In the movies I watch, they tend to throw out the command, “Stand down!”
It’s this moment where the person in charge, usually some Captain or Corporal or Chief gives a word that calls all effort to halt. It calms the strong ambitious and unruly one wanting to push ahead with might, power and strength.
“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand Down.”
There is a Creator, a Captain and a Care-taker, who has a much higher view than we do. God sees the good ending to our present moment, far more clearly than we do. He also sees all the steps we need to take to get there.
The Captain knows, what you do not know.
Where are you prone to push ahead?
To overexert yourself – speaking a rash word, entering in when you should step out,
getting angry, rather than getting alone with God?
The commander has a word for you too: “Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.”
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. Jo. 15:9
Standing down is remaining in God’s love.
I don’t do this. Remain.
Even right now, I am thinking of all that I need to do. I am writing these words, but my heart is thinking of the house I need to rent, the kids I need to get enrolled in school and the work that I need to do today. I only have 2 weeks until school starts. I want to start working. I need to get this post written. I am a hypocrite.
“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.”
What might it look like to leave – seen stress for God’s unseen love?
To just walk away from the overwhelming nature
and let God’s overwhelming nature pacify the fears?
I can’t help but think, where God is, light is. And, where light is – clarity focuses.
Are you, like me, looking for a way to go?
Perhaps, you and I are approaching it all wrong. What if instead of flicking on every light, we stayed in the dark and waited for his light to lead?
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:3
Power is not in forging ahead, it is in standing down.
I don’t need to do, Jesus already did.
I don’t need to act great, Jesus is.
I don’t need to hide lies, for grace lies in repentance.
I don’t need to pretend I know, God knows.
I don’t need to fix, God already has the answers.
I don’t need to hide, unless it is in God’s shelter.
I don’t need to perform, the curtain closed and love won.
I don’t need to fear his leaving, God is steadfast and good.
“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.”
To stand down? It looks like this: 1. Lay it down: To give God what you’re trying to own. 2. Give it up: To step out in faith, knowing that his goodness will lead to a good result. 3. Cease-fire: To stop blaming other people, problems or circumstances.
In Christ, I rest.
Needing nothing less.
Nor nothing more.
For He is the door to my more.
He sees the battlefield.
He knows my way.
His battle is won at the end of my day.
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My story of marriage shattered and with it my childlike dream of love. But like Job, I found hope. My summertime musings turned into truth the day I invited God to take my simple dreams and make them into His beautiful reality. The key to dreaming is accepting God as the keeper and developer of the dreams.
I opened my heart and looked for Jesus in my life. I asked Him “why” questions over and over, and found my answers in Him. In the process, my dreaming didn’t stop, and in the reworking our patient God taught me this…
We nurture dreams when we feed them with hope, purpose and trust.
What begins as a fleeting thought can easily blossom into hope for the future. What looks good on paper may turn into a career that lasts for thirty years. What is broken can be made whole again.
Dreams are the visions we imagine and release to God to mold, shape and grow. When we let go, God creates amazing beauty. He makes all things beautiful!
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. Psalm 147:8-9
Many people in the church complimented me on my strength. Little did they know that behind the strong façade I was a wreck. I kept smiling. Sometimes I said that I was tired, but nothing more.
I failed three out of six courses. The Lord was gracious. I was able to get a note from counseling center which allowed me to drop off those courses. There was no fail on my transcript. I couldn’t continue the program. I dropped out.
At the time, it looked like a defeat. I left my dream of becoming an environmental specialist behind. I was not going back to finish the program. How could I when I wasn’t able to pass even the smallest lab reports. Our God is so wise. Sometimes, when the road was not meant for us, He will let us to walk until we are crushed and can’t continue down that way.
With Him are wisdom and might; to Him belong counsel and understanding Job 12:13 NASB
My dream was buried under the rubble of personal and emotional problems. I became more focused on the Lord. I became more involved with my church. My heart became settled. Read more.
Sleep has always been a thorn in my side. I am a night owl who is required to rise early, and while I meet my responsibilities that require me to rise early, falling asleep is never easy. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed early, drink tea, take sleep aids, or try relaxation techniques. Those methods help to some degree, but they aren’t enough to lull me into a relaxing full night’s sleep.
I lie there tossing and turning, counting down the hours until I will have to get up. I begin to worry not only about what I may have forgotten, but also about whether I will get enough sleep. My mind races to figure out how to ensure that I have the energy I believe will be required to accomplish what I have planned for the next day.
