five minute friday ~ last

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My first try at Five Minute Friday was pretty raw, and it was hard not to keep typing when the timer went off, but I’m giving it another shot! It’s good writing practice. The whole idea came from Lisa Jo Baker, who says that, “Writing is like a mirror, we see ourselves best in what we’ve written.”

Every Friday for close to three years, writers have gathered on her blog site for “a kind of free write flash mob”. The goal is to spend just five minutes writing on the same topic. And then bloggers link up on her site.

Today’s topic is “last.” Here we go…. Continue reading

no cheap goods

I read this devotion this morning, and it summed up my last post so well that I thought I would share it. This comes from my all time favorite devotion, Streams in the Desert.

The devotional book was written and compiled by L.B. Cowman, a missionary that served with her husband for 16 years in Japan in the very early 1900’s. They had to come home due to her husband’s illness, and she cared for him until he died. I highly recommend this devotion if you are looking for one!

This excerpt comes from the updated version of Streams that was published in 1997.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

The reason that so many people fail to experience this divine principle is that they expect to receive it all without a struggle. When conflict comes and the battle rages on, they become discouraged and surrender. God has nothing worth having that is easily gained, for there are no cheap goods on the heavenly market. The cost of our redemption was everything God had to give, and anything worth having is expensive.

Difficult times and places are our schools of faith and character. If we are ever to rise above mere human strength, and experience the power of the life of Christ in our mortal bodies, it will be through the process of conflict that could very well be called the “labor pains” of the new life.

So true. The reason I do not experience this divine principle of overcoming and showcasing his life and glory is simple. I want the results without the struggle, without the risk, without the hearteache. While some of our spiritual treasure comes by inheritance, the rest is gained by going through the fire.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:12-14

Difficulties lead to wisdom and strength. They lead to the outpouring of more grace, more spiritual gifts, more of Him. Suffering leads to glory… and I can’t think of anything more valuable in all of heaven and earth than His glory! I want to see it, feel it, walk in it, have it emanate from my life.

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Glory is not easily gained. If I want to remain comfortable and undisturbed, then I will end up with the cheap stuff. No thanks…

photo credit: borhekinsurance.com (text added)

taking risks

I was fortunate enough to have a solitary walk on the beach not to long ago. (Deep breath as I remember that rare moment.) Now, I’ll admit that lots of folks were there, so it wasn’t solitary in the true sense, but no one called me “Mommy” or asked me to make them something to eat. It was glorious.

I sat down for a bit, and the Lord immediately directed my attention to this sight:

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His words flooded my heart.

It’s time for you to start taking some risks. You’ve spent your whole life acting as your own lifeguard, keeping yourself out of deep water and away from anything uncomfortable.

See how this lifeguard tower is unmanned? I want you to resign as your own watchman and protector. Let Me decide what is safe for you and what is not.

As this truth pierced my heart, I could not deny it. I let it sink in.

Since I experienced some pretty traumatic things as a child, I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid pain, rejection, vulnerability… I’ve avoided just about everything that I didn’t think I could control or escape in a pinch. I think it’s a typical human response to avoid discomfort or suffering. However, as children of the Most High God, we are not typical humans!

    The grace that has been granted you is that of suffering for Christ’s sake,
    not merely believing in him. Philippians 1:29 (KNOX)

Did you catch that? We have been granted grace to suffer, to be uncomfortable, to be misunderstood and mocked. We have been given the grace to take risks for the sake of Christ. His grace is poured out abundantly so that we can do more than just believe in Him! We can also put our dreams, our comfort, our time, our money, our passion on the line for Him and His kingdom. We need not perform this risk taking on our own– we are given sufficient grace to do this through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

God is showing me that, rather than being mindful of the grace that to allows me to be uncomfortable and take risks, I consider opportunities on the scale of comfort and ease. I measure challenges against my own strength, abilities, and time available. Instead, I should measure them by His grace, His abilities and His power!

When I consider His power and resources, then nothing is impossible. When I consider His grace and love, how uncomfortable can the risk be when He has me in His hand the whole time?

Since He spoke this word to me nearly a month ago at the beach, the Lord has already laid challenges before me. He’s asked me to take some risks in a few relationships. He’s asked me to make a trip across the country to be His voice of encouragement. He’s leading our family to change churches after 25 years in one place.

And even as I write this, once again He asks me, “Is it really a risk when I am Your Lifeguard?”