The Christian Life According To Pumpkin

When autumn comes around each year, there is one item that steals the show- the pumpkin. From seasonal foods, drinks and cinema classics to home décor and photo props, the pumpkin takes center stage! But, have you ever seen the pumpkin as a way to explain the Christian life? As the weather begins to cool and the leaves begin to fall, let’s take a look at an amazing reminder of our spiritual journey with Jesus Christ — as illustrated by the growth of the pumpkin!

Much like the orange mascot of fall, each of our spiritual lives started with a small seed. The Lord assures us that the Word of God will accomplish the work He intends for it (Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:11 and Matthew 24:35). In the same way, once an individual is willing to accept the free gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ, they will be saved from eternal punishment and judgment (John 1:1-18).

As a Christian takes the time to dive into the Bible, ask questions, pray and seek godly counsel, a process much like spiritual watering and feeding takes place to revitalize the soul (John 4:14). While Jesus was preaching, He said this:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 (NASB)

The pumpkin seed then turns into a sprout. And in the spiritual sense, once an individual receives Jesus Christ as their own Savior to wipe clean all the known and unknown failures, a new life in Christ has begun! Praise God that the moment any person (young, old, married, divorced, straight, homosexual, athletic, intellectual, etc.) entrusts their eternal hope and security to Jesus Christ—a sprout within our souls arises.

 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NASB)

The sprout then grows a vine now that the plant has well-established roots and is moving across wider terrain! How does this happen in a spiritual sense? Jesus Christ shares that He is the One True Vine (John 15:1). As a believer continues to “feed” on the Word of God, the believer becomes spiritually stronger (Psalm 119:9-16). Now, the vine does not stay in one place. No, no, no! It is on the move! As believers in Jesus Christ, we are instructed to do the same:

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Mark 16:15 (NASB)

The vine then produces the flower. Just as the flower opens to receive a special gift from the bee, as believers, the Holy Spirit comes to each one to provide power to go forth and be witnesses for Jesus Christ into the entire world. After Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day, He ascended into Heaven, and instructed His disciples by saying:

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)

From the flower, the much-anticipated pumpkin will grow—and grow—and grow! Many will purchase pumpkins this month, to carve into jack-o-lanterns that will light up the darkness of the night. In the same way, may we as Christians, share the light of Jesus Christ—that is within our souls—to a dark and unknowing world. While preaching from a hillside as He delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His followers that they were the “light of the world” and that this light was never to be hidden. Rather, the light was to be displayed for all in the house to see (Matthew 5:14-15).

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NASB)

 Growth is a process. Pumpkins take time to grow into the orange orb we all love and adore. In the same way, our faith in God, our obedience, and our trust in Him through all circumstances are all growing as well. Be encouraged that no matter where you may be on your journey with Jesus Christ, He is ready to encourage you to keep going. So press into His Word and above all, keep growing in your knowledge of Him because you are forever cherished by an infinite God.

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Life Like a Pumpkin

 

Hurdles, Mountains and the Valley of Achor

“On the day I called, You answered me;

You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

Psalm 138:3 (NASB)

 

Have you ever felt as though one challenging situation kept following another within your life? Perhaps you even wondered if there was something you could do to make the difficulties stop. Allow this to be refreshment to your heart and soul as you head to class, work or the great outdoors.

 

When hard times enter our lives, our tendency can be to isolate ourselves or fake our way through with a smile. Yet, once we are alone, the reality of the weight of the hardship remains and battles with depression or even doubting God’s goodness may ensue. Girlfriend, at that very moment, drop what you are doing and grab your Bible. Get alone with the Lord and pour your heart out to Him. He is ready to comfort you and sustain you in the midst of it all.

 

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

 

Regardless of zip codes, time zone or even make-up of our family, each life will experience hurdles, mountain tops as well as the valleys below. If you are in one of life’s valleys now, may I encourage you from the literal desert of the Middle East (Qatar to be specific) from God’s Word.

 

“Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the days she came up out of Egypt.”

