Armor of God, Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Spiritual, trials, Uncategorized

All the crisis demands

…and having done all the crisis demands…stand firmly in your place. Ephesians 6:13b

I love the study of the armor of God. (Kids love it too, by the way.) And I love how scripture can be new every day just like God’s mercy. Reading a passage that is so familiar can still be enlightening when we read His words with an expectation of learning something new.

I remember when I realized that the shield of faith wasn’t as I had pictured it. Think Captain America.

I had always imagined a round shield that would fit on the arm, one with which I had to move in constant defense in order to quench those fiery darts. Upon deeper study I discovered that Roman soldiers would wrap their shields in leather then soak them in water so that the fiery darts would quite effectively be quenched. The shields were also large enough that when the soldiers “turtled” (front line with shields touching side-to-side, lines behind them lifting their shields above them, also side-to-side) they were virtually impenetrable. When God equipped us with His armor He gave us faith that is sufficient to withstand the attacks. And He intended that we link our faith with others rather than fight alone.

Our world is in a crisis. Crisis: a situation that has reached a critical phase

This is not my first crisis, probably not yours either. This isn’t even the worst of the crises I’ve faced in my own personal life (and I must admit, most of them were of my own making). No matter the crisis of the moment, every single one makes demands. They demand attention. They demand action. They are relentless in these demands, unmoved by emotions, unchanged if ignored, set on a course that will result in change whether we like it or not.

Our current crisis has demanded our attention, as well it should. It has demanded that we stay home, away from friends, unnecessary errands, and for many, even our jobs. Besides the potential danger of infection, many are facing the financial crisis that the virus crisis is creating. For some the financial crisis is breeding relationship crises as tensions rise and fear takes root. The crisis has gotten our attention.

What action is the crisis demanding? For most of us: stay home and wash our hands. For teachers the demand has been to immediately develop a new way to teach outside the classroom. For our healthcare workers the demand has been extreme on the front lines, claiming their time, resources, and emotions beyond anything they’ve ever experienced. For those infected the demand is the urgency to begin treatment as quickly as possible. The demands in a crisis can push us to the breaking point.

This virus is a real thing in this natural world. But let’s not forget that for every believer there’s more to this existence than the limitations of the natural.

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood, contending only with physical opponents, but against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly, supernatural sphere. Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day of danger, and, having done all the crisis demands, to stand firmly in your place. Ephesians 6:12-13

What fiery darts are demanding your attention in this crisis? Fear? Discouragement? Loneliness? Financial loss? Relationship issues? Infection? Spiritual doubt and confusion? God’s given you everything you need to stand firmly in your place. You can only do your part. You can’t do mine and I can’t do yours. What God asks of you may be completely different from what He’s asking of me right now. However there’s no doubt He already knew what this crisis would demand from each of us and He’s provided a way of escape.

No temptation (trial) has laid hold of you that is not common to man, that is beyond human resistance. But God is faithful and He can be trusted not to let you be tempted and tried beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation/test He will always also provide the way out, that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Lift up your shield of faith. Quit judging yourself for all that you haven’t done to prepare for this (physically, mentally, financially, spiritually) and trust that He’s equipped you. Exercise your faith and you are sure to become stronger. And when you’re feeling weak don’t drop out, remember that I’m standing with you, shield-to-shield, because that’s how we win this battle.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. Ephesians 10:13-18 MSG

 

“All the crisis demands” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, God, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Training wheels

I don’t have a memory of this but it’s been told that when the training wheels were removed from my bicycle my older brother was helping me get started without them. He helped me get balanced and gave me a little push to get me going. I pedaled all the way down the driveway and ran straight into the telephone pole. They say I immediately jumped up, turned to him in anger, and blamed him for my crash…but that’s a whole other story called “Steve did it”.

Training wheels were designed to keep us upright and somewhat safe as we learned the mechanics of riding a bicycle. Once we got the basics of force producing motion, it was time to take the wheels off so we could learn balance during this precarious endeavor. This is what I was thinking about as I was running last week.

