Because light shines in the dark

In light of all the recent, horrific tragedies, I thought I’d share something I wrote years ago. Because truth never changes, and light always overcomes darkness. I’m feeling particularly proud tonight, because when I Googled the word “Chiaroscuro” to see how it was spelled, I discovered I already had it right. And to make it ...

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In light of all the recent, horrific tragedies, I thought I’d share something I wrote years ago. Because truth never changes, and light always overcomes darkness.

I’m feeling particularly proud tonight, because when I Googled the word “Chiaroscuro” to see how it was spelled, I discovered I already had it right. And to make it even better, I actually remembered what it means. But don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it. All that matters is that you now have the most basic knowledge of what it is — it’s an Italian word that means light-dark. It’s about strong contrasts between light and dark, about light being used to convey volume or to show the modeling of a form. Some of the old masters, like Caravaggio, are credited with using this technique, but it has applications in photography, drawing, and other media throughout history. In traditional chiaroscuro images, most of the canvas is black, and one source of light creates stark contrast and defines the objects in the composition.

Whether or not you’ve ever seen this before (or learned about it in art history class), I’m sure you’ve noticed that all through the Bible, we read about light. About God’s light. About how He is light, and how He shines His light into one situation after another.

About how His light cannot be extinguished.

I’ve always been a little afraid of the dark. I want to see what’s there, to see if what is supposed to be there is and what isn’t, isn’t. When we moved into the house we live in now, I was amazed at how bright it is even in the middle of the night. We had our electricity updated, and they put little power-indicator lights in all the outlets. That’s all it is. One tiny little green light, about 1/8” in size. And when all the other lights are out, that little thing lights up the whole room.

Because here’s the thing. When light shines, there ceases to be darkness. When light shines, we see the contrast between the light and the darkness. When light shines, it shapes, forms, and models for us the image we see. It defines it. The darkness is shaped by light. Even when all other things are dark, if the light illuminates, even slightly, just one thing, our eyes are drawn to it. It becomes our focus.

And, really, that’s all it takes — a little bit of light. We only need a little bit of God’s wisdom to start to see clearly. A little bit of hope to push out despair. A little bit of love to combat hate. A little bit of peace to calm the storm. A little bit of strength to overcome our weakness. A little bit of divine illumination to push back the darkness and sharpen our focus. To begin to make out the shapes. To see what is right there in front of us.

Because even in our darkest hour, the tiniest bit of God’s light goes a long, long way.


There’s been so much devastation, so much destruction, so much tragedy. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but not when we remember that God is in control and that what HE builds lasts. Join me with prayers loosely based on the concept of rebuilding. Download your free October prayer prompt calendar here

A Prayer for the Hopeful

Today’s prayer is written by Dr. Michelle Bengtson. She is a sweet, bubbly, lovely, genuine woman I met at Suzie Eller’s Come With Me retreat in April. There’s something about her that just draws people in. I follow her on social media and love her upbeat posts. Her forthcoming book is called Hope Prevails: Insights ...

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Michelle BengtsonToday’s prayer is written by Dr. Michelle Bengtson. She is a sweet, bubbly, lovely, genuine woman I met at Suzie Eller’s Come With Me retreat in April. There’s something about her that just draws people in. I follow her on social media and love her upbeat posts. Her forthcoming book is called Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression. I can’t wait to read it because everything I’ve seen from her is so encouraging. Hope is such a beautiful thing. And right now, especially, we need to be pointed back to the God who authors hope.


Dear God,

In this world, we will have trouble…you warned us of that, and yet you also declared the promise that despite the trouble and the trials, that we could take heart because you have overcome the world. We can be grateful because while the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, you came to give us abundant life.

Some days our pain and heartache threaten to take our very breath away, and yet we can take solace because you are well acquainted with our sorrows, and your word says that you catch every one of our tears in a bottle. Your thoughts toward us are more numerous than the grains of sand. You know our comings and goings, and when we lie our head down at night and when we wake in the morning.

Lord, what a comfort it is to know that no matter what our circumstances present, you never leave us and you never turn your back on us. In fact, you go ahead of us, you walk beside us, and you come behind, holding us by the right hand the entire time.

Thank you that your word promises that when we trust in you, we will not be disappointed. Father, we thank you that as the God of hope, you fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in you, so that we will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This world that we live in is filled with evil, and while we, your Christ followers, wrestle not with flesh and blood, you promise that what the enemy intends to harm us, you will use for our good. In fact, you promise to use ALL things together for our good and for your glory. We who continue to trust you and keep our eyes focused on you will bear much fruit.

