The Friendship Model – David & Jonathan

Most of my life has been lived in a rural farming community where friendships run deep and long. When my husband and I sensed God was moving us to the city, we had many questions. Now looking back, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the new friendships developed. David & Jonathan form a godly model of mutual friendship.

In the last few weeks, one of my best friends has taken flight and headed south permanently. It is an opportunity I don’t want her to miss. However, my heart is filled with a mixture of joy and sadness, longing and releasing, holding on to friendship while letting go.

Friendship is walking together through life!

Friendships are as varied as the people forming the relationship, each a unique blend of the personal and corporate individuality.

Friendship Loves

Think about your closest friend. Where did you meet? What were the surrounding circumstances? Your friendship probably didn’t begin like Jonathan’s meeting of David.

David had just finished slaying Goliath, the harassing giant. The proof was his head tucked not so neatly under David’s arm. How is that for an image?

King Saul had just called David in for a personal interview. As soon as “Dad” was done, prince Jonathan introduces himself,

“Jonathan became one in spirit with David,
and he loved him as himself.”
I Samuel 18:1

Why such an instant connect between David and Jonathan? Jonathan, too, was a proven mighty warrior. As Jonathan looked at this half boy, not quite man, full of godly audacity, he loved him.

Jonathan loved David’s faith-filled reliance on God. He loved is courage, wit and agility. Jonathan loved David deeply and fully. There was an instant connection!

Friendship takes time to develop!

The strength of the cord within friendship is love – a love beyond self!

“Jonathan made a covenant with David
because he loved him as himself.”
1 Samuel 18:3

Friendship is Generous

There were some aspects of this friendship that may seem logical, but not all. Friendship gives generously!

Jonathan was so committed to David, he willingly surrendered everything.

Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing
and gave it to David, along with his tunic,
and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
1 Samuel 18:4

Every symbol of sonship and royalty, Jonathan gave freely to his friend. In this one act, they became equals. Every instrument of self-advancement, self-protection and self-preservation was yielded.

The unity of genuine friendship embodies preferring another above yourself.

Friendship Defends

Increasing unpredictable and emotionally unstable, Saul planned to kill David. Such reasoning was beyond Jonathan’s ability to comprehend. To protect David, Jonathan stepped into the dangerous gap.

“Why should he be put to death?
What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father.”
1 Samuel 20:32

Friends grow together!

Saul hurled the spear intended to kill David at his own son! Jonathan bore the brunt force of his father’s unleashed anger. His father was beyond reason!

“…They kissed each other and wept together
but David wept the most.
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace,
for we have sworn friendship with each other
in the name of the LORD..”
1 Samuel 20:41-42

What a beautiful illustration demonstrating the sacrifice between friends.

Friendship Strengthens

For fifteen years, David was on the run from Saul’s deadly intent.

“…Day after day Saul searched for him…”
1 Samuel 23:14

How do we help a friend is in distress? You know the kind! The day after day, relentless, nagging, intruding, no-hope-in-sight kind of trial!

I love this part of the story! Saul with his hundreds of expert warriors, trackers, and interrogators could not find David, but  friendship does. How far did Jonathan go to find his friend? How many caves did he search?

Friends stand together!

He ultimately went to the Desert of Ziph where David was hiding. Ziph means “melting”. Jonathan knew that his friend was in need. Perhaps faith was melting! Maybe courage was melting! The heat of the desert melts resolve, purpose and even divine calling.

“…Saul had come out to take his life.”
I Samuel 23:15

The enemy is always out to destroy, but friendship speaks life!

Friendship Encourages

The investments of friendship yields in multiplied measure. Friendship seeks to draw others into the fullness of all God has for them.

“Jonathan went to David at Horesh
and helped him find strength in God…
My father will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel…”
1 Samuel 23:16-17

Kingship should have been Jonathan’s portion, yet he reinforced the God call on David’s life. He reminded him of Samuel’s anointing and prophecy of kingship. Jonathan helped David look beyond the cave back to the palace. Beyond the tangled present to divine future!

Each time these two meet, we read:

“The two of them made a covenant before the LORD.”
1 Samuel 23:18

Friendship endures through the seasons!

