Posted by: bellissimanh | June 27, 2014

Hello, My Name Is…


Hello-my-name-isBut she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” Ruth 1:20-21

 

Rather than judge her circumstances in light of her great God, Naomi made the mistake of judging her God in light of her circumstances. And while it might be easy (and tempting) to criticize her response, I have a soft spot in my heart for Naomi, because I get it. I really do.

I will never forget looking out over the night lights of Boston with my heart pounding one cold January morning. While the city lay in quiet slumber, anxiety was coursing through me like a runaway freight train. My four-year-old was in the midst of a 12-hour surgery that could either kill her or save her life and I was a hot mess of emotions. Fear, anger, grief and guilt all tangled up together in my demand to know why… why her? Why me? Why, God… why?

I could have gone by Mara just as surely as Naomi did. I confess to dealing with some pretty intense bitterness throughout the course of that 24-hour period. Yet God is so gentle and tender, and He lovingly reminded me that He not only was in control, but would work all things for my good (and the good of my little girl) and His glory, and that somehow – some WAY – He would bring beauty from those ashes… both the literal and figural ones.

See, we can name ourselves all kinds of things when we start to view this life through the lens of our circumstances. Victim. Wounded. Outcast. Persecuted. Forgotten. Unloved. Focusing circumstances can even lead us to judge the One who never changes by the temporal situations we find ourselves in… but Jesus… He calls us to something different. He’s in the business of changing names.

Jacob the schemer, became Israel – triumphant with God (Gen. 32:28).
Abram, the high father, became Abraham – father of a multitude (Gen. 17:5).
Simon, “God has heard”, became Peter – the rock (John 1:42).
Solomon, peace, was given the name Jedidiah – beloved of the Lord (2 Sam. 12:24-25).

See, it didn’t matter what Naomi called herself… she would always be who GOD said she was, and in the end, she discovered it to be true.

When I was walking through that difficult experience pictured above, I called myself lots of things… Afraid. Angry. Sorrowful. Guilty. BUT GOD…. He calls me:

Redeemed and forgiven (Eph. 1:7).

Brand new (2 Cor. 5:17).

Free (Gal. 5:1).

Blessed (Eph. 1:3).

Chosen, holy, blameless (Eph 1:4).

His child (John 1:12).

His heir (Gal. 4:7).

Friend (John 15:15).

Righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).

Beloved (Rom. 9:25).

Most importantly, I am HIS (Song of Songs 6:3).

And what HE calls me? That should over-ride any label the world might throw on me, and anything my foolish heart tries to call myself.

Who are you?

Join the She Reads Truth community as we explore this and more! :)

And tell me this song isn’t running through your brain right now…

 

Posted by: bellissimanh | June 9, 2014

To Jasmine with Love, on her Graduation

jazzyTo Jasmine, With Love

My precious girl, I’m at a loss to find the words to say
Exactly how your mama feels on this, your special day.
The years have flown by quickly, I can’t believe we’re here.
I know that you’ll forgive me for shedding a few tears.

You have a thing for fashion, of this we’re all aware.
The coolest clothes, the makeup queen, and of course (of course!) the hair.
This love for music, tell me please… where did that come from?
But seriously, getting to sing with you is something I truly love.

You have such a heart for others, it’s always been your way
To love those who are hurting and brighten up their day.
From children in the hospital to friends who feel alone,
You’ve always seemed to find a way to make them feel at home.

I doubt you fully realize the impact you have made
On those who’ve shared this life with you, whether for years, or months, or days.

You throw yourself wholeheartedly into everything you do.
And that passion, I know, will serve you well, whatever this life leads you to.
Please don’t fret that you’re still not sure of just what that might be.
Your Father God will lead you through. He has great things planned, you’ll see!

This life has thrown you challenges that none should have to face,
And with each one I’ve watched you grow, in courage, strength and grace.
What others see as obstacles you view as from above.
They see the scars and think “how hard”, but for you, they’re marks of love.

They’re reminders of all God’s brought you through, evidence of His healing power,
A token of just how faithful He is when we trust Him hour by hour.