I’m so thankful that despite the chaos in the world around us, that you are the Master of the Universe and that you create order out of disorder. You are a God of restoration and repair. You are a God filled with mercy, grace, and great compassion.

Thank you God that you are greater than any foe who will rise against us, and that because of you, we are victorious and more than a conqueror. Thank you that you are pleased that we simply love and trust you, and want to know you more.

Thank you Lord that even on the days when we feel unworthy, like we don’t measure up, we are loved children of God. You have declared us a new creation in Christ, a friend of Jesus, and that Jesus makes us worthy.

Thank you that there is nothing we can do to make you love us more or love us less. Thank you that when you look at us, you see us not as we are, but through the righteousness of Jesus, clean and holy.

We can take comfort in knowing that when the road ahead of us seems dim and uncertain, you know the plans you have for us, and those plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. And those plans include a future and a hope. Because of you, Lord, Hope Prevails!

We praise you and bless your holy name!

In Jesus’ name, Amen!


 

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.38.59 AMYou can order Michelle’s new book, Hope Prevails, now. It will start shipping on August 16.

Author, speaker and board certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson is also a wife, mother and friend. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She blogs regularly on her own site:

Dr. Bengtson is the author of Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression.” Her personal experience and professional expertise reveal the unseen issues that keep others chained in despair, while handing readers the keys to freedom. Even though someone may seem hostage to depression, it never has to be the final destination.

For more hope, stay connected with her at:

Her Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter (@DrMBengtson)  |  LinkedIn  |  Google+  |  Instagram   |  Pinterest  |  YouTube

Prayer for the overwhelmed

Sharing with you the prayer I shared today at the Internet Café… God, it’s too much. No matter how hard I try, how good my intentions, how little I sleep and how much I work, I can’t hold it together. Why do I feel like I have to? Why do I expect myself to be able ...

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Sharing with you the prayer I shared today at the Internet Café…

God, it’s too much. No matter how hard I try, how good my intentions, how little I sleep and how much I work, I can’t hold it together.

Why do I feel like I have to?

Why do I expect myself to be able to handle it all, fix everything, and do it without breaking a sweat?

Why do I let myself drown in worry and sorrow, sadness and fear?

Wash over me, Jesus. Wash away the emotions that drag me down. Lay Your hand on my weary head and calm the tumultuous emotions. Break the chains of things that weigh me down.

Carry this weight, Lord.

Carry me. And let me not worry that I’ve failed. Let me trust only in You. Renew the drive inside me and give me energy and hope. Make a way. Clear paths, open doors, transform my life.

It’s Yours, Lord, and I give it back to You. Asking—no, begging—You to make sense of it all. To untangle the knots that trip me up, over and over.

And let me know I’m not all alone. Remind me that You are with me, and that even when I don’t see or feel You, You remain beside me.

And no matter how lost I feel, how overwhelmed by the responsibilities I have and the things I cannot control, give me the certainty that it is not too much for You. Never too much for You.

Never too much.

And if this is not too much for You, and if You are right here with me, then I can do this. I can endure the hard moments, withstand the onslaught of too-much, and carry on. I will get through this. And when I come out on the other side (of this trial or sickness or deadline or broken heart or lack of resources), I will be stronger. Hardened by Your holy, refining fire. Made into something better, something more beautiful. Resilient and transformed.

And ready to face the next thing. Because there will always be something more—but that doesn’t have to discourage us, because there will also always be more of You. You endure. Never change. Always provide. Engender hope.

And remain faithful, always faithful. Amen.

Prayer for the new year

Oh, Lord, You are so beautiful. You are the Lord of Light. The Giver of Life. The Lover of my soul. The Hope of all generations. And yet we are living in a day that seems dark. Bleak and without redemption. We see hatred spewed online and in newscasts. Distrust in the unknown and unfamiliar. We’re noticing the ...

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Oh, Lord, You are so beautiful. You are the Lord of Light. The Giver of Life. The Lover of my soul. The Hope of all generations.

And yet we are living in a day that seems dark. Bleak and without redemption.

We see hatred spewed online and in newscasts. Distrust in the unknown and unfamiliar. We’re noticing the ugly, the divisive, the discouraging and demeaning.

