Monthly Archives: September 2012

Autumn 101: A Vibrant, Colorful Relationship with Jesus Christ

Autumn.

One of the many words that makes me turn to mush from the inside out and my soul cry with delight. It’s also my favorite time of the year, stretching from late August through the end of the year (I know this includes the tail end of summer and the start of winter, but I can’t and shouldn’t exclude Christmas).

I adore, like, enjoy, love everything about it: comfy sweaters, bonfires, warm beverages, boots, scarves, apples, pumpkins, harvest, fall decor, the temps, football, the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet as I walk and, especially, the bold, warm colors.

All of those things combined (minus football…although that is questionable) bring to mind feelings of warmth, energy, vibrancy and a depth of richness little can compare to. Most  of all, it reminds me of my relationship with God: warm, deep, rich, vibrant and full of energy…and very, very colorful.

People are drawn to those things. I wonder how appealing I am as a Christian? Do other people gravitate to me because I am a warm, vibrant, and inviting person?

Red
When I think about the color of the fall leaves, red is my favorite. There’s just something about the trees that are full of red leaves glistening in the sun. It’s just extraordinary. They stick out and you notice them.

Red brings up the thought of passion. No matter where we are in our Christian walk, I think we all could do with a little more passion for Christ. We should stick out in a good way. We should reflect all that brilliance of Christ.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

Orange
The color orange is so beautiful in the fall. We see it in not just the fall leaves, but in those pumpkins as well. Orange reflects warmth and symbolizes thoughtfulness and sincerity. As Christians that’s something we should portray. We should be that warm inviting person that cares about others.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.    Ephesians 4:32

Yellow
The yellow color of fall makes me happy. Yellow conjures up joy and cheerfulness. I don’t really think that if we aren’t cheerful as Christians, other people will want what we have.

If we have Christ, we should have joy in our hearts and that joy should reflect out through us. It’s listed right there in Galatians along with the other fruit of the spirit that we should be bearing. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Purple
Purple is the color of royalty. As Christians, we are royalty in Christ. Our behavior should reflect that royalty. We should be striking as Christians. 

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:16-17

Brown
If we didn’t have all that brown in the midst of the bright fall colors, I doubt if they’d be so brilliant. Brown represents stability and it anchors all those other beautiful colors of fall. In Christ, we have our anchor. Others can see if we are living for Christ and depending on Him in our lives. It comes out in our actions and behavior.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.    Colossians 2:6-7

Showing Christ through our behavior is so important in our witness to others . Our “colors” do matter. What we portray matters. How we act and behave is what people see when they look at us. I hope I grow to have a beautiful, warm, and inviting life in and relationship with Christ. I don’t want His Gospel to be hidden from the world because of me. I want to portray vibrancy and warmth so that people will want to get to know Jesus through me.

What are you projecting?

Waking up to what God wants for me :: “A Sudden Glory” book review

Wake up. Start coffee. Get the kids up. Fix breakfast. See your husband off. Supervise teeth brushing, comb hair, and plant kisses. Load the van and bring the kids to school or see them off at the bus stop. Buy groceries. Pay bills. Drive to work and drive home. Do laundry. Cook dinner. Do Bible study. Answer emails. Pray and go to bed. Repeat.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll catch a glimpse of God today.

“A Sudden Glory” by Sharon Jaynes is one of the best and most moving books I’ve read in a long time. She shares her life struggles in teaching the reader how to see those special moments of God’s touch in our everyday life. We all have “dry” times in our life, when God seems so far away. But really, He has not moved, we are just either not seeing clearly or we’ve moved.

The daily drag of life can sometimes weigh us down. More than that, it can blind us to God’s glory. That’s what Sharon Jaynes is writing about in this book–the reminder to be alert for God, to press in to Him and long for His presence.

Even when we’re doing everything right, we can still miss out on the intimacy and elaborate grace God intends for us. We long for something more; maybe it’s a need we can’t even identify, but we still we feel it. So we DO what we are supposed to do. Yet, she writes: “Rather than ask God what he wants from us, we need to ask Him what He wants for us.”

“A Sudden Glory” is a beautiful, inspiring, challenging, encouraging and very real book, perfect for the individual to read and for a group setting (study guide included). She shares out of her own personal pain, the times she was angry at God and the times when His plans weren’t her own. This openness makes her writing even more compelling because life doesn’t always go how any of us expect. Most of us have been there, crying, disappointed, upset with God, desperately hurting, and we need the testimony of someone who’s walked through that and seen God glorified.

Sharon’s style of writing is fabulous…very conversational – like sitting at the kitchen table with a special friend, chatting about the things of life while sipping on Lattes. Every page of the book contains rich nuggets that would make wonderful teaching moments or even to expand on and make into sermons.

Multiple messages have been spoken regarding this topic and those I’ve heard have been frustrating simplistic and superficial. My relationship with God is neither. Even those of us walking with Jesus so closely, though, will still feel a longing for more, a sense of incompleteness. It’s not fair to the Christ-follower when pastors and teachers ignore that, giving pat answers, clichéd lessons, and leaving us all unsatisfied as to why we’re still longing when we’ve done everything they’ve said.

The fact is that as long as we are on this side of heaven, we will never be truly filled. The closer we walk with God, the more satisfied we will be, but the more we will be reminded of the beauty of heaven when nothing will cloud our vision, when nothing remains hidden or unanswered. When we see Jesus face to face, that’s when our deepest longings will truly be satisfied. Sharon Jaynes avoids all of the pitfalls of over-simplification here and gives us the hope of heaven.

