In Your Heart

It’s not in your day job or side gig. Your credentials or diplomas. It’s not in your trophies or alma maters. It’s not in your bank account or retirement account. It’s not in your likes or followers. It’s not in the concerts you attend or the books that you read. It’s not in the movies that you watch or the instruments that you play. It’s not in the spouse that you have or the child that you raise. It’s not in the school you attend or choir you join. It’s not in your social status or relationship status. It’s not in the car you drive or the boat you own…

It’s not in your parents choices or your grandparents wishes. It’s not in your past heartaches or future concerns.  It’s not in your mistakes, accomplishments, regrets, or failures. It’s not in your report cards or paychecks.

It’s in your heart.

The decision each one of us makes day after day as to whom we will serve, lean on, and trust is our own. Your spouse can’t make it. Your parents can’t make it. They may try, but they can’t. As a parent myself now, this is terrifying, but I turn this over. Over and over. My kids will make their own choices. As will I. As will you.

To love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul may look different to people. It may lead to choices others may not make. He gives us different gifts, passions, and paths. When we ask Him to lead, our lives may take directions we’d never choose on our own. But, the beauty before us is a life lived trusting Him. Let God be your guide.

We find Him in our trials, we help others with what we’ve learned, and we choose Him day after day. In the ups and the downs, we have faith He is with us. And, it’s in THIS faith, that our strength is found. Our callings may be every bit as different as the circumstances we face. But, pointing to the same God, brings us together in one accord.

Brothers and sisters. Hearts to hearts. Trials to trials. Victories to victories. Peace and strength abounds. In one name. The name of Jesus.

 

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That Doesn’t Feel Good!

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I look at hearts for a living. This morning as I was scanning a rather large patient, a parallel came to mind. The larger the patient, the harder I have to push with my probe to see what I need to see. I usually say “I know this doesn’t feel good, but I have to push pretty hard here. Just know, I’m only pushing as hard as I have to in order to get good pictures. I’m not trying to hurt you.” I say this quite a bit in my job. Some of my patients can’t take the pressure and I have to let the doctor know why the pictures look like they do.

Today, I thought isn’t that just like God? The bigger the problem, the harder He has to push to get His outcome. The pushing and pressing doesn’t feel good. He pushes and pries into our inner most beings to cleanse and transform us. This process doesn’t feel good at all. Matter of fact, it is downright painful, when He makes it crystal clear what the problem is. What our specific problem is.

Some of us ask Him to stop or do whatever we can to avoid the painful pressing. We’d rather have “bad” pictures or no pictures at all if it feels like that. The pushing and pressing is for our own good, just like my patients. If they don’t let me press, I can’t do the study. I can’t give the doctors the images they need to assess their hearts.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT)

When He presses, He’s pointing out and removing what needs to come out. When He releases, we have more room for Him. It hurts, but the filling is the change. We have to be pressed to be changed. So, squeeze Lord. Push. Press. Do whatever you need to do in me so I can have more of You. There is more room for the sweet fruits of the Spirit like joy, peace, patience, and self control after a good pressing. Make room, Lord. I want to look like You. I want to act like You. I want Your wisdom and Your courage. I want to love myself and others like You do.

If you’re in a situation right now where you are feeling pressed on all sides, remember that the bigger the person, the harder I have to press. The bigger the problem, the harder He presses. Cry out to Him in your discomfort and know that He is at work. It doesn’t feel good to be pressed, it’s not a massage. It’s a painful inner pressure when He is working inside you. He is pointing out your specific problem and it takes humility and willingness to allow that pain.

Your faith will be tested. You know that when this happens it will produce in you the strength to continue.  And you must allow this strength to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. James 1:3-5 9 (NIRV)

Braces hurt, but lead to straight teeth. Working out hurts, but leads to a better body. If you are willing to stick with Him through the pressing, you will come out the other side with immense relief and more prepared for the next press. You will have Jesus. All of Him. And He will have you, all of you. And, that’s the prettiest picture we could ask for.

This is a Test.

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We test each other. Our children test us. Our spouses test us. Our coworkers test us. The Lord tests us. Our testing of each other is also being used as a test from God. How did you react to that injustice? How did you react to that set back? We pray for patience and then lose it when it’s required. We pray for blessings and then fail to recognize all the blessings around the one we are specifically praying for. We pray for financial relief, but are careless or stingy with what we do acquire.

My faith has been tested. My motherhood has been tested. My relationships have been tested. And, I wouldn’t want it any other way. In order to be strong, we must get through trials. Tests help us realize what’s worth fighting for. Trials are tests. We pass some, we fail some. But, if we learn and grow, no matter the outcome, we are stronger for the next one that comes along. And, another one will come. Not until we enter those pearly gates, will these tests come to an end.

It helps me to remember that tests are not designed to shame us (as Satan would like us to think), but to point out where we need Jesus most. They keep us humble and strengthen us at the same time. They point us to Jesus and remind us why He died for us. Because, only He could pass every test. Now, our dependence on Him is how we do.