Anxiety takes over because I pressure myself to perfectly manipulate circumstances that are beyond my control.
Then God reminds me that I am following Him, not the other way around. Read More.
Newsflash! God doesn’t give us a certain amount of faith and hope we use it for the correct issues. He gives us faith and grace for each moment, as we need it!
Despite these truths, at times it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this. But this shows how little I know of God in comparison to how much there is to know of Him!
Honesty moment? It’s a tiny, little, teeny bit similar to how little I know about sports in relation to how much there is to know. (I mean let’s be real – I had to ask what sport the Blackhawks play. By the way, it’s hockey.)
I need to choose to understand that when God says He cares about me it includes the little things. Even things like college, jobs, internships, and friends (and learning how to make dinner without demolishing the kitchen!). He’s present in all those places, not just when I’m experiencing dramatic life change. Read more.
How Do You Break Free from Anxiety and Overcome Settling in Life?
A year ago, God asked me to do something ridiculous. He asked me to share my story; to write. He asked me to be honest, to unmask and let others know I struggled. When I struggled with anxiety, I felt shame because Christians aren’t supposed to worry. We aren’t supposed to be hopeless and feel desperate, and we aren’t supposed to quit.
Panic keeps you paused and passive.
God didn’t want me to remain muted and overlooked. He wanted me to be courageous and confident.
Me, the girl who likes to blend into the background?
Honestly, I still feel awkward.
I’m still afraid.
When you’re used to hiding, it’s hard to have confidence. I’m vowing to unmask and not withdraw this time.
“God, how can this be? The doctors said the mastectomy was necessary. I’d never dreamed I’d lose that. But I hoped after reconstruction I’d look normal.” With tears streaming down my cheeks, I stared at the pale hospital wall. “I’m only 34!” Now it had failed. What I anticipated rectifying the effects of cancer on my body, on my appearance, on me, had failed. Now the only option left was for me to gain thirty pounds and have a procedure requiring six months recovery.
I knew I’d never opt for it. I had three daughters ages 11,7, and two. I’d already lost two years with my family, stolen by cancer, no way I’d voluntarily surrender more.
“God,” I cried, shaking and sobbing alone in my hospital room, “I know You’ll redeem this. I just can’t imagine how.” I stared ahead, trying to comprehend it all. “But You will find a way somehow, some way; You’ll use this for good.”
“You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Man may judge by appearance, but I judge by the heart,” Scripture burned in my brain. “Your heart is beautiful,” His voice whispered into a mind struggling to comprehend such a concept.
I sobbed all afternoon, praying, “God help me fully trust You.” Read More.
Strength in Fragility: How To See Beyond Our Weaknesses
“God is pressing upon this season to see things from a new perspective. To recognize that although I may be fragile, who I am able to Trust in is not.”
God’s love never wanes, His strength never wavers, His comforting never ceases, and His guidance is resolute. Frailty becomes gift worthy when the weakness allows us the freedom to be our true self. This in turn allows the wonderful truths about our Lord and Savior to shine into our glass facade.
Our Lord invites us to embrace the insecurities within us and see them as stepping stones to greatness. He encourages us to believe his love is an oasis for our weakened spirit where we are able to sip his living water, revitalizing our soul and providing strength for the journey.” Read more.
10. Kim Fredrickson Author, “Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend” Twitter: @kimfredrickson
Having a terminal illness with no cure is rough to say the least. Despite such devastating news and the way my life has changed, I’ve been blessed by God’s support and the love and encouragement of family and friends. There are still blessings and things to be grateful for if you look for them.
Self-compassion (S-C) has helped me get through these tough times. When I was diagnosed with cancer, and then PF, I decided to be a good friend to myself. S-C helps me be kind and caring to myself in the ways I talk to myself, take care of myself, encourage myself, and accept the volumes of prayer and support my friends and family offer. I am committed to not turn on myself or abandon myself during these difficult times. God has not, and will not abandon me.
