The Greatest Perspective Available to Overcome Temptations

 

farm2

It’s been a lazy summer.  Delightful, easy, carefree and…I don’t want it to end!

 

kids under bridge

 

ru on bridge

With a light schedule and easy days, there has been less temptation toward frustration in the home. I guess that is why I wasn’t prepared for it.

I became frustrated and angered very quickly at a situation with the kids at home yesterday. Afterward, I wondered aloud to God how it happened.  How had I gotten so angry so quickly?  I had gone upstairs and laid across my bed like a little girl who had gone to her room after getting in trouble.  I was humbled.  I felt ashamed.  After five minutes of pouting and putting off the asking of forgiveness, I turned, once again, toward Graceland.  I turned toward the truths about who Jesus is and who I am in Him.

Most likely, if you’re in a season of mothering or fathering, you too struggle with being frustrated and angered in the home.  Oh yes…and outside the home.   Children have a way of humbling us outside the home too don’t they?

I’m tempted to speak harshly and to roll my eyes or walk off haughtily.  I’m tempted to blame the kids or circumstances for my frustration.  Sometimes in life circumstances outside of the home, I’m tempted to give someone the silent treatment.  I’m tempted not to love someone.  I’m tempted to gossip when I’m upset.  I’m tempted to think badly of another person or to assume the worst of another.

Sadly, I admit that I have even given in to those temptations at some point in my life. I don’t always give in to temptation,  but thoughts and impulses toward responding in anger comes to some degree or form daily.  And it’s OK to admit that to you because I’m pretty sure you probably struggle with that too.

I used to think that I was the only one.  Over the years though, I’ve come to develop wonderful close fellowship with other Christians.  I’ve found that they struggle with the very same things I do as often as I do.  I found that they are tempted in the same ways as I am daily and weekly.

We are tempted in so many other areas too, aren’t we?  There is lust, pride, greed, selfishness, etc.

And we all need the same thing.  A new perspective.

Praise God there is a perspective…perhaps the greatest…available to us to overcome temptations.

It’s not something we have to DO…it’s just something we need to remember.  Perhaps the only thing we have to DO, is take time to remember, ponder and meditate on it.

Theologian John Owen said that the greatest perspective available to us against the power of temptation in the world is,

“We need to keep our heart full of a sense of the love of God.  This is the greatest perspective available to us against the power of temptation in the world…Fill your heart with a sense of the love of God in Christ, and apply the eternal design of grace and shed blood to yourselves.  Accept all the privileges of adoption, justification, and acceptance with God.” 

Sometimes I like to get my hands on a book about parenting or marriage or ministry and try to make a list of all that I need to do.  That isn’t necessarily bad, but I do believe that my first go-to should be the above. The above entails thinking upon all of the below:

Apply the eternal design of grace and shed blood to yourself.  Apply the gospel.  Preach the gospel.  Remember the gospel.  Turn to Jesus.

Accept that, if you are in Christ, you have all of the privileges of a son or daughter of the King of Creation.  You can approach the throne of God boldly and ask for all things boldly.

Accept that you stand before this King and Father fully accepted and loved.  In fact, the Father loves you to the same degree that He loves His son.   In John 17:23, Jesus prays that we might recognize that the Father has loved those who belong to Him to what degree?

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

The Father loves you even as, to the same degree as He loves Jesus.

Accept that your sin has been put on Christ, your elder brother.  And you have been given all that is His.  Martin Luther called it “the Great Transfer”…

Christ not only died the death we deserved to die He also lived the life we should have lived. Christ’s work for us is finished in that it is complete—we can add nothing to it to achieve or attract the Father’s blessing.  . . This means that what Christ possesses belongs to the believing soul, and what the soul possesses belongs to Christ. Thus Christ possesses all good things and holiness; these now belong to the soul.  

And Jesus was given all that was ours.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” -Colossians 2:13-15

Do you have something that you’re tempted toward each day?  How does the love given to you in Christ change how you feel about it?

