Even If

standard October 18, 2017 20 responses

Sometimes you’re walking through life and it all makes total sense. A fall breeze is blowing and you’ve got your windows down and your favorite song is blasting on max volume.

And then there are times when absolutely nothing makes sense. You were minding your own business, but suddenly your legs were kicked out from under you, landing you flat on your behind wondering what in the world just happened.

How could your circumstances have changed so drastically within a 24-hour period? It’s a valid question and it’s one that I wish I had the answer to.

I’m sure Martha and Mary felt somewhat similar when they were just trucking through life in the quiet town of Bethany, enjoying being a part of this new movement called “the Way” that heralded Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Messiah.  When all of a sudden their beloved brother falls ill. And it’s not a “he’ll sleep it off and be better by tomorrow” sort of sick, but it’s evident that he has a life-threatening illness that requires immediate attention. They do some quick thinking and send word to their friend Jesus and ask Him to come on the double!

Jesus receives the message and this is His response: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:5-6)

Wait. What??

One of His very best friends is sick, SO He stays put?  What kind of sacrificial love is that? That seems a little counterproductive, wouldn’t you say?

By the time Jesus gets there Lazarus is dead. Not just any kind of dead either, but dead-dead. Like four-day-old-stinking-in-the-grave dead. It’s bad. And Martha let’s Him know it.

Where have You been? If you would have been here, He would not be dead!

Adding to His mysterious behavior, Jesus replies in the most cryptic way. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Umm, yes…I think I do. But my brother’s still dead and I’m beyond devastated.

To say that we believe when life is good doesn’t take much faith.  But we have to be willing to ask ourselves this question when life throws us that inevitable curve ball.

Do I believe this?

Because believing Jesus is the truth is easy enough UNTIL…

your brother dies;

you miscarry that baby that you waited and prayed for;

your spouse confesses the unthinkable to you;

…THEN it’s personal.

But faith is believing EVEN IF…

your brother stays in the grave;

your arms remain empty;

your spouse refuses to come home;

…Trusting in His sovereign plan.

Jesus never said that life would be fair. In fact, He was perfectly straightforward when He told us that in this world we WILL have trouble, but we are to take heart because He has overcome the world! (John 16:33)

He is still the Resurrection and Life, EVEN IF life does not work out the way we thought it would.

Jesus eventually kept His promise to raise Lazarus from the dead with the purpose that God would be glorified through the act (take time to read this incredible story in John 11 if you aren’t familiar with the details). Both Martha and Mary received their miracle that day when their brother was resurrected and reunited with them. However, this was not the case for my sister and me.  Why did God allow Lazarus to live and Jeremy to die? This is a question that I have often pondered and I still do not know the answer to. Nevertheless, I had a choice to make, just as you do.

When He says that He is the Resurrection and the Life and He then asks me, “April, do you believe this?” I answer Him wholeheartedly:

Yes, Lord. I believe You are the One who holds the resurrection power.

I believe You are the only Way to eternal life.

I believe You are the Truth.

Even if…

(“Even If” by Mercy Me)

No Greater Joy

standard March 25, 2017 3 responses

Today’s Reflecting Light is brought to you by my very special friend, Lesli Thomas. Lesli is an AMAZING wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, volunteer, and much more. She makes God’s Word a priority in her everyday life and it shows up in everything that she does, especially in raising her handsome boys. I know you will enjoy her wisdom!

Two years ago I chose to adopt a word for the year – JOY – to dig deep into and find out how God desired that in my life.  Joy means so much to me as I have seen it bless my life by the reality that it is a daily choice… sure there are times that someone blesses my life which brings joy but most days it is a choice to find joy in my circumstances.  Fast forward two years to 2017 and the word of the year became TRUTH.  Then this scripture jumped off the wall at me…   “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  3 John 1:4

My husband and I have two little sports loving, outside playing, lego building, bayou fishing, dirt covered boys.  Most days as parents seem so full with school, sports, homework, playtime, laundry, cooking, baths, bedtime, repeat.  It’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of “life” and wake up days, months, or even years later and feel like what just happened?  How are they already 6 and 8 years old?

This verse speaks such life to me… and so much intentionality!  I desire to experience a life full of joy, don’t you?  And I desire even more for my children to “walk in the truth.”  Then this got me thinking about 2 things: 1) What is truth? And 2) How will my children know truth?

In an effort to answer the question of “what is truth,” here are a few truths found in God’s Word.

Truths about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit:

God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

God is our strength and our shield, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.  Psalm 28:7-8

God is with us wherever we go.  Joshua 1:9

God is our deliverer from all fears.  Psalm 34:4

God is our consoler, the bringer of joy.  Psalm 94:19

God is my helper.  Hebrews 13:6

God cares for me and lifts me with His mighty hand.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  John 14:6

Jesus is our advocate who speaks to God in our defense. 1 John 2:1

The Spirit of God gives us power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

The Holy Spirit comforts us, teaches us, and reminds us of Jesus’ teachings.  John 14:26

The Spirit guides us in all truth.  John 16:13

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Romans 8:26

Truths about us:

I along with my children must know Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life – to come to the Father.  John 14:6

To have fellowship with one another and be purified from all sin by the blood of Jesus, we must walk in the light.  1 John 1:7

We must love God and love one another.  1 John 4:21

We are known as children of God when we do what is right, obey his commands, love one another, and bear fruit.  1 John 2:3-6, 3:1, 3:10

We are His hands and feet, the body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:27

We are children of the Most High.  Psalm 82:6

We are not our own; we were bought with a price.  1 Corinthians 6:20

We are adopted to the sonship.  Romans 8:15

We are strong and courageous.  1 Corinthians 16:13

We are the light of the world.  Matthew 5:14

We are created by the Lord, His masterpiece, to do good things.  Ephesians 2:10

We are redeemed, summoned by name, the Lords.  Isaiah 43:1

We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  Philippians 4:13

We are given strength when we are weary and increased power when we are weak.  Isaiah 40:29

