What is left to do?

Flowers w

Jesus, the spotless lamb, is the author and perfecter of our faith.

He took our guilt and shame.

He suffered on our behalf.

He endured death on a cross.

And on the third day He rose again.

He gave His life for ours.

And our response?

We can live, love, forgive, serve, and proclaim His name to all the nations.

We can defend those who have no defenses.

We can stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

We can love the unloveable.

We can touch the untouchable.

So much of this can happen right in our own community, right where we live.

He is risen!

For you and me!

Let’s respond to His grace!

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Refrain from Embracing

Buso Fire w
Saying goodbye to winter in Mohács, Hungary

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


re·frain1    rəˈfrān/   verb

stop oneself from doing something.  “she refrained from comment”   “the demonstrators have promised to refrain from violent behavior”

synonyms: abstain from, desist from, hold back from, stop oneself from, forbear (from), avoideschewshunrenounce;

informal swear off;
formal forswearabjure
It doesn’t seem that people refrain from much these days! So many families would still be intact if people would refrain from embracing those they have no business embracing…or those who have issues with addiction would abstain from alcohol and other drugs…and, really, the list can go on and on. And on.
Honestly, I struggle with it myself as well. There are things I need to refrain from and the season of Lent is always a good time to really contemplate those things. Each day I should be sontemplating these things. What are those behaviors I need to finally set aside for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health? It doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be unhelpful in my daily walk. What things should I refrain from because others look to me as an example or simply because the behavior is sinful and I know better.
I know better and I choose to do what I want anyway.
I don’t believe knowledge is power. Knowledge may bear some potential for power but nnowledge alone is ineffective. Grafting knowledge with a change in behavior is getting closer to where the real power lies. We are absolutely sinners, each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean we need to keep on actively sinning.  There are many behaviors that lead to challenging consequences and yet we still participate in those things. We might not do the same things as one another, but we all do things that compromise ourselves and others.
What is one thing that trips you up and has regularly caused problems in your life? Is it time you put more effort into removing it? Sometimes knowing why helps but sometimes the “why” doesn’t much matter — that “seeking” can also be used as a crutch to inaction.
I am comforted when I see God’s Word and I know that others have struggled before me with these ideas, with the sin, with knowing they can be loved and wretched, all at the same time. And I am convicted of not tapping into God’s strength and grace to overcome my evil foes!

 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]

On the way,
Liz

 

A Time to Embrace

AZ Cactus w
Arizona Cactus

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


There is nothing quite like the it-has-been-so-long-since-I-have-squeezed-you hug, the I’ve-missed-you hug or the I-don’t-know-when-I-will-see-you-again hug. Those are some serious embraces and there is so much packed into them! Even though they are embraces from different points of view they are embraces that say Now, here we are, together! Hooray!” And that is where we must focus — on today!

If you are anything like me, you might want to know what the future holds, but there really aren’t any guarantees that we will take a breath tomorrow and there are no promises our dearest family and friends will either, so please hug the ones you love while you can. Embrace today.

I don’t believe this means we should live in fear but we should embrace our people and each day as the gifts they are. When our heart and arms are open to God’s gifts they are easier to receive. There are times we are left to wonder “what is God going to do with all of this?” but that is His job and will be revealed in His time.

But what about embracing the really ugly stuff? What about the “cacti” in our lives? Those pokey and uncomfortable and painful situations that have been inserted into our lives by way of our own sin, someone else’s sin or the sin and death that we have in this world. What then? Often we have no choice except to ask God for the grace and mercy to move forward.

His grace is sufficient!

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Corinthians 2:8-10 NIV]

 

No matter the circumstance, God can and will redeem it for His purposes. I am not to the point where I delight in insults and hardships and persecutions and difficulties but I have seen God’s grace time after time in my life and yet I still need reminders! It’s a part of my human condition.

Lord, I don’t know my future but I trust You will provide me for the grace and strength to get through it!

On the way,

Liz

 

A work in progress…

encouragewThe other day I made a very public mistake. You may not have noticed it. I certainly didn’t notice it because if I had, I would not have done it. I am not a perfectionist by any means but when I share information I want it to be accurate, properly spelled, and all that.

Almost the entire day had gone by and finally someone pointed out that I had made a mistake. Actually, I had made several. (Oh how I hate when that happens!) Immediately, I got to work to correct it! And, sadly, it took several tries. For whatever reason, the initial person to point out the error was not able to assist in the correction. However, another person stepped in to stick with me through the process with a lot of patience, she was very pleasant and helpful.

I want to be that kind of person!

A complete stranger stepped in to work with me. How thoughtful and kind! And I wondered, “Am I the one who just points out mistakes or am I the person who will patiently stick with someone as they get it together?” Good question! Sometimes I am both!

I have noticed in myself that there are times I have a lot of compassion for others and there are other times I am so incredibly impatient. Sometimes it has to do with the kind of day I had or the amount of free time I have to help another person. And, sadly, sometimes it has to do with the person I am in conversation with or, at the very least, my perception of the person.

Sometimes I am so stingy with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness!