We’re not looking in the right direction.

We’ve forgotten that You are in everything. That You can be found everywhere. That there is nowhere we can go to escape You. We cannot do anything too bad to be denied Your presence.

I know this. I do. And still I find myself retreating, harboring distrust, feeling uneasy. The world is scary. There is so much hurt. Anger and pain.

But You, Lord, are good. No matter how much bad I see, that does not detract from Your goodness. You feel the sorrow and despair. Know it. Redeem it. And ease the pain of it. You will never let go. You are supremely able. Completely in control. Utterly trustworthy. Thoroughly loving.

There is nothing that we will ever experience alone.

Lord, I don’t know what to do about all the hurt and hatred. I don’t know how to break addictions, heal divisions, restore relationships, bring peace, provide homes, or retrieve the lost.

All I can do is counter it with love.

And since You are the very definition of love, help me to lean on You when I feel too weak to stand alone. When I hunger for fairness, peace, or kindness, feed my parched soul with Your Word and nurture my faith with Your presence. Let me wholeheartedly believe that the world has not spun out of Your reach but that You are perfectly aware, perfectly able, and working towards something ultimately better than anything I can imagine now. When I doubt, assure me that You know more than I do. When I can’t see beauty, remind me that You see farther, hope deeper, love better.

Let me see You, Lord. Let us all see You. Let us remember who You are, and let us go into this year surrounded by Your beauty. Revived by Your strength. Renewed by Your hope. Exultant in possibility. Emboldened by Your truth. Rejoicing in Certainty that You love us and will never leave us.

Because You are God. And somehow, miraculously, defying all logic, You love us. And You are with us.

And that makes this new year one to celebrate. No matter what.

Amen.

The essence of creativity…

As I’m busy writing my next book, I’m also poring through all of my files. Stacks and stacks of papers. Printed blog posts and online articles. Handwritten notes scribbled over the years as I read books in bed, late at night. Scraps of paper and receipts with “brilliant” ideas that I scribbled as I drove, ...

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GRAPHIC essence of creativityAs I’m busy writing my next book, I’m also poring through all of my files. Stacks and stacks of papers. Printed blog posts and online articles. Handwritten notes scribbled over the years as I read books in bed, late at night. Scraps of paper and receipts with “brilliant” ideas that I scribbled as I drove, afraid the thought would vanish with the scenery. Bits of my own writing, bits of other people’s.

This quotation is one I stumbled upon again recently. I immediately fell in love with when I first read it—when Ann Voskamp posted it in 2012 in a post about why everyone needs to make art everyday. (Read that post here.)

Because of my new book, I’m thinking a lot about creativity. About risk. About finding the courage to seek God even when it’s not easy. To look for Him even when we’re tired and weary. To pick up the Bible even when we don’t know where to start. Wondering about how to keep up a life of faith, how to not burn out, how to push through anyway. And I’m pondering how to still my mind and relax into my relationship with God even as I try frantically to meet this next writing deadline.

Just because I’m writing about prayer does not mean I struggle any less than you do. But with each comment I receive, each message and question about prayer, I am more and more inspired to work on this book. I’m in love with the subject. I’m in love with creativity. And I’m remembering how much I’m in love with the Creator who inspires all of those things.

And I’m grateful for you. For that thing inside that won’t let go, the part of you that keeps reaching, keeps wanting to try again or find more of God or reach out to connect with others. The part of you that keeps hoping. We hear all the time that God is love. And oh, He is. We can rest in it, pull it around us, wrap ourselves in the warm cloak of God’s adoration.

But the word that makes my spirit leap is hope. Hope says there’s always something more. That the end is not the end. That somehow, some way, things will get better. Deadlines will be met, bodies will be healed, finances will balance, relationships will be restored, life will move forward, and God will prevail.

But allowing ourselves to believe? Letting ourselves feel that hope? It’s hard. And scary. It’s a huge risk. But if you look back at Ann’s quote, note that she doesn’t simply say that creativity is believing. She says it’s believing enough.

That’s it. That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to believe everything you hear or study. You don’t need all the answers. You can still wonder, and doubt, and try, and fail, and walk forward, and fall back. But just believe enough to pick yourself back up. To take one more step. To reach out your hand, to tilt your face towards the sky. To dream. To create. To pray. To seek. To hope. And to find.

Because the biggest risks bring the greatest rewards.

