Archive - July 2015

1
Every Generation
2
Coming Home
3
What is the Solution?
4
Receiving My Gift
5
Motive of Conversation
6
Do You Still Love Me?
7
Embracing Our Adoption
8
What is “Normal?”

Every Generation

Ephesians 3:1-6

“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:1-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What stood out to me….                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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Each Spring for the past 5 years, I have had the privilege of serving at the Awaken Women’s Conference held in Cincinnati.  It has become part of my routine during the morning worship session to sit in the balcony, away from anyone else, and pray.

 

During Awaken 2013, I was brought me to my knees as God broke my heart for the generation of women spread out before me.  As I was in a season of seeking a role in student ministries, I was caught off guard by the Father specifically calling out women as a generation in my thoughts.  I was spending so much time guiding the hearts of the “next generation,” and here he was drawing my attention to the peers directly in front on me.

 

The Lord is never just after the next generation; He is pursuing all of us!

 

In Acts 2, Peter is standing in front of a large crowd preaching the Gospel. At the end of his sermon, it says in verse 40,

 

“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

The word generation in this verse doesn’t mean a group of people born in the same time period. In this verse, generation means “people who are alike in pursuits or character.

Peter is warning the crowd to turn from those who seek the riches of this current world and to instead, pursue Jesus.

 

We love God and believe in Jesus, but many of us have settled into following rules and expectations of religion. We have become a generation know by a common characteristic; complacency.

We are not to be people known by being satisfied with what the world has to offer us.

We are called to partner with the Holy Spirit living inside us to be a generation known by our boldness to bring His love and power in the face of corruption.

 

 

For our our generation to begin looking more like the character of God, we have to be women who are pursuing uninterrupted time with Jesus on our own.

 

As we spend time with Jesus, our character begins to reflect the Father’s heart. As who we are shifts to being more like Him, the Holy Spirit is gently revealing ways we can actively start helping others see God’s Kingdom here on Earth.

 

As my grandma would say, “Don’t try to put the cart before the horse.”

 

It all begins with us; “this generation” as individuals beings in pursuit of Jesus. Then maybe we will be known as a group of people who reflect His character.

For Monday, August 3, read Ephesians 3: 7-13

Coming Home

Ephesians 2:17-22

“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:17-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What stood out to me….

Living near Cincinnati, our kids only get to spend time with grandparents five or six times a year. One of those times is in the summer, when the girls head 3.5 hours away to spend half a week with Jason’s family and half with mine.

Last week was “grandparent camp” in Indiana and the kids had the best time; parks, ice cream, museums, mini golf, shopping, and three trips to the movies. When I picked them up full of glee (and exhausted), my oldest said, “I had the best time, but I can’t wait to be in my own bed!”

 

Home brings a tangible amount of comfort.

 

No matter how fun our time away from home is, or the amount of good the work has produced, little can compare to the routine of home and the cool side of the pillow.

 

Today, it seems many of us spend such a little amount of time at home.  We work and spin our wheels until we drag ourselves across the finish line at the end of each day.  When we wake in the morning, we are often left longing for rest before we even put our feet to the floor.

Managing responsibilities and expectations on our own can leave us exhausted to the point we no longer recognize what we need for true rejuvenation.

[“I am home with the Holy Spirit, but there is also still work to do. This side of heaven I can’t get more home then I already am. It’s amazing how this small mental shift has changed the pace of everything in my life. RUSH has become a 4 letter word in our family and I’m not going to do it!

I will no longer allow the enemy to rob me of enjoying this journey. I don’t want to get to the end of my life, look back and see all the things I missed because I was too driven to slow down and take a deep breath. Hurriedness is from the enemy. It has been over glorified for far too long. Being in a hurry does not imply greatness or worth. It does not make me any more important than those who aren’t rushing. – Kristan Dooley” ]

 

Picturing our physical home causes different feelings in each of us.  Many of us anticipate joy, laughter, and love when we walk through the door after a long day.  Still some of us would rather bury ourselves in menial tasks and a list of endless errands to avoid the sadness or dysfunction awaiting us when we turn the key.

 

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At any time of day, no matter where we are, we can take a deep breath, access the Holy Spirit living inside of us, and expect His rest to fill us.

 

This week, instead of forcing ourselves to push through to complete tasks and meet expectations on our own, what would it look like for us to spend 60 seconds out of every 60 minutes and just breathe in His presence?  How might He change our perspective on whatever is in front of us?

 

Rest comes when we settle into the comfort of being exactly where we were meant to be….where we were created to be. Our home is with the Lord. Our home is in the Lord.

For Thursday, July 30, read Ephesians 3:1-6

What is the Solution?

