Why Would God Wait for You?

I seriously miss my family. My husband is in the Army, so for our twelve-plus years of marriage we’ve lived at least 500 miles away from them. After we visited them last time, I printed off dozens of pictures and covered every square inch of my refrigerator. Now, whenever I open the freezer, my heart catches a little. I long to cuddle with my nieces, play games with my nephews, sip coffee with my dad and walk the dogs with my mom. Even though I’m so blessed to have a family who loves me, missing them hurts sometimes.

There are many Bible verses that instruct us to wait on the Lord, but did you know that God waits for you?

Isaiah 30:18a says, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.”

The word for waits is “chakah”, and can also be translated “to tarry or long for”. If you have not yet trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He is not far from you (Acts 17:27), and He is anxiously waiting to be merciful and gracious to you.

(first published on http://www.swagga4christ.com)

 

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CS Lewis and Complete Freedom from Anorexia

I hereby designate C.S. Lewis “My Favorite Author”. But then, maybe by simply reading Predatory Lies, you figured that out before I did.

This morning, I got an email called, CS Lewis Daily. Never one to disappoint:

Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works hardest in the end. They mean this. If you give two boys, say, a proposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take trouble will try to understand it. The lazy boy will try to learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort. But six months later, when they are preparing for an exam, that lazy boy is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other boy understands, and positively enjoys, in a few minutes. Laziness means more work in the long run. Or look at it this way. In a battle, or in mountain climbing, there is often one thing which it takes a lot of pluck to do; but it is also, in the long run, the safest thing to do. If you funk it, you will find yourself, hours later, in far worse danger. The cowardly thing is also the most dangerous thing.

It is like that here. The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way — centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.

When I was fighting for freedom from my eating disorder, I ran up against this conundrum.

Could I not retain “myself” or the habits I had established that afforded me some imaginary modicum of control?

Could I give up counting calories but continue obsessively exercising?

What if I was willing to get treatment, as long as I could weigh myself everyday?

Could I continue to pursue the self-centered desires of my heart and keep personal “happiness” as the great goal of my life and at the same time surrender my will, my life, my eternal salvation to a God that I claim to love and trust?

And this is what I found: Just like cutting the grass can keep it short, but will not produce real, nutritious wheat; managing aspects of my eating disorder might keep me alive but would never result in freedom.

To mature and blossom in freedom, I must necessarily uproot the  grass and allow Christ to remake me–to make all things new. The change must be complete, a destruction of the old to allow the new to take root and flourish.

A National Debt of Gratitude

This is a phenomenal post by Melinda K. 

Have we become ashamed to show patriotism?

It may depend on where one lives and whether or not one was raised to appreciate our military and our freedom they protect. I wonder, however, if most of the holidays established to celebrate our heroes and our country have not been reduced to nothing more than picnics and parties. Have burgers and hot dogs replaced flags and memorials? Do we now ignore their sacrifices and hold “sacred” the three-day weekend?

While we enjoyed the freedom to gather with family and friends for cookouts, did we soberly consider the sacrifices that were made to give us our freedom?

Please read this whole article at The Bottom Line … 

Bearing Fruit, Looking Like Our Father

“After all, I’m only human.”

You’ve heard that excuse, right? Wait, you’ve made that excuse? Yep, me too. Usually after I’ve royally messed something up; done something that is completely un-Christ-like. It’s my little way of letting myself off the hook. I mean, nobody’s perfect.

Guess what? That’s no excuse.

Don’t panic. I’m not going to lambast you for falling short. I’m not going to tell you that with more faith, more Bible reading, more discipline, you can figure out how to grow more Fruits of the Spirit. The truth is, you and I will only bear the Fruit of the Spirit when, just like a child ages and matures, we grow up and begin to look more and more like our Father.

Let’s take step back and think about where fruit comes from. Apple trees produce apples, orange trees produce oranges, grape vines produce grapes.

