Renewing

Have you ever turned trash into a treasure? Little kids like to repurpose things —

  • a stick becomes a sword
  • acorns become soup
  • paper towel tubes become trumpets
  • a treehouse becomes a castle on a hill
  • a piece of fabric is used as a cape, skirt, or royal robe

The list is only limited by our imagination. Some kids are born to think outside of the box. And maybe we all were born to think outside of the box — but we have forgotten how!

God works outside of the box on a regular basis. He takes things that we consider useless and worthless and can make them invaluable. In His hands, what is considered ugly can actually bring about something beautiful. It doesn’t mean the ugly wasn’t ugly, but God can still work with it and use it to bring about a greater purpose.

Lord, remind me that you are the business of renewing me and my sinful patterns. It’s hard for me to get out of those ruts that seem to entangle me. Help me see that transformational work. And when I can’t see the benefits, help me to trust in You anyway. Throughout history you have proven yourself. Help me to see it in my own life and be willing to share it with others! Amen.

Transforming

I am all about music. Of course, there are times I need silence too, because music can be distracting, but what an amazing way to tuck some great Scriptural Truths into your brain!

Sometimes it is a daily battle to readjust my thinking and perspective. I don’t always have Godly thoughts about the situations I am confronted with and so I try to turn things over to God on a regular basis.

Here is one of my favorites and it involves the Scripture I talked about last week. I hope you enjoy it!

Blessings on your week!
Liz

Conforming

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect Romans 12:2 NRSV

There are so many things we need to conform to these days that it is difficult not to be lulled into complacency. I have always been a questioner. Well, maybe not always, but after a few big things happening in my life when I was younger, I have a tendency to not just trust what comes out of someones mouth, particularly if they are in a position of authority. Maybe especially if they are in a position of authority.

And so, I have a little trouble conforming. If there are throngs participating, I tend not to jump in. I have to think about it for myself. I step back and survey the big picture of activity and try to sort it out. In the last few years there are increasingly more “camps” of people who expect that you have to do _________ to prove you are ___________. And once that is “satisfied” the next required piece of proof is mentioned.

It’s never ending.

And, if you don’t conform, you will be hackled and heckled until you do. Your employer might get contacted, you might get dressed down in a very public and ugly way. I’ve watched it. I’ve experienced it. It isn’t healthy.

Conforming to the expectations of ________________ (fill in the blank that applies to you). We are all experiencing this in one way or another. This seems to be the way things are working today in the world. And it is absolutely everywhere. The need to “be transformed by renewing your mind” has never been more important than now. Do you have God’s Word hiding in your heart so you can recall it when you don’t have tangible access?

Tell me the passage that, when you are facing an incredible challenge, just comes to mind and soothes your soul. With all the challenges of these days, some soul soothing from our Creator, is essential.

If I want my mind renewed and reprogrammed, I need to go to the Source of Light, Love, and Life. It’s where I go to cast my sorrows, celebrate my joys, and ask for a reframe of what I am experiencing.

May God grant you His perspective for the day!
Liz

Big Ticket Sins

Guess what!?

There isn’t such a thing as a “big ticket sin” because every sin is a big deal!

I was recently talking with a precious friend. And we were talking about all kinds of things and how easily we can feel that separation from our Savior and not because He moved.

It’s because we have moved.

We listen when satan says “Did God r-e-a-l-l-y say ___________________?”

And we do our own thing. Of course, we might have agonized a bit. We might have counted the cost. We might have decided, “What the heck! Who is going to know?” or, even worse, “Why should I care?” But, really, let’s face it, sometimes the moment overtakes us and we just jump in, fully clothed, without much of a thought about what might come next.

Did we really count the cost?

We insist on blazing our own trail. And then we get defensive. We hide. We try to cover up whatever it is we did when we knew wasn’t the way.

Are you struggling with the consequences of a sin that the world says is a “big ticket sin”? One that satan insists is unforgivable?

satan is a deceiver. he is a liar.