If I learned anything from last year’s training, it’s that pushing myself to do what I can do doesn’t equate to doing what I ought to do. There’s a proven training method for running where you focus on keeping your heart rate low as you build strength and endurance. This requires monitoring your heart rate more than your pace. Consistently training at the appropriate pace will eventually result in being able to run faster while maintaining a lower heart rate.

At my age, this optimum training heart rate is really low. A brisk walk is all it takes to hit this number. This annoys me. I don’t like running slowly. Not that I’m that fast anymore, it’s just that I know I can go faster than this training pace. I like watching the pace numbers. I like pushing my body to achieve. It feels like I’ve got the training wheels back on my bicycle when I already know how to ride (insert pouty emoji).

On my last run my heart rate was all over the place. I kept trying to adjust my pace to counteract any rise over what is optimum so I was checking my watch every few minutes. This does not make for a relaxing run. (Note: I realize that for some of you “relaxing run” is an oxymoron, but hang with me, that’s not the main point.) I have a tendency to be very rigid in my expectations. My efforts to tightly control my heart rate numbers was a stressor in itself and just thinking about it too much was raising my heart rate! I had to give myself a range of numbers rather than an exact one and then make myself stop checking my watch so frequently. So then I let my mind wander and I fell into a pace that was comfortable. I was really enjoying settling into this pace only to find that it had taken me out of the range that was acceptable and I had to slow it down again. I feared at this point the young couple who were just taking a leisurely walk were going to lap me at any moment. This is killing my pride.

When I was a kid I didn’t pay that much attention to the training wheels. I knew they were there to keep me from immediately falling over once I picked my feet up. I didn’t wonder how they were going to work. I didn’t care that they didn’t touch the ground at the same time. I didn’t notice how often one side or the other was carrying the load. I just trusted they would keep me from falling, at least most of the time. However, once removed, I was acutely aware of their absence, even before getting on the seat. Fear of falling was a real thing, especially when your driveway was paved with oyster shells. I hadn’t trusted they had done their job.

What I hadn’t realized was that a good bit of the time I was riding with the training wheels, they weren’t actually doing anything. I was balancing on my on, which was the goal. In my inaugural ride sans training wheels, balance wasn’t the problem. Focus was. I was excited to be moving forward while remaining upright but lost sight of where I was going.

What feels like a season with training wheels has me focusing on different things than before while not forgetting the goal. Like my running, life has slowed down and God wants me move out of what is “comfortable” and focus on the purpose He has for slowing me down: He wants me stronger  – body, soul, & spirit – able to fulfill His purposes. There’s a new life balance to be developed and I don’t want to miss it because I mindlessly fall back into a pace that is familiar and comfortable, pushing myself to do things because I can, not because I ought.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Bible

Isn’t that what we all desire – to live freely and lightly?? Life feels precarious right now. It’s imperative we find our balance, our strength. Let’s embrace the changes that may feel like the training wheels are back on. Let’s let go of being afraid of falling. Let’s focus on the things that He is using and doing in our lives to make us stronger. Let’s lean into and roll with these unforced rhythms of His grace and see where He takes us. We can trust Him that He will do what He says He will do: help us.

 

“Training wheels” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, praise

Selah moments

Pause, and calmly think about that.

The actual definition of the word selah is a mystery. It’s a word used frequently in the Psalms with some interpretations of its meaning being “to lift up, exalt” or “intermission”. Intermission is a good one for today. We are experiencing an intermission in the midst of our everyday lives, unexpected and unplanned. What do people do during intermissions? They pause. They take a break.

We’ve been forced to take a break from the familiar routines and many find themselves at a loss as to what to do.  Young families are having to decide how to manage their homes, perhaps while experiencing a reduction in income, while feeling the pressure of keeping the children in a learning atmosphere while missing school. Some are struggling with feelings of extreme isolation. Others are longing for the comfort friends and family would normally give as they go through difficulties unrelated to the virus among us, but there are no hugs or kisses because human touch has become a danger. The unusual, the unknown are so often the breeding ground for anxiety.

Technology and social media have been a wonderful things to have at this particular time in history, enabling us to communicate in real time. They certainly don’t take the place of in-person contact but are the next best things. Yet if we’re not careful, they’re also the things feeding the fear with overwhelming amounts of information, charts and graphs and statistics, plus multitudes of opinions. What do we really need to know??