Throughout Scripture, Jesus calls himself by many titles. One is the True Vine, another is the Son of Man. We are also told in Genesis that when God created man, He made us in His image.
When Adam and Eve sinned, one of the ways we looked like our Father—sinless and pure, was lost. Later in 2 Corinthians 3, we are told that we are to become like Christ. That is God’s ultimate desire for each one of us—in essence to once again bear resemblance to, take after or look just like the God who made us. We are to take on the likeness of a son of God.

“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:18

There’s a saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Consider the full lifespan of an apple: eventually it splits open, spills its seeds and produces another tree—an apple tree in the likeness of its parent tree.

Jesus is the True Vine. He is also, in Hebrews 1:3 and John 1:18, the exact image—the impression of the character of God. Jesus shows us what His Father looks like. The word character in the Greek actually means “a stamp or a signet”. When you place an inked stamp onto a piece of paper, the resulting image is the exact reflection of the stamp. That is character.

Christ is the exact replication of the Father, as believers we are the branches sprouting from Christ, The Vine. And guess what—because of who we come from, The Vine, our own life-source, we bear His fruit.

A lone branch will never produce fruit, least of all fruit that looks like the parent tree. A severed branch of an apple tree will never, ever birth more apple trees. We cannot conjure up, and manifest Fruits of the Spirit, no matter how hard we try unless we are connected to The Vine. It is Christ who produces The Fruit of the Spirit through us. And then, it is in allowing Him to produce that fruit, that we take on His appearance.

Think of it: It might be hard to tell an apple tree apart from dozens of other trees except when it has apples hanging from its branches. The fruit identifies it. What comes out of our lives blossoms into an accurate reproduction of the character of our Father.

Bearing fruit is what makes us look like Christ and marks us as His own. One of the Fruits of the Spirit is love. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Bearing fruit in the likeness of the Son of Man is the most natural thing we can do as children of God. The fruit that we produce is a harvest that can lead others to our source of life. “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 9:10

Finally, others who consume our fruit have the opportunity to come to Jesus also. Then they will one day grow up into the likeness of the very One who created them “in His image”.

Nature Sings of God’s Handiwork

by: Billie Jo Youman’s

Do you see God’s handiwork as you look around our world? It is there! His attributes, like a fingerprint, appear throughout the universe. Learning to see God in the world around us brings amazing possibilities because the natural reveals the spiritual.

How about this for a worship reminder: the universe actually sings all the time! We notice the birds and sometimes the wind, but there is continual praise. Enjoy this video that allows us to sing alongside creation …

Read the rest of this lovely post on The Bottom Line. 

How to Have A Happy Heart

love-tree-1077047-mI’d been at my new editing job for less than a week, and already I’d offended someone. No matter that I’d prayed over every single article, prayed for my attitude, humility, comments and thoughts–still, somehow I’d allowed an author to feel as if her work wasn’t good enough. It was an accident! I want so much to honor the writers I edit.

A brief email. She wasn’t rude, but I could read between the lines. I’d hurt her feelings, maybe overstepped my bounds with the changes I’d made to her article.

It took a few hours, a few emails; finally we seemed to resolve the issue. Surely, I could carry on with my evening–just let it go. But my heart was still stuck in my feet. I hate to let someone down. I hate to hurt someone’s feelings. Back to the computer, I kept reading, kept typing, kept working.

Ding! A new email, but I was hesitant to check it. Bravely, I clicked through to a message from another author. She wrote, “Hi Abby, Rough day? Feel free to do anything you want [when you edit my articles]. (They are His articles-not mine!) Rewrite, edit, change, etc.”

My spirits rose. As I whispered a prayer of thanks. Proverbs 12:25 came to mind, “Anxiety in the heart weighs a man down, but a good word makes him glad.”

Whose heart can you buoy with a good word today?

Change is Good

Hello Friends,

I want to let you know about a small, but good change coming to Predatory Lies. For a while now, I have felt God tugging me toward the realm of editing.

I am passionate about this. I love reading the work of other Christians. I’m enthralled by the breadth and depth of creativity that God has gifted to us, His children. When I think I’ve exhausted ideas, I read someone else’s work and marvel, “How did they come up with that?”

Already, I have been serving as senior editor of My Daily Armor. Recently, I assumed that same role at The Bottom Line and I’m working very part time as an editor for FaithWriters. 

