The One You Can Trust…

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you…He will never let the righteous be shaken.-Psalm 55:22

There are no cares too small or insignificant. There are no cares too big or too complicated. There are no lost causes and there are no too-far-gones. He doesn’t think you are infringing on His time. He doesn’t think that you should be strong on your own and have it all together. He doesn’t think that your fears are silly. He doesn’t turn away from your tears.

He will never turn you away.

So what will He do when you cast your cares on Him?

He will listen. He will sustain (strengthen and support) you. He will be near to you. He will deliver you from your fears. He will steady your heart and renew your mind. He will be your peace. He will be the sturdy foundation, your safe refuge, your joy. He will work all things together for your good, according to His purpose…because He is the God of redemption, the God of mercy, the God of all power and might. No matter what the cares in your life might be and no matter how big they seem to you—NOTHING is impossible for God.

He loves you, friend. Your life matters to Him. You matter to Him.

So may we choose to trust Him – to rely on Him. May we lay everything down before Him, holding nothing back. I hope we can understand and hold onto the truth, soul-deep, that He is all-sufficient…always good…and forever-faithful.

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I…”

“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One who sustains me.”

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.”

“Power belongs to You, God, and with You, Lord, is unfailing love.”

(Psalm 61:1-2, 54:4, 62:5-8, 11-12a)

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Music Monday: My Portion & My Strength

Dear friends,

It has been a day here. I’ve been debating whether or not I should talk about it – and I land on yes, because maybe…just maybe…you have had one of these days, too.

It hasn’t been an external battle but an in-the-heart kind of struggle…even while still being so grateful for everything in my life, I have felt unsettled today. I’ve run short on patience and frustration has come quickly, whether with our sometimes-working dishwasher, the apple juice I spilled all over the counter, or with my kids. I haven’t felt that internal peace that keeps me centered and focused…usually I try to stay present in the moment, my eyes on the long-term and not on the right this second situation…but today, the doing-things-but-not-getting-anything-done syndrome that sometimes plagues all of us is bringing me to the sit-in-the-floor-and-cry-while-pulling-my-hair-out syndrome. I have wavered between insecurity and fear, self-condemnation and regret. And, of course, since I know that I really have no reason to be out-of-sorts – and all of the things causing me irritation are truly inconsequential – I have felt guilty for all of the above short-comings. Which makes me feel worse. And brings on more of the waterworks.

It’s not a pretty cycle, y’all.

What do we do when we get caught up in a day like this? How do we stop the cycle?

The only way I know to find victory over the ‘I do what I don’t want to do and don’t do what I want to do’ battle that Paul describes in Romans 7 (which, honestly, he could have written specifically about me today) is by falling on our knees, God’s Word in our hands, our hearts yielding to His. When we are in trouble, we cannot delay coming to Him – we must throw up our hands and cry out for help!

Listen to what Paul says: What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

When our emotions try to master us, when we are weak and unprepared for the spiritual battles we face – we must call upon God, who gives us the victory through Jesus! Listen, it may be nearing the end of this Monday, but it is not time to throw in the towel on this day. You may have had a rough day, a rough weekend, a week or a month or a year that has tasted like defeat – but it is not too late to cry out to God. It is not too late to pick up that shield of faith, which will extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. It is not too late to ask Him to steady your feet with His gospel of peace, to wrap His truth around your life, to remind you that His righteousness makes your heart secure. It is not too late to wield your sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and is mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,  and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor. 10)

Do not close your eyes tonight without knowing that you are set free from sin and condemnation – no matter what your emotions say, no matter what accusations the enemy sends your way. What matters is what God says – and He says that you are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Rom.3:24) He says that therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the laws of sin and death. (Rom.8:1)

We can struggle and we can have hard days – but, friends, we cannot quit because Jesus has given us new life in Him! Paul’s words speak directly to my heart again in Philippians 3 – But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I don’t know what you are going through. I don’t know if your body or your heart is broken, if you are fighting a battle of the mind and will or if there are people in your life causing you pain. I don’t know if it’s a circumstance you can’t change or a problem that feels impossible to solve.

But I do know this – we serve a God who is good, a God who is mighty in power. We serve a God abounding in mercy, great in His faithfulness. We serve a God to whom nothing is too hard and not even one single thing is impossible. We serve a God who equips us to stand firm against the power of darkness, sin, and the enemy, every single day. We serve a God who cares about our struggles. He comes alongside us and empowers us through His Holy Spirit – He gives us peace that surpasses understanding and the fullness of His joy…joy that can’t be taken away, joy that gives us strength.