I know He has a purpose for PF in my life, and in the lives of others. I honestly wish I didn’t have to go through cancer or pulmonary fibrosis. I wish I would have a miraculous healing. I know God doesn’t waste any pain or hardships as I submit to Him and allow Him to use what has happened in my life for His purposes…
I googled Luke’s condition, marking the last time I’d experience peace for the next sixteen months. Hopes and dreams for my boy collapsed one by one with each account I read. When I wasn’t cluster feeding my infant, I was reading of botched surgeries and broken lives. I wasn’t sleeping and soon slipped into a dark place. Instead of enjoying my infant, our last, I found myself distancing myself from him. It hurt to love him. I’d lie him back in his crib as soon as I was done nursing him, simultaneously feeling guilty for not savoring those precious moments and knowing that lingering over him only caused more tears.
On one particularly bad night I reached out to a few of my Christian girlfriends. I was wracked with anxiety and depression and knew I could no longer do this on my own. I told them everything, Luke’s condition, my fears, our indecision, how utterly hopeless I felt. It was hard to press “Send” but also strangely freeing when I did. There is power in bringing the darkness into the light. And I was tapping into it.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46
From an Outfit of Foolishness to Duds of Discernment
I felt God near me, and the morsels of His Word were enjoyable. I had been trying to read my Bible on a regular basis. I applied the plan to read the chapter from Proverbs that corresponds with the calendar day of the month since it has 31 chapters. It helped me begin the habit of spending time regularly feeding my spirit.
Then one day I started seeing a disturbing pattern. I wasn’t quite sure, so I skimmed for confirmation. Yep. It was there.
I saw myself accurately described in the verses I read. It was staring at me from the black text printed on the thin white paper of my Bible:
I. am. a. fool.
It was one of those moments when you get to the bathroom after sitting at the restaurant table with your friends, and you look in the mirror and discover what everyone else had probably already seen. Read more.
Recently I read that many of the craftsman and artisans who built the great European cathedrals didn’t live to see them completed. They never knew the satisfaction of seeing it all come together.
The craftsmen were more than skilled laborers performing a job in exchange for a livelihood. They viewed their work as service, even worship, to God. Many of them intentionally hid some of their best work within walls, fully intending it for HIM alone.
They weren’t afraid their work wouldn’t be seen; they knew the one who truly matters did see it. He sees. The Gospels remind me that he knows if a sparrow falls. The psalmist declares:
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.” (Psalm 56:8, The Message)
The challenge is clear. How can I move from feeling invisible to doing everything with the intention of being invisible?
I needed to know that I was enough. To know that others liked me and would include me. Unfortunately, it left me looking for acceptance among people, which will always leave us wanting for more. We can never please everyone and most won’t love us unconditionally.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
I’ve always been sensitive to being left out or left behind. I’ve had my feelings hurt unnecessarily at times when I’ve made assumptions about not being included. It’s been a process of years to heal from those wounds and slowly learn about my Father’s love and my worth in his eyes.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
Today we’re saying goodbye to one of the oldest members of our family. She doesn’t wear human skin or express herself in many syllables, but she’s loved just the same.
She’s the four-legged kind. A blondie. A dear friend named Coco.
She and our other mutt brought my husband and I together thirteen years ago with their mutual love for walks and chasing furry creatures. And as they say, well, the rest is history.
Since I’m pregnant and rather hormonal the realization that our companion is dying hit me rather hard. But I believe during those hard seasons God often speaks the loudest, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.
As my husband wrapped his arms around me and my round belly this morning, I reflected,
“It’s amazing how God speaks to us through our animals.”
I’d been observing our two girls over the past couple of days. Our other dog, Zoe, knew something was up and her disposition had changed. She’d become more affectionate, more calm, wanting to be near us often.
One day I let both of them out on our back porch while I cleaned. After about a half hour, I peeked through the window. Coco laid on the doormat, like she always does, and Zoe reclined behind her, practically spooning her with her legs.
She stayed in the same position until I let them inside, only leaving Coco’s side for an occasional drink of water. It was as though she was saying, “I’m here for you, girl. It’s okay.”
But she didn’t need words to say it. Her presence was enough.
As I thought about these mutts who started our family, I realized how often I use words to fill the empty spaces of grief. Not because they’re needed, but because I think they are. I have friends and family members who are walking through difficulties much harder than a dying pet, and the silence of sadness can be awkward.
I focus on myself and my need to fill the void rather than the grieving person’s need to simply know I’m there. To know I’m not going anywhere, and that the discomfort of grief won’t keep me from loving them.
When it comes to grief, silence always speaks louder than empty words.
Sometimes a hug goes further than a platitude and a listening ear further than a trite explanation.