Alas, there are still only 24 hours in my day and to explore these new opportunities, I have to do a little bit less in some other areas of my life. To that end, I will be posting LASTing Peace every Monday and a written article on Thursdays; so our schedule is changing slightly.

I would love your feedback about this change. Please let me know in the comments what you’d like to talk about either in the videos or here in written form.

May God Bless and Keep You!

Was, Is and Will Be

moving-forward-1445758-mIn March of last year, my parents threw a big party. It was a special event to show off their grandkids who live out of state and to celebrate the publication of my first book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. When they chose the date, no one realized that it would land neatly on top of the same weekend they began moving from the house they’ve lived in for seventeen years.

It was a bit maddening for my mother! Half of her life had already migrated to a new address, while she was expecting up to 80 guests at the old house! But, the dynamics created by the convoluted schedule were magical; it was in the chaos that I found redemption.

Part of moving is inevitably going through piles of old “stuff”—letters buried at the back of the desk and forgotten five years before, stuffed animals loved right out of their fur, photo albums lovingly created and abandoned on book shelves, paperbacks enjoyed once but not worth reading again, dusty silk flower arrangements, school year books, gymnastics trophies…but, among the mundane, we found precious things like blankets crocheted by Grandma and handmade baby dresses.

I plucked a photo album from the stack and flipped through the first several pages. My own face, barely recognizable stared back at me. There I was, sitting in this same room, ten Christmases past, a shell of myself, a skeleton of a woman. My eyes were haunted by dark gray shadows and ringed with fatigue. Though I must have been watching someone open a gift, there was no light in my eyes. I remember now, calculating how many calories were in that cinnamon roll my mother made me eat and wondering if anyone would notice if I left and went for a run.

God says He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praise Him that I am not so! Because He is, my was, is not my is. And my will be is even better.

One reason for the party was to celebrate the publication of my book. As I wrote the book, I effectively closed my “was” chapter, and stepped bravely into “is”. That weekend, plowing through my parents’ closets brought the differences between was and is into distinct contrast. I can see clearly what God has done to redeem my past.

Some things that marked this final stay in my parents’ old home as the dawning of a glorious is:

Every morning, I sat and sipped coffee with my Dad instead of leaving the house to go for a 20 mile run.

I took cat naps with my mother instead of fearing how many pounds I would accumulate while resting.

I looked at my baby pictures and thought, “I was adorable!” instead of despising my appearance.

I walked my mom’s dog and stopped to smell her neighbor’s flowers instead of trying to turn it into a power walk.

I ate some of my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies.

I didn’t fall asleep in church because my brain was starved for energy. Instead I relished the pastor’s sermon and lifted my hands in worship.

I didn’t overhear my parents discussing my illness in anxious, hushed tones.

All of these observances culminated on the Saturday afternoon of the party. Almost 80 of my parents’ friends poured through the house. These were people who had prayed for me and held my parents’ hands when I went to college, and when they received worried phone calls from my dorm supervisor. These people prayed for me even though they didn’t know me. These people knew my story, knew my family’s pain in the middle of my eating disorder and held us before the throne. These people are part of the reason I am here today.

Today is new. I am fuller, happier. I am free from fear of food and compulsory exercise. Today, I see the world as so much bigger than myself. Thank God that I am not the same as I was.

And even more glorious? I’m the not same as I will be. God has promised that I cannot conceive of the good things He has planned for me. He has promised that one day I will behold the face of my Savior and I will be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). He has promised me a future and hope.

Last year, I recognized redemption. One weekend was a microcosm of the span of my life and I can see clearly how God redeemed me. It is in that context that I am more excited than ever, more grateful than ever that God has redeemed my soul. I love is and new, I am joyful now, but I am ever so excited about what will be.

Questions:

What is one evidence that Christ has made your life new? How is your “is” different than your “was”? Can you use this to share the Gospel with others?
2. Are you still struggling with the guilt and fears of “was”? What do you think you need to truly feel new?
3. If you let your imagination run, what do you think “will be” will look like?