Ephesians 2:11-16

Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

What stood out to me….

Jason and I are creatures of habit and routine.  Each night, around 11 p.m., he walks downstairs and fills our water glasses full.  We brush our teeth, take vitamins, check on each of the kids, and turn on the local news.  Admittedly, we have a routine similar to that of our grandparents.

While it has been fun to watch Cincinnati honored during the MLB All-Star week, the “happy” nights of news are very few and far between.  Jason chooses not to listen to stories involving children; most nights I lay there saying, “What is wrong with people?” There is just so much hatred and such sorrow!

By 11:30 p.m. our lights are out and I am rolled onto my right side, eyes shut, asleep in less than 30 seconds.

I am so overwhelmed by the sadness in the world, I have allowed myself to become numb to it.

We see society falling apart. Many of us serve where we can, when we can.  Our families send money and try to do our part by teaching our own children right from wrong.  We truly want to be a part of the solution, but aren’t exactly sure where to start.   The Spirit stirs our hearts, yet we often remain unmoved.

As believers, we want to see one nation, under God; One people, bringing Heaven here to Earth.

 

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How can one me, or one you, bring healing through Jesus?  How can we unite with others if we have never met them?

In Mark 9, an evil possessed boy is brought to Jesus after years of turmoil; the apostles had not been able to heal him.  Onlookers gawked because the situation seemed beyond remedy.  Jesus commanded the evil Spirit to leave the boy and it was done.  Later, the disciples asked Jesus how He was able to heal the boy of evil.

29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.(NLT)

 

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If we want to change the landscape of our family, our neighborhood, and our society, we need to make our desperation known through prayer and petition to the One with the ability to reclaim His rightful territory.

 

Father, this week may we believe your Word.  You tell us to knock and You will answer; ask and we shall receive.  May I be desperate in my requests to you this week on behalf of those who weep and lavishly thank You for all of Your goodness.  Amen.

 

Kristan is seeking to change too.  I love how on her blog today she encourages us not to only receive Shalom, but to offer it others as well.  “To speak shalom over someone is to speak completeness. It is to bless him or her with all God has to offer.”  Not sure what Shalom is?  Make sure you go read her study of the word and then walk forward in Shalom today.

For Monday, July 27, read Ephesians 2:17-23

Receiving My Gift

 There have  been plenty of days we sit at home bored because the baby needs to nap and I have been a referee to more than my fair share of girls bickering.

However, this has been my best summer with the kids.

As I’m learning to accept more of His grace freely, I’m able to give grace more easily.

 Let’s face it.  With school and chaotic schedules beginning in just three weeks, there will be more grace required for all of us.

Ephesians 2:1-10

By Grace Through Faith

2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

What stood out to me…..

For the 6th birthday of one of my girls, I bought a hot pink sleeping bag, had it embroidered with her name in neon green, and wrapped it up with a nice bow.  I was so excited to give it to her!

The look of disgust I received after she opened it……well, it made me realize why after Christmas there are parents who sell their kid’s entire lot of gifts on eBay.

My daughter had wanted a sewing machine for her birthday (not a toy one, for the record) and I had missed the mark of her expectations.  I spent a lot of time and thought on a special gift meant just for her, and she couldn’t even show a shred of thankfulness!

When our response is one of entitlement, the transaction becomes about compensation rather than gift giving.

 

imageDoes the way I spend my moments today echo my gratitude for the Father’s gift of grace to me?  As I rush through emails, activities, and phone calls, have I taken moments where my posture is of surrender to the Giver of all?

 

Thank you notes can sometimes be as painful as pulling teeth in our house.  While the girls understand the need to do it, they also know mom generally doesn’t accept generic one sentence accolades.  I recently heard myself say something along these lines: “When someone takes the time to think of you, it is important to tell them how they made you feel and why the gift is special to you.  There should be something unique in the note specific to the gift and if you plan to use the gift in a certain way, make sure to mention how.”

Reading Ephesians today, I can hear my own words reflecting back to me.

His grace and the gift of Jesus is special.  He delights to hear how it makes us feel and grace has impacted us.  As we recognize special moments or things from Him, stop and call them out in the moment, thanking Him for seeing our unique qualities.  When He equips us to partner with Him, show our trust by taking steps of participation.

Father, thank you for Jesus.  Help the words on my lips and desires of my heart come from a place of gratitude.  My life is different because you loved me long before you knew me and in the moments I deserve it least.  It is almost more than I can speak because I can not fathom the measure of your love.  Today, I am thankful for the slow start to the morning, laughter with friends, and family to stand in the gap and make memories with my girls.  While I may not understand the “why” of writing for this blog, thank you for giving me the grace to take steps, one post at a time, and reminding me you will be with me in each and every word.