Francis Schaeffer wrote this about what the Bible says about the meaning of the finished work of Christ for our present lives:

 “It is the infinite value of the finished work of Christ upon the cross plus nothing, that is the sole basis for the removal of our guilt and bestowal of the same level of worthiness as is possessed by Christ.”  

bridge

It is these truths that feed my soul…a new creation in Christ.  These thoughts build up the bridge that takes me from wasteland thinking to beautiful graceland thinking.  It is this that continues to press into my heart, mind and flesh a desire to love Christ and others more and more  as a response to His goodness to me.  I pray that it does the same for you, dear reader.  I appreciate you and what Christ is doing in you!

Linking up with these lovely ladies and their blogs this week:

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button  Spiritual Sundays     Grab button for Faith Along the Way  Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45    “countingmyblessings"       Grab button for Being Confident of This  Dance With Jesus    Picture  1114updatedbutton  mom blogs party  Imparting Gracesaving4six     beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge _     7 Days Time      WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket

One Thing Sure to Strengthen & Comfort You

sunrise with name

Heavy eyelids open to the early morning light.  My body is asleep but my mind and soul are awake.  For the first time in days, I might have an hour or two alone.  Since leaving for vacation in this old RV, I’ve only found solitude in a bathroom the size of myself.

It’s worth it.  Our longest trip ever in this almost thirty year old RV to venture to my family’s old vacation spot and to take my parents back there.  We want to introduce my kids to the places I walked as a kid.

Vacations are not always vacations for moms though.  Work may be increased when you camp and just a couple of hours of pure solitude in God’s beauty (what I long for most on vacation) might be impossible.  Impossible if you don’t work for it.

So I snap the little alarm clock button down and plug in the coffee pot.  My girl is still snuggled deep down under warm blankets in the cool of the morning and there she will stay for a few more hours. Lord willing, we will both get what we crave most.  I ask my husband, tucked away in the loft above the cab, if he minds.  He mumbles a no.  I take his answer and run with it…even though I am not sure he is fully aware of what he’s giving up.  A beautiful sunrise on the north shore of Minnesota.

I walk on the lake trail through flowering bushes, excited to meet the sunrise and my Lord.  Just like in my younger years, I find a rock perfectly indented for me to recline in.   I sip coffee and I wait for the first gleam of flourescent orange to peak over the Lake Superior.  A rare moment on a Sunday morning for this pastor’s wife. How can I find what I need this Sunday morning on Lake Superior?  What DO I need to keep going these next few days…weeks and months?  What’s the one thing?  The one thing that will soothe, comfort, prepare and strengthen me for the future?  I toss these questions and thoughts to God.

There are a few people scattered across cobblestones waking to this morning light too.  People who camped out on the shore braving the cool lake air and hard rocks just to experience beauty.  I’m joined here with them.  We’re all waiting for God’s splendor.  We wait and I wonder if they are asking questions too.  Maybe they also are looking to be strengthened as they look to return to normal everyday life.

I pick up a smooth round stone to throw into the abyss of Lake Superior.  The largest freshwater lake, by surface area, in the world. I wonder if the others are watching me from behind and if they think, like me, in this humble moment, that my questions are like this little pebble being thrown in such a vast expanse of water.  Skipping stones and throwing rocks was a constant activity just twelve hours ago with my boy but now…now I feel odd doing it alone.  Like I’m throwing my questions right out to God in front of these spectators on the beach.  I hold back from throwing it.

I decide to read a Psalm and I happen upon Psalm 93.

The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
    you are from everlasting.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
    the floods have lifted up their voice;
    the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
    mightier than the waves of the sea,
    the Lord on high is mighty!

Your decrees are very trustworthy;
    holiness befits your house,
    O Lord, forevermore.

cobblestones

I sit into my rock chair, one smooth round stone jutting into that spot on my shoulder blade that always wants help.  For a moment there is comfort and the strength of the rock encloses me.  I watch and listen to the waves crash onto the beach.  The waves that have been so mighty and relentless over time.  I’ve seen evidence of it.  The lighthouse built in response to shipwrecks and deaths due to their strength crashing on rocky shoreline.  The relentless waves that long to knock us over as we search for the perfect stones to keep in our pockets.  The cobblestones weathered and polished to smooth roundness.  The soft driftwood aged to perfection in the churning waters.  The rocks the kids sat on yesterday in order to be splashed by the force of water hitting them.   The unending soothing roar I hear from my campsight.  The Lord created this and the Lord is mightier.

kids splash

God’s good power.

