September 17 – Fall into Place

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Some things in life miraculously line up. Such as, finding a soul mate, finishing a complicated puzzle, or how an airplane returns to land.
As we all desire the areas of our lives to come together, we all know with experience, our ideas, hopes and plans don’t always line up. 
Although, as time goes on, we can look back and appreciate that certain things didn’t pan out, such as relationships, home purchases or career decisions. There are times God protects us from going through such events that we don’t see at first. As we all enjoy the idea of our lives lining up, we know that some things are beyond our control. 
In Romans, it says “GOD causes everything to work together for good for those who love him…”

There is a form of comfort that lies in knowing a creator that has bigger and better plans than ours.

My plans aren’t your plans,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my plans than your plans.

– Isaiah 55:8-10 CEB

The person who gave us thoughts to accomplish great things, and the perseverance to see these goals out is with us as we journey. So, when those goal don’t come together, and the future doesn’t line up to our standard, keep hope in the person of Jesus. This deeper core message is the message of refinement and trust. That we can trust Him to accomplish what we can’t.

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. 
– Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

During a year of unexpected change and uncertainty, we can find confidence in a God who goes ahead of us in our lives’ decisions and work. Even when things don’t fall into place, there’s a bigger narrative working.

“Trust in God’s timing. It’s better to have to wait a while and have things fall into place then to rush into something and have things fall apart.”
– Adam Cappa

Further Reading:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
– Philippians 1:6

“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.
– Matthew 10:38 (MSG)

September 10 – Milestones

“A milestone is less date and more definition.”     
-Rands

The Blue Zone is a term that has been used to categorize a place in the world that holds a large amount of people who’ve live/lived to a significant old age. These peoples’ diets, genes, environment, way of life, and mentalities are studied to unlock the secret of what has allowed them to live to such an age. As we mark our age through birthday celebrations and accomplishments, graduations and promotions, each of our lives is dotted with milestones of importance.
Reaching a milestone is almost parallel to a mile marker in a race. As you continually cross mile markers in life, you know you are that much closer to your end goal.

“So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.”
-Hebrews 12:1 TPT

As they say, life is about the journey, and recognizing our milestones produces a form of gratitude and admiration for how far we’ve come. So perhaps it’s less about our age, or significance in numbers, but of quality of time given. Each milestone in life a moment of reflection or pause.

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.”
-Psalm 90:12 NIV

So, enjoy today’s milestones, God’s gift of another day. What may be ahead of us could be challenging or daunting. Or maybe, you can’t wait to get to the next mile marker in life. Whatever the case, our now is to be celebrated.

“Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.”
-Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to a Happy Life

Further Reading:

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
-2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.
-Psalm 37:23 NKJV

“It’s easy to see how far you are from your desired outcome. It’s easy to see that you are not the man you want to be. The easy thing is not always the best thing. It’s also easy to get discouraged about the marathon that you are only a fifth of the way through. Instead of focusing solely on the hard work and pain ahead of you, take the time to celebrate the steps you have made, the milestones you have passed.”
-Josh Hatcher

September 3 – Pieces

“God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again. You are my praise!”
-Jeremiah 17:14

A tree fell in my parent’s backyard this week and miraculously missed their house and anything of value in the yard. As perhaps this tree was ready to fall, it triggered a cliché saying “what goes up, must come down.” This particular tree grew to its limits, and had slowly been breaking down. But as we are taught, to pick ourselves up back again when things go south, I reminisced that, this particular tree will never be upright again. It’s left in pieces on the backyard floor. 
It has fallen, but it won’t get back up. As we all have fallen in our lives, we strive to pick up the pieces to pull ourselves back together. We journey on in life and our experiences show us that there will be times we fall. We won’t always get put back together the same way. Perhaps we will grow elsewhere, or perhaps we learn to live with our fallen selves. 

“Put your broken pieces into God’s hands and watch Him use them to work His wonders.”
-Christine Caine

As we are all sinners, yet we are all saints -worthy of love, and grace and cherished beyond measure. Our striving to pick up our pieces, is healthy yet it isn’t all about our performance, it is who we become when all falls apart. 

Julian of Norwich said:
“First the fall, and then the recovery from the fall, and both are the mercy of God.”

We know a God who loves who we are, whether standing strong, or broken up on the lawn below. Our value and uniqueness remains, our purposes still present. We look at what has become of us, and ask God to make us to become who we were made to be. Not to shame, but to appreciate, that yes we can pick ourselves back up, but we were made for recovery, growth, journey and love. 
You are deserving of grace today, let’s pass that forward.