And through it all – through it all – (even when we feel most unloveable) nothing separates us from His love.

Listen, after this day of feeling (I’m borrowing Paul’s word here) just wretched inside of this heart and head, it is the pure gift of grace that still meets me when I fall on my face before my Father…and His grace will meet you, too, wherever you are.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one.

Christ Jesus who died – more than that – who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. {Don’t miss that wonder-full truth – our Savior, on these hardest of days, is praying for us!}

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:31-39)

Oh, may this truth be our hope and our confidence! May this be the joy that refreshes and renews us, that sets our feet dancing to the rhythm of His heart-beat. Our victory does not depend on us – but in whom we place our trust – the Savior who has overcome the world, the Lamb of God – Jesus – who has taken away our sin and defeated death, hell, and the grave!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

The morning comes with new mercy. Let’s run on, friends.

Love,

Christie

Something More, Something Better…

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,  and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”…His  mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (from John 2)

Wedding-at-Cana-stone-water-jugs-150x150

Six empty stone jars. They weren’t a rare sight, these jars. They were used for ceremonial washings, which were a regular part of Jewish life. Over the generations, the rituals had become more and more important as men put emphasis on these motions of holiness. The water these jars held could be used for anything from purification rituals to washing the dust from dirty feet. They had been filled, emptied, and filled again a countless number of times. On this day we read about in John 2, the servants were told to fill those jars yet again.

But this time, it was by the authority of Jesus.

And when the servant dipped into a jar and carried a cup to the master of the banquet, it was no longer the same water the servants had poured in. It was transformed completely – from water came wine that caused the wedding master to shake his head in wonder. To the bridegroom, in astonishment, he said – You’ve saved the best until now!

Jesus didn’t fill the jars with wine that was merely adequate. He gave those families something better than they expected, something that outshone all that had come before.

During that long-ago wedding feast, Jesus’ power brought forth abundance from emptiness. Where there had been insufficiency, He gave best-of-all provision.

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 You and I, we are like jars of clay. And even though we are made and molded by Him, shaped to hold His breath and His Spirit, we sometimes try to fill up with things this world can give. Like those servants, we fill and re-fill with the same old thing, day after day – pleasure, work, other people, or whatever promises fulfillment.

We can be full to the brim with all of these things, ritual after ritual done – but– don’t you feel it? We still have a soul-deep need. I think we are longing for something more…something different than what has been. I think we are longing for our lives to be entirely transformed, entirely made new.

Here’s what I’m learning, more and more every day – when yielded to Him, nothing stays the same. In our yielding to His voice, to His authority, to His command (that do whatever He tells you), He will fill us with what is Best – Himself.

And I don’t want to stay the same. I need more strength than I can muster, more grace, more love. This life, it is hard. Our world breaks our hearts in so many ways, time and again. I realize, now more than ever, just how inadequate we are in the face of pain and the darkness of sin. When it comes to the difficulties the world over, we need – desperately – the divine power of the Holy Spirit to breathe into us, to move through us. There is emptiness everywhere around us. There are needs everywhere around us. We need the help of our Savior.

It has happened before and I firmly believe it can happen still – lives transformed by the power of Jesus turn the world upside down with new hope and abundant love.

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Yes – our Savior can wholly transform us. The water from those ceremonial jars could not cleanse the souls of men, but His blood flows from Calvary to wash away our sin and shame. Man-made efforts have no power to change us, but He fills us with His own Spirit – generously and completely – and changes us into His image so that we pour out His love and light into the world.

And, oh, can you get a glimpse of it? Can you see the astonishment and wonder that would come if we would generously pour into others like He pours into us? If we would let Him fill our mouths with His words…if we would let Him fill our hands with His love and stretch them out open and giving, wouldn’t we witness hearts restored and redeemed…I can almost hear their voices saying – You’ve saved the best until now!

Can we catch Mary’s urgency?

Can we run to Jesus and call out to Him – there’s emptiness here…there are needs and there are hearts aching for something more….something Better…and it is You, it is You who will make all the difference.

For He, Himself, has always been and always will be our best-of-all provision.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. -Titus 3:4-7

Take A Break

If you’re feeling a little worn down, a bit distracted, stretched thin over the needs of daily life…take a break.

Get away, even if it’s just for a few minutes…even if it’s just to your bedroom or the front porch…and talk to Jesus.

Trust that He is concerned with the things of your life – what you see as big, yes, but also what you shrug off as small…those things you tell yourself that you should be able to deal with on your own.

