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

 

In and Out

integritywOnce we are school aged we are often aware that there are some things we need to do to fit in. Some of those are fine things to require. There is a place for order.

Some people comply and “fit in” more easily than others and that has always been the case for any number of reasons. It always depends on the “group” needs and goals. As we get older and enter the work force we typically want to fit into the work culture yet also stand out in a way that shows our contributions are unique and beneficial to the team.

There is a delicate balance to fitting in yet standing out.  

But don’t be too surprised when the qualities, strengths, and perspectives that comprise you are not appreciated by everyone. If you are in a work environment that does not appreciate integrity and honesty, you might need an exit strategy. If you volunteer for an agency that asks you to compromise your core values, find a better fit. If you serve on a church board that does not behave in a healthy way, step away. While it is true you can change a system from the inside, it cannot be done singlehandedly. Sometimes the culture of a system is unhealthy and fighting against something so ingrained is like beating your head against a wall.

But don’t forget to look inward and evaluate if you are being too hard-nosed about things that may not really matter. Even though we may be wired a bit differently and may approach a task differently than the next person, it can be a matter of preference. And the difference in approach is what makes life and relationships interesting.

If you know someone who is working hard not to compromise their core values, be supportive by praying for a better fit for them. Be willing to listen as they process and brainstorm. Give them the gifts of encouragement and laughter and unconditional love.

On the Road,

Liz

I’ll Pray For You

Have you ever been asked by someone to pray for them? I find it a very humbling experience. I often wonder, “Who am I?” to receive such a request that represents such vulnerability and trust of me. It comes from a place of deep need and usually the situation is hard. Sometimes, no details are given. Just a “Please pray.”

Of course, we can all use prayer. But most of the time when someone directly asks you to pray for them they have something quite specific in mind. And sometimes they can’t even talk about it. When I don’t know what is going on – and sometimes even when I do – I pray all around the person and the situation, whatever it is. Some of the areas I pray about include:

  • Physical health
  • Emotional health
  • Spiritual health
  • Employment
  • Family relationships
  • Training/Education
  • Financial concerns

I am always thankful for the opportunity to pray over a prayer request. The situation is often on my mind at various points in a day/week. And while a friend may ask for prayer on a specific thing, my mind always wanders and broadens the prayer. Sometimes knowing more about a situation is helpful as I pray but it isn’t necessary. Sometimes people like to explain their requests, which is fine. Others may be at a loss for words (or the needs are very private) so to make things easier for them I might say “just give me one word and I will cover it”. I can pray quite a bit off of one word because I just try to cover all the bases. When I am at a loss for words or direction, I just remind God that He knows the situation and knows the need and I ask Him to take care of it/them.

Here is an example of me covering the bases on just using a name:

Heavenly Father, Bless ______ today. Bless their finances, their work/school tasks and their work/school relationships. If there are medical concerns, bring them to light.   If the challenge is financial, please make provision for them. Be with their family and family relationships during this time. Help this time of struggle be a time when their relationship with You is strengthened and they come to depend upon You for their every need. If they are headed down a difficult path, continue to give them warnings and give them eyes to see the warnings and a spirit that responds. You know their needs and You love them much deeper than I so I trust them and their circumstance into Your Hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

When someone asks for prayer, it immediately deepens my connection with them. I appreciate their willingness to be vulnerable with me but it is also precious that they know God wants to hear prayers from them and on their behalf. So often we look at prayer as a last resort — after we have tried everything else! This week, consider asking someone to pray on your behalf with a request large or small. It might feel awkward in the beginning but I do believe it has a tendency to strengthen your relationship with that person. Your willingness to request prayer might open the door for them to also share a request with you. And those are the types of relationships that help sustain us while we navigate life on Earth!

I believe we all have an important prayer perspective to offer. If you want to know more about my thoughts on prayer perspectives, click here!

On the Road,

Liz

LordsPrayerw

 

PrayerPoints ~ Monday, March 7th

Proverbs12_25_w

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 84

“O Lord, Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12

Sadly, I have several situations in my history that have tainted my trust in people. I do have people I trust but I have learned that there are people who should clearly not be trusted, ever.

I have been trusting God for many years now though I have had occasional and brief interference by humans who were unhealthy. Thankfully, I did not attribute the actions of these people to God’s character, but processing the situations did take a little time. God also used those situations to strengthen my trust in Him as well as fine tune my intuition. For some reason, it never occurred to me that God endorsed or was behind any of that yucky stuff. And for that, I am thankful.

If you struggle with trust issues, it might be due to early experiences with unhealthy people in your life. If those people were in positions of authority or, worse yet, in positions of church authority, I am so very sorry for your experience. This is not how God works. Sadly, this is how sin in the world works.

If you struggle with some historical issues, I encourage you to seek healthy counsel so that your present and future are not defined by your past. May God heal, restore, and refresh you as you seek Him!

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion.”  Psalm 84:3-7

 

 

State of the Union

Our family gathered around the television last night to hear the State of the Union. It was another great reminder to pray for our country and for those who are serving and leading our nation!

Christians have many differing views on where our country is headed and the best way to get there. It is important to be informed on the issues, prayerfully ponder them, seek God’s heart on the matters, and vote when given the opportunity.

Members of US government would benefit from our prayers. We have city, county, and state government officials who would benefit from our prayers as well. Please consider praying specifically for those serving in all levels of public office that God would:

  • guard their marriages and families
  • protect their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health
  • safeguard them against the schemes of those who intend to harm or lead them astray
  • defend them when they are in the correct course of action
  • convict them when they are not
  • unveil the eyes of those who do not believe in Him
  • surround believers with others who will encourage spiritual growth
  • surround unbelievers with opportunities to engage in healthy spiritual conversation with Godly men and women

Ask God to give you other prayer areas to add to this list. You can even pray for your local, state, and national leaders by name! Don’t get too bogged down in the details–start by praying in general and ask God to direct your prayers through His Word.

Here is a link to an organization offering many different angles and opportunities for prayer. Check them out when you have a chance!!

http://presidentialprayerteam.com/index.php