I can’t express how proud I am of the woman you’ve become.
You’re beautiful, smart, strong and FIERCE. That’s a whole lot of awesome in one!
It’s all part of the package that is uniquely you,
But as a Mama what my heart loves best is seeing Christ shine through.

I’ve watched your grow in your walk with Him, seen your faith become your own…
And this? This is the stuff that matters: living for His renown.
Take His hand, step forward in faith, and in Jesus alone make your boast.
Don’t ever forget to Whom you belong, and Who loves you best, and most.

Love, Mama

Posted by: bellissimanh | May 30, 2014

The Bold & The Beautiful

Image

 


“Remember me with favor, my God.”

These are the words that close out the book of Nehemiah. It’s interesting, because if anyone had room to boast, it would be Nehemiah. God accomplished MUCH through him as he led the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and restoring her people. Yet with this one phrase, Nehemiah expressed humility and utter dependence on His God – as it should be.

 

 

I love what Ray Stedman has to say about Nehemiah’s attitude:

“What he is doing is recognizing his own frailty and his own tendency to self-deception. He is saying in effect, ‘Lord, I have done all this, but you may see it differently than I. You may see something in me that would cause you to blot this all out of your book. If you feel that way, show it to me.’ That is what he is asking.”

I love the boldness in that prayer! Isn’t it beautiful? It’s reminiscent of David’s prayer in Psalm 139, “Search me, 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” (Psalm 139:23-24).

I wonder… are we bold enough to request the same of God? To lay it bare like that? Are we so eager to open ourselves up to His honest evaluation?

Nehemiah’s heart is even more beautiful to me when I reflect on what he left behind so he could take on this project. As cup-bearer, he held a position of privilege in the court of Artaxerxes, king of Persia. Not too shabby! Yet this prophet’s heart was set on winning the favor of a different King – the “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Neh. 1:5).

 

Father, You know me better than anyone… even better than I know myself. I lay all of me at Your feet today and ask You to look on me with mercy. Search my heart and show me any parts of it that I’ve not given completely to You. Help me to take every thought captive to Christ, so that they no longer have any pull on me. I know I have a tendency to run back to the very thoughts and behaviors You have set me free from… it’s madness, Lord. Help me to remember that the battle for holiness begins in my mind, and fill me with Your Spirit and Your word so that I can fight the enemy of my soul and win Your favor. I’m so thankful for Your grace… I could never gain Your approval or earn my salvation, but I do want to be obedient to You, because I love You. Make me more like Jesus.

 

Join us for #shesharestruth!

Posted by: bellissimanh | April 11, 2014

Just Keep Swimming!

I’d always heard about salmon swimming upstream, but I never understood why they do that. After doing a little digging, I learned way more about salmon that I ever wanted to know, but also found a really cool application for the information.

Salmon start out as small eggs in a freshwater stream bed. Once they hatch, they begin a journey downstream towards the ocean. They actually spend a couple of years in the streams and rivers. After reaching a certain maturity (smolts), their bodies have changed to adapt to seawater. They spend several years swimming in the sea. Once they’ve fully matured, they swim back to their original stream or river and return to their spawning grounds. Sometimes this means swimming up tough rivers with plenty of obstacles along the way… rapids, waterfalls… you name it. Upon returning to their original spawning place, they breed and lay their eggs. After spawning, the salmon generally die within a week, which fertilizes the stream and creates a nutrient rich environment for the eggs that are about to hatch (and now YOU know way more about the life cycle of salmon that YOUever wanted to – HA!)

I find myself marveling at the life of the salmon – one that takes them on such a long journey, with so many challenges along the way – yet they don’t give up. I guess it’s the final phase of the cycle that amazes me. The swimming upstream. Against the current. Up the waterfall (how do they DO that?). Talk about resolve!

Paul knew something about that.

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of humanwisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (emphasis mine)

So often I find myself – even in my spiritual life – reacting, instead of living. Things just sort of happen to me, and I respond – often from a place of emotion (dangerous, no? Jeremiah 17:9).

