Refined Faith

And this is the best part of admitting our neediness, admitting our transgressions, and putting them through the fire of constant cleaning and testing–we come out on the other side refined.  With a strong faith that is developed and will carry us through the waiting.

REFINED:  with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing.  Purified, processed, treated, cultivated, cultured, polished, developed, improved in precise and subtle ways.

So many synonyms and ways to say it.  I like thinking of it as polished–just like the cleaning I wrote about yesterday.  Just like a beautiful stone or metal.  We can choose to be dull, or bright and shiny–something that entices other people, that draws them in, that is a beacon–which is exactly what God calls us to be.

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Soul cleaning

I heard this in a sermon this spring–not sure which church.  But I liked it.  Because it is true.  Just because we are Christians–whether it has been since childhood or yesterday–does not mean we are done cleaning our souls.

Much like a house, you can do an amazing deep spring clean.  The whole thing is dust free, sparkling, smelling good, spotless.  And within a week–it needs touch ups.  A regular schedule of straightening up, taking out the clutter and garbage, and disinfecting is the best defense.

Anyone who thinks they are not the same way is wrong.  Every human needs a good cleaning outside and in every day.  We have to take a good hard look at the smudges and ask God to help us wipe them away.  Some are more stubborn and are going to need a good scrub–maybe even a soak–until that stain disappears.  This is one of the reasons I love weekly communion–especially with a really nasty wafer and wine that burn on the way down.  It is like a soul cleaning each week.  But we can do it without communion, we can do it in prayer, we can confess those transgressions daily and ask God for that deliverance every hour if we need to.

Think on your soul cleaning schedule today..does it need revision?

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Transgressions

Do you ever feel heavy from your transgressions?  You know you aren’t doing what you should, you are slipping up constantly, and you are not doing a good job of turning it around.  It is right there in your face, right in front of you, and still you do it.  It may be something big, it may be something little.  But no matter what it is there.  Kind of like that pile of stones Jesus threw in the sea…but piled up in front of you because you can’t let Him have them yet.

But the first step is acknowledging them.  Saying it.  Jesus…I know what I did wrong.  I know I need to get back on track.  I know I am needy.  I know I need you to deliver me.  I know I am really bad at waiting.

And letting Him throw those stones in to the sea.  Let go.  Let HIM have them all.  Then we find the rest and lightness we need.

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Needy and waiting

Do you ever feel especially poor and needy of spirit?  Sometimes we just get worn down.  My mojo for art, for school, for my home is somewhat non-existent right now.  A teacher asked me while I was doing an art critique with kids if artists ever struggle to make art.  Yep.  We do.

Do you ever wish God would not delay with that deliverance?  It feels like you have been waiting for eternity.  But the reality is, God has been waiting for eternity.  For real.  We are a needy people.  Can you imagine all the petitions to God over the centuries for deliverance?  Can you imagine the waiting God has done for His creations to turn back to Him? Kind of puts it in perspective doesn’t it.

Maybe I shouldn’t whine so much that I don’t have good mojo right now.  He’ll bring it when He is ready.

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New Song

One of the greatest treasures we have on earth is the beauty of nature, the songs of birds, the unfurling of spring leaves, the caress of May sunshine, the freshness of crisp air.  I encourage you today to open the windows, get outside, enjoy the bounty of treasures God has provided this day for us.  Point them out to the people you meet…not just, “Isn’t it a gorgeous day.” No.  Comment on something specific.  It will be like a little prayer of rejoicing sent up to Jesus.  And I guarantee it will be a bit of treasure stored up.

Be blessed my friends.

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Heart Treasures

So simply said Jesus.  Well done.

Make a list today of all of your heart treasures.  Pray over it.  Be in thanksgiving for your heart treasure.  Celebrate them.

And know that when you reach heaven they will stay with you, and yet not even be important. For the joy of the treasure in Christ will overwhelm you and fill you to bursting.  It will glow with a majesty we cannot fathom.

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Treasures

I do love me some shopping.  I love the hunt more than the stuff I bring home.  I think that is why I like garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores so much.  Because I am not super attached to most of the things in my home.  There are of course a few things.  And I do get annoyed when I break an art piece or lose a special earring from an art fair.   But, in the end, it is all just stuff.  Momentary.

And I think this verse is part of the reason why.  It has always had an impact on me.

We can enjoy the things we have, we can support artisans and designers and the retail world (we do need those jobs).  The difference is not attaching too much importance to those items.  Not worshiping them.  Not making them what defines us.

For we are defined by so much more than what we own.

 

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Dandelions

The dandelions are out in full force this spring.  We have two choices on how to deal with them:  spray the heck out of them and hope they disappear from our lawns OR embrace their gorgeous sunny yellow heads.  I took the second graders outside yesterday and showed them how to split the stem down the middle, soak it in water, and get a super tight spiral curl.  Their awe and giggling was so worth it…they ran over the lawn picking stems, looking for the longest and thickest to get the best results.  It was the best 15 minutes of my day.

We choose don’t we how we perceive our days?  How we look at our life.

I think this verse is telling us that we need to enjoy this life, enjoy not the material things, but all the things that fill our hearts.

I think it is reminding us that this life isn’t all there is, we have so much more to look forward to in the afterlife. That will fill our hearts even more.

This life is like a dandelion a fleeting flower that will eventually float on a breeze…but the memories of that joy and lightness can stay with us forever.

