Fruit that Remains: Excerpts from my journals that nourished me and might encourage you, too!

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Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.

While in my daily devotions this morning, the Holy Spirit brought this phrase to my mind: “Do not make the Word of God of no effect.” Yikes! What does that mean??

I knew I had learned that Scripture from the Bible and that Jesus had said it, but I couldn’t recall where or to whom he had said it.  What were the circumstances? I needed to dig deeper as I felt the Lord correcting me.

When I looked up the reference, I found that this quote is in Mark 7:13. The King James Version of the Bible says, ‘Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.’ The New American Standard version says it like this: “…thus invalidating the Word of God by your tradition which have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

In this passage, Jesus is chastising the Pharisees because they put all of their religious emphasis on outward displays and man-made rules while their hearts are far from God. When Jesus says that the Pharisees “invalidate” or “make of none effect” the Word of God, the original Greek language that the text is written in uses the word, “akuroo”. Jesus uses “akuroo” to describe how they invalidate the Word and void it of power and effect by acting as though they can change it, adapt it, manipulate its message or disregard Who the Author is.

Akuroo (Strong’s Akuroo) is the negative, or the upside-down version, of the word, “kuroo” (Strong’s Kuroo) which means “to validate, confirm publicly, ratify”. “Kuroo” itself comes from another root word, “”kurios” (Strong’s Kurios) which means, “Master, Lord, the greeting of a servant to his master, the title given to God, the Messiah”.

When I don’t reverence the entire Word, I make its power of no effect in my life. After all, the Word is Jesus. John says in John 1:1,  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I must greet the Word with the reverence of a servant. The Word is not here to serve me, but I the Word. I am not here to take parts of the Word and make it fit my mold but the Word is here to mold me into its form. I am its servant not the other way around. I don’t get to decide what parts I want to read or obey…IF I want God’s power to be in it, that is! The power comes through reverence and honor.

No wonder Jesus was chastising the Pharisees here. They were standing right in front of the incarnation of the Word they professed to know backward and forward and they couldn’t recognize him. Meanwhile, the wounded, the blind, and the rejected knew right away that He was the Light of the world and the remedy for all that was broken. They knew that one word from His mouth would bring healing, cleansing and restoration to everything that was ruined in their lives.

If I believe that this Word is God-breathed, that Jesus is the Word (even if I don’t understand totally how that works), then I will approach the Word with the same faith, expectation, and devotion of those who saw and touched Jesus in the flesh. I will approach this powerful, restorative Word on my knees – either physically or spiritually.

Lord God, I repent for not honoring Your Word and hearing Your voice every time I read it. I repent for the times that I have handled your word incorrectly and without proper reverence and awe.  I ask for your forgiveness for the times that I have approached Your Word casually and routinely. Please open my eyes, my ears and my heart to see and hear You in Your Word. And help me to never again handle it with vile hands, human goals and selfish reasons. Your Word has suspended the heavens above the earth, created everything seen and unseen and will still remain for all of the eternal ages to come. Jesus, you are the Word that stood before creation, brought creation into being and still upholds all things.  I honor You, my Master and Lord. Help me to hear Your voice of love as You speak to me. 

Falling: How we fall and how we get up (Part 2)

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The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23, 24 

Now let’s look at the fall. When I fell three years ago in my house, I fell so hard that my children who were in the basement came running up to see what happened. They said it sounded like something blew up in the house! The pain was immediate and the injuries were long lasting. The cost and time involved to remedy the injuries was extensive.

I have heard many Christians who have fallen in sin say that they couldn’t believe that they were capable of doing what they did. They say that their fall seemed to sneak up on them from behind and blew up everything in their lives.

Many years ago, I found myself in that situation. I became involved in an ungodly relationship. Two weeks after the sinful relationship began, I woke up from my trance. I looked at what I was doing and realized that I was at risk of losing everything! I felt as though a hex had been cast over me that caused me to act and think in a way that was totally contrary to all of the pursuits of my life to that point. Who was this person in the mirror that could be so vile and selfish and blind?

I had to face the sin, come clean, and go through a season of deep cleansing with the help of my Pastor. The cost was extensive. The enemy had set a trap for me and because my eyes were not fixed on Jesus as my All-in-All, I fell right into it. I felt as though one day I was walking well with the Lord and the next day I was lying face down in my sin.

But the reality is that for a season of time I had not been guarding my heart and dealing honestly with my thoughts. The ground was beginning to freeze all around me and I wasn’t paying attention to the chill…until I slipped and fell. I was not taking sin seriously. I felt that I could handle it. Until it handled me.

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Falling: How we fall and how we get up (Part 1)

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The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23, 24 

I caught myself just in time. My foot started to slip out from under me as I walked to my car on our snowy driveway, but I managed to catch my balance before the slip turned ugly.