“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13 NIV
When we can’t mouth the words to Jesus because of the weight of our sadness, He still hears us. He’s that good of a Savior and a friend.
Job’s friends modeled the behavior of Jesus himself when he encountered those who were grieving a deep loss. If we look into the scriptures and walk through the chapter of his life where a close friend died, we see that his words were few. And even though he foresaw the miracle, he wept. (John 11:25)
Today as I run my fingers through my companion’s soft fur for the last few times and reflect on these verses, I know my love for words won’t change. I’ll keep offering them up as praise, encouragement, and a gift at the altar of the One who gave them to me.
But I pray God will give me wisdom to know when words are weak. Because even when I have nothing to say, his healing power is still strong.
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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
That place that you are desperately scared of? God has already gone there. The people you are afraid to confront? God knows your best approach.
The doctor’s appointment you can’t stand to think of? He has the answers.
The relationships that you don’t ever think can be healed? God sees the way.
The rejection you deeply fear. God knows how to take it from there.
The positive mindset you can’t seem to claim as your own. He is working on your behalf.
While today you may see all that – is not, God sees all that – will be. It doesn’t scare him. It doesn’t shock him. It doesn’t look impossible. He knows he can do it all.
He’s not one to waver, to toss and turn about whether or not to care about you. He cares because he is the completeness of care. He works, because he can do it all.
He can do it all. Do you know that?
Don’t lose hope.
Don’t back down.
Don’t lay down and give up.
Don’t see life only through your eyes.
You have a King behind you. You have the #1Ruler favoring you. You have glory around you.
The Comforter assisting you.
Don’t look at who you are, look at who He is.
Don’t see impossibility, see the inevitability that He’ll show up.
See with certainty, the soon-to-be miracle in your heart.
Walk with surety, he’ll direct you to his goodness in this land of the living.
God sees the end in sight and it is not far. All loose ends, with God, tie up in goodness. He has a vision. A hope. A work of love being worked out on your behalf. It all makes sense to God.
Declare not only these truths in word, but, believe – in your heart.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Ro. 10:9
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heartbe pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Ps. 19:14
The heart holds the difference between love that endures and love that fades after it slips off the tongue. It is the wellspring of life (Prov. 4:23).
Let your heart:
1. Be honest with God & return to God.
2. Stand on guard. Not every voice is a needed voice.
3. Be full of praise.
4. Make way for more holy.
5. Take a firm stand in belief.
6. Return to God throughout the day.
7. Hope in Christ’s love.
8. Meditate on truth.
9. Stay humble.
10. Remain open to God’s growth.
When we give God our heart, what we find is, our eyes widen – we delight in his ways (Prov. 23:26). Suddenly, we don’t only speak, but we believe, because God kindles us in his love. We step out as bright temples that representing faithfulness that never ends.
“The girl who smells” & needs to learn what deodorant is. “The girl with the budding boobs” no one else has. “The girl who can’t read” and is behind. “The girl who is selfish” and shouldn’t speak. “The girl who doesn’t really know what she is saying” and needs direction. “The girl with too loud a voice” who needs to kneel on some hard floor in front of Mary to figure things out. “The girl that is not like us.”
What has the world named you?
As I enjoyed lunch with a friend, I mentioned an old prayer partner, “She called me intense,” I said. “I am no longer offended at these crippling words,” I told her, “I am healed.
Internally, I nodded. Yes, I agreed with that. I am over it. I really am. I’ve wiped my hands clean of that word.
She looked at me and said, “Yes, you know your book is intense too.”
The thing that is coming out January 2017?
That thing I poured my heart, soul and sweat into, along with the power of 3 coffees a day?
I thought in my bed that night about it. “Intense? No one likes intense. They like funny, they like frilly and they like fanciful, but no one in their right mind like a book to be – intense. People flee from the intensity of hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis. They’ll flee me too.”
I got up from bed. I dictionary.com’d it:
1. acute, strong, or vehement, as sensations, feelings, or emotions: intense anger. 2. of an extreme kind; very great, as in strength, keenness, severity
I was “this”? The kids started mocking again.
I wanted to hate the book in that moment. I wanted to rip it up and speak “loser” over it with loud and forceful declarations – heck, with intensity, with severity and vehement force! I wanted to get all mean all over it.
Do you hate who you are too?
The uncommon, unusable and unrepairable things about you?
But, what if?
What if rather than hiding,
we zipped off people’s demands
to see us, as we are, how God made us?