Paul was so different. He was never one to sit back and just deal with stuff as it came. This man of God was determined to preach the gospel – Jesus Christ, crucified – and proclaim it loudly, in spite of the obstacles – and we’re talkin’ some serious obstacles!

This is the stuff: Beaten with rods. Stoned. Shipwrecked. Robbed. Hungry. Thirsty. Cold. Naked. Imprisoned.

This was the ordained plan, even before Paul knew the Lord. God spoke to Ananias concerning Paul: “…Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will how him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

Yet in spite of it all, Paul was resolved to share Christ with any who would listen.

When I stack my list of “stuff” up against Paul’s, there really is no comparison. Yet I am not nearly as dedicated to knowing “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” among the people with whom I share life. I don’t make the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4:5). I’m not always prepared to give an answer to those who ask me to give the reason for my hope (1 Peter 3:15).

I’m often more interested in making friends than I am in making disciples.

I’d rather be a well-wisher than a witness.

 

just-keep-swimming
I’ve been intently seeking the Lord over the past week or so to shed light on the sin in my life, and this? This is a huge area where my obedience is less than stellar. I’m so thankful that when I fall short, He faithfully – and lovingly – collects me in His arms and redirects me. I’m thankful that as disheartening as it is to know I’ve not lived up to the calling He has placed on my life, His grace encourages me to carry on and not give up. I’m thankful that His mercy is new every morning.
I can almost hear Him now… “Keep swimming, Heather… just keep swimming!”

 
What about you? Do you find it challenging to live with the clarity of focus that Paul did? What are some of the creative ways you share your faith with others? I’d love to hear from you!

(This post is part of the #shesharestruth experiment with the She Reads Truth Community. Check it out!)

Posted by: bellissimanh | March 21, 2014

Rolling in the Deep

It took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around this, but check it out.

jonah_Final

2“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.” (Jonah 2:2-6)

It took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around this, but check it out. Jonah is praying from inside the fish, right? Yet he says, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.” At first I thought maybe this was Jonah writing down his prayer after the fact… but no. Instead it says that Jonah called for help, God listened, and hurled him into the depths.

Now that’s some tough love! Many of us might think, with a God like that, who needs enemies? Yet, that wasn’t how Jonah responded. Jonah saw this ordeal as his salvation. Jonah recognized (and was thankful for) God’s sovereignty in all of this. He knew he was disobedient. He knew he was suffering as a result of his own choices. He knew he DESERVED what he was experiencing… but he also understood that God sent the fish to save him.

I don’t know that I have that much clarity when I’m facing storms in my own life.

First of all, my initial reaction isn’t to examine my own heart and see if my sin might be to blame for my predicament (although it should be). It’s so much easier to blame someone else! I’m praying that God might tender my heart to recognize the places where I need to repent… to call my sin what it is – black, ugliness that crucified my LORD and gets in between Him and me.

And then there’s the fish itself. How many times has my heavenly Father sent difficult circumstances into my life and I just viewed them as punishment, or a cross to bear, rather than recognizing that He had a purpose in each one of them and a plan to grow my faith and draw me closer to Him?  Whether self-induced or not, God’s salvation often doesn’t look like I expect it to or think it should. I don’t always know it when I see it. And if I’m not careful, I think my view of my “salvation” can even become an idol. Anything that takes the place of God in my life, or becomes more important… that becomes a false God and robs me of an intimate relationship with my heavenly Father.

“Those who cling to worthless idols

turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” (Jonah 2:8-9)

Father, help me learn to surrender… to let go of my sinful tendencies and to give in to Your will for my life. Give me the courage even to surrender to the storms you send my way, and to trust that You are indeed working all things for my good. Help me to recognize that often, in those times when I’m being tossed about – even to the point of being terrified – I am actually experiencing Your salvation. What a tough concept that is to accept… even to grasp. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that the eyes of my heart can be enlightened, Father… and I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to You. You deserve nothing less. Amen.

Joining my lovely sisters in the She Reads Truth community for #shesharestruth. Check it out HERE.

