incision. Nothing more could be done. The mother’s words were barely a whisper, “Why my baby?”

I don’t know, but Jesus‘ words assure us, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live,…and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25)

There is so much more waiting for us . His name is Jesus!

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More often than not, my mornings consist of reminders, reprimands, and rushing.  Did you pack your jacket?  Change that attitude, little mister.  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.  Then, my children scramble out the of the car–backpacks slung across their tiny shoulders.  I won’t see them again until the sound of the bell sends them rushing out of the building–laughing and ready for a snack.

As I pull away, I’m consumed by “mommy guilt”.  Did I remember to tell them I love them?  Were my words more than just directives or critiques?  Will they know they’re prayed for today?  Did I say anything nice?

There are times the guilt is well-earned.  Sometimes my words fail to build up my children, husband, friends, or even strangers I encounter.  As Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Tomorrow–whether I’m in the midst of the morning rush, the dinner hour, or the bedtime routine–I’m going to slow down enough to remind those around me of how important they are to me.  I’ll tell them they are a precious gift in this life.

Then, I’ll let the “mommy guilt” go–at least for the day.

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Aunt Linda is the sort of woman who puts fear in the heart of every introverted woman married to a soldier.  Why?  Because Aunt Linda set the standard as the consummate military wife for twenty years.   She loved the adventure of changing stations, meeting new people, and throwing dinner parties.

Once, having just arrived at a new duty station, this fearless military wife sent invitations to all of the neighbors.  Please join us for a progressive dinner on Saturday evening.  If you’d like to serve as one of the hosts, let us know.  More than two dozen couples joined in on the festivities—and remain friends twenty years later.

I, on the other hand, fail to follow Aunt Linda’s example.  An impending move?  I break out in hives.  Mandatory fun?  My least favorite activity.  Host a dinner party for the unit?  I wake up with night sweats.  God did not bless me with the gift of hospitality.

However, a quick study of scripture reveals the exhortation to “practice hospitality”.  (Romans 12:13)  According to Merriam-Webster, the word practice means “to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient”.  In other words, all believers—even those inclined to avoid a crowd–are called to extend hospitality.

Hoops and Hospitality

In my case, practicing hospitality is a lot like high school basketball.  Let me explain.  I grew up in a town tucked between wheat fields and boasting fewer than 200 people.  Because there were limited entertainment alternatives, high school basketball reigned as the king of sports.  Unfortunately, I was gifted with neither careful aim nor steady hand.  Determined to succeed, I spent hours practicing.  Shoot.  Dribble.  Jump.  Finally, I earned a starting position on the team.

In the same way, Christians are called to practice hospitality.  By exercising hospitality, we learn to “Put self aside, and help others get ahead.” (Phil. 2:3-MSG) Invite. Invest. Intercede.  And, one day, God will grow us into completion (Phil. 1:6) How will our feeble attempts produce results?

First, when our focus involves sharing Christ’s love rather than masking personal insecurity or concern, God receives the glory.  Are we unwilling to invite someone into our homes because the dust has settled on the top of the refrigerator or there are bread crumbs on the floor?  If so, then pride is impeding our impact for Christ.  Do we claim shyness as a reason for failing to minister to the needs of others?  Perhaps He desires to grow us through our weakness.  As Philippians 2:4 reminds us, “Each of you should look not only to your interests, but to the interests of others. Your attitude should be that of Christ Jesus:  who, in being very nature God…made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.”

Demonstrating obedience to Christ through hospitality also makes a difference in a hurting world.  After all, how many people are struggling with divorce, illness, or job loss?  And, as a part of the military community, each of us is regularly exposed to other women managing the trials of deployment, “single” parenting, and loneliness.  Who might Christ want you to encourage?

Four Easy Ways to Practice Hospitality

While hospitality often takes the form of dinner parties or large get-togethers, four alternative ideas are listed below.

  • Coffee-klatch Close relationships are often fostered in small groups.  Why not invite one or two ladies to join you for coffee and conversation on a regular basis?  Keep things simple and meet at a local coffee shop.
  • Baby Swap Have you noticed a young mother struggling to manage parenting and personal time?  Offer to host a playtime at your home or babysit her children once a month.
  • Silently Supportive Contact your local Wives Club or church group and suggest your home serve as a meeting place for a Military Wives Bible study or prayer group.  You provide a welcoming environment while the group’s leader organizes all other details.
  • Freezer Pleasers   Gather a group once a month to boil, bake, and baste a variety of freezer meals.  Consider donating one meal each to a family new to the community or to a spouse with a newly deployed soldier.

 

I may always prefer a quiet room to a crowd, but I also want to demonstrate obedience to Him.   Will I ever eagerly anticipate mandatory fun?  Unlikely.  Am I destined to assume the role of party-planner extraordinaire?  Only if paper plates are involved.  Can He teach me to practice hospitality in order to impact the lives of others?    Absolutely.  When do you want to meet for coffee?

 

 

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A glance at the car parked next to mine quickly turned to unmannerly gawking when I noticed the condition of the vehicle.  Every visible space–except the driver’s seat–was crammed with fastfood wrappers, boxes, and cups.  The front seat?  Full of trash.  The back seat?  Brimming with garbage. 

I couldn’t help but think of the spiritual implications.  How many times have I refused to rid my life of the clutter I’ve picked up along the way?  Bad habits.  Feelings of inferiority.  Judgemental attitudes.  Every time I’ve allowed the cares and concerns of my past to crowd around me then I feel pressed in on every side–trapped and immobile. 

Christ offers a new beginning, though.   I can throw away all of the “junk in the trunk” and focus on the road ahead.  A road free of old debris. 

What habit or concern can you give to God today? Let’s de-clutter!

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Why have I decided to be one of millions blogging?  Because I have a story to share that continues to unfold page by page, chapter by chapter.  Like any story there is a beginning, middle, and end.  The beginning was difficult, the middle has been full of both triumphs and trials, and the ending is unpredictable .  Who knows what adventures and lessons I’ll learn along the way?

My prayer is that this blog will be a place of encouragement for you as we journey along life’s road together.  Let’s take a walk…

How has the beginning of your story influenced where you are in your life now? 

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