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Last Friday night I had a great conversation with a friend about love. I’ve been pondering it on and off since then. I think it’s the sort of thing that somehow gets filed away in my mind as a known entity: Love – most important thing, check, now on to other priorities…I hope I’m not really so casual with my dismissal but I think, as a principle, I often unintentionally relegate it to the back burner.

But it is the most important thing, so I love taking time out to meditate on that fact.

A few favorite verses on love:

Jesus replied: “‘LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘LOVE your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  ~ Matthew 22:37-40

And now these three remain: faith, hope and LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE.  ~ I Corinthians 13:13

Dear children, let us not LOVE with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  ~ I John 3:18

Above all, LOVE each other deeply, because LOVE covers over a multitude of sins.  ~ I Peter 4:8

Do everything in LOVE.  ~ I Corinthians 16:14

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through LOVE.  ~ Galatians 5:6b

Love God and love others – everything hangs on this. Above all, love each other deeply. It’s the only thing that counts. If I don’t have love I am nothing, and all my actions are in vain (I Corinthians 13:1-3).

Sometimes I like to read slowly through the famous love passage in I Corinthians 13. It’s thrown around so often it’s almost clichéd, but if you consider it carefully it’s mind-blowing:

Love…is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, never fails.

Pick any one of those attributes and you can mull over it for hours. Put it in your pocket and carry it with you throughout the day and see if it doesn’t take your interactions with others to a whole new level.

After Friday’s conversation I dug up a quote from a book by Heidi and Rolland Baker. It’s called Expecting Miracles (and it does share a bit of the supernatural), but the overwhelming message it impressed upon me was the importance of love.

“…God is saying, ‘See!’ He wants to impart His heart to you in such a way that you become full of His passion. He wants you to be so full of His love that nobody can stop you from being compassionate to every person who crosses your path every day of your life.”

How are we demonstrating love? Are we loving lavishly or only where it’s comfortable? Are we loving only with our words or also with our actions? Are we loving others deeply? In the dust and grind of our daily lives are we pouring out love to the people whose paths cross ours…at work, at the grocery store, on the street, at home? Are we making love our top priority?

Above all…everything hangs on this…the only thing that counts…LOVE.


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KJV with Strong’s is my friend. Although, in recent weeks I have also developed a new acquaintance: the NET Bible. The NET Bible has many cool features that I could expound on (and maybe I will…at some point) but the exciting thing about either of these is that they allow you to click on words in a passage of scripture and find out what the original words are, and what they mean.*

Yes, it’s a little nerdy, and I don’t usually go through each and every passage painstakingly, determining the meaning of each and every word. Nonetheless I’ve found them to be excellent study tools when a word or a passage stands out and I want to uncover its full depth of meaning. Sometimes the words aren’t translated well into English and the original text is completely different. Sometimes it’s exactly the same. Often I find the original words have subtle nuances that shed a whole new light on the meaning without changing it entirely.

This is exactly what I found with Genesis 1:28. I recently decided to go through Genesis again, but this time I wanted to really dig in and go slow. Genesis 1:28 stood out to me because this is the first command ever given to mankind. It’s not part of the famed 10 commandments, it wasn’t written under the new covenant, nor is it the greatest command (or even the second greatest), but still – it’s the very first directive we received.

On the surface the NIV translation seems fairly straightforward:

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'”

It’s all about procreation and taking care of the wild animals and the earth, right?

The word translated “fruitful” means about what one would expect: to bear fruit, be fruitful, show fruitfulness. The underlying word doesn’t add much here but consider it in the context of John 15:1-17 – “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” We’re supposed to bear fruit, be fruitful, show fruitfulness.

What kind of fruit are we bearing? Are we showing ourselves to be His disciples?

After “be fruitful” we are instructed to “increase in number.” This is where things start to get interesting. The word translated “increase in number” is rabah. It can mean “become many, become numerous, multiply, increase,” but it can also mean “become great, become much, do much.”

While the command rabah clearly has implications for physical reproduction – increasing in number – it means more than that. Even just the word “increase” means “to make greater, as in number, size, strength, or quality.”