Your love is wild for me
It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed
Your love is proud
To be seen with me
‘Cause You don’t give Your heart in pieces

-Pieces, Steffany, Dawn Gretzinger

Further Reading:

“Sometimes what we think is best is actually not the best for us. God knows the beginning from the end and knows how to make you whole. Your brokenness is not the end of who you are; it is the beginning. Life will break you, but God will mend you and make you stronger through it all. The society in which we live approaches brokenness with trying to fix it themselves. We cannot fix ourselves. The truth is only God can turn a life that is broken into a thing of beauty.” 
― Mandy Fender, Beautifully Broken: Giving God the Broken Pieces

August 27 – In Control

“It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself.”
-John Piper

Can you relate to the feeling of losing control? Our human nature takes charge, but as life goes on, we discover things are out of our reach. I think as we grow, we realize, there isn’t much we actually have control over! We can pray and hope for the best, but the tighter we hold something, we find ourselves crushing it with our anxieties. In time, we can conclude to accomplish what is humanly possible, surrender in prayer, and learn the ways of God. Take it from the prayers of Hannah, as she praised God for being able to conceive.

“Nothing and no one is holy like GOD, no rock mountain like our God. Don’t dare talk pretentiously— not a word of boasting, ever! For GOD knows what’s going on. He takes the measure of everything that happens. The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces, while the weak are infused with strength.”

This simple passage in Samuel stands out as the words of Hannah are quoted, for God knows what’s going on, He takes the measure of everything that happens. Our day to day striving, researching, prodding, and googling can only go so far. Overall, He is bigger. I hope this serves as wake-up over your situation. To persevere, to see your situation through, but know the power in the greatness of God.

For when we let go, miracles happen,
When we surrender in prayer, answers are given,
When we bow our heads, spirits are lifted.
Let’s find our surrender in God and discover freedom in His power.

I lift my hands to Heaven
Here my heart surrendered
I tell my soul again
You are Lord of all
And though the seas are raging
You will speak and tame them
In You I find my rest
You are in control’

-In Control, Hillsong Worship

Further Reading:

“God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds. He created the horizon when he separated the waters: he set the boundary between day and night. The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at his rebuke. By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” 
-Job 26:7-14

“For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.” 
-2 Samuel 22:33

August 20 – Your Word

“So you can see that it’s not the same thing as reading the latest issue of your favorite magazine or a Shakespearean sonnet. There’s something different here — something that the creator of the universe wants to tell you and wants you to understand about him and yourself. By jumping into the Bible, you open your eyes to God’s world and see how he includes you in his story.”
-Eugene Peterson, The Message Remix

As I scroll daily through several social media accounts I at times feel bombarded with opinions, information, facts and headlines. I’ve caught myself many times needing a news break. The headlines these days are consistent and readily at our fingertips. It is quite easy to express a view on each and any article that comes out. Where media, previous to our age, was a one-way outlet, it now has become a two-way street; a dialogue. Instead of what everyone else is doing, or the state of our world, I’m reminded there are ancient words that have been penned that give us hope, revelation, strength, clarity and much more.

  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
– Psalm 119:105

Before the beginning of the world God’s word was there. The words became among us and through us. Our life stories unfold through the knowledge of the Bible. God’s word is overall, a text supreme, where we find our purpose and fullness. A much-needed pause in our day, these words will never change or go out of style.

“Before the Earth knew its foundations
You spoke the dust, into creation
Until the end, when all has withered
Then still your Word, will endure forever”

-Hillsong Worship, Your Word

Perhaps you also could use a break from the usual scrolling, and like myself appreciate the simple reminder of the freshness of simple Biblical reading.

Eugene Peterson summarizes this well when he states:
“As we read, and the longer we read, we, begin to ‘get it’ — we are in conversation with God. We find ourselves listening and answering in matters that most concern us: who we are, where we came from, where we are going, what makes us tick, the texture of the world and the communities we live in, and — most of all — the incredible love of God among us, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. “Through reading the Bible, we see that there is far more to the world, more to us, more to what we see and more to what we don’t see — more to everything! — than we had ever dreamed, and that this ‘more’ has to do with God. This is new for many of us, a different sort of book
— a book that reads us even as we read it.”

Trading our usual media this week for Bible time may open more doors than we can imagine.

Further Reading:

“Blessed are you who give yourselves over to GOD, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships; The world’s a huge stockpile of GOD-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you.”
-Psalm 40:4-5 MSG

August 13 – The Deep

The Deep

“I’ve lost control, but I’m free”
– In Over My Head, Bethel

A familiar passage in the story of Jonah reads:

“In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God.
He answered me.
From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’
You heard my cry.
You threw me into ocean’s depths,
into a watery grave,
With ocean waves, ocean breakers
crashing over me.
I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away,
thrown out, out of your sight.
I’ll never again lay eyes
on your Holy Temple.’
Ocean gripped me by the throat.
The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight.
My head was all tangled in seaweed
at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root.
I was as far down as a body can go,
and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—
Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive,
O God, my God!
When my life was slipping away,
I remembered God,
And my prayer got through to you…”

– Jonah 2:2-8 (MSG)

‘As far down as a body can go’ the passage says that Jonah sank into the depths. As Jonah sank literally into the abyss I think it’s a familiar feeling for us all, sinking, deep. Whether its sinking into fear, helplessness, spiraling into hopelessness, or buried by our schedules. We can be consumed by our difficulties. I’m wondering if you can relate to days where you’re simply trying to stay afloat. A song put out by Bethel Music says:

“And whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head” 
If it makes no difference, it tells us to release all of these sinking feelings. When you’ve hit the bottom, there’s nowhere else to go.