This one thing gives me comfort and I feel strengthened.  Is it enough for the long haul though? The Lord is majestic, mighty, holy and sovereign.   Will this sustain me through the changes and challenges ahead?

sunrise 2 with name

I see the first glint of powerful glow of the sun coming.  Clouds filling up with a shade of orange.

Come what may, his decrees are trustworthy.  Holiness trumps all. Forever. He is sovereign. He works powerfully in me, in His people and in all situations.

The Lord and His perfect righteousness reigns.  He is robed in majesty.  Strength is His belt.  In this strength, He established the world and all that is in it.  He sustains it, just as He establishes and sustains his throne.  And although the floods lift up their voice and roar against my ears, I remember this.  His throne is established.  He is mightier than anything that goes on around me. His decrees are trustworthy.  Holiness befits His house.

I remember that all that I need is in Him.  HE is what I need.  Jesus and all that He is and all that He provides.  What I do in the coming months matters less than what He can and will do as I turn to Him in dependence.

This shoreline looks rugged and tough but the mighty waves shape it.  May his mighty waves shape even me to look for HIS strength to operate out of, not my own.

What are you needing for everyday life?

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…

Any of those?

Jesus has it all and will supply as we turn toward Him in each moment that we need it.

My Gospel Transformation ESV Bible study notes say, “His perfect sovereignty joined with absolute goodness answers every need for his people’s sustenance.”

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”              – Philippians 4:19-20.

sunrise 3 with name

The sun shows itself full over Lake Superior now.  Burning orange fills the sky and reflects off of water and rocks.

Strengthened and emboldened in Christ, I pick up the stone again…this time I throw it.

Linking up with these lovely ladies and their blogs this week:

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The Rescuer and a Rescue Giveway

Lamentations 3:19

It’s the day before VBS, folks.  My mind is occupied by thoughts of crafts.  I will be eyeballs deep in kids, clay and paint this week. Our Vacation Bible School director says it every year.  “It’s the Lord’s Vacation Bible School.  If He wants it to go on, He will provide.”  Every year He does provide for this little country church and this provision has been an example to me in my own personal life to trust for God’s provision.  Our director’s words also remind me that He has ownership of HIS ministries in the church.  He allows us in to participate and cooperate in what He is doing.  He is working through us in amazing ways.

Would you pray for my church’s VBS?  We are a small country church that has up to 50 kids attend VBS each summer.  It’s an amazing experience to watch how God provides help and resources each year.  I think He may even miraculously widen the space between the walls of our church during this time!

My church has been around for over 170 years having an influence on many families and children throughout that time.  Since I’ve been there, it seems the Lord’s outreach for our church has been focused in much on children.  One of our main ministries is a weekly Good News Club throughout the school year held at the local elementary school.  Around 35 kids come together each week IN SCHOOL after school to hear about Jesus.

Our hope is that JESUS will save them from a drowning culture.

And that is a struggle for me as someone involved in these ministries and as a parent.   To constantly remember that JESUS is ultimately the Rescuer…not the program or the club.  He may utilize those things in a child’s life, but ultimately He is the Rescuer.

Do you struggle with that?  Do you sometimes get so caught up in the form of schooling, the church, the youth group, the ministry programs, the parenting book…that you forget who is truly the one who rescues?

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” -Philippians 2:12-13

Yes-we must cooperate with the Lord in working out our own salvation and helping others with theirs.  But it is God who works in us all the while.  What  a comfort that is to me as a parent.  I can trust the the Lord works and He works in me and He works in others.

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” -Romans 8:10-11

Jesus gives life to our mortal bodies now and He will in the future.  He works as we cooperate.  I need to remember this especially as my children get older.  By no means have I experienced parenting a teenager.  My kids are only 6 and 9.  But I have and do interact with teens through church and my children are starting to be exposed to worldly things much earlier than I ever expected.  I’m beginning to think about the teenage years.

So when I was asked to read and give away a copy of Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture, I said, “Yes!”