Sometimes heavy burdens are made of many small parts, aren’t they?

When you get away to talk to Him, can you expect that He will help you with the details? He is a detail-oriented Friend, who is with you in everything.

Sometimes we are able to remember that He is able to handle the big problems…while we try to handle all of the ‘small’ ones without Him.

He doesn’t differentiate, though…He says to cast all of our cares upon Him, so that He may give us rest. All.  Nothing is too big and nothing is too small.

Trusting Him with the daily pressures — feeling how He cares and how He gives us patience…strength…a renewed mind — teaches us to depend on Him every day.

When we are in the practice of depending on Him every day, we already have our Rock to lean on when a hard wind shakes our hearts. We already know His voice. We already feel safe in His heart.

So take that break. Let Him hear what is in your heart, all the swirling thoughts in your mind. While you’re talking to Him, praise Him for who He is…and, in the praise, you can remember the wonder of this Friend who knows the number of the stars and the strands of hair on your head.

So keep pressing on, friends, with everything that your life encompasses.

But do it all while knowing that you don’t ever have to handle it alone.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” ~Psalm 62:8

 

 

 

Eyes on Him

Forever Reign (Hillsong Live)

You are good, You are good
when there’s nothing good in me.
You are love, You are love
on display for all to see.
You are light, You are light
when the darkness closes in.
You are hope, You are hope;
You have covered all my sin.

You are peace, You are peace
when my fear is crippling.
You are true, You are true
even in my wandering.
You are joy, You are joy;
You’re the reason that I sing.
You are life, You are life;
in You death has lost its sting.

Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms.
The riches of Your love
will always be enough.
Nothing compares to Your embrace;
Light of the world – forever reign.

You are more, You are more
than my words will ever say.
You are Lord, You are Lord,
all creation will proclaim.
You are here, You are here;
in Your presence I’m made whole.
You are God, You are God;
of all else I’m letting go.

Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms.
The riches of Your love
will always be enough.
Nothing compares to Your embrace.
Light of the world — forever reign.

My heart will sing
no other Name —
Jesus, Jesus!

Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms.
The riches of Your love
will always be enough.
Nothing compares to Your embrace;
Light of the world — forever reign!

Holy, holy, holy is God our Master, Sovereign-Strong,
The Was, The Is, The Coming…
To the One on the Throne! To the Lamb!
The blessing, the honor, the glory, the strength,
for age after age after age!
~Revelation 4: 8, 5:13

Trusting Him

My brain is full of the images coming to us from Japan and my heart is heavy with sorrow, knowing that many lives have been lost and many hearts have been broken.  I hope that we are all praying for those affected and the men and women who are there to help in the aftermath.

I was tempted to leave this post at that — because it’s difficult to process all of this tragedy…and all day, watching the news, I kept thinking that this could be any of us. Without warning, without time to prepare…our world can change in an instant,  just like it did for so many people today.  It’s a reality that we don’t like to think about.

But God’s character stands, even in the face of  disaster, and I don’t want that to go unsaid. 

Can I give you any answer as to why these things happen?

Not really, not to any true satisfaction.

But I can tell you that He is still in control. He is still present.  Still, He is love.

It’s on days like these that we, more than ever,  must trust who He is and know that He is faithful. 

He sees what we cannot see. He understands the plan of redemption — a plan of mercy — that began with creation.   He is the Alpha, yes, but He is also the Omega.  And from the beginning into eternity, He is the I AM. The same yesterday, today, and forever. Holy. All-knowing. All-powerful. Savior.

It’s a fact — in this world, we will see days like today. The unthinkable happens. The earth seems like it’s literally falling apart around us.

But our truth is this — our souls and our futures are secure in Him. We can rejoice, even in the midst of sorrow, because God is our hope. If the world crumbles before our eyes, we will lift our eyes to the Maker of heaven and earth, knowing that the same God who created us and knows each tear that we have cried is still holding us in His hands.

That’s what I can give to you —  the reminder that He is the constant in  our fragile existence.

And knowing all this, knowing that He is the light in our darkness…understanding that we are called to love people like He loves people and to offer hope in every way…can we join together in helping those who are suffering?

I know many organizations will be offering aid to those in crisis, but I have great faith in World Vision and the Red Cross.  Please consider giving a donation — every little bit will count.

This is the time when our faith bears the fruit of action: trusting when the road is hard, standing in faith instead of (maybe in spite of) fear. giving when others are empty, interceding for those who are without hope, loving in and out of every situation.