What happened the day I doubted…

My college BFF and I were driving home from our other BFF’s wedding in my bright red ’99 Volkswagen beetle, reminiscing about the special weekend we had spent as her bridesmaids and reflecting on our lives in general. It was one of those good long talks that only happen on road trips with the ones you are closest to.  Our conversation got pretty deep, and we started talking about God.  This was nothing new for us, we both loved Jesus, studied our bibles together, and had grown quite crazy about him since our wilder younger days. But we got into some pretty deep theological discussion this time, and all of the sudden, it hit me.

A dark, heavy feeling of DOUBT.  

I silently prayed about it as I heard her continue to speak what was on her heart.

“Lord, am I really asking myself these questions?  Are you really REAL?  If you are, please show me a sign.”  

The thoughts were threatening to suffocate me if I tried to keep them in.  So I spoke them.

I asked my friend, “But how do we really know for SURE that Jesus is REAL?” 

She very sweetly tried to soothe my anxious heart with her own testimony.  As soon as she finished talking, we neared an intersection.  I looked up at the road sign between the stoplights.  I will never forget what it said:

FAITH.

  I was literally at the intersection of FAITH RD and Highway 52 in Salisbury, NC but spiritually I was at the crossroads of faith and doubt.  I had whispered to him in my heart to show me he was real, and he did.

Does the bible challenge us to have faith even without seeing?  Yes.

But God knows our hearts.  He knows when we are having doubts, and he loves us so much, that we can be honest with him and he will meet us where are in our lack of faith.

He did this for Thomas in John Chapter 20:

27 “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 

  

Thomas must have been one those “touchy feely” people; a hands on learner.  People usually get caught up calling him the “doubter.”

But if we are all honest, hasn’t everyone gone through what Thomas experienced?

Even if you haven’t doubted Jesus’ existence, have you doubted his POWER  in your life?

This is what struck me today as I read this chapter.  Am I believing He’s here, listening to my prayers and actively working on my behalf or not?

Do I need to feel the holes in his hands to remember what he did for me and to know since he died for me, there’s no good thing he would withhold from me?

We would all like to be the disciples who heard and believed.  But sometimes we follow in Thomas’s footsteps, and we just need a sign! (Sometimes, an actual road sign apparently:)

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 

I didn’t actually see Jesus that day.  But I knew he was there.  I knew he had made sure that I was positioned right under the word spelled out that I needed to see when I doubted.  And I know he will do the same for you as well.

Whisper your doubts to him and wait.

I’ve never doubted his existence again.

This post correlates with the Alive! Book of John Journey, found here:

https://refocusedbiblestudy.com/2016/02/27/alivebook-of-john-journey-for-march/

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It is finished.

  

When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”

John 19:30

This is the verse I saw all over social media today.  It is our write it out verse of the day as well.

But what did Jesus really mean when he said this, right before he breathed his last breath?

“It is finished” is derived from one Greek word, “teleo,” which means: complete, execute, conclude, discharge (a debt):—accomplish, make an end, expire, fill up, finish, go over, pay, perform. 

“In Jhn 19:30 the word means, “It is finished.” Christ satisfied God’s justice by dying for all to pay for the sins of the elect. These sins can never be punished again since that would violate God’s justice. Sins can only be punished once, either by a substitute or by yourself.” 

More specifically, how do these three words make me live my life differently?

Am I still living with a heaviness of guilt when I should be thanking Jesus that IT IS FINISHED?

This was the question I found myself pondering last night as I rewinded the day in my head.  After I confessed to Jesus my shortcomings of the day,

I still felt heavy.

Sad.

Sinful.

And I heard Jesus say:  IT IS FINISHED.   Trade in your heaviness for light heartedness.  Trade in your sadness for joy.  Trade in your sinfulness for holiness, that I already clothed you in when I called you mine.  Thank me that I took the record with all your sins and I nailed it through my flesh.

“He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14

Thank you Jesus.

This post correlates with the ALIVE! Book of John Journey, found here:

https://refocusedbiblestudy.com/2016/02/27/alivebook-of-john-journey-for-march/

<<<Get ready for Refocused Bible Study’s next series:  SPRING CLEANING for Your Heart and HOME!  You can purchase the book below at Amazon!  The study starts here April 4th! >>>

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Abiding 

It’s one of those “church” words that you don’t understand until you put it to practice. We don’t ever use it, until we talk about Jesus.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Abide-  a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), thine own.

Abiding is staying connected to Jesus.

I taught my daughter about abiding while we were eating grapes one day.

“Jesus is this part,” I said, pointing to the vine.

“We are this part,” as I pointed to the little branches coming off the much thicker, stronger vine.