In the most recent Alice in Wonderland movie there is a line I love: “You used to be much more…’muchier.’ You’ve lost your muchness.” I believe that God’s original intentions for us were not just that we reproduce, but that we become great – become much. We’re supposed to have a muchness about us.

Of course, greatness in the kingdom of God does not look how we might expect. To become great we must become servants (Matthew 20:26-27). We are God’s children (1 John 3:1), made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We are told to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) – and our God is surely great (Deuteronomy 10:17). But to imitate the greatness of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14), we must be imitators of his love and humility (Philippians 2:1-8).

Where is our muchness?

The next part of the Genesis 1:28 command is to “fill the earth.” The word translated “fill” means “fill, fulfill, accomplish, complete, consecrate.” We are not merely to fill the earth, but to fulfill, accomplish, complete, consecrate. In a sense, to continue the work that God began, dedicating and setting it apart to him.

We are co-workers with Christ (1 Corinthians 3:9), commanded to take his yoke upon ourselves (Matthew 11:29), created to do good works (Ephesians 2:8-10, James 2:26), bearing in mind that we can do nothing apart from him (John 15:5).

How are we going about the work of the kingdom?

In addition to filling the earth, we are also told to “subdue it.” The original word doesn’t bring much enlightenment here, but on a whim I decided to look up the word subdue in the dictionary. Interestingly, one of the meanings of this word is “to bring (land) under cultivation.” To cultivate is “to prepare or work…in order to raise crops, to promote or improve the growth of, to develop or improve, to promote the growth or development of, devote oneself to.”

You may notice that in Genesis 2:4-5 it says: “When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens – and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground.”

According to Genesis 1, God created vegetation on the third day – and saw that it was good, but here we are a few days later and nothing has sprung up yet because there was no man to work the ground. It follows then that part of our original task was to cultivate the land and raise crops (Hosea 10:12, Jeremiah 4:3, Matthew 13:23, Luke 8:15), remembering that it is God who makes things grow (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

What state are our fields in? Have we broken up the unplowed ground? Are we sowing seeds of righteousness? Are we producing a crop?

I have little to comment on the last part of the command – “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” – except to say that in this too it is clear mankind was entrusted with a great responsibility.

Are we being good caretakers of the earth?

In conclusion let’s take one final, amplified look at Genesis 1:28 based on the things we’ve discovered:

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Go and bear fruit and increase in number and stature – becoming both many and much; as you remain in me, accomplish and complete the good work that I’ve begun, cultivating the land and preparing it for a great harvest. Be good stewards of everything I’ve entrusted to you.”

God’s first commandment still rings true today, eh?

*If you’re really serious I’d recommend using both. Overall the NET Bible seems more useful as it incorporates Strong’s and has many additional features, but sometimes I can access words in the KJV with Strong’s that I can’t in the NET Bible.

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I’ve recently started attending a new [house] church. New, not because of any dissatisfaction with a previous church, but because I moved to the other side of the world and am finally settling in to relationships with others in the faith.

It’s a good feeling.

Last night there were a handful of Chinese people there, and as we read through Luke chapter 8 together we took it in turns to read each section, first in English and then in Chinese. I had absolutely no idea which of the spoken Chinese words corresponded to the English words on the page, but I just couldn’t get over how incredibly beautiful it was hearing the Word of God spoken in an unfamiliar language.

It got me thinking about the body of Christ and what it really looks like. So often it can seem like looking in the mirror – a bunch of people hanging out together who have the same skin color, language, cultural heritage, and who tend to behave in like fashion. But that’s not it at all.

The true church is made up of every race and language, culture and people group. People who may or may not get along, who may or may not see eye to eye on each and every issue. But this they have in common – they love the Lord their God with all their hearts, and He is their sure salvation (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

Sometimes the differences between us aren’t as obvious as the stark contrasts between languages. And sometimes the differences are that obvious and we use them as an excuse to draw lines that shouldn’t exist. A good friend posted a quote this week that got me thinking about that as well:

“If you find someone and a barrier of fellowship exists, find out the reason; and if the reason is unreasonable, then dissolve it by your love. If that amount of love doesn’t dissolve it, give more love and still more love.” ~ E. Stanley Jones, Dangerous Love

Above all, love each other deeply (1 Peter 4:8).