The truth is that God has provided a way out of sin. The earthly consequences remain, but the eternal consequence has been washed away by Jesus, the Savior.

Many people are experiencing more time on their hands during this season of restriction. Maybe the weight of the consequences of sin are weighing heavy on your heart. God has made all the provisions. His gift of grace covers all the sins — even the ones the world considers big ticket sins.

When you are feeling burdened by the weight of your sin, pay close attention. If you are sensing condemnation, that is not from God.

There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1

Feeling convicted? Well, now that is something different. That is God’s law written on your heart!

“What purposes does the Law then serve?”

First, the Law helps to control violent outbursts of sin and keeps order in the world (a curb).

Second, the Law accuses us and shows us our sin (a mirror).

Third, the Law teaches us Christians what we should and should not do to live a God-pleasing life (a guide).  The power to live according to the Law comes from the Gospel.”

Luther’s Small Catechism

Humbly confessing our sins to God is not as much for His benefit as it is for ours. He knows it all, anyway. But for us to recognize and admit our sins in specific ways is a way for God to know that we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and our hearts are softening.

Create in me a clean heart, oh God. And renew a right spirit within me!

Psalm 51:10

In Everything

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Today I am thanking God for His perfect peace!

Rest

It’s so very interesting to start a year and need rest. After some of the unknowns of 2020, we are a week into 2021 with more of the same. And it feels like more “rest” is in my future.

My hope is to embrace it more thoroughly this year. I resisted it in 2020. I was a bit frustrated, and in some respects, I welcomed the slower pace.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3

It feels like much of the world has been made to lie down. Although, I am aware that for others, the demands have been incredible.

Whether or not you are resting in green pastures, stealing moments to be refreshed near still waters, or having your soul refreshed through God’s Word and Sacrament, it is my prayer that you are able to have your soul restored by the Healer!

May you embrace the moments of rest!

PrayerPoints 2021

Welcome to a new year! Look for PrayerPoints each week on Mondays!

I want to share a resource with you that you might find helpful as you consider 2020 and plan for 2021. This is not specifically a spiritual resource, but it does ask some interesting questions and may serve to assist you in your perspective as well as your planning. You can find it here. And the best part is, it is completely free! If you utilize it, I would love to know your thoughts about it!

I am thankful for God’s presence in 2020 and His promise of the very same in 2021. I look forward to what He is doing in and around me. While many things are still uncertain, He stays the same!

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

Praising the Creator

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. [Psalm 89: 1-8, NIV]

It is not difficult for me to look around at creation and know there is a Creator. From the seasons to the incredible variety of flora, fauna, animals, and the vastness of the animal kingdom. And then the solar system and the amazing sunrises and sunsets and, well, you get the picture. The beauty and intricacies we get to see and understand while we are here on Earth are simply amazing.

As we close the books on another year, I am so very thankful for the beauty I saw, for the people in my life, and for the grace extended to me, each and every day, by the God of the Universe. He know my name. He knows your name!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Zion

Zion refers to both a hill in the city of Jerusalem and to the city itself — but it’s also used in a general way to mean “holy place” or “kingdom of heaven.”  

I have been thinking about holy places and holy spaces. Where are they? When are they? Can we see the holy in the ordinary? In the regular ritual? In the place where we can steal a moment away?

God made a stable in Bethlehem a holy place. Only God can take the dark, smelly, and dirty and turn it into a holy space. God is in the business of transforming hearts and lives from messes to messages of love and grace.

Yielding

I have a tendency to yield in many areas because while I might have preferences, they aren’t worth a kerfuffle. I don’t love a good fight. And while I care about a lot of things, I am not passionate enough to fight about any of them. When does a “fight” every change a mind anyway? When I have a conflict of ideas with another person, my yielding isn’t as much about yielding to another’s point of view as it is about yielding to the Holy Spirit and letting the work of changing a heart or mind rest where the change can truly happen, and that clearly isn’t with me.  It is important that I step out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do their work – and there are definitely times where that work is done on me!