I considered this, with the help of some wise counselors.
The world has funny,
but could the world need intensity?
Might God want to create an acute force
that reverberates Jesus?
Do severe times call for more solid
and straightforward messages?
My husband reframed the words spoken over me. “Kelly, you are bold,” he said.
What if, rather than fearing what others hate,
I unleashed the raw potential of who God made me to be?
What if you did too?
Imagine what all of us, fully believing in God’s good, could do.
Imagine where we could go, if we no longer held back.
Imagine the face of this world, with people unafraid to step into God’s purpose.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Each unique characteristic has a unique purpose on the board game of God’s master plan.
What if we believed that?
What if we let go of fear? And made our darkness bright.
What if we shared God’s good in us? And found we were the missing piece.
What if we stepped in? And Jesus’ power exploded.
What if we’ve been missing out?
When we hold back our true-self, we hold back Christ.
We show a limping Christianity, yet, Jesus wants to show a thriving one. One where He walks on out into the world, not limping, but striding in trust, light and hope.
When we reach into the deep and hate what we see, we embrace the world’s hate for anything that looks different from its likeness. Yet, when we reach into our deep and believe, with God, “It is good (Gen. 1:31),” something shifts. Something unhooks – and peace falls.
Might God be calling you to unhook the lies?
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Ps. 139:19
Might you see yourself differently? Known? Loved? Knit as you are for good reason?
Perhaps today, you see yourself reframed and renamed – as His.
A new creation, his original masterpiece, unlike anything else.
An image flowing, moving and working, much like the image of Christ.
I am delighted to welcome Deanna Fields. God has put a message on her heart that we all need to hear. Her words remind me to press into all that God has for me. Thank you Deanna for joining us for Ministry Monday.
Post by: Deanna Fields
In Disney’s newest Cinderella movie, there’s a scene where Ella’s dying mother shares a secret with her daughter, “Have courage.” Ella’s mother knew it would be difficult for her to grow up without a mother and that she would need courage. In the same manner, our Heavenly Father has been whispering this same secret to us throughout time. Now if we’re honest, I think that most of us would confess that we struggle with fear…having no courage. I know I have!
Many years ago I struggled with fear in many areas. Our church had launched the first of many short-term mission trips. It didn’t cross my mind that God would want me to be a part of one of those teams, but while talking with my husband he asked if I was planning to go and I said, “NO…but I haven’t really prayed about it.”
The instant I spoke those words, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon me to pray. The next day, I went to the prayer room and the whole time I was thinking “Lord, I really don’t feel like you’re calling me to this, but if you are please be specific with me. Ireland…it’s really pretty there, and I love working with children. Israel…hmmm, that’s kind of scary, but whatever you want Lord.”
Boy was I surprised when my Bible opened to Matthew 10:5-6, which basically says “Do not go in the way of the gentiles, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Really God?
Fear gripped me. The next few weeks the Lord continued to send confirmation and I really couldn’t run from Him anymore. So back to the prayer room with all my excuses. “We don’t have the money…My kids are too young and I can’t be gone that long…I’m so busy with the ministry YOU gave me…I’m afraid to fly…It’s scary over in that part of the world! Basically, I was begging God to change His mind. Again I was blown away when my Bible landed on Luke 1:11-13, which basically says…
“then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said
‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard….’”
God had heard my prayer. He knew I was afraid and guess what…He still wanted me to go to Israel. My husband and I didn’t understand why, but we knew we had to face our fears and walk in obedience. Then something amazing happened! With the help of the Holy Spirit, we stepped over that fear, and later released our family into 16 other short-term trips and two study abroad trips. God dealt with that fear in us…but it was a battle for me!
We ALL must continually seek to be a people
who walk in the courage of God.
God wants to impart His courage to us.
How do I know this?
In 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, Paul prays a blessing that says, “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
If you take a look at the focal point of these verses, which is the word encourage, you can find the intent of this prayer. The actual meaning of the word in this instance is deeper than the meaning of comfort (which is what we think of when we hear the word encourage). In this instance, this is like God giving us Himself, His Holy Spirit, so we can actually walk out courage in our lives.
Courage is a constant theme throughout scripture where the Lord continually encourages His people with phrases like “fear not” “have courage” and “do not be afraid.” We need a constant reminder that God is in control of our life, and we CAN do all things with Him and through Him!
What areas do you need courage to say yes to God?