“The only storm that can really destroy—the storm of divine justice and judgment on sin and evil—will never come upon you. Jesus bowed his head into that ultimate storm, willingly, for you. He died, receiving the punishment for sin we deserve, so we can be pardoned when we trust in him.”
– Timothy Keller, The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy

Our deep is not too deep for God. There is nothing too far from God’s rescue, no prayer he can’t handle, no despair he doesn’t attend too. We can surrender our despair to him.
God is with us in the depths, and as he provided Jonah with a whale, he again gives us a second chance. Maybe we don’t recognize our second chances? I wouldn’t at first assume being swallowed by a whale a second chance.

Beneath the waves we can find the will to surrender.
Whether I sink, or whether I swim.

In time, I wonder if we could see the depths as a place of turn around; a chance to reevaluate and reassess. To remind ourselves of gratitude, or to dwell on the storm that Jesus has fought and won for us. I want to encourage you that no ocean is too big for his grace, his power, and love. 

Let it go

“If you were a hundred times worse than you are, your sins would be no match for his mercy.”
– Timothy Keller, The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now”

– Oceans, Hillsong United

Hoping we can learn to take each day in strides, to pursue gratitude and release the feelings of defeat to Jesus, whom gives us mercy and second chances at the bottom.

August 6 – Fire

There’s a grace when the heart is under fire
Another way when the walls are closing in

– Hillsong United, Another in the Fire

Prescribed burns are implemented for a healthy ecosystem. It is the idea of intentionally burning off what isn’t useful in order to make room for new growth. Crews will take the specific precautions, plan down to the last detail what needs to burn and where. Burns are carefully isolated to one area and are fully controlled. Many times, biologists oversee these projects to determine correct plant life and what the new flora will look like when regrowth happens.
Fire is an element that kills whatever is in its tracks. We prevent forest fires, criminalize arson, and protect our homes with smoke detectors. We are prepared for an unexpected fire. But what if there is something to be said about burning intentionally? This analogy allows us to see fire as a means of renewing. As a biologist sets fire to the forest floor, perhaps there are things inside us that could go. For example: negative mindsets, poor perspectives, unhealthy hobbies, addictions, a sour worldview, to pick a few. There are things in our souls that could be burned off in order to make room for new seeds of change. 

….provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendour. – Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

The bible symbolizes fire as purification, including the power and zeal of God. Both with the element of destroying and cleansing.
Yet, not out of our own strength can these changes be made, but out of the planting of the Holy Spirit.

Similarly, fire is hot, and it is both positive and negative. It symbolizes both refining and purifying, on the one hand, and death and destruction on the other. – Forerunner Commentary

The character of God is described as a holy fire. Burning that within us that has no use to us anymore. Fire symbolizes God’s radiant glory as an aspect of His holiness.

“For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”
– Deuteronomy 4:24 (KJV)

Light up the fire of love inside and blaze the thoughts away. – Rumi

God desires to free us from that which holds us back in our lives. Things that aren’t serving us. Intentionally burning welcomes change and rebirth.

So let’s burn off anything that has no use to us. Embrace a holy fire. Turn ashes to beauty and grow again. 

Grow up and grow within. 

Because in our fires He is always fanning our flame. 
To become and to change, to be increasingly like Christ.

Further Reading:

“You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.”

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..” – Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

July 31 – Hymn Series

Nothing but the blood

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Many instances we come up empty. We push to do the right thing, make ends meet or think we’re on the right track. Then we get sidelined, or forced back to the beginning.

The popular Hymn, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, says that only the saving power of Jesus can make us whole again.
Yet, literally speaking. How can blood wash away our faults?

In the early Jewish tradition, animals were sacrificed to remove sins. Found in Leviticus 1:1-3,
“The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock. “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord.”

It wasn’t until John the Baptist eventually declared: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (NIV).
As killing an animal cleansed sins in the Old Testament, the sacrifice of Jesus’ life fully covers our sins, again and again to this day.

“But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all.”
– Hebrews 9:11-13

He set us free, makes us whole, and white as snow. The picture of what the blood has done for us had Robert Lowry writing, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can my sin erase
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Naught of works, ’tis all of grace—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Because of our new selves, we have peace, we have hope, we have second chances. We can start again, we can love, we are new. Every day a miracle, a gift by grace.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

So embrace this gift of life, we are blessed and made to bless, it is never too late, Jesus has shown us that through his story. We can always begin again.