The Amplified Bible translates selah as “pause, and calmly think about that”. Pause. Take a break. Lift Him up, exalt Him for a few moments. Then calmly think about all He’s done and all He will do. Calmly think about Who He is. Calmly think. Help calm another person’s thoughts and emotions by what you share. Be life-giving. Look for the good. Share the good. Find the helpers. BE the helpers any way you can!

Words are the most powerful tool you have every day and especially right now, whether spoken or written, so choose them wisely. Calm words will come from calm thoughts. Take a selah moment, put your mind fully on Him. It will calm your thoughts and direct your words. He is the giver of life and light, the One Who will help us understand what we need to know and help us let go of all else.

My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him. Psalm 62:5

Pause, and calmly think about that!

 

“Selah moments” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, righteousness

From a place of rest

Come to Me…and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Things look different from here. I’m not exactly sure when He led me into this new place called rest, it was so gradual. It’s a little uncomfortable and I often find myself frustrated at the stillness. There’s a strange emptiness I hadn’t been able to put my finger on until just recently.

Matthew 11:28 in the Amplified Bible says the purpose of this rest is to “refresh your soul with salvation”. When was the last time you felt inexpressible joy for your salvation? When was the last time you really rested in the fact He is your loving Father, your ever present help, your guide, your everything-you-need God?

There’s no chaos in His presence – no fear, no worry – only peaceful soul rest.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened by religious rituals that provide no peace…” (AMP)

How many things do we “do” in His name that provide no peace? How much pressure do we place on ourselves to perform in order to feel right with Him: Did we spend enough time in prayer today? Have we been reading our bibles regularly? Have we been serving our church, family, community enough? These things should help us learn about and desire to enter into this rest – but is the rest still there for us if we feel we don’t “measure up”?

In this rest He’s had me consider my actions with the simplicity of asking Him “Is this what you want me to do?” Many days He’s just invited me to enjoy Him, to rest in His presence with no performance of any kind. He’s shown me that even though I say I believe He’s made me perfectly right with Him, at the root of much of my performance is the attempt to make myself good enough, to check something I think I “ought” to do off the list so He will approve of me more.

We think that rest will come once we’ve done all the things we’re supposed to do or when He finally answers our long offered prayers. But that’s backwards. Rest was supposed to be the starting point rather than the end result of our performance and our prayers.

The emptiness I’m experiencing is the absence of self-effort. I’m not striving to make things happen. I’m not feeling the weight and unrealistic responsibility of outcomes unknown. I’m not allowing emotions to drive the bus (which usually takes the wrong route). I’m trusting Him. With all of it. 

This rest begins by recognizing that our righteousness has nothing to do with our performance and everything to do with entering into what He’s already done. It is finished. He knew this world’s troubles would get the best of us so He made a way for us to rest with Him in uninterrupted communion. This rest, His rest, is waiting for us in His presence. It changes our perspective. Everything looks different from a place of rest.

I actually composed this blog at the end of January but just didn’t feel it was right or ready for publication. But now is a good time to be reminded how very much we need His rest. I hope you press in to find it. 

“From a place of rest” was written by Kay Stinnett and was first published on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Habbakuk, righteousness, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Afraid of heights

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I’ve never thought I was particularly afraid of heights. For a good portion of my adult life I lived in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. While not one of its peaks makes the top 100 highest in the US, for a girl from southeast Texas it was still pretty impressive. State park areas offered vistas and overlooks from which you could take in the vastness and beauty that abounds. I loved driving the winding roads, stepping out on a flat rock jutting out over the edge, and taking it all in as if I were on the top of the world.

I recently read an article that said is not uncommon for a fear of heights to develop as you age. I haven’t had an opportunity to test the writer’s theory, haven’t visited any mountain peaks lately, but just thinking about going out on an unguarded boulder on the edge of a mountaintop (insert shiver) at this point in my life leads me to suspect this would be proven true of me. The facts upon which his theory is based have to do with our sense of balance and he states ‘As you get older, your organ of balance tends to deteriorate and you’re likely to feel more physically vulnerable.’*

I’m glad I have those physical mountaintop experiences even though I may not want to repeat them. I’m also glad for the time and vision God gave me when I was actually sitting on a mountain. And I wonder, in all the years before and since, how many times I’ve asked Him to take me higher, seeking the euphoria of His presence and the encouragement to face whatever may come. Whatever the number, it has only increased in the last few months. I’ve been asking for more. Yet it’s in this asking that He’s shown me I’ve become afraid of heights.