If a relationship fails and reconciliation is not desired by both parties, let it go. You can’t make someone desire a friendship or future with you, nor should you have to. The people meant to be in your life forever, will WANT to be in your life forever. This is a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

If you are in need of work, unhappy with your job, or didn’t get the job you wanted, how do you handle it? Are you looking? Are you doing what you can while you wait? Are you a bitter coworker? The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. This a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

Rejection is one of our most painful tests as humans. Where is your sense of worth? In people? In Jesus? When you lose someone, when your heart breaks, when you need money, when you or someone you love is diagnosed, when your spouse or friend turns their back, when your opinion is deemed worthless or wrong, when your faith is questioned, when you mess up, CLING even tighter to Jesus. Cling tighter to Him than any human being. The loss and rejection is temporary, HE is permanent and never changing. This is why we call Him our Rock. This is a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

God allowed Job to be tested. Satan was convinced that Job only worshipped God because his family and finances were blessed and he had a seemingly “easy” life. God allowed this test. This test broke Job’s heart into a million pieces. He lost his children, his health, his friends, his money….but his response?

Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped.  He said,

“Naked I came from my mother,
    and naked I will return.
The Lord has given,
    and the Lord has taken away!
May the name of the Lord be praised.”

Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong. Job 1:20-22 (GW)

His faith remained.

Tests are hard. They are hard in school and they are hard in life. We have tests for a reason. To find out what we know, what we are made of, what we will fight for, and who we will follow. Praise God for His faithfulness in my feeble attempts and failures. Praise God for the tests that make me realize more and more that I need Him. Praise God for the people who help me study and the people who test me.

For the same exact reason that a marriage becomes stronger when it overcomes tests, our relationship with Jesus becomes more secure through them as well. Satan tempted Job. Satan tempted Jesus. And, Satan tempts us. It’s what he does. He tempts and tries each one of us, with his ultimate goal being for us to curse God in our struggles and turn from him. Hold on to Jesus, dear one, and you will pass the test. Your sinfulness doesn’t discredit you. Jesus died for that. Your loyalty and sole dependence on Jesus gets you the “well done, good and faithful servant” at the end of your days on this earth. Regardless of the specific grade we receive, seeing His sweet face is the ultimate graduation gift after all these tests are over.

I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life. — Matthew 5:24 (GNT)

 His Face is the A+ and I can’t wait to see it.

When the Clouds Part

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The last couple of days have felt extremely refreshing. I can’t think of any particular reason why….Have you ever had a few good hours, days, or weeks, and wondered when the clouds will return? There is a discipline to enjoying the good days rather than waiting and anticipating the next storm to roll in. Joy is a gift from God. It’s a fruit that He wants us to enjoy and partake of as much as possible on this earth. Give thanks for relief, peace, and laughter when they show their lovely faces. Enjoy and rest in what God has already done in your life. He’s still on the job and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

He carries us when we need to be carried. He fights for us when we turn it over. He weeps with us in our grief. AND, he smiles with us when we are happy. What a beautiful thought. When we have joy and peace, it’s from Him. When we need help, He’s there. Just like the parent we wish we could be for our kids, He is omnipresent, all-powerful, and all-loving. He rejoices over us.

The Lord your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with His love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy. Zepheniah 3:17 (GW)

He celebrates us! Not just WITH us, but He celebrates US. In the NIV version, the same verse says He will “rejoice over you in singing.” Can you even imagine that God sings over each of us? Our very own personal love song from the One who died for us. Now, that’s a beautiful love story.

When your life is good, let it be good! Soak in the sunshine and take in a big, deep, beautiful breath. Exhale, smile, and repeat. When the next trial arrives, He’ll be there. He always is. Relish in the good days and remember that when we are smiling, our Father is too…

Double Trouble

trouble

Here on earth you WILL have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NLT)

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We WILL have troubles. If there is one thing we all have in common, it is that we have troubles. Pick a wallet, pick an office, pick a family, pick a marriage, pick a medical chart, and if there isn’t current trouble, there has been or will be. There’s a saying that goes “if we all threw our troubles in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” As distressing as that might sound, it encourages me that we are in this thing together and that we aren’t struggling alone. Sometimes just thinking we are struggling alone is worse than the trouble itself. We are not alone. We have a Helper, Healer, Deliverer, Comforter, Provider who LOVES us and is fully capable of getting us through them one by one. And we have each other.

To ask for a life without troubles is to ask for heaven on earth. We aren’t in heaven yet, but what we CAN ask for is help with our troubles as they come. He WILL help, strengthen, and comfort us during our trials and sorrows. He WILL supply wisdom, power, and mercy when called upon. He WILL hear our cries and cover us with grace. He WILL open our eyes and hearts to see others as He does with compassion and forgiveness if we ask Him to. There’s no doubt that we will have troubles. The doubt lies on our side. How to deal with these troubles? Who to blame for them?

We have troubles because we are imperfect people who live in a fallen world with other imperfect people. We have hope because Jesus has overcome this world with His sacrifice. We have peace because He loves us in spite of our weaknesses. We have strength because He fights for us. We have an eternity of trouble free living to look forward to…..the ultimate paradise!