Agape Love Archives - Page 2 of 8 - Catherine Nelson

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Way too Many Tears

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I have witnessed way too many tears fall this week. I sat next to a woman on a plane who cried all the way from California to Chicago. A precious friend shared the pain of her broken heart with me. A couple of my daughters have shed tears of frustration and failure. I have shed my own tears that streaked my cheeks with trails of fear and hopelessness. This world is a painful place, and sometimes I have no desire to rejoice in the “trials of various kinds”.

I certainly am not going to tell any of you who are suffering that you need to rejoice. I have not responded with grace when well-meaning saints have encouraged me to rejoice in suffering. If you and I are going to rejoice like scripture tells us to do, we will need some major aid from the Holy Spirit and not some encouraging words from a middle-aged blogger.

Help is ours for the taking though. Where tears are healing and distraction numbs the pain, there is power in the Spirit and the miracle of a healed heart is possible. It is my habit to chronologically read through the bible. I have been studying the Old Testament for months and months; it will be summer before I reflect on the birth of Jesus, and I will rejoice like the shepherds abiding in the fields when I open the gospels. While I pursue Jesus in the Old Testament, I have discovered some amazing and very helpful things.

God’s chosen people had lots of heartaches. They wept tears of hopelessness, fear, anger, and regret. They understood pain more acutely than most of us do. The God they cried to cared passionately for them and He fought for them. Over and over again, He addressed himself as “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” I have been marking that phrase in my bible and it is a brightly marked up jumble. God identifies himself this way 269 times in the Old Testament. He is the same God today.

Do you understand what this means? It means that there is an army in heaven. There is a battle raging. The most powerful, and awesome, creator God is leading the charge and He is fighting for you. You are a prize. You are worth it to Him. He has had to redundantly remind me over and over again that He is captain and Lord and He will win. He will wipe away every tear and He will be victorious.

Precious friends, take courage. Find comfort in the word. Let the triune God fill your soul with hope. The Lord of Heaven’s armies is in love with you. He is winning the battle.

 “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:37 (NLT)

 “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NLT)

“Who is the King of glory?

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies—

he is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:10 (NLT)

“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;

the God of Israel is our fortress.” Psalm 46:11 (NLT)

“But the God of Israel[a] is no idol!

He is the Creator of everything that exists,

including Israel, his own special possession.

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!” Jeremiah 10:16 (NLT)

 

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Identifying your Talents

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Do you know what your gifts are? Have you ever struggled with identifying your talents? I have been really mulling over these questions lately. I turned 45 last week and had the displeasure of receiving this insensitive comment from a total bonehead: “45?!? Well, this is your hump year. You are ½ way to the grave.” If I only have ½ of my life left, it is high time that I figure out exactly what gifts God has given me to use for His glory.

Clearly, When God knit Peyton Manning together, He was creating a man designed to play football, and He created Tim Keller to share insight and wisdom so millions would gain understanding. He created Meryl to act, Giada to cook, Monet to paint, Gasol to dunk and Justin Timberlake to do just about everything else, but are my gifts and your gifts any less glorifying to God if they are not visible to millions? Is the barometer for success measured by how many people recognize your talent? Did God do a lesser job when He knit me together? Certainly not.

We live in an amazing time and there are fantastic opportunities available to us every single day. We often let them pass us by because of insecurities, laziness or the ever-present obstacle of daily busyness. When God decided to knit you together and took care to delicately create every finger and hair and eyelash, He also gave you unique gifts, desires and longings. He is the one who created these cravings in you. He receives the glory when you use them. They are gifts for you to enjoy, to receive with a thankful heart and to fully embrace for His pleasure. The purpose of your talents at its core is to be an offering to your creator. If others notice and are blessed that is secondary, but if no one else notices or appreciates it, it does not change your call to be a good steward of those gifts.

The first answer in the Westminster shorter Catechism tells us that our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. He has given each of you some pretty great gifts. Figure out what they are and put the appropriate effort into excelling at them. Have fun doing it. Receive them with a thankful heart and recognize that by using them, you are giving a love offering back to your perfect creator.