Hosea 2:14-15 (NIV)

 

Ladies, much like God rescued Israel from the hands of Pharaoh in Egypt (Deuteronomy 6:21), He rescues us in our individual stories as well! He will turn our Valley of Achor (which means “trouble”) into hope for His name’s sake. Whether the trouble, hurdle or heart ache you are experiencing is self induced or cause dby another source, hide your face in the Lord. Ask Him to provide you with the boldness and stoutheartedness needed to get to the other side of the valley. He will do it. He loves you and deeply values your heart and life (1 John 4:9).

 

As one who has walked through many valleys in life myself, I testify to you this day, with God you will truly overcome every heartache and difficulty of life. And girlfriend, He will bring you through your hard time too. He is in the business of turning troubled times into places of hope (Hosea 2:15). Claim it. Declare it. And hold fast to the reality of God’s Word.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

 

Ask the Lord what He may be calling you to do. Is there something that scares you that perhaps God would like to address? Is there an unresolved matter that simply needs reconciliation? Are you concerned about your relationships or your loved ones? Take it to the Lord. He will direct you by His written Word, the Holy Bible and by speaking directly to your heart. You are precious and the situations that you are facing within your life are neither “too little” nor “too big” for God’s mighty care. Take them to Him today and allow His peace, that which surpasses the logic and understanding of this world, to penetrate and overtake the fears within your heart. Why? Because He is God and you are precious to Him.

 

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB)

 

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Hurdles, Mountains, and the Valley of Achor

GO

While seated inside the bustling restaurant within the Middle East, Kaw-Thar quickly adjusted her black hijab around her face to hide a stray hair that had come loose before nervously asking her next and most poignant question, “All this is interesting, but who do you say Jesus Christ is?”

 

Knowing the risk of answering such a question, the young Christian silently prayed for wisdom as her Muslim friend slid her cell phone across the table closer to her. Was this a set up? It was illegal to speak of Jesus Christ in a Muslim country. The young woman was aware that she could be deported, jailed, or even worse. Yet, the young foreigner could not deny in her heart of hearts that this was why she had traveled to this foreign land. It was for such a moment as this that the young woman had been willing to leave all of the comforts of her homeland and gone to great lengths to genuinely invest in those of other cultures. This was her moment indeed; this was her moment to speak of her Savior.

 

As the young foreigner felt a peace to share everything the Lord was placing on her heart, she began to speak. “Who do I say Jesus Christ is? Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is the one and only Son of God. He is the Second person of the Triune Godhead. He is my Lord and my Savior.”

 

Kaw-Thar listened intently as the young foreigner took a sip of her steaming tea. Kaw-Thar squinted her eyes slightly as if trying to read the response of the young foreigner seated across from her. This young Muslima had been astounded to learn previously in this evening’s shared meal, that the young foreigner had not only had dreams and visions—just as she herself had experienced—but had a personal relationship with the God of all things! Kaw-Thar was desperate for answers. Her life was in shambles. Her husband had left her for another woman, her mother was diagnosed with cancer and refusing treatment—saying that if Allah willed for her to die, she would accept it. Yet, Kaw-Thar could not accept it! She and her son, Abdul Aziz, were living with her mother in the midst of this diagnosis and recent divorce. It just couldn’t be the end for her mother—she was Kaw-Thar’s only support system.

 

Kaw-Thar shared with the young foreigner that she had previously checked into other religions such as Buddism in desperation to connect with a higher power on behalf of her mother. With eyebrows raised, Kaw-Thar lowered her voice and leaned forward as she shared, “I have even attended an Easter service while traveling in Europe and spoke with the Pastor after the sermon.” Yet, despite her searching, despite her questions, Kaw-Thar kept getting stuck on the same question within her own heart. “How can there be three persons to one God?”

 

The young foreigner continued to pray silently and the Lord brought to mind an example used by a missionary within the book I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh. And with another affirmation upon her listening heart to speak in the midst of a dangerous environment, with a sparkle in her eye, the young foreigner began to share. “You are right, my friend. There is only one God. There are three parts to God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Think of God like the sun for a minute. There are three parts that make up the sun: heat, light and radiation. Each part is distinctly unique, yet undeniably part of the same whole.”

 

If this interaction tugs at your heart, know that there are multiple ways to get involved with sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Arab world as a whole. A quick sit down with a local Christian Pastor or a simple Internet search will bring a whole list of opportunities before you with organizations to partner with in order to GO (Matthew 28:19).

