The You of the Golden Rule

Day 6, Five Minute Prompt: YOU

 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:11-12).

The Golden Rule is not about you.

It’s not about me.

It’s about God and his goodness.

It’s about how the gate is wide and the way is narrow and what our lives say to those who haven’t been captivated by the Love that calls us down it (v 13-14). In our efforts to be like Jesus, we depend completely on His grace to bear fruit which makes His presence in us known (v. 16-20).

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Karma says “do good so good will be done unto me” while grace says “You can’t repay me, but I will serve you anyway.”

Grace looked at us in all our filthiness and died to make us its own. That redemptive act moves us to say, “I will lay down my life for the least of these because I know Whom I serve.” We serve the Almighty God who put on flesh and died a criminal’s death so we could fall in love with Him.

It’s about Our Father who gives us good things.

Proclaiming His name in our families and among the nations is the best gift we’ve been given after salvation.  I want to live as a servant sharing Christ and helping a few more people find the narrow road. I’ll sing and serve my way to golden gates.

What does God’s grace move you to do?

Talk to me in the comment section!

From Stir-Crazy to Strengthened by Stillness: Learning to Just Be

Day 5, Five Minute Prompt: SILENCE

The silence makes sirens go off in my head.

Be still makes me squirm.

I want TO DO.
I want TO GO.
I want TO BE HEARD.

In the silence, I hear whispers of “You’re not good enough.”
In the stillness, I feel muscles twitch with restlessness: “You’re not doing enough.” But this restlessness is only a distraction from living out the Golden Rule and The Great Commission. It keeps me sulking and self-seeking.

In the silence I can soak up His grace. In the stillness I can breathe Jesus in and rest knowing that the work Has already been done. I can DO, GO, and BE HEARD because I fell face first at the feet of Jesus and acknowledged my need of Him before I set upon my mission.

This is my theme and my philosophy of ministry. This is how change happens. Not by my hands or by my words. It happens in the silence and in the stillness. It happens with Jesus.

As I silently seek Him through the Word written long ago, and as I sit under the instruction of faithful servants, I move forward to do unto others.

But first I just have to Be.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).

Do you struggle with the silence?
How has God changed you in the stillness?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Other posts about silence and listening: Uncovering Stillness- The Very Cranky MummyThe Irony of BarbieSavior on SheLoves Magazine

A Collection of Left-Behind Treasures

Boxes packed for storage. Bags packed for an international move.

All that was left were goodbyes. A whole lot of them.

A friend to whom it was especially difficult to say goodbye had one request as we departed: leave me one thing to keep in my house to remember you by.

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I left her a vase with the world map on it I had bought at TJ Maxx for $7 a few years before. There wasn’t anything particularly special about it, like most everything else in our basement apartment. We hadn’t invested a lot of money into our home Stateside for we knew we would soon be leaving.

But this vase still sat atop the bookshelf my husband built because, for some reason, it meant something to me. And though it wouldn’t make the voyage to the foreign field, I couldn’t bear to sell it to a stranger. So I gave it to this friend.

She added it to her collection of momentos given by those that left her behind. The problem of being involved in a highly missional church is that the people you love are always leaving.

And her collection is always growing.

Trinkets from South Africa, Tunisia, Spain, and, even, TJ Maxx in Cumming, GA. I think of the ones to whom she will be saying goodbye this year and wonder what special items will be added to the mantle and the walls of the home she shares with her husband and the girls my daughter still speaks of fondly.

They are a special family with a collection of far-away-friends, left-behind adornments, and hearts breaking again and again.

I’m thankful we will have this special home to spend a few nights in when we find ourselves Stateside. I will look around at all the gifted treasures and pray for my friends around the world who have left their friends, families, and prized possessions behind.

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Giving the Creator Room to Make a Masterpiece

My husband slipped me a note during the meeting designated for Sunday school teachers and youth workers. This otherwise insignificant act would set a chain of events that would domino me into some of the hardest days of my life.

“Should we announce that we are going to India [as missionaries] tonight?”

“Up to you, babe,” I replied in attempt to mask my panic.