Start figuring it out today. Don’t let insecurities, laziness or busyness distract you. You have so much to offer… even if you are ½ way to the grave. :/

“O Lord, you have examined my heart

and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.

You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You see me when I travel

and when I rest at home.

You know everything I do.

You go before me and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Psalm 139: 1-3,5,13-14 (NLT)

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Ecc 9:10 (NKJV)

“This is the day the Lord has made;

We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

 

 

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This is Catherine

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This is Catherine.

Catherine wants to sing like a tree frog.

Be like Catherine.

 

Pat and I just returned home from a wonderful trip where we attended great lectures, made new friends and escaped to the warmth of a beautiful beach paradise. We arrived in the dark after a full day of travel and as we flopped into bed, a cacophony of tree frogs erupted in song outside our villa. Their symphony included hundreds of players that only seemed to know 2 notes. These tiny creatures were loud, relentless and impossible to tune out.

It is always in the quiet places where my imagination ignites and prayers swell. As I drifted between prayers and a pining for sleep, I wondered what the tree frogs would be so determinedly singing about, and incase you are wondering too, I can tell you. I am confident that I am right, because you will never find a tree frog to correct me. The tree frogs were singing praises to God their creator. What else would they be singing about? They chirped about how God reigns and how much He loves them and how much He loves me. They proclaimed of His power and beauty and holiness. They couldn’t stop. Singing was their entire motivation from sunset til sunrise. Their praises inspired me and soothed me to sleep.

“This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

 

This is my Father’s world,

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear him pass;

He speaks to me everywhere.” Maltbie D. Babcock 1915

 

“The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours;

Everything in the world is yours—you created it all. “ Psalm 89:11 (NLT)

 

I want to be like the tree frog. You should too. I want to be so aware of God’s supremacy and holiness and love for me that I sing about it all the time out of the overflow of my heart and not just out of obedience.

I met a woman last week who is singing of God’s glory much better than my crooning amphibian friends. Mary works the night shift at Memphis International airport. I met her at 5:30 am during the last half hour of her shift. It was still dark outside and the weather was nasty. Mary was smiling and humming. As we visited she told me that her purpose in life was to live up to her name. I didn’t remember what Mary meant and then she told me the sweetest story. She reminded me of what Mary actually means. “Mary” means “bitterness” and she had been bitter most of her life. She listed some of her heartaches, betrayals and failures. Her story was distressing, but then Mary told me that her middle name is “Joyce” In her adult years, she began going by the name “Mary Joyce”, and one random day, in a state of exhaustion, when asked what her name was, she stumbled over her words. She answered, “May” “RyJoyce”. Her stumble changed her whole outlook. She realized that her name was her call to action. She has lived everyday since with the mission to praise the Lord in everything…to let go of bitterness and rejoice. She declared to me, no matter what the day holds, I know who I am and I know who my God is. “I May Rejoice!”

I may too. I must too. You and I are going to spend eternity praising our God and savior. Let’s get really good at it. Let go of the bitterness and rejoice. Sing with the relentless abandon of a tree frog. Our god is good….ALWAYS!

 

“As the sun is full of light, the ocean full of water,

Heaven full of glory, so may my heart be full of thee.” (Excerpt from The Valley of Vision/ Spiritus Sanctus)

 

Oh precious Savior, may my heart be as full of Jesus as the ocean is full of water. May the overflow of my love for you brim over into relentless songs of praise. Glory be to your name. Amen.

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The Beauty in Botching it

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My kids are a high priority on my priority list. They are the most important thing in my world, right behind my relationship with Jesus and my relationship with their dad. I’m pretty sure they know this and hope they feel important and cherished, but I’m confident they know how much I love Jesus. I know this because my passion for growing in the Lord and my pension for talking to them about Jesus sometimes annoys and exhausts them. It isn’t unusual for me to catch eye rolls and sighs and be asked to not make everything a “Jesus thing”. Not all of my kids have a personal relationship with Jesus. They are all great kids; they are beautiful and funny and kind and full of integrity and grit. There is nothing I desire more for them than to know and love my savior. It is my constant prayer for them and it shapes how I parent them. In my dogged pursuit to show them the truth and beauty of the savior, I have made some mistakes. This week, I really botched it.