All of these musings remind me of the words of a favorite Nichole Nordeman song:

Oh, the times when I have failed to recognize
How may chairs are gathered there around the feast
To break the bread and break these boundaries
That have kept us from our only common ground
The invitation to sit down
If we will come …

Beautiful, that’s what the body of Christ looks like. Just like you – each and every one of you. 🙂

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Perhaps I should start by saying I’m a sucker for movies. Not all movies, mind you, but I am a fan of movie-watching in general. I took my daughter out to see the new Karate Kid the other day, and left feeling unexpectedly inspired. It’s not unusual for me to leave a movie in a state of artificial emotional arousal (just to clarify I’m using the psychological definition here), but there are a couple of things that have stuck with me after all that passed.

The first was a quote by Mr. Han (the Mr. Miyagi character of the remake): “Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.”

I guess this is something I already know, but it really struck me in a fresh new way. I don’t know about you but I find stillness, at times, to be a very difficult thing. What an awesome discipline to perfect. And not only to perfect the times when we choose to stop and be still (which are certainly, actively, to be practiced), but furthermore to attain to a place when we are always still in spirit before the Lord, such that we are abiding and resting in Him, even while we’re moving. Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.

The second thing I’ve begun contemplating afresh since the movie ended is the importance of discipline. Not as in punishment, but dedication, devotion, disciplined pursuit. We are not all likely to become Kung Fu masters in a fantastically short amount of time. Nonetheless, the pursuit of excellence requires sacrifice and hard work.

Driving home from the movie a favorite passage came to mind:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

The comparison to an athlete training for the games really puts this into perspective. I saw a documentary during the last Olympics following one of the athletes in their training. That is serious, hardcore, disciplined training. Hours and hours every day of focused, dedicated, really hard work.

How many of us pursue the Christian life in this fashion? In terms of physical exercise does our Christian walk resemble a weekly tennis match with a friend? Sporadic bouts of regular exercise alternating with long streaks of inactivity? Maybe even a regular but short morning jog? As with exercise anything is better than nothing, but how many of us are really seeking hard after God in the manner of an Olympic athlete? Run in such a way as to get the prize…strict training…I beat my body and make it my slave…How many of us are more willing to put the time in on physical exercise than in pursuit of God? And what kind of results are we expecting? Do we think a half-hearted, sporadic faith routine is going to give us rock hard abs?

Discipline is not everything. Apart from love discipline counts for nothing (1 Corinthians 13). Even so, speaking for myself anyway, I know I could use a bit more of it. I thank God that I have been saved through grace (Ephesians 2:8), but I want to run in such a way as to get the prize!

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The last couple months have been a bit of a whirlwind. God has been present in family visits, airplanes, airports, temporary housing, and all the many details of getting set up in a new country. I confess my gaze has not, at all times, remained fixed on Him. Nonetheless, He has remained faithful (2 Timothy 2:13), and I am thankful for His hand at work in all the crazy, chaotic, anxious, frustrating, silly, happy, wonderful, peaceful, beautiful moments of my life.

In a hotel room in Nevada, feeling anxious about the upcoming overseas flight, God reminded me of Isaiah 26:3 – Thou shalt keep in perfect peace Him whose mind is stayed on thee (actually I think that’s my own little translation, I’m not sure how it got stuck in my head that way but it’s almost the KJV).

In LAX, roaming the terminal and waiting for my flight, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude. I love the little corner of the world I’m from, but what a privilege to go forth and see all the amazingly beautiful things I have yet to see. How could I not graciously leave the past behind in exchange for all that is to come?

Sitting on a beach in Western Australia, reflecting on the account of Elisha, I was struck by his matter-of-fact words in 2 Kings 3:18, “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.” He was speaking of God filling the valley in the Desert of Edom with water – without wind or rain – to provide for a thirsty Israel, marching to battle against Moab.