Posted by: bellissimanh | March 14, 2014

Brick by Brick

bricks

Sin has a crushing effect on us. It is such a weight to bear. Brick by brick, we pile on the guilt and shame and wonder if we’ll EVER be free. When we truly recognize the evil that lurks in our hearts, and how abhorrent it is to our God, we can easily become overwhelmed with grief.

Psalm 38[a]

A psalm of David. A petition.

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
    there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
    like a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
    there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart.

All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
    even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
    my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
    those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
    all day long they scheme and lie.

13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
    like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
    whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
    or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”

17 For I am about to fall,
    and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
    I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause[b];
    those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
    lodge accusations against me,
    though I seek only to do what is good.

21 Lord, do not forsake me;
    do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
    my Lord and my Savior.

It’s clear from this Psalm that our sin doesn’t just affect our relationship with the Lord, it also affects those around us. David’s enemies were seeking his destruction, but he was also abandoned by those he considered friends. Ever been there? Felt the sting as the people you just knew you could count on to carry you through difficult times turned their backs and walked away?

Yet tucked into the middle of this Psalm full of suffering and sadness is a gem…

“Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.” (v15)

I’ve been there. I know the depths of the sin in my own heart, and I know the reality of how it can destroy lives. And if that weren’t enough, there are often others who would love to see me fall, even without cause.

Yet I also know this: my God hears my cries. He captures every one of my tears and stores them in His bottle (Ps. 56:8). He is faithful and just to forgive my sin when I confess it (1 John 1:9) and rescue me (Psalm 50;15).

And He’ll do the same for you. Whatever your struggle – sin, loneliness, sickness, financial trouble – cry out to Him. He may remove the struggle, or He may choose to walk with you through it… but either way, He will answer. Wait for Him.

www.shereadstruth.com

Posted by: bellissimanh | March 7, 2014

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

I’m not sure how I feel about this whole #shesharestruth thing. First of all, I feel like that’s what we’ve been doing all along. I learn so much from reading the thoughts of my sisters in Christ, and I love growing alongside you all as the Holy Spirit whispers to each of us, and we in turn allow that to spill out into one another’s lives.  Secondly, I really enjoy putting pen to paper (instead of fingers to keyboard), so this is different (and truth be told, I’ve still written the Psalm out in my journal – cuz that’s how I roll).

Still… here I am. J Today’s reading was Psalm 130. In this season of Lent, as I remember the sacrifice my Savior made for me, the words of this passage ring loudly as a church bell:

psalm 130

I know how dark and ugly my heart can be. I know the sin that lurks there. I know that if it were up to me to earn His favor, I’d be struck down in a heartbeat. Ah, “but” – and this is a HUGE “but” – “there is forgiveness with You.”

(It’s ok, you can breathe a deep sigh of relief here – I did).

“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him…” (Daniel 9:9) He is forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to Him (Psalm 86:5). There is no longer condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). This truly is GOOD news!

The next part of that verse is what really sank into my heart, though: “…that You may be feared.”

See, knowing that I’ve been pardoned should evoke something in me more than just relief or gratitude. It should also produce filial fear and love. It should bring me to my knees in awe of who He is (particularly compared with who *I* am!) and fill me with a reverence for Him. I think it’s comforting to us to think of God as our friend. We bring this laser focus onto how intimate and personal and loving He is, and while He is those things, He is so much more.

He is awesome. Holy. Just. Majestic. Righteous. Almighty.

My prayer today is that I won’t get so caught up in the nearness of my God that I forget that He is altogether otherly and set apart from me. He cannot be tucked inside any box of my own making, and I should stop trying to put Him there. I was made in His image, not the other way around. I don’t want to be flippant with Him, or overly casual.

Are there times I need to draw close to my Abba Father and feel His loving embrace? Absolutely. But there is also a time to bow down in awe of Him and give Him the absolute and utter respect He deserves. I don’t want to be guilty of a shallow view of His holiness. He deserves so much better than that.

