It was calm today, but last week the wind was blowing pretty hard. I don’t like walking when it’s windy but decided I needed to get out and move. So I braved it. As I walked, I played Pollyanna’s glad game, where you try to find something to be glad about in every situation. I was glad it wasn’t snowing or flooding! I also told myself I was burning up extra calories moving against the headwind, which was something else to be glad about.
Going against the wind (I hear music!) is an expression we use when we hold opinions or beliefs different from the majority. I couldn’t help but think about grace. Most Christians will tell you they believe in grace but in real life, are still trying to earn favor with God and even their salvation. Many churches say grace but preach legalism. If you really live a grace-filled life, you often find yourself moving against the wind of legalistic teaching and pressure to do enough, be enough, perform well enough.
Rest in the grace of Christ, but don’t let the wind blow you back into legalism.
On my walk this morning, I listened to a podcast of an interview with Steve McVey (www.gci.org, You’re Included). He talked about grace. Here’s a thought from the interview:
When you live in the circle of Father, Son and Spirit,
it’s not about demands but desire;
it’s not about law but love;
it’s not about responsibility but relationship.
Then I listened to a song by Casting Crowns called Who Am I? Did you know it’s possible to get the chills while working up a sweat? It’s a great song about grace (thanks Mary Jo, for introducing it to me).
I love listening to podcasts as I walk, and a little music too! From time to time, I’ll be posting more about what’s on my iPod, to share what’s inspiring me.
“Sorrow is one of the things that is lent, not given. A thing that is lent can be taken away; a thing that is given is not taken away. Joy is given; sorrow is lent.” These words by Amy Carmichael, Christian author and Irish-born missionary to India, remind us pain is not permanent, even though it may feel as though it won’t end.
What happened over the weekend in Tuscon, Arizona, is a heartbreaking tragedy; at the same time, the stories of heroism and selflessness are heartwarming. My thoughts and prayers are for all the victims and families. May God give them comfort, peace, rest and joy even in the midst of the pain and sorrow.
It’s been a long time since I posted here so I’m going to change my ways. WordPress has issued a challenge to post every day or week (I’m going with weekly) for the whole year and I’ve accepted. And now that I’ve made it public, I have to follow through. That’s one of the rules of accountability: telling others helps you keep resolutions.
I snapped this photo early one morning when our resident hawk paid us a visit. I wish I had a better zoom on my camera, but you can see him (or her) pretty well. For some reason, hawks are my favorite birds, well, equal with hummingbirds. But hummingbirds are kind of scarce this time of year.
The women’s retreat in Cullman, Alabama, was a great weekend full of fun and games, encouragement and inspiration, beautiful fall weather and good southern cookin’ of course. During my second session on Sunday morning, we spent 15 minutes in silence, listening for God’s still small voice. Spending time alone with God in the middle of a group of 60 women may seem like an oxymoron, but it makes sense when you consider that we are Christians together, in Christ. We are not alone as we seek to practice his presence and hear his voice.
A helpful resource for learning how to be more aware of and live in God’s presence while we go about our lives is a book titled Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Someone in Australia (thanks!) gave me a link that allows you to print the book for free (for personal use). Here it is: www.practicegodspresence.com.
We are always in God’s presence but we are not always aware of him. As the book suggests, it takes practice. Today is a good day to practice his presence!
Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” What does trust look like? It looks like a child sitting quietly on her mom’s lap, knowing she’s safe and everything is right in her world. It looks like a child holding on to his dad’s hand as they walk down the street, not worrying about where they’re going or what’s going to happen later – just knowing because Dad is there, everything is fine. Trust looks like no fear, no worry, no anxiety for the future – he’s with you.
What does “with all your heart” mean? Your heart is all of you, everything that is you – thoughts, choices, feelings, emotions, desires, body and soul – we can trust God with all of who we are. He won’t let us down, even if we let go of his hand for a little while. We can trust him because he loves us, completely and unconditionally.
“I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me” (Psalm 62:5-7, NLT).
We enjoyed the first figs from our tree yesterday – a little late because of our cooler than normal summer. Definitely worth the wait! Black Mission Figs are sweet and juicy, a real treat.
Fig trees are mentioned several times in the Bible, twice in reference to the last day or that day. Micah 4:4 says every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and no one will make them afraid. Zechariah 3:10 says each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree, speaking of a vision of Joshua.
I know not everyone likes figs, as I have discovered when trying to give them away, but everyone does want to have enough of what they need. Do we really need grapes and figs? Maybe not, but as I enjoyed my first fig of 2010, I was grateful to God for supplying us with things we don’t necessarily need but which make our lives sweeter and more enjoyable. Grapes and figs are just part of the promise that God does and will take care of us, now and in that day. His generosity is overwhelming!
A friend asked what was the highlight of the trip and I had to answer – the conferences! Being with sisters in Christ in a peaceful setting, getting to know God and each other better, sharing meals and laughs – it doesn’t get better than that!
Some may wonder if women’s conferences/retreats are really worth the time, effort and expense. My answer is a resounding yes! I’m convinced God enjoys when his people enjoy him and each other in the Spirit of love and unity. It’s the best way to spend a weekend!
A real blessing in my life has been the opportunity to attend a silent three-day retreat several times over the past 11 years. Last week I went to Oceanside for a great time of solitude, prayer and rest. The retreat is sponsored by NEWIM, the Network of Evangelical Women in Ministry (www.newim.org).