What is left to do?

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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

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!

 

Settled

It’s nice to feel situated. It is a relief to know things are settled – an old bill, the future (at least in theory), and our hearts.

When I am unsettled and stressed about something, I can get anxious.

  • How will this play out?
  • Have I covered all the bases?
  • What have I forgotten?
  • What if all my efforts are in vain?
  • Am I doing enough?
  • Am I enough?

Have you ever had your mind entertain those types of questions? It can be in human relationships or jobs or even in my relationship with God. Sometimes things “feel” unsettled even though God assures me that they are.

It is important for me to know and remember that God, through Jesus, worked out my salvation. The “bill” there is settled.

Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:11-12 NIV]

Check out Psalm 118.

On the way,

Liz

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Sabotage

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Jesus in Tarcal, HungarDonDon’t be your own worst enemy!

Don’t be your own worst enemy!

If you have a lot of things in your life that you pull the plug on before anyone else does, you might want to dig a little deeper into the why. The time spent on soul searching is valuable. You might be chipping at it daily with devotions and study but sometimes it takes a bit more to uncover what is going on.

Participate in a Christ-centered weekend retreat: you will find you are not alone in your struggles and you might gain some useful tools and insights. God has a lot to say through others.

Schedule your own Christ-centered private retreat: if you get distracted by others and are at the point where you know you need to dig in on your own, do it! God has a lot to say all by Himself! Scouring Scripture can help you see where the “who I want to be” and “who I am” struggle is and you might better understand the “why” behind it.

Talk with a Christ-centered and trustedworthy friend and ask them what they see: but be prepared to hear some observations that surprise you. Their insights might be useful. You don’t have to agree with everything they have said and you don’t have to change everything the point out. But if you are ready for a little soul searching, a true friend is golden: they can see our intentions, our failures, and help us see how we are missing the mark.

We all struggle.

Ignoring it never works. If you are in a space where you don’t want to be and there seems to be a looming path ahead of you, it is likely time to set aside the time to work it out.

God forgives, renews, and restores but there is still consequences that we have to deal with. But knowing His forgiveness, restoration, mercy, grace, and renewal is there can give us the courage to face things we have been avoiding.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9 NIV]

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Refrain from Embracing

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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 Tear Down

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A castle in ruins in Transylvania

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.


If you have ever done any home remodeling you know that there are times things need to be torn down or ripped out. Sometimes it is due to an invasive species (termites) or a natural disaster (flooding or tornado) and sometimes it is due to poor workmanship. Othertimes there is a change of vision and to make the change, things cannot stay as they are.

Have you ever invested your energy into something and found that the idea needs to be scrapped? Maybe it was an educational path or a relationship or a traveling itinerary. Sometimes you have to go back to the core of a structure, the core of who you are, or to the core of who God is and start again.

Did the builder stray from the original plan?

Have I surrendered some core beliefs?

Have I taken some liberty with God’s promises and met a crushing blow?

It is important to peel back the layers to see the original blueprint and evaluate whether the foundation is on solid ground. When I look at my circumstances and it seems hopeless and I am trembling, somewhere along the line I am sure I have shifted where my hope lies. I have added to the structure of God’s Word and promise and added in some “shaky ground”.

Have you found this to be true? We are only human, after all. It is so easy to be caught up in how things might look and if I do this then that should happen.

We live in a broken world there is death, disappointment, and disease. Sometimes we receive news that is devastating. Revisiting God’s promises and God’s character helps me regain His perspective and gives me fresh eyes to see my circumstances. And it gives me hope.

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Hymn #370
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: 1 Timothy 1:1
Author: Edward Mote, c. 1834, cento
Composer: John Stainer, 1873, arr.
Tune: “Magdalen”

On the Way!

Liz

The Judas Kiss

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. Matthew 26:48-50

Have you ever been connected with someone who flattered you with kisses (or something similar) only to have them turn on you later?

If you have ever experienced it you know it is quite unpleasant. When I have been in this type of situation I wonder where was my discernment? Why was I vulnerable to fall for something like that?

Who does that to people?

Plenty do.

But knowing that this happened to Jesus helps. Betrayal happens.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Of course, our betrayal experiences do not compare with those of Jesus but it is good to know that pain we feel – He can relate. And God can use it for a greater good.

The sooner you can forgive a betrayer the better off you will be. But just don’t expect that to be something you can do without Jesus. He is the one who makes forgiveness possible.

On the Road,

Liz

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