Father, thank You for loving me. Thank You for walking the way of suffering so that I could be set free from sin. I love You so much for that, and more. But today I want to thank You also for being a God worthy of my awe and adoration. Worthy of my respect. Worthy of my fear and reverence. I wouldn’t want a God small enough to be fit into my pocket or manipulated by my selfish heart. Thank You for being so far outside the realm of my comprehension that I am reminded every day that You are God, and I am not.

Posted by: bellissimanh | December 3, 2013

Joyfully counting to One Thousand Gifts…

I’ve been thinking about this all day. Seriously. ALL.DAY.

Today will mark 1,000 gifts counted. Just three left to be included in the first thousand. To be honest, a part of me was wondering if I’d find something really special to share… you know, in honor of reaching that goal of 1,000.

But what I’ve realized is this… some of the greatest gifts are mine as a result of the process. They’re not in the list itself, but in the listING of blessings.

  • A slowed pace – time to reflect on just how good God is to me.
  • Eyes to see – to find the graciousness of a Savior in the mundane.
  • A happy heart – focused on what’s here, as opposed to what isn’t.
  • An eternal focus – remembering that this world is not my home.
  • A deeper appreciation for family – how often they have graced my list!
  • Peace – in knowing that I’m living out God’s will for me (1 Thess.5:18)

DSC_1784Ready? I am!

998. The fact that God’s love endures FOREVER (and ever and EVER).
999. My family. ‘Nuff said.
1,000. Jesus – He is EVERYTHING.

So many people have asked me what I’d do when I finally reached 1,000. The answer? The only thing I can do — keep counting.  Because, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17), and “For where [my]  treasure is, there [my] heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

How about you? Care to join me? You’ll be amazed at how this giving thanks thing will impact your life (and the lives of those around you!) Check out One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.

Posted by: bellissimanh | March 8, 2013

Wreck It Ralph & Jesus – Modern Discipleship


I love it when family entertainment leads to spiritual discussions. Family Night this week consisted of pizza and Wreck It Ralph. First of all, it’s amazing to find any entertainment at all these days that’s family friendly… but above and beyond that, it was cool to see so many biblical principles brought to life on the screen and to be able to sit and talk about them after.

First… a little background:

The clumsy Wreck-It Ralph has been the villain of his video-game for thirty years, destroying a residential building while Fix-It Felix uses his powerful hammer to rebuild what Ralph has destroyed. During the celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the game, Ralph is not invited to the party since nobody loves him. Ralph decides to win a medal to become a hero and he goes to the game Hero’s Duty, commanded by the tough Sergeant Calhoun, where he sees the chance of winning the medal. Ralph collects the aimed medal, but when he is returning to his game, he brings accidentally one enemy Cy-Bug with him. Ralph accidentally crashes his plane in the kart-racing game Sugar Rush and loses his medal. When he is ready to retrieve it, the annoying glitch Vanellope von Schweetz takes the medal and uses it to dispute a kart racing in her game. Meanwhile Felix is seeking out Ralph to tell him that their game will be shut down since he is missing. Felix meets Sergeant Calhoun that tells him that the Cy-Bug would destroy any game and he immediately falls in love with her. Ralph helps Vanellope to build her own racing car and becomes her hero; but soon he is convinced by King Candy that Vanellope is just a glitch and she may destroy Sugar Race. Ralph destroys her car and her dreams expecting to protect Vanellope. But when he sees her picture on the cabinet of Sugar Race, he learns that something is wrong in the explanation of King Candy. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Here’s what we found…

It Takes Everyone

Everyone kinda shunned Ralph in his own game because he was constantly wrecking things. What they discovered, however, was that without him breaking things, the game didn’t work… Fix-it Felix didn’t have a purpose without Ralph playing his part.  This reminded us that each member of the body of Christ has a purpose to fulfill. God has designed a special part for each of us to play… but for the whole thing to work, we need each other. Each part is necessary.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5