We are strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.   Ephesians 6:10

We will soar on wings of eagles, run and not grow weary.  We will walk and not be faint when we hope in the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31

We cannot be separated from the love of God in Jesus.  Romans 8:38-39

Truths about Salvation:

By the gospel you are saved… for what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and then appeared to many.  1 Corinthians 15:1-8

In an effort to answer the question of “how will my children know the truth,” here is where I as a parent find such conviction.  One of my God-given responsibilities as a parent is to teach my children His Word – the absolute truth.  Take a minute and soak that in… that is heavy!  I must be intentional!  I play a part in experiencing “no greater joy.” 

And if 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 holds true, then of first importance is that I teach my sons about Christ and the gospel that saves.  Judges 2:10 is a stark warning to us as parents.  It states that “after that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”  The Israelites had been rescued out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt yet it only took ONE generation not teaching their children of what the Lord had done for them to not know the Lord.

So, let’s make this practical for our everyday lives.  How can we as moms do our part to make sure that our children know the truth and bless us with the greatest earthly joy?

  • We as moms must be in God’s Word… seeking His absolute truth so that we may know it, talk about it, teach it, answer questions about it, and be confident in His promises. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Talk about God’s Word and promises around the dinner table, in the car driving to practice, when you tuck your kids into bed, and when you send them out the door to school.
  • Make God’s word tangible for your kids, your husband, yourself, and your house guests. Deuteronomy 6:8-9 states, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Scatter the truth of the Lord around your home… notes on the bathroom mirrors, index cards by their beds, canvas scriptures on your walls… fill your hearts and minds with God’s Word.

If we are willing to seize this awesome opportunity to leave a legacy for our families by patterning a life lived in the light and truth of God, then we are raising up children who will walk in this truth that gives eternal life. There truly is no greater joy!

JOY: A Choice, Not A Feeling

standard January 27, 2015 8 responses

Today’s blog post is written by Lesli Thomas. Lesli is a woman who walks an authentic life of faith. She has been married to Chris for 11 years and they have two adorable boys, Cooper (6) and Brody (4). Lesli loves her morning Dr. Pepper, Mexican food, painting, and organizing things.

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I recently debated if I was ready to claim a word for 2015 and the one that continued to rise to the surface was JOY. Admittedly, I kept pushing it back down really feeling like that would be quite an overwhelming task to grab ahold of… I mean JOY in and of itself is a wonderful state of mind that we all would love to live in, right? But when the going gets tough — JOY is A LOT! Then I was reading in Beth Moore’s Children of the Day study where she put into words just what I had been struggling with.  She says, “Joy in hardship is WEIRD… and weird means strange or extraordinary character… and to delight while walking through (life) one must be either delusional, detached, or engulfed by the Holy Spirit!”  Joy is a “sustainable quality that shows who we really are and to whom we belong!”

So, because JOY is my word for the year, I did some research on WHAT JOY IS:

1. Joy is Something we can BE full of JOY.

Be Joyful! Grow in Maturity. Encourage each other. Live in Peace. And the God of Love and Peace will be with you. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11

2. Joy is an Action we Choose; not an Emotion we Feel.

Be Joyful Always, Pray continually, Give Thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

3. Joy is Something we have to Fight to Possess Sometimes.

The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the JOY that’s coming. ~ Romans 8:18

JOY comes in the morning! ~ Psalm 30:5

Be truly glad. There is wonderful JOY ahead. ~ 1 Peter 1:6

 4. Joy is an Inside Job that Bursts Forth.

A Joyful Heart is good medicine. ~ Proverbs 17:22

From where the sun rises to where it sets you inspire shouts of JOY! ~ Psalm 65:8

 5. Joy is not about us it’s about HIM.

For the JOY of the Lord is my strength. ~ Nehemiah 8:10

You have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for JOY! ~ Psalm 63:7

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought JOY to my soul. ~ Psalm 94:19

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY. ~ Psalm 126:3

 

And because I’m a list-making planner, I listed some practical things we can do to function in a JOY-filled life:

1. Practice an attitude of gratitude. 

It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful.

Choose to focus on the good and many blessings that surround us.

2. Don’t compare Just don’t!!

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Don’t let others “highlight reels” on Facebook steal your JOY as you live in the real-life, behind-the-scenes with your precious family.

3. Recognize that the source of your JOY is GOD.

Not your hubby, not your kids, not your job, not your stuff!

Knowing God is your source of Joy really takes the pressure off of you, your hubby, your kids, your friends. We will all let each other down from time to time, but GOD never will!

4. Find someone to sprinkle some JOY on today!

Share a cup of coffee and an ENCOURAGING chat.

Crank up an ENCOURAGING group text with some other women who are in the same season of life as you.

Drop off a SONIC drink to a new mom with an ENCOURAGING note.

I guarantee you will be filled with JOY and that your JOY will spread to them!

5. Say “no” to the good so you can say “yes” to the best.

As women it feels like we are being pulled in so many directions and we feel obligated to say yes ALL THE TIME. I promise the world won’t fall apart if you say “no” (from my experience the person asking you may look a little dumbfounded at the moment, but life goes on) and one “no” can empower you to the next “no” and the end result is the opportunity to say a really great “yes” to the best things!

6. Choose JOY in your reactions to what life throws at you.

Busy is a choice.

Stress is a choice.

Bitterness is a choice.

Thanksgiving is a choice.

JOY is a choice.

 

Today I choose JOY! Won’t you?

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