One of my kids has been waiting on an answer that has been completely out of our control. As we have waited for this answer, I have prayed and encouraged my family to pray for God’s will to be done, but I was so confident that I knew what God’s will would be that I really claimed it. I encouraged this kid that I knew how awesome the outcome would be. I journaled about it and took active steps to add reality to my confidence. Yesterday, we got the answer we had been waiting for and it was not at all what I expected. The kid was disappointed. I was shocked, confused and embarrassed. The kid and I sat on my bed for a long time, talking it out. My heart ached and I wept tears of apology. I told the kid that I had hoped that my confidence backed up by God’s affirmative answer would be an enticement for the kid to want to have a relationship with Jesus. I thought if God did what I said I thought He would do, I’d be celebrating an eternal victory. My intentions were pure and rooted in good stuff. I truly wanted to glorify the Lord and be a powerful witness for His goodness, but I got it wrong. I acted like I was a prophetess…. which I certainly am not. I unintentionally misled and made promises of false hope. I really really botched it. I grieved for my stupidity and the stumbling block I laid in this kid’s path. I asked the Lord and the kid for forgiveness.

Our good intentions don’t mean we are getting it right. It’s not always the thought that counts. When we learn that we botched it, we must make amends and do all we can to get it right. It begins with repentance and is completed with praise.

Imagine the blessing I received this morning when I read the bible account of King Josiah. Josiah was a good King who loved the Lord and did what he knew to do to lead the Israelites in a godly manner. In His pursuit of wisdom and righteousness, he discovered a scroll that showed him he was getting it wrong. He grieved, made changes and then led the people in the greatest Passover feast ever.

“In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan to repair the Temple of the Lord his God.  While they were at the Lord’s Temple, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law, Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan. So Shaphan read it to the king. When the king heard what was written in the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. “We have not been doing everything this scroll says we must do.” And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul.  The entire ceremony for the Lord’s Passover was completed that day. Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover.”

Excerpts from 2 Chronicles 34 and 35 (NLT)

You and I are sinners and as great as our intentions are, we are going to botch it. We will botch it as spouses and parents and friends and witnesses. When you are blessed enough to see how you botched it, repent immediately, and then get to the business of celebrating God’s goodness. There is beauty in botching it. God’s grace is new every morning. One day all our good intentions will be followed by perfect praise and action, but that day won’t come until Jesus comes. He is coming. Get to praising Him. You were created to do just that. Blessings to all of you who have botched it. XO c

 

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Choose Your Battles

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Choose Your Battles

My beautiful son just got a huge tattoo. He loves it. I hate it. When I look at it I remember when he was prematurely born and struggled to survive. I remember that for months the monitors attached to his tiny body would go off alarming us to thump his foot and startle him into breathing again. I remember covering him in prayers for health and strength. I reminisce over the toddler with blonde bangs and a big smile whose happiest place was in my lap. I ache for the simpler, sweet days of chicken nuggets, mac’n’cheese and rescue heroes. I’d love to revisit the times when I was the one who could soothe the pain of a busted-up knee or broken heart. I loved the bedtime agenda of 2 songs, 1 story and family prayer time. I miss squealing with him while watching “Fear Factor” and water balloon fights and “Happy Grams” and his elastic waist corduroys, and his comic strip bible and bed hair and the dirt +feet+ fresh cut grass rank smell of football carpool. So many sweet memories have faded and I feel like this mammoth tattoo mocks me with the harsh reality that I am the mother of a grown man.

As I lamented the reality of the tattoo, someone tried to encourage me with the phrase “Well, you have to choose your battles”, and though this is true, it is also true that when we choose not to engage in battle, there is still loss.