Oh, I’m not afraid of the euphoria, I want that excitement and delight! But He’s taken me to a new understanding of what it means to be given hinds’ feet, made able to walk on high places. Other than in the Psalms the only place hinds’ feet are mentioned is in Habbakuk.

Habbakuk lived in troubled times. He couldn’t understand why God allowed so much injustice to continue and he voiced his complaints and frustrations to Him. Then he waited for God to answer. (Note to self: this could be part of my problem…) And the Lord answered. God encouraged Habbakuk that eventually righteousness would reign again and his hope was restored. So Habbakuk began to recall the mighty works that God had done before, stirring up his own faith (another note to self), and ended with:

The Lord God is my Strength and personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk – not stand still in terror, but to walk – and make spiritual progress upon my high places of trouble, suffering, and responsibility! (3:19)

It’s the responsibility part of going higher that’s troubling me, that gives me hesitation. As a young Christian the high places were always those quick answers to prayer, the learning, the growing, the seeing God do amazing things in my life, my family, my church. Exciting stuff! But now that I am older, I see the responsibility side of going higher as I never have, that high places are now more about others than myself. And I wonder if I have what it takes to bear the responsibility.

Living in troubled times (as we do) often makes it difficult to know exactly what our responsibilities are when it comes to living out our faith. Just how much are we to do for others? If you, like me and many others, have ever gotten trapped in an overload of the responsibilities for other people so much that it sucked the life out of you, you may, like me and many others, be afraid to step back out there. After caring for and ministering to evacuees of the hurricane a couple of years ago, the idea of caring for others in crisis gives me more than a little hesitation. It kinda freaks me out. I feel as if I’ve lost my balance and I’m vulnerable, not ready to let my heart go there again.

Even as Habbakuk remembered the power of God, he still trembled at the thought of all that would occur. So to encourage himself even if/when famine would strike, he remembered God would help him be stable and secure, just like the hind.

I love this description of the hind:

A hind is a female deer that can place her back feet exactly where her front feet stepped. Not one inch off! She is able to run with abandonment! In times of danger, she is able to run securely and not get “off track.” The hind is able to scale unusually difficult terrain and elude predators.**

I want to run with abandon. I want to throw off my fear of getting “off track” and run toward that next high place of responsibility. Taking sure footed steps of obedience as He leads me, making spiritual progress. Am I still afraid of going higher? Sure. But I’m reminding myself of all the amazing things God has done before and I’m more afraid of what I’ll miss if I don’t go.

Wanna go with me?

Afraid of heights” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

*Kevin Gournay, emeritus professor at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London

**http://www.hishighplaces.org

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Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Uncategorized

The promise of a reward

endurance

This was my beach vacation read. It’s not the usual relaxing kind of tale one might enjoy while lounging by the ocean, but it was actually quite interesting. You see, I’ve signed up to run a half marathon and I needed some encouragement that I would actually be able to do it! It worked. I found it quite informative and motivating, and full of training tips that I was sure I could implement. So I began to form my plan. It seemed so simple.

It actually is a simple plan but I’m finding it harder to implement than anticipated. The core principle is to run at a pace at which your heart rate will remain within the recommended beats per minute based on your age and fitness level. Once you’ve strengthened your aerobic system through this training method you’ll be able to run faster and increase distance while still maintaining a lower heart rate. I have a wonderful sports watch which tracks just about everything you can imagine and I set the format to monitor not only distance covered and time elapsed but heart rate also. Again, it seemed so simple.

Enlightened with the new information, I set out on my first run with a fresh focus: watch my heart rate. This proved to be quite challenging. Besides trying to remember that was the focus, the pace at which I was having to run seemed off. It was much slower than the pace I’d achieved and been able to maintain in the weeks prior. And while I had been able to run faster in those weeks, the recovery period lasted much longer because the runs would completely wipe me out.