 

 

A faith journey: the real beginning (guest post by Bekah Pogue)

Bekah Pogue got my attention when she wrote such a wonderful review of Praying Upside Down (always a good way to get me to notice you!). I started reading her blog Upcycled Jane: Embracing Beauty in the Everyday, and found this post. When I stopped crying, I asked for permission to share this one here. ...

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IMG_6238-e1405574557462Bekah Pogue got my attention when she wrote such a wonderful review of Praying Upside Down (always a good way to get me to notice you!). I started reading her blog Upcycled Jane: Embracing Beauty in the Everyday, and found this post. When I stopped crying, I asked for permission to share this one here. It’s the sixth and final essay in a series about the final week of her dad’s life. She said, “Loss served as the the catalyst to my faith, and it is through this story, I see God’s invitation to experience Him as the greatest story.” Enjoy!

I’m finding grief to be not like the stereotypical dark, hovering cloud, but more like a portion of my heart has been removed, not to grow back or forget its original whole, forever changing my  journey with a new heartbeat, a changed rhythm.

My heart beats heavy as I write. Conjuring up dad’s last day on earth is an unexplainable tug of sorrow and peace. It’s one I have to share, can’t help but process; it’s the day that will impact today, tomorrow, and every day after.

The afternoon of April 2nd, behind-the-scene momentum built after receiving the doctor’s shocking words that Dad would have to be discharged from the hospital. A shared skilled nursing facility room, or going home on hospice were our options. We made calls. We checked facility availability. It’s not unlike calling for hotel reservations, but with the realization that once you check in, you don’t check out. My years as a hospice intake coordinator came flooding back; talking with grieving families, helping them understand end-of-life-care. And here I was, on the other side, shaking my head at the horrible irony. We didn’t want Dad sharing a room with two other people, left to die in a foreign place. But we couldn’t bear the thought of watching him take his final breaths, lying in a hospital bed in the living room, near the piano. It was a lose-lose situation, and in the end, hospice at home was decided for the next day.

Before leaving, I found dad’s ear: Dad, please, go be with Jesus tonight. I don’t want mom to have to remember you passing away at home. I don’t want her to walk down the stairs every morning and re-live finding you there. Please, go be with Jesus. As much as I want you here, God would you please call him home tonight?

Leaving room 575, my dad’s breathing was regular, his deep coma almost a joke, as if he’d been taking a 5-day nap. We exchanged hugs with Michele, a dear family friend and former ER nurse, as she was planning to sit with Dad for a bit.

Ten minutes after arriving back at mom’s we received the call. God had called Dad home. He’d heard our cry. Dad was in glory. God’s timing perfect.

There are moments I’ll always remember: looking at my husband when the pastor pronounced us “husband and wife,” the elation at seeing our first positive pregnancy test, the joy at seeing it again two years later. And now this news; the reality that my dad was gone. It was a thousand emotions in the same heartbeat: relief, sadness, confusion, numbness, but blanketing them all was peace. An uncanny, undeniable peace. It was finished. Dad was no longer trapped in a cancer-infested body. He was now in eternity.

During the next few hours, time sat still. Every action became deliberate, every sense heightened. We bathed the boys, the water feeling neither hot nor cold, but wet. Food tasted like sandpaper, and moving took every ounce of energy. To bed- first Ty, then Tanner. Snuggled under dinosaur sheets in the bed he slept in when staying at Mimi and Papa’s, I cupped his face. Papa went to be with Jesus tonight, T. He got a new body, and they are having a huge celebration for him in heaven right now. My words came but tears lacked. We laid there, Tanner holding his Mario stuffed animal, his body wrapped in my arms. He was quiet for some time, and then spoke.

What about his glasses? Does he need them in heaven?

I smiled, touched by his child-wonder, a concrete question.

No buddy, he doesn’t. In heaven, he can see without glasses. He gets a new body; one that’s healthy and free of sickness. Simple faith, pure questions, that may be my new prayer. God, help me have child-like faith.

