Christ Is Proclaimed 

They see me as their competition, And so the worse it goes for me,
the  better–they think–for them.

So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives,
whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. 

Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!

And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. 

Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done.

~Philippians 1:17-21

How many of us have been hurt by words? Many of us can shrug it off as unimportant. When Christians say hurtful things about us or to us? Members of the body of Christ? That stings. A lot.  Our immediate fleshly response is (1) you are truly a jerk (2) maybe the offender is right (3) how could a fellow sister/brother of Christ behave that way? (4) Just wait until everyone else sees what I see

Been there? Relate to any of that?  What I find absolutely awesome is that Paul, who clearly faces the same challenges we do, is able to stay focused on the good. He makes a conscious decision to cheer on and pray for those that criticize him. Paul understands that God has a plan for his life. He knows the importance of speaking God’s truth in all circumstances. He gets that actions are louder than words. He understands that “everything He (God) wants to do in and through me will be done”. He knows the end story. He knows how it all plays out.

After my mother died I had a huge disagreement with my grief stricken, cantankerous Father. His words hurt me deeply. That one heated encounter caused my father and I not to communicate for over 18 months. Two grown “churched” adults wounding each other with words.

I’ll never forget my father in law saying “Have you spoken to your Daddy recently?” I told him I hadn’t and why. Fully expecting him to jump on my bandwagon. He listened and very graciously said “You know, Elizabeth, I suspect George needs to hear from you. I suspect he needs to see you. He’s your Daddy. If I remember correctly we are suppose to honor our parents. You need to go see ole George”.

I was stunned. And hurt. His words stung. They stung because my father in law was 100% without a shadow of a doubt correct. The right thing for me to have done was to understand that my father was deeply depressed and grief stricken after my mother passed away. The right thing for me to do was to have had compassion for him regardless of my opinion. I chose to use words rather than actions.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbors. And crazy family members. We don’t have to like it. We must do it. The gospel can not go forth without doing so. We can not fully live a life of freedom in Christ when we are bound in sin.

I swallowed my pride and we went to see my Dad. During that year it was all about God growing me for His glory. My Dad never got any easier. We did bring him to live with us. Our entire family was with Him the day we prayed the gospel over Him. After squeezing my hand in acknowledgement that he had heard it he died.

God taught me the true meaning of love. He taught me that love is a decision not a feeling. My Dad never thanked me. Rarely said anything kind. Yet my choice to preach the gospel demonstrated Gods perfect plan through me used for His glory.

I know my Dad is in heaven. All the other hurt feelings just don’t matter. The end game means eternity in the presence of the King. “And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out”. 

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”-Psalm 51:12

 

Jesus Our Ultimate Do-over

Who doesn’t love a do-over? Waiving hand vigorously over here! I cringe when I think about teachers, coaches and myself telling our kids through the years “there are no do-overs”. Guess what? We were all wrong. Dead wrong. Life is actually one gigantic do over for most of us. Here’s another fact: do-overs are biblical. Jesus is our ultimate do-over. He died to give us new life. The past is erased and everything is made new. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!“-2 Corinthians 5:17. Isn’t that the most exciting news you’ve heard ?!

I definitely could use a bazillion do-overs. Words that have stung. Words that have threatened. Words that have belittled. Emotions that came from a place of fear, hurt, and ultimately deep unwavering love. I am so thankful. Let me say that again: I am so thankful. Thankful for God’s grace. I am in utter awe of His mercy. Moved beyond words by the cross.

Secondly I’d like to say prayer works. If you find yourself in a place unable to pray (1) call out to the Lord audibly (2) call, text or email a friend and have them intercede a team of prayer warriors on your behalf. I can not emphasize enough the importance of crying out to the Lord. He hears us. He sees us. He loves us. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them“-Romans 8:28

Recognize that prayers may not be answered immediately. Prayers may not be answered fully. Prayers may not be answered the way you had envisioned. Guess what? Pray anyway!! God sees the narrative. We may be able to envision how we want the story to end. That conclusion may coincide with God or it may not. Trust that all the hairpin turns and crazy mishaps throughout the journey are making for a story worth telling. A testimony that glorifies what only He can do to save a life.

If you have been in our home you have seen the gallery wall we have in the back of our house. We have every year of school (for each of our daughters) framed from transition to 12th grade. it’s one of my favorite things about our home. Each school year picture reminds me of the joys and challenges from each year of their lives. If it was not a great year? No worries~ just glance to your right and you will see the next school year framed. Each picture holds the joy and promise of a new year. A do-over from the previous mistakes of the year before and a continuation of the great things from years past.

Not all of our prayers have been answered…yet.  I’m 100% certain God will masterfully intervene  when His timing is perfectly suited. Many prayers have not been answered the way we would have expected. And many answered prayers have blown us away. God responds to our prayers, as my mother used to say, in three ways: (1) yes (2) not yet and
(3) I have something far greater planned. Keep praying.

God’s in the business of do-overs. He loves us deeply. There may be a multitude of plot twists along the journey. Probably more do-overs. Today? Today is a new day. Today I know who the Author is. I trust that He is in control. To God be the glory.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”-Hebrews 11:1

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