Uncovering the beauty

Pr. 21:9:  “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  Pr. 21:19:  “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

The truth is that it’s better to dwell in those places than with anyone that’s angry and contentious (likely to cause an argument).  Relationships are hard enough without having someone always looking for a fight.

 

muddycoupleI was walking in the woods behind our house today and found this little figurine.  I couldn’t believe how applicable it was to real life.  Sometimes our relationships can resemble this…soiled, muddy, polluted, and defiled.  During those times, it can be hard to see through the muck to even imagine something that could possibly look better.

 

couplewipedoff

 

But I chose to wipe off the figurine, and do you see what I saw?  They were still holding hands.  With just a bit of effort, I was able to uncover the fact, that underneath it all, they were still connected.  Do you believe that’s true for our relationships?  I do.  Underneath all the mess, there are 2 people that were once connected, and with just a bit of effort, the fact that there is still a connection becomes visible.

 

 

allcleanedupInspired by what I saw, I took the figurine inside and cleansed it with some soap and water, and a bit of bleach.  The cleansing revealed a couple with a few scars, but look at their faces.  They look happy and content again…renewed and ready for a new life.

 

 

 

Sometimes, deciding to work diligently to wipe off all the offenses and grime to uncover a renewed relationship can be rough and it can definitely sting.  (Just as if being cleansed with bleach)  But it’s so worth it.  Those scars just make us stronger, and more able to testify to the Lord’s mercy and miracles.  Just like this figurine, there can be new life waiting underneath; we just have to be willing to uncover it.

I couldn’t tell you how long this figurine was buried in the mud.  It was pretty deep in there, and even under some other trash.  But that just proves that no matter how long our relationships have been in the mire, with just a bit of interest and care something beautiful can be revealed.

And the most beautiful part for us is that God is faithful to stand with us during the process.

Get out that scrub brush!

jamie

Stop the flow while there’s time

Pr. 17:14:  “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.”

Can anyone attest to the truth of this!?

22 years ago today, my best friend died in a car wreck.  It was one of the most devastating days of my life.  It wasn’t just because she was gone.  Adding to that grief was the fact that at the time that she died, we had been fighting for several weeks.  Now she was gone and I’d never get a chance to change that fact.

The moment I found out she was gone, none of the issues we’d been fighting about mattered.  All I wanted was her.  I wanted to go back and tell her I was sorry, that it wasn’t really important, and hug her tight.  The fact that I couldn’t, the fact that I had been so stubborn and unforgiving, was something I would have to work through for a long time.

My sage advice today is to let it go.  If, in the next moment, the person you’re striving with was gone, would it really matter?  Before it gets worse, choose to put a stop to it.  You never know if you’ll get another moment to show love.

Experienced,

jamie

 

A story of integrity

Pr. 11:3:  “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.”

The word that piqued my interest in this verse this morning was ‘guide.’  I find it interesting that the thing that will guide us is integrity.  It’s not just recommended or a good idea, integrity will guide us.

Have you ever thought about that before?  Have you ever thought, “If I want some guidance today, I will start with integrity!”?  I sure haven’t.

When we’re making plans and decisions; however, if you really think about it, integrity does determine which path we choose to take.

Ok, here’s an example:  There are days when I’d love to nothing but sit on the couch and read all day.  Seriously, all day.  My integrity; however, will not allow me to do that because I have responsibilities in my home.  My integrity drives me to keep up my end of things and do my work.  So, I take an allotted amount of time to read, and then I move on to my other tasks.

Let’s look at the other side of this verse:  the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.  We can probably all give examples of this.  Lying sets us up to be found out and to lose others’ trust.  Cheating and stealing can get us punished in all kinds of ways.  Constant excuses render us unreliable.  Unforgiveness and lack of mercy clothe us in bitterness and anger that affects all of our relationships.  A consistent track record of these kind of things causes our character, and sometimes our quality of life, to be destroyed.

2 Cor. 3:3 talks about being an epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God.  Our lives are a story.  If we allow integrity and the Holy Spirit to guide us, then our story points to Christ and His love.  We don’t have to declare ourselves as good people, as honest and faithful, or even as Christians.  Our actions tell that story for us.

If perversity guides us, we are telling a much different story, and no matter what we think, that truth and destruction cannot be hidden.  It is there for all to see.

So today, we need to look to integrity to help us determine what choices we will make.  If integrity is our guide, our actions will reflect it.

Seek out that guide today,

jamie

 

How can I save those I love?

Pr. 24:11:  “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.”

