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What Runs Through Your Mind When You Wake Up At Night?

Jan

28

Posted by on Jan 28, 2018 | 1 comment

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV

 

As We Think, So We Do

For years I’ve battled insomnia, trouble with both going to and staying asleep. Over the past six months I’ve seriously addressed it every way I know how–medically, physically, holistically, alternatively, and spiritually (prayers welcome), and while my sleep quality has improved slightly, it’s still an issue. It’s not a question of whether or not I’ll wake up between Bedtime and Rise and Shine, it’s how many times will I awaken.
On good nights I’m able to fall back to sleep relatively quickly, but the roughest nights have me tossing and turning for hours (yes, I know I should get up for a change of scenery, but apparently knowing what I should do doesn’t necessarily translate into doing it–a whole ‘nother post for another time.).

When I’m wide awake at two in the morning it usually goes like this:

  1. Relax and try to keep the dream you were just dreaming going, to fool yourself into thinking you’re still asleep.
  2. Get mad because you can’t even remember the dream, but you know it was a good one and you want to know how it ends.
  3. Become increasingly irritated that you’re awake.
  4. Decide to take advantage of being awake by praying for every person on your prayer list, and even a few more who come to mind…

and it is right about there my mind begins to wander off track (anyone relate…?).

Recently I’ve been convicted about the direction my thoughts were taking. A new series I discovered on Netflix offered a steady diet of…

 

Click here to continue reading As We Think, So We Do over at {in}courage today.
I think most of us can relate…

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Culinary Catastrophes (Why They’re Actually Good)

Jan

10

Posted by on Jan 10, 2018 | 2 comments

 

It occurred to me recently how there’s value in our mess-ups: they’ll often sear memory, and in the best of times they can point us to something magnificent.

 

Mess-ups…mistakes are hard to forget. The more public, the more memorable.

On a spiritual level, mistakes and failed effort point me back to my need for Christ. It’s really that simple. He already is what I will never be – perfect; and He has already accomplished what is impossible for me despite my best effort (all of us) – reconciled me to God.

My mess-ups (my sin) reveal my inadequacies in every area of my life, and because God has set eternity in the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) – because He has set eternity in my heart, I want to be right with Him. If I were already perfect, why would I need the atoning, redeeming, complete work of Christ on the cross and beyond?

I have zero aspirations for perfection, but increasingly, I’m drawn to the perfection of Jesus. His ways were not ordinary and His model of perfection wasn’t tidy; he certainly didn’t behave the way a King would be expected. But He never wavered in His purpose while on earth, to serve and love and lead us in the way to light and life.

Beyond a spiritual, deeper consideration of mess-ups, can we agree that on a superficial level oopsies are awesome?

 

Isn’t this why we love America’s Funniest Home Videos, why we can’t get enough of our favorite TV show’s outtakes and blooper reels, why videos go viral?

 

When we blow it, we make fantastic memories. 

 
 
Because I love to cook and bake, some of my more memorable mess-ups occurred in the kitchen:

Like the time I made a peach pie for a friend going through chemo and I added salt to the pie dough. My flour was stored in a canister on the counter (not in a bag) and I didn’t realize it was self rising and already had salt. I had made two pies – one for my friend and one for us – so I realized the mistake with the first bite. I still remember Dan’s congenial thank you note: “…and thank you for the slightly saline peach pie….”  Trust me, there was nothing “slightly saline” about it. No doubt he appreciated the effort, and my “oops” made it all the more memorable.

And the time at Thanksgiving when most all my husband’s side of the family traveled hours to our home. To keep things simple, and because there were lots of cooks in our kitchen that day, I planned on using the glaze packet that came with our store-bought spiral ham (typically, I made my own glaze). However, apparently I couldn’t read that day, and I set our microwave for minutes instead of the seconds it recommended. We heard a small explosion coming from our laundry room (where the microwave lived), and the glaze had exploded inside, “baking” onto the oven’s interior. There was no cleaning or wiping or scraping off the sweet resin. We had to buy a new microwave.

 

But my worst “culinary catastrophe” happened years ago at a supper club with friends. I hope you’ll read The Dessert Disaster, a story I shared at Grace Table.

I doubly hope you’ll tell me about your own kitchen disaster.
Or, if you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear your stories
of how a personal mistake or mess-up pointed you to God.
DO comment here or there!!

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Our Beautiful Beginning

Dec

29

Posted by on Dec 29, 2017 | 1 comment

 

I want to push you, gently but sure.

Not in the way that bruises knees and pride but in the way a mama bird nudges her lovies out of the nest. She knows they’re capable of doing so much more, that they only need a little encouragement. Mama knows they’ll soon find out she wasn’t being mean after all, that she just wanted them to experience Great Things, Wide Open Spaces . . . and what they were designed to do.

And it hits me, that in this nudging, mothers share a kinship with God (though mamas push and God “pulls”). Isn’t it when we seek God and walk in obedience that we discover our calling and begin to live with passion and purpose?

It slays me to know I’m created in the image of God; I can barely think on it. I don’t think it’s possible to comprehend fully all it means.

If we’re called to be imitators of Christ, to look like the One whose image we bear, what does that mean? What are the first qualities that come to your mind? To love lavishly and without condition? To forgive freely even when you’ve been wronged? To serve sacrificially and to consider others’ preferences above your own?

There’s another attribute of God I’d like us to consider together: creativity.

Your potential to create.

God’s creative nature is revealed from the moment we open a Bible.