Further Reading:

A powerful biblical segment that Jesus prayed for us- humanity, before he was seized and taken away to be killed.

“I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.”

– John 17:20-23 (MSG)

July 30 – Hymn Series

It is well with my Soul

“And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight..”

Life is hard. There are things that happen that we can’t comprehend, that make no sense. We experience grief, heartache and horror. There are things that make us question if God even exists. And that’s okay.
We strive for peace, we read, and question and ask for peace. But I wonder if we experience the most peace when we’re going through the hardest stuff? Perhaps peace rises in the oddest of places? It’s the supernatural contrast in life that brings us back declaring, that even so… it is well.

“Though the fig tree does not bud    
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails    
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen    
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,    
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.”

– Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)

Many of us are familiar with the tragedy the author Horatio Spafford experienced when He wrote “It is Well,” his words were declared out of deep grief.

He reminds us that whatever our lot, we can say, It is well. It is well, not when it is over, when it’s summer, or Friday, or when the pain has passed. Peace is now and through. Peace is even through it all – inner calm with chaos.

“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

But it still doesn’t feel too well I say to myself. 
Our world, our humanity, even day to day. How can it be “even so”….well? Stating that when things aren’t truly well, there is still something that is well. It is our trust in the one that makes all things well. God is in all things, even our trauma and trials. He is bigger than our life storms, and he will fight for us, and see them through.

Peace be still
You are here so it is well
Even when my eyes can’t see
I will trust the voice that speaks
– Peace Be Still, – The Belonging Co.

Urging you to take heart today. That you experience His promise of peace with whatever you are facing.

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”
– Oscar Wilde

Further Reading:

“Be still, and know that I am God..”
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

“For this is what the Lord says:” I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on here knees. – Isaiah 66:12 (NIV)

“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ- the Message- have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever- be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
– Colossians 3:15 (MSG)

July 29 – Hymn Series

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

“His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well”

The popular hymn “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” prompts us to divert attention towards Jesus, allowing the fade of whatever trials are in front of us. A great way to begin your day is listening to this song. The simple text says that all will be well, things will pass and there will be hope, light for another day.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

I simply want to remind you that there is a light, there is a hope, that in time, things will turn around. Some days are slower, some days fly by. There are moments in life, where there looks to be no way out, but let life surprise you. Today may have looked different than the past, and perhaps your future is fragile, but hope is not lost. Seek the light in which this song sings of. A light that is always shining.

“Light is still guiding you, illuminating everything…and this includes the beautiful things, the hard – to –notice – things, the I- never – really –looked – at – it -that – way- until – now sort of things. This is the kind of change that makes a difference in you. – Morgan Harper Nichols

Remind yourself that you aren’t alone. In your everyday, in the mistakes, in the frustrations. All begins with Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Further Reading:

“ When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Degree. “I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you” – God’s Decree- “bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it. – Jeremiah 29:13 (MSG)

“Light, space, zest— that’s God! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.” – Psalm 27:1 (MSG)

July 28 – Hymns Series

Blessed Assurance

“Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.”

To be assured of something, means that you have confidence, certainty, and security. Looking at our surroundings, what we can touch, there isn’t much that holds that guarantee. Material things fall apart, people fail us, and our skin and bones are temporary. The hymnal Blessed Assurance written by blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby in 1873 finds inspiration for the song through Philippians 1:2, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (ESV).

There are times that life may not look like a blessed assurance. Can some people be blessed and others not? Do blessings come and go? Some may think those who don’t have much material wealth, are blessed as they are more content with real blessings, such as people, family and time.

“ Blessings are not static gifts, they are a flow of grace. “ – Liz Milani

The hymnal reminds us that our blessings aren’t come and go, or transactional. Blessed assurance comes from God, not our goodness, or attempts at wholeness.

“ God’s blessing makes life rich; nothing we do can improve on God.” – Proverbs 10:22 (MSG)

Assurance can be a form of rest. A time when these lyrics hit me was during a funeral. There is assurance in the text about the finality of life. We are assured of our destination after this life. We are blessed, reminded of the idea, that our life’s assurance is solid on what Jesus has given us, eternal life. We can sing about our stories on earth, and praise to our futures.

“Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”

We can look back at our blessings, good, bad, blessings-in- disguise, whatever you want to call them and rest. Rest in the hope that our grounding here on earth is with what God has given us, and that our journey of life, can be all joy because of who Jesus is.

“This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long”

Further Reading:

“ God’s blessing makes life rich; nothing we do can improve on God.”
Proverbs 10:22 (MSG)

“It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need, but compassion for the poor- what a blessing!”
Proverbs 14:21 (MSG)

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – Matthew 5: 3-9 (MSG)

July 27 – Hymns Series

How Great Thou Art

This week I wanted to focus on the idea of flourishing in any circumstance. As much I’m sure we all love quick tips, self-help books, inspirational quotes, I sat in silence reminding myself that getting healthy, conquering negativity, standing in hope is made possible because of Jesus. Maybe that sounds cliché to you, or you don’t even know what that looks like, but I found it’s the basic element of surrender. I can’t become, without declaring I’m not the one that makes life happen.