Don’t allow the enemy to intimidate you into doubt and fear. You will miss experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit by trying to live a safe and comfortable life!
So today I’m planning to lead a women’s retreat to Cambodia next summer…and I’m excited! This is a new adventure for me. We are travelling to a place where the culture is extremely different from ours, and the treatment of women can be oppressive in many instances. The harsh reality is that I won’t understand what these women have experienced or how they feel. I really don’t have a clue of what’s in store, but I know that God has prepared the way. So I can walk with courage, not fear, into this incredible opportunity.
DeAnna Fields has been the Women’s Ministry Pastor at Beltway Park Church in Abilene, Texas for almost 16 years. She loves women of all ages, and works to connect the generations at her church. She and her husband, Doug, have been married for 30 years, and are blessed with three daughters. DeAnna graduated from Texas Tech University in 1984 with a BBA Marketing degree, and is amazed that the Lord wastes nothing she learned in that environment to reach out to the women in her church and community. It is her passion to encourage women of ALL ages to seek the Lord in every area of their life and understand that we serve a God of resurrection power and healing.
I bit into a nectarine. It was straight from the rural farms of deliciousness. As I bit down, sweetness with undertones of sour exploded. Frankly, it tasted like heaven. I stared, turned it over and over again in my hands and asked, “How could this be? What produces something like this?”
It both looked and tasted like a sunset in my mouth.
Fruit is fruit, but rare is it that it tastes good. Rarely, does it make you want a second and third helping. Rarely, does it leave you holding it, staring it and wondering how something could actually – do that!
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…” Jo. 15:16
If I am supposed to be bearing fruit, does it taste like this?
Like love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23)?
Or am I producing a watered down and unripened variety?
People should taste heaven when they encounter me.
They should stand back to consider the power of God – in me – because God stands out – through me.
What I fear, though, is I try to be like everyone else. I fit a mold of Christianity. I hinder God from making me unique. I fear being too great, vocal or in love with Christ. I fear being too much. Do you?
Then, I end up as the ordinary garden variety of grocery chain fruit; I taste average.
Bor-ing… Blah…. Been there done that… It tastes a little lukewarm. Jesus regurgitates those types (Rev. 3:16). I don’t want to be that, I want to be so jaw-dropping, so succulent people have to step back to consider who could produce this. Imagine that?! Where all people want – is more. More Jesus. More love. More Spirit.
Where they walk on up and say, “Give me some of that!”
I want to hand out “…fruit that will last…” Jo. 15:16 I want to hand out fruit that unites people at a table of love.
I want to hand out fruit with seeds to bear more fruit. I want people to ask how something like this could happen.
That is what I did. I searched online to see how good fruit is produced. I found practical tips to growing good fruit. But, what grew under each of these practical tips, were God-tips. Tips that would instruct me on how to be flavorful and full of God’s life-changing juice.
Tips to Growing Good Fruit*:
1. Place them in direct sun. Get in the light of God’s word. Let it grow you.
2. Make sure they have shelter from high winds. Dwell in safe places:Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:1
3. Add compost or manure to the soil. Pray that your heart is open to change and you’ll have the courage to endure as he does.
4. Give them support, netting or canes. Lean up against God:“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mt. 11:28
5. Cut off the top of the plants. Let God shape you, even when it hurts: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Jo. 15:2
Simply said: Let God water you straight into delicious. Then, the world will take a bite and fight to know how God makes something that good. They will hear, and peace will reign. Your fruit will produce fruit.
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Marcia Kuyper is joining us today for Women’s Ministry Monday and, boy, am I delighted about it. Her words struck a chord with my heart. They are both encouraging and thought-provoking. I am confident they will bless you as much as they did me. Enjoy!
Post by: Marcia Kuyper
I could see he was annoyed with me.
My husband Tom set our vitamins out on the counter, and I, knowing a better system, “politely” questioned his arrangement.
The tension was subtle, but I was keenly aware of his frustration with me. It makes me mad when he gets annoyed with me. I was thinking, “What right does he have to be irritated with me, after the way he hurt me?”
I say out loud, “You are so bugged with me.”
My conflict avoiding husband gave it to me straight. He courageously began to tell me about the way I affect him. I knew he was talking about more than the arrangement of vitamins. He was talking about our life together.
I didn’t want it to be about me.
