Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Oh the irony…

Yesterday the post you may or may not have read was first typed as an email to my Thursday people…the original group that this whole blog thing grew out of.

And while I proofread the dickens out of those emails, invariably I note a mistake…

AFTER…I hit send.

I can correct it on the post here…but alas…the email version lives ever on in it’s uncorrected condition.

And yesterday I left out a most important word.

In the passage of Scripture from Acts…the email version read like this:

From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

God did this so that they would Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.   Acts 16: 26-27

Can you guess the missing word?

I know…it’s Friday…let me help you out….

God did THIS…put us in the times and places that we live in…so that ….we would….

SEEK Him

Seek is the word that is missing.

And I was kicking myself all the way to this morning that I left that one word out…not a little insignificant “at” or “than”…but no…the most important one.

The whole point of the passage.

But as I have mulled it over, I decided maybe God just wanted to let me have an opportunity to add a PS….

Because we need to remember.

What we seek after…we will find.

I tried to impress on our kiddos when they left for college…

you will find the group of friends and the activities you participate in that you SEEK for.

What you are looking for, you will find.

That can be good or that can be bad.

But it’s a sure thing.

What you seek after…that is what you will find.

What are you seeking after today?

A name for yourself?

Success?

Money?

Acceptance?

Notoriety?

Entertainment?

Self-indulgence?

Revenge?

Justice?

Pleasure?

or the God who put you right where you are, just the way you are….

so that…

you would…

SEEK HIM…

and…

REACH OUT TO HIM…

and…

FIND HIM <3

As I have pondered my omission of that little word “seek”…I have been convicted of some things I have been finding lately that are most assuredly the direct result of what I was looking for…

they do not produce the fruit that is becoming of one who has determined to seek her God first and foremost.

I pray if this has touched a nerve today, you would stop and seek His forgiveness and restoration so you and I can move along, unhindered by the weight of it as we….

journey onward <3

The hidden value of hiding the Word in your heart <3

At the Saturday evening service our pastor shared a bookmark style paper that was in our bulletins.

It had a variety of keywords in various fonts and then a Scripture passage noted under each theme word.

He shared that these were some of the portions of God’s Word that he had memorized long ago and were go-to’s for him in navigating life over the years.

As often happens for those of us who stand up in front of a group of people with prepared teachings…God did what He loves to do to expose us as a the real deal in front of the people we are trying to reach.

The Holy Spirit decided to stretch this dear man in front of multiple pairs of eyes and push him out on a limb where all pretense must fall away and the rubber meets the road…and Wayne decided to recite the verses.

And I loved it.

Because he didn’t say them word for word from any known version or translation of the Bible.

He said them from his heart.

The gist and meat of them.

The heart of the Word of God that was written on his own human heart.

Oh, the original and nicely ordered words had been impressed on his brain and recorded in his memory over the years.

But the Spirit of God breathed into those words has marked and changed and shaped who he is…

and that is what flowed out to us.

And that is why, my friends…

we must read…

meditate…

memorize…

God’s Word.

So that it is etched into the fiber of our being.

Molding us…

shaping us…

transforming us.

We do not have to worry that we can spout off to perfection the written word of God.

If we will do the discipline of study and memorization, God will take His finger and He will engrave His truth on our very being.

And the life we live will provide an authentic background for the Word-shaped words that we speak.

God bless you all today.

Get in the Word and get the Word into your heart  <3

Hello Monday <3

We did some yard work this weekend and by yard work, I mean I learned first hand about the thorny work of trimming roses back…

Among the  many thoughts that filled my mind as I attempted, unsuccessfully, to avoid bodily harm were:

<3 Sin, the Fall of Man, and how roses in heaven will not have thorns. Can I get a Hallelujah????

<3 A comparison of how painful one tiny jab of one of those nasty things was compared to a crown of them pressed down on the head of Jesus and how thankful I am for what He endured.

<3 That most people probably just trim their roses without making a life sermon out of it…

and…

<3 How thankful I am I only have to do this once a year.

or once a lifetime if I have these beasts permanently removed from the yard.

Just kidding.

I won’t … but the thought kept me going.

So all that being said, I sat in church yesterday with several scrapes on my forearms, a sore finger and a couple of slices on my ankles that looked like a bad encounter with a mean cat.

And then we did a different version of the Lord’s Prayer and while I stumbled through most of it trying to read the new version while reciting the old in my head…

(trust me, it isn’t easy having this kind of brain to live with because I can overanalyze a sneeze)…

these words caught my thorn-weary heart…

“Forgive us as we forgive those who owe us something”

or as my mind and soul heard it…

Lord, forgive me…

in the same way…

that I forgive..

those people who I feel…

owe me something.

And the Lord worked on my heart there in the quiet of the moment.

