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.

Posted by: bellissimanh | October 30, 2012

Buh-bye… I’m Movin’ On…

I love it when God brings an issue to my attention, speaks to it, and then reinforces what He wants me to learn by repeating it through several different means. It’s one of the ways I know without a doubt that He loves me… because He is so tender and sweet, yet absolutely relentless in placing His truth in front of me until I get it… until it works its way past my head and into my heart.

This week, He has been showing me how deeply I’ve been mired in the muck of my past. I’ve experienced some serious loss over the years… some of it due to my own sinful choices, and some of it not. What I’m learning is that regardless of why the loss came to be, or why I found myself in those lonely and desperate places… the way I chose to respond in those situations is on me, and I need to OWN it.

One of my She Reads Truth passages this week included Philippians 3:12-14:

“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do notconsider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

Paul knew that the past – whether good or bad – could be a distraction that would keep him from pressing forward. I want my focus to be fixed solely on the Author and Perfecter of my faith… on the Lover of my soul. He is my hope and my stability. He is my glory.

I’m also reading “Everything” by Mary Demuth (if you don’t have this book, I highly recommend you go to Amazon and order it… NOW (we’ll wait). It is SO good.) In it Mary writes:

“…we grow in the Great Right Now. He changes our hearts in this moment. Sure, we can point to the past and discern victories there, but we must not remain tethered to yesteryear. Nor can we pine for how we will grow when everything aligns appropriately.”

And this…

“Whether our past was amazing or tragic, God calls us onward and upward, beckoning us away from past tense to present tense. Our future growth depends on our ability to be an ‘am.’ To live now, uncaged, unfettered, free. To live any other way borders on disobedience.”

Hmmph. Wow. Ouch. God has me in a new place, but my longing for my old church family… my old ministry… my old life… all it’s doing is getting in the way of what He wants to do in me now. My eyes and heart are so glued to the past that it prevents me from stepping forward in faith as He leads. Not only that… it also robs me of the joy of the present. He has a will for my life NOW… here in this moment… but I’m so busy wishing for the way things used to be, and looking forward to the day when things will be what I want them to be, that I’m missing out on what the Great I Am has for me right here… right now.

Can I just tell you… I am so DONE with that! I want to be obedient. I want to be holy. I want to be happy. Walking in the center of His will for me is the only thing that’s going to bring that blessing… that peace.

He has taken hold of me, and that means everything. Lead away, Lord… I’m reaching forward.

Posted by: bellissimanh | October 24, 2012

Want Glory? Here’s Your Key…

“She Reads Truth”, and man… does He SPEAK.

I’ve joined up with a community of Christian women who are traveling through God’s Word together, via a blog (www.shereadstruth.com), pinstagram and twitter (hashtag #shereadstruth). I stumbled across this group a couple of months ago, and have been LOVING the way my participation has given me such a thirst for God’s Word. The more I receive from Him – through prayer and meditating on His truth – the more I crave. An insatiable desire to be listening to Him, learning from Him, leaning into Him, LOVING Him. I seriously can’t.get.enough. It’s amazing.

This week we began a study in Philippians, and it’s been full of challenges. Today was no exception, and although the Lord spoke to my heart through several of the verses we read, one in particular is shouting louder than the rest. It’s this…

 “Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit…” Philippians 2:3a

It’s so easy to read these words and just skip through them, but in slowing down and really digging into this verse, much is revealed – about His desires for me, and about my heart. Two little pieces spell it all out: “selfishness” and “empty conceit”.

The Greek word for “selfishness” is “eritheia”. It’s an attempt to put yourself forward as better than others. It connotes a partisan and factious spirit – one that is self-seeking. Of course no one likes to think of themselves this way, but honestly… any secret aim I have to do better than others – whether it’s through ministry, reputation, my gifts and talents, my charity, WHATEVER – it is eritheia. There is no holiness in such efforts and I need to get rid of it all. How? If my eyes truly are on Jesus, then how I measure up to others won’t even enter the picture. He needs to be my focus… always. Dang… we have so far to go.

Next comes this little diddy: “empty conceit”. The original word is “kenodoxia” and it literally means “hollow glory”. The praise I receive from man looks (and let’s be honest, FEELS) beautiful and desirable, but it is devoid of any good or eternal value. To live for the glory of this day is a hollow and empty pursuit.

Selfish ambition has to do with personal goals… accomplishments

Empty conceit refers to a desire for personal glory and acclaim… an over-inflated self image.

Where are these present in my life?
My marriage – Am I seeking to “outdo” my husband in any area of our life?
My parenting - Am I looking for recognition from my kids for all I do for them? Am I seeking constant validation from them?
My friendships – Am I jealous of my friends? Am I guilty of measuring myself against who they are & what they have?
My workplace – Do I work as unto the Lord, and not men? Do I do all I can to encourage my coworkers in their efforts?
Within the Church -  Do I resent someone else’s ministry? Have I tried to use Christian service as a means of exalting myself, rather than Him?

Selfish ambition and empty conceit — this so not what God has for us. Not only does selfishness and pride not bring glory to God… it’s not going to satisfy us either. On the surface, we may feel good about our accomplishments and recognition, but inside? Inside, we know the truth.

TRUE grounds for glorying are found in GRACE.

 “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh…”  Phil. 3:3

 The antidote for the poison of our self-centeredness is found in the remainder of Phil. 2:3…

 “…but in humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

 Want to please the Father? Want harmony and unity? Want REAL glory?

Here’s your key.

Posted by: bellissimanh | October 10, 2012

I love You, Daddy.

I lost my phone for a few minutes at the hospital. Couldn’t find it anywhere, so I called it from Jasmine’s phone, and discovered it buried in one of my bags. A little while later, Jasmine’s phone was beeping (missed call or something). In looking through her recent call log, I read one word that made me smile. “Mommy.”

I don’t know that Jas has EVER called me “Mommy”. I’ve heard “Mom”, and the most popular “Mama”… but never “Mommy.”  Yet still… it did my heart good to see it there, registered in her cell. What is it about that moniker that makes it seem so much more personal… precious… lovely?

I asked Jas about it and she said that this is how she thinks of me, and she says that when she was very little she called me “Mommy” and it evolved into “Mama” over the years. Maybe she’s right (she probably is… my memory’s not what it used to be). Either way, I love that when she thinks of me, I’m still her Mommy, even though she’s just 8 months away from adulthood.

As I study and draw closer to the Lord, I realize there are so many facets to Him, and I am overwhelmed by everything that He is. Provider and Protector. Lion and Lamb. Sovereign and Savior. Rescuer and Redeemer. Healer and Helper. Defender and Disciplinarian. Lighter of my way and Lover of my soul. Truth and Teacher. Creator and King.

And He is Father. Not just in the typical “Our Father, who art in heaven…” sense, but in a very real, personal sense. Three times in the New Testament He is referred to as “Abba.” In Hebrew, “Ab” means father… but in Aramaic, “Abba” is a word derived from baby-language – “Daddy.”

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Galatians 4:6)

And it is also a term Jesus used to address His Father in perhaps the most difficult moment of His life:

“‘Abba, Father,’ He said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” (Mark 14:36)

How amazing that God — the Creator of the Universe –  desires to have this kind of closeness and intimacy with us. Today, I just want to say, “I love You, Daddy!”

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