What I love about this book is that author, Candy Gibbs, gives parents so much hope.  She provides insight from young adults who have recently traveled through the teenage years and are currently in college.  I was blown away by the insight and answers this amazing group of young people offer.  Along with these insights, Candy offers her own thoughts from her perspective and experience as a mother of three including two teenagers, and as the Executive Director of CareNet Pregnancy Centers in Amarillo, Texas.  The scriptures provided in each chapter keep the insights grounded in God’s Word.  I appreciate that the scriptures provided always pointed me back to Christ and reminded me once again that Christ and grace found in Him is at the center of our efforts in parenting.  That it isn’t about my technique, but about His work in our lives.

As Candy says in her book, “Parenting through the teenage years can be a tumultuous time of swimming against society, but it can also be a time of great joy.”

If you are raising a teen, getting closer to raising a teen or working with teens, I highly recommend this book!  Please enter the giveaway below!

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Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

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If You Feel Helpless in the Waiting

I am so happy to have my friend, Kasia Allen, guest writing here today.  I had the privilege of getting to know her when she was a young teenager in high school when I first started going to my church.  She has grown up, gone to college and moved on to the big city but she’s still in my heart.  She is also still active in her faith.  What an encouragement it is to know a young woman still walking with her Lord through high school, college and beyond.

I’ve always struggled with waiting.  From the coffee being made in the morning to waiting for the right husband and the ability to have children.  Even now I struggle greatly with some waiting issues.  As I learn more and more that waiting will be a lifelong experience, I also learn more and more how to not waste the waiting. Kasia has learned at a young age to be active while waiting.  What a difference actively waiting has on our lives, the people around us and on our disposition before the Lord.  Be encouraged today as Kasia points us toward what you can do, what you should not do and, most importantly, what the Lord does do in our waiting…

When it’s not important, I like to wait in line. It’s actually quite nice. You aren’t responsible yet for that purchase (is the dress really worth this much? should I buy this much brown licorice? what if I get tired of this piece of furniture?) but I’ve already done the work of choosing it so I accomplished that part of the task. Then I get to just wait in line. I can text or talk to a friend, read, pray, think, so many things.

When it is important, my perspective changes. Instead of being grateful for the blessings and circumstances I have and content with what is out of my control, it’s easy to feel so many other emotions and thoughts.

There can be a hopelessness in waiting: wondering if it will ever happen; if that person will ever change. Hopelessness can lead to anger, melancholy, listlessness. Jealousy that someone else doesn’t have to wait. There can be also fear in waiting: knowing what will happen but knowing it won’t yet. Anger that it has to happen but that you can’t do anything now. Melancholy over not being able to stop it.

There are more ways that waiting is hard. More specific ways that it can be difficult. We have to wait in so many various ways: relationally, spiritually, emotionally, biologically, etc.

But I’ve wondered, if it is foreordained that I wait in this particular circumstance, then what do I do now?

Psalm 37
English Standard Version (ESV)

He Will Not Forsake His Saints
Of David.

David speaks of what to do, of how to think of God because He is God and how to do so when things are hard. He instructs us to trust, delight, and commit ourselves to the Lord.

There are positive actions and behaviors we can act on.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.

David then commands us to wait upon the Lord with patience, not to fret, and to restrain from evil. We restrain from the sin that can be tempting when things are difficult–we abstain and refrain.

7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

But we are not left without encouragement. Our Father foreordained all things to pass.                   He protects us, preserves us, and takes care of our lives–here and throughout eternity.

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
    when he delights in his way;
    so shall you dwell forever.

28 For the Lord loves justice;
    he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
    but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
    and dwell upon it forever.  

While waiting can range from being an annoyance to so emotionally painful that it is also physically so, we do have instructions and holy ways we can can wait. We have a kind, loving, and powerful God who knows that we will wait and knows the full complexity and pain it may cause us. While we wait and live out our lives in prayer with with love for others–while we wait–we do have a loving and merciful God who watches over us and will not forsake us.


Kasia Marie Allen is thankful she lives in Maplewood and can walk to a pie shop on the weekend (try the chocolate bourbon pecan!). She thinks flowers are always a brilliant idea, milk should be added to tea, and books are best in hardback but even better if they smell old and dusty.

