Thursday, September 15, 2011

'Lover of Christ'

In our homeschooling adventure this week, we studied Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153. He was known as 'Lover of Christ.' I wouldn't mind going by that name, would you?

"He who is filled with the love of God," he said, "is easily moved by everything in the Word.."
Let us be teachable, and always ready to read and respond to God's word.

"We must root out our personal will," Bernard told them, "the will that is purely our own, that which is not in tune with the will of God." ---Bernard of Clairvaux

Often, we need to ask God to change our hearts. Change our thoughts. Change our will. And to conform it to His. As we grow and become more spiritually mature, our hearts change. Our minds change. We are transformed. We become more like Jesus. And God answers our prayer when we pray, "not my will, but yours, be done." He takes away our 'old' will, our worldly, earthly, fleshly will; and he gives us his glorious, new, holy and good, pure will.

Bernard is remembered as a lover of Christ. "My God, my love," he often prayed, "how You love me!"

Perhaps his favorite verse in the Bible was Psalm 73:26 "My flesh and my heart may fail, but my God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

He wrote hymns, such as "Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts," and "O Sacred Head Now Wounded."

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss which earth imparts
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Where are we trying to fill up? In order to give and pour into others' lives, we have to be filled with something. Are we coming often to God's word, to be renewed and restored and refilled? We need the word, our food. When we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we are parched when we have not been in the word of God.
To have a holy life, we have to have holy habits. Scripture is a beautiful place to start. It points us to God. It reveals Him. It is his gift of love to us. Are we missing it? Are we lonely, wishing for the perfect friend? He is so close. And He has shared His heart. All we have to do is sit down and ponder His word. He will do the rest!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Luke 6:38

What holds us back from giving? If we are being nudged by the Holy Spirit to give, and we don't give, then what happens? We lose. There is a blessing in giving. We won't know it at the time, and we won't be motivated by the blessing, but it will come when we give out of obedience. Living for God's pleasure, we will do things that look odd to others. But we have to trust God's leading, obey his direction, and watch to see what He will do!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bringin' Confession back

I think we need to bring back the lost art of confession. I know that we know we ought to confess our sins, but somehow, we often skip that part of prayer. God told us to confess our sins. He wants to purify us. We need to ask. It takes humility. It takes slowing down and being quiet. Self-evaluation. Prayer. Confession. Repentance. Healing. Oh my goodness, why don't we go to the foot of the cross and be healed, purified and made new? We all need a fresh start and clean slate.
We can start with the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Glorifying God in the little things

Do you realize how much the little things matter? I was in a bible study a long time ago and we were talking about how we sometimes have to do things "for Jesus," that we really would rather not do. For example, I had a friend whose husband wanted her to wash out baby bottles, wash them again, make sure they were clean and wash them again. It sounded over the top to me, too, but she needed to do it in order to make her husband happy. So she did it. And she called it, "washing bottles for Jesus." There have been many times that I have repeated that in my mind, "doing ____________ for Jesus." And what does that really mean? It means that we are making sacrifices, and dying to ourselves, because we love Him. He asks us to do hard things. He asks us to keep on giving when we don't feel like we have any more to give. Sometimes, our feelings lie. He asks us to work hard when we feel like taking a break. He asks us to love that person that we would rather avoid. He asks us to "go the extra mile" when we are looking at the gas gauge. His ways are so beyond our ways. But I know He's got secrets that he wants to share. He has opportunities to reveal, blessings to unleash, stories to be told. But we miss them when we do it our way. When we are selfish or lazy or greedy. When we think of our desires for power or possessions or pleasure instead of thinking of the interests of others before our own. God has treasures that He is holding for us. He is ready to show us abundance and fullness of life when we are ready to embrace it! But somehow, we are busying ourselves with the things that we think will satisfy. We are looking at the Joneses' again, and running after the 'American dream.' But too often, we go to bed at night, dissatisfied, worried about tomorrow, knowing deep down in our hearts that there has to be something more. And God promises that there is! He has it!
The more that Jesus offers is this: Abide in Him and we will bear much fruit.
The fruits that we will bear are priceless, eternal, incomparable riches. Fruits such as compassion and kindness. Giving of ourselves even when it hurts. Leading others to the well that will never run dry. Living at peace in the present, not worrying about tomorrow. Faith. Trusting God to provide for our needs. Rest. Simple sleep. Waking in the morning with Joy. Working through the days with a light load, because the burden is shared. Hope. Knowing God keeps his promises and all will be well in the end. Love. Agape love that is beyond anything we could conjure up. Love that knows no limits. Love that reflects the heart of God. Love that is flowing out of us only because the Holy Spirit is living in our hearts and producing this love IN us. Amazing love.
We are missing out on SO much when we don't do life His way. Even the little things. Even washing dishes or sweeping floors. Driving to work or making a sandwich. Yes, we can do 'all things' to the glory of God. And thats what He desires.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Don't bump me; I will spill!