 

“In the beginning God created . . .” (Genesis 1:1)

Then, a few verses later, He describes the creation of man: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . ” and then how He fulfills it: “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God . . .” (Genesis 1:26-27). 

Because we’re created in the image of God Himself, we’re inherently creative. 

 

Our Beautiful Beginning continues at {in}courage.
I hope you’ll add your thoughts to the comment thread–
I can hear bravery and boldness stirring…. 🙂

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God is Working in the Waiting

Nov

30

Posted by on Nov 30, 2017 | 4 comments

God_is_at_work_even_when_you_cant_see_him_RobinDance

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I remember it like it was yesterday, when a new-to-me speaker posed a question that burrowed under my skin like a chigger in the heat of summer —

“Are you the kind of person who walks into a room and declares, ‘Here I am!’ or do you walk into the room and say, ‘There you are!’?”

I wasn’t an “all about me” person, but I’m naturally outgoing and comfortable talking to new people. I can work a room if that’s expected of me. My nerves do rattle on the inside, but they’re energy fueling confidence and conversation.

It also wasn’t that I didn’t notice other people; but the question forced me to realize at best I was blissfully unaware, or at worse, I was more concerned about myself than others. Ouch.

Over the past ten years through unexpected personal deserts and crazy life, I’ve tried to become a There you are! friend, the one who notices what you’re not saying as much as what you are saying. I’ve challenged myself to notice people in the margins. And trusting the providence of God (mostly in hindsight), I’ve wandered into those places myself, learning by experience what it feels like to be ignored, rejected, forgotten, irrelevant, and sometimes invisible.

I’ve hated it.

But on the other side of those hard lessons and hurt feelings is what has become a passion of mine: redemptive purpose

Just as sure as the sun hangs in the sky behind a veil of dark clouds, God is accomplishing His will and His ways even when I can’t see His hand at work.

 

And when I do gain insight and understanding in the aftermath of pain or heartache? It is an astonishing gift and grace to discover beauty among ashes.

Pride and ego were subtle idols of mine. God was kind enough to reveal them to me in a way that would sear an impression on my heart and ultimately change me.

———-

It’s been a long, long while since I’ve attended a Beth Moore Bible study. I forgot how she gets to me, how every study I’ve ever taken will somehow speak a word over me so strong it’s undeniable God had her write it just for me.

What . . . you, too? 🙂

It was in the fourth week, day three, on her study of James, when a section started doing its thing.

Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)

Beth spoke about “landmines that go with the territory” of teaching:

  • The temptation to teach more than we know.
  • The capacity to mislead.
  • The capacity to be misled.
  • The temptation to use the platform for personal agendas or opinions.

And though not exactly in the context of being a teacher, I sensed these landmines speaking to my life as a writer.

———-

It would seem that the natural progression for a long-term blogger is to write a book; that is the childhood dream of many in the online world. Those of you who’ve followed (in)courage since its inception know many of our regular contributors have gone on to lovely writing careers.

Here’s the thing that’s hard for me to admit: 

Please continue reading God is Working in the Waiting at {in}courage.
It’s personal but in some ways the story of ALL of us….

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Have You Ever Wondered What Your Faith Would Look Like If You Didn’t Have a Bible?

Oct

31

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 |

500th Anniversary of Reformation Graphic_RobinDance

 

Recently, our pastor led a sermon series that caught me by surprise, six messages celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (which happens to be today, October 31, 2017). It would have been almost expected in the former denomination we attended (Presbyterian (PCA)), but not what I’d predict from a Southern Baptist church.

I like surprises.

I owe Pastor McCoy a debt of gratitude for inspiring my thoughts at {in}courage today, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read and comment. His sermons also pointed me in the direction of some helpful resources (and a few quotes that found their way into my post). Learning about Church history strengthens my own faith, understanding the price so many paid that I might have the luxury of reading my own Bible, and worship without fear.

On this day in 1517, history – or maybe, more so, tradition – tells us Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church, thereby ushering in a faith movement that led to the formation of the Protestant Church. Originally titled “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” but more commonly known as the 95 Theses, Luther raised questions related to authority and salvation. One of his major points of contention centered on the practice of indulgences where people could basically buy their way out of sin.

Please read “Jesus Loves Me This I Know…” over at {in}courage to learn why Luther’s work matters to all of us, and I’d challenge you to ponder what your faith might look like if you didn’t have access to a Bible you could read on your own. Really–linger in the ramifications of that question; I’d genuinely love to hear your thoughtful responses (either in comments, if you’d like to share publicly, or via email).

Last, if you love learning, below are links to Dr. McCoy’s sermons and to the resources he used in his research (thank you, Dr. McCoy!):

The Unfinished Reformation by Greg Allison and Chris Castaldo

Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George

The Smalcald Articles by Martin Luther

The Bible Translation That Rocked the World, Christian History, Issue 34 by Henry Zecher

The Babylonian Captivity of the Church by Martin Luther

Find audio files and pdf guides here for Pastor McCoy’s sermon series The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation beginning September 24, 2017 and ending on October 29th.

  • Sermon 1, How Well Do You Know Your Story?
  • Sermon 2, What Does the Bible Say? Sola Scriptura and Following Christ Today
  • Sermon 3, All of Grace: Sola Gratia and the Way of Salvation
  • Sermon 4, Sola Fide: Abraham, Luther, and Justification by Faith
  • Sermon 5, Jesus Paid It All: Solus Christus and the Way of Salvation
  • Sermon 6, Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone

Related content:

http://www.history.com/topics/martin-luther-and-the-95-theses

Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha

 

Note: my affiliate links are included for books listed above.

 


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