I looked down at my Bible, which was open to Luke, and I paused, asking Jesus to help me have ears to hear. “Lord, help me listen, truly listen. Help me listen for what’s being said beneath the words. Let me listen the way you listen… love the way you love… lay down my life the way you laid down your life.”
I looked at the words before me in Luke 7:36-50…
“And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”
And I hear it loud and clear…
“Marcia, I have something to say to you.” I pause…ask again for His help in my listening, and then I reply,
“Say it Teacher.”
I’ve read this so many times. I get the meaning of these words, but this time, His message hits home in a more personal way.
To love the way Jesus loves,
I must receive all the love and forgiveness He offers.
I must let the blood of the Lamb cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness, which includes my SELF-righteousness.
I’m listening, so He gently shows me that I am the pharisee in this story.
I realized I was saying : “I would never do that.”
I didn’t say it out loud, but in my heart, I was saying, “I would never do that.”
It’s pride.I hold on to a small sense of superiority, and that is what comes out when pressed.
Tom was courageously being more direct and bold, because he loves me and values our relationship. I was tempted to react in a self-protective way, turning the fault back on him, but this time, by God’s grace, I was able to have ears to hear what He wanted to teach me. I am learning that, until I own my part, until I own my sin – my inability to come under him, my resistance to letting him lead me, to learn from him, to listen without pushing my words – we will only get so far.
Is there something God wants to say to you?
With Jesus as our teacher and guide, like the woman in Luke 7:36-50, we have the opportunity to let Jesus love us fully by giving Him access into every corner of our lives. Even the things we don’t speak out loud. It is here, in this place of admission and confession, where we experience His loving forgiveness and respond with extravagant gratefulness, just like this exposed woman did.
She, the woman, poured out her most costly possession (perfume), He poured out His blood for our redemption. As I wrestled with Jesus over my unforgiveness, He helped me identify and spill out my pride, which released in me an outpouring of love and forgiveness for Tom. What might your spontaneous outpouring of gratitude look like?
May you receive His love and forgiveness today in a way that overflows in love, forgiveness and gratitude.
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About Marcia Kuyper
Marcia Kuyper is the Women’s Ministries director at Open Door Fellowship Church in Phoenix Arizona. She leads Bible studies and Retreats, counsels couples and women in marriage and family and has a deep passion for God’s Word and His people
Marcia teaches with her husband at the A Time for Us Marriage retreats and Marriage preparation classes for engaged couples. She also shepherds and teaches a class for young marrieds and singles called C’est La Vie.
Marcia is a wife to Tom, mom of four, and grandma to seven, soon to be eight…
She spends a lot of time… planning vacations. 🙂 She loves reading… (Favorite authors: Oswald Chambers, Henri Nouwen, Elizabeth Goudge… too many to list.) the beach, snow skiing…
Raised in a Jewish family, Marcia came to know Jesus as Savior in high school. She is so deeply grateful that Jesus pursues her and never stops loving her.
I stood in front of the mirror, deciding I looked great. You women know how those body slimming mirrors work in dimly lit dressing rooms…you’re all ten pounds lighter and skin tones more brilliant. Then you get home.
I pulled the white dress out of the bag. The zipper wouldn’t move. It was getting stuck somewhere between fat and fabric.
My face sank. Yank! Soon enough, I looked like a beet.
Things were tightening in around me; I called in the troops. Husband wasn’t strong enough.
I pressed him to press on.
“We don’t give up on these types of things, I assured him. This is far too important to call it quits.”
He didn’t quit. He’s not that type. It zipped.
And as everything pulled together, I looked in my mirror, to see if it could possibly be as good as I remembered.
Wait, what is that? Those little dots?
Somehow, what resembled spattered pizza grease made my brand new white dress look tainted. I shrugged and figured hair could cover it well enough. I left for church, stained. Toddler son caught a glimpse, sealing the whole experience, and asked, “Mommy, are you getting married today? Is that your wedding dress?”
Beloved at Church
My hair was doing its job. My mouth was singing praises. Things were alright, especially since I wasn’t expecting much on this off-to-a-rocky-start day. God has other thoughts – thoughts unlike mine. Ones that work despite half-kept appearances, plummeting feelings and flawed days.
He whispered, “Kelly, you are my bride.”
I wanted to laugh. Argue even. I hardly was… Didn’t God see what I was wearing?
I sat. Pastor got up. He was going to be talking about women’s roles in the church. I held onto my seat. This kind of message can go anywhere; I wasn’t sure where we were headed.
