Monthly Archives: September 2015

Mary’s Garden

waiting

The first house Rob and I bought was a cute lil rambler that we fixed up and made our own. We stripped nasty wall paper off for days and painted all the pink walls a latte color. We painted our ugly gray cabinets a crisp white and Rob crafted a beautiful mantel that we placed pictures and candles on. We designed the backyard with parties in mind and built an arbor and stone pathways.  My aunt whose garden at the time should have been in Sunset magazine drove over from Eastern Washington with a car full of starts. We planted hostas and lilies and lavender all from her garden and then they flourished in ours. This was our first garden.

Years later after the birth of our first baby, the house and the garden with which we had greatly loved, now needed to be passed onto a new family as we were going to move into a house we had built. I will never forget meeting the family that fell in love with our first home. They had two boys our son’s age who were twins. And I thought I was busy! Just seeing this woman with double what I had on my hands, gave me great respect for her! The Moore’s had relocated to Bellingham and Mary loved gardening, so they fell in love with the place.

We had sweet memories in that home from unpacking all our wedding gifts to our first Christmas together to baby showers and then bringing Aidan home to his cheery yellow baby room that we had designed for him. But it was time for this new family to make it home sweet home and that they did.

morewaiting

We didn’t know each other well, but our boys were the same age and ended up going to kindergarten together and journeyed all throughout elementary school in the same community. Mary, the mother of those boys taught all our kids. I have never seen someone so involved in the education of not just her boys, but all of our children. I volunteered on occasion, but this woman who had once been a teacher, she was at school nearly every day reading with children, making homework packets, and doing crafty art projects. She invested hours and hours of her life into the kids’ lives. I admired her devotion, values, sacrifice and service and felt grateful to her for how she was blessing my kid and many others.

Just a year and a half ago Mary was diagnosed with an intense form of cancer. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t imagine how her husband was going to hold everything together as amazing as he is. How were the boys going to cope? How was she going to handle not being the amazing involved parent that she was? How would she navigate all the loss and sickness? How would she say goodbye?

I found myself at her house one Sunday afternoon with a group of people working in her yard. I was bent down on my knees in the dirt Rob and I had hauled by wheelbarrow years prior. I was weeding her garden beds and I knew which were weeds and which weren’t. I had helped form and shape the curves of those beds and I knew where the tulip bulbs were and the crocuses. I stood under the arbor and dead headed the climbing purple clematis. We did that day what Mary loved to do but was becoming no longer able.

Mary passed away last week. I think about her. I think about her love for her kids. I think about her love for gardening. When people talk about heaven they talk about it like it’s some cheesy place where everyone follows the rules and wears crowns and walks on streets of gold. Frankly I could give a rip if I ever wear a crown or walk streets made of valuable stone or hang out in a place where everyone looks the part. What I care about deep in my soul is a place that promises spring. It is currently fall and the summer flowers have wilted. The leaves have turned burnt orange and yellow and have fallen. The bulbs now wait underground. But spring is coming. Mary’s garden will bloom this next spring as a reminder to all of us of what is true in the physical realm that is also promised in the spiritual. I love that Jesus’ very life and death and life again were like that of the crocus. Gone to come again, popping up to peek out on some given sunny day. His very self reminds us of the power that God has over the physical realm, Him in whose very presence we hear “spring is a comin’. ”

I wait for spring. I wait for death after life. I wait for her to be reunited with her boys. I wait for healing after sickness. I wait for the light in our days after the endless march of a long dark winter. I wait for the promise of something good after something horrifically awful like cancer. I wait for them. I wait for me. I wait for you. I wait for spring. Heaven is spring unfolded forever where death has no sting and cancer has no hold, where redemption reunites boys with their mamas and the lilies bloom forever.

This fall, I wait for spring.

-Willow

so i wait for spring

Scriptures That Meet Us In Our Stuck Places

Stuck, Hyperfocused on the wrong things to make your life better?  