What seemingly impossible things am I facing that are “easy in the eyes of the Lord?” What seemingly impossible things are needed right now – for you, for your neighbor, for God’s people everywhere – that are “easy in the eyes of the Lord?” How many of these would He willingly provide if we but seek Him, as the kings of Israel and Judah did?

God is faithful.

One particular verse has been sticking with me the past few weeks. It’s quite simple on the surface, but I feel I’ve hardly begun to understand its depths. I found it, hidden in a familiar and popular passage in 1 John chapter 4 about love – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…God is love…This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us…if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us….

At the end of all this, and before another couple of paragraphs of the same, is the following statement: And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (verse 16).

I’m sure I’ve read it before, but for all intents and purposes I don’t think I ever really saw it. I’ve been going over it again and again in my mind. It seems like such a simple conclusion – an obvious thing.

On the surface it’s almost too easy. Do I know God’s love? Yes. Do I rely on His love? Sure. I think so anyway. That’s kind of like trust, right?

But looking deeper…Do I really know the DEPTHS of God’s love for me? Do I really KNOW the depths of God’s love for me? And what does it really mean, in practice, to rely on it? There’s a lot of confidence and expectation in that word – rely. What does it mean to rely on His love?

I suppose I may be leaving you with more questions today than answers, but my prayer for you is this:

May you KNOW and RELY on the love God has for you.

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I would like to celebrate my upcoming move by sharing my favorite moving story with you…

In my last couple of years in Rochester, NY I spent a considerable amount of time praying for God’s direction. I knew my husband would be finishing his degree and we would be moving (or not moving?)…somewhere. It was a time of spiritual awakening in my life and I was filled with passion for the Lord. I desperately wanted us to be wherever HE wanted us to be.

Gradually bits of information started coming in…my husband got ideas about which supervisors he’d be interested in working with for his grad work…he was accepted at this university…due to a bizarre turn of events he was not accepted at this university…

Eventually the picture started coming together and it looked something like this:

My husband had visited the university and all seemed to be going well. Then I went to visit the Mississauga campus with him so I could check it out and we could see what the housing possibilities were like. When we arrived back home he said he’d made his decision, but before we made it official he wanted to know what I thought.

 

What did I think? I suddenly forgot all the little things that had led me to believe this was the place. I prayed and asked God to show me once again if this was really where he intended for us to go.

Throughout the rest of the day things started coming back to me and I remembered why I’d felt so inclined toward that location. I was feeling pretty good about it, but I was still waiting for a final affirmation.

And then it happened…somewhere around 9 o’clock that evening I suddenly knew there was an email in my inbox from my horn teacher with horn connections for me in Toronto, and that was my final confirmation that we were supposed to go there. I suppose you could say it wasn’t completely spontaneous – I had emailed him a few weeks prior to that. But I knew that night the email was there waiting for me. I had my husband check my email and sure enough, there it was.

I was ecstatic. I later found out that my church had been praying for us and the decision-making process at about the time the revelation came. I think God moments like that are so cool!

Acts 17:26 says that “[God has] determined the times set for [us] and the exact places where [we] should live.” It’s because of this experience that I have confidence in this truth.

Our move to Buffalo, NY didn’t involve any profound revelations, nor does our upcoming move to Australia. Nonetheless I am confident of God’s direction in both of these circumstances. I’m thankful that I can look back on my time in Mississauga and my time in Buffalo (not to mention the other places I’ve lived) and see that I was indeed right where I belonged. I truly believe that if I follow where he leads that that is the place I will be most blessed. Here’s to the continuing adventure!

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I had one of those “still small voice” moments the other day. I was thinking about my future and as I prayed and wondered about what’s in store God reminded me of Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When I was growing up this made for a lovely feel good youth group song. Sitting around a campfire while someone strums an acoustic guitar and everyone sings: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…and all these things shall be added unto you…allelu-alleluia…

Actually I don’t think I did the campfire thing much in my youth group days but you get the idea. I’m not sure when I started to realize this was more than just a pretty song – that there is something powerful and important behind the nice Christian sentiment.