 

The above dialogue is just one account of real life interactions between Christian and Muslim friends in 2016 across the globe. Jesus Christ is showing up in the dreams of those seeking to know the One and True God (Jeremiah 29:13). Islam teaches that only their prophet Muhammad or the devil can appear in the dreams of Muslims. Yet, all the while, Jesus is showing up—defying their teachings and bringing multitudes into the Kingdom through belief on Jesus Christ (Romans 10:13). Amen! Even the refugee crisis is being used for the glory of God as multiple Christian ministries are meeting these displaced peoples on the shores of foreign lands and ministering to their basic humanitarian needs. The number of precious lives converting from Islam as they embrace a God of love—the God of the Holy Bible—Jesus Christ (1 John 4:8-10)—is truly amazing!

 

May I encourage you this very day to consider having a similar conversation with someone of another faith. Christian Apologetics—or the defense of the Christian faith—is a powerful tool in providing a loving witness to those who are earnestly seeking to know God. The author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi, has a powerful series of Christian apologetics in light of Islam on YouTube, which is filmed at Biola University in southern California. It is very insightful and taught me much about the core beliefs of Islam. As Christians, it is our deepest honor and most sincere joy to speak of the transformative work of Jesus Christ within our own lives.

 

May we, as women of our own generation, be ready and willing to speak at length with those of other faiths who are seeking to know more about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (1 Peter 3:15)—because, you never know—it may be due to your willingness to GO in Jesus’ name that others will experience eternity and right standing before the One and only Holy God of all things (Isaiah 6:1-8). Are you ready to GO?

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Ready to Go

 

Tit for Tat–Pay Me Back

The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (HCSB)

 

Have you even been blown away by the generosity of another? Maybe you are in college and instant soup is on the menu multiple times a week. Perhaps you are working multiple jobs, but still not getting ahead financially. Maybe you are financially contributing to some family obligations and do not have much to speak of at the end of the month. What would be your natural response in these situations (and others like them) if someone was to gift you with an unexpected and undeserved need—be it financial or otherwise? You would be stoked, right?! When we are blessed by something that we do not deserve—nor could possibly attain on our own, a sense of sheer gratitude grips us.

 

Yet, the reverse is also true. When we have many things, but we remain stingy and tight fisted with our resources (e.g. our time, encouragements, finances, and other talents), we harm our ministry to others as believers in Jesus Christ and damage relationships both with God and man in the process. What do I mean?

 

Jesus tells a story in the Bible to illustrate this very thing with the account of the unmerciful slave (Matthew 18:21-35). A master was owed a crazy about of money from one of his slaves. The Bible states that this slave was indebted to his master for 10,000 talents; which was more than a servant could possibly be able to pay back in a lifetime (Matthew 18:24). The slave was brought before his master to decide his outcome. The master decided to sell the slave, the slave’s wife and the slave’s children to make up for the debt. At this, the slave fell to his feet and pleaded for mercy. The Bible states that the master had compassion on his slave and forgave him of all debts.

 

Not soon after, the slave found a fellow slave who owed him money and demanded that he be paid! The slave actually begins to choke this guy as he shouts for his money to be paid (Matthew 18:28). Enraged, the slave has his co-laborer thrown into jail until he can pay him back the much smaller amount than the one he himself had just been forgiven of by their mutual master. As word got back to the master of what had happened, he called for the slave who had owed him the unthinkable amount of money. The master reminded the slave that his own debts had been forgiven. Thus, it was now the slave’s obligation to forgive the debts of others as well. For the slave’s greedy and unmerciful spirit, the master had him thrown into jail and punished until he could pay back the amount he himself owed (Matthew 18:34).