 

  • Look to the Lord’s strength. Psalm 105:4 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
  • Don’t look to others. Look to the Lord.Psalm 123:2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes lookto the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.
  • Look to the Maker. Isaiah 22:11 You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.
  • Look not to trusting in your multitude but look to the Holy One. Isaiah 31:1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.
  • Look up at the sky. It will remind you who has the power. Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes andlook to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
  • Put all your hope in God even if you have to wait, even the islands do this. Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.
  • Look to the Lord and you will be radiant and without shame. Psalm 34:5 Those who look tohim are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

 

Stuck thinking there is nothing you can do?

 

  • I can throw off things that hinder me. Hebrews 12:1 let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…
  • I can think on these things. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
  • I can work on my self control. Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
  • I can look for the way out when temptation comes. 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
  • I can make every effort to add to my faith these things. 2 Peter 1:5-7 make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
  • I can be alert. 1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
  • I can fend off the pattern to conform and instead make space to be transformed. Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  • I can be still. Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
  • I can make spiritual growth a priority. 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • I can keep first what needs to be first and when its second I can make it first again. Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
  • I can flee. 1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.
  • I can be in charge of the company I keep. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
  • I can build others up with my mouth. Ephesians 4:29  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • I can be walking toward forgiveness. Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

 

Stuck in your past?

 

  • Forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  • Trust God is doing a new thing in me. Isaiah 43:19 Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
  • Remind myself, I am a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
  • I can confess my wrong doings and God makes me clean. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • Remind myself that I can stop rehashing my past because God has forgotten my mistakes. Isaiah 43:25 I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

 

Stuck blaming?

 

  • God knows who did what so I don’t have to tattle tell. Job 31:6 let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless
  • If I have been faithful, I can rest knowing He will be too. Psalm 18:25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless
  • Trust that the Lord will vindicate me. Psalm 26:1 Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led ablameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
  • Let God deliver me rather than trying to let my blame toward others do that. Psalm 26:11 I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me.
  • Want favor and honor? That’s God’s job to handout. Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
  • Be looking for the log in my own eye before I go blaming another for the speck in theirs.Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
  • I can try to restore rather than blame whole keeping watch of my own actions. Galatians 6:1-6 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
  • When I judge others I condemn myself. Romans 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things
  • Blaming helped tell the story of the orginal fall, dont let it tell the story of mine. Genesis 3:12-13 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
  • The Lord will weigh the hearts of those who have disappointed me. Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
  • What another intends for harm, God can use for good. Trust in what He can do in my life despite others. Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
  • Examine myself only- for that is all I can be responsible for. Galatians 6:4-5 Each of you must examine your own actions.

 

Stuck in Negativity?

 

  • Retrain my mind to think on these things, only. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
  • I am invited to walk with the Spirit and when I do, my negativity will be replaced with Spirit minded thoughts which are never negative! Galatians 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
  • Replace negativity with a thankful statement until it becomes my “always”. Ephesians 5:20Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Remind myself that good is coming. That’s a promise. Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
  • See to it that I don’t buy into the world’s philosophies that bring me down. Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
  • Guard my mouth and my life will be preserved. Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
  • Practice soft answers verses harsh words. Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • After warnings, distance myself from divisiveness. Titus 3:10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him
  • Make wholesomeness my goal rather than perverseness. Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
  • Practice pleasant words. Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
  • Do not repeat the story of another’s sin. Proverbs 17:9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends. (Don’t be spreading gossip)
  • When in doubt, keep my lips closed tight. Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
  • I need to keep my heart good and then my negativity will have no place to live. Matthew 12:34-37 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
  • Set my own mind on things that belong to another world. Colossians 3:1-10 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.
  • As I believe, so I will be. So train my mind to believe as I hope to be. Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.

 

Stuck in Comparison?

 

  • True satisfaction will only come from me doing my very best. Galatians 6:4 Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well and won’t need to compare himself with someone else.
  • Know that jealousy breeds personal disorder. James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
  • Do away with envy because it will rot my bones. Proverbs 14:30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
  • Fight to not love the things of this world. 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
  • Stop making people a big deal. Isaiah 2:22 Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?
  • Know that I will actually feel like I have gained when I am merely content with what I have. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
  • When I feel I lack, remind myself who watches over me. My discontentment could be a direct result of not giving God props for looking out for me.  Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
  • Don’t seek to imitate others, but instead, Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
  • Praise God for who He made me to be rather than looking to others wishing I were them. Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

 

Stuck in Someday?