Sometimes I like to paraphrase it, “Seek him first and everything else will fall into place.” A bit simplified I grant you but I think there’s some truth in it. Seek first to know God, to be made more Christlike. Make this – make him – your priority, and everything else will be worked out…in you, through you, around you. God will supply all your needs (Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:19) and will work within you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).

I suppose it’s not surprising God brought this verse to my attention as Matthew 6:34 has also been kicking around in my head recently: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

This was one of my favorite verses in college. Every time things got a little too chaotic I would remind myself to take things one step at a time – don’t worry about tomorrow…each day has enough trouble of its own.

All this thought for the future and concern for tomorrow finds me with five weeks left to prepare for an overseas move. How on earth am I going to get everything done on time? What does God have in store for me there? What about all the things I want to do – things I long ago gave up to God, but in the past couple of years he’s been bringing back to me with greater clarity (if not complete understanding)?

I don’t have the answers to these questions yet but two things I know: 1) If I seek him first then everything else will be worked out, and 2) I just need to take things one day at a time.

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I’m always impressed by friends who aren’t afraid to start a controversy. Not the ones standing on a soapbox, unwilling to be wrong, but the ones who aren’t afraid to talk about the tough things. The ones who want to make people think.

I’ve decided to go out on a limb today and share my thoughts, even though I stand the chance of offending a few of the very people I’m trying to reach. I hope you can bear with me.

This weekend Christians everywhere will be remembering and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14,19 “…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” Jesus’ resurrection is at the heart of the Christian faith. Truly our victory is found in Him alone.

I grew up in a fairly traditional Christian home. My mom bought me a fancy Easter dress every year, often with a pretty white hat to accompany it. When Easter Sunday dawned my brother and I found fantastic Easter baskets filled with goodies, and then off to church we went.

Me in my Easter dress, 1980

Church on Easter Sunday is pretty great, as church services go. Most churches save the best stuff for Easter and Christmas. If you’re lucky the choir sings a cantata and there are all sorts of extra special things, so the sermon is shorter (and the service less boring) than usual. Well, that was my take on it as a child anyway. I certainly wouldn’t classify all churches that way today…but some I probably still would.

And of course, there is a spirit of celebration in the air! It is on this Sunday, of all Sundays, that everything seems possible!

It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve come to understand the word “Easter” and the original celebration associated with it  really have nothing to do with Jesus Christ. It doesn’t take much searching to figure it out, but I don’t think most people bother to look.

The Mental Floss blog explains it pretty well. Religious Tolerance.org also has fairly in-depth information concerning both “sides” of the Easter celebration. The word “Easter” comes from the word “Eostre,” the name of a pagan “goddess of dawn, spring and fertility.” Rabbits and eggs, traditional pagan symbols of fertility, were associated with pagan celebrations held around the time of the spring equinox. At some point Christians began their own celebration of Christ’s resurrection upon the occasion of the Jewish Passover (when Christ, the “passover lamb,” was crucified). There were disputes in the church over the date for this celebration, and somehow the festivities of the pagan Eostre and Jesus’ death and resurrection were combined (possibly an attempt by the Christians to enforce their ideals on the pagans – actually Christmas has similar roots). The concepts of a visiting “Easter bunny,” gifts, and chocolate were added in later centuries, but nonetheless find their roots in earlier pagan symbols.

So where does that leave us now? Many Christians wish to downplay the eggs and bunnies and bring the focus to Christ and the resurrection. But really “Easter” has been a pagan thing all along. How important is it that we maintain this celebration, that has been in our culture for hundreds of years, as a Christian tradition?

I expect the answer is different for everyone. I certainly respect that for many people Easter is the name that represents the victory of Jesus Christ, and that is a noble thing. But I wonder, would it be easier to focus on this victory if it were celebrated on, say, the Jewish Passover, when the concept of his sacrifice has that much more significance? Thoughts, anyone?

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This past weekend I went to a Living Proof Live conference in Toronto with “the girls. ” It was fantastic. We’ve spent some quality time together in recent years completing some of Beth Moore‘s Bible studies on DVD (including Believing God, Stepping Up, Esther, and Daniel). We talk about Beth almost like she’s one of us, so it was kind of special to get the chance to see and hear her live.