Amen.

For Thursday, July 23, read Ephesians 2:11-16

 

Motive of Conversation

Taking the journey through Ephesians with friends both in person and online has been truly rewarding for me.  I have been kept accountable to listening to the Lord through His word and He has been faithful to encourage me through others.  Today, I love Kristan’s reminder to not be discouraged. “If you fall behind don’t worry. The enemy would like you to believe someone is keeping score somewhere and too many missed days leads to automatic failure. That simply isn’t true. A step forward is a step forward, take as many as you can. Go at your own pace. The blogs are up and they won’t be taken down so if you do fall behind, pick back up right where you left off.”  I’ll second her sentiment!

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

 

What stood out to me…..

More than ever, I am aware of the differences people have; differences in style, looks, skin color, preferences, opinions, etc.  I’m also cognizant of what seems to be a sensitivity by all of us as a society to all of the differences.

My girls should have earned credit hours in sociology for all of the conversations they have endured with their parents about the perception of others and political correctness.  I’m no professor, but I would guess 95% of the serious conversations Jason and I have with the kids, the parents of our generation (and all those previous), didn’t happen.

Honestly, while there are many great things about increased communication from a young age, my motives aren’t always pure when I discuss important issues within my family.  Sometimes, I find myself coaching the words or thoughts of my kids from a fear of embarrassment.  I don’t want them to offend someone who may not be sensitive to the naivety of kids or give our family a name of being unkind.

But, as I let the Lord show me more of who He is through His word, I’m learning He isn’t seeking a behavior modification from us or for those around us.

 

 He is seeking a heart transformation and a renewal of our thinking through the wisdom only He can give.

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We are seeking His Spirit, so we can know Him better.  When we know more of who God is, we can see Him in ourselves and others.

Lord, let us see the delight You have for Your children as we encounter others today.  May the tender grace you offer us for inequities be seen in our treatment of others.  May we not seek kindness for others as a means of a societal rule, but in obedience to Your nature.  By your Spirit, help us to look more like You today than we did yesterday Father. Amen.

 

For Monday, July 20, read Ephesians 2:1-10

Do You Still Love Me?

You know the feeling you get when you meet for dinner with your best friend from high school and your conversation picks up as if there hasn’t been a year between you and a life with responsibilities?  Five hours over a bowl of chips and salsa feels like you’ve only been there for 20 minutes.

Studying Ephesians these last two weeks with Kristan has felt similar to this.  Life has taken us to different locations in ministry in the last year and we are both learning different things.  But the Lord is so good to us to remind us where are friendship becomes the richest; in conversations with and about Him.  It seems about right Kristan and I would be writing about the same type of thing standing out to us, only coming from different perspectives.  I love how today she reminds me “He isn’t finished with me yet.”  I’d love for you to comment below with what you are learning from the person you are walking through this with.

Our reading for today: Ephesians 1: 11-14

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭11-14‬ MSG)

 

What stood out to me….

 

In ancient times, a signet ring would be used to seal a legal document or binding royal order.  The ring itself would have the unique symbol or signature of royalty and there would be a little dot of a wax material dropped onto the document.  The King would take his ring and press it into the wax to show he was personally the one to send it.  It was sealed by the king and only the king himself could reverse the rule.

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The Holy Spirit is the Father’s signet ring.  Because we are sealed with it, there is nothing we can do to negate His promises or unravel His intentions for us.

 

 

My oldest daughter, Ashlyn, is a perfectionist.  When she faces a consequence in our home, she goes through a predictable emotional cycle with Jason and I.  First she tries to skirt responsibility, next she becomes frustrated with us, and finally her pride breaks and she repents.  To get to the repentance, Jason and I often have to use our firm parent voice (and maybe on more than one occasion I have to ask forgiveness from taking it from firm to scream…just keeping it real).

On the flip side, we are often faced with the question, “do you still love me?”

What my sweet 10 year old has still failed to realize is….I get it.  She not only has my semi-wavy hair and thick eyebrows (truth), but she has my fiery spirit and stubbornness.  Sometimes, when she stumbles, I see myself so much in her it hurts my heart.  As she repents, I cheer.  Not because I only need her behavior to change, but as she lets the Lord soften her heart, I am learning too.

It is a win for both of us because I am a part of her.

Yet in my own blunders, in spite of all I learn about the Father from my own parenting journey, I find my heart asking God, “do you still love me?”

When the Father sealed us with the Holy Spirit, He became a part of us.  He carefully corrects us by His Spirit when we need it, yet when we turn from anything not of Him, He is cheering for us. Because He is in us, our win is His win.