But when I am on the receiving end of correction, am I approachable and teachable? Am I willing to listen to what someone has to say and consider it? Naturally, I am more willing to hear from someone I know and love and I know knows and loves me. But there are times a complete stranger, or even someone I don’t particularly like, has valuable insight for me. Can I hear it?

I have to practice receiving correction with grace and humility because it is not my inclination.  My first response is usually to be a little defensive but I have been working on that. There are numerous opportunities for me to improve on my response. What can I say? I am a work in progress!

Heavenly Father, give me your discernment when someone shares advice or correction with me. Lord, grant me discernment when I am inclined to share advice or correction with others! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

On the Road,

Liz

p.s. Can you tell I am having too much fun with Canva?

Fruitw

Grace. Period.

 

MyLifewIf you have been out on your own and paying bills for a while you probably know about grace periods and even needed them a time or two. Buy have you thought of a grace period as a time someone needs as they adjust to a new reality?

It takes time to get reoriented after unexpected news.

Receiving either good news or bad news can turn your world upside down. Sometimes a little time and space can help you get readjusted to a new reality.

Have you ever tried to carefully plan something like your life? Personally, I gave up doing that a long time ago. Things change so quickly that I have found I just need to roll with it. I have had a few goals and plans along the way but there have been a few times something equivalent to a tidal wave has rushed over me and I found myself in a place where I need some recovery time; a grace period.

A grace period is a space where I can cocoon, process, pray, scream, and work it out – whatever it is. And then, hopefully, I can move forward with God leading the way into my new reality. It is never an easy process – often it is two steps forward and one step back. Somewhere along the line I realized: this is not my life — I just live it!

When I walk through those crazy moments I come out with a stronger understanding of God’s grace for my every day. And because I have been in desperate need of grace so often myself, I should be more grace-full towards others.

Sometimes we just need grace.

Period.

It isn’t hard to muster up compassion for those who have walked a similar path or those who have extenuating circumstances, but there are some times I get impatient with others as they are processing and then I wonder:

  • Who am I to criticize how someone else is dealing with something?
  • Who am I to rush someone through the stages of grief?
  • Who am I to make assumptions on motives?
  • Who am I to be impatient?

I just need to give some grace, time, and space while they work it out. We are all a work in progress and some of life’s situations are so hard. We don’t have control over many thing that happen but we can control our response. I am praying that grace becomes my first response!

On the Road,

Liz

Periodw

Where are you going?

WHERE are you going?

Where are YOU going?

Where are you GOING?

 

Emphasis makes a big difference in each of those questions. Sometimes we don’t necessarily have an end goal in mind–we are just out and about. Sometimes it’s ok to not know the destination because, truth be told, we often think we have a place where we will end up and we are really disappointed when we don’t ever get there. Or we don’t get there the way we imagined we would.

Sometimes we strive for a goal and find we never get there because we took the wrong path or we had a misinformed goal. For example, if one grows up in a family with a lot of tension or sadness due to money struggles, one might think that amassing a lot of money will lead us to “happiness”. It rarely works that way.

Where do you hope to be and how do you think you might get there?

It is always good to think about our life’s direction in general, but the Lenten season is a great time to consider if we have strayed off the path of forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, service, prayer, kindness, sacrifice, self-control, or [fill in the blank]. Drifting away a bit may not seem so bad when we can see the road but we can quickly lose sight of the road altogether. Sometimes we need to “reset”, get re-oriented, and start again.

GOD’S WORD informs our LIFE and impacts the decisions we make.

So let’s get informed! What does God have to say? Grab your Bible or download a Bible App on your phone. Look for a verse or two you might want to commit to memory during this Lenten season. Write it out on an index card, in your journal, or make a digital image so you can have it on your phone. I would love to see your verse and if you do anything creative with it. Of course, being creative isn’t the point but pondering it is! When we take the time to read God’s Word, ponder, and pray, He changes us. And, we likely will find a new perspective on our travels–both on  where we are going and where we have been.

So, where ‘ya headed?

~ Liz

Quick note: Don and I will be “on the road” and I will be posting things as we travel. We would appreciate your prayers for a safe journey!

 

 

 

PrayerPoints ~ Wednesday, February 24

James 3-17-18w

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 27

“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1

Psalm 27 has so much good stuff in it!

And still, even with knowing the truths that are there, at times I am still fearful. I think I dwell on too many “what ifs”. I cannot control the future. Even though there are times I wish I could, it is for the best that I can’t. The best I can do is control my responses to situations. Knowing that the Lord is my shelter, my fortress, my salvation, my light, and the stronghold of my life helps me  put the “what ifs” into a proper perspective.

Recently, to every “what if” I have been trying to say “even if” instead and I recount the promises of God’s presence, perspective, and peace.

Psalm 27:5 says “For in the day of trouble…” and it reminds me that we all have days of trouble. Sometimes there are many days of “trouble” in a row. But “he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

There is no end to hardship in personal relationships, work situations, physical health, or the circumstances found in the world today because we live in a world full of sinners who make selfish choices. I have made quite a few sinful choices myself to the pain and detriment of myself and others. But God works in and through us and, often in spite of us to share His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love to our hurting world!