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Beauty from the Ashes and Some Wild Goslings

Wild Goslings by Brandy Walker
Wild Goslings by Brandy Walker

Beauty from the ashes.  The prophet Isaiah spoke of this in the Old Testament of the bible, and it still rings true today.  There have been many times in my life when I thought I was done, out, down for the count, or disqualified.  It’s a good thing I am not the sole judge over my life or the potential rumbling and bumbling within my soul.

These last few months have been arduous, frustrating, difficult, and mind-boggling.  At the same time, I have found a beautiful grace that I cannot account for other than it has been the hand of God moving in the midst of a messy life.  Enter writing, loss, meeting BrandyGlows, Wild Goslings, and doing more than I could have thought or imagined.

I want to tell you why I am excited about the upcoming book: Wild Goslings: Engaging with Kids in the Mystery of God.

Read More Goslings news

I am reminded of my “Babylon”

God is fully aware of our condition.  God sends us out as gift-bearers-of-light to a lost and broken world.  Think of Jeremiah 29: 4-7

4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God gives us peace in the storm and we begin to overcome.  God can use the mess of our lives to bring hope lost sheep.  Reach out.  Be a hand, a shoulder, and an embrace to the community you are in right now.  Even if your circumstances don’t change, your life can still speak of Him who came to restore us.  Even if you think God cannot use you, you can.  He loves the broken.  He loves the contrite.  He loves the messed-up.  He, God, loves perfectly and without condition.  And I believe He wants to bless your right where you are in a way you could not imagine.

I am reminded of my “Babylon.” It was several years of toil, troubles, ups-and-downs, breaking, and recovery in a place I just did not want to be.  However, there was not provided any kind of escape route.  Instead, God lead me through the valley.  It was not wasted.  I was stretched.  I grew.  My heart and mind changed.  I become less of the yuck and more of Christ’s love.  There was some dying too, but those things had to die so that God could birth new life.  Still, I am His work in progress, and still can be used by Him.  God isn’t holding our mistakes against us.  He gives us beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3).  He makes beautiful things out of our lives – though we often think it is impossible.  With God, nothing is impossible.  So where are you at today?  What ashes would you like to leave at Christ’s feet?  Are you ready and willing to prosper where you are and let God move through you?  Are you ready to stop casting stones?  Are you ready to put down your judgments?  Are you ready for grace like you’ve never known?  Are you ready to befriend the tired, the weary, the worn, the unlovely, the unbecoming, the broken, the misfit, and the outcast?  These are those to whom Christ came (Luke 19:10; Mark 2:17).  You can be the beautiful message of hope right now, where you are, and to all who are around you.  Extend the hand of fellowship and friendship.

Let today be that day.  God can move in you.  He can restore your life even in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).  He can lead you beside still waters while the storm is raging all around.  God is more than able to care for His children.  God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” as told to us in Ephesians 3.  How can God use your right-now life to draw others near to Him?  Ask Him.  Ask for His Shalom to move in and through you, and see what He will do.  With God, our lives are an adventure. Cling to faith in God.  Trust God to move in your life.  He is faithful, and He is always ever present with us on the journey.  Let God build and strengthen your faith as you live out your life in the hard places.  Shalom is with you.  It means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, and harmony” (Roth, nd).  You may not escape the storm, but you can have Peace in the storm.

Today may your faith grow deeper roots.  Today may your heart be set on the King.  Today may soul say, “yes.”  Today, may today be the day you decide to stand in the gap, seek the peace and prosperity of your community, and be the hands and feet of Jesus – our Shalom and Beautiful Message of Hope.  May today be the day your choose to press in and lean in to what God has for you no matter where you are.  Wherever you are whether working or living, let that be the place where it and you prosper.

Now we are invited to be a part of His kingdom here on the earth.  We are invited to point the way through hurt and pain.  We are invited to be a part of His work as He is the Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer of Streets with Dwellings (Isaiah 58:12).  To think that God wants us to be a part of His work is amazing!  As Paul told the Ephesians, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  We speak of Him and not just in our words but in our actions too.  Consider what Paul told the Corinthians, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life” (2 Cor. 2:12-17).  May today be the day you change your thinking about your circumstances.  May today be the day you see them from God’s perspective.  May today be the day the fragrant goodness of the King pours out on you, in you, and through you.

