Feeling hammered by life? You may be right where God wants you to be

You and I are God’s handiwork.

God has given his Word on that in Ephesians 2:10.  When we accept the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as God’s grace toward us, he goes to work to change us. But what does it really mean and how does it work?

This short drama from The Skit Guys brings to life the concept of God working on us as we work out our salvation. If you are worn out from self-improvement that still falls short, self-effort that frustrates, self-help that doesn’t, here is a gift for your weary soul today.

It can be confusing and painful to submit to God’s chisel. But ultimately God’s correction comforts us. He chastens those he loves (Hebrews 12:6). He knows best what we need to be our best. The technical term is sanctification–God making us more like Jesus.

The skit has been around for a few years now, but I just saw it last week at church. It made a deep impression on my heart that has stayed with me through the week. My favorite exhchange is this one:

But God, I’ve let you down.

You don’t let me down. I hold you up.

How about you? Anything make a mark?

Leave a quick comment about what line resonates the most with you today.

[NOTE:  Please be kind. Although I’m linking to the youtube version, I took the step of purchasing before posting. The file is high-quality for playback in churches so I couldn’t upload it.  The workmen are worth their wage for this beautiful depiction portrayal of God’s truth.

God’s Chisel Remastered Video « The Skit Guys.

The next best thing to a trip to Israel

Cradle My Heart Radio welcomes Bible scholar Wayne Stiles January 5th at 9 pm ET

Ah, Israel. The cradle of our faith. The place where Jesus walked.

The Pool at Bethsaida photo by Larry Kutzler

The Pool at Bethsaida photo by Larry Kutzler

One of the things I so love about our Lord is that Jesus was a master storyteller. We feel we can actually see the characters he so vividly renders in his teaching parables about widows and farmers and a prodigal and his family. But these imaginings can sometimes impede our knowledge that there were also real people who met Jesus and walked away forever changed. This distinction is so important–the ministry of Jesus is not just about his instructive teaching. We have a historical record to inspire and direct us still today. The pool pictured above is where Jesus miraculously instructed a lame man to pick up his mat and walk according to John 5:2-17

Knowing what Jesus accomplished there encourages my faith and makes me more confident to claim that even today, he still heals.

When I had the joy and privilege to travel to Israel

Inspiration and hope for hurting hearts

If you or someone you know is experiencing grief after abortion, this would make a thoughtful and helpful gift.

Hope in the Mourning Bible

I was honored to write some of the devotions on child loss. Other devotional topics include dealing with suicide, the death of a parent, trauma, the pain of relocation to a foreign country, and more.

When Love Sees You

Sometimes it’s hard to picture God’s love for me–for everyone–when I look around and see needs that run so deep.

This video really helps.

I don’t know that the mental image I have of Jesus necessarily matches with the actor cast to play the part here, but I do know that every healing miracle told in the gospels is true. These are historic events we can trace through time.

Jesus was a healer without equal–the one Great Magician Who Turned the Water into Wine (as Van Morrison noted in his song, These are the Days). Jesus was also a Master Storyteller–drawing characters so vivid they seem real to us. His stories sometimes deter us from realizing that the history is not just a story. Jesus gave sight to the blind and he raised people from the dead. See which other historical healings you can detect as you watch.

When Love Sees You by Mac Powell

This depiction of the life and ministry of Jesus reminds me that I can only love because God first loved me. It’s so encouraging for me to know that we just aren’t in a position to see ourselves as God sees us. Often times that means that I am underestimating the  ways that I fall short of God’s ideal. But even after something so harrowing as deep sins like abortion (or the challenge to forgive the ones who sinned against you by causing it), God still sees us as the object of his love.

See the heart

We prayed outside an abortion facility in Atlanta today as a joyful act of obedience to God’s call for Day 38 of the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. I arrived early and joined three women already in prayer. We stood across the street and faced the facility. It was cold and windy and quiet. The sun had not yet come up. As I faced the building something beautiful caught me eye.

                                                          

Do you see the heart in the trees?

It’s a shaky image, I know, but the sky was still so dark that my little Nikon couldn’t capture the shutter speed of the flash without the blur. 