 

  • God wants for me life abundant. John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
  • Know that my days are numbered so putting off the life I desire is not wise. Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
  • Remember that I cannot brag about what tomorrow may look like. I only have today. Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
  • Don’t make excuses saying “let me first do…before I follow you Jesus.”Luke 9:59-62 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
  • I must do the work I have been called to do today. John 9:4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.
  • Don’t put off what I am called to do because I am looking to external circumstances to be perfect. Trust more than that. Ecclesiastes 11:4 He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
  • Don’t give up doing good. Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
  • Bank on the Lord’s will more than my own plan. James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
  • Make the most of every opportunity, every one. Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.

 

Stuck in Impossibilties?

 

  • Small faith moves mountains. Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
  • Things that are impossible for me are not impossible for God. Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • If God can conquer death, what can He not conquer in life? Acts 2:24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
  • Believing in what I cannot see pleases God. Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossibleto please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
  • Everything is possible for the one who believes. Do I believe that?  Mark 9:23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

 

Stuck Spiritually?

 

  • Stay close and remain in Jesus. John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
  • Long for God’s Word. It can grow me. 1 Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation
  • Live in God’s word, sit under wise teaching, be open to correction from spiritually wise people and sing songs of thanks. Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
  • Allow others to speak truth in love into my life. Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ
  • Determine and do away with the childish things in my life. 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
  • Press on to becoming mature in my faith. Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
  • See my trials as character building, trusting in what God can do with them. James 1:2-4Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

Stuck not Asking for Help?

 

  • Bother asking. Luke 11:9 Ask and it will be given to you.
  • Know that He is my helper so I can ask for help. Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
  • Allow the Lord to be my strength not my weakness. Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
  • Draw near to God not with insecurity but with bold confidence. Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
  • God hears me when I cry for help. Psalm 107:28-30 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven.
  • Ask God and He will give me what I thirst for, though it might be different drink than what I request. John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
  • The Father is the best gift giver. Luke 11:13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
  • Ask for wisdom and I will get it. James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
  • Cast on God all of my worry and panic. 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
  • Ask Him to forgive and cleanse me and He will. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • Ask more for His will than for mine, trusting His best is my best. 1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

 

Written and collected by Willow Weston for Collide. Found on wecollide.net/resources. Feel free to use for spiritual growth but please do not copy or reproduce without written permission.

Scriptures About God’s Massive Love

God’s love pours out into our hearts…

Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 

God loves us as children…

Ephesians 5:1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children

 

God’s love leads HIs people…

Exodus 15:13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

 

God’s love is shown to thousands of generations…

Exodus 20:6 But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

 

God’s love is abounding…

Exodus 34:6 The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding inlove and faithfulness

 

God’s love is a promise He is faithful to keep forever…

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

 

God’s love is promised to you as a blessing…

Deuteronomy 7:13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

 

God’s love has set his affection on you…

Deuteronomy 10:15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.

 

God’s love turns curses into blessings…

Deuteronomy 23:5 However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.

 

God’s love is a forever love…

1 Kings 10:9 Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.

 

God’s love endures forever…

1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

 

God’s love is unlike anyone else’s love…

2 Chronicles 6:14 He said: “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.

 

God’s love is unfailing…

Psalm 6:4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.

 

God’s love has wonders…

Psalm 17:7 Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.

 

God’s love follows you all of your days…

Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

God’s love remembers me and not the sins of my youth…

Psalm 25:7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your loveremember me, for you, Lord, are good.

 

God’s love sees my affliction and the anguish of my soul…

Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

 

God’s love surrounds those who trust him…

Psalm 32:10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.

 

God’s love reaches to the heavens…

Psalm 36:5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

 

God’s love is a priceless refuge…

Psalm 36:7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

 

God’s love rescues us…

Psalm 44:26 Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.

 

God’s love blots out our transgressions…

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

 

God’s love is better than life…

Psalm 63:3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

 

God’s love answers my need for salvation…

 

Palm 69:13 But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.

 

God’s love turns his mercy toward me…

Psalm 69:16 Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.

 

God’s love delivers me from the depths…

Psalm 86:13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.

 

God’s love stands firm…

Psalm 89:2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

 

God will maintain His love for us…

Psalm 89:28 I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail.

 

God’s love will never betray us…

Psalm 89:33 But I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.

