In a place far removed I can only look back and remember what I once had:  a beautiful, joyful home where I always had enough; a Father who loved me deeply despite my many faults.  Now all is lost, thrown away by self-indulgence and pride, and I’m left with nothing.

But there is something . . . I can barely see it.  On a hill far away stands a rugged cross1 holding a human form writhing in pain, whose triumphant cry rings out to me:  “It is finished!”2  Suddenly the earth shakes, a curtain is torn, and far in the distance I see my Father running towards me.

Oh what “amazing grace!  How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”3  Taken up into my Father’s arms and clothed in robes as white as snow I am redeemed.  It is finished!

He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.  This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” Colossians 1:20b-22 (NLT)

1The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard, 1913.
2John 19:30
3Amazing Grace by John Newton, 1779.

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Spring Cleaning

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

I have to confess . . . I don’t enjoy cleaning!  I know some of you do, which is beyond my comprehension.  You’re welcome to come over any time if you need more to clean!  Now granted, I don’t like sitting around next to dirt and clutter, but I wish the process to cleanliness was more pleasurable for me.  Out of all the household chores I detest dusting the most and vacuuming the least.  With vacuuming I know I’ll receive the instant gratification of a clean floor with the simple push of a machine.

With spring’s arrival we may be considering what needs a deep-cleaning around us, but it’s also a great opportunity to see what needs a deep-cleaning inside us.  Has dust gathered on certain areas which need to be used more often?  It’s easy for me to neglect practicing the fruit of the Spirit in my life—I could always stand to show more love and patience to ALL those around me (in His strength).  Or have other areas become cluttered and some items need to be tossed out?  It’s so easy for self-indulgence or discouragement to sneak into my life and start crowding out the good.  Time to take them to the curb!

Cleaning our homes can be just like cleaning our hearts—we may want to avoid it because it can be hard work, but the end result is well worth it.  Let’s ask ourselves today if there is something that needs to be tossed out from our lives.  Is there anything that needs a thorough dusting and then be put into use more often?  Let’s remember the blessings that will come when we do.

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A New Year’s Resolution

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 (NLT)

We most likely have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions.  We’re excited at the chance of a fresh start they bring, but have also experienced the disappointment caused by their lack of longevity, despite our best intentions.  Regardless of the possibility of failure, it’s hard for us to resist the chance of starting new.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This year my New Year’s Resolution is to experience that “rich and satisfying life” Jesus promised we would have through Him.  It’s not that I don’t already possess some of it—there are certain areas of my life that I experience it every day.  But when looking more closely, I see areas of my life where I am missing out and caught in poor habits or stuck in worry and fear.

Want to join me in making a change?  What’s getting the best of you that isn’t from Him?  What’s going on in your heart (emotions), soul (relationship with God), mind (thoughts) and strength (actions) that are taking you away from God’s best for you?  Let’s allow Him to make some changes in us this New Year and experience the abundant life He offers every day of 2014!

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Adoring Him

. . . but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”  Luke 2:10 (NLT)

Over 2,000 years ago the angels arrived, breaking through the stillness of the night and terrifying some insignificant shepherds out watching their flocks that night.  These celestial beings came proclaiming “good news that will bring great joy to all people.”  What was this “good news”?  The Lord has come.

Who has come?  The Alpha and Omega—the beginning and the end.  The Arm of the Lord, and the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Our Messiah and Redeemer, sent because our Heavenly Father loved us and sent His Beloved Son to die for our sins, so that we might not perish but have eternal life.

The Bread of Life, giving us food and drink that truly satisfies our souls.  Our Good Shepherd, the Cornerstone, and our Deliverer, who promises to never leave us or forsake us.  He is called Immanuel—God with us.

Our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, whose reign knows no end.  Our Great High Priest and the Heir of All Things—the Holy One of God.

The Lamb of God who comes as the Light of the World, our Bright Morning Star, so that we shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus, You have come that we may have life, and have it abundantly.  Happy Birthday, our precious Savior and Friend, we love and adore you!

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The Gift of His Love

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you . . . Deuteronomy 33:27a (NLT)

When it comes to my Christmas tree, the perfectionism I occasionally battle with goes out the window and chaos reigns.  My ornaments range from a pink beaded bell made by my grandmother to a moose on skis.  Then there’s this little guy my youngest brother made for me that I still treasure. ornament

Every ornament means something special to me, and I enjoy tucking them safely onto each branch.  This year I was reminded, that is the way God feels about each of us.  We are His precious treasures that He values as if we were the only ones He had.  He tenderly hides us safely in the shelter of His arms and lovingly watches over us.

What a wonderful God we have, who loved us so much that He gave His only Son Jesus to die for our sins.  There’s JOY in my heart this Christmas season over the gift of His love for us.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23a (NLT)

One of my favorite childhood memories at Thanksgiving time was making construction paper pilgrim hats and Indian feather headdresses in school to dress up for our Thanksgiving feast.  The best part of the day was seeing everyone gathered around the table full of delicious things to eat.  This is still one of my highlights of the day, even if the stuffing comes from a box and the gravy from an envelope!

Thanksgiving has always been a time when people come together.  I know for many this means a day of laughter and good times, but for others it can be a day of difficulty.  The day may take extra patience and grace we feel we don’t have.  This is when it’s good to know there’s always seconds available from the fruit bowl.  Of course I’m not talking about apples and oranges, but the fruit of God’s Spirit in us.  We can take a portion of His love, kindness and self-control for ourselves and then share it with those around us.

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving!  I’m thankful for you and the encouragement and inspiration you are to me.  Thanks for joining me as together we allow God’s truth to change us and set us free.

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Need a Gratitude Adjustment?

“Praise the Lord!  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1 (NLT)

Many of us are thinking about what we’re thankful for this month, whether it’s listing something for each day, or just appreciating the beautiful fall colors and the abundance of pumpkin-flavored foods.  Maybe you’re going deeper with thanks for God’s financial provision or the health you have.  Regardless of what we’re thankful for, expressing our gratitude always does our hearts good.

What is it about gratitude that can change everything?   For one, it helps us remember all that we’ve been given.  We’re quickly distracted by what we don’t have, instead of valuing what we do.  It also takes the focus off ourselves and puts it onto God, who provides all we have and more.  I believe this is where the biggest impact is made.  Isn’t it so easy for us to become self-centered and be consumed by our problems and greed?  Through gratitude we remember what a loving, faithful God He is, who is good all the time and gives us all we need. (Matthew 6:33) 

Need a change of heart?  Join me in making a ‘gratitude adjustment’ and together we’ll experience the peace that comes from expressing our thanks to Him. (Philippians 4:6-7)

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