 

14For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.” Matthew 6:14-15 (HCSB)

 

Ladies, mercy is a really big deal in the kingdom of God. Much like this man, we too have been forgiven of a much bigger debt than we could ever repay. There are no such thing as credit cards in the kingdom of God! We either have the funds to pay the bill or we don’t. God knew that the price was too high for any of us to foot the spiritual bill. That was the point of Jesus Christ coming to earth—as God in the flesh. He was able to be tempted in every way, yet never sin (Hebrews 4:15). He was able to perform miracles and speak of the glory of God (John 21:25). He was able to invite skeptics and heretics alike to put their hope in Himself and find salvation from eternal death (Matthew 11:28, John 8:12 & John 14:6). And He was able to die a criminal’s death, as an innocent man, for you, for me and for the rest of humanity—in order that each of our spiritual debts could be paid—once and for all (1 Peter 2:24).

 

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (HCSB)

 

The filth that we allow into our lives and the dirt that resides in our minds are enough to condemn us to death (Romans 6:23). But, praise God for Jesus Christ, who stepped in to pay our account balances in full! As He died upon the cross between two thieves, with His dying breath before giving up His spirit, He stated “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus Christ paid the price for all of the selfish, nasty and otherwise unspeakable things that all of humanity has done, is doing and will do to separate us from God. As we confess the shameful things we have thought, said and done to the LORD and earnestly ask for His forgiveness, we are then able to grasp hold of the free gift—the forgiveness of our unthinkable debt to God (Hebrews 1:3).

 

13And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14 (HCSB)

 

Ladies, this lesson is hitting me right between my eyeballs today to convict me of how much I have been given. It is now my sincere privilege to pass on the blessing—in the name of Jesus Christ. For if we are always looking for a bargain, an angle or other way to promote our causes—we will find that others will grow disgusted by our onesideness. Rather, when we invest in others, forgive those who have caused us harm in any way, we are furthering the kingdom of God in a very practical way. I challenge each one reading to find someone to show mercy and forgiveness of debt to today. Remember, it’s not because they deserve it, but rather as a follower of Jesus Christ, you too have been forgiven of all your debts. How amazing it is to be debt free! Share the mercy that you have been given.

 

“Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over–will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 (HCSB)

 

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Tit for Tat – Pay Me Back

Ascending Love; An Easter Story

“He was right.” Thomas recalled to himself. Still staring up into the sky, with the remaining ten disciples. Thomas continued, “I will forever sing Your praises, Jesus. Thank you.” Jesus of Nazareth had ascended into heaven after conquering death on a cross, just as the prophecies said of the Messiah (Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 52:13-Isaiah 53:12, Daniel 7:13-14, John 14:1-4, John 16:16, John 16:25-28).

 

51While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:51-52 (NASB)

 

As the eleven disciples walked on the road back to Jerusalem from Bethany, following the ascension of Jesus into heaven (Luke 24:50), Thomas recalled the Passover within this whirlwind of supernatural events that had been the past three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry. For this year’s Passover, Jesus had rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey’s colt, which fulfilled the prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). This year had marked their fourth Passover with Jesus. But, as they had entered Jerusalem this year, they were met with a large crowd of people waving palm branches and shouting praises.

 

12On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” 14Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15“FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY’S COLT.” (John 12:12-15 NASB)

 

All were dressed in their best as they had come for both the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began immediately following. A gentle spring breeze carried the strong aroma of the pure nard perfume into the desert air, that Mary had anointed Jesus’ feet with just the day previous in the town of Bethany (John 12:3). It was truly an entry of triumph. The arrest and death warrant from the powerful Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, was still active for Jesus (John 11:53 & John 11:57); but no one in that moment could think of anything but shouting for joy! The same people whom Thomas had see at the tomb of Lazarus just days before, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, were now shouting of these very things as Jesus continued into the city! At this, even more people ran to meet Him (John 12:17-18).

 

23And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23 NASB)

 

Then, Jesus did something no one was expecting. He prayed to the Father in heaven, “Father, glorify Your name!” At that moment, Thomas, along with the other eleven disciples and all others around Jesus were startled as a voice was heard thundering from heaven! “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again!” (John 12:28 HCSB). With eyes wide, loud gasps and murmuring were heard all around. This was now the third time a voice had thundered from heaven to affirm the work and ministry of Jesus. The first was at His baptism (Matthew 3:17), the second was at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:5) and now the third time was here at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem for Passover (John 12:28).