Pastor Mark Henry said:
1. Husband is to love me like “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Eph. 5:25 (Tall order there!!!)
2. I am to “honor husband and lovingly respond to his leadership and care.” (Vente latte order here!!!)
3. This is a picture of intimate love. It is also is a picture of Jesus relating to Father God.
Something rocked me, the bride. I thought, “Yes. Just think, we gawk, ooh and ahh over that one moment. The moment Jesus requested, relied and relinquished his rights, by saying: ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42)
Jesus trusted Father.
And, Jesus followed Father, no matter the cost.
Through this, we see a unified and magnified triune.
We see, as onlookers, the presence of all peace move in tandem with God’s intended purpose.
It saves. Testifies. Redeems.
Do I let it work on my behalf?
The thought occurs to me: to feel like the bride of Christ, I must humbly accept the blessings that correspond with lowliness and selflessness.
The Aisle of Clarity
I must allow in, what the world and my controlling personality stifle.
I must let my husband love me by leading me, not because he will do it perfectly, but because God will love me perfectly – as I do it.
I must give Christ the chance to make my stained dress white, clean and sparkling. He often does this through man.
I must receive what is love, even if it looks different than my rigid definitions of it.
I must avoid rushing in, questioning paths and offering advice to my husband so that space and grace can make room for Jesus Christ to walk in and love me.
I must avoid blocking love so I don’t feel like a dirty and deserted bride on her wedding day.
This won’t be easy, but it will be easier when I remember:
I am beloved.
I am cared for.
I am adored.
All man is faulted. God is not. His love works past man’s worst or best efforts.
Will I give – faith in God’s plan – a chance to work for me? Will you?
To bend so low that only a knight in shining God could rescue in the gap of defenselessness***?
What might it look like for you to run into God’s arms of refuge – to find yourself loved – as bride?
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***Side note: This type of humble bowing is not done in a way where, we women, justify slaps or abuse. It is also not intended to tell us to go against the Word of God in blatant disregard. If, however, you find yourself in this place, you are not alone. You have a liberator and a door. He will help you. He will love you with compassion and gentle leading. Please consider wise counsel. Contact your church or a therapist for help. My prayers and heart are with you. Please remember, you are no less bride than I am. May your wise steps lead you to feeling this in your heart as you proceed forward.
I was checking to see how many Twitter followers I had. It was just a few seconds of distraction, a few seconds of indulgence, but seconds that cost me so much.
I glanced around the room for my 1-year-old daughter. She was nowhere to be found. I called her name. Nothing. I furiously looked around the room. Nowhere. My heart skipped a beat. Anxiety welled up in my chest. There are so many things that can happen in just seconds. My mind raced. The possibilities overwhelmed me.
Then I heard it—a thump, thump, thump. My worst nightmare was becoming a reality. Something was happening to my baby. I heard her falling and ran as quickly as I could muster to the most dangerous spot in the house—our stairs. I saw her at the bottom, crying. My heart broke.
My distraction led to this infraction.
My preoccupation created a situation.
My online enjoyment led to her torment.
How do you find that what you seek online—pleasure, satisfaction, fun—leads you away from God and others? What we do in a matter of a few seconds can have long-lasting repercussions. What makes us feel good or accepted can make others feel the exact opposite: denied and rejected.
As I hugged my crying baby girl, I realized, it was time to turn away from Google and Facebook to think about how I was impacting others. It was time I look at what and where I invest my heart.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
“Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart” (Psalm 26:2).
God, what do you want to show me about my heart?
I was DISTRACTED.
I was distracted from the presence, the place where God shows off. Usually, I love to see my daughter’s new milestones, but, this time, I didn’t get to see her climb those stairs. I missed that moment.
When we immerse ourselves in a screen, we miss the in between.
I sought AMUSEMENT above all.
“Entertain me! Delight me! Consume me!” That is what I say so often to my screen. Give me a moment of joy in a world that aggravates me.
God speaks differently, to me it sounds something like: amusement comes and amusement goes, but my love remains forever.
“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5 NIV).
I wanted my FAME above his.
Read my posts. Like me. Favorite me. Retweet me. See me. Accept me. Do you notice the theme? Me. Me. Me.
When we focus on self, God goes on a shelf.
“LORD, I have heardof your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NIV).
What desires does your heart seek? They extend far beyond a screen, I assure you.
“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:9 NLT).
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