Friendship went beyond mutual satisfaction or personal gratification to life-long commitment.

Friendship Endures

You are probably familiar with the rest of the story. Saul and Jonathan died in battle. David did become king. However, David grieved the loss of his friend – a grief that would not be solaced.

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left
of the house of Saul
to whom I can show kindness
for Jonathan’s sake.’ ”
2 Samuel 9:1

“Yes, Mephibosheth!” was the response.

David quickly had Jonathan’s crippled son brought to him. He restored his inheritance of land and provision. David also gave Jonathan’s grown son a place at his own table. In other words, David took Mephibosheth as his own son.

Though Jonathan was no longer alive, David found a way to honour and show love to his friend. Friendship endures even into generations!

Relationship’s Key

It is the context of friendship that sustains all viable relationships. Friendship is the unbroken cord holding fast personal relationships of parent and child, peer to peer, and husband with wife. It is the bridge often spanning generations, ethnicity, status, and gender.

The greatest context of friendship ever is God reaching down to humanity.

I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you
.”
John 15:15

Don’t miss it! Jesus, the Lord of all calls us friend.

This brings me to my knees in humble disbelief and incomprehensible joy!

The covenant example of friendship between David and Jonathan is an image of the enduring friendship we have in Christ. We are as unworthy as the shepherd boy receiving the princes garments. He took the violent swing of death over our lives on the cross.

In our own desert of “melting”, Christ comes with the word of strength and encouragement, “you are My friend.”

With arms stretched wide, Jesus extends to us the profound simplicity and unparalleled favour of friendship! What a blessing to offer it back to Him in return.

 

 

 

Building Community – The Purpose and Power of Connections

How do we genuinely comprehend the magnitude of God’s intention for networks of friendship, bonds of community, and genuine alliances of faith? Whenever I write about community, I am walking on foreign soil! I am like an explorer mapping freshly discovered territory with the intention of others following and traversing similar terrain into healthy community relationships.

Jesus The Example

For my answers I must turn to Jesus Christ. No other human exemplified both the purpose and power of connections as Jesus. Jesus remains the benchmark of excellence! He chose his followers from the most unlike candidates who were

at times highfalutin and oft cantankerous,
more than a little rag-tag mixed with a pinch of upper crust,
self-centered and self-promoting.

Creating unity in community!

How did he solidify in these men unparalleled power-filled connection that would be reproduced through generations in spite of the unending assaults of government, church and society?

“He appointed twelve that they might be with him
and that he might send them out to preach”
Mark 3:14

I realize any group, large or small, must be built on two strong legs in order to not only walk out faith, but have the capacity to run the race Christ has established. The first is love and the second is honour. Without both of these pillars, our journey together will be crippled and distorted.

The entire purpose and power of connections is based on these two ingredients: love and honour. Yet in multiple meetings with recognized leaders, few mention either!

Love

When asked what the greatest of commandments was, Jesus minced no words!

“… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40

A community of love and honour!

Paul would later dissect truth further in his letter to the Corinthians. He clarifies that without love, regardless of supernatural gifts and abilities, “I am nothing…I gain nothing”!

Any endeavour at building community without love is void and impotent.

I’m not talking about the here today and gone tomorrow shadow of  love, the touchy-feely, ooey-gooey imposter of love, or the make me “look good”, “feel good”, self-seeking mutation of love.

In true community love flows from the heart of the Father permeating every activity, conversation, discipleship, and connection. It bears repeating, without it we are nothing; we gain nothing!

Honour

When love is genuine, honour will also be sincere.

Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.”
Romans 13:7

Paul is writing concerning how to treat those in authority. Christ always went beyond the letter of the law manifesting the heart of truth. 

Community extends honour to all!

If the purpose of honour is to give merit, distinction or worth on the basis only of rank or status, it is a faint shadow of God’s intention, contradicting Christ’s example.

We see Jesus not just honouring people with title or position, but the lowly, despised, rejected, outcast members of His society. Honour is based not on social hierarchy, but the divine attribute and worth of being God’s image bearers.

When the heart of community is honour, it infiltrates every aspect of that community elevating each member. It is impossible to truly honour God without recognizing

  His likeness in every individual
and excellence in their personal uniqueness,
seeing purpose in His divine impartation
and gifts to His children,
while acknowledging His brilliance in every life.