Image: Woman-Silhouette-Waiting-For-S-5824100 by Denise-Bigstock

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Enter Graceland

graceland

Each time I drive by this I think of an imaginary place where I turn away from the wasteland of wrong thinking.  It’s a beautiful dwelling place in my mind where I turn my thinking over to the truths about who Christ is and who I am in Him.  It’s a plantation where I sew the seeds of grace and preach the gospel to myself.  It’s a habitat that I call Graceland.

So I finally had enough forethought to bring the camera and ask the question my husband hears all too often, “Will you pull over so that I can take a picture?”

When I visit Graceland in my mind I see, once again, that I’ve already been made alive with Christ by His grace and raised up, along with all of the other followers, with Him and we’ve been seated with him in the heavenly places in Him.

I remember my true identity and the identity of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I recall that I am dead to sin and alive to God and that, although I sin, my most true self is not just a sinner, but a saint because I am found in Christ.  Because I’m found in Christ, I have a new identity and an entirely new way of looking at myself.

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” -Romans 6:17-18

And if that wasn’t enough…”But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith.” -Ephesians 2:4-8

We’ve been raised but we also await being raised. A remembrance of the past (I’ve been raised) and also a reminder of  a future reality (I will be shown in the coming ages the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward His people in Christ).

A game-changer if I would intentionally turn to these truths…enter Graceland in my mind.  The imagination can be used for good.

I can imagine a place in my mind where all of these truths are easy access and a reality right now.  I can also imagine my future.

Do you ever dream of eternity?

We are in this world but we’re also citizens of heaven.  A place where grace will truly reign with God and also with each other.  So we are raised and are being raised.  But the Kingdom of God is also being brought here through us as we bear fruit of His the Spirit right here in this world.  How can I cooperate with that playing out here…bringing Jesus’ Kingdom to bear in the here and now?

How is Christ bringing his kingdom to bear through His people in the world right now? 

How can I partake in bringing the kingdom to bear in my part of the world right now?

As I  dream about entering Graceland now and in the future eternity with Christ—these are the the questions I ask.

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button  Spiritual Sundays     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"       Grab button for Being Confident of This  Dance With Jesus   

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A Journey with The Good Shepherd Pt. 2

shepherd 2

Last week I wrote about journeying with The Good Shepherd and how all that we really need  is what we already carry around with us…Jesus.  I asked the question, “Am I really free to dare to pursue adventures with Christ…dangers and all?”

And of course the answer is yes.  I…we…are really free to dare to pursue Christ…and adventures with Him…dangers and all.

Let that sink in.  What would that look like?   “Do you have a God-given passion or desire on your heart that you have set aside over and over because it would be too costly, dangerous or “unreasonable” to pursue? I ask this question only because I have been there and done that myself.

I can also answer the question of whether or not we are really free to pursue dangers in Christ for Christ.  The answer is yes.  A resounding yes.  My husband and I have pursued some of them and we’ve experienced an excitement and joy as we’ve watched the Lord carry out His identity as the Good Shepherd in every possible way.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
   He makes me lie down in green pastures.” -Psalm 23: 1-2

If you’re worried that following Jesus and adventures in him might cost you things that you want, you are right.  It will cost you.  But you will also receive.  The Good Shepherd provides all that you need.  When a sheep puts herself or himself in a place of need, she or he will find The Good Shepherd provides. That which may have seemed impossible before becomes possible in Christ. All  that is needed is either with her or him already or will be provided for.

If you fear that following Jesus with abandon will be exhausting, you might be right.  There is potential for that to happen and it does happen.  We can follow too hard or we can just experience disappointment, burnout and the fallout of evil forces battling against us.  But here is what also happens.  We get to experience this:  Jesus making us lie down in green pastures.  Imagine that for a moment–a shepherd making a lamb lie down.  Has the Lord done that to you?  Sometimes that feels painful or hurtful, but it is also a beautiful thing.  He calls us out and makes us lie down. How sweet it is to experience rest and care when we are exhausted, carried along by the Holy Spirit.