Because I saw the capacity of unforgiveness in a different way, even though God’s Word and many a good sermon and teaching have tried to help me see it for what it is.

I realized there are some people that I feel “owe me”…

maybe it’s an apology I am waiting for…

or a thank you…

or a recognition that I was right and they misjudged me.

Maybe it’s to somehow restore something they took from me…my time or my resources, a piece of my heart.

Maybe their choices have now put ugly scars on some of my sweetest moments from the past.

And by golly…they OWE me something to make up for it.

But then I think about what Jesus was telling me in the prayer He taught His disciples.

And all the times I have taken what wasn’t mine and squandered gifts.

All the times I messed up and caused pain.

All the times I clearly saw right from wrong and chose wrong.

All the times I was too busy having fun to even notice I was making a choice.

All the times I was ignorant of what I was doing and yet caused damage to others and to the Kingdom.

And if my being forgiven what I owe depends on my ability to forgive what others owe…ouch.

Such knowledge is a deep thorn cut to the soul for sure.

But it isn’t what convicts my heart of the sin of unforgiveness that I am so prone to commit.

It is the gratitude of the debt that was paid…

FOR ME…

BY HIM…

for what I owed.

This…

remembering the price paid for my sorry soul…

is what finally breaks the hard places in me that are waiting to be repaid.

My chains are gone…

I’ve been set free…

My God…My Savior…

has ransomed me…

His mercy….

His MERCY and GRACE….

not only RAIN…refresh…renew….revitalize me

they REIGN…RULE…are SOVEREIGN

 over

me <3

 

 

 

 

A few things to end the week

So this morning I am finding myself singing the old John Denver song….Hey it’s Good to be Back Home Again..sometimes this old house feels like a long lost friend, so hey it’s good…to be back home again.

And you can thank me later if those lines rattle around in your head.  All. Day.

I spent time with the band of brothers yesterday.

After dinner,  I helped Rachel with their baths.

Graham unloaded his day for her in snippets of information that I had already heard.

I watched and listened as she processed the good, the bad and the ugly.

As I bathed Emmett, she was drying Graham off when he shared some choice words from one of his classmates that climaxed with some sort of reference to Graham having mosquitos in his underpants.

While we can chuckle at such in light of all the garbage he is still spared from being exposed to, you can imagine his tired mommy trying to use this for a teachable moment.

Rachel commented that this fellow wasn’t using nice words and seemed to be making poor choices.

When Graham wanted to know what action to take should this happen tomorrow, she did the hard thing.

The right thing.

She reminded him what Jesus said about loving our enemies and praying for those who are mean to us, and how He forgave those who nailed Him to the cross.

I may have bowed my head and thanked God for the blessing of overhearing this whole conversation.

I may have thanked Him to be reminded in a tender way that where evil abounds….grace abounds more.

And more.

And even more <3

May the Lord bless you today with no one making any kind of derogatory comment about your underpants …. but if they do… remember….

Jesus, the One you and I follow….

said….

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’

and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’

I’m challenging that.

I’m telling you to love your enemies.

Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer,

for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.

Matthew 5:44-46 The MSG

The value of study

We are so blessed to live in a time where there is an abundance of study materials to help us dig into God’s Word.

Currently our church is doing a rather length and detailed study of the book of Matthew and to help us get more out of it, they are offering a study guide prepared for small groups but openly made available for individuals, families, couples or friends to work through together (info at end of this for those interested).

I did this week’s sermon follow up in my quiet time this morning.

The opening question got me thinking…

What is one of your favorite books and why? (Sunday School answer was eliminated by prefacing “…besides the Bible..”   <insert grin>

I know the answer that pops up just about every time I am asked this question…

and it is…

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

It is a book I read as a child and have read again as an adult and the wonderful way the words created images on the pages transported me into that world and impacted me so that the details are etched on my memory.

At the end of the book, a lost little boy who has become completely absorbed with evil and has evolved into an entirely unlovable stranger is found by his sister…

who chooses to look beyond what he has become and pours out love on him, choosing to look past this stranger and see the little brother she loved down deep in her heart.

Spoiler alert…

It works.

Which brings me to our study of Matthew….

because it is not just a story someone made up…

but a factual, actual, historical documentation of an even more dramatic rescue mission.

Where God fulfilled His plan from the beginning to love us back from the most unlovable and darkest places of earth and Hell….

through His Son…

Jesus Christ.

If you would like to study Matthew with us…the sermons are available on the FCC website

//www.firstdecatur.org

The study guides are also available on the website under the “Grow Together” and then select the “Small groups” option.

Or you can get texts of the study guide by entering  text message FIRSTDECATUR to the number 245-87

So…

would love to sit down with you today…

ask you what YOUR favorite book was/is….

and then talk about Jesus….

Be blessed …. enjoy your President’s Day festivities…and I will see you tomorrow <3