By honouring the one, we honour the whole. In the honour of individuals, we honour the community.

Power of Community

The synergy of love and honour united this unlikely group of The Twelve into an undeniable re-presentation of Christ on earth.

If we believe that community is for the purpose of evangelism, we begin to treat people like a number on a list. If the attempt is keeping people from walking out the revolving back door of the church, community becomes a camouflaged prison of co-dependence. It is dangerous and deceptive to tag community’s primary purpose as discipleship. We cannot succumb to creating robotic reproductions full of knowledge and void of purpose.

Community - a fellowship of worth and purpose!

On the other hand, if every community is a fellowship of love and honour, each individual develops a sense of worth and purpose in their divine existence and calling.

People naturally encouraged and drawn into intimate relationship with Jesus
directly flows out of community.
The soil of community facilitates restoration and healing.
The wandering ones find a sense belonging.
Vibrant community environments release and develop gifts and abilities.

The united power of love and honour creates the fertile soil out which The Twelve became a hundred and the hundred became thousands, multiplying into a diverse and dominant worldwide movement unified for the glory of God.

Now that is genuine community!

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power
and is intended for his glory.
All glory to him forever!
Amen.”
Romans 11:36

Building community for the glory of Christ!

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Further Reading:

Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

Fireflies and Lightning Bugs – Let Your Light Shine!

Childhood memory flashed through my mind as fleeting as fireflies and lightning bugs. Under the thick summer canopy of elms around my grandfather’s cabin, we would race capturing fireflies to put in jars. My real joy was watching them freely rise and spin, dart and swirl, appearing and disappearing with ease.

These tiny light generators danced spontaneously through the night air. I still view them with childlike amazement. It is a chemical reaction inside the firefly’s body that allows them to light up.

Fireflies and lightning bugs!

There is nothing extraordinary about fireflies by day. But in the dark, watch and see!

Let it Shine

The evidence of Jesus Christ within us is meant to spontaneously shine, creating an atmosphere of amazement and wonder to those around us.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16

Do you catch the implication? We have an ability to either hide The Light, Jesus, from others or “let” our lights shine!

I have long struggled with preferring to go unnoticed, while at the same time desiring God to be seen in my life. Only when people witness what God is doing will He get the glory He deserves – even if that means I am uncomfortable in the process!

I like the way Paul says it,

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost.
But I received mercy for this reason,
that in me, as the foremost,
Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience
as an example to those who were to believe
in him for eternal life.”
I Timothy 1:15-16

When people see God through the worst of the worst, it is evidence of His grace and confirmation, Jesus Christ is Saviour of all!

I can relate! Every time God uses me in some small way, I am amazed! If His grace is on my life, His grace is for any and all! I don’t say this lightly! I am no human lightning bug. Apart from God, I have no ability to produce anything good.

But Christ in us? That is a different story!

Shine in Darkness

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us.”
2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Let light shine! There is that small but important word again – “let”!

Sometimes it is the recognition of the darkness of our own hearts or the fragile condition of these clay pots we inhabit that condemns us enough to hide the light rather than shine it. The tiniest light is visible in darkness. In the same way, even the smallest act of faith in front of the world will allow Christ to be seen.

If, we “let” Light shine!

Let your light shine before men!

Take courage friends,

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
John 1:5

God is Light

Don’t get confused, however, God is Light!

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
Psalm 27:1

Yet at the same time, that Light has chosen to limit Himself to inhabit and be revealed though human flesh. The limitless God, set within the boundary of humanity!

If we don’t “let” The Light shine, Jesus Christ will not be seen in our world. With this reality is a tremendous privilege, challenge and responsibility.

But here is the paradox: God is Light and so are we!

You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on a stand, and it gives light
to all in the house.”
Matthew 5:14-15

God’s supernatural light radically ignites us, transforming us into human lightning bugs and fireflies! We are His lights shining brightly in a dark world. We may prefer to cower under a basket or hide in a back room, but God has placed each of us where His light will be clearly seen.

I have no idea how fireflies feel locked in a jar while wide-eyed children examine their every move. But maybe I do understand a little!