 

30Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.” (John 12:30 NASB)

 

The disciples further recalled that Jesus had insisted on washing all of His twelve disciple’s feet after the Passover meal (John 13:4-5). They also remembered the significance of Judas Iscariot being handed the bread dipped in wine, which announced him as the one to betray Jesus. Jesus had told Judas Iscariot to do what he was planning, and Judas ate the bread and left the room (Psalm 41:9). At the time, the other eleven could not comprehend the meaning, but in retrospect, all had become crystal clear (John 13:26-27). The eleven remaining disciples spoke of experiencing a foot washing, one of the most base and servant oriented tasks, from their powerful and prestigious leader, Jesus Christ. It was revolutionary to their thinking of leadership. Jesus also prophesied that Simon Peter would deny even knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crowed the following morning, and they recalled the agonizing moments before the sun would rise when this indeed happened (Luke 22:54-62 & John 13:38).

 

They then spoke of the time that followed the Passover dinner where the eleven of them traveled with Jesus, in the dark of night, across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39 & John 18:1). It was there that Jesus had asked them to pray and keep watch. It was there that Jesus prayed for this cup of suffering to pass, if it was the Father’s will. But surrendering His own will to the Father’s in order to glorify the Father, He accepted His brutal task (Luke 22:42). It was there that Judas Iscariot, for a little money, betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:5 & Luke 22:48). It was there, within the olive grove, that Jesus was arrested by the chief priests, officers of the temple guard and elders whom had heard Him preach in the temple courts day in and day out (Luke 22:52-53).

 

The eleven then recalled the lunacy that surrounded Jesus’ time before the high priest of the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas (John 18:13-14), Pilot, Herod and then again back to Pilot (Luke 23:1-25). The whole process was absolutely depraved and steeped in evil (John 18:28-40). The divine substitute for our sins, Jesus Christ, did not speak out to defend His own cause (Isaiah 53:7). A murderer and known criminal, Barabas had been released to the people, as was a Passover tradition to release one prisoner, to ensure that Jesus would indeed be crucified (Luke 23:25).

 

The physical and mental violence that the body and mind of Jesus endured was so extreme that He was unable to carry His own cross to His execution (Luke 23:26). Yet, as Jesus finally hung upon the cross, in the place of the Skull (called Golgotha in Aramaic, John 19:17), amidst the vehement insults and demonic laughter mixed with wailing and mourning of the crowd, it was forgiveness and determined love that He continued to extend to all (Psalm 34:20, Isaiah 40:9, Isaiah 42:1 & Zechariah 12:10).

 

“34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots.” (Psalm 22:18 & Luke 23:34 HCSB)

 

An insulting sign written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, created by Pilot read “This is the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38). Although insults were hurled at Jesus until the final moment, it was His love and divine ability to extend pardon that allowed Jesus to pay the penalty for each of our sins—that we have all committed (Jeremiah 33:8, Romans 3:23 & Romans 5:12).

 

“But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” (Isaiah 53:5 HCSB)

 

After Jesus had given up His spirit, the sky grew black for three hours and the veil in the Holy of Holies within the Temple, was ripped from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split! People no longer needed to go to the Temple to be declared clean before a high priest, but now each heart could go directly to God through Jesus Christ (Isaiah 6:6-7, Matthew 27:51, Luke 23:45 & Hebrews 4:14-16 & Hebrews 6:20)!

 

Oh, but the best was yet to come! The Lover and Creator of the human heart was not done. Freedom from eternal bondage was still yet to be shared with those He loved. The tomb was discovered to be empty on the third day, by Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and other women. They then saw two men at the empty tomb, dressed in glowing apparel that asked, “why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been resurrected (Luke 24:4-8)!” They ran to get the eleven disciples. While Mary Magdalene wept violently, thinking someone had stolen the body, Jesus appeared to her outside of the empty tomb (Luke 24:6 & John 20:11-18). Jesus then appeared to His disciples (Luke 24: 44-49, John 20:19-23 & John 20:24-29).