I’d like to focus this week on how the quality of the words found in various hymns remind us that when we begin with Jesus, our minds are clear, our paths are light, and our ideas take flight. These hymns, are still a humble reminder that whatever we find ourselves worrying about, we can find in the peace- filled reminder of a song.

“Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art”

Growing up in a Christian tradition that sung old-English hymns every Sunday morning became dry week after week. What once bored me as a kid, smacked me in the face later in life- how these lyrics never left my mind.

The lyrics of How Great Thou Art originated in Sweden, written by Carl Boberg in 1886 a member of the Swedish Parliament at that time.

On writing the song:

“It was in 1885, and in the time of year when everything seemed to be in its richest coloring; the birds were singing in trees and wherever they could find a perch. On a particular afternoon, some friends and I had been to Kronobäck where we had participated in an afternoon service. As we were returning a thunderstorm began to appear on the horizon. We hurried to shelter. There were loud claps of thunder, and the lighting flashed across the sky. Strong winds swept over the meadows and billowing fields of grain. However, the storm was soon over and the clear sky appeared with a beautiful rainbow.”

“After reaching my home, I opened my window toward the sea. The church bells were playing the tune of a hymn. That same evening, I wrote a poem which I titled, ‘O Store Gud,’ (How Great Thou Art).”

How Great Thou Art is a beautiful reminder of the declaration of the power of God. I think that’s where we can begin.

“O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed”

The power, the wonder of God – we have that on our side, with us always. Submitting to this wonder, is where we can put our hope. God who created the stars, the sand, the forest, the human mind, reminds us of His greatness as we go about our scheduled lives.

A fresh reminder of this beautiful song can be found here.

“Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang. – Mary Oliver

Further Reading:

“O Lord, how great are thy works!” – Psalm 92:5

July 23 – Words

“Raise your words, not your voice.
It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” -Rumi

Have you ever regretted what you’ve said? Perhaps you’ve said something and wish you could have taken your words back. Maybe it’s the opposite for you, you’re working on speaking up in the moment. For either scenario, the right words couldn’t be found. When we say the right words at the right time they can grow, build, shape and influence. The bible talks about words as power, honey and a tree of life. 

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
– Proverbs 15:4 (ESV)

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
– Proverbs 16:24 (ESV) 

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
– Colossians 4:6 (ESV) 

Our words are formed out of our thoughts and surroundings. We can choose to speak our mind, or we can stop, go deeper, and take a look at our thought process before we verbalize.

If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths. Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts. We can always replace negative with positive.” – Betty Eadie

At times, it is satisfying to speak our minds! But in the long run, can lead to regret.

Biting our tongue can prevent a deeper, unnecessary argument. Words give a chance to uplift, to critique, to influence and to aid. They also are just as powerful to pull down, inhibit, and crush. I’d hate to be the person who crushes another’s soul, demeans a potential. What if we treated humans like our plants? Nourish them, tend to them, or even speak to our plants! Such encouragement allows them to grow. 

Be careful what you say. You can say something hurtful in ten seconds, but ten years later, the wounds are still there.” – Joel Osteen

Connecting with each other positively through what we say and how we communicate can move hearts. Let’s use our words to equip each other’s potential and choose our words smartly. Our words define who we are as people, and how we are perceived. Think on your thoughts, see how your speech connects. Spend time crafting your opinion in such a way to allow people to rise. Let’s talk to build up, to encourage, to bloom.

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh, You say I am Yours
And I believe, oh, I believe
What You say of me
I believe”


You Say, – Lauren Diagle

Further Reading:

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit- you choose.”
Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”
Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)

July 16 Hope

God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.”Oswald Chambers, The Delight of Despair

I’ve had an analogy in my head that when things overwhelm me, I’m wearing a big backpack. And when I can’t begin to see a way out of the problems that cripple me, I envision throwing them all in this backpack that I carry around. Yet, the problem with the backpack imagery, is that I’m still carrying it. Things I’ve wanted to be rid of – fear, worry, anxieties – are still over me. I would love to just drop off my backpack of troubles, kick it off a dock, or leave on someone’s else’s porch. 

If you’re going through hell, keep going.”Winston Churchill

Instead of drop-kicking the backpack of problems to the sidewalk, I should open the backpack, and gaze into the bag. Sorting through our difficulties causes pain, sadness and many times we’re left with a feeling of hopelessness.

Hope is defined as: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, or

trusting that something will happen. When we choose to believe possibilities instead of failures our hearts adhere to it, our actions follow.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name”
Cornerstone, Hillsong Worship

God sent his son Jesus, to save the world – (not judge, debate, or divide it)- but to save it. We needed saving yes, but right now we need hope. Looking at the last 7 months of 2020, we could use a serious dose.