I could have stopped my son from getting a tattoo. I could have taken away his car, grounded him and made all kinds of threats. If I was stubborn enough and willing to put the preservation of his skin over his need to express himself, I could have. I know how to win and I certainly could have won this battle. Maybe I should have chosen to fight, but this time I didn’t. My home is relatively peaceful. I didn’t waste energy on threats or rage. He is happy with the ink and appreciative of my allowance…. Battle over beautiful skin-not chosen.

I need to be encouraged. I wish I had confidence that by not engaging in battle, I did the right thing. It’s done now and it’s permanent, and so if I was a terrible mother by being permissive, well crap! It’s certainly not the first time I’ve messed up this mom assignment. I want to get it right. I want to be the proverbs 31 woman and the mom who is cherished and adored. I want to always be kind and do justice and love mercy and walk humbly and fight the right battles. I want my kids to make good decisions without my threats or praises as their motivator. I want the Holy Spirit to move through my family so we are all hungry for God’s word and for harmony in our home.

As I want and as I pray and as I keep trying, here is the encouragement I have found:

It is helpful when we find ourselves in battle to rely on God’s track record. He fights for us. He says, “I choose you.” When we are weak, He is strong. There is nothing that I want more than for my children to love Jesus even more than I do, and the battle for their souls is His. “He is a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat.” (Isaiah 25:4). When I fail as I often do, God is there to lift me up- “Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great.” (2 Samuel 24:14). I will never be totally at peace here, because this is not my forever home (1 Peter 2:11), but thankfully, my time here is brief compared to eternity in heaven (James 4:14) and when my time here is done, I will see the King in His beauty (Isaiah 33:17) I will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2) In my flesh I shall see God (Job 19:26) and I will be satisfied (Psalm 17:15).

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Progressive Taxi

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Pat and I are in the process of getting our Pilot’s license. This adventure has been daunting. Every week, I am memorizing charts and formulas, symbols and equations. Everyone keeps comparing it to learning a new language, but it sometimes it feels like learning a new language with a gun pointed at you, because if you don’t master it all, you could die. I have had moments of fun, but overall, I am nervous, insecure and overwhelmed.

While studying airport diagrams and maps last week, I was introduced to the term, “Progressive Taxi”. When a pilot needs to get her airplane from the ramp to the runway, she calls the tower, identifies herself and her location and then tells the tower where she wants to go. The tower will reply with a series of directions that will help her get to the desired runway. The directions will sound something like this: “Diamond Eclipse Foxtrot Charlie, exit the ramp via Golf. Right on Echo, Right on Bravo, left on Charlie. Hold Short at the ILS line. Proceed on Charlie, Left on Foxtrot. Hold Short runway 22 N/E.” The pilot writes everything down, repeats it and follows the directions exactly. If she makes a mistake, she can endanger herself and any other plane at the airport. She has all the information she needs to arrive safely, but it is a lot of information. It is easy to miss a turn or to get into a confusing situation. As insecure as I am in my aeronautic abilities, the imperativeness of perfection in taxing an airplane made my chest tighten, and then I read about Progressive Taxi.

If a student pilot or insecure pilot at a busy airport feels she needs extra help, she can ask for Progressive Taxi. The tower will respond by walking her through every turn and step in real time. The tower will watch her leave the ramp and alert her that a right turn on Golf is 100 yards away. The tower will help her with every turn and stop until she gets to her desired runway. The tower is everyone’s helper and gives all the information out to every pilot, but the pilot that asks for extra help and guidance gets the comforting lead in a confusing and complex situation.

I have been a Christian and student of the Bible for decades. I have all the information and equipment I need to live like Jesus and grow in wisdom and grace, but DANG if this world isn’t a totally confusing place. Life keeps throwing sharp turns and heart wrenching situations at me. Parenting is much harder and more anxiety ridden than piloting. Relationships and loving others can be a daily challenge. Every day, selfishness and pride and other embarrassing inclinations to sin distract me. I can get lost, make wrong turns and quickly get myself into trouble.

My ability to remember all the truths I have claimed in scripture gets cloudy when I spend any significant time out of the word. I forget what I have meditated on when life comes at me with challenges. I’m completely equipped, but I’m feebly forgetful.