What do you think?

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O Thanks

Sooooo, we could get weighed down by all our sin, we could feel guilt at all the stones Jesus casts into the sea for us…or we can be thankful.  We can approach each day cleansed, lighter, filled with love.  We can be like a little blossom in spring turned to the light to grow.

Have you been watching them on the trees right now?  Here in Belmond it is just happening.  I love it…my kids tease me because I walk under the trees every year and take photos of the leaves unfurling and the birth of the flowers.  I love looking at the little buds, the ones just opening, and the gloriousness of the bouquets filling the branches their petals facing the light in thanks for their little lives, no matter how short.

That is how I want to be.  Filled with thanks, turned to the light.  All the time.  For I am loved forever.  You are loved forever.  FOREVER.  That is something to be thankful for.

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Sins in the Sea

Every once in awhile I get a visual of all of my sins and the magnitude of what Jesus has done for us.  This verse from Micah hit me hard.  I sat there and thought about everything I have done…just recently.  I thought of the big stones, and even every little pebble.  Think about it for you.  Can you see your pile?  If you were to stack them all at your feet what would it look like?  Would it build a wall all the way around you separating you from your Savior?

But when we call on Jesus He sanctifies us!  We can think of it as little sores that He heals.

Or we can think of it as Jesus with a bulldozer coming to crash our walls.  He uses a big excavator to put them in a dump truck that then drives them all to the sea and drops them in.  SPLASH!  (Tanner my little guy would like this visual!)

Or maybe you like the visual of God standing next to you picking up each stone no matter how big.  Then tossing them into the sea, maybe even skipping the little ones. And all of them sinking away out of view.

Either way, kind of makes me want to give God less work to do.  Makes me think about what would happen if my stones filled the sea.

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Sanctified

Not only does He fill us, but He purifies and cleanses us as He fills us.  He wipes away all of those little red blots on us, in us, and fills those craters left behind with what we need.  Because sin isn’t just a surface thing…every little infraction starts on the surface, but no matter how small it is, it is an ulcer that eats away at our souls.  Ever gotten upset about something, said something wrong, and then regretted and thought about it for days?  And the same when someone does something to you–considering revenge or the wise crack we can get back at them?  Ulcers.

But when we turn to God, and confess we need Him, He comes.  He wipes away the infections and heals the sores of sin and helps us move on.  And He is okay with cleaning up the same sins over and over.  But each time He leaves behind a little more encouragement for us to knock it off and be more like Jesus.  To live and love like He did.  To sanctify ourselves to be closer to God.  Now and forever.

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Fills

Oh, just when we think there isn’t another drop in our cup, ounce in the gas tank (I’m on a roll with the metaphors this week HA!” God swings in to save the day.  he will fill us all–with all He has–with as much as we need.

I maybe should have worked more this weekend–school projects, planning, house cleaning, Etsy stuff, getting the blog written for the week.  But instead I let God fill me–I followed His rules of rest.  I took some time with a friend to go do something fun.  I spent time outside.  I painted.  I took a drive, enjoyed the sun, and spring fields and went to church 40 minutes away where the music filled me and leaked out my eyes, and then prayed the drive home.  I centered with God and He filled me.  And I have been more productive this week.

Do you let God fill  you?  There is a difference when we let Him do what He wants in our lives.  His filling supplies so much more than this world ever can.

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Stay Salty

Stay on your toes…

Keep it fresh.  All ears.  On the ball/job/lookout.  Wide Awake. Hang on every word.

Salty.

God gave me a good lesson on this one just yesterday.  I was distracted and foolishly left cloth on top of a hot kiln and within a couple hours it was flaming.  I could have had a disaster, but God blessed me with more.  he pulled me out of head and into the present moment.

We always need to be salty-vigilant-ready.  Jesus used metaphor after parable after symbol, and a lot of them point back to one main idea:  Keep your faith and be ready at any moment to use it.

Otherwise what good is religion?  How will your faith help you?  Stay salty my friends.

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See

I was blind to my blessings for awhile there.  I was letting the frustrations have more space and they were clouding my vision.

This verse is from the gospels when Jesus heals the blind man with mud on his eyes, and on a Sabbath no less.  The Pharisees were outraged and had a heyday with this miracle.  And they were the blind ones!  I love this simple statement–the man believed because he knew how simply it happened.

Jesus can pull the scales off our eyes too.  This weekend watch for the blessings flowing to you, through you.  Let them overtake you and fill you with JOY.  Let us no longer be blind to our abundance, but see it and praise God for it.

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Looking at the Heart

The awesome thing about the Bible is its repetitiveness.

  1.  It shows that we are not alone in our sin and forgetfulness–no human in history has gotten it right all the time.
  2. It says over and over that God is not interested in our outward appearances.  It is a constant reminder in almost every book of the Bible in some fashion.
  3. It reminds us constantly that faith is a HEART business, not a works business.  God wants our HEART, our SOUL.  He is totally cool with us doing good stuff in service to Him–but He wants–no needs- us to do in the right SPIRIT.
  4. It proves over and over that we are mere mortals.  It proves how powerful and almighty God is.

I love that.  I love that He sees each of us individually.  I love that He recognizes our differences.  And He celebrates them, uses those differences.

No matter the shape of your heart, God sees it.  He loves it.  He wants it.  What a blessing–and it pumps through and flows through our very veins.

 

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