Tag Archives: Love

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Ten

emerson1This is Day Ten of my 30 Days of Gratitude challenge. I have committed to writing about 30 things I’m grateful for in an attempt to improve my attitude of gratitude. Overall, I’m a pretty optimistic and grateful person, but God’s word tells us to rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. That’s convicting. I don’t give thanks in all circumstances. Do you? I think if I did I would be filled with more joy and peace. If it’s His will for us, then it makes sense that we would also experience more power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but I’m down for more joy, peace and power.

Today I’m grateful for God’s conviction. 

Sometimes I do wrestle with resentment. I hate it when I feel resentful. It affects my relationship with God and others. It makes me want to withhold my love and find fault. In my seeking the root to my resentment, God has been faithful to show me some things.

There’s an old saying, “Holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” That’s how it feels to wallow in resentment; like you’re slowly being poisoned to death.

I have learned there are usually three main reasons I feel resentful.

  • Selfishness-I have to admit, once in a while I can be a little selfish. Usually those times correlate with hormonal changes. Just like Frank Sinatra said, I want it my way. I want things done when I want them done. When I’m in that selfish mindset, then I become resentful when people don’t comply with my expectations. 
  • Blame-Rick Warren says to blame is to be-lame. Get it? Blaming only hurts ourselves. Most of the time the other person is going on with their life without a clue. Meanwhile, we are still trapped in the past. Or we make sure they know they are to blame, and imprison the both of us in emotional solitary confinement. Blaming is often a way to protect ourselves from having to take personal responsibility. But until we do so, we will never be free. The other person will always have control over us. The past will always steal the present. Let it go…
  • Unmet Needs-We all have needs; emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. When one or all of those needs aren’t met, we can become resentful and discouraged. I think this is especially an issue when we don’t communicate our needs in the first place. This can happen with close relationships as we almost believe that our loved ones should know what we want and need. We expect them to be mind readers. The key to a resentment from an unmet need is to communicate, communicate, communicate. 

This is a short list, as there are other reasons for resentment, but I think these three are key roots to the problem. Whatever is on your list, I encourage you to seek God’s wisdom and leading to help you understand and overcome the root of resentment. It’s through an intimate relationship with the Lord that we are able to be more than conquerors of the things that hold us back in our lives. Jesus came to give us life and to give it to the full. Let us throw everything that holds us down. Let us put others first in how we love and serve, just like Christ does for us.

Let us rejoice, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

What are you grateful for?

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Six

emerson1You find what you look for. 

Really. Take. That. In…

That’s a life-changing truth.

What are you finding?

A husband that doesn’t measure up?

Kids that disappoint you?

Friends that neglect you?

A job that doesn’t suit you?

A life that doesn’t measure up?

What are you looking for? 

I have to admit, sometimes what I see around me is unmet expectations. When this happens it’s because I’m focusing on what I’m NOT getting instead of on what I AM getting. I’m focusing on what I DON’T have instead of what I DO have.

Sometimes we save the most unrealistic expectations for the people we love the most. Our families. Sometimes we measure them with the tallest measuring stick. We look for our families to live up to our standards instead of seeing them for who they really are; the beautiful and purpose-filled gift that God has blessed us with.

Not only does this impact my perceptions of my life, but it impacts the people IN my life. The people closest to us know when they are not measuring up. Even if we don’t say a word, they know. And they shrink under the pressure of our scrutiny. They don’t stand taller under our evaluation, they shrink and shrivel. 

Look for the bad and you will find it. 

But, when we view them with eyes of gratitude and wonder, eyes of appreciation and thankfulness, they truly blossom. An attitude of gratitude gives us room to breathe and thrive, but it also gives those around us permission to be who God made them to be. It gives them room to discover and learn and grow. 

That’s grace…

Look for the good and you will find it. 

In the book, “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas, he poses the question, “What if God designed marriage to make us Holy more than to make us happy?”

Wow.

What if he made families for the same reason?

What if everything in our life is for the same reason?