For All The World

I don’t thrive in

the spotlight of examination,
the confines of legalized agendas,
or the boundaries of control.

Set me free to roam the dark world of the broken, rejected, and hurting! Let me loose on the streets of my city or the cells of our prisons! Lift the lid and release me into hospitals and psychiatric wards! Free me to teach and preach, mentor and disciple! It is here my little light shines freely and fully.

Arise shine for your Light has come!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Isaiah 60:1-3

The Light has come! Jesus Christ came, lived a sinless life and died a horrific death to redeem all mankind. Yet, there is a world that knows nothing about Jesus, The Light of the world. How is it possible that millions have never heard His Name? Yet it is true!

Jesus the Light of the world!

God has lifted the lid of our confinement! “Let your light shine,” He urges.

He has filled us with His Spirit and set us loose. As people clearly see Christ in us, God will get the glory, the Kingdom of God will expand its reach, and Light will invade darkness.

Lightning bugs are tiny, yet there light shines incredibly far. Take wing fellow fireflies and let Christ be seen in you. “Let your light shine!”

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Read More?

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships

 

 

The Battle is the Lord’s – Training for War!

If you are fortunate, one struggle will end before another begins. Often, however, battles invade in mass. There are times when I want to raise the white flag of surrender and say, “Enough, Lord!” Battles serve a divine purpose. Ultimately every battle we face is the Lord’s while at the same time, He is training us for war.

“These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites
who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan
(he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites
who had not had previous battle experience.”
Judges 3:1,2

God’s intention is for us all to become mighty in battle, warriors who are thoroughly equipped and prepared for any affront. Training is developed in the battle field of experience not in the classroom of hypothesis.

We all enjoy singing the songs of victory; few relish in the throes of battle.

The Battle is the Lord’s

Whatever we are going through, whether small or great, God alone gains the victory for us. Though it is tempting to “handle” the small stuff ourselves, foundational principles are learned in the little battles of life that can be applied equally to larger attacks.

Turning our face toward God!

“This is what the LORD says:
Do not be afraid!
Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army,
for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
2 Chronicles 20:15

Don’t wait for the marriage to fail, the diagnosis of cancer, the prodigal son to run off to a distant land, or the bank account to occupy the red zone before relying on the Lord’s help. Bring every struggle and battle to the Lord, seek His strategy, and follow His directives.

Jehoshaphat “inquired of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast“. Then all the people around also sought “help from the LORD.”

The King, as one in authority, went first. He set the precedent. Prayer and fasting don’t twist the arm of God, rather they position hearts to trust, eyes to see, ears to hear and minds to comprehend the agendas of God.

God is Big Enough

When we learn to fearlessly trust during the “little”, trusting in the “big” comes instinctively. God dwindled Gideon’s army down to where only He would receive the glory. First God released the fearful.

“Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave…
So twenty-two thousand men left…”
Judges 7:3

Fear spreads quickly! Twenty-two thousand fear-filled warriors would easily have destabilized the entire army! Once fear was weeded out, only courage remained!

Fear may help get the adrenaline pumping, but no one functions at their best when afraid. It is the solid recognition of Who God is, that solidifies fearless trust. Stepping forward in God’s authority, dominion, and power, increases strength, renews hope and builds extravagant faith.

“LORD, the God of our ancestors,
are you not the God who is in heaven?
You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.
Power and might are in your hand,
and no one can withstand you.”
2 Chronicles 20:6

State the Problem

Don’t be afraid of calling things out! My father would say, “Call a spade a spade!” In other words, say it like it is! State the circumstance you are facing honestly and clearly. Acknowledging personal inability to overcome a battle is never a declaration of God’s inability, only ours!

When we are weak, God is strong!

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.
We do not know what to do,
but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12

The important part is knowing who you are with!

We’re not asking God to come and join us in our battle. We position ourselves with Him! Like a little child standing in our Father’s shadow, we are invincible with our God! We always win!

Paul put it this way:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21

We cannot assume we know how to fight our battle! “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you…
in God I trust and am not afraid.”
Psalms 56:1-4

In God we trust!

Warriors Who Don’t Fight

Here comes the seeming contradiction! God allows the enemy to come close for the specific purpose of equipping and training us for battle. When we step into battle position, He fights!