Our  prayers took us to God’s heart as we offered requests for mercy and for healing to all who have participated and those who will participate in abortion. If that’s you–I really hope and pray you see God’s heart today. Here is what He wants you to know:  “Don’t be afraid for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10 Holy Bible, New Living Translation)

If you are suffering after abortion, even if your faith is shaky, keep looking up. See the truth of love pouring out to you from Jesus Christ today, and see the heart of God.

Let’s pray

Please pray with us as God is calling me to pray outside an Atlanta abortion facility tomorrow and Friday, Day 38 and 39 of the worldwide 40 Days for Life prayer vigils.
     
                                                                       

I’m more of an evangelist than an activist, although I thank God for faith champions in the public arena! So, while I have been engaged for ten years in writing and speaking and private prayer for life, until last fall I had not joined the organized prayer effort nor agreed to fast at an appointed time. But I heard God’s call to go and pray at a facility a couple of weeks ago–my first time to stand outside such a place and pray.
 
God ordained a solitary time in this rather unusual location–no sidewalk, parking lot marked no trespassing–no interaction opportunity whatsoever.

A concrete bench nearby beckoned, and I sat down ready to move if asked. Yet no one disturbed me as I gazed at the exterior of the facility and watched the traffic moving in and out. I prayed for the uniformed guard that he would realize what he was protecting, and that he would resign his position. I prayed for his heart and his family. For women arriving to work, I prayed and asked that they would resign their jobs and turn to God for His provision and mercy. I saw women arrive two-by-two walking slowly and resolutely. I prayed that friends would be true friends and offer true help, and I prayed that mothers would change their minds and let their children live. I prayed for all for whom my prayers arrived too late.

I read Lamentations aloud and listened to the sound of our culture echoing ancient Jerusalem in her fall.

I felt overwhelmed as I considered the grief and sorrow which will surely arrive one day for everyone who enters and leaves that place. I had to admit that as I set out for this assignment, I didn’t see what difference an hour of my time would make on that particular day. I just knew God wanted me there. And of course, it changed my heart.

My time in prayer at that place increased the urgency I feel to rescue others from the lifelong consequences of abortion. I thank God that my time in prayer came to an end with rejoicing over Jesus Christ and his tender mercy. Again, I heard his sweet words of welcome to my little one, to all the little ones we reject when he said, “Let the little children come to me….”

So, Lord willing, I will return tomorrow, eager to pray with others this time through.

Lord willing, I will be there, praying.

Will you pray with me?


 

Thorns on my desk

Can you find the Bible on my desk?!!?

                   

I sat down at my desk to write last Monday morning. I’m working on a talk about growing in joy for the annual convention of the LCEF (held at Gaylord in Nashville November 19-21). I have a shelf full of Bibles that I use when I write, but I also have a favorite Bible with great cross-referencing and other features I rely on.

I ran off to church Sunday without my Bible, and I knew I would find it on my desk.

It’s there alright, along with everything else that represents my heart’s desire in the last few days. There are a couple of boxes of greeting cards–I sent some just to stay in touch with dear friends I’ve neglected to call. There are travel itineraries for an upcoming journey in December–my husband’s talent for long-range planning on display. You may notice my jewelry–flung off after I returned home for a fundraising banquet last night. I serve the organization and it was an all-day affair. The computer screen dominates the desk, of course and often draws my attention away from my Bible, she said with elegant understatement! Although, let’s don’t blame the computer, because just out of view a new stack is forming on the left–built on an unfinished sudoku from the Saturday paper.
Those papers in front of the computer screen are very important. A friend shared wisdom about goals vs. desires, and how our wishes for others can destroy our relationships if we let those wishes set an agenda and become a goal.

So where is God’s Word in this snapshot of my world?

If you look carefully, you can see the gilt pages of my Bible under the stack of papers behind the boxes of greeting cards and to the left of the screen.

Jesus warned that people can have the seed of faith planted in them, but then the cares of this world choke it out. I’m grateful that I did have a time of devotion to the Scriptures first thing this morning before I sat down to work. But this picture is a pretty accurate display of the place I’ve given God’s Word in my heart in the last 24 hours.

Here’s Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:3-9 and His explanation in Mark 4:14-20
Mark 4:3-9 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the aircame and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Mark 4:14-20 “The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

A man at our prison Bible study shared wisdom you may have heard before, “The Bible will keep you from sin, but it’s also true that sin will keep you from your Bible!” Lord, please help me so that the cares of this world and the desires for other things stay in their proper perspective this weekend and always.