I believe it! I believe God uses my family so that I become more Christ-like. And He is using me in their life in the same way. My family is my greatest blessing because they are the people chosen by God to do His GREATEST work. The work of changing people to be like His Son. And they are truly gifts.  God is a good, good Father who knows exactly what we need before we say a word…

Look for the good and you will find it. And there you will find God.

Choose gratitude.

Rejoice always, pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What are you grateful for today?

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30 Days of Gratitude-Day One

gratitude-journalEvery day for the month of November I will be posting what I’m thankful for. November is the month of Thanksgiving, but the Apostle Paul wrote to us that we must give thanks in all things. That means every day in every thing.

The easy stuff.

The hard stuff.

And everything in between.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Our Pastor pointed out today in his sermon that Paul doesn’t say to be thankful FOR all things, but IN all things. That’s a huge difference. How can we be thankful FOR things like cancer, divorce, abuse, addiction and death? We can’t, and Jesus doesn’t expect us to. But He does expect us to be thankful IN those circumstances. 

You may still be scratching your head. Those are really hard things. Things that swallow us whole. I think that’s exactly why Paul tells us to rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. We can be overwhelmed by pain, but when we focus on gratitude we remain anchored in hope. When we are anchored, nothing can wash us away.

What we focus on is magnified. I remember taking a bike ride with my kiddos one Spring morning. They were flying down the sidewalks with reckless abandon and skill, while I was wobbling behind them with great caution. Up just ahead was a fire hydrant planted right in the skinniest part of the sidewalk with a tall fence on the other side. I was going to have to maneuver between the hydrant and the fence, or pedal into the street. With cars speeding by, I made my choice. I did my best to slow down, but my attention was riveted on the problem, the hydrant. I won’t hit it, I won’t hit it, I won’t hit it….. BAM!! I hit it.

That which we focus on, we run right into. 

What if we made a commitment this month to focus on gratitude? What could happen? What could change? 

I’ll go first.

Today I am grateful that Jesus relentlessly pursued me, even in my sin, and saved my life. He didn’t tell me to get cleaned up first. He didn’t condemn me.  He didn’t say I was a lost cause, even though I felt like one. He met me smack dab in the middle of my mistakes and failures and said, “Come to my, my child.” He is a good, good Father who loves me with a fierceness that takes my breath away. I’m left with an aching desire to love Him the same. 

At the foot of the cross of Christ we are all the same.

We are ALL the same.

Sinners saved by grace through faith. It’s so simple, yet we complicate it. 

No matter what I go through, Jesus is by my side, holding me up, carrying the weight and cheering me on.

That’s what I’m thankful for today.

It doesn’t matter what else is going on. That truth trumps every circumstance. 

What are you thankful for today?

 

 

 

 

How The Letter “L” Changes Everything

4113464-Illustration-of-baseball-player-swinging-bat-to-hit-baseball--Stock-VectorGrace is a game changer. In the words of writer, Anne Lamott,  “grace bats last.” It doesn’t matter how badly the game was played, how many fouls, strike outs or awkward throws, grace bats last. Grace plays clean up. Grace always saves the game.

Growing up, love and security weren’t synonymous. Love was at times warm and tender, and at other times, cold and violent. Love seemed conditional, based on behavior. This generated an underlying anxiety that ebbed and flowed with the tides of my environment. The more out of control I felt, the more I tried to control. I learned  to believe I could change the actions of other people by my good behavior. I think this was the root of my belief that I could earn love and approval.

I wish I could say that when I fell in love with Jesus, I was instantly fixed. I wish I could say that I immediately stopped trying to earn love. But I didn’t. That has taken time and sometimes I still struggle with it. Even though I read my Bible everyday and know that Jesus loves me passionately and unconditionally, I still sometimes struggle with believing it. There’s quite a distance between KNOWING and BELIEVING. But I can tell you what I have discovered. It’s not about earning God’s love, it’s about LEARNING how to receive it. It’s not about earning His approval, it’s about LEARNING that I already have it. It’s not about earning favor, it’s about LEARNING how to follow Him.

Do you see the grace in that? The difference is one simple “L.” Earning is through striving, performing and obligation. Learning is through experiencing, studying and being taught. Many times in the Psalms, the writer says “You teach me…” That is present tense. He didn’t teach you one time and say now you are on your own. He is our Teacher, and He is presently and constantly teaching us. There is grace in that. 