Experience Grooms Us

Ralph went through times of feeling alone and inferior… he struggled to fit in. Then he met Glitch who, in her own way, struggled with the same feelings. She was different from everyone else, and often felt like an outcast. The two soon struck up an amazing friendship… because they really understood each other. They were able to learn from and support one another. God often does the same with us. He may walk us through difficult situations, but then later we find that He used that time to give us the skills we would need to come alongside someone else who is wrestling with the same things.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” 2 Cor. 1:3

Jesus Understands

At one point in the story, Fix It Felix ends up in jail. He’s wrongfully confused, and this comes after he’s also been rejected by the woman he loves. He complains to Ralph, “But you don’t know what it’s like to be rejected and treated like a criminal…” To which Ralph can reply with certainty, “Oh yes… yes, I do.” I couldn’t help but think of my Savior, broken and bleeding… hanging on a tree for me, after having been mocked, and beaten, and spit upon. It’s tempting to focus on myself and throw a little pity party. I offer excuses to God for my crappy attitudes like, “You just don’t understand… You don’t know what it’s like!” Oh, but He does. He surely does.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Sacrifice is Beautiful

Near the end of the movie, it looks as though the evil villain is going to win. For just a moment, Ralph catches a glimpse of a solution. He can defeat the enemy, but it’s going to come at a price. He can save his friends, but not himself. Hello?? Echos of eternity here?

“Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for His friends.” John 15:13

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Incidentally, Noah came up with another application. The villain’s ego and desire for power led to his downfall. It made Noah think of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4), but we also discussed Lucifer and how pride led to his fall as well (Isaiah 14).

There you have it… tonight’s family discipleship lesson brought to you courtesy of Wreck It Ralph. It may seem unconventional, but isn’t this how Jesus discipled? He found ways to weave the truths of His kingdom into the stuff of every day life.

How I love Jesus!

Posted by: bellissimanh | January 5, 2013

Abide.

New beginnings. A fresh start. I flip the calendar to a new year and feel my lungs fill with air. Breathe deeply. Relax. View the canvass of my life and imagine it being filled –sweeping brush strokes, vibrant with color.

Image

 

Of course there will be some gray thrown in. Life is like that… but it’s ok, because I intend to be prepared. I can’t know what the coming year holds – but I do know who holds it in His hands, and that He will be faithful to be present as I walk through.

 

All of His power is available to me. He’s promised that, and He is GOOD for it. So why is it there have been times when I didn’t feel His strength and comfort in my life as powerfully as I should have? It wasn’t His fault, but mine.

 

This year? This year will be different. I will fix my eyes on Him, and his faithfulness, and TRUTH – and I will know His nearness. It’s not enough to wish for this… to pray for it. If I truly want to experience Him in the fullest way this year, it’s going to require something more than sitting back and waiting. I need to seek him. To actively pursue Him. His desire is to reveal Himself to me… but I must look.

 

At the start of each new year, I like to seek the Lord and let Him lead me to one word that will become a sort of theme for my year. As I prayed and meditated on where I am right now, and what God has for me in 2013, the word that keeps floating to the surface of my mind is “abide.” My greatest desire for the next twelve months is that I would truly abide in Him.

 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” ~John 15:5

 

Having a goal is all well and good, but as I mentioned above – it’s not enough to hope for it. I want to be intentional about it. At the Spirit’s leading, I’m going to begin with a couple of things.

 

  1. Meditating on His Truth daily – I will continue to meditate on Scripture and journal with the She Reads Truth community (Joshua 1:8).

 

  1. Hiding His Word in my heart – I’m committing to memorizing Romans 1, 8 and 15 over the coming year with The Romans Project, and possibly the book of James as well. As I make His Word part of me, it will become breath and life to me. (Psalm 119:11-15; Ezekiel 37:4-5).

 

  1. Dwelling in thanksgiving – I will count One Thousand Gifts this year. By reflecting on His faithfulness, I will keep my focus on Him. If I truly want to experience His peace, I must learn this discipline (Phil. 4:6-7).

 

How about you? Do you have word for 2013? How is He speaking to your heart? I’d love to share the journey with you – praying for and encouraging one another along the way.

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