 

God’s love satisfies us…

Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

 

God’s love supports us when we are slipping…

Psalm 94:18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

 

God’s love will be a crown to you…

Psalm 103:4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion

 

God’s love is as high as the heavens are above the earth…

Psalm 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him

 

God’s love lend to his wonderful deeds for mankind…

Psalm 107:8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

 

God’s love fills the earth…

Psalm 119:64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.

 

God’s love comforts…

Psalm 119:76 May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

 

God’s love preserves our lives..

Psalm 119:88 In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

 

God’s love grants you sleep…

Psalm 127:2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.

 

God’s love promises full redemption…

Psalm 130:7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

 

God’s love strikes down kings…

Psalm 136:17 To him who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.

 

God’s love remembers us in our lows…

Psalm 136:23 He remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.

 

God’s love frees us from our enemies…

Psalm 136:24 …and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.

 

God’s love vindicates me…

Psalm 138:8 The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.

 

God’s love silences my enemies…

Psalm 143:12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

 

God’s love is rich…

Psalm 145:8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

 

God’s love watch over us…

Psalm 145:20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

 

God’s love disciplines us…

Proverbs 3:12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

 

God’s love will not be shaken nor removed…

Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

God’s love is everlasting…

Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlastinglove; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

 

God’s love restores…

Jeremiah 33:11 The sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.

 

God’s love keep us from being consumed…

Lamentations 3:22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

 

God’s love pursues those who don’t pursue Him…

Hosea 2:23 I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’

 

God’s love bends down for us…

Hosea 11:4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.

 

God loves freely…

Hosea 14:4 I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.

 

Gods’ love will delight and rejoice over you in singing…

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

 

God’s love is handed to his enemies…

Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

 

God’s love looks at you…

Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

 

God’s love led Him to lay down HIs life for us…

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

God’s love is greater than any other love as shown by what He’d do for you…

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

 

God’s love is shown in action in that while we were still stuck he got in our fit so we could get out if it…

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

God’s love cannot be taken away from us…

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

 

God’s love turns us into conquerors…

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

God’s love prepares for us what we cannot even conceive…

1 Corinthians 2:9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him

 

God’s love compels us…

2 Corinthians 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

 

God’s love gave his life for mine…

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

God’s love is wide and long and high and deep…

Ephesians 3:18 …may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ

 

God’s love surpasses knowledge…

Ephesians 3:19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 

God’s love calls us kids…

1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

 

God’s love shows us how to best love…

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

God’s love deems our greatest commandment…

1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to loveone another as he commanded us.

 

God’s love is the source of all love…

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

 

God’s love came before ours…

1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 

God’s love is made complete living in us…

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

 

God’s love comes without fear…

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 

God’s love sources ours…

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

He Giveth More Grace

Merciful

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

He Giveth More Grace (hymn by Annie Flint)

He giveth more grace when our burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;

To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials His multiplies peace.

 

Chorus

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,

His power has no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,

Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Beatitudes

Blessed Are The

The Beatitudes are found in both the Old and New Testament. The word blessed comes from the the Latin word beatitudo. Read the blessings and soak them in!

  • Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:12
  • Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.Psalm 41:1
  • Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. Psalm 65:4
  • Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Psalm 84:4
  • Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5
  • Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. Psalm 89:15
  • Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right. Psalm 106:3
  • Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Psalm 112:1
  • Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.Psalm 119:1
  • Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— Psalm 119:2
  • Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. Psalm 128:1
  • Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.Psalm 146:5
  • Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding… Proverbs 3:13
  • “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Proverbs 8:32
  • Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.Proverbs 8:34
  • The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. Proverbs 20:7
  • Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18
  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
  • “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11
  • But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matthew 13:16
  • Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:17
  • In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! Luke 1:42
  • Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
  • Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Luke 6:21
  • Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Luke 6:22
  • Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. Luke 10:23
  • For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Luke 23:29
  • Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
  • Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Romans 4:7
  • Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Revelation 1:3
  • Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Revelation 14:13
  • Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:9
  • Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14

Researched by Willow Weston for Collide. Found on wecollide.net .