“You will not have to fight this battle.
Take up your positions: stand firm
and see the deliverance the LORD will give you..”
2 Chronicles 20:17

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal!

The temptation is to pick up the weapons and run ahead of our Leader. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency must be laid down before we even begin.

We take our position in worship and adoration, standing firm on the unfailing promises of God. Our eyes are fixed on the LORD to bring victory. Positioning ourselves in Christ, we move forward.

Go out to face them
2 Chronicles 20:17

Face your battle! Even if you need to lean on others, stand and face your struggle!

The Song of Victory

Jehoshaphat was so confident of God’s victory he placed the singers in the lead! The warriors armed with physical weapons followed behind.

“What song is so powerful enemies cringe and flee at the melody?” I ask.

“His love endures forever” is the answer.

“Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD
and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness
as they went out at the head of the army,saying:
Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever,’ ”
2 Chronicles 20:21

Now that is audacity!

Songs of worship and praise disarm the enemy camp!

The song of victory buckled the knees of the enemy before the fighting began. The joyous sound of audacious faith and trust in God caused the enemy to be thrown into confusion.

The minstrels carried the tune back to the streets of Jerusalem and into the temple. When the song of thanksgiving rises, demonic kingdoms hear and tremble.

Why? The battle is not ours; the battle is the Lord’s.

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More Reading:

Intercession – Releasing The Power of The Cross Through Prayer

Beauty Instead of Ashes! Out with the Old! In with the New!

 

Hungry for More of God? Feeding our Spiritual Hunger

Hunger is the signal telling us we are running out of essential fuel! In the natural, it starts when our stomach is empty but quickly messages the brain to activation. I may be able to ignore my stomach, but it is much more difficult to ignore my thoughts. Do I as acutely sense spiritual hunger? How do I respond when I’m hungry?

Hunger is the feeling of weakness or discomfort caused by lack of food. It triggers the desire to eat or crave food. Am I hungry for more of God? Do I choose to satisfy my spiritual desire through Him or other sources.

Hungry for more!

At times after finishing a pleasant meal and feeling fully satisfied, if I catch a glimpse of some sweet delicacy impulsively I want more. How about you?

This is actually normal! God made us to always be on the lookout for more; He has designed us to never be empty.

The Hungry are Fed

Heidi Baker, missionary to Mozambique, often affirms “The hungry are always fed.” The hungry, in desperation, push to the front of the line. They will not be refused!

“The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him –
may your hearts live forever.”
Psalm 22:26

Feast instead of famine!

God has allowed us to recognize natural hunger through the discomfort of painful hunger pangs. If we ignore our bodies long enough hunger actually subsides. The same is true spiritually. He has also built within us an awareness of spiritual longing and hunger.

Hunger ignored has a price tag; vital organs can be irreparably damaged. We cannot safely ignore spiritual hunger either.

Hungry?

The Spirit within us is constantly inviting us to enter the Lord’s Presence and feast in His abundant provision. There are no shortcuts to resting, waiting, worshiping, or meditating on the bible.  Junk food goes beyond chips, coke or a bit of chocolate. Time can never be regained! How we spend our minutes forms life patterns shaping our identity.

The unceasing demands of our physical bodies and fleeting attractions can be the greatest hindrance to wholesome feeding of the Spirit.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit,
and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.
They are in conflict with each other…”
Galatians 5:16-17

Feed the Spirit what is good!

We will either reach for what is good and truly satisfies, or what temporarily tastes and feels good. Daily we choose!

Jesus The Example

Let’s contemplate this verse?

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…”
Matthew 4:1

There can be unrealistic expectation that faith will be a pleasant journey of “always full”. Not so! The Spirit purposefully led Jesus to a wilderness of prolonged hunger. In the place of hunger, what Adam lost in the fall Jesus began to reclaim.

After forty days of hunger the Tempter comes! His timing is usually the same for us as well. When hungry, angry, lonely and tired, halt! This is a place of vulnerability.

When hungry, angry, lonely or tired, it is time to HALT! Click To Tweet

Jesus, the Living Word, stood His ground against every assault of the evil one.

“Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

c

Bread will never satisfy our deepest hunger! Neither will lust, money, power or position! Our relentless deepest hunger is satisfied in God alone.

“The key to Christian living
is a thirst and hunger for God.”
John Piper

When we go to God for every need to be met, we too will experience supernatural provision. One of the names for God is Jehovah Jireh. It means “the LORD will provide”, or “the LORD our Provider.” Provider is who He is!

In the Lord alone is provision for all we need! Our hunger is meant to draw us to The One who provides.

In Christ Alone

In the Beatitudes, Jesus states,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6

Jesus gives us a life-giving promise.  Not only is He the Lord our Provider, he is the Lord our Righteousness! Ultimate filling is complete in Him.

Our personal wilderness journeys are ultimately meant to accentuate our hunger. The hot dusty road heightens and stresses our hunger and thirst for more of Him. It is a good thing!

Without hunger pangs, we would not survive. Are you hungry?

I hear it all around me! I see it among the young and the old! People of every nationality, demographic and generation, crying, “More, Jesus! More of You!” The hunger is increasing, and it is good.

"Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."

People are turning their hearts and eyes from temporary satisfaction to ultimate fulfillment. It is beautiful! Prayer rooms are filling up!

“I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:10

God journeys with us in the wilderness, bringing us through to the other side. He invites us to “open wide our mouths”. Don’t expect a crumb from our generous God! Open wide your mouth! May faith arise in each of us for more. God is anxious to satisfy our hunger; “I will fill it!”

There is no need to look elsewhere. “I will fill it!

The Sound of Hunger

The birds outside my window rouse me at three in the morning. Long before the sun breaks the darkness of night, pangs of hunger stir little nests with cries for more. One hungry little chick has an ability to awaken an entire nest. The feathered chatter shifts from nest to nest until the whole community is alive with the sound of awakening.

Let us take a lesson from these little feathered ones, we can never be too greedy for more of God; “open wide (your) mouth”.

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More Reading:

Rivers of Living Water From Within – The Holy Spirit

Flying Lead Change! Following God’s Lead!

Though I would never consider myself of a horse person, I appreciate the beauty and grace of flying lead changes. Both horse and rider must become proficient to make these smooth, clean changes of direction in perfect balance without breaking rhythm or losing forward momentum.

Flying Lead Change

In a flying lead change a horse changes leads without changing the rhythm of a canter. It is similar to skipping from one foot to the other, but on four feet instead of two!

While watching horses canter around an open meadow you would notice how beautifully and freely they naturally accomplish this. Add a rider to the mix and it becomes a little more complicated.

The grace of a flying lead change!

Both horse and rider must develop a unified rhythm, trust, freedom of gait, perfect contact, straightness, alignment and balance. The rider must become “one with” the horse, in tune with the horse’s natural rhythm and timing. The discipline is nothing short of frustrating to master, but when accomplished successfully there is an awareness of genuine power unhindered.

The beauty, elegance and power of barrel racing, pole bending, dressage or many other equestrian disciplines is often a result of graceful flying lead changes. In full  motion, the center of gravity shifts, the subtle cues of horse and rider are instinctively responded too. Nothing is lost! Everything is gained!

“What got you thinking equestrian?” you ask.

Lately, I’m having trouble “skipping” to God’s time and smoothly following His direction! Gracefully leaping through life is not an apt description of my walk with Him.

The Lord’s Lead

There is nothing wrong with the Lord’s leading, of course. However, as He calls me to change direction or adjust my focus, personal insecurity, hesitancy, and imbalance create a frustrating, out-of-step cadence within me. Like a stumbling novice I clumsily respond to His directing. I am unable to proceed beyond a slow trot.

“Where is he who set
His Holy Spirit among them,
who sent his glorious arm of power
to be at Moses’ right hand,
who divided the waters before them,
to gain for himself everlasting renown,
who led them through the depths?
Like a horse in open country,
they did not stumble;
like cattle that go down to the plain,
they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD.
This is how you guided your people
to make for yourself a glorious name.”
Isaiah 63:11-14

Who holds the rein of my life?

What beautiful imagery! God leads His children like a horse into open country where there is perfect liberty or like cattle to peacefully rest in an open meadow.

Do I trust His lead! Trust is necessary for flying lead changes.

Trusting Fully

To trust means I need to lay down preconceived ideas of where I think I should be heading and the pace I want to get there. Personal agendas must fall!

Who really has the reins in my life? It is an easy question to ask; it is much harder to honestly evaluate my heart! As a matter of fact, I can believe I am doing quite fine, until God asks me to step into a new lead. Then reality sets in!

Trusting God to direct

Just like a horse needing blinders to avoid distraction and loss of focus, God often needs to allow circumstances to hem me in to get my full attention.

“I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”
Psalm 119:60

I hunger to sense the shift of His rhythm and bend in fluid motion to His every movement.

My sister owned a mature cutting horse. Countless times I toppled off the side or plunged over the neck of this amazing responsive horse. Duchess turned on a dime and stopped instantly to the slightest touch of the reins. She was sensitive; I was not! It took time to develop a trust between us that would enable fluid movement and unison.

Without Grumbling

Sometimes horse and rider fight for dominance. It can be a serious battle of wills. Every rider has met this challenge.

Responding with a flying lead change!

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,”
Philippians 2:14

Time and energy can be wasted grumbling and arguing over God’s lead. Even though it may not make sense to me, a flying lead change requires that I don’t know all the answers or outcomes. Not only is a high level of trust necessary, I also must be convinced of the nature of The One who is asking me to redirect.

Often grumbling is rooted in my personal insecurity. Will I honestly acknowledge my frailty and embrace my struggle. Surrendering in childlike humility to my Heavenly Father always knows best is not an option.

Step by step I AM WORKING toward my personal flying lead change! It may not look or feel “graceful” today, but with practice and time it will! By embracing even the points of failure, I am preparing for success. I am learning much from present disappointments.

Tenacity

My father would often encourage us, “When you fall off, get right back on!”

He didn’t want his children to quit before they tasted success. I think Dad reflected the Father’s heart toward us.

“May the Lord lead your hearts
into a full understanding and expression of the love of God
and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5

Here is the essence of a flying lead change – understanding hearts fully expressing God’s love plus the endurance, or perseverance from Christ. What a perfect mix!

When God sees us flounder or break rhythm, He is never discouraged or disappointed with us. Gently, He invites us to try again. He picks up the pace, whispers a new direction, and welcomes us to respond.

When we begin to respond instinctively to His lead, we will rejoice together! The beauty of our flying lead change will be obvious to everyone watching.

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Testimonies of Others:

A Daughter’s Redemption! Dawn Enters a New Day!

The Prodigal Returns, Prayer Answered! Running No More!

Time to Refresh – New Strength and Energy

Are you in need of refreshing? Perhaps  you need an activity, or lack thereof, to renew personal strength and energy particularly after pouring out physically, emotionally or mentally. These moments usually don’t just happen! Taking time to refresh often takes planning.

What ways have you developed to refresh yourself? A good book, a movie night, a vacation, a relaxing bath, a game of golf, a walk in the woods, a lounge on the couch, or time at the gym? For each of us it might look quite different.

Refresh! New Strength and Energy!

I just spent a few days with others who are involved in ministry at a lakeside retreat. Those few days away with others of like mind was refreshing, enabling me to return home encouraged and with renewed vision.

It wasn’t without struggle though!

Reinvigorate

To refresh means to reinvigorate, or give new strength or energy. I must admit I set out on this little adventure feeling tired. My mind and body were in need of some down time!

Those present were in full time ministry and have been most of their lives. Honestly, I felt like the odd man out or the ugly duckling – the one that just didn’t fit!

I can easily identify with farmers and labourers. It is a culture I know. Such has been my life’s work. The full time ministry environment is relatively new and feels a bit uncomfortable. like wearing a new pair of shoes.

After the first evening’s activities, I snuggled into my sleeping bag to read again from Romans.

“I urge you, brothers and sister, by our Lord Jesus Christ
and by the love of the Spirit,
to join me in my struggle
by praying to God for me.”
Romans 15:30

Now Paul’s struggle was serious! There were those seeking to take his life! He goes on to say…

“so that I may come to you with joy,
by God’s will,
and in your company be refreshed.”
Romans 15: 32

Sometimes God has to speak clearly! This was one of those nights! My struggle was a serious struggle of identity and belonging.