“And these  are the amazing things that come out of our lives when we stay connected to Jesus,” I said, as I pointed to the grapes.

It stuck. Today, over a year later, as  I told her my verse of the day, she said she remembered and she explained it to me like it was the first time I had heard it!

I love how Jesus taught in parables. He knew one day we would need these concrete illustrations to teach our children. He saw this conversation between my daughter and I, even the very day he spoke it. How wild is that?

Sometimes the best way to stay encouraged to abide is  to look at past fruit he has produced in your life. Things you know were only produced and sustained by staying connected to Him. Things you wanted to quit on. Things you never would have imagined doing if it hadn’t been for his prompting and provision.

My favorite part about abiding is that is replaces

striving. 

You can’t stay connected to Jesus and press on in your own strength at the same time. It’s either his power running through the vine, or you’ve cut yourself off and you are rolling around aimlessly trying to get it done on your own.

So which one are you doing today?

Abiding OR Striving? 

Abide in Life Himself today! 

See fruit in seasons to come.

This post correlates with the Alive! Book of John Journey, found here:

https://refocusedbiblestudy.com/2016/02/27/alivebook-of-john-journey-for-march

<<<Don’t forget to purchase your Spring Cleaning Bible Study for April!  Click on the pic below to go to amazon and check it out, you will love it!!! It starts here on the blog Monday, April 4th!!!>>>

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Reckless in Your Love

 

“In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”‭‭ John‬ ‭12:25 ‭MSG

  

It’s been the Christian fad verse for the past few years- the topic so many top sellers have been based around, – if you love Jesus, loose your life. And by loose it, do something 

Radical.  

Like sell all your possessions and go be a missionary in s third world country.

or

Feed the homeless.

or

Adopt a kid from Africa. (Ahem).

But after you do one of these things, how does it look when you are

Still here? 

God didn’t swoop you up into heaven saying, great work, now you’re done.

But that mission is over, and now it’s just

life as usual. 

How does living this “life of abandon,” reckless in your love  overflowing from the Jesus well within you translate into

Wednesday in North Carolina?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself for a few years now, since I’ve been burdened with the weight of the hungry orphans I’ve held in my arms. They are there, I am here. What am I to do Lord?

The answer he has given me is to shine bright in my home for Jesus, and reach out together, arms linked with my husband and children, loving on the world, one person at a time.

 Decide your life, today, wherever you are, is where you are supposed to be reckless in your love. 

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

 

Jesus did it for us, and it’s that simple.  The way we loose our life like Jesus is calling us to here, is to love others with his life laid down kind of love.  We make it complicated, and sometimes it can be.  Adoption is complicated.  But every circumstance is an opportunity to give up what you dreamed your life would look like today, for the sake of loving the ones Jesus has called you to love.  The people closest to you.  Or sometimes one person halfway around the world.  The secret is his love and guidance, winning out over your selfish desires and dreams.

It’s a day by day, minute by minute process to loose your life, over and over to gain real eternal life.  As we do this, heaven comes down and we experience more and more of the eternal life here.

We are living for something greater, for a kingdom that is forever, for a legacy that will not fade.  

Walk with Life Himself and love recklessly right where you are today.

This post coincides with the Alive! Book of John Journey, which can be found below:

https://refocusedbiblestudy.com/2016/02/27/alivebook-of-john-journey-for-march/

 

 

Blind-Sighted

   

“This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” John 9:3

We all have it.  That one thorn in our side, that one impossible character flaw, that one health issue that threatens to steal our joy.  And we have probably all asked God the question:

WHY?

Why do I have to deal with this?  My life would be so much easier if God would just heal it, take away the struggle, change me.  We pray and plead and believe.

And sometimes he decides to heal us.

“6Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!” John 9:6-7

But other times, in his sovereign goodness, he decides to withhold the healing, to let us keep the weakness, the struggle.  He did this when Paul pleaded with him to take away  his struggle.  But, he also gave Paul a reason why he decided not to heal him.  It is the same reason, the same purpose of our struggles today.

WHY?

“”8Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.””  2 Corinthians 12:8-10

So that the power of God can be seen through you.  If life was always easy peasy, would we need his power?  No, instead we would be self-sufficent and bee bop through our days in our own strength and energy.

When we let Jesus meet us in our weaknesses, our blindness, our short-sightedness, he shows up, and he shows off.  He shows that he is powerful.  He shows that we can rely on him.  He shows that he is merciful when we fail him.  But most importantly, he shows you and others the power of a very alive and helpful God.

Rely on him and you will be falling at his feet saying what the blind man said in John chapter 9:

“Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus. John 9:38

Walk with Life Himself today!

I made a very short video out in the sunshine today to go with chapter 9 below:

More Jesus.


