Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stop...and pray

Walking through my favorite nature preserve one day, I noticed...there were branches down over the path everywhere. Some small and easy to navigate...some much harder to cross. Here's one of my favorite spots:

Anna looks so small sitting on top! She wanted to walk the tree like a bridge over the creek! I talked her out of it.

It's hard to tell here, but it completely blocks the path--you either have to do the limbo under it (in ways that my back no longer bends!), crawl over, or walk around the roots.

This particular day, the sun made the grass glow on the other side, a sign of life and hope and growth beyond the dead and brittle branches. A reminder to stop and pray along the way. To set our minds on things above...and  not the things of earth that fill our time and block our path.

Even on the other side, I have to look back, as even now I look back at how God has worked in our lives, and how he walks with us through good times and hard. Sometimes I turn back about 20 feet later, and this massive obstacle seems so small in retrospect. The troubles that fill our lives now will one day look the same, will fade into the background and pale compared to God's glory. For now, these things are reminders to stop and pray, and look to him.

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
 - Colossians 3:1-4 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Heart-wounds and compassion

Loved today's Grace Gem (especially since our women's study is going through Colossians--see verse at the end!): 

 "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8 
 We should learn to look at the blemishes and faults of others--only through the eyes of love, with sympathy, patience, and compassion. We do not know the secret history of the lives of others around us. We do not know what piercing sorrows have produced the scars we see in people's lives. We do not know the pains and trials which make life hard, to many with whom we are tempted to be impatient. If we knew all the secret burdens and the heart-wounds which many keep hidden beneath their smiling faces--we would be patient and gentle with all people. 
 "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Colossians: Riches, Mystery, and Our Union with Christ

I haven't written or posted as I would have liked these last few months (been dealing with my own health issues that have limited my computer time, unfortunately!). So, I apologize for that. Hoping to be better soon!

Lately I've been thinking that life is disappointing. I see what could be, what I want...and it just isn't that way. Sometimes I think heaven sounds great because it will mean the absence of all the things we dislike in this life! And then I think...what a sad, shallow view of heaven. I would be content with so little! (My grandpa used to say that we use less than 10% of our brains...I think I'm definitely using less than 10% of my imagination here!)

Do we devalue God? Do we fall far short of understanding even a tenth of Christ's glory?

As I've been preparing for a Bible study in Colossians (such a meaty, wonderful book!), the theme of riches, fullness, completeness comes up over and over. And juxtaposed against these treasures are the "hollow and deceptive philosophies" that this world offers us. Paul was so concerned about these counterfeit treasures that he struggled even from prison in prayer, in conversation with believers who could visit them, in writing--to share the incredible riches and treasures that we have in Christ. The crowning verse, of course, is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Someone so holy, righteous, supreme...has chosen an intimate relationship in being made one with us. Christ IN you.  A relationship compared to the vine and the branches--our very life and sustenance comes from him. To a house--he our foundation. To a body--Christ our head. We can live without a finger or toe, or even without an arm or leg if we must, though it affects all other members of our body...but we can't live without a head. To a marriage--two become one. What a mystery. What riches. Do we contemplate and search out this mystery? Do we dig for buried treasure?

I started looking in Colossians...what are these riches he keeps talking about? As God began to open my eyes, I realized how much we belittle the treasure!
1:2 Grace. Peace. union--"in Christ."
1:4 faith. love for the saints
1:5 hope stored up in heaven. The word of truth. The Gospel
1:10-12--he enables us to live lives worthy of the Lord! He strengthens, he fills us with knowledge of him, he is the vine that lets us bear fruit, he qualifies us for inheritance in his kingdom!

Imagine an earthly king who suddenly decided not to just give out gifts and be generous--but to allow multitudes of people become heirs, to share in his kingdom, his treasures, his glory? Unheard of! And God, so far above us...makes us children and heirs.  A vast mystery. An incredible treasure. Riches we underestimate.

1:13 rescued, bought
1:14 redemption, forgiveness
1:20 reconciliation to the Father, peace through Christ's blood
1:21 no longer alienated from God, no longer enemies
1:22 presented holy, without blemish, free from accusation. Hope in the Gospel
1:24-25 the word of God in it's fullness, saints like Paul who are messengers
1:26 the mystery revealed
1:27 glorious riches, Christ in you, the hope of glory!
1:28 we become perfect in Christ.

I could go on. Almost every verse in this book contains some richness, some meaty morsel that feeds our souls, some treasure that lifts us up. Read through a chapter each day for a week and ask God to open your eyes to the bountiful treasures he offers.

Friday, November 1, 2013

"Highly Recommended:" Invisible Illness, Visible God

I was so encouraged by this new review on Amazon, "Highly Recommended."
Stephanie writes:

Merry's life, and that of her husband Dave, has been greatly impacted by his journey with chronic Lyme disease. The result of that struggle and heartache is a deep understanding and profound insight into where our true worth lies and the nature of our relationship with God. As someone going through her own journey with chronic illness, I have found great encouragement in each day's reading. 

Praying many will come to an understanding of their true worth in Christ.