Sunday, July 30, 2017

How's your soil?

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.  Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Matthew 13:4-9 NLT

It is not easy to cultivate good, fertile soil. For a long time when I read this parable of Jesus, I thought that good soil just happens. You are either good soil or shallow, weedy or rocky soil. But I realize good soil doesn't just automatically happen, either in my garden or in my heart. The Gardener has to be able to dig into the soil, to amend the soil with material that will make growth happen. Weeds must be pulled. And most importantly, I must give the Gardener access to my heart/soil for growth to happen. I now see it takes surrender to the Master Gardener's work in my heart in order for me to become "good soil."  I am learning that the surrender is not just a one time event but an ongoing process, often having to be repeated many times to take us to varying levels of growth. I'm glad my Master Gardener knows exactly how much and when to amend my soil to produce a fertile place for seeds to be planted and growth to take place.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Jesus is speaking to the crowds..... “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30The Message 

My grace is never forced on you. My grace flows from My heart to yours when your heart is open to Me. There is a rhythm to it, like a beautiful song has a rhythm - almost like 3/4 time in a waltz. As you enter into the dance with Me, allowing Me to lead you around the dance floor in My timing and with My holding you, you will flow into receiving and then dispensing My grace to others. But you cannot do this dance on your own. My dance of grace is an invitation, to real life, real rest, real relationship with Me and with others. You will walk through life and your most difficult relationships with a light step. This is your invitation to freedom. 

Jesus, thank You for always inviting me closer to You and into life and grace and wholeness. I'm excited to dance through my difficult relationships with You and first of all receive your grace and as I keep company with You, allowing Your grace to flow from me to others. I love You so much...I adore You. Thank You for opening my eyes to see You as You really are and to hear Your invitation to me toward life, love and shalom-wholeness.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Uncomfortable Grace

As I was rereading my last year's journal for today, I thought this was worth pondering here....

God has chosen to let you live in this fallen world because He plans to employ the difficulties of it to continue and complete His work in you. We want the grace of relief or release. What we really need is the grace of transformation. This is the 'theology' of uncomfortable grace. It may not be what we want, but it is precisely what we need. God is faithful and will use the brokenness of this world that is your present address to complete the loving work of personal transformation that He has begun.

New Morning Mercies, March 8, Paul David Tripp

Yes, Lord, how often I pray for the grace of relief when what I really need is the grace of transformation. May it be so! 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Crazy dreams

 I was reading in my last year's journal this morning about a dream I had one year ago today. I was hiding in the linen closet with a pillow in front of me to hide from a man who is coming to judge me for something that I'd supposedly done wrong. But I didn't feel like I was guilty, but I was fearful. I waited a long time and I used that time to just be with Jesus. Then I got out of the closet to apologize to a Mexican man that I had offended. Once I did that I was no longer afraid of the judge or of being judged and when the judge arrived, I intentionally and cheerfully greeted him and waited for the judgment to come, but it never did.

As I pondered this dream, it spoke to me exactly where I am: hiding from others judgments, but a soft hiding, indicated by the pillow. That soft hiding shows up in that I try to make myself look good to others and even hide my issues from myself.  Also I realize that apology dispells judgment as does truth or at the very least frees me from my fear of rejection. It takes being with Jesus to release me as a captive of fear. Also there is truth about if I don't judge others to feel better about myself,  I don't feel judged. Isn't that what Matthew 7:1 is all about?

 So Jesus I just need you to help me walk all this out in my life today. I see that over the last year you have been making me more aware of where I do judge others and that the root of that is I'm really judging myself so I judge others to make myself feel better. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to believe the best about people, and see that they're doing the best they can. I want to offer grace and compassion and love instead of criticism, judgment and negativity.  I want to sow love so I can reap love. The way I can do this is to remain in your love and receive your love so that I can love myself as you love me and then love others as you love me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Which kind of transformation are you looking for?

Image result for transformation

One of my favorite new devotionals is New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. He speaks truth in such a way that I can take it in and live it out (hopefully and only with God's grace.) Here is an excerpt from February 1 that spoke to my heart.

1 Peter 1:6-7  Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perished though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

In grace, He leads you where you didn't plan to go in order to produce in you what you couldn't achieve on your own. In these moments, He works to alter the values of your heart so that you let go of your little kingdom of one and give yourself to His Kingdom of glory and grace. God is working right now, but not so much to give us predictable, comfortable, and pleasurable lives. He isn't so much working to transform our circumstances as He is working through hard circumstances to transform you and me. We are being blessed with the heart transforming grace of difficulty because the God who loves us knows this is exactly the grace we need. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Would you recognize Jesus?

Image result for jesus breakfast on the beach

Jim Branch is a man I highly respect and enjoy his blog immensely. I had the honor of attending one of his retreats several years ago and he impressed me as a man who has humbly walked with Jesus and is willing to be vulnerable with others that they too may walk more deeply with God. His words ignite something deep within that draws me closer to Jesus. I am sharing his thoughts here today:

Posted: 04 May 2017 09:44 AM PDT

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. (John 21:4)

It seems that one of the disciplines most necessary during the Easter season is the discipline of recognizing.  After all, the risen Christ could appear at any moment and we must pay careful attention, lest we miss him--just ask the disciples.  They were so busy not catching fish that they were oblivious to the fact that Jesus had been standing on the shore, at least long enough to build a fire and get some coals hot.  Why had they missed him?  The simple answer is that they were preoccupied.  They were so busy with the task at hand that they were paying no attention to anything else.  I get that.  I can get caught up in the comings and goings of my day just as easily.  Busyness, preoccupation, and hurry can blind me to the fact that Jesus is standing right there on the shoreline of my life and I have not recognized him.  I must learn how to slow down, to pay attention.  I must learn how to go through the course of my days with an eye out for the Risen One.  I must not let the chaos and activity of everyday life sweep me away and distract me from the real reason I am here in the first place--Jesus. 

Lord Jesus, give me the grace and the ability to recognize you today, however you may come to me.  Amen.  

If you enjoyed this,  just click on the word "recognizing" and it will take you to his blog where you can sign up to receive more in your inbox.

Sunday, January 08, 2017


After reading Ecclesiastes 7 I asked myself the question, "What have I learned from times of extreme sorrow in my life?" Here's my reflection:
  • that those moments will pass if I allow myself to process them
  • I will get to the other side eventually, I won't always feel this way
  • that life doesn't always turn out like we want it to
  • to appreciate and enjoy the people in my life because they won't always be there
  • tell people I love you while you can
  • it is good to have friends around who can pray for you, allow you those feelings and just be with you, wordless, bearing your burden
  • it hurts to your core
  • when the sorrow is because of someone's unhealthy lifestyle choices that are destructive, you need to detach in love
  • Crying cleanses the soul
  • You can actually feel the sorrow physically in your heart and body
  • the degree of joy you feel will match the degree of sorrow
  • sorrow is part of life; you can't avoid it
  • Sorrow allows you to experience compassion for others who feel it too
  • God comforts the brokenhearted. It's a promise in Isaiah 61:1!
  • God gives a joyous blessing instead of mourning, beauty for ashes
  • that I am held and enfolded by Jesus
  • Sorrow has a refining influence on us (Eccl 7:3 (if we will embrace it)
  • that Jesus weeps with me, His Spirit lives within me and comforts me