  He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake. -Psalm 23:3

And He doesn’t just leave us laying there in green pastures.  He restores our soul and leads us back out again in paths of righteousness.  He calls us to the dangers of loving and giving once again for His names sake.

This is our calling as Jesus followers.  To follow Him in dangers and all and allow Him to care for us.

Is there something He is calling you to?  Will you step into it and allow Him to care for you?

About six years ago, my husband and I decided to follow a path that we had felt called to for quite some time.  We pursued pastoral ministry.  While we’ve experienced losses and challenges along the way, it has truly been the most rewarding, amazing and incredible experience of my life.  I wouldn’t give up what we’ve experienced for anything because, through them, I’ve been shown that these passages are true.  We really do have the Lord as our Shepherd and He is always good.

He always fulfills His identity as My Shepherd…My GOOD Shepherd.

My mom and dad send me God’s Word each morning of my life. This is what I received today and I share it with you:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.

    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.” – Psalm 121

 The above painting is The Shepherd, by artist Tim Wang.

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button  Spiritual Sundays     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"       Grab button for Being Confident of This  Dance With Jesus   

 1114updatedbutton  mom blogs party  Imparting Gracesaving4six     beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge _     7 Days Time      WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Journey with the Good Shepherd Pt. 1

sheep

My last post, When You Wonder if the Lord Really Shepherds You, was almost a month ago.  I had dug up the past…an old post from a couple of years ago in which I shared an entry from my journal and a question:

“Does The Shepherd really care for me??”

I had not intended for it to be the last for a month but so much has happened in life since then. I had not intended for it to be pondered by myself as much as it was, but it really lead me throughout the week that I re-posted it and the truths in it continued to lead me this past month of great uncertainty and challenge.  As I was contemplating that post, I thanked God for healing me in that time period of life in the past and asked for Him to bring me through new situations where I would be needing to trust in His shepherding.  I asked a new question….How do I make sure I don’t lose the assurance I have of His presence and care?  How do I not end up like others I’ve seen who have lost hope?

As I said these words, my eyes landed on a framed Psalm 23 which sits on my desk.  As I read it, I was reminded of the fact that the answer has so little to do with me.  It has more to do with Him and who He is and what He does. All I really need to do is be mindful, follow and keep turning my heart, mind and spirit toward Him…my Shepherd.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

I remember going on a hike by myself years ago in the Rocky Mountains at Estes Park, Colorado.

It was when I first started traveling by myself for work.  After a business trip to Denver, I stayed over a few days in the Rocky Mountains.  I was just beginning to feel less scared and more adventurous in life.  Though hesitant about hiking alone, I went shopping the night before my hike and picked out a bear bell in order to warn bears I would be coming along the path.

I felt so free and brave—hiking alone with all that I needed on me.  A backpack, my camera, water, snacks and the bear bell.

Do you know that feeling? A feeling of simple sufficiency…that all that is needed is on you. No need to worry about the extras in life. Although much of my bravery was placed in what I had taken along with me (namely the bear bell) and my own self-sufficiency, I can’t help but use it as an illustration for these thoughts I’m having on Psalm 23.

That feeling of adventurous bravery and freedom is what I experienced when, in the midst of fear, my eyes landed on Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…

On this life journey, what if all that  I need really is what I already carry around with me?  Am I really free to dare to pursue adventures with Christ…dangers and all?

Because my true home is not here and I’m heading for eternity.  The path may have dangers, snares, bears and ledges.  And if I don’t escape them?

If I am not rescued FROM those snares, Jesus will rescue me through them.  A line I’ve heard a few times over the last decade from someone who has shepherded me through my fears about the future.

Jesus will either rescue me from the snares of life in this life or He will rescue me though them bringing me finally to Himself where no more harm can touch me.

Yes…truly…all I need is Him, the Good Shepherd.

I’m contemplating the Good Shepherd this month…will you join me for part two next week?

photo by Cowboy on Pixdaus

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button  Spiritual Sundays     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"       Grab button for Being Confident of This  Dance With Jesus   

 1114updatedbutton  mom blogs party  Imparting Gracesaving4six     beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge _     7 Days Time      WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket