Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, love, mothers, praise, prayer, righteousness, Spiritual

The dividing line

Some of you mothers and fathers will understand how happy I am when my daughter calls me to ask what I think, or even better, to ask me to pray for her when she has a need.  We’ve been close throughout her life, but of course there were years where she most definitely did not want to know what I thought.  I remember myself at that age.  Thinking that surely I was hiding my inward eye-rolling as I listened to and ignored my mother’s words at the same time.  (I had yet to learn that I am one of those people who simply cannot hide how she feels and that I would successfully pass this trait on to my daughter.)  When she calls (or texts), there is no matter too small or too unimportant or even too vague to be able to completely describe for which I will not immediately approach the throne of our Father on her behalf, and be honored to do so.

Last week something was troubling her but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.  She had wrestled with this disturbance for several days with no real understanding.  So when I received her early morning text asking me to pray, I responded to reminded her that God’s ways are peace and love, that He gives wisdom liberally when we ask, and that He would reveal to her what the root of the problem was and let her know if it required any other action besides casting her cares. And I prayed for exactly that.  She called later the same day to share with me what God had revealed to her.  Problem solved.  Peace restored.  And a mother’s heart blessed.

She has learned to be sensitive to her spirit.  (She was listening!!)  This is the foundation of what it means to be made in His likeness, to house the very presence of God within, and the only way we can learn to yield our body and soul to His Spirit.  This is the filter through which every thought, emotion, and experience should go so that we can discern what is pleasing to Him.  This is the way we take every thought captive to obey Christ and live as conquerors in this life.

We are spirit.  We have a soul (mind, will, emotions).  We live in a physical body.

Our spirits have been made new.  We are new creations, old things passed away, all things become new. We have been made alive in Him, the righteousness of God, holy, blameless, and forgiven.  We have been given immeasurable love, unsurpassed peace, inexpressible joy, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, and unbroken fellowship with God Almighty Who has chosen to overtake us and make us like Him.  Without this understanding, without truly believing this is who we are rather than just singing the praise songs and quoting the verses, we live frustrated Christian lives, constantly battling the turmoil in our souls, unable to determine which thoughts and emotions are from Him and which are our own.

So how do we tell what is from Him and what is from our own flesh or the influence of the devil?

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

There is a line that divides the soul and spirit.  The only way to discern the difference is through His word.  Studying what scripture says and allowing Him to speak to us through the written Word.  Spending time developing our fellowship with Him so that we are sensitive to when He speaks.  Agreeing with Him that He has given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness and is our ever-present Help in times of trouble.  Believing that we have truly been made new and taking that as our identity rather than basing who we are on how we look or act or feel.

Have you ever struggled with a task to the point of frustration only to discover that you had simply been doing it backwards?  We’ve been trying to make ourselves into what we ought to be by attending church and reading our bibles and not doing this or that, focused on what we do rather than who we are.  That’s backwards.  We must first learn who we are in order to get what we do to line up right!  We must discover where the line is drawn between soul and spirit and learn to live from our spirits, outward changes coming from inward power.  Learning to live our lives from the inside out.**

**Inside Out is a new study available to your organization, church, or bible study group in a conference, workshop or retreat format.  A five-week study option is also available to those in the greater Houston, Tx area.  Testimonials and more information will be coming soon on the speaking and events tabs on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

The dividing line” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, love, prayer, righteousness, Spiritual, trials, Uncategorized

Alterations

It’s day number three without restful sleep and I am tired.  Let’s add to it that some of the work that must be completed today is tedious.  Very tedious.  I been given several garments to alter.  Many days I delightfully approach my work as a seamstress with fresh, new fabric stretched out just waiting to be transformed into something beautiful.  Creativity flows and I am in control of exactly how the garment will turn out.  Not so much with alterations.  (You would be surprised at the mess that can be hidden in the construction of some clothing.)  I must take something that someone else has created, rip it apart, re-cut or reshape, and then piece it back together so that it will fit properly and hopefully look as if it was originally made that way, not repaired.

I’m off to a slow start as you may have guessed since I am sitting at the computer rather than the sewing machine.  I am taking this break after only minutes of work because I am already frustrated. First, there is the chain stitching that should be a simple “pull the thread and the entire seam will be undone” which is not cooperating.  This leaves me literally ripping the seam one very small stitch after another.  I finally get the triple, yes TRIPLE, chain-stitched seam undone only to discover that the fabric within the double-folded, triple-stitched seam has also been glued.  Great.  The pulling apart of the two pieces of glued fabric isn’t going smoothly either.  I’ve hit several places where the glue absolutely refuses to let go and there is no way to part the two pieces of fabric without ripping or cutting both pieces.  It’s going to be a long day so before I ruin what I am trying to make beautiful, I needed to step back, take a breather, and renew my mind about what must be done.

I realized that my frustration stemmed from not only the stubborn seams and fatigue, but also the nagging concerns about a certain relationship that is difficult. We often foolishly think that just because something new is born, whether it is very literally a new baby or the birth of a new relationship, that we are in easy control of how it will all turn out. We have high hopes and grand dreams, believing that love is enough to make it work.  And love most certainly must be the foundation to ensure the relationship will not be destroyed.  But love without action isn’t real love at all and the business of relationships can at times be very challenging, frustrating, and tedious work.  There is often the ripping away of wrong attitudes and the cutting away of bad habits.  The undoing of harsh words requires humility and a lot of time.  Exposing what is underneath may reveal a big mess.  We can choose to leave the mess alone and hidden from those who only see the surface and the relationship will remain ill-fitted and uncomfortable. We can pretend the mess doesn’t really matter as long as things look good on the outside, imagining no one will notice that it doesn’t fit right.  Or we can give it the proper time and effort combined with a willingness to persevere through the frustrations that will arise in this often slow process, so the pieces can be re-cut, reshaped and put back together, fitted rightly.  And from time-to-time, we just need to step back, take a breather, and renew our minds about what we are really fighting for – something different that what we have, something worth all the trouble, something made more beautiful.

My heart aches for those I know and love who are struggling in difficult relationships.  So as I return to the tedious work before me and the other things to be done, I will pray for them as I rip stitches and take care of business.  I will ask that God help them endure the ripping and tearing and cutting that still must be done to get that right fit.  Altered at the altar and restored to better than before, remembering…

…all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself – received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself – and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation…             2 Corinthians 5:18

 

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

 

Bible, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, God, grace, Jesus, love, praise, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Separation anxiety

Year after year family photographs were captured, always with one family member absent as someone had to operate the camera.  The boys were attired in their once-a-year suits and ties.  We girls had new dresses and white shoes which embarrassed me as my spindly legs made it appear as if I had unusually large feet at the ends of them.  We were dressed up to go to church for Easter services.  We regularly attended Sunday service, so the only difference on this particular day is that we would be especially dressed and it would be more difficult to sit on our right-side, third-row-from-the-front pew if we did not arrive earlier than usual because many more people would attend this day.  The pre-service preparations involved the same flurry of activities as every other Sunday morning – the search for lost shoes and belts, the efforts to keep children clothed and still without spills or stains, and the prayer that one particular child would not get carsick on the way.  It’s a wonder my mother ever was able to relax and worship once she entered the sanctuary doors.

While we did not attend a church rich in liturgical traditions, we were taught the true meaning of Easter and what the Lord’s Supper represented.  The colored eggs and plastic grass in baskets and races to collect the greatest numbers did not detract from what I knew, even as a child, to be true.  Jesus died for my sin.  I placed my faith in Him early and throughout my struggles and challenges with life itself, this was and is the unwavering platform on which my feet remain firmly planted.  And yet, I missed a critical truth even as every year we heard the messages of His death and resurrection and the hope and victory that this act secured for us.

It is finished.

Sin is conquered, death is defeated, the veil that once separated man from God has been removed giving free and unlimited access to Almighty God to all who will enter in.  He sent His Spirit to indwell the imperfect people who would say yes to this, His invitation.  He promised to never leave us or forsake us.

So in the process of the spiritual housecleaning that I’ve done over the last few years I’ve picked up and put down a particular piece that for a while I could not determine if it fit in this temple that is me.  It is the idea that “sin separates us from God.” I’ve heard this throughout my life, continue to hear it frequently, and have been one to have said it as well.

Sin separates us from God.  It sounds true.  It feels true.  It must be true.  It was true before we came to accept this magnificent sacrifice. But as I’ve studied more deeply what Jesus said and did, I cannot find a place for this.

If Jesus paid the penalty for sin – ALL sin – how can my sin change my position with God?  How can God move away from me if He promised to indwell me and to never leave or forsake me?  Was the veil torn down only to be put up again and torn down again and put up again…?

It is finished.

Three beautiful words that cannot be reconciled with the idea that my sin brings back the veil.  Does my sin matter?  Yes.  The call to repentance remains the same, but not because it is the only way to gain access to the Father again.  We are to repent – to change our minds about sin – in order that we can live fully in the forgiveness purchased for us.  We repent so that we can receive the fullness of the blessings offered us as His children in this lifetime and beyond, to have a right mind and a soul that is free from the burdens that sin will most surely heap upon us, and to enjoy the peace that comes with a heart ready to do His will.

I have lived with a great deal of separation anxiety because of this misunderstanding, when all the while He was right there with me.  I’ve lived in fear of His absence as there were no more sorrowful words on the day of His death than “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  It was agony for Jesus to be separated from His Father.  But it was an agony He endured so that we would not have to.  He is with us, faithfully leading us in the ways of righteousness, correcting – not condemning – us when we sin.  He knew we would.  Yet He has chosen a position of unfathomable mercy and extravagant love that will abide – make a permanent home – in all who will allow it.

It is finished.  This is the truth.  This is the truth that sets us free.  Free indeed!

 

Separation anxiety” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, love, prayer, righteousness, Spiritual, Uncategorized

But why?