10 Ways We Can Get Stuck

Stuck : Caught or held in a position so you cannot move.

half of getting unstuck

We get stuck hyperfocused on the one thing that will make us better. You know you do this if you find yourself saying…My only way out is…. OR If _________ doesn’t happen then I am out of luck…OR..I have to get this or it’s hopeless. The trouble with this kind of thinking is that we are so focused on one thing that we miss The One thing. When we do this we limit what we can do and what God can do to help get us unstuck.

We get stuck thinking there is nothing I can do. We often think about everything we can’t do, rather than everything we can. This is what started all the problems in the first place, right? In the garden Adam and Eve were given this great space to frolick and play, a paradise, and rather than looking at everything they could do, they only saw what they couldn’t do. That one tree. We can’t partake of that one tree. Looking at what we can do rather than what we can’t do keeps our lives out of the rut. But instead we think about all the ways we are powerless and have no control.

We get stuck in the past. We make choices based on what we have experienced so our past determines our present. We haven’t had success, so we will never have success. It never works out, so it will never work out. I always get hurt, so I will get hurt everytime. This is learned helplessness to the nth degree.

We get stuck blaming others. It’s everyone else’s fault I am still doing this. Its their fault for being losers. They are flakes. They never show up. What choice do I have, but to sit here and be disappointed by the people in my life? A lot of times it is easier to blame others than it is to blame who really holds responsibility.

We get stuck in our own negativity. We can’t seem to stop thinking about all the ways life sucks, how everything is going wrong and how nothing is going right. Nobody likes me – everybody hates me- think I’ll go eat some worms.

We get stuck comparing and that lands us in a major pity party. We feel so sorry for ourselves because we never get what everyone else seems to. We always lose out. We always get the short end of the stick. We always have bad luck. So we get stuck listening to emo music and journaling about how sorry our lives are compared to  other people.

We get stuck in the someday. Someday I will try hard. Someday I will quit. Someday I’ll get better. Someday, we will live.

We get stuck in the impossible. We get stuck not seeing past our current circumstance. We high center on what is, rather than what could be. We get stuck believing “This is my life. Nothing will ever change.” We often see only impossibilities rather than possibilities.

We get stuck spiritually – thinking God won’t do anything about this, He hasn’t yet. What good is He? Where has he been? We get stuck saying “I will try these options first then if all else fails, I will turn to God.” We get stuck thinking “You aren’t for me Jesus” or “I can’t let you in God, you’ll change everything”.

We get stuck needing help and never asking. Instead of utilizing the help standing in front of is, we remain silent and quiet hoping someone will help, but ever ask of God or others.

This is not an exhaustive list of the many ways we get stuck. But it is enough to get you thinking and hopefully prompt you to ask of the Lord how you might be stuck and what is keeping you there. Say yes to God’s invitation to get unstuck, doing your part and then allow Him to do what you cannot.  He is a God who desires for us to be unstuck, freed up and fully alive! If any of these describe you, allow Jesus to meet you right where you find yourself.

read some collisions where Jesus runs into people who are stuck and how He frees them…

Mutterers

why-do-you-mutter

When Jesus collided with lost, hurting, irreligious people, He also often collided with religious mutterers.  Here are a few examples of those collisions and how Jesus responds to mutterers.

Mutterers don’t expect Jesus to hang with gluttons, drunks and cheats.

Luke 19:7 (collision with Zacchaeus) When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone 1to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
Luke 7:34 (collision when asked by John the Baptist’s disciples are you the one who is to come?)Jesus said: “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

Mutterers miss out on the power Jesus has because they question his authority and interaction with sin and sinners.

Luke 5:21 (collision where Jesus forgave his sins and healed a paralyzed man) The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”

Mutterers don’t like that Jesus lets sinful people touch and bless him.
Luke 7:39 (collision with sinful woman anointing Jesus) Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

Mutterers forget who Jesus came for.
Luke 5: 29-32 (collision with Levi)
And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.” “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

The great challenge is to read these collisions in full and be changed by who Jesus is and his love for sinners, tax collectors, cheats, gangbangers, prostitutes, addicts, gamblers and sick people. He did in fact, come for them.

How Do I Hear God’s Voice?

How do I hear God’s voice? What if He doesn’t communicate with me at all? What if He only talks to certain people? What if I’ve blown it and He won’t talk to me because of something I’ve done… or didn’t do? These are all excellent questions…and there are answers.

