Wounds & Scars

It’s been raining here in southern Indiana since Thursday. Sometimes it is a light rain and sometimes it is pelting and intense, but it has been pretty regular for days. It always feels right to me when there is rain during this part of Holy Week. It symbolizes the tears and anguish during the actual week as the events unfolded.

It also represents my own tears:

  • For the things I have done.
  • For the things I have left undone.
  • For the times I intentionally caused pain to others because of my own pain.
  • For the loss.
  • For the shame.
  • For the grief.
  • For the profound sadness.

The wounds and scars of Jesus remind me of my own, at times. Of course, He endured His for me, for all of us. He had no sin but was sin for us. My wounds and scars are just as real, but some were caused by my own sin in addition to the injury caused by others. Jesus takes on sin that isn’t His.  He wipes those tears and takes my guilt and shame as His own. His wounds are Holy and allow me to stand in front of the Holiest.

And then the tears fall again:

  • For the forgiveness.
  • For the relief.
  • For the thankfulness.
  • For the love.
  • For the saving grace.

All the tears for all the reasons.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV]

May you fix your eyes on Jesus — Sunday is coming!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: Inside/Outside

Bones

Have you ever broken a bone? If so, does it ache when the weather is changing? Do you have any lasting effects of your broken bone?

On a good day, our bones are tucked inside our bodies. They are protected but give strength and form to our bodies. If you have all your bones and they all work fine, be thankful. While we might think nothing of it, there are those who are adjusting to life because on ongoing issues with their bones.

On a difficult day our bones might ache;

they might be exposed;

they might be weakening;

they might need healing;

they may have been removed.

Working through chronic pain, injury, disability, the healing process, and the loss of bone or limbs takes a lot of energy and focus. Our bones are such an integral part of us and it is easy to see why God used it to help us make connections. Bones are a common experience even though ailments related to bones may not be.

Have you felt negative things “in your bones”? Have you felt things so deeply it felt like it was in the marrow of your bones? I love how God talks about bones in His Word!

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. [Proverbs 14:30, NIV]

Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. [Proverbs 15:30, NIV]

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. [Proverbs 16:24, NIV]

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. [Proverbs 17:22, NIV]

As your ears and eyes soak up Scripture, it will permeate your thought life and be visible in how you interact with others. It will deepen your understanding of His love for you and all the people on this planet! God’s Word changes hearts and lives. It digs deep and roots out the yuck that we have buried in our bones.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. [Hebrews 4:12-14, NIV]

God’s blessings as you surround your eyes and heart with His Word!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TOOLS

Hospitality

Isten Hozott
Isten Hozott is a Hungarian phrase that is understood to mean “Welcome” but the literal translation is “God brought you”. Isn’t that a lovely way to think about the concept of hospitality?

I have been on both sides of hospitality – as the giver and as the receiver.

When I hear someone is coming by to visit for a cup of coffee, a meal, or an overnight (or two) it is an exciting addition to my life! I truly enjoy the preparation and the anticipation of the opportunity to have a chance to sit down, chat, and catch up on life. It makes my day! It is also a great excuse to clean a little deeper than normal — I love a fun excuse to tidy up the house.

When we are traveling, we often get the opportunity to meet up with or even spend the night with friends and family. This part of hospitality is also exciting for me – It is fun to explore different areas of the country but I love to have that time where it is just 2-4 people who can connect on a deeper level about how life is really going. These days it seems to be about health issues, aging parents, grandchildren, and the hectic pace of life but faith and what God is doing in our lives always seems to come to the forefront.

But, digging a little deeper in hospitality – it isn’t always about hosting those we know. Hospitality is also the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of strangers.

Can you recall a time when you were not greeted with a generous reception? When it was made clear you did not belong? I don’t want to dredge up old, yucky feelings but remembering how that felt will (hopefully) encourage you to do what you can to generously welcome others who land in your space. You may not be called to open up your home, but you might have the opportunity to engage in a friendly conversation or provide resources for connecting or a cup of water, an ear for listening or even more for someone traveling through your life.