If God is our secure source of hope, then I can confidently hope in what he says. Furthermore, I can dump my hopelessness off with him. 

And the fame of his name will birth hope among the people.”Matthew 12:21 TPT

God, the one and only- I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul. An impregnable castle; I’m set for life.”Psalm 62:5 (MSG)

I hope one day my life will look like _____. I hope my kids will be respectful citizens. I hope our world will find harmony. I hope this pandemic ends. As there’s no guarantee in our hopes, hope, faith and trust go hand in hand. I can turn my worries into hope, into prayers. Believing that all these things will happen. 

Let’s feel our moments of hopelessness, then choose otherwise. Our pathways to joy lie in our ability to choose hope first. 

Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times.”Romans 12:12 TPT

The anchor for our souls.
I hope for you, for us, for this time now.

Further Reading:

“So then, my soul why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace!” -Psalms 42:5 TPT

“ There are times when God cannot reveal Himself in any other way than in His majesty, and it is the awesomeness of the vision which brings you to the delight of despair. You experience this joy in hopelessness, realizing that if you are ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God.” -Oswald Chambers, The Delight of Despair

“It is because of hope that you suffer. It is through hope that you’ll change things.” -Maxime Lagacé 

July 9 – Begin

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].” -Philippians 1:6 [AMP]

Several years ago, I found myself golfing for the first time. Other than mini-putting I never took the time to complete a proper golf game. With some borrowed clubs, and a few pointers the golf score didn’t turn out to bad! Perhaps beginner’s luck? Over the years I can’t seem to match my initial golf score, but all it required of me was to try, to start, to begin something new.

Sometimes starting is the hardest part.

Like a plane that speeds down the runway, the craft takes a slow ascent upwards into a limitless sky. As flying requires leaping, propelling yourself forward, beginning may be all you need to do before taking off.

All good things take time, and all things have a beginning. Each day can be assumed as a new beginning. We’ve never lived this day before. We plan, but in essence, we aren’t positive what will pop up.

So, what prevents us from starting, recovering, healing? Beginnings can be filled with unknowns, fears, uncertainties and what ifs. Perhaps we fear we won’t get it perfect the first time. I’m reminded: there will always be a failure. Our lives can show us this. Yet, when we fail, we have learned much.

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

We were created to start anew. Another chance given through grace. Our beginnings found in the God of second chances.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis

We choose to begin, because we were made to grow. A caterpillar doesn’t stay in its cocoon. A seed is not designed to stay in the soil. Life tells us to grow. To begin again.

“But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.” – Mark 4: 20 MSG

So, we choose to run this race called life. With the grit to stop, start, fail, yet begin again. For we were created for the long-distance race, not the sprint.

So, dare to:
Try,
Reach,
Fly,
Love,
Build,
Grow,
Believe.

“Out there things can happen, and frequently do,
To people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Further Reading:

“Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!” – Galatians 3: 2-4 MSG

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 MSG

July 2 – Strong

“…God is strong, and he wants you strong.”
Ephesians 6:10 (MSG)

The Bible mentions the word strong various times throughout the Old and New Testaments. Stories of armies, warriors, of soldiers, including the strength of Samson. In the book of Judges, it says that Samson was given immense strength to aid him against enemies. Samson had the ability to slay a lion with his bare hands, and massacre an entire army. While physically, I don’t think I could compare to this strength, I found defining the word ‘strong’ takes on many forms.

One definition was: “having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.” Secondly: “(of a person’s character) showing determination, self-control, and good judgment.” In summary, strong simply isn’t defined as pure physical strength, but as the strength to endure, to persevere. Perhaps you are strong physically, but when it comes to determination of the mind, maybe it’s a struggle. Our perhaps it’s vice versa?

What I’d like to focus on is the strength of mind. As even for athletic success, much of the winning starts with the mind.

“A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge strengthens his power;” Proverbs 24:5 (AMP)

You are strong when you pause, take time to think not run or hide. You are strong when you decide to face your fears, sit in your pain, and sort out the hurt. You are strong when the entire room has all eyes on you, and you couldn’t feel more uncomfortable. Strength is found in the courage of looking at life straight in the face. Unveiling our fears, becoming vulnerable.

Our strongest selves can be discovered out of our lowest of places. That is when we are forced to rise. And when we rise, we emit strength. Strength to decide better, to choose better, to think better, to give it our all.

“A commitment to growth is a commitment to risk, courage, faith, strength, hope, and a willingness to make mistakes, get back up and try again.”
— Christine Caine

For us, we challenge ourselves to ask: are we willing to do the work and rise up, show up, be present and be vulnerable? When the answers yes, we are at our healthiest.

“…No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
John 15: 4 (NIV)

Attached to God we are full. This is where vision, drive, hope and strength lie. Confidence and courage remain in him. The one who created us, remains in us.