These are a few of the ways to learn how to hear God’s voice:

1. Discover who you are. This is applicable, I promise. It’s spiritual research. You can tell your boss, your pastor or your spouse I said so. (I recommend some resources for discovering these things specifically below.*) How do you receive love? How do you connect with others? What communication style is your favorite? How do you learn? What are your personality’s preferences?  Do you know, do you really understand, that all of those amazing details about yourself are how God will communicate with you? I wish I could sing that at the top of my lungs so that you really hear this: God made you in specific ways to connect you with Himself! They are not the same as the ways that the person next to you hears from Him. Some of you were here a couple Collides ago when I shared about how differently my husband prays and hears from God than I do. Comparing ourselves to each other was a mess!

Each of us are so unique. Needing to process out loud with trusted friends, seeing truth through the metaphors of beauty, reading quietly. Learning through teaching others, learning visually, being auditory. These are all ways we are created on purpose. And that purpose is to know God. Our most important reason for living is friendship with God. He wants to talk to you more than you even want to hear Him. It’s the whole reason He created you. He longed to talk with you before you were even born.

I am an INFP on the Meyers Briggs personality test. I need lots of quiet alone time to process whatever I am learning. I love gifts (yay for presents!) and I need unhurried, quality time with people who are close to me; that’s how I give and receive love with those around me. I often hear from God through movies, books and walks in nature because I am so visual. I journal with mixed media regularly. It has taken me decades to know that these are some of my ways of hearing from Him. If you know me in real life you know I often have a recent story of Jesus giving me a gift in a consignment store – we have dates there a lot. Don’t laugh. It’s serious, spiritual business to go thrifting! : ) I write regularly online about connecting with Jesus (www.TheOffenseOfJoy.com)  and I wrote there about an amazing gift He gave me one day while in a thrift store. (The link if you want to read that story is here: http://theoffenseofjoy.com/2014/07/24/the-ring/) I now know to watch for those little things. He loves to give me gifts because He made me that way specifically.

How does your personality connect best with people? That will be how you are made to connect with God.

2. Tuck in tight with someone who is contagious.  Who do you know that loves Jesus in a way that makes hanging out with God seem like a delight and not a groan-worthy, cliché’ of pressure? Who do you know who has a relationship with God like one you would most like to have yourself? Ask them out for a meal. Ask them questions. Ask if you can bring them dinner so you can ask them things when you do. (I’ve done that myself!) Pursue them and ask if they can help you. Do you know that researchers say they can predict what you will be like in five years by observing who you hang out with the most? You will be influenced by who you surround yourself with whether you want to be or not – you might as well capitalize on this by being intentional! Community and people who do life and church as beautifully interactive with God are a pivotal way of learning this.

I have friends who are this for me. I go for walks with these people, I set up long-distant phone dates with them, I listen to the way they talk about God and what He means to them, and I ask them to pray with me. You can tell so much about some one’s affection for Jesus and His voice by how they pray, have you ever noticed that? I used to pray with an older lady I loved and admired and I told her it was because I wanted her to teach me about prayer. I have to confess, though, that was only partially true. I really wanted to listen to her pray. She talked to God in a way that made me jealous – in all the right ways. It stirred up a longing for me. Who do you know that could influence you in that same way?

Who around you loves Jesus in a way that makes you homesick for God? Or curious about Him? What do you learn from them? If you need someone like that in your life ask a Collide team member today to help you. They would LOVE to make that happen for you.

3. What makes you all twinkly? What makes you come alive and is your favorite enjoyment? Did you know that what you love to do is what God made you to do with Him? Now there are seasons where we sometimes lay these things aside in our day-to-day lives. (See seasons of: diaper changing, raising toddlers, or jobs we all have to do to provide for our basic needs. I know you know what I mean by this!) But as a general rule you probably also know several things you love to do so much they make you act like those people who are falling in love and get all gushy about the sky being so pretty and blue. DO THAT THING YOU LOVE.

Find a way to take that thing you were made to love and do it with God. You’ll be amazed at what that teaches you about God if you do it with your eyes on Him. My husband has something he loves to do that makes Him come alive and feel deeply fulfilled. He spends fifteen minutes every morning doing this while talking to Jesus. We don’t earn our income off of it, it’s not super time-consuming, but the light goes out in him when he doesn’t do it. It’s a small thing commitment-wise, but it’s a big deal because He connects to God every day that He does this.