The beautiful truth is that God knows all this about me and He never fails to lead or direct when I ask for help. He is aware of my frailty and forgetfulness. He sees all the complexity and confusion of my life and journey and it doesn’t throw Him for a second. When our current situation is one that riddles us with fear and insecurity, we need to ask for the extra help. When we don’t know which way to turn, we must turn our eyes and ears upon Jesus and stay tethered to His truth and direction. He will gently lead us every step of the way. He holds our hand through every turn and only asks us to navigate the turn immediately before us. He will direct, guide, lead and encourage until we get home.

Precious friends, call out for His help in every turn, and every step along the way. He is the tender shepherd who brings home the lost sheep. Follow His lead.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

“To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3 (ESV)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV)

 

 

 

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Busted Beams and Shattered Windows

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I woke up today in a beautiful home on the Costal Carolina beach. The wind is whipping and as it howls across the inlet, I can only imagine what a hurricane would be like here. This home has the thickest doors I have ever seen. They are as thick as my index finger is long. The house is elevated and equipped with hurricane shutters. There is a clearly defined emergency plan for when a storm hits.

I have been living in a storm that has battered me with hurricane strength winds recently. I have suffered some “busted beams” and “shattered windows”, and as the wind continues to howl around me, I have learned a lot.

I know that I get off track and often find my strength and value in relationships. Everything feels sunny and 75 when the relationships with my family and friends are healthy and whole, but when there is friction or fissures, my knees get weak and posture crumbles.

Relationships shift and building your hope on them leads to instability. Building your hope on health or wealth or kids or adventure, success or achievement is precarious too. Our only sure foundation is to build our hope on Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)

I needed to read and learn from these verses today. If I build my house or hope on anything other than the ROCK, I will crumble. The verse doesn’t say that my boards won’t buckle. It takes into account that some of my windows might get shattered. Storms rage and they leave destruction in their wake, but when the storm passes, the house with the firm foundation is still standing. I hope you will claim that with me.

To remain upright, we must build our house on the rock, but when we know the storm is coming, we also should use every resource to prepare for the monsoon. In stormy season, we need our emergency kits. We need a plan and sometimes we need to board up our windows. There is great wisdom in filling up our “gas tank”. Mine needs to be filled with scripture and hymns. I have my fire and rescue team of prayer warriors and I have had to lock the doors to some harmful and unnecessary things until the stormy season is over. God’s will for my life is not health and happiness and sunny and 75 degree-days. He is so good and He may bless me with all of those things in due season. His will for my life is my sanctification and sometimes He uses storms to sanctify. All Praise and glory belong to Him. He will hold me up. He alone will keep me from crumbling. He is my rock and my foundation.

 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NKJV)

 

“Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;

For I am poor and needy.

Preserve my life, for I am holy;

You are my God;

Save Your servant who trusts in You!

Be merciful to me, O Lord,

For I cry to You all day long.

Rejoice the soul of Your servant,

For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,

And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;

And attend to the voice of my supplications.

In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,

For You will answer me.” Psalm 86:1-7 (NKJV)

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Soul Cancer

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Today, I have found myself in a state of insecurity. I have been suffering through a season of conflict and frustration that has been going on for a few years. The build up to this turbulent time has taken decades and as the friction gained momentum, my hope and resolve have diminished. There have been ebbs and flows as far as the intensity and heartache go, but never resolution. This trial has intensified again and as I buckle up and prepare for another week, I’m angry and anxious. I have fervently prayed for something that I feel so sure must be God’s will. I have watched God answer the prayers of so many others and then watched Christian friends swoon with praises of thanksgiving to these answered prayers… But God has said “No” to mine. I really don’t get it. My prayer is unselfish and kingdom-minded. It considers the well being of others and it is full of humility and hope. Without a doubt, I would gain by a “yes” answer, but so would many others. In the period of time that I have been praying and suffering and growing through this trail, the situation has gotten worse than I could have imagined possible. I’m scared of what will happen next. The only solution to the problem will have to be divine intervention. I’m stuck and immobile and without ability or opportunity to help. By saying “no” to me and “yes” to others around me, I feel like God doesn’t care. I know that’s crazy and completely out of bounds for a Christian to say, but I just feel so abandoned by the Lord. His refusal to help translates, as “Your prayers and pain are not important to me.” I don’t want to pray about it anymore, and for the first time in my Christian life, I don’t really trust God. I trust He is powerful enough to help. I trust that He is always good, but I don’t completely trust that He loves me. I know He cannot tell a lie, and I know that He says that He loves me. I know that He died for me, but He feels so far away right now and He feels impersonal. I’m writing this today to remind myself of the truth while hoping to encourage those of you who need a douse of the truth too.