Think of Christ who left the comfort of heaven and entered our messy, filthy world.  He brought a peace we never had.  He bridged a gap we could not repair.  He reconciled us when it was beyond our power to do so.  He made peace for us in His body on the cross.  This is our Advent.  Christ is our Advent.  God is a Shalom-maker.  Will you be His Shalom in the earth, in your work, in your family, in your community?  There is a vibe, a human pulse longing to be connected in community to its Creator.  You can be God’s heartbeat now.

My reflections from today’s message. @Irving Bible Church.  It was really good!  I encourage you to watch or listen online.

Grace and Peace to you Beloved!

References:

From  NIV at http://www.biblegateway.com

Isaiah 61:3

Luke 19:10

Mark 2:17

Jeremiah 29: 4-7

Isaiah 58:12

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Ephesians 3:20-21

Roth, Andrew. “Meaning of the word shalom.”  The Refiner’s Fire.  Internet. Nd.  http://www.therefinersfire.org/meaning_of_shalom.htm  Accessed December 9, 2012.

I am reminded of my “Babylon”

God is fully aware of our condition.  God sends us out as gift-bearers-of-light to a lost and broken world.  Think of Jeremiah 29: 4-7

4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God gives us peace in the storm and we begin to overcome.  God can use the mess of our lives to bring hope lost sheep.  Reach out.  Be a hand, a shoulder, and an embrace to the community you are in right now.  Even if your circumstances don’t change, your life can still speak of Him who came to restore us.  Even if you think God cannot use you, you can.  He loves the broken.  He loves the contrite.  He loves the messed-up.  He, God, loves perfectly and without condition.  And I believe He wants to bless your right where you are in a way you could not imagine.

I am reminded of my “Babylon.” It was several years of toil, troubles, ups-and-downs, breaking, and recovery in a place I just did not want to be.  However, there was not provided any kind of escape route.  Instead, God lead me through the valley.  It was not wasted.  I was stretched.  I grew.  My heart and mind changed.  I become less of the yuck and more of Christ’s love.  There was some dying too, but those things had to die so that God could birth new life.  Still, I am His work in progress, and still can be used by Him.  God isn’t holding our mistakes against us.  He gives us beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3).  He makes beautiful things out of our lives – though we often think it is impossible.  With God, nothing is impossible.  So where are you at today?  What ashes would you like to leave at Christ’s feet?  Are you ready and willing to prosper where you are and let God move through you?  Are you ready to stop casting stones?  Are you ready to put down your judgments?  Are you ready for grace like you’ve never known?  Are you ready to befriend the tired, the weary, the worn, the unlovely, the unbecoming, the broken, the misfit, and the outcast?  These are those to whom Christ came (Luke 19:10; Mark 2:17).  You can be the beautiful message of hope right now, where you are, and to all who are around you.  Extend the hand of fellowship and friendship.

Let today be that day.  God can move in you.  He can restore your life even in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).  He can lead you beside still waters while the storm is raging all around.  God is more than able to care for His children.  God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” as told to us in Ephesians 3.  How can God use your right-now life to draw others near to Him?  Ask Him.  Ask for His Shalom to move in and through you, and see what He will do.  With God, our lives are an adventure. Cling to faith in God.  Trust God to move in your life.  He is faithful, and He is always ever present with us on the journey.  Let God build and strengthen your faith as you live out your life in the hard places.  Shalom is with you.  It means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, and harmony” (Roth, nd).  You may not escape the storm, but you can have Peace in the storm.

Today may your faith grow deeper roots.  Today may your heart be set on the King.  Today may soul say, “yes.”  Today, may today be the day you decide to stand in the gap, seek the peace and prosperity of your community, and be the hands and feet of Jesus – our Shalom and Beautiful Message of Hope.  May today be the day your choose to press in and lean in to what God has for you no matter where you are.  Wherever you are whether working or living, let that be the place where it and you prosper.

Now we are invited to be a part of His kingdom here on the earth.  We are invited to point the way through hurt and pain.  We are invited to be a part of His work as He is the Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer of Streets with Dwellings (Isaiah 58:12).  To think that God wants us to be a part of His work is amazing!  As Paul told the Ephesians, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  We speak of Him and not just in our words but in our actions too.  Consider what Paul told the Corinthians, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life” (2 Cor. 2:12-17).  May today be the day you change your thinking about your circumstances.  May today be the day you see them from God’s perspective.  May today be the day the fragrant goodness of the King pours out on you, in you, and through you.