Don't bump me; I will spill! Have you ever had a day when you felt like that? You have so many things piled up on your heart and mind that your body threatens to overflow with tears? Sometimes we let things pile up on the table of our hearts and we don't realize that we are about to burst! We think that we can handle the struggle of the day-to-day. We think that we are capable of managing a few more things. We think that we can do more, get more, and be more without hitting a breaking point.
We are wrong. Life usually requires more of us than we are able to handle in our own strength. We do our best to be our best, but at the end of the day, it's not enough. We are striving and straining out of strength from the wrong source. Often we feel we can accomplish our tasks with our own stamina. We decide that we can meet our goals with our own willpower and enthusiasm. Other times, we rely on friends or family members or church leaders to inspire us to do what we think we have to do. We keep ourselves busy and run around like a little rat on his spinning wheel, not realizing that we are not really getting anywhere! When we make our plans and use our resources to accomplish our purposes, we end up empty. Many things that we write into our agenda are just that, OUR plans. We go about our days, trying to do whats good and right, but end up missing God's mission for our lives.
God wants us to know Him and enjoy Him. He wants us to seek Him and find Him. He wants to bring us joy, showing Himself strong when we are weak. This past fall, life threw me a curve ball in the form of a car accident. I struggled to continue to "do life" in constant pain. I experienced pain and suffering that I wouldn't wish on anyone. And I was disappointed. I couldn't get through the day in my own strength. I couldn't even get through the day propelled by others' prayers and well-wishes. In Jesus, I found my only hope and source of unfailing strength. Jesus was my Comforter in my dark night. There were many times when no words could bring me help or peace. Only Jesus. Knowing that He would be with me and help me even when I was all alone. Trusting that God had a purpose for this suffering and that He would fulfill his promises to me. He taught me true joy in the midst of constant pain. He fleshed out James 1:2-4 for me: 'Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.' He explained to me this path of joy. He revealed to me that HE is my Joy. He was the reason that I could have joy in the midst of unrelieved pain. The circumstance of pain brought me to His side. I was close to Him and He was close to me. I learned to 'abide.' I learned to 'rest' in Him. His path was peace. It was the road that Job walked,'though he slay me, yet will I hope in him...' Job 13:15.
I believe that God allowed me to experience this trial because He wanted me to go deeper with Him. He was bringing me joy through the storm. He was making beauty out of ashes. He was doing His thing in my life! He was preparing me with the message that He wants shared: Jesus is all we need! He is the friend that will never fail. He is the only one who will never let us down. And life isn't about things. Or getting things done. Or money. Or having a lot of fun or friends or the perfect marriage or spotless home. It's not even about raising great kids and being spiritually mature. It's about relationship with Jesus. It's about walking with Him and knowing that He is the Giver and Sustainer of life. That He is the Good Shepherd and in coming to Him, we will find rest in this busy land. And that He is waiting for us to enjoy Him here and now until we can be with Him forever!
'I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.' John 16:33