Yesterday I took a break from the world.  Well, social media at least.  And this morning I have a confession to make:

It was AMAZING!

My heart feels so free and light after taking the whole day away to seek Jesus with every free second that I had.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have the day off from the daily grind.  I still homeschooled my kids, trained for my triathlon, did housework, dinner, the whole sha-bang. But the whole time, I was conversing with Him.  I was grabbing my scripture cards and reading one verse at a time instead of picking up my phone for a quick check.

I even got AHEAD on my bible reading plan.  (I listened to John chapter 7 from my bible app while I put clean sheets on our bed.)

Jesus was at the Festival of Shelters, and at the climax, the point in the festival where everyone was hyped up and excited and ready to hear the most important word of the entire festival, on the last day, Jesus stood up in front of the crowd and said this:

 

“If you believe in me, come and drink!  For the scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.”  John 7:38

Drink- to receive into the soul what serves to refresh and strengthen, nourish it into LIFE eternal.

What are you drinking today?  Are you taking in your recommended eight glasses of water a day, but failing to quench the thirst in your soul that can be nourished by Christ alone?

I know many days I am guilty of this.  I will drink in lots of mindless “water” that is not replenishing me in my soul. What is crazy about this, is that if you are a believer in Christ, the living water is right there, inside of you. You don’t have to go anywhere.  Jesus is so good, that he gave us his Holy Spirit to be that perpetual spring inside of us that will never run dry.

Are you thirsty?

More Jesus, less ______________________.

More prayer, less_____________________.

More scripture, less____________________.

Fill in the blank.

Here were mine:

More Jesus, less me.

More prayer, less writing.

More scripture, less phone.

Take the Living Water challenge after you fill in the blanks for ONE DAY.  Just one day.  I promise you will feel so replenished that you will not want to go back!

Walk with Life Himself today!

This post correlates with the ALIVE! Book of John Journey, found here:

https://refocusedbiblestudy.com/2016/02/27/alivebook-of-john-journey-for-march/

Life-Giving Words, Beautiful Gardens

I have never planted flower bulbs in the fall that push through the ground with budding brilliance in the spring.

But I know the drill. The school kids have come by with their fundraiser sheets to purchase the bulbs and I always kindly reply, “Sorry, I don’t garden.” (I can’t even keep a cactus alive). But to be honest, I don’t have the good patience to spend the money and do the work to have to wait until the spring to see the flowers.

I was reminded of this when I read about the Life-giving power of our God in John 5 today:


The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son.” John 5:26

In the amplified bible the phrase “self-existent” is added. How amazing to think about the self-sustaining power of God!
‭‭

The Father freely gave that same life-giving power to Jesus, and then he freely gave the same life-giving power to us, who believe in Him.

My question to you today is:

Are you passing on this life giving power to anyone else? 

Are you speaking the life-giving words of truth to the people closest to you? Those in your own home?

Sometimes at home is where speaking kind, loving, life-giving, graceful words is the hardest. These people we love the most can receive the most life-killing words from us if we aren’t careful. Because we are our real selves at home, the daily frustrations can make life-giving words hard to find.

But these are the people who need to hear them from us the most.

The Lord has convicted me lately about the way I correct my kids.  Jesus brought life-giving conviction, pointing them to himself as the way to eternal life.  This is the kind of correction and judgement I want to speak into my kids’ lives.

I want to correct my kids in a way that points them to life-giving repentance and dependence on Life Himself.  I don’t want them to stay siting in a puddle of sin.  I want them to rise up out of the mud and take hold of the Life-giver.

I want to plant life-giving  seeds of truth in their hearts that will create a beautiful garden of eternal worth later.  

“God sees you and loves you right now.”

“I forgive you, let’s try again.” 

“I have to give you a consequence because I love you.”

<<<And we all know what life-giving words can do in our marriages.  They can move you closer together or farther apart from each other.  >>>>>

For your husband:

“Thank you.” (seed planted)

“I’m sorry.”  (seed watered)

“You are right.”  Ouch, that one hurts sometimes, right?! (seed fertilized)

“You are the best husband ever.”  (sunshine on the seed)

All these words add up to a robust, vibrant garden of new life in the spring time.

I explained it to my girls like this when I heard them arguing in  the backseat on the way home today:

“Girls, you are just tearing up each other’s gardens instead of planting beautiful flowers for each other.  Let’s talk nice.”

Let’s ask the Life Giver to gives us the words to build beautiful gardens for each other, one word at a time.  🙂

If you missed the Alive! Book of John Plan, you can find it here:

https://refocusedbiblestudy.com/2016/02/27/alivebook-of-john-journey-for-march/

My Alive Journal Page: