The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes Away {Linkup}

Today’s post appeared originally back in January. The theme is top of mind lately as I ponder the cost of following Jesus and what He’s given me in return.

Jesus’ blessings come with both plus and minus signs and sometimes feel nothing like blessings at all.

BUT in the words of the brilliant song by Rend Collective Experiment, “The Cost”:

I do not need safety
As much as I need You
You’re dangerous
But Lord You’re beautiful

I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it.

I invite you to link up at the end with your God-honoring posts.

job-bible

“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” (1 John 5:21)

When I became a believer, I began to see how God was stripping away the things in my life that would keep me from Him.

A divorce had preceded my conversion to Christianity:  I lost my husband.

In that divorce I also lost my large, expensive home. I lost my livelihood because I worked for my husband’s company. I lost time with my children in the custody agreement.

You could say I lost my identity and found a new identity in Christ.

That extra time God gave me I spent healing from an alcohol addiction – something else God took from me. At the same time, I chose a celibate lifestyle: adulterous sex something else He took from me.

During the times I was unable to get out of bed, or see past the present day – not because I was living in the moment, but because the panic would have overwhelmed me – He was there. During the times when it was not mathematically possible to meet the demands of my budget, God’s economy prevailed.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)

I praise God for all the things He took away from me. He gave me in return

Salvation

Purity

Love

Humility

Generosity

A kind and faithful heart

Patience

the peace of God, which transcends all understanding (Phil 4:7)

Has the Lord taken something away from you that brought you closer to Him?

Have you willingly given something up so you would draw closer to God?

Would you be willing to give up something that takes God’s place in your heart?

It could be

1. Your job.

2.  Your volunteer activities.

3. Television.

4. Secular books and magazines.

5. Toxic relationships.

{Linking with these lovely blogs}


When your Christian walk is lonely

Sometimes the Lord leads to something so perfect, it simply must be shared. Here is an excerpt from A.W. Tozer’s The Loneliness of the Christian Walk. May it bring you comfort when your Christian walk is lonely.

lonely-Christian-walk

The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone.

The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.

The man [or woman] who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens.

He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else.”

(Source)

Praise God for drawing us ever closer to Him.

5 idols Jesus strips away

Sometimes God’s blessings don’t look like blessings. “Take up your cross daily and follow me,” Jesus said. A cross is an instrument of torture, a device of death. Be crucified with Christ, Paul warned. He must increase while I decrease.

jesus-strips-away-idolsProsperity preachers count up blessings in worldly ways. You, however, know the truth, that God’s greatest blessings come with a minus sign. He takes away the sin of the world. He takes away the darkness of your heart. That’s the easy part.

Now the hard part.

He takes away idols that take up so much space in our hearts, minds, and souls, that they crowd Him out. Idols that the world equates with success and even love. God’s Word is upside down from the world’s gospel and some of those idols have to go.

1. Family

Many people who become Christian are abandoned by their families. Losing your earthly family sounds horrible from a worldly perspective. However, “family” in the worldly sense is one of the most difficult idols to overcome.

Christians, especially, can be overwhelmed with thoughts about their own exclusive family meals, celebrations and vacations. You, new Christian, are free from that idol, free to wholly surrender yourself to God.

So, the first blessing with a minus sign can be loss of family.

2. House

You have saved all your adult life for your dream home. You’re proud of your castle, of raising your kids in the best neighborhood where each one has his own room, with a play area and acreage to boot. Your home is a reflection of who you are, how far you have come, how hard you have worked.

The Holy Spirit moves you to leave and take up residence in a small apartment, just large enough for the three of you. You each have a bedroom, except one is a den and the bed barely fits. Do you obey? Or do you ask “Did God really say…?”

Your house is the second idol to fall.

3. Job

Your job is prestigious, a good use of your expensive education. If people at work knew you were a Christian you might be fired or at least left out of the water cooler conversation.

So, you laugh when people curse and make off-color jokes. You heard preaching the gospel required no words so you hope your clean living will be a godly example. Rather than exalting Him you end up exalting yourself – everyone thinks you’re such a “nice guy”.

In obedience, you quit your job without a new one in place. You spend the time with God instead and He pays the bills…somehow. You have never been closer to the Lord nor experienced His glory in such dramatic fashion.

Your job is the third idol He removes.

4. Vanity

Looks used to be everything to you – both in yourself and others. You came to know the Lord and as soon as you read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, you changed. Those hours you spent primping and priming are now spent in God’s word. You see beauty in your own natural state, beauty that escaped your unsaved eyes.

Rather than envy, you experience genuine pity for the perfectly made-up woman you pass on the street. You know from experience the inverse relationship between the outside of a woman and her inside. As Jesus cleaned up your heart, pride in your appearance dissolved.

Vanity being the fourth idol He takes.

5. Romance

Every girl dreams about her knight in shining armor, the one who will whisk her away, understand all the desires of her heart, and even die for her. You get married and find out your husband doesn’t understand you. Your feelings are often a nuisance to Him. He will not die for you.

Your husband divorces you. You meet Jesus, your true Rescuer. You realize He is the One who already died for you. He loves you and understands you because He has been where you have been. He cares about every detail of your life. He is your bridegroom, your provider and comforter. Here, the true love story begins. You stop praying for Mr. Right and realize He was there all along.

Romance is the fifth idol He destroys.

No family. No house. No job. No looks. No romance. He’s stripped them all away. Now He can really use you. And you are grateful.

Quit judging {Linkup}

It’s Quitting Thursday and today I’ve quit judging what an 80-year-old woman can or can’t do. Watch this! (At 1:37 it gets good.)

Did you cry and laugh at the same time?

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1Samuel 16:7

{Linking with these lovely blogs}

Now, time to share your blogs, please!


6 signs you’re in an anti-Christ cult

Have you ever experienced doubts about your Christian faith?

Hopefully, you’ve felt comfortable confessing those doubts to God in prayer, searching the Bible for answers, or talking to your pastor or other members of your Church family.

As a Christian you’re seeking the truth. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” wrote the apostle Paul. You do, and your children will do the same. You bring them up in a Godly home but it is up to them ultimately if they will accept and place their trust in Him. They must make a faith of their own and develop a personal relationship with their Savior.

church, jesus, what is christianity, christian connection, bible verses

If you’re a member of a Bible-believing church, this might describe your experience. However, less and less people in the first world are attending true Christian churches. The gap is being filled with “cults”, some that preach the name of Jesus Christ but do not adhere to the true gospel. For these, questioning the faith is not allowed because a false doctrine cannot stand up to scrutiny.

With our modern-day tolerance of different forms of spirituality, you may miss the fact that someone you know is involved in a cult. Here are some of the signs:

1. Bible not trusted.

Your church questions the authority and inerrant truth of the Holy Scriptures as contained in the 66 books  of the Old and New Testaments. New revelations outside of the Scriptures are used.

2. Church = God.

The church or its leaders take the place of the savior. You are told your church is the only “true church” and anyone outside of it is going to Hell.

3. Works salvation.

The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is considered insufficient to save you. You must supplement His blood sacrifice with your own works. For example, water baptism saves you. Bringing more people into the Church saves you. Obeying your leader saves you.

4. Denial of holy trinity.

Your church does not adhere to the Trinitarian view of God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

5. Mind control.

Your church uses mind control by keeping you in submission to a “discipler”. Your mentor dictates your daily routine, when you should read the Bible, contacts you constantly, and demands details about your income and private transgressions.

6. Behavior modification.

Your church controls your behavior by separating you from your family, dictating how you should dress, where you may live, or what you can and can’t watch or read. It dominates your time, leaving little room for non-Church activities.

Can you think of any more?

 

Jesus’ finished work on the cross

Today, Womanhood With Purpose is my gracious host. In the weeks since I wrote the post, about Jesus’ finished work on the cross, God has blessed me with an ideal job and warmer weather!

Jesus, God, what is Christianity, Christian connection

One day in early March, after yet another cold weather warning and another lukewarm job interview, I broke. I crawled into bed, curled up in the fetal position, and sobbed my eyes out. I told God I had nothing left to give, shared with Him all my fears and failures, and begged Him to help me survive this awful time.

And you know what? He didn’t need my gratitude. He didn’t need my good cheer or my positive attitude… {read more}

{Linking with these lovely blogs}

Painting beauty with ashes

Joining 5-minute Friday today where we write for five minutes flat on a word prompt. Today’s word is paint.

Go.

A Casting Crowns song: “I’m painting beauty with the ashes, your life is in My hands.

God, Christian, Bible verses, Jesus, Images of Jesus, Pictures of Jesus

Painting by Rachel, 10

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem

so far away.

You’re not alone stop holding on and just be held.”

Just be held.

Forgive yourself as He forgave you. C.S. Lewis says we make ourselves bigger than God when we refuse to forgive ourselves. As though we know better than Him. It’s spiritual arrogance to hold back forgiveness from yourself.

Isaiah 61:3. He takes your broken pieces and makes them into something beautiful. No room for regret when God doesn’t waste a thing. All your tears He keeps in His bottle and He paints beauty with your ashes.

He is the painter, the sculptor and you the art, His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). He, the great redeemer does not look at your past with disgust. He has separated you from your sin as far as the east is from the west. He uses your broken pieces to heal someone else’s. Who else knows what someone else has been through except someone who’s been there? That’s God’s plan.

Stop.

Behold the winter is past! Yes! {Linkup}

It’s Thursday, the day you are cordially invited to link up here with your Christian blog posts. I’ve pledged to quit something every Thursday, could be big or could be small. Today I’m thrilled to say I’m quitting … winter boots. I haven’t left the house without the ugly things since early November, the last time I saw grass.

Winters are real here and the boots aren’t cute. They’re Sorels. The only kind that work.

Finally, the snow is melting and there is more green than white stuff. (Of course, we still have snow in the forecast but it won’t be the kind that stays.) The other day I heard a bird chirping. A bird! Singing! I had forgotten the sound.

In the car this morning we were lamenting the long, harsh winter and how we’re expected to endure it without complaint. No grace whatsoever! My daughter piped up, “Ya, I know I’m Canadian, but I still need a jacket!” Um, okay.

Christian connection

She conspicuously left her boots behind when she went to school today. I took her cue and left without mine, too. And I’m not putting them back on till November.

For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. -Song of Solomon 2:11-12

{Linking with these lovely blogs}


Share your faith: Christian connection

Today I’d like to share with you a few Christian blog posts and videos that spoke to my heart and drew me closer to Jesus.

faithfulfeat

 

Faithful Feat: God Doesn’t Need Me

He created us for His pleasure.

A Graceful Girl: Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Another blogger who struggles with a love-hate relationship with the social media network. Maybe we need a support group?

Renewed Daily: A Pearl of Great Price

The one-minute clip will make you appreciate God’s word more than ever!

Lisa Lewis Koster: Speaking Truth – The Loving Thing

Speaking the truth in love and calling out those who don’t.

Faith It: Freedom from Homosexuality

Dennis Jernigan is the author of some of the world’s best-loved hymns. He also struggled with homosexuality most of his life.

How do we keep unity in the body of Christ?

1. Forgive one another.

We’re human and it’s easy to get offended or upset when someone says the wrong thing or doesn’t seem to understand. Forgive that person immediately. Lack of forgiveness can fester and cause divisions. Be the bigger person if you have to. Be like Jesus.

Christian, Jesus, God, mom, Bible

Image: Keoni Cabral

2. Suffer small differences in theology.

Does it matter if she believes in the gift of tongues and you don’t? Whether baptism is the way to salvation or a symbol thereof? Perhaps these do seem like a big deal to you. Are they big enough to warrant a chasm within the body of Christ? Our unity is an example to the world.

3. Serve joyfully.

John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” The same principle applies for Church. It’s tempting to feel indignant or self-pitying when you’re giving more than you get. But God is not a tempter. Only Satan does that.

(Obviously, you need to have healthy boundaries around serving and do so according to your gifts.)

4. Be Christ-centered.

Rather than self-centered. Overcoming the flesh is the daily struggle of every Christian. When you relate to others through the filter of Christ, there is patience, gentleness, kindness. With the flesh it becomes, “What about me?”

5. Relate to others through Jesus.

Look at others through His eyes. Let the Christ in you meet the Christ in her. If a sister stumbles, help her up. Remember who He came for: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

6. Avoid gossip.

If the issue is not one you can let go, take it directly to the person in question. Talking behind someone’s back only creates division and leads to mistrust among members.

Sometimes (the tongue) praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (James 3:9-10)

What would you add to this list?

{Linking up with these lovely blogs}