My one word

 

I’m sure that some of you have heard this idea from the internet of choosing one word for your new year. I’ve never been especially interested in resolutions, mainly because I can not keep them to save my life.

One word…that I can do. I have no idea where the idea originated, but a few years ago it nestled itself in my heart.

It was simple – I mean really…one word. Not four words, not a whole Bible verse even, one word.

It was doable. Actually, the irony was that nothing really needed to be done with this idea. I wasn’t accosted by guilt at unfulfilled resolutions and broken promises. All you had to do, in my understanding was pick a word for the year and see where that year led.

It was Jesus-oriented. I’m sure people have one word for their year and it has nothing to do with Christ. But in my mind, this was an opportunity for God to speak into my life in a new way. Something fresh for growing in my Faith. It allowed me to sit back and wait on Him.

So here are my one word choices over the last 4 years.

2012- less

2013 – brave

2014 – silent

2015 – grace upon grace

2016 – fearlessly wrong

(Um, so maybe I’m not great at one word. Two is ok, right? Three? I get to make up the rules, so it’s fine. 😉  )

If you know us, even a little bit, you can begin to understand how God spoke into our lives with the one word each year. Almost every year God spoke the words into my heart during the quiet of Christmas Eve candle light service. As my husband starts to read John 1, almost universally, God begins to speak in the stillness. The first year I had heard the idea and kept asking myself questions, “What do I want for the coming year? What need to change in our lives? Where is God speaking to me?”

Sitting quietly in candlelight, I remember my confirmation verse rising up in my heart over and over again.

He must become greater, I must become less.

                                           John 3:30

Less…I needed less. Less stuff, less opinions, less expectations, less demands, less frustration, less hurt, less tears, less getting in the way of God’s work in my life, less selfish ambition.

More Him. 

And so it went each year – brave, silent, grace upon grace – to this year…fearlessly wrong.

The thing is, I had spent the last year soaking in grace. Seeing how God has wrapped my life and all of me up in His grace that pours out and then pours out some more. I watched Him put more grace in my home, more grace in my heart. I was so grateful to see clearly, as I studied the Word that year how truly filling God’s grace was in my life.

So this year, the choice was easy- it was time to be ok with being wrong. To believe in grace in a way that wrong was ok, that it wouldn’t harm me. That God was in my wrong, just as much as he was in the being right, saying the right thing, making the right decision. God’s grace allows me to unwind the cords of “right” that I have tangled myself in that keep me from good relationships, Gospel sized risks, and the fullest experience of His mercy and forgiveness.

Although I treasure godly, I am beginning to understand just how much grace there is in imperfection, in trying, but being ok with messing up.

IMG_1586       Fearlessly wrong.

It’s really cool to see God’s work in this. So far my year has brought employment changes, new endeavors, family adventures, health concerns for those I love, and deeper relationships at every turn.

What does fearlessly wrong look like in your life? How could God be working in the places where you let imperfect be beautiful and grace be what reigns?

It’s scary for sure. Don’t worry, I’m not running around wild, embracing sin, but being willing to put yourself out there, to say the wrong thing, to do the wrong thing, it changes the shape of life. It makes my understanding of grace fuller and leaves me more expectant of grace from God and His people.

Always an adventure, always. Less, brave, grace, fearlessly wrong. I’ll be watching for His work in your life too.

 

Sign up today – Casting Away Stones: Ecclesiastes 3

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This is a 9 week Bible study, beginning January 25th, 2016. The study consists of posts Monday-Friday that are readable in about 5-10 minutes. Each post offers practical insight with Biblical depth, and always encouragement in your daily walk.

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New study, coming soon!!!

Coming soon…

A 9 week Bible study, beginning January 25th, 2016. 

Join us for encouragement, Biblical insight, connection, and time in the Word. Sign up by following the blog by email or request a discussion group on Facebook through the I Love My Shepherd Facebook page. 

If you are a ministry wife or woman in ministry full time, ask about our ministry life specific discussion groups. 