We live in a society where people don’t talk about their pain. It’s okay to ask for prayers when people are sick or traveling, but when people are dealing with shame or sin or fractured relationships, we shut up and keep it hidden. We certainly don’t express mistrust in God or the pain of feeling abandoned by Him. As alone as I feel in my spiritual sinkhole, common sense tells me that there must be others suffering an intensely emotional or spiritual soul cancer too. Mine has made me feel unworthy and stupid and the only answer that I can tell is to saturate this heartache with scripture. My emotions and situation are temporary….even though they feel eternal right now. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I can and will have to determinedly look for the Light of the World and His eternal truth.

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Why are you so far away when I groan for help? 

Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.

Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.

Yet you are holy,

enthroned on the praises of Israel.

Our ancestors trusted in you,

and you rescued them

They cried out to you and were saved.

They trusted in you and were never disgraced. Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb

and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.

I was thrust into your arms at my birth.

You have been my God from the moment I was born.

Do not stay so far from me,

for trouble is near,

and no one else can help me.” Ps 22:1-5,10,11 (NLT)

 

“Jesus Wept” John 11:35 (NLT)

“Surely He has borne our griefs

And carried our sorrows;” Isaiah 53:4a (NKJV)

 

 “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV)

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NKJV)

“ I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 (NKJV)

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)

 

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Cloud Cover

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Last night our Nelson crew ventured outside with high expectations of seeing the Blood Moon and eclipse, but our hopes were dashed by cloud cover. My husband opened his “SkyView” app and with his phone pointed toward the sky, he was able to show us exactly where the moon was hiding. If we squinted and stretched our imaginations, we believed that we could see a dim pinkish glow in that spot, but we never saw the glory of the Blood Moon.

I have seen pictures that my friends living in the west and northeast were able to capture and I have seen some amazing pictures on TV, so I know it was indeed spectacular, but Memphis was blanketed by conditions that kept us from experiencing the joy of the moon-watching party.

This morning as I opened my daily devotional, these were the verses waiting for me to meditate on:

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

The skies display his craftsmanship.” Psalm 19:1 (NLT)

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 (NLT)

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—

The moon and the stars you set in place—

What are mere mortals that you should think about them?

Human beings that you should care for them.” “Psalm 8:3-4 (NLT)

 

God’s glory is all around us and as people created in the image of God, we were designed to glorify Him and give Him praise, but so often we fail to do so. We let the clouds of selfish ambition, busyness and insecurity obscure our vision. We take our eyes off of God’s glory, because we are so obsessed with ourselves.

Many times we are so burdened by the heavy weight of trials that we just don’t feel like offering the God of Glory our sacrifice of praise. We stay inside under the roof of heartaches and physical aches and don’t even make the attempt to see the spectacular glory. We are clouded by weariness and make attempts to self-soothe with artificial light sources.

No matter what our schedule or trial or physical state, our calling remains the same. We are to get up and offer praise to the God of Glory. He made this day, and whether your day is sunny or cloudy, your call is to rejoice in it.

God’s glory is spectacular and it doesn’t change. It may be hard to see because of our circumstances, but just like that blood moon last night His Glory hovers over us.

If I had been able to climb above the cloud cover, I would have seen the moon. I know it was there. I have seen it before and I also can see from the joy of others’ testimonies that it was incredible.