“ When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.” – Brene Brown, Rising Strong

With God at our centre, we learn to be strong by our actions/reactions each day. Let’s not let our fears prevent us from courage and heart.
Strength is within you.
Let’s not deny it. Let’s face it.

Rise above it, and soar.

Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

“There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fear mongers, Than those of us who are willing to fall
Because we have learned how to rise
With skinned knees and bruised hearts;
We choose owning our stories of struggle,
Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.
When we deny our stories, they define us.
When we run from struggle, we are never free.
So, we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.
We will not be characters in our stories.
Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.
We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings.
We craft love from heartbreak,
Compassion from shame,
Grace from disappointment,
Courage from failure.
Showing up is our power.
Story is our way home.
Truth is our song.
We are the brave and brokenhearted.
We are rising strong.”
– Brene Brown, Rising Strong

Further Reading:

”Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
Ephesians 3:17 (NLT)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
John 15:1-4 (NIV)

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

June 25 – The Art of Becoming

“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.”
1 Peter 1:18 MSG

I had pursued an undergrad in Visual Arts earlier in my twenties and I can recall attending classes in sculpture, painting and drawing with thirty or so other peers. For each lab we analyzed what other students had been working on, allowing each to showcase their own work. I can remember being challenged, and criticized also questioning at times, to myself, you call that art? Yet, while I enjoyed creating and accepting different art forms, I found an interesting take away from my degree. That art, with any concept to back it up, is art. Opposed to math and science, where the answer is either right or wrong –art, can be proven otherwise.

“That’s the beauty of music and art is that there’s no right or wrong. Whichever way you paint the picture, you’re still painting the picture…” – Jonathan Chandler

As I look at my 6-month old daughter each day, she is in a constant state of development. To my eyes, she seems to change by the minute, and that is how we were designed. To keep moving, growing, learning. Physically, but also in who we are, our personalities, goals, and life paths. Our lives and experiences shape the art of who we become. Yet, we can get to a certain point in life where we’d rather not change. Thinking, this idea, this look, it’s working for me, why change?

“We change not because we are failures, but because the new thing, way, practice, belief- whatever it is –serves us better, individually and collectively.” – The Practice Co.

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as a forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach.“ – Michelle Obama

I have been taught that God is a God that transforms. That he is concerned more about our character than comfort. I have witnessed these changes, and we all find these stories inspiring: turning wrongs into right, ashes to beauty. Ingrained in our identity is the ability to overcome, and the ability to create good change.

If becoming is an art, then transforming is a masterpiece. We have been given this life to become. We have been created to create. Arriving isn’t always the goal. I believe we will always be rising, asking, learning, adventuring, treasuring, and seeking.

“You have power to transform man’s futile anger into praise.” – Psalm 76:10 TPT

We find completeness in our creator. We can create, because we were created.
Our creative ambition brought on by an artistic God. So, let’s create good, let’s create change. Paint kindness and sculpt humility. Let’s reach for the unreachable, and believe that what God has put in us, is greater than ourselves.

“…be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.”
– Romans 12:2 TPT

With the time given, we journey, until we arrive.

“And on that final day I die
I want to hold my head up high
I want to tell you that I tried
To live it like a song
And when I reach the other side
I want to look you in the eye
And know that I’ve arrived
In a world where I belong”

– Jon Foreman

Further Reading:

“First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.”
Geneisis 1:1-2 MSG

“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” – Romans 12:2 TPT

“Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?
Who would have thought God’s saving power
would look like this?
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.”

Isaiah 53: 1-6 MSG

June 18 – Second Start

2 Corinthians 4:1 (NLT)
Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.

Several days ago, we had some severe storms that passed through Essex County. Typical of our area, I anticipated it as the weather got increasingly hot and sticky earlier in the day. As the storm came in, it produced some powerful winds, rain and hail. I watched as the photos of storm damage spread throughout social media; it hit home as my sister and her husband lost several trees on their property that night. Grateful that none of them hit their home or car, these 60 feet spruce trees could have done deeper damage.
The storm came and went, and following it – blue skies. But the remnants were still there. Life presses on, but the clean-up begins. The skies clear up, but yet, we are still left with the damage.
We wake up each morning a new day, an option, a second start thanks to God. We’ve all dealt with differing types of damage. Damage to our hearts, relationships, reputation, careers, or even the actual physical storm damage.
We all a broken people.
Sometimes we don’t choose for these negative experiences in life to happen to us; sometimes they just happen. They’re out of our control. Other times, we’ve allowed it, turning to our regret.
However your life storm was caused – by your own fault, or no fault of your own – there lies the disarray.
Now, to move forward, to clean up. Our messes aren’t easily mopped. Our spills not easily wiped cleaned. In our own minds, the damage can haunt, the failure lingers. Yet, I hear echo in my mind:

His mercies are new every morning.

I’ve heard that way too often growing up. Do I believe it? I don’t always feel it.

“And as you speak
A hundred billion failures disappear.”