One would think it would be easier to go slower. Not really. My body kept falling into the faster pace I’d established previously, then when I’d check my heart rate I’d have to slow down. This cycle repeated itself for miles. Nothing felt right about it, none the least of which was my bruised ego. I could almost walk as fast as I was “running”. It felt like a setback.

The struggle continued for weeks as I worked to establish some level of consistency. Most runs ended with a modicum of satisfaction from having completed a run, but precious little otherwise. I’ve wondered if signing up for the half marathon was such a good idea after all. I don’t really like this new training method, but I’m doing it because it promises a reward: greater endurance.

As He often does, God has turned this training time into much more than how fast I can run or a consistent heart rate. It’s no big secret that I’ve been frustrated for months, just ask my husband. I’ve blamed most of it on events of last year that were just hard. And they were. But God’s taken me deeper into the examination of the frustration to see that I’m still trying to get through life pushing myself to go harder and faster and do more, but it’s not working. He’s slowing me down, training me at a new pace, developing new patterns. I don’t really like it but I’m doing it because He promises a reward: greater endurance.

If genetics are a determining factor, I’m destined to live quite a few more years. I can’t expect to continue the unhealthy cycle of pushing myself to exhaustion then shutting down to recover if I expect to make it through the years ahead and actually enjoy them!  This year has been very much about self-care, finding healing for my soul, rediscovering hope, and committing (again) to faithful obedience – to follow Him, doing whatever He may ask, even if it means going slower. I want to finish my life well, like Paul – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7) – and hope in the end to hear Him say “Well done.”

Oh, and my running performance? Going farther at a faster pace already. Half marathon, here I come!”

The promise of a reward” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

The Endurance Handbook and many other resources beneficial to health and fitness can be found at https://philmaffetone.com. Check it out!!

 

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, sorrow, Spiritual, Uncategorized

times of refreshing

If only it were as easy as one click.

refresh-animated   https://kayslife

…so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day…

But here I am, still processing.

Image result for processing gifI knew that healing and restoration would take time and I began the new year with plans to slow down and let it take place. But I didn’t think it would take this long. I didn’t think it would be this hard. I didn’t know it would bring my soul to a complete stall. I looked up the definition of stall: …stop running, typically because of an overload… Yeah, that just about sums it up.

I’m thinking today of the Israelites of old and how it must have been when the prophets had nothing to prophecy because God was silent. Normally, I don’t mind silence. Perhaps this time is to take me into a deeper level of listening. It is definitely a season where standing in faith has taken me to new depths. What did the Israelites do during those silent years? They kept on doing what they were doing the last time He spoke. Or they didn’t. I can understand how at times they strayed from their faith, feeling God was too distant, uncaring toward their struggles, desperate to hear His words of deliverance. I’m tempted often to throw that pity party.

It’s not that I haven’t heard Him speak. I have. But I am longing to hear something more than “be still” or “not yet”. I want “…and suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting…” to shake things up a bit.

Normally, I don’t mind getting permission to take it easy either. For a little while. Being highly achievement motivated, however, makes this longer-than-anticipated season a struggle. I’ve started running again which is good and gives me momentary satisfaction in accomplishments. But I can’t outrun the sorrow that still weighs on my heart. Many days it still clouds my vision and drains my energies and I just want to move on.

There was no rush to the morning so I sat on the balcony in the sultry air to watch the sun rise above the trees and read my devotional. It began “Come to Me, My weary one…” and ended with this –

“I want you to know that I approve of you and I approve of rest. When you relax in My Presence, trusting in my finished work on the cross, both you and I are refreshed.”

And there He was, like a cool wind on a hot day, refreshing me with His Presence and His promise that more times of refreshing are coming. I hope you found refreshment in His Presence today, too.

 

times of refreshing” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Scripture references: Acts 3:20, 2:2, Matt 11:28

Devotional excerpt from Jesus Always by Sarah Young

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, Faith, God, grief, loss, prayer, sorrow, Uncategorized

Entering empty

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It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s not even 7pm and I’m in my pjs, trying to stay awake until a reasonable time to call it quits for the day. I will not see the ball fall in Times Square. I will not watch the clock until it ticks at midnight. I will not participate in any activities involving fireworks other than trying to drown them out in order to rest. I will not welcome the new year in any other way than a good night’s sleep. I hope.

My thoughts about the new year have been somewhat void of excitement. I have plans that are good and goals to be reached, but they remain factual in nature, currently lacking the enthusiasm I’ve had in past years. 2017 has been, quite possibly, the most difficult year of my life and I am spent. David and Paul of the Bible spoke of their lives being poured out in the noble efforts of serving God and teaching others. My actions do not compare to their sacrifices for the cause of Christ, but the words poured out resonate with me in this time of reflection.

This year provoked an onslaught of emotion that I wasn’t expecting and which seems now to have sucked the energy from my soul. I began the year tired and only seemed to grow more so with each month that came and went as the duties of my new job increased, peaking with absolute exhaustion by summer’s end. But my hopes for a restful fall season were washed away by a hurricane. Literally. Experiencing the storm was profound and the recovery was difficult and exhausting, both physically and emotionally.

Then Mama died. The depth of my sorrow knows no end, the vacancy in my life impossible to be filled by anything else, my mourning so heavy it is as if I can’t breathe.

However, if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that my feelings do not determine what is or is not real, and certainly do not dictate what lies ahead. The emotions themselves are real and serve a purpose I may or may not understand. I had the energy in my younger years to suppress and ignore them. Besides the completely unhealthy nature of that approach, now I simply am too tired to hold them at bay. They have overtaken me whether I wanted them or not. I trust hindsight will sooner or later bring insight.

I’m not afraid of the future. My faith is intact, my confidence is not shaken, my resolve to move forward is sure. I’m simply entering the new year empty.

I’ve spent the day resting and praying, acknowledging my vast need for my Savior all the more, assured that He will come through at the right time and fill me once again with an enthusiasm for life. But for now, it’s ok to be empty. It’s enough to rest. Enough to be still and know He is God. It’s not a bad way to start a new year.

Psalm 46:10

Goodnight and Happy New Year!

 

Entering emptywas written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, coffee, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, peace, praise, prayer, retreat, Spiritual, Uncategorized, worship

Even the high places have rocks

Arkansas-12

There are times getting away is an absolute necessity. The weariness of months of almost non-stop activity became unbearable when the hurricane blew into my life. It left me empty and broken and hurting, precariously hanging by the proverbial thread. So in the middle of duties undone and responsibilities unfulfilled, I took time off. I have family in the foothills, so in my need of deep soul healing and rest I made arrangements for a visit. And while there I went to a high place to meet with God.

Compared to living in an area that isn’t that much higher than sea level, just about any place you go is a high place. The high places of the bible, however, were not necessarily defined by elevation. They were places designated for worship, for meeting with God. Jesus changed that by giving us His Spirit to dwell within, but there’s still something to be said for finding a way to meet with God in your own high place. A place where intentional worship will occur. Worship that is free to be messy and frustrated and tearful and even angry if that’s what needs to be dealt with. I believe the greatest worship we offer God is our attention, acknowledging He is, fearlessly coming to Him with no pretense that we are anything but who we are in that moment.

I found a place beside still waters where I set up “camp” – my folding chair, my blanket, my bible and journal, and of course, my coffee. I had determined to stay until I heard God. It was a perfect day with cool temps, a bright blue sky, low mountains in the distance. I sat for a while just taking it all in. The beauty of nature has always moved me and this day was no different. Combine that with the events that preceded this escape and the tears flowed readily. I knew it shouldn’t and couldn’t be rushed, this seeking of answers from God.

Arkansas-4

I’d opened my bible to Isaiah without a lot of forethought, flipped through the pages and stopped at the first thing I saw highlighted – “but those who wait for the Lord…” (40:31). I wasn’t even giving it much thought when I looked up and saw three bald eagles effortlessly moving above. If you are not familiar with the rest of that verse, it speaks of renewing your strength and soaring as eagles. God’s good that way, you know?