Think of Christ who left the comfort of heaven and entered our messy, filthy world.  He brought a peace we never had.  He bridged a gap we could not repair.  He reconciled us when it was beyond our power to do so.  He made peace for us in His body on the cross.  This is our Advent.  Christ is our Advent.  God is a Shalom-maker.  Will you be His Shalom in the earth, in your work, in your family, in your community?  There is a vibe, a human pulse longing to be connected in community to its Creator.  You can be God’s heartbeat now.

My reflections from today’s message. @Irving Bible Church.  It was really good!  I encourage you to watch or listen online.

Grace and Peace to you Beloved!

References:

From  NIV at http://www.biblegateway.com

Isaiah 61:3

Luke 19:10

Mark 2:17

Jeremiah 29: 4-7

Isaiah 58:12

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Ephesians 3:20-21

Roth, Andrew. “Meaning of the word shalom.”  The Refiner’s Fire.  Internet. Nd.  http://www.therefinersfire.org/meaning_of_shalom.htm  Accessed December 9, 2012.

Stop throwing mud. Instead, put on love.

Flabbergasted doesn’t even begin to describe my response to what people have posted on social media in regard to the outcome of the presidential election.  Facebook quickly become FaceEnemy with incidents of verbal attack, intolerance, and other such nonsense.  And it would probably not be a stretch to say that some people defriended their “friends.”  In a way, my heart was deeply troubled — very deeply troubled and saddened.  It ought not to be this way.  Now that we know what ugliness we are capable of and that is in our heart, it’s time take a second look.

Seek God.  Repent.  Move forward.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.  How can our nation be blessed, if the church keeps insisting on judging a hurting world?  Judgment always begins with the house of God.  Lord, have mercy.

Pray, pray, pray for our nation.  Some of you felt that call, inkling, or stirring in your heart – to intercede.  Be faithful.  The book of James chapter 5 says, “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  Let us not grow weary in prayer.  Pray at all times and without ceasing.  Stay connected to the Vine – Christ.  Pray that it might go well for all of us and that the Name of Jesus would be honored among all.  God’s not willing that any should perish but that all should come to the saving knowledge of Jesus.

Stop throwing mud.  Instead, put on love.  It IS what we are called to.  Love God.  Love Others.  Do what God’s word says.  By this, they’ll know we’re saved – not because we beat them into submission or swayed them with fancy words.  Stop throwing your condemnation.  Love does not expose.  It covers.  These are hard things for many of us to hear, but God is calling us higher and deeper.  Wide is the gate, but narrow is the way that leads to life.  You who know Him, remember that your life is not your own.  You belong to Him – a good and holy King – remember that you are His hands and feet on the earth.  God have mercy on us all.  Draw us to deeper repentance.

Enlarge, oh God, our capacity to love.  After all, you loved us by sending your Son Jesus despite our wickedness and sinfulness.  Romans 5 says, “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”  We are all ministers of reconciliation.  Jesus came to reconcile all to the Father.  May there be unity in His church and in His body.

We don’t have to understand what happened.  Isaiah said in chapter 55, “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
 call on him while he is near. 7  Let the wicked forsake their ways
 and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. 9  “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow
 come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11  so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  God is doing something that far exceeds our comprehension.  Let’s pray for His sovereignty to rule.  Let’s pray that God’s people come together in alignment under His Word and Purpose.   Lord, I pray that you give us Your perspective and teach us again how to pray no matter what the circumstances.  Lord, help us to be salt and light.  Burn away anything in us that is not of You Lord.  Let your Light pierce the darkness.  Break up the fallow ground of our hearts that we might be drawn nearer to You.  Help us to remember that it’s not about us.  It’s all about You.  Let our lives speak of you through our actions and our lives.  Forgive us Father for getting in the way of Your Work.  Help us to seek Your ways and not our own.  Be again our Shepherd.  Lead us from glory to glory and to life.  Help us to rely on Your Holy Spirit when we pray.  Thank you God that you love us and that you convict our hearts when we go astray.  Lead us always back to You God.

God is watching.  What now will you do?  You will reap what you have sown.  Let’s sow love, peace, joy, and all the fruit of God’s spirit.  You will be held accountable to a holy God.  You who know Him are His representatives.  May it never be said that we got in the way of the move of God.  Instead may we hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.”