“Are you 100% in?” (Quite a weighty question for note-passing, right?)

I quickly scrawled, “YES.”

I had previously been on a missions trip to Africa, and we made plans to serve somewhere on that continent. When I thought about missions, I saw black faces decorated with tribal paint. I prayed more fervently for the work there, decorated my home in souvenirs, and dreamed of returning someday.

We had a friend whose heart for India was contagious, and the Lord wrecked our plans with this viral compassion. He dreamed for the church that would send us to plant 8 missionary families in India. We would be one of them.

We made a trip shortly after the loss of our second child, and God gave me such a great peace about where we had been and where He was taking us. I didn’t know it would all unravel soon. I didn’t know that I would have to change the focus of my gospel-passions again. I just knew Who sent us and Who was going with us. That was enough.

I write this in Nepal, totally humbled by the work He has done and undone to bring us here and see His work accomplished. The stain of goodness left by His fingerprints hints at the masterpiece that is to come. It’s made up of brokenness and jumbled up plans, but it is good because the Artist that made it makes no mistakes.

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I can trust Him as the brush strokes glide across the canvas I’ve given Him to work with. Whenever I start to gain a sense of how the final product will appear, the hand at work spins in another direction. I feel frustrated, as if I’m crossing my eyes and backing away from a picture, trying to see what I am supposed to see.

Other times, the brush is dipped in pain and hardship, and I’d rather see the pretty pots of sunshine and warmth spill onto the page. But because I have grown to know the heart of the One who wields the tools of change, I know that the finished work will require nothing but a deep sigh as I gaze into the depths of its beauty.

For now, I’ll hold my breath and my tongue as I watch the Artist in action. It is quite the sight to behold.

How may you yield to the Master Creator today?
What hints do you see of the masterpiece to come?

Talk to me in the comment section!

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College: Where my Dreams Went to Die

I bounced into the second row of my first college class, ready to take on the world. How would God move in my life at college? How would He show up, mold me, and move me to action? How would this campus differ from my presence? I know, I know. I was a dreamer.

Three semesters later, I sat in the Dean’s office to share my intentions for discontinuing my education at this institution. I was in no way displeased with the quality of academia. I wasn’t leaving because I had a difficult time choosing a major due to my interest in all subject matter. I was leaving because the young man I told that I would follow Him anywhere was asking me to go. Like now.

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I had a ring on my finger and a passion in my heart. I longed to travel the globe with him, leaving gospel-changed lives in our wake. Our happy bubble was threatened only by criticism and resistance to the plans we had forged in naive faith caught up in a whirlwind of love.

I thought back to a class with a professor convinced of the power of prayer. I had never heard someone talk so confidently of the ways of God which remained a mystery to me.

He encouraged the freshmen to hand God an empty sheet of paper with our name signed at the bottom, surrendering our rights to make decisions based solely on our dreamed up desires and fairytale futures.

I wondered if my name might be signed “Dr. Amber _______ (insert last name of studly husband here),” but I took the last name of the only boy I’d ever loved (who is a total stud, by the way). He had signed a covenant contract to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

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I was pleased at the prospect of sitting sideline and seeing him achieve this dream. I soon realized, however, that my cooperation was imperative to the mission. And my cooperation required a yielding of my right to further my education.

Salutatorian of my, albeit small, graduating class and recipient of several college scholarships, I fought this in my heart. Why would God gift me in ways He wouldn’t use?

But there was sweet peace in surrendering to this part of my story.

I now have a two year degree, am married to a man of God, and have two beautiful children. I’ve learned a second language and serve the sweetest people in a spiritually impoverished country.

On graduation day, it hurt to see my roommates walk to receive their diplomas. Videos aired during the ceremony and were shared on social media. I was surprised to see a few photos of me scroll across the large screens while I watched from my new basement dwelling with a baby in my lap.

That time was not wasted. It was there that I learned to surrender my will.

It took me away from that wonderful place, from my friends and my education, but it brought me here. And here is a pretty great place to be.

What might God be calling you to surrender today?

Share with me in the comment section below so I may pray with you!

Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that (James 4:14-15).

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