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. [Hebrews 13:1-3, NIV]

May we treat those around us to feel as though “God brought them” because He surely did bring them into our lives!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: LAYERS

Boundaries and Perfection

There are things we have control over and things we don’t.

Learning about my own boundaries (or lack of them, in some cases) is a very good thing. Sometimes it takes an intense situation to recognize where a problem is and, oftentimes, the problem is with me. I want things to go a certain way and they aren’t going that way and then what? I have to decide my next move.

I am not in charge of everything, but I am in charge of my behavior.

First I need to figure out if I really should be calling the shots on a particular thing. Then I need to determine if “my way” is truly the best way. There is usually more than one way to get somewhere.

It’s a lot to sort out and it’s a lifetime of learning for me!

We each have unique gifts and I trust God is refining all of us in His time. I know He is refining me. He is working out those details in my character and in my life. I still have a lot to learn and I do have to do my part, but I also need to trust that God is working out the details, weaving together the different aspects of my life to create something beautiful. It might not be my idea of perfection, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful.

Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of my faith!

Unfortunately, it is so easy to get caught up in what we want and are looking for. It is way too easy. Boundaries are healthy and important and we all have a lot to learn about being healthy in relationships, but if the focus is always on us and our ideas, the results will not be eternal.

Instead, let us fix…  “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV]

May He grant you His perfect peace!

On the way,

Liz

You might be able to find all of these books on boundaries through ILL (Inter Library Loan) if you want to brush up on the concept. I plan to!

 

Entertaining Angels

conversationwI have a confession to make. I love talking with people but I get very anxious when I am in a position where I need to begin a conversation with a total stranger.

Those of you who know me personally might find this revelation hysterical. I can talk a mile a minute and I love conversation and I love getting to know people. But sometimes I completely freeze up just trying to initiate conversation.

If I am selling things at a Hungarian festival, I don’t have a problem initiating a discussion because someone is coming up to me and is likely interested in what I am selling. But have me seated next to a stranger in a social situation and I really struggle to find my “opening line”. I am sure I overthink it.

But meeting new people and engaging in conversation is so much fun. I am rewarded every time I do it because I learn so much and the conversation is always interesting. And yet I still overthink my opening line so much that I am inhibited to start. I think I am overly concerned I will offend people or appear intrusive. I want to fix that!

There is so much to learn from the people around us. Taking time to have conversation is important. It is easy to become isolated because there is so much tension. There is definitely an art to conversation these days, but there is also a ministry in conversation. With so many people pulled in so many directions it is easy for those who might need a little extra time or encouragement to talk be bowled-over by those who are impatient and in a rush.

Do I take the time to connect with the people God has placed around me?

The life stories I have heard range from heartbreaking to encouraging. Each situation has some nugget of wisdom for me to learn. While there is an art to listening I think the ministry opportunity is in the conversation. Most people will talk for the interaction, not just to hear themselves ramble on… and both parties can gain tremendous insights about one another as well as themselves when there is a dialogue.

hospitalitywThis week, try to look at conversation as ministry and consider how the exchange of experiences and insights benefits both participants in conversation. Remember: being hospitable isn’t something you have to be at home to do! You can be a welcoming and friendly face in a place you have never been before.

On the Road,

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Excellent or Praiseworthy ~ April 3

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

God’s breath and creative work is evident and excellent–even if you just consider nature! The intricacies, the incredible detail, the range of color, the sizes and shapes and all of the inter-dependent relationships. I am just talking about people. Now think about things on the land and now consider things in the ocean. And what about things in the Heavens? Talk about a license for creativity. God is simply amazing.

 The heavens declare the glory of God;  the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,  their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

Creation–though it has been tainted by sin, there are still glimpses of breath-taking beauty that reflect His excellent and praiseworthy work.

Seek the excellent. Ponder the praiseworthy. Let’s not get ensnared in the sin that so easily entangles us. It starts with God’s gift of faith–tucked away in our  heart, soul, and mind and plays out in the way we allow Him to live through our lives.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

Thanking Him for the Cross!

Liz