– So Will I
Hillsong Worship

The God of love, sees our failures, anticipates our failures, grieves at our failures and gives us another go.

Proverbs 17:9 (TPT)
Love overlooks the mistakes of others…

1 Corinthians 13:7 (TPT)
Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

We keep getting second chances. He makes the day begin, causes the sun to rise, something bigger is happening here. The patience of God, is giving us endless opportunities to start over, start fresh.

Proverbs 10:25 NLT
When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

Trees will fall, and trees will get cut down.
Clean up will enviable, but the damage needs no guilt.
Our second start is covered by God.

My sister can decide to leave her backyard as is – trees uprooted, fences down. But her backyard won’t be fully functional. The wreckage done to our human heart can be painful and treacherous. We find that without that fresh slate/new mercies, we aren’t at our functional best. We’ve been given the option to clean up the storm’s damage, and plant something new.

“Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found, in you”
– Beautiful Things, Gungor

“The miracle is that we see ourselves fully, too. This includes the entirety of you-the good and the bad. It’s a brave thing to gaze upon your whole self. You’ll see the beauty and the wreckage; the success and the failure, the progress and the stagnation; the places where you are a blessing, and the places where you have been damaging. Spirit asks that you give each place equal weight. It’s easy to engage only in the things that make us feel good about ourselves just as it is easy to engage in the things that give us an excuse (however legitimate it may be) for our victim mentality. To engage our whole selves with love and power? That takes courage.”
– Liz Milani, The Practice Co.

Further Reading:
Lamentations 3: 19-24 (MSG)

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.

June 11 – Speak

“Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!” Proverbs 31:8 MSG

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is a professional mixed-marital art fighting company featuring some of the best fighters in the world. My husband frequently tunes in, and if I’m being honest, sometimes I look away when things get pretty bloody. These fighters have spent many years in the ring devoting themselves to various forms of their sport. They fight other equally matched players in their division, and bring out carefully planned maneuvers to each competition. Actions that are quick and painful in order to be victorious.
As I don’t ever see myself in the ring anytime soon, I reflect on how our lives can be a fight. We try our best to prepare for what comes at us, but find ourselves in situations where we need to put up our fists. I don’t mean simply fighting for fighting’s sake, or empty-headed quarrels, but fighting for peace, fighting for change, fighting for resolve.

We fight for the best/happiness for our family members. We fight for the right outcomes in our work, our school work. We fight with God, why do I deserve this? We fight in prayer and petition for change. We hope for a peaceful life, but we know that isn’t our guarantee. We can guarantee grief, pain, frustration and on another level injustice.

Right now, it seems we can’t look anywhere without seeing a battle. Amongst the pavement of a global pandemic we find our eyes glued to the screen watching our world protest. We’re fighting to get through a pandemic, and we’re fighting for basic human rights. My peace maker self asks, do we have to fight?

Love alone is worth the fight – Jon Foreman

If justice is a form a love, then fight, with all you’ve got. If justice is what we’re lacking, then why are we standing still?

Clean living before God and justice with our neighbours mean far more to God than religious performance. – Proverbs 21:3 MSG

To fight is to love. It’s where your passions lie. It’s because you’ve chosen to care. It’s the passion that wells inside you that propels you to face that which has been laying dormant. Sometimes it’s easier to be stagnant. It’s easier not to show emotion. It’s easier to be silent. While I agree there’s a time to be silent, a time to listen. We pray for the discernment in our time, to do either.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others? Martin Luther King Jr.

Speaking for those who have no voice, fighting for the generations coming up behind us, that is a fight worth fighting for. You’ve heard the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” This stresses the right words at the right time. Fighting in a time of darkness. How to we fight? With light.
Let’s remind ourselves.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.

If justice can be love, then everyone should merit it. Regardless of how I look, act, or what I even deserve, the human being deserves justice.

God has always wanted the vulnerable in society to be cared for. He never intended for them to languish in poverty, abuse, slavery, homelessness, or other types of devastation. When we care for individuals who are trapped in these ways, when we show them love and help them move toward freedom and wholeness, we participate in bringing a little part of God’s Kingdom back into alignment with His greater plan. We do justice and God smiles.― John M. Perkins, Dream with Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win

There are countless people that have stepped in for me. Many who have taught me, prayed with me, saved me from poor choices.

With all that’s swarming us -fighting for our attention. Let’s get to the bottom of it all. Let’s acknowledge what is unjust. Let’s fight with love and light. And let’s learn, and hope and pray and be, choosing to call out our own injustices and fight for the love our world desperately needs.

Because love alone is worth the fight.

*further reading:

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously. – Micah 6:8 MSG

Is that grounds for complaining that God is unfair? Not so fast, please. God told Moses, “I’m in charge of mercy. I’m in charge of compassion.” Compassion doesn’t originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God’s mercy. The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, “I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power.” All we’re saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill. – Romans 9:14 MSG