For my daughter this is dancing in the back yard or playing piano, for my son this is dreaming up stories and writing them or drawing out the details that how with them, for my husband this is also coming up with new ideas that will change the world for others who don’t have a voice. For me it’s writing, and telling other people how lovely they are. There are few times God feels nearer to me than when I am listening to all the things He likes about somebody else and I get to tell that to them.

We have talked as a family about how we can be intentional about doing those things with God. For my daughter that means practicing being aware of God when she is playing music, she tries to sink into her skin and not rush through it. For my son we talk a lot about guarding his imagination because it’s the playground of God inside of him; so he has had to learn to protect his imagination like his life depends on it. Because who he is made to be does! That is where he connects with God.

What do you do that makes you feel the most alive in your skin? Could you try doing that this week with God?

4. Spiritual Instagramming. I take pictures of God’s gifts around me. (I love to do it that way because, like I mentioned, I’m visual.) Keeping a record of ways God has loved me is also a record of ways He has talked to me, ways that I might not even know about until I look back and see them.

I use instagram to take those pictures, some mornings I text myself a typed list of ways God loved me yesterday. Or I write lists in a journals of His gifts and kindness to me. I keep records in a variety of places and ways (and encourage my children to, too) but always, always, always when I look back on them I am reminded of how loved I am and how God pursues me.

Do you collect all the instances God has shown His fondness for you? Do you have a journal? I so encourage you to because it is so amazing to see and it helps us notice His communication to us. Even if it’s things you aren’t even sure were Him communicating with you, when you look back in the months ahead His little ways of reaching out to us only become more beautiful and more apparent.

James says in the Bible that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” So if something happened to you that was good: a yummy tasting treat you discovered, a sunny afternoon, a smile from a stranger in your normally stressful commute? A job offer? Something someone said that really clicked with you? Putting clean sheets on your bed, a chickadee sitting on your front porch singing its little heart out, a book you got to check out from the library that you loved? Every good and perfect gift is from above. Take note of those things. That is God speaking to you that He loves you; that you are worth taking care of, that He is pursuing you and talking to you personally. And that is amazing.

What are some ways you have seen gifts come to you in the last few weeks? Can you see that they are God pursuing and taking care of you?

 

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5. Practice, practice, p…laydates with God. Your next assignment is go talk out loud in public places where it’s really embarrassing! OK, I’m just kidding – you do not have to do that! But I do do that. I talk out loud to God in the car, in bed, in the forest, while I am making dinner at home. (Because I love quality time with my friends.) I pretend He is sitting right next to me until I remember that He actually is. The Psalms say there is nowhere we can get away from God’s presence, Paul teaches us in Romans about how the same exact same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us (if we’ve invited Him to) and the writer of Hebrews says He is the same yesterday, today and forever and that He will never leave us or forsake us. That makes Him very present with you.

So that chair I pretend He is sitting on next to me? He’s actually even closer than that – and He is with me no matter what mood I am in. (This is why it’s called Good News, friends. God still talks to us even when we are dealing with hormones! Our own, or that teenager’s we live near!) I’m His favorite no matter what state I’m in and so are you.

How do you best communicate with others? Over intimate coffee dates? Do you prefer crowds and loud music and concerts for hanging out? Do you write letters in the privacy of your own room to people you care about? Do you compose poetry for them? Draw sketches about how you see them? Do you write them stories? How you reach out to others to talk and connect with them, to tell them who you are? That is how you need to be reaching out to connect with Jesus. Practice that same way of communicating with Him. Have dates with God. I really mean that. Spend time doing things you love together.

Practice your awareness of Him always being with you and talk with Him. And don’t be afraid of what may come out. I have cried at Him in the car when He has really hurt my feelings. I have turned my back on Him in bed when He’s made me so angry I could spit. I have wept in the lake drowning in amazement and joy when He told me things so loving about myself it embarrassed me. Talk to Him, Talk to Him, talk to Him. He made our emotions and He’s not put off by them. He welcomes our questions and our tears. The Bible says He draws near to those who draw near to Him. (James 4:8, Psalm 145:18) That means the more we are aware of Him, the more we notice His nearness. He’s waiting for us. He adores us.