Dear friends, if you are having trouble seeing God’s glory, open the word. Trust the testimonies of the saints before you who witnessed it first hand. Trust in God’s truth that He is the God of glory. He displays His glory for His name’s sake… not yours. It is His name and reputation on the line. He never fails. Look up. Praise Him under the cloud cover. He melts the clouds of sin and sadness and drives the dark of doubt away. Let Him fill you will his spectacular light.

 

“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!”

Henry Van Dyke 1907

 

 

 

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Witnesses to God’s Glory

By | Agape Love | No Comments

Hello September! I am certainly glad you are here. You have made a delightful entrance in Memphis. This first week in September, I was given the opportunity to drive around my mom’s VW convertible for the week. One starry night as I drove home from another ball game with a tired and defeated teenager in the passenger seat, I watched a supersonic mood switch transpire as we drove top-down on Walnut Grove. The surly, frustrated kiddo who was complaining over bad calls and sore muscles couldn’t help but relax as the summer air and wind messed up our hair and wafted over our faces. She laughed at me (not with me) as I sang at the top of my lungs in full view of other cars and people. The joy I had was contagious. I was captivated by the sensory overload. My eyes were open to the beauty of the bright stars and low-hanging moon. The giggle bubbles in my chest made my breathing fuller and my body more alive. I loved the sensations of heat and wind and good music and the sweetness of 15 minutes alone with a daughter that needs and loves me, and I couldn’t help but offer up my praise and thanksgiving to the One who created all of it.

As I grow up and grow in the Lord, I am growing in Thanksgiving. When we open our eyes, we are so very blessed to be Witnesses to God’s glory. It is all around us. Creation is all about the business of glorifying the Lord, and when we slow down or just open our eyes a little wider, we experience fullness.

“Did I not say unto you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NKJV)

This morning, I read this gentle correction that Jesus gave to Martha after He raised her brother, Lazarus, from the dead. Martha was the busy sister who bopped around from chore to chore. She seemed to always be rushing and always riddled with anxiety. The things Martha busied herself with were good things, but in her agenda-driven life, she lost the joy that comes from living a faith-driven life.

Jesus’s words to Martha in John 11 are just as loving and correcting and inspiring for you and for me today.

“Did I not say unto you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NKJV)

I was a child when I put my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I BELIEVED that Jesus was the Son of God and that I was a sinner. I BELIEVED that the only way my sins could be forgiven was if Jesus died for my sins and paid my penalty. I gave my life to Him and He took my heart of stone and gave me a new heart of flesh. Because I believed, I was guaranteed to one day be received into GLORY. Heaven is my inheritance and future because I BELIEVE in Jesus.

As I have grown in The Lord and in my love for Him, I live a life based on trust and faith and belief. I need the nourishment of His word. He fills me with the food of His truth. I trust Him with my kids and my marriage and the details of my life, and as I pray and release my agenda into His capable hands, I watch His GLORY unfold. I BELIEVE in His Sovereignty over everything and this BELIEF makes rejoicing in everything possible. I even was able to thank Him this morning for shaping me through a painful, lingering trial. I can see His GLORY in it and I am so thankful. Because He has opened my eyes to His Kingship and the beauty of His creation, I am seeing the GLORY OF GOD in sunrises, sunsets, surly teenagers, evening carpools college admissions, sleepless nights, silly dogs, new hobbies and so much more. When we trust and BELIEVE in Him in the day to day, we see His GLORY.

The most exciting application of this verse is all about the future GLORY! Because I BELIEVE in Jesus and have given my life to Him, when I die, I am promised to see Him in His full GLORY. I will see him face to face and be fully embraced. I really can’t imagine!!! The bubbles of joy in my chest will surely explode. The sight and sound and feel will be beyond what I am even capable of hoping for, and it is guaranteed, because I BELIEVE.

Oh dear friends, if we BELIEVE, we will see His GLORY. Thank Him for this guarantee over all our yesterdays, todays, tomorrows and for eternity.