I live in New England and winter here can often mean slipping and falling on ice and snow. Therefore, after driveways and walkways have been shoveled, we bring out the salt and sand to ensure that people can keep their footing and not take a header due to slick conditions.

I have been fortunate this winter in that I haven’t slipped or fallen even though we’ve had record amounts of snow and a layer of ice underneath that snow. I’m so grateful for the fact that I haven’t fallen and here’s why: I fell three years ago – in my own home, of all places!  It took six months, hundreds of dollars and countless hours of office visits to recover my strength and the fitness level I was at when the accident happened.

So why am I blogging about NOT falling? How is that interesting at all? Well, this morning, I was meditating on the Scripture in Jude 1:24, 25: To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—  to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Underline mine)

God keeps us from falling. That’s really good news! Obviously, the writer of that scripture is talking about spiritually falling, so that makes this even better news! But we have a part to play in cooperating with the Lord as He works to keep us from falling.

Let’s look at the results of falls first and then make the correlation to what happens to us spiritually when we fall.

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Getting Unstuck: Step into the light again

Stuck -jeremy-bishopDo you feel stuck? How long have you been stuck? Was there a situation that happened that threw you into the “stuck” state?

If the definition of stuck is ‘stationary by some obstruction’, then I believe that many times we can get stuck because something happened that we don’t process in a biblical way.  Chronologically, the calendar keeps moving forward, but emotionally, the hands of the clock stand still as we are locked in pain, bitterness, or grief. Someone has hurt us, we hurt ourselves, or some situation has transpired that threw us down the rabbit hole and we don’t know how to get out.  The pain and question marks become the unwanted house guests who refuse to leave.

If we’re Bible believing Christians, this is particularly burdensome, because we have all of this Scripture that promises that the Lord will carry our burdens, that He will be our peace, and that no weapon formed against us will prosper.  So how do we handle the loss when a weapon formed against us does seem to prosper – when we lose a loved one or a relationship, when we experience a large setback like divorce or bankruptcy, or when a habit or addiction has caused us to make some hurtful choices and now we’re living in the stink of those choices?

I believe the answer is to learn how to process our situations in light of the Truth of Who God is and what He says He will do with our messes. We get stuck because a trauma has frozen us in one spot.

But there are ways to get “unstuck”. Let’s look at a couple.

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Flight of the Monarch: Guest Blog Post

Below is a blog written by my friend, Jamie Sasien. I know you’ll be blessed. I look forward to hosting other guest bloggers on my site so stay tuned!

As a homeschooling mom of three children I’m always learning.  My girls and I have been studying insects and when we got to the butterflies we watched some videos on the Monarch.  Did you know that a Monarch butterfly will travel from the north of America and Canada all the way to Southern California or the middle of Mexico each fall?  This is known as the flight of the Monarch.  It got me thinking to my original reason for wanting to write years ago.  God gave me this idea that we as parents are on a journey in raising our children to take the next step of their life.  Our children may not go through a full metamorphosis like the butterfly, but it sometimes feels like it.

So as I was thinking about the butterfly, it got me thinking of our lives with kids.  Butterfly’s mate while in Mexico and then the females in spring begin their long journey back north, where they lay their eggs.  They know that they need to lay their eggs specifically on milkweed, as this is what the baby caterpillars will eat once they are born.  Like our little ones, the first thing they need is food.  Remember those late nights nursing and making sure our little ones had plenty to eat.  Our babies don’t grow as quickly as these small caterpillars but like the caterpillar in this stage, all they do is eat and sleep.

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Photo by Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash

The next stage is the pupa stage.  This is the time when they undergo huge transformations.  For us this stage begins in the pre-k years and continues through the teen years.  These years our children are going through the most transformation.  These can be the hardest of years and the most enjoyable. Then one day they begin to emerge, they begin to crawl out of those years.  They first need to dry their wings before they can take their first flight.  I think of this as a time usually when they are beginning to drive and get their first job.

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Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash

What happens last is the most amazing step.  The steps when we let them go.  We let them fly.  They may not go 2,000 miles away, but it may seem like it when you drop them off to school or send them away to boot camp.  This is what we have been planning for, preparing them for, molding them into.  Thankfully our process isn’t as short as the butterfly, but it feels as if it was just yesterday that we left one stage and entered the next.  I’m not sure what stage of parenting you are in, but God is in all of it.  He has told us this was his plan when he said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

God knows that our job is to prepare them for where they are going.  Each stage is a step in letting go.  We let go with everything we do with our children.

  • We let go when we wean from nursing.
  • We let go so they can take that first step.
  • We let go when they sleep through the night.
  • We let go when we send them to school.
  • We let go when they begin to read on their own.
  • We let go when they can make their own breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • We let go when they can do their own laundry.
  • We let go when they begin to drive.
  • We let go…… (You fill in the blank.)