Father, my heart is stirred today for those of us who have held a view of Your Spirit as mostly condemning.  In the name of Jesus, help break the myth any of us may have in our hearts of You waiting for us to fail; You don’t hold our inequities over us.  Today, may we embrace Your goodness.  Remind our hearts it is your kindness that leads us to repentance, not your wrath.  You are a good Father who celebrates with us and loves us.  Amen.

 

Reading for Thursday, July 16 will be Ephesians 1: 15-23

Embracing Our Adoption

I am beyond excited to start this journey together through the book of Ephesians.  The idea as we dive into this together is at the end, we will be different.  We are taking small chunks of scripture and spending time in prayer over it, seeking transformation, not simply absorbing information.  If you’ve never tried this before or you need a refresher, check out this description of Lectio Divina.

Ephesians 1:1-1o

Greetings from Paul

1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Spiritual Blessings

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

What stood out to me…

Lucy Pearl

This is the name listed on my mom’s original birth certificate.

In the mid 1950’s, a priest came to my grandparents and told them of two unwanted babies, born as addicts due to the choices of their parents.  Two days later, the family of Jim and Carol doubled in size.

Through adoption, my mom had the promise of a new family lineage, access to the love of her new family, as well all of the legal entitlements of a child, not just for a single day, but for her entire life to come.  She was an heir to the family estate.

Just as my mom had a promised inheritance, we stake claim to the estate of the Kingdom of Jesus.

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Through adulthood my mom searched for love within a biological family who didn’t embrace her.  Multiple times I watched my grandparents mourn her rebellious choices, yet each time she returned she was welcomed back with love.

When we look to job titles, items we own, or the people we surround ourselves with to define our identity, I believe our Heavenly Father grieves.  No matter how many times we put our hope in something other than Him, He never fails to embrace us on our return.

Susan Marie is the name sealed on the birth and death certificate of my mom. She was given a new name through adoption.

We have to choose to walk forward in our adoption daily and remember our identity with every breath. We are loved, accepted, restored, redeemed. We are His.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1‬:‭21-22‬ NIV)

Amen

Reading for Monday, July 13 will be Ephesians 1: 11-14

What is “Normal?”

Grounded for an entire week! At 11 years old, this consequence kept me from a friend’s birthday party and added chores to my weekend list. The crime….there were only 10 cold cans of cola in the refrigerator for my mother, rather than the required dozen.

I can now see this was an abnormal punishment not fitting of the infraction.

As adults, we can look back and analyze the best qualities of those who raised us and the elements we would choose to leave behind.But as children, “normal” is whatever is happening inside the walls of our homes; we think everyone has the same experiences as us.

It would be great to say the cola rule was my mom having a breakdown on a terrible day; we’ve all been there as parents. However, the call to my perfectionism was the norm. Since I thought this was typical in all households, it was easy to assume my friends had similar expectations levied upon them. Nothing less than an A in school, being the best at every position in sports, and keeping everyone happy I was in contact with was the goal in life; no shortcuts and no exceptions. While the voice of my father said “as long as you try your best,” the weight of my mom’s expectations surpassed his efforts.

No matter what I did, I never felt good enough.

Subsequently, as a follower of Jesus, I have struggled to grasp the concept of a loving Father in heaven who loves me “just because”.

 

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The Amplified Bible describes “poor in spirit” as humble or those who rate themselves insignificant. 

I wonder how many others have felt insignificant because the distortion of someone near to us was our normal for far too long.

The world would have us believe it is through striving and having it all together we are considered worthy. Thank goodness the Lord sees everything through a lens considered backward by the world! While on our worst days we may feel minuscule, His word tell us we have the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen!

Today, let’s choose to not believe the deceit of man, both past and present.  Spend some uninterrupted time with your Heavenly Father today and let His word whisper sweet reminders of who He says you are.*

~Angie

Kristan has been one of my best friends for several years now.  We have shared what the Lord is putting on our hearts and encouraged one another to take tough steps He was asking from us. Because our friendship is grounded in our relationship with the Lord, I have experienced more transformation in Him due to our discussions and accountability.
When Kristan asked me if I wanted to blog through the book of Ephesians with her, I was all in.  She and I will be discussing what the Lord is saying to us a week ahead of time, and then we will share on our blogs.  We want you to join us!  Find a friend, set a reminder to check both Kristan’s blog and mine each Monday and Thursday, and let us know what the Lord is saying to you personally and what you might be learning from a friend.  Check out Kristan’s blog here for more information about our reading challenge with Ephesians, and make sure you read up on how to practice hearing God through scriptures through Lectio Divina.

*On Thursday, we will be discussing Ephesians 1:1-10.  Jump in whether you’ve read it 100 times or this is your first time reading scripture.

 

 

 

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