Me and the girls at Living Proof Live

Beth is a spunky Texan who is completely in love with Jesus and has an amazing gift for teaching the Bible.  She herself declares that she can be obnoxious, but I find her to be incredibly inspiring. Her passion is catching and as spirited as she can be, she is also one of the most humble people I’ve had the opportunity to…hmmm…I want to say meet, but I haven’t actually “met” her…she came within 5 feet of me on Saturday, does that count? In any case I highly recommend her studies (each one I’ve done has been a profound experience for me and I’ve learned so much), and/or taking the opportunity to hear her live if you get the chance.

The theme for the conference – “God is up to something new!”

As I started a new job about a month ago, and recently learned that I’m moving to the other side of the globe in July (although the latter is not related to the former), the concept of newness was not a stretch. Things are changing all around me! Even so the teaching spoke to me on many levels. Beth’s main points and some of my gleanings as taken/adapted from my notes:

1. God is up to something new. (Isaiah 43:18-19, Ezekiel 36:26)

It’s time to leave the past behind and move on . There are definitely ways in which I need to do this. So many things, even good things, lay behind, but I don’t want to miss the new thing because I’m focused on the old. I can easily see some of the new things around me, but I need to be made new in the midst of all this. Also I need to be alert and present in the moment so I don’t miss what God is speaking/doing NOW because I’m so fixed on what’s ahead.

2. God rarely does a new thing the old way. (compare Isaiah 43:16 and 19).

It’s so easy to form expectations for the future based on the past. I do it all the time. Especially the good things – I replay them in my mind and hope for repeats.  As Beth said, “God is far more creative than to just give a repeat performance of what he’s already done.” I don’t want to miss the new thing because I’m anticipating the “old way.”

3. God can do something new in an old place.

Despite the new and wonderful changes ahead, there are some “old things” in my life that definitely need a breath of fresh air.  Relationships and places I return to, and value, but somehow (and not surprisingly) I’ve become stuck in them.  In these too I need to be made new. Another Beth quote, “It would make that old place completely different if we were new right in the middle of it.”

4. Just patching up the old won’t result in something new. (Luke 5:36)

5. We, too, must be up to something new.

I need to come along side God in this new thing He is doing and receive the newness He brings. It’s up to me to be an active participant. How can I be intentional about this?

6. God grants new mercies for each new day. (Lamentations 3:19-23)

God’s grace will always be sufficient for our need – new mercies and compassions are stacked up each day according to our need. To wake each morning declaring confidently, “God, you have everything I need for this day!” What an encouraging beginning!

7. One day we’ll go from a new thing to a new EVERYTHING. (Revelation 21:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Until the new everything comes, I get to be the new creation. 😉

Check out the Living Proof blog (including posts from Beth) here.

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Psalm 4:8 –  I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Whenever I feel anxious at bedtime these words roll off my tongue. Most of the time a tangible peace follows in their wake, settling in the silence around me. Occasionally I have to choose to believe them, but even then they are not without effect.

Sometimes, when my anxieties have centered around the safety of my loved ones, I’ve taken the verse a step further…I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make [my daughter, husband, mom, etc.] dwell in safety.

But a few nights ago something new occurred to me. If I believe that the Lord alone makes me dwell in safety, surely that has broader relevance. So I started to apply it to other cares and concerns…

I will _______________ (in peace), for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

and

I will _______________ (in peace), for you alone, O Lord, make __________ dwell in safety.

I suppose I didn’t strictly adhere to the wording I’ve listed above, but you get the idea. Listing my fears in this way, great and small, peace rushed and swirled around me, putting things in proper perspective. The anxieties that seemed so big only moments before became as nothing.

What are you afraid of? What gnaws away at your peace and settles uncomfortably in your stomach, making it hard to breathe?

Or maybe it’s nothing so dramatic as all that. Maybe it’s just a nagging concern that’s difficult to put to rest. What troubles you?

Arise and greet the morning in peace, walk and live and breathe in peace, lie down and sleep in peace, for it is God who makes you…and all those you love…dwell in safety.

Sweet dreams!

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