I knew this time wasn’t going to be one of lengthy bible passages or deep, wordy prayers, but rather just “being still and knowing”. I got up to walk along the edge of the water, exploring the view surrounding me. Now, if you’ve ever been in a mountainous area you know you there are rocks. Lots of rocks. To walk along a shoreline every step must be strategic lest you want to face plant on the stones or take a tumble into the waters. Honestly, I’d rather walk on pristine white sand with clear blue water washing in waves over my feet, mindlessly moving along, not having to measure every step. It’s hard to walk on rocks.

We have a tendency to think that if we’re obedient, if we’re following where God leads, if we keep our hearts right and strive to learn and grow, the walk will become smoother, easier. And it does. But there will always be rocks. There will always be people He brings into our lives that grate on our nerves. There will be responsibilities that He calls us to that are difficult and frustrating. There will be challenges as He moves us into the uncomfortable. There will be pressures demanding action and questions He seems to be slow to answer. There will be rocks.

I returned to my chair, picked up my bible, and begin to skim the next few verses. One phrase was repeated several times and caught my attention “…I will help you…”  I’ve had some wonderful times with God in the past when many words were exchanged and I was led to intense study. This was not one of those times. The four words of that phrase brought me more peace than I’d experienced in months. There were details I still wanted Him to speak to, situations for which I still needed His counsel, wounds that needed to be healed. But this day it was enough to know He would help me. This day was to worship amid the rocks in the high place.

 

Even the high places have rocks” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, death, Faith, God, gospel, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, sorrow, Spiritual, Uncategorized, worship

Led to brokenness

broken pottery*Kintsugi

Brokenness. No one wants to be there. We run from it. We try to protect ourselves. We try to hide. We often avoid those who are there, not knowing what to say or do. Human suffering is hard to see, hard to enter into with another, hard to bear. But sooner or later we are there ourselves, like it or not.

There is quite literally brokenness all around me right now – the piles of debris are slowly being removed, and what is left remains broken and empty. Lives have been turned upside down and there are no answers as to where the displaced can go, where will they work, how will they pay for their losses. Thousands of lives in limbo and I feel helpless to affect. My contributions seem but a drop in an endless sea of anguish and I am fighting the paralysis that inevitably settles in after intense crisis efforts have passed and the day-to-day tries to resume. I am at a loss as to what to do next. And I am not alone.

My frustration increases daily in this state of doing little, yet I find that I busy myself more with the mundane rather than get seriously alone with God. I know I need to. I know that is where I will find the answers I need. It is in His presence I will find joy and peace and rest. So what’s the hesitation? I know He will lead me to brokenness. I can go there voluntarily or continue an attempt to resist. But I will go there.

There is much to learn about Jehovah-Rohi, the Lord Who heals, when life leaves us wounded and broken. Psalm 147:3 assures us “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” and He calls us to Himself for exactly that. But what about those times He takes us into brokenness? We don’t hear much about that.

There is a surrender required in order to be filled. I cry out for more of Him – more understanding, more intimacy, more revelation – but room must be made for this more that I want. My will involved in any level of “self-preservation” must be broken if He is to be what others see in me. It’s not a new thing, just ask Jacob or Moses or Jonah or Peter. Or Jesus. He made it very plain –

For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity]. Matthew 16:25 (AMP)

My opinions, my emotions, my desires, and even my own heartache, all must be laid down before Him in an act of obedient surrender. Dying to self. Not allowing self to dictate the steps of my life, but rather yielding to the brokenness that will cause my every natural impulse to become secondary to His. His Spirit within me longs for this brokenness to take place because He desperately wants me to experience Him at a new level. So I will yield. I will be broken. And I will be changed, reminded once again that it’s going to be worth it all.

*Translated to “golden joinery,” Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi, which means “golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece. Since its conception, Kintsugi has been heavily influenced by prevalent philosophical ideas. Namely, the practice is related to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which calls for seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect. The repair method was also born from the Japanese feeling of mottainai, which expresses regret when something is wasted, as well as mushin, the acceptance of change.

Kintsugi kinda sounds like Jesus.

Led to brokenness” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

*Photograph & text taken from http://mymodernmet.com/kintsugi-kintsukuroi/