Every time you think of Him, remind yourself that you make Him grin. Totally and completely just the way you are. And then tell Him something that you like about Him, too. Practice that and do it again and again. It will feel weird at first if you haven’t done this before, but He will speak back to you in your own unique ways of hearing Him.

In the little packet you’ve been given today there is a treat, a little journal and pen, a note card and an envelope. Take a few minutes to practice right now. Enjoy that treat while talking with God in your head – you can even close your eyes and savor it while listening to Him. Write some things down in that little journal in answer to the questions here in this hand-out,  write the ways you specifically are made to connect with Him that you see. Or maybe write a note to someone encouraging them – like I told you, that is often when I sense things from God. He loves to encourage us while we reach out with encouragement for others.

If you’d like to you can also use that note card and write a letter from your heart to God.

6. Research is fun when you aren’t getting graded on it!  I invest in my friendship with God just like I do in my marriage and with my close girlfriends, and my children. You ask me what Lionel (my husband) loves and you bet I can tell you. You ask me what He loves most about me and I’ll tell you about the talk we had on a recent Friday night over sushi. Or maybe I won’t, actually (grin), but I do know because I am often observing and listening and researching about the relationships most precious to me. That doesn’t mean I do this perfectly, but my point is we do try to learn more about what matters to us, don’t we? If you want a deeper connection with God and to hear Him communicate with you more frequently, you are invited every day to treat Him like a relationship that you want to know everything you can about.

I have included a book list below of a few books that have shaped and influenced the way I connect to Jesus. None of these books may mean anything to you personally but I offer them for you to use as a jumping off point. (Please, though, remember that because you are unique in how you connect with God you will have your own favorite list as you collect them and that may look totally different from mine.)

What is something about Jesus that you would love to know more about? If you don’t know yet, you have come to the right place. There is a whole team of women here who want to serve you in connecting to Jesus. Ask any Collide staff member here today for help with this if you’d like that.

Some Books For Learning About How God Speaks:

 

  • Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach
  • The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
  • * The Five Languages of Love by Gary D. Chapman
  • * Meyers Briggs, DiSC and other personality tests and books on discovering your learning styles.
  • Glimpses of Grace: Daily Thoughts and Reflections by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Gift of Pain by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey
  • Disappointed With God and Where Is God When It Hurts by Philip Yancey
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  • Daring Greatly by Brene’ Brown (Shame is a great inhibitor to hearing God’s voice, which is why I include this one.)
  • One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
  • Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
  • Is That Really You, God? and Daring to Live on the Edge by Janice Rogers and Loren Cunningham
  • The Bible  – Pick one book in the Bible you are actually drawn to and dive into it for fun and meet God in new ways – research YouTube videos on it, read blog posts about it, find books about it that you can borrow, buy or beg off friends to study it, find someone who loves that part of the Bible and take them out for a meal and ask them why. How do they hear God speaking in it?

This originally appeared on www.TheOffenseOfJoy.com by Misha Thompson. Please do not copy or reproduce without written permission.

No Greater Love

There is no greater love than the One who removes distance. 

Scripture reminds us of this kind of great love we have in Christ.

  • God BROUGHT us NEAR when we were FAR AWAY

            Ephesians 2:13  you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

  • God brought us TOWARD Him instead of AWAY from Him.

            1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God.

  • God CLEARED AWAY the damage instead of allowing it to create distance.

            1 John 4: 10 This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

  • God PUT AWAY  our sin instead of PUTTING IT IN His records of wrongs.

           Hebrews 9:26 He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

  • God made us FRIENDS when we were ENEMIES.

       Romans 5: 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!

  • God REDEEMED us instead of ABANDONED us.

            1 Peter 1:18-19 Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

  • God CANCELLED OUR DEBT instead of CHARGING US A PENALTY.

         Colossians 2:13-14 Having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

  • Our brokenness has been LAID UPON HIM instead of UPON US.

  Isaiah 53: 3-6 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Written by Willow Weston for Collide. Found on wecollide.net . Please do not copy or reproduce without written permission.