We met back at the hospital, our final visit to room 575, a building that had become our temporary home for the past week. I shut the door behind and approached my father. How different he looked in the hours since he’d passed. I’d seen death before- when working for hospice, and with my grandpa the day before he died. I’ve heard people talk about this peace but somehow thought it was a played up, spiritual emotion to make people feel better. Bending near, holding his cold hand, I can attest to the peace. A peace that surpasses all understanding. Staring at dad’s face, I couldn’t help but smile in the pain, feel joy in my greatest sorrow. I was looking at someone who was standing in the presence of God. Such a surreal and shadowy experience- like peering from behind the stage at a soloist’s dress rehearsal, seeing the lights, but not feeling their warmth as they do on their face. That’s the image I had of dad in that moment: warm light on his face, seeing His Savior, experiencing complete healing, then looking behind his Heavenly Father and seeing a familiar figure- his earthly father! Oh the hugs, and pats on the backs, and cheeseburgers that were enjoyed in heaven that evening.

And herein lies the clencher: this is not the end. Oh no! This, my friends, is the real beginning. The beginning of dad’s journey in Eternity, his journey enjoying Forever with his Maker, and this marks the beginning for each of us affected- his family and friends.

GRAPHIC my story doesn't end hereAs his daughter, this is the beginning of the story God is writing in my life. My story does not end here. I refuse to say that at 64, my dad passed away, and my world fell apart. Sure, it will for a while, really forever. But I refuse to hang my hat on that date. I refuse to say my life ended the dad my dad died. I choose instead to let this experience, this horrible, grace-threaded, full-of-heart-ache journey change me forever. Like Donna said, I will never be the same, and chances are if you’ve walked this with me, or someone dear to your heart, you too will not be the same. Good. Let this crazy grief process begin. Let the sobs and anger and questions and quietness come. But let us not forget that God is doing something beautiful in His time. And His time is every.single.day.

As I reflect on that week in the hospital, in the music God brought to mind, the prayers, the texts, the visitors, the clinging of Dad’s arm and the clutching of one another, in the questions and in the answers, one thing stared me head-on. Not once in that week did I think about my schedule. Amazing how I worry about the calendar and to-do lists and the entertaining of dreams and concerns of what if or if only…How quickly in an emergency, do the extras dissipate and priorities come into focus. Friends have asked how losing a parent affects my day-to-day and I say this: the small stuff doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. We are given today, and that in itself is a gift.

Busyness or distraction is my tendency and I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to sit in every feeling, taste every tear, be present in every second of this process. God is calling me, as He has for some time now, He is drawing me to the edge and asking me to jump. He is asking if I trust Him to be my everything or if I simply sing about it. It’s the scariest act I’ll ever do. But this is where His peace is made perfect, and I jump into waiting arms- the same arms that hold my dad, that hold all who know Him and have passed from this life to Glory.

If I live to be 64 like my dad, that means I have the next half of my life to experience this peace, God’s perfect love, this freedom in letting Jesus reveal His story day-by-day. And each day I’ll whisper, God, don’t let me miss you. Give me ears and eyes, hands, and a heart to see you everywhere. I’m here.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

The word I’m tired of hearing

I’ve been scrolling through social media, deeply disturbed by much of what I’ve read—even the opinions of people who are kind and generous, even the ones with whom I agree. I finally figured out why. Because there is one word that I hear over and over, and it doesn’t belong at all: BUT. And it ...

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GRAPHIC Colossians 3-14

I’ve been scrolling through social media, deeply disturbed by much of what I’ve read—even the opinions of people who are kind and generous, even the ones with whom I agree. I finally figured out why.

Because there is one word that I hear over and over, and it doesn’t belong at all: BUT.

And it makes me tired of the whole discussion.

Don’t get me wrong. We NEED to talk.

But not in the same way we have been.

Somehow our country has gone from united to divided. Every single issue has become us vs. them. We can no longer offer an opinion without tacking on a judgment. We hear things like this: I think gay people should have rights, BUT I think homosexuality is a sin. I do not discriminate BUT I am not responsible for what happens. I like him BUT he is a Muslim. I thought she was a Christian BUT she voted for Obama.

I think the BUT needs to go away.

When did we as a country decide that it’s not just okay but expected to contribute our own personal judgment or assessment of every issue? Not all that long ago people could be friends with those with different faiths. Respect the office of President of the US, even of an opposing political party, without agreeing with the policies or actions of the person holding the office. Disagree on opinions yet still have civil conversations. Hold an open-minded dialog to gather information in order to make informed decisions. But now, particularly through our friends on social media, we insulate ourselves, surrounding ourselves with those who have like-minded views. As soon as the opinions diverge, we click unfriend.

We use people’s views as a way to classify them. Are they a Christian? A Muslim? An atheist? Are they LGBTQ or straight? Are they black or white? Democrat or Republican? As soon as we can classify them into a category that we are not in, we disregard what they have to say.