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We are Lovely to God


Session 4 – We are lovely to God
The word lovely, always brings to mind one face for me, my 13-year old daughter, Macee. There is just something about her that is so lovely. Some people are dignified, some people exude creativity, Macee, she reflects what is lovely in her face, her spirit, and her gentle heart. Do you have any one that reflects loveliness in your life?
When God sees us, He sees lovely. He knit each of us together and crafted us carefully. We are not random chances of an evolutionary process, but made with care by a real Creator, who molds us with His hands out of the dust. He shapes our DNA, our bone structure, and numbers the hairs on our head.
The word lovely is found most often in the Bible in the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon, depending on your translation).  This makes sense, knowing the context of the book is in the courtship and marriage relationship of two people, as well as the greater image of Christ and His Bride the Church. That, in itself, is lovely.
This book is so very expressive. It details each loved one’s beauty and the beauty and purity of the marriage relationship. It’s intimidating, and sensual, but worth the time. Today, I’d like to dive into 4 verses within the Song that capture aspects of our physical selves that God expresses are lovely to Him. Is our soul lovely to Him? Of course, it is of the utmost value to Him. Is our heart lovely to Him? Yes. God sees our whole selves as His precious creation. But sometimes we forget that our physical form was made lovely by Him, and even with sin in the world and deformities, disease, and abuse, He sees our face, our hands, our hair, our hips, all of it, as lovely. Let’s open it up and see what He has to say. With each verse, consider what is being called lovely. I’ll throw in Heidi’s Brief Commentary after each verse to give you my thoughts on it.
Song of Songs 1:5:
(She) I am very dark, but lovely,
    O daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar,
    like the curtains of Solomon.
Our skin is lovely. All skin is lovely. God created a myriad of colors in His people. He molded our DNA to allow for diversity as a blessing.
Song of Songs 1:10:
Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments,
    your neck with strings of jewels.
Our cheeks, our necks are lovely. These are not body parts we look in the mirro and think, “Wow, I have a great neck.” But God does! I think our cheeks are best on display when we smile…coincidence? I think not.
Song of Songs 2:14:
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
    and your face is lovely.
Our face, our voice is lovely to God. Imagine the joy He feels when we speak of Him with our lips. When we praise Him, or cry out to Him with our voice. He gave us that voice. He crafted our faces.
Song of Songs 4:3:
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
    and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
    behind your veil.
Our lips are lovely to God. He made them for speaking words of encouragement, for kissing our husbands, and for tasting His bountiful harvest and sweet communion.
Song of Songs 6:4:
(He) You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
    lovely as Jerusalem,
    awesome as an army with banners.
All of us. We are lovely to Him. We are His army, standing strong in His Spirit, proclaiming His name to the nations.
We can take all of these verses symbolically and apply them to Christ and His Bride, the Church, but most commentators agree that it’s an individual story of love too. Christ does in fact, love us as individuals, see us as individuals, and shape our hearts as individuals. I think we rob ourselves of His goodness when we do not see the love God is expressing for each of us in these verses.
I hope today, you feel a bit filled with loveliness, because the Bible tells you so.
Much love, sisters. Much love.

Where He is, is Lovely

Photo overlay made with the Vrsly app. Thank you, Michele, for the lovely photo!



Session 3 – Where He is, is Lovely
Let’s start today with Psalm 84:
How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
    ever singing your praise! Selah
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
    give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God;
    look on the face of your anointed!
10 For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you!
Well, that just kind of gets you going, right? What a happy psalm, a bright psalm, uplifting. It strikes me how many exclamation marks are in this Psalm. Although not in the original Hebrew, it was clear to many a translator that this Psalm screams exclamation point!
And why, because we have a God who gives us a dwelling place with Him. Since Eden, we were created to dwell with God. For the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, the tabernacle, and then the Temple was to them the place where they could without a doubt be in the presence of the One, True Living God. The Psalm expresses their longing for it. That one day with God is better than thousands anywhere else. That ours heart and flesh cry to be with the Living God.
Then. God sent Jesus. The Living God to dwell with His people on the Earth, to die on the cross, and rise again in New Life for our forgiveness and salvation. Then, God created churches and sanctuaries. We, like the Old Testament psalmist, long for fellowship and worship together, to draw together to study His Word and share His sweet communion.
But, just so we’re clear – where does God dwell? Not in buildings made by man. He dwells in people. This is something that is vital for us to remember. We can build pretty buildings and throw money at nice sanctuaries, but without the people, it is not God.
John 14:15-17 tells us:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
God is where people filled with His Spirit are. You are a living, breathing, walking dwelling place for the True and Living God. He fills Your heart and it overflows onto those around you. People longing for His presence will see it, not in a building, but in you.
This is one reason why people so rarely just walk in churches, when they are looking for the Lord. Somewhere deep in us, God knit an internal GPS system to seek Him through one another.
This means loveliness is in each of us and this is where others will find what is lovely. When we look at our neighbor, believer or unbeliever, we can see a place God’s image dwells, and God’s Spirit can fill. Who around you has a need, an empty place, ready for His Spirit to fill?

Our neighbor, His dwelling place. Precious to Him. Worth the effort.