- for Jesus - my Savior, Lord, friend and brother in the Kingdom of God
- for God just being God
- for the Holy Spirit guiding my life and never leaving me to live it alone
- for new relationships
- for genuine friends who are as close as real brothers & sisters
- for my mom
- for cherished memories
- for early workdays
- for purring kitties
- for drooly dogs and puppies that still have that puppy smell
- for babies & their first tooth
- for my senses - taste, smell, touch, hearing, etc.
- for my job - even though I don't like it
- for my truck
- for my house
- for my pool
- for bright & sunny fall/winter days
- for the first bloom in the Spring
- for cell phones that "do it all"
- for 500-count sheets
- for colors that can only be created by God and not duplicated on the computer
- for pizza
- for shoes that don't hurt
- for opportunities to do the work God has prepared for me to do
- for impromptu phone calls that light up my day
- for so much more than I can list here
- for every breath I take
But then, Angelique starts the message with - "Does anyone know what a type-A personality is? Let me show you an example," and proceeds to walk over to me! It was funny, really. She asked me a few questions, and I in true form pulled out my calendar, mp3 player, to-do notebook, journal, file of stuff to do and Bible out of my bag - because I'm always prepared with something to do. And I asked her if this was an intervention. They all laughed, but I got validation out of it of things I've already been working on lately. Slowing down.
My calendar is full - my to-do list runneth over - my house, truck, and desk are in desperate need of purging. But I've started saying 'no.' I have commitments through the end of the year - but after that - I'm not adding anything on without praying about it first. If God is truly leading me to do something, He'll definitely let me know. But in the meantime, I am looking forward to that first Saturday I can sleep in -- or take a nap in the middle of the day, or just hang out with friends without having to do any sort of work related to it. You can't build relationships when you're too busy - and I certainly am ready to get started strengthening a couple of relationships (Jesus and well, somebody) and starting new friendships. It'll be interesting to see who true friends are - if they like me for me, or like me being around because of my work.
I got stuck in traffic yesterday morning. And instead of getting bent out of shape, I just picked up my Bible and started reading John 6. I came across a couple of verses that I've overlooked a hundred times:
28) Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" 29) Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
This struck me funny. To work the works of God - believe in Him. So I asked a friend his opinion. He told me that Jesus invites us into relationship with him. Our belief and faith grows as we take the time to know Him and His character. You would not believe in someone you did not know, and to know someone takes time, effort and understanding. So true. Building a relationship can be "work."
Then today's page-a-day calendar was this:
A young Irishman, Joseph Scriven (1820-1886), was deeply in love with a young woman, and their marriage plans had been made. The night before their wedding, however, she drowned in a tragic accident. For months Scriven was bitter, in utter despair. At last he turned to Christ, and through His grace, found peace and comfort. out of this experience he wrote the familiar hymn that has brought consolation to millions..."What a friend we have in Jesus / All our sins and griefs to bear!" ... Even sorrows turn to blessings when they make us less attached to the earth and more attached to God. Then ... we discover that Jesus truly is our friend - "All our sins and griefs to bear!"
How much time do you spend cultivating a relationship with Jesus? Is He truly a friend that's closer than a brother?
What's In Your Trash Basket? Gwen Smith
Today's Truth "Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" (John 8:10 NIV)
Friend to Friend A four-year-old girl was overheard reciting the Lord's Prayer, "and forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who pass trash against us." When I first heard that story, I smiled. Then I thought of a conversation I recently had with a girlfriend.
She is a Christian friend. But though she has "emptied her trash basket" of sin before the Lord in sincere repentance, she has not emptied the trash basket of self-condemnation. Not completely. She won't allow it. She struggles deeply to let go of mistakes she made in her past. She holds the trash basket lid on tightly. To be free of that waste doesn't seem fair in her mind.
She is haunted by shame. Haunted by sins that are no longer remembered by God. Haunted by sins that have been cast as far as the east is from the west.
"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him." (Psalm 103:11-13)
These memories don't live in her past. They live in her now. They haunt her regularly like a spine-chilling horror film monster and as much as she would like to move forward in forgiveness, she just can't find the courage to scare the monster away.
In the New Testament book of John, chapter 8, we meet a woman caught in the act of adultery. The legalistic teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought her before Jesus. They publicly humiliated her in front of all the town's people, saying to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" (John 8:4-5)
Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger as they continued to question him. Finally, "He straightened up and said to them, '"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'" Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground" (John 8:7-8).
The crowd eventually thinned to nothing. The older, wiser men cleared first. Then the younger ones trickled away. When the adulterous woman and Jesus were the only ones remaining:
"Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:10-12).
My sister, do you see that our holy Lord delights to show us mercy? He does not condemn us as we deserve. Time and time again, Scripture reveals merciful pictures of forgiveness. The woman in this story was guilty when she was brought to face Jesus, but as she left His presence, her guilt was forgiven. Her trash basket was empty. When we turn to face Jesus with repentant hearts, our guilt is forgiven as well.
This account of the adulterous woman teaches us a valuable lesson about judging and condemning others. We shouldn't judge others. It's not appropriate and it's not our place. Simple as that.
Toss your trash!
But what does this lesson teach us about judging ourselves? My friend that I spoke of earlier carried around a trash basket filled with junk she threw in herself. Sure, it was accompanied by trash from other people too, but the lingering condemnation came from memories of decisions she had made, things she had done, places she had been, and brokenness she has experienced because of her own choices. In her heart, she accepts the forgiveness of Jesus, but she can't bear to forgive herself. So many women won't forgive themselves.
I've been that woman.
I know that woman.
I know that self-loathing. I've lived it. I'm not going to sit here and try to tell you that forgiving yourself is easy. It's hard--and, in a lot of ways, it should be! But I can testify that it wasn't until I prayerfully allowed the stubborn, strong, and unconditional love of Jesus to pry my fingers off the lid of my trash basket and empty the condemning contents, that I experienced true freedom and complete forgiveness.
Is there something for which you have not been able to forgive yourself?
My friend, we need to stop beating ourselves up for sins of our past. We need to stop allowing guilt and shame to chain us to unproductive living. Jesus humbled Himself by becoming human, endured an excruciating death, and then defied the grave in His resurrection so that we could be restored to a place of complete healing. Complete healing.
Second Corinthians 5:21 states that "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." If you are in Christ, the Bible says that your guilt was paid for on the cross of Calvary. Jesus carried the sins of the world on His shoulders so that you would not have to carry them on yours.
If you are holding on to unconfessed sin, the time has come for you to release your grip. God's Word promises that, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Accept His forgiveness.
None of us is perfect, just perfectly forgiven. Take your hand off the lid and allow the Lord to empty your trash basket of every condemning voice, once and for all. Embrace the freedom that
Jesus intends for you to live in.
Let's Pray Holy Father, Your mercy defies logic in my mind. I don't deserve it, and I just don't understand how You could possibly forgive me for all that I have done. Please take my trash basket and empty it. Forgive me today and help me to forgive myself, and others, so I can live freely in Your amazing grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn Recite, write, and memorize these verses: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)
Aside from some minor logistical frustrations - split crew, not enough materials - the trip was great! Would I do it again - most definitely. Although, I believe there's a new ministry in the works. I'll let you know when I know more from Bill.
Here's Joyce being Joyce!
The planks landed totally by accident - so I got the shoot before they used the wood for scaffolding again.
A couple of our little helpers at site 2.
Steve with a new little friend - a tarshier monkey, the smallest monkey in the world!
Bill overlooking the Chocolate Hills. He was deep in thought way up there, new ministry starting and missing Thomas back home.
Sunrise over the sea!