Now you:

  • What steps have you taken in letting go?
  • Have you even noticed your letting them go each step of the way?
  • How are you training your children?
  • What example are you giving them?
  • What steps do you need God’s help in?
  • Are you praying over them during these steps?

You are taking these steps each day, week, year in letting your babies fly.  Your babies are to take their journey, to begin their life.  However, you have a job now at the stage you are in.  It doesn’t matter what mistakes you have made in the past.  You can begin again fresh today.  Remember, “With God, all things are possible.” Your part is in training your children, molding them, praying for them.  They may buck and balk along the way, but what you have done, raising them in the Lord, will come to pass.  Trust the Lord.  Trust the process.  God will never let you down, especially when it comes to your children, His children.

My prayer for you:

May God encourage you today.  Know God is pleased with you and He will guide you in raising your children. I pray that God would give you wisdom and knowledge in raising your children.  I pray that He would love them through you and that your children would come to know the Lord because of your teaching and example.  May God bless you in this journey and may you enjoy the process. I pray you will have God’s perfect peace letting your children fly into the plans He has for them.  Amen

About the author of this post:  Jamie Sasien is a homeschooling mom of three ages 13, 12, and 8.  She is also married to her best friend of 16 years.  She writes on a blog: One Day to the Next, where she shares about her love of parenting, marriage, and Jesus. 

Workout your thought life!

Workout2If I could stay in bed, sleep in and still stay fit, I would do it. While I enjoy the camaraderie of my workout classes, if I could avoid the intense exertion five out of seven mornings a week, I would totally do it! But because I enjoy being fit and keeping my weight and mental clarity at a certain level, I make myself rise at an early hour so that I can have time with the Lord and also have time to exercise every day. I say, “No”, to hitting the snooze button 14 times for the greater “Yes” of feeling good after a hard workout and for the rest of the day.

The other morning, when I was doing my devotions, the thought came to me that we can put our thoughts into the same workout regimen that we put our bodies in.  The same way I control what I put into my body and how I exercise it to stay in shape, I can control what I put into my mind and exercise those thoughts to get the flab out of my thought life. Just as my body without exercise would revert to a state of untoned muscles, my mind without exertion becomes slack and untrained. My thoughts will automatically go towards negativity, fear, and low self-esteem. That’s what my mind looks like when left to itself.

But God has given me a great “gym” for my thought life. It’s called the Word of God. For every flabby negative thought that wants to keep me in a cycle of failure, I can purposefully replace it with God’s thoughts about me and my circumstances. But those thoughts aren’t natural, just like working out doesn’t feel natural. I have to MAKE myself dig into the Word and find God’s thoughts on a matter and then I have to WRITE them down so I don’t forget them, and then I have to REHEARSE those words over and over until they get into my brain. Eventually, my thoughts will get into godly shape.

But here’s what I see so often…many of us hear the Word on Sunday and think that a one-time hearing is going to make a change. But let me ask you this: if I went to the gym once a week, do you think I would notice any measurable change in my cardiovascular health or in the shape of my physical body? And if I ate junk food all week and then expected that one visit to the gym to work magic, do you think I would see the results I hope for?

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What’s the deal with sin? It’s a new day

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Did I just say that out loud??

Do you ever have those moments when you say something and then realize what you said after you hear it come out of your mouth? Most of the time when that happens to me, it’s not a good moment of realization.  It’s usually one where I stand there in embarrassment wishing the floor would open up and suck me in.

But now and again, I have really great moments of brilliance inspired by the Holy Spirit when I say something wise, or encouraging, or with a knowledge that I KNOW didn’t come from me! I’m just not that good! That happened the other night when I was leading a discussion / book group at a transitions home for women who are coming out of poverty, homelessness and drugs. Most of these women have children. When I look into their eyes, I see such potential and such promise, yet I know they are just one bad decision away from re-entering their destructive life. So I pour out everything in me on those nights, giving my all to demonstrate the immense love of God for these broken girls, most of whom have never known safety, stability, self-discipline and real honest love.

I don’t go up to that house with a plan.  I bring a book that we’re reading together that deals with using God’s Word to bring emotional healing and changing destructive thinking to positive, overcoming thinking. We take turns reading out loud until I feel like we should stop and talk about what we read. Or until one of the girls stops me and asks a question. Every single week is different from the last.

Some girls have left the program…sadly. But more have joined the house than have left. And as our group grows, so does the amount of discussion and the number of questions that I’m fielding. So I lean heavily on the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom for the simple reason that I’ve never been an addict or homeless with my children. I have first-hand experience with addiction in my family, but that’s not the same as being the user and the one who now has to pick up the pieces with children in tow.

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