Stop beating yourself up. Start learning. Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29-30. He is a gentle Teacher.  He knows our weakness. He doesn’t fault us for it. In our weakness His strength flourishes and is made perfect. 

Let’s you and I commit to being life-long learners. We will fail tests, retake classes and cram for exams, but we will be in God’s classroom. And He doesn’t mind staying late for the willing student. In fact, He delights in it.

Grace is a game changer. Grace always bats last. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Friend

Friends

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone that was more interested in what you could do for them than they were in you? If so, then you know they missed a lot about who you are.

He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel: Psalm 103:7

This verse recently caught my attention. What’s the difference between God’s ways and His deeds?

According to the dictionary, “ways” means method of moving from place to place, manner, condition, means or characteristic.

“Deeds” means something that is done, performed, or accomplished; an act.

Hmm…

What we know about Moses is that he and God were friends.

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend… Exodus 33:11

A friend is someone who knows your heart. A friend knows your characteristics and how and why you do things. An acquaintance is someone who knows about the things you do. A business associate, a neighbor, or a distant relative may be familiar with your accomplishments, but a friend knows who you are, not just what you do.

Many times we want to know God’s deeds more than his ways. We want Him to perform and accomplish things on our behalf, but we don’t want to take the time to know His heart. We don’t let Him too close for fear that He might make us give up something or change our lifestyle.

If we are only interested in God’s deeds, then we are easily confused and disillusioned when He doesn’t perform according to our desire. Our expectations aren’t met. We question His love us. We are left empty, alone and dismayed.

God invites us to be His friend. He invites us to have a relationship with Him through His son, Jesus. When we know His heart, we know that He truly loves us and that nothing could separate us from His love. We discover that love is His character. No trouble, or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword cans separate us from His love. Romans 8:35

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 8:37-39

Are you and God friends or acquaintenances?

 

 

Performance Anxiety

My cousin shared a funny memory of me being about four or five years old at a family get together where there was a pool. I kept yelling for everyone to,“Look at me, look at me,” as I awkwardly attempted to entertain them with water tricks.

I remember that little girl. She thought she was invisible.  She needed to be seen. She desperately wanted love and attention.

That little girl learned to perform.

Somewhere along the line that little girl grew into a woman who believed she had to perform for love.

Even years later when I became a believer in Jesus, I believed I had to earn his love. I just knew that if I didn’t perform correctly, if I didn’t measure up or meet the standard, he would pull his love away in disapproving punishment. “You should have known better,” he would say. “I’ve changed my mind about you, you’re just not getting it.” These thoughts and feelings intensified as I began to understand and pursue my purpose. I was sure that he would yank the call right off my life. Just snatch it away and give it to somebody more deserving.

Well, there’s a couple of things wrong with this thought process. First of all, God’s grace isn’t dependent on our performance. In fact, his grace abounds all the more in the face of failure and sin. He is attracted to weakness. He rushes in where ability runs out. Performance actually hinders the inflow of grace. Not because he doesn’t give it, but because we are too focused on ourselves to receive it.

Second, God isn’t taken by surprise by anyone or anything. He knows the end from the beginning. He isn’t disgusted by our humanness, or disillusioned by our brokenness. He is a patient Father, working his plans and purposes together despite our clumsiness.

These days I’m experiencing a new freedom from these defeating thoughts. Oh, I may still stumble into a pothole now and then, but I understand more deeply how much God loves me. I am experiencing a new level of security in his love. I don’t have to perform, I just have to rest in His love. I matter to him and he ALWAYS sees me. He never takes his eyes off of me. In his redeeming gaze, I am truly free. I am truly loved. 

He loves you too with a redeeming love that fills every need and desire. I encourage you to go deeper, deeper still, in your relationship with Jesus. Beneath the deep waters is a world of  intimacy, purpose, fulfillment and utter completeness. 

What prevents you from trusting God?

In what areas of your life are you still performing for God or man’s approval?

How can you make time in your day to spend time with Jesus?

I’m praying with you…