 

In His truest form, Jesus gently comes into our stories and meets us in our places of grief and doubt, then whispers assurance to our hearts that victory over all forms of suffering is found only in the mighty name of Jesus Christ (Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 48:6 & 1 Corinthians 15:55-57). As we celebrate this Easter season, may our attention be brought to victory that is ours if we accept the ultimate act of devotion, through Jesus Christ’s example of ascending love (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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Walking Leather: For Such A Time As This

Have you ever gone through a time in your life that was so difficult, so truly straining that you wondered if you would make it through? And once on the other side, you realize that you are not at all the same person whom entered the trial prior to the journey? You not only can take courage in the reality that you are not alone, but you are also be encouraged within the hardship by the words of Jesus Christ.

Just before Jesus was to be crucified, by the very ones He had come to earth to rescue, He spoke these words to His disciples.

 

32“Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:32-33 NASB

 

This evening as my husband began to buff his leather shoes, an object lesson was born before our eyes. The worn down, dull looking leather shoes really needed some loving. And as my husband and I spoke of our own current hardships, the Lord began to reveal to our hearts just how poignant this lesson from some walking leather applied to our Christian lives. Allow me to explain.

 

For those who have never shined a leather shoe, like myself, it is a beautiful process to witness. A dull and seemingly worthless shoe is given new life through the careful and skillful attention of the shoe owner. Through the use of polish and a coarse brush, what was once dull and worn out, truly begins to shine like new leather.

 

As my husband brushed one of the shoes, he asked me if it was 20:08 yet. I did not understand the significance of the time. I looked at the clock and stated that it was only 20:06. Upon hearing this, my husband said, “I need to let the polish sit on the other shoe until 20:08. I will leave it on a little longer.” And upon hearing these words, we began to think about the hardships that we are currently experiencing—that are being used to draw us closer to the Lord. And with each minute that the hardship stays within our lives, much like the polish upon the shoe leather, there is a purpose. And at the appointed time, just the perfect time, the shoe owner brushes away the polish to reveal the brilliant shine on the newly revitalized leather. How true is this of our Christian lives!

 

Each piece of leather is carefully selected and placed to create the desired shoe. Regardless of whether or not a person walking through a shoe store can see, let alone appreciate, the detail of the certain footwear, the shoemaker knew exactly what he hoped to accomplish. Whether or not the shoe itself understands its own capabilities, the shoemaker does. And it is only through being worn that the shoe is able to really see its full potential. Much like a leather shoe, as Christians, we too become worn down and our outlook can even become dull. It is in these times that we are to call upon the Lord in honest pray for His refreshment as we openly share our situations with Him. Praise God that we can bring all things before the Lord through prayer (1 Peter 5:7). AlongAnd as we ask for strength to endure our present hardship, a fresh peace and strengthening of His divine purpose begins to shine through the polish of the difficult situation to give way to His ultimate purpose—our refinement for His eternal glory and our ultimate joy.

 

10For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. 11You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins 12You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:10-13 NASB

 

Regardless of the chaotic situation you may find yourself in today, there is hope in Jesus’ name! If you are struggling with depression, hopelessness, a lack of purpose or finding it hard to find the joy that you once received—rest. Although you may not be able to see through the think polish that coats your present reality, ask the Lord to give you perspective on how to praise Him through the difficulty—with the knowledge that He is using this present hardship to further refine your heart and character to more truly reflect His glory.

 

30I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving. 31And it will please the LORD better than an ox or a young bull with horns and hoofs. 32The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.” Psalm 69:30-32 NASB

 

Let your heart revive. How beautiful to grasp hold of the truth that no matter what has worn your heart down or waged war against your spirit, there is hope in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Just as the shoe is willing to go where the owner walks, so we as Christians, must be willing to walk the mountaintops and valleys where the Lord takes us. Why? Because with each step that we are willing to further surrender our lives to the Maker, the more our likeness will better reflect His and radiate His glory. Despite what we can see, or not see, from our current situations, praise God that there is hope and divine purpose for each day in Jesus’ name!

 

15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 NASB

 

*This article is featured on Wonderfully Made’s Official Blog Site. Click the title in teal below to view.