She also gives us hope for the meantime while we wait here in this earthly place. Jesus came so that we could walk with God rather than be separated by this vast emptiness due to our sinfulness. We live in obedience, in worship, in gratitude, in communion with our God and He draws us close, giving us glimpses of heaven—glimpses of His glory. That’s how He responds to our ache for something more and it’s glorious.

Included in this book is a study guide for use with a small group or individually. I would highly recommend going through the study guide, not just to get the most from this book, but to go deeper in your understanding of Jesus and his love. That guide, in turn, will enhance and deepen your relationship with Him.

I’m part of a new church plant in Minnesota and this book will definitely be going into my personal library. It would be a great addition to our women’s ministry material!

A New Book :: Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic

Just wanted to share information regarding a new book set to be released in late October!

Check out the promo video here, as well as the first chapter here.

Enjoy!

To all my single sisters: Principles for Dating [for a Daugther of God]

I stumbled upon another blogger’s site this morning and was  inspired. I know I’m not the only one that struggles being single during certain seasons of my life. Perhaps this will shed some of God’s light into your own life as it has mine:

8 Principles for Dating [for a Daughter of God]

1. Repeat after me: “You are loved.” 

I am not kidding. Repeat. After. Me. Out loud, often, with conviction. These are such simple words to say, but they have the most deep and resounding impact on our souls if we would just believe.

God says to his daughters in Jeremiah: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Until you have tasted God’s eternal, steadfast, redeeming love, hold off on looking for a man. You may just end up settling for a quick love that cannot fill your core heart’s longing. Even if you are not currently being pursued by a man, you are constantly being pursued by Jesus.

2. You are less beautiful than you think and more beautiful than you believe.

Our sin makes us ugly. No amount of makeup, clothing, or confident, flirtatious façade can change that fact. It takes a humble, redeemed woman changed by God to admit the ugliness of her sin and rest in her beauty in Christ. We must repent of our pride, our shame, our obsession with our looks. We must believe and embrace who God made us to be: beautiful in his image.

True beauty emanates from a woman who boldly and unabashedly knows who she is in Christ.

3. Consider what controls you.

Is it fear, loneliness, demand for a man, seeking approval, career, money?

Let the love of Christ control you. Pay attention to what is controlling your heart as you wait for a date, are in a dating relationship, or even into marriage. We settle for lesser gods than the one who died for us and love us unconditionally.

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who might live no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:14–15

4. Address your daddy issues.

Most of us have them—wounds on our hearts from our earthly fathers and their shortcomings. Whether yours was absent and uninvolved or abusive and abandoning, don’t let him define who you believe your heavenly Father to be. Even if you have a godly and protective father, he is not God.

You are not looking for a dad-duplicate or a dad-replacement in a man. You have a perfect heavenly Father.

Let Scripture reveal to you who God is as Dad and what kind of care he gives his daughters.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

5. Charm and beauty are not a good dating plan.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Often, our grand scheme for how to snag a date goes only skin-deep. We put massive pressure on ourselves to pour on the charm and look cute wherever we go, not realizing that a godly man will also be concerned about inner beauty. God certainly is.

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:4

A woman who fears the Lord is one who, despite her desire for a date, fears being far away from God more than she does missing out on a man who is easily fooled by her exterior.

6. Realize you are already submitting—or are you?

Submission is not only for wives. God asks for a submitted heart now, one that trusts in his provision and plan for your life, including dating. Ultimately, dating, and all of life, is about submission—waiting and trusting God and saying as Jesus does, “Not my will but yours be done.”

This does not, however, leave you helpless, hopeless, and hamstrung in the relationship department. A godly woman can express friendly interest in a brother in Christ. 

  • It is OK to mingle—but don’t manipulate.
  • Peruse—but don’t pursue. Let him initiate.
  • Take notice of the godly men serving Jesus around you—but never stalk. It’s creepy.
  • Cross paths with a man who interests you—but don’t tackle him.

7. Dress to kill . . .

. . . your evil desires and his. We all know what it’s like to be noticed for what we wear. Your desire to draw attention to yourself is vanity. Do not falsely advertise what is not available to anyone but your future husband. Don’t open the door for men to make assumptions about you by what you wear. Help your brothers in Christ by dressing modestly and appropriately (and by all means, neatly, cleanly, and fashionably!) Check your heart for your motives when you dress.

8. Guard your heart.

Guarding one’s heart is still an issue even if no one is overtly vying for it.  Watch out for the “might be” snare, as in, “He ‘might be’ flirting with me and so I’m going to get carried away thinking about every possible place [read: marriage] that could lead.”

It is entirely possible to honor God, yourself, and a brother in Christ on a date. Don’t elevate him or the relationship to the place that God alone should hold in your heart. Enjoy, don’t idolize . . . and for goodness sake, relax! A cup of coffee does not necessarily mean a diamond ring is soon to follow.

As a single woman, give your heart fully, wholly, unabashedly, and devotedly to Christ alone.

Be active, vigilant, and careful about how much of your heart you give to a man. Be able to walk away from a dating relationship with your whole heart intact so that your future husband is not robbed of part of it down the road. Prayerfully consider what, when, how much to give away.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Citing: http://theresurgence.com/2012/03/19/for-the-gals-8-principles-for-dating