I have not been able to shake this verse since I read it yesterday.  My heart breaks when I think of people I know and love who are stumbling towards the slaughter.  Some are walking there willingly, and others are being deceived.  I want nothing more than to grab them in an embrace and lead them to the Lord.  But what can I really do?  I can’t make up people’s minds for them.  I cannot convince them with smooth words, or even stop them with my insistence.  How can I deliver them?   How can I hold them back?

The fact is, I can’t.  This is where I have to pray and trust that God will be able to get hold of them, to deliver them and hold them back.  Maybe God can use me in some way, but the truth of the matter is, it is between them and God.

Genesis 3:4 is where the serpent convinced Eve to sin against God.  “…in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Satan is still using this same tactic–telling us we will get something from the sin.

“You will know what it’s like to really feel loved.”  “You will finally have peace.”  “You will get what you’ve deserved for so long.”  “Your pain will finally go away.”  “No one will ever know.”

This is how he leads people to the slaughter.  His empty promises that are actually lies in disguise.  1 Timothy 4:2 tells us that our own consciences can become seared with a hot iron.  When that happens, we no longer view sin as sin.  It becomes a right to which we cling.  Our lives become about us, our wants, and our desires.  Our lives become about what we deserve…just as Eve ‘deserved’ to have her eyes open to know good and evil in just the same way that God did.

The truth is that it is God’s will for us on this earth is to tell people about His kingdom.  We can find this truth in His Word.  When the focus of our lives is only our own will, then we have departed from God.  God has and is all that we need, and more.  All the things satan promises, are things that only God provides.  Satan has wanted to be like God from the beginning, so he tries to promise what only God can give, but his path only leads to pain, destruction, and death.

Knowing this, my heart breaks that people I love are being led to the slaughter.  Oh, how I long to open their eyes!  God, please open their eyes.  Holy Spirit, please bring back to their remembrance the truth of Your Word.  Lead them away from death, and hold them back from the slaughter, dear Lord, I pray.  In Jesus’ saving name, Amen.  

Trusting,

jamie

Pure from sin

Pr. 20:9:  “Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

I’ve been reading all week about the grace that comes from God, through Christ Jesus.  Unfortunately, not one of us can be pure through our own works.

(Well, honestly I’m not convinced that is so unfortunate.  As imperfect and inconsistent as I am, I am thankful that my purity from sin is not up to me.  I have a Savior who loves me so much that He took that responsibility upon Himself.)

Sin was brought into the world in the Garden of Eden.  It has been here ever since; so, we were born unclean and sinful into an unclean and sinful world.

Thankfully, the Lord saw fit to make a way for us to be cleansed, forgiven, and justified.  It is through Jesus that we are given salvation. 1 Cor. 1:4-9 talks about the grace we were given, and goes on to say that we are enriched in everything by Him.

Through Jesus, our past has been forgiven, our present is covered by his grace, and our future is in His faithful and merciful hands.  What more could we possibly need?  What a gift we have all been given!

Let’s quit trying to earn more grace and forgiveness and praise the One who has already given it all!

Turning our eyes upon Jesus,

jamie

Not to fear

But now, this is what the Lord says–He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel:  ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;…Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west…’. Is. 43:1-3, 5

“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Is. 43:18-19

Go forth, with Him!

jamie

On loving instruction…

Pr. 12:1:  “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”

Stupid is considered a ‘bad word’ in our house, but here it is, right in my Bible.  I’m just typing what it says.

It seems I’ve been reading the words of instruction in Proverbs so intently that I have caused damage to my Bible.  This page, and a chunk of others have come loose from the binding of my Bible.  When I was reading these words this morning, I was holding just the pages in my hand.

Although, it was shocking when they first came out, I take it as a sign that I have not hated correction.  I have been reading these instructions enough to have worn the pages right out of the book.  That’s got to be a good thing, right?

Now, let me admit that I don’t really always love correction.  I absolutely love to learn, but correction can sting.  I guess, like these pages, it pulls something out of me that maybe I’m a bit unwilling to give up.  Or maybe it’s just pride.

I don’t want to be considered stupid.  (Gasp!  I typed it again.)  I want to learn more and to grow more mature.  I want God to teach me what is best and good for my life.  I want to pull as much instruction out of His Word as I can.  Even if I am literally pulling out the pages from use.

God gives us instruction for our good.  He also gives it so that we can pass it on to others.  We owe it to those around us who aren’t “in the know” to pull out as much as we can, so that we can pass it along to them.  God has enough for us all!

Being instructed,

jamie