Love to the Uttermost: The Unchanging God

Gift 1-2015

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, when we have the privilege of fixing our gaze on the giver of life, our Redeemer, the one who has rescued us from ourselves. He came, God-incarnate, to save us to the extreme, as man to die our death. Herein is love to the utmost. For God so loved the world he gave. “Herein is love; when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace, to raise me to himself.” [1]

In a world of created changeable things, only God alone remains unshaken, unchanging. Only God alone remains true to his promise, for what he says, he will do. [2] He struck the head of evil. He has not left us here without grace. The cross still stands. The grave is still empty.

Gift 1-2015 Psalm 90

Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90

40 Gifts of Lent | Love to the Utmost: The Unchanging God: Gift 1 | [1] The Valley of Vision; page 16, The Gift of Gifts | [2] Numbers 23:19 

Sunday Respite | Give Thanks

Psalm 136:1

Dear Lord,

I often forget to thank you for your steadfast love, to remember that your love endures forever. My affections run amiss towards other things that can never last. Please open my eyes to see your goodness. Please refresh my memory to the times when you have rescued me from myself. To remember those times where you undoubtedly displayed your goodness and love towards me. 

I often remember to give thanks for all of the good things that happen…when life is peachy-keen and goes my way. Absolutely, I will thank you!

But then when something really tough happens, I grumble about it, start to worry, only to find myself leaning into that awful anxiety that has begun to take hold.  Please forgive me for a fickle heart, turning to what is not good and not lovely.

I pray to be steadfast in my love for you. 

I turn my thoughts on you, Lord. You refresh my memory of your goodness and faithfulness. There is freedom from fear and anxiety. 

Thank you for everything you have planned for me to experience, the comfortable and the uncomfortable. 

Everything changes from day to day. But your love never changes. Your love is steadfast. You are good.

With a thankful heart, I pray.

Amen

Winter Inspiration

Patchwork Barn

Patchwork Barn

Red Barn

Brown and Red Barn

Our God manifests Himself in our mangers and muck, our mundane and mess. Ours is the God manifesting Himself in the unlikely and unbearable, in the surprise and the second-chance. The God Who bears the burdens and brings the hope. ~Ann Voskamp

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“Listen to your life.
See it for the fathomless mystery it is.
In the boredom and pain of it,
no less than in the excitement and gladness:
touch, taste, smell your way
to the holy and hidden heart of it,
because in the last analysis
all moments are key moments,
and life itself is grace.”
~Frederich Buechner

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I prefer winter and fall, 
when you feel the bone structure of the landscape–
the loneliness of it, 
the dead feeling of winter.  
Something waits beneath it, 
the whole story doesn’t show.
~Andrew Wyeth

Bare Trees in Winter
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Weeds in unison
Move with the sun
Balancing the snow

Wisdom About Life From a 7 Year Old

This is what you get when you sit a 7-year-old down and ask him to tell the camera what life is all about…..Things like, “The point of life is actually not all about easiness. It’s about hardness.”
(Please try to ignore the fact that he is wearing his sister’s pink socks.)

This clip is shared by my friend, Amy of her son explaining what life is all about. She earned an MBA and now is a SAHM to four kids and married to an economics professor. There is never a dull moment in their home. Here is Amy’s words:

Sometimes I feel it is futile to write or speak about anything, because it’s all been said before by people much wiser than me!  Do I really have anything new to say?  But recently I’ve come to realize that I do have a unique perspective on God’s goodness:  the way I see it being played out in the life of my family.  So here I stand and write, at the intersection of God’s Grace and our family. I have been very blessed with a very giving, loving husband, and children who make me laugh. It is a real-life Family Circus cartoon here many days.
To discover more winsome wisdom and most times hilarious fun, check out Amy’s blog at Frankly Journaling.  (www.franklyjournaling.blogspot.com

How to Pray When Words Won’t Come: A Prayer for the Philippines

Photo from Associated Press

Photo from Associated Press

The following is a prayer written by a friend of mine, living in the Philippines. Along with Melody, her family and many others, I am praying this prayer for them. Will you join us?

In Melody’s words: “With unprecedented force, Haiyan is possibly the most powerful typhoon ever recorded… ever. The full impact is still being revealed, but thousands were killed and many towns and villages decimated. We were spared here in Manila, but our hearts grieve with this country. “

Photo from Melody

Photo from Melody

Melody’s Prayer

I hardly know how to pray, Lord, for faces (seen and unseen) whose names I do not know. But You know every one, see their need, understand their sorrow. Help me to pray.

I hardly know how to grieve, Lord, for all the lives lost and all the lives never the same. But You, Lord, grieved with Mary and Martha even when you knew resurrection was just around the corner. You know and care deeply about the pain in every heart. So help me to grieve, Lord — with You, with this nation, and with each heart that bleeds.

I hardly know what to do, Lord, when what is needed most is in the hands of other people. Resources, coordination, infrastructure to deliver relief assistance. But You, Lord, know exactly what is needed, and when, and by whom. Help me to do what is mine to do, and pray for others as they do what is theirs to do.

Lord of impossible resurrections, please cause Your kingdom to come and Your will to be done amid this chaos. Pour Your mighty strength into and through Your servants (those who know they serve You, and those who don’t), that they may serve the hurting in Your name even as they themselves are hurting, too. And give all of us strength and commitment to keep doing our part — praying, giving, caring in the name of the One who first cared for us.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

“Thanks so much for your prayers with us. I imagine the incense rising before the Throne, and believe our loving Father is moved by the heartfelt cries of His children that echo His own heart desire to touch and comfort the victims of this disaster.” –Melody

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Mission to the World Global Disaster Response

A way you can help In response to this disaster: http://www.mtw.org/Pages/Disasterphilippines.aspx

Help others and Help Yourself

Help Others--Help Yourself

Somebody once made the observation that the person who is wrapped up entirely in himself makes a very small package–and the package contains an unhappy person. Think about this: Have you ever known a genuinely happy, self-centered person?

Research indicates that those who consistently (help) show kindness to other people experience less depression, greater calm, fewer pains and better health. They may even live longer. Students who performed five acts of kindness a day increased their happiness and providing emotional support to others significantly decreased the harmful health effects of certain kinds of stress. [1]

Everyone knows the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s about being helpful and showing kindness to other people.  As Luke records it, Jesus told this parable in the context of a teacher of the law who, “wanting to justify himself,” asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus confounds him by suggesting that God requires us to love our “neighbors” in a way that transcends ethnic boundaries. [2] (Luke 10:25-37) Sadly, we often fail to meet Jesus’ ideal of neighbor love.

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”  Philippians 2:3-4 (The Message) [3]

When helping people, find out what’s actually valuable to them. Make an effort to ask them where they need help, and keep that in mind when you see an opportunity. And there are many opportunities to help others. Just don’t make it all about you.

The more you make helping others all about you, the more disappointed, dry and weary you’ll become. And the more you understand that this is about Jesus, and his kingdom, and his crown, and his glory, the more freed up you are to help others.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3:16-20 (NIV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

Footnotes

1] liveyourlifewell.org │[2] [843 Acres] The Park Forum│[3] Philippians 2:3-4, The Message │  Photo Credit: sweetmusingsfromthecove.wordpress.com

 You may like this: HelpOthers.org — kindness is contagious. Welcome to a portal dedicated to small acts of kindness.