I don’t understand the prevalent mentality in which we post things to defend our own point of view—not to enlighten others but to use as a trump card. Ha! They agree with me! Take that! I’m not going to cheer when the witty Christian outsmarts the atheist or despair when science diverges from my faith. I’m not going to buy into the concept that being a follower of Jesus dictates which political party I must support. I’m not going to let myself be categorized according to just one aspect of who I am, and I’m going to try very hard not to do that to someone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I have strong opinions and I’m not afraid to share them, and I’ve lost a few blog followers as a result. I do want to know where you’re coming from—not as a way to categorize you but as a way to ground what you’re about to say. I enjoy debate, but I try not to engage those who I sense will not be respectful or kind. I try to be careful about when and how to have those discussions, because I think they are important and I want to treat them respectfully—and because in the last few years I’ve found myself going to great lengths to avoid drama.

And right now what I feel is that nobody is listening. I don’t want to talk when I have to shout to be heard. When each comment sparks a venomous attack. When every single topic comes down to an immediate assessment regarding whose side the speaker is on—ours or theirs.

God calls us to unity. Every single classification or difference, every battle, every tragedy or triumph seems to further fragment us—as a country, as a community, as a church.

To be frank, when a discussion comes down to us vs. them, it’s probably not going to be very productive. It is only when we realize that we are all in this together, only when we strive to improve life for all of us as a whole, only when we are willing to offer respect and dignity and compassion and understanding in equal measure to what we expect to receive, that any of this talking is going to do any good for anyone.

So for now, I’m remaining quiet on the big things happening in the world around me, but it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I don’t know the answers and I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. Instead, I’m adopting these words from the Bible as my prayer and my hope. Will you join me?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17, NIV

Amen.

Don’t do it

Don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that God won’t come through because of your current (or past) failings. Or that what you have to offer isn’t enough. ~Praying Upside Down Remember this: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. Romans 8:38-39 in the NIV reads, “For I am convinced that ...

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PUD book quotes-19Don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that God won’t come through because of your current (or past) failings. Or that what you have to offer isn’t enough. ~Praying Upside Down


Remember this: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. Romans 8:38-39 in the NIV reads, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Which is amazing. Wonderful. Right?

But read it in The Message: “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

That’s right. Nothing. Maybe today we can all sit back for a moment and let that sink in: There is nothing that can get in the way of our finding everything. Thank You, Lord!


Remember the giveaway I posted a couple weeks ago for those who wrote reviews of Praying Upside Down? First, I want you to know how grateful I am for each one of you who took the time to post a review. It means so much. And second, here are the prizes and the names of the winners. Please email me your mailing addresses so I can get you your prizes!

Resurrection

  Lord, It’s nearly Easter, yet my soul has not been stilled in meditation. My heart is not fixed on the story or significance of the day. Instead, I’ve been in chaos. Wrestling through my own beliefs, clarifying thoughts, researching and asking and debating with others. It makes me sad when I realize this has ...

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Closet1-2

Image courtesy of Progressive Church Media

 

Lord,

It’s nearly Easter, yet my soul has not been stilled in meditation. My heart is not fixed on the story or significance of the day. Instead, I’ve been in chaos. Wrestling through my own beliefs, clarifying thoughts, researching and asking and debating with others. It makes me sad when I realize this has not been a season of preparation.

“Or has it?” my soul asks.

This kind of inner turmoil always results in change. In growth. It’s always worthwhile. It always sharpens my beliefs and draws me closer to You.

But it’s hard.

And that’s OK, isn’t it? Because the gospel is hard. Your message isn’t always easy to swallow. The price wasn’t paid lightly. There has to be struggle and sacrifice before there is redemption. We must surrender to You in Your wisdom and might. We have to experience darkness before the dawn. Death before resurrection.

The crushing weight of the stone before it’s rolled away to reveal the glorious open door.

O, Lord, I bow under that weight and I long for resurrection. Raise me up. Turn me into something new.

In Your unparallelled name I pray,
Amen.

Hope embodied

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13, NIV God is our source and strength. He is the bearer of hope. All true. But as I think about the lovely ...

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13, NIV

God is our source and strength. He is the bearer of hope. All true.

But as I think about the lovely friends God has placed in my life, I’m discovering a correlation between friendship and hope. Read more of this post at the Internet Café (one of my favorite places to share).

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