Walking Leather

 

The Italian Vase “Worth More Than Your Life”: What to do when the darts of deception affect your internal image

A few months back, I stood in line to order some beautiful flowers—imported from Holland. It was a weekend and our children were happily playing with my husband. Thus, I was having a nice time, enjoying the wide array of flowers of every color, fragrance and description—packed into this tiny florist shop. Each bouquet handed to customers before me looked like they had been taken right off the pages of a magazine. Those behind the florist counter were obviously talented at their work. I began to look around to select the flowers I desired within my own bouquet. As I did, my attention was taken to a different place.

The man in front of me was obviously frustrated with the selection of the flowers, the speed in which his order was being completed and the overall quality of the order. As he critiqued each bouquet created, others helped him wheel in a large trolley of black, latched containers. With his suit coat open, he quickly checked his watch again as he shouted at the men guarding the black containers not to let them fall off the trolley.

As he slowly took the vases out of the velvet-lined containers, he shouted at those assembling his order not to hurt the vases. Each vase that he brought into the tiny florist shop looked to be a genuine piece of art. It was apparent that these arrangements were going to an elaborate event. Whatever the occasion, each component was obviously top-of-the-line!

The man before me sighed repeatedly as he watched the assembly of each decadent bouquet and posh arrangements come to life before his eyes. Precise care and acute attention to each bouquet was undeniable from this gentleman. I was intrigued.

These vases were exquisite to be sure. Each work of art was etched with various patterns and astounding detail. I could not help but notice the beauty of these vases as the ordered arrangements were now being reassembled within the stunning glassware.

I looked at the man in a formal suit and said with a smile, “What beautiful vases they are.”

In near disgust, the man turned around slowly and looked me in the eyes before preceded to scale my body with his eyes. With a smirk and tilt of his head, the man quickly replied, “They are from Italy. They are worth more than your life.”

The man’s order was finished in that moment and he impatiently directed the employees of the shop in how to transfer the vases to the waiting transport outside.

As the man left, pushing past all others to get out of the shop and continuing to direct with great impatience, I was completely shocked and very hurt.

I selected the flowers from my own bouquet and tried to shake off what had been said by the complete stranger. Yet, as the breath taking bouquet was handed to me, I was still wearing the negative comments of a man I had never before seen in my entire life.

12So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15 (NASB)

We are to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love and the peace of Christ—not the comments of others. The Bible assures us that ALL will pass away—including harsh or unfounded criticism—but that the Word of God will stand forever (Ps. 119:89, Is. 51:6, Mt. 24:35, Mk. 13:31 & Lk. 21:33).

Just because someone says something about you it does not mean that it is truth. Possibly far from it!

Ladies, may we be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). May we be a generation of young women who KNOW what the Bible says FOR OURSELVES…and walk in the beautiful and powerful truths there within!

Ladies, Jesus Christ showed your worth, my worth, and each person on this earth’s worth—as He went to the Cross of Calvary (also called Golgotha) and paid for the rude, nasty and deceptive things that each and every single one of us commits in our lives (Romans 5:8). Praise God that through His victorious resurrection from the grave on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), each soul drawing a breath within the story of humanity has one glaring word that can describe them. What is that word, you ask? Priceless.

Regardless of what Hollywood may try to create as the next idea of romance, or what the media may highlight as courageous stories for us to champion as a culture—the fact remains the same—the ultimate story of unabashed romance and unwavering courage is told through the Gospel of Jesus Christ within the Holy Bible.

Praise God for His zealous love for the very essence of who we are and the ultimate price that He was willing to pay to ransom all of humanity from a just punishment for our actions.

5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NASB)

Ladies, take this to heart—regardless of what infomercials, pop-up adds or even those within your circles of friends tout—hold fast to the fact that it is not flawless make-up, a chiseled body, personal zip code or bank account that defines your worth. Praise God that your worth has already been declared priceless by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.

Ladies, if you have not given the ultimate gentleman and lover of soul the opportunity to speak to you directly and share what He thinks of you—I encourage you to do so now! Take this very moment to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. Entrusting your eternal destiny, your future and the acknowledgment of your worth into the hands of the Author of Creation. God does not make mistakes! He has designed you, in your very essence, to desire to hear that you are beautiful and have worth. And ladies, read the Holy Bible for yourself—you do.

*This article is featured on Wonderfully Made’s Official Blog Site. Click the title in teal below to view.

Italian Vase: “Worth More Than Your Life”