Any parent or grandparent vividly remembers this stage of their child’s or grandchild’s life – the incessant asking of the same question over and over and over:  “But why?”  Rarely was a simple answer sufficient for such a child.  One answer seemed only to fuel the fire to know more, even when their maturity level had not caught up with their insatiable curiosity.  Most of us reach the point of exasperation after a while and simply answer “because I said so” or “you won’t understand” or perhaps, as my husband did when his children were young, “no more questions after lunch”.  Our adult patience wears out long before we exhaust our knowledge of the matters that concern little ones.

My thoughts today piggy back those of yesterday as I clean what remains in my messy spiritual corner.  In the rummaging through various things I’ve collected, I’ve come across this notion that we should not ask God “why?”  My mind immediately goes to Isaiah 55:8…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

As God’s ways are so infinitely above our own, it must be that we can never understand.  I believe that to be true about many, many things, for we will be learning who He is and of His ways throughout all eternity.  But I also believe He is a big enough God that our questions do not frustrate and exasperate Him and that He desires to answer them even now, before heaven.  Some of the answers we may not fully understand as our maturity has not caught up with our curiosity.  But He speaks.  He answers.  He gives understanding at the right time.  Psalm 119 is replete with David’s desire to learn God’s ways and his confident expectation that God would grant his requests!

I lived many years of my life knowing that He lived in me, but in reality He was a resident stranger.  I was a child who lived in the constant presence of my Father, believing that to ask Him “why” He did or did not do anything was to insult His sovereignty, and that even if I did ask and He answered, I would not understand.  How this grieved His heart!

Jesus changed forever the relationship man could have with God.  He chose to dwell in us, not to be in hiding but to be known.  Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus his desire and prayer…

…that you may be filled through all your being unto all the fullness of God – may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!    Ephesians 3:19b

…and to the Corinthians…

…But we have the mind of Christ and do hold the thoughts of His heart.  1 Corinthians 2:16b

He chose not only to indwell me but to make it possible for me to experience a rich measure of His presence – so that I can be wholly filled with Him!  The more I set my mind on Him, the more the more attuned I become to His voice.  I consider Him in all my ways, give Him all my efforts and He directs my thoughts to line up with His.  Then comes understanding.  I have been invited to come before Him boldly, fearlessly, and ask.  I can ask all the “why” questions I want with a great expectation that He will answer me.  And don’t have to stop at lunch time.     🙂

 

But why?” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

Bible, children, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, love, mothers, praise, righteousness, Spiritual

Mushy oatmeal and another hard-to-swallow thing

As a child I often found myself the overnight guest of my best friend.  She was an only child and I the middle of five.  She lived with her parents and her maternal grandparents and I saw her as the center of their world. I so enjoyed my time in the midst of their love and laughter.  While I very much felt at home there, I was still bound by the rules of my upbringing, one of which was very difficult to follow on a particular morning.

My friend had fixed my breakfast.  Instant oatmeal.  My mother often made oatmeal for us but it was the real kind – old fashioned Quaker Oats that had to be cooked on the stove.  I don’t believe I had ever tasted instant oatmeal prior to that day and I must admit I found it awful.  It was mushy and flavorless and no matter how much milk or salt or butter or sugar I added, it still tasted terrible.  And while I could hardly swallow it, I stuck to the training of being a good guest, determined to eat what was served.  I certainly did not want to hurt my friend’s feelings and made a valiant effort not to let my face show that I found her oatmeal disgusting.  I failed.  One look from her Granny and she exclaimed “Get her something else to eat!  She’s gagging!!”  Granny rescued me and I was ever so thankful.

This morning I read an article that made my heart hurt.  It was just one of the many stories and posts so prevalent in today’s culture that I find hard to swallow – the public shaming of a child.  A child’s photo posted on the internet for all the world to see, their actions recounted for all the world to read, their souls most surely wounded.  I ache for them.

I confess, I used methods of correction with my children that I now see were too harsh.  I was a very strict disciplinarian who now wishes she had been gentler and kinder.  I’m sure every parent looking back would change quite a few things.  But I was a mother raising children quite a few years before the internet.  The disciplines done in the privacy of our home were not events that were broadcast to the world.  Oh, we young mothers talked among ourselves about what our children did and how we handled it.  But it was never with the intention to humiliate them into obedience.   We didn’t use shame as a method of correction.  We didn’t publish their sins.

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].  1 Peter 4:8

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that correction is absent.  As parents we correct.  As teachers and employers and friends there are times that actions must be confronted and redirected.  But living in the kind of love just mentioned will lead us to deal with the issues at hand while also protecting the one who has erred, giving them mercy instead of shame.  This love refuses to broadcast their mistakes.  This love is full of grace.

I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more.  Hebrews 8:12

Jesus gave His life to provide our absolute, complete forgiveness and promised to remember our sins no more!!  His forgiveness doesn’t mean correction is absent.  But He bore the shame and humiliation of our sin and therefore He will never use those as a method to correct us.  He gently leads and corrects and guides.  His love covers ALL our sin.

He rescued me and I am ever so thankful.