Come with joy and be refreshed!

Here I was in the company of amazing men and women. God gently whispered His confirmation to this little servant that yes, it was His will, that I be here at a “Refresh” conference to, in fact, be refreshed!

I almost laughed at the simplicity of God’s affirming word. I began to recognize I am in His perfect spot at the right time to be reinvigorated, strengthened and energized.

To Stimulate Memory

Is it just me who knows, but forgets?

My bible is an important tool to refresh my mind. The words within at times feel like a gentle reminder of truth, and at others like a baseball bat to the shin!

When I am weary and in need of refreshing, I can easily forget who I am in Christ.

“…with an anxious mind,
eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.
You will live in constant suspense,
filled with dread both night and day,
never sure of your life.”
Deuteronomy 28: 67-68

I am being painful honest. When I am feeling drained emotionally, physically, mentally or relationaly, I fit this description!

Refresh in the waiting and resting!

Back up a few verses! You will find this is not a condition associated with the blessing God promises, but rather the result of opposing God. There is no victory on this side!

Even though these verses describe my feelings, they sure don’t describe my true position! Go back a few more verses and we taste of the real truth as a son or daughter of God:

“You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
The fruit of your womb will be blessed,
and the crops of your land
and young of your livestock
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
You will be blessed when you come in
and blessed when you go out.”
Deuteronomy 28:3-4

No room for anxiousness, weariness or despair here! My circumstances may be a long way from lining up, but there is nothing to keep my mind and heart from agreeing with God’s truth about me and my family!

It is time to remember what I know!

To Refill a Container

The third main meaning of refresh is to refill, recharge, or replenish like a drink in a container.

I leak! That probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, but sometimes I forget that too!

I need to take time to refill, recharge and replenish those areas where I have been pouring into the lives of others. God is a never ending Source; I am not!

Splash it around and others will be refreshed!

The only way to truly fill up is in the Presence of God. There are no “drive-through windows” or “fast-track” to refuel. It requires time with God, waiting on the Holy Spirit, and lavishly worshiping Jesus. To refill our emptiness we must wait in the stillness of quietly knowing and resting in Him. It is the beautiful being “with” God.

Here alone is the place of ultimate refresh!

“… be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:18

Holy Spirit is ready to “keep on filling constantly and continually” our leaky containers. It is like being  thirsty on a hot day, a sip of water is never enough! In the same way, only Holy Spirit satisfies are deepest thirst!

We come into His Presence one way and leave changed. Then when we “leak”, we leak Him! We leak His love and goodness! We leak His grace and truth!

In so doing, our refreshing, becomes the refreshing others can taste and see for themselves. I think leaky buckets is an apt description of God’s intention for us. God refreshes us for the purpose of leaking enough to refresh others. I like that!

 

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Read On!!!

The 3 Keys of Effective Ministry! Secrets of Success!

Do it Again Lord! Renew! Restore! Revive!

A Refreshing Stream – A Good Rain is Coming!

 

 

 

Rivers of Living Water From Within – The Holy Spirit

Living Water - Let it Flow!

Where I grew up as a child there were many sources of water people relied upon. The quality and quantity of that water varied substantially depending on the source. It would be impossible to classify all water as living water. Only one of these fountainheads compared to what Jesus was referring to:

All you thirsty ones, come to me!
Come to me and drink!
Believe in me so that rivers of living water
will burst out from within you,
flowing from your innermost being,
just like the Scripture says!”
John 7:38

Every time I read the word “all” I get excited! Everyone who is thirst is welcome!

Are you thirsty? How is your belly doing? How is my belly doing? Any sign of living water bursting forth?

An Underground Spring

On the farm where I grew up the water source was a shallow spring fed well. The water naturally filtered its way through layers of sand before seeping into our well. Cool, tasteless and refreshing water!

Ladies would come from miles around for this soft spring water to make their preserves. There was something about the water from this spring that seemed to sustain the flavours of pickles and preserves like no other water.

Sweet, living water!

The little spring consistently flowed and nourished five generations of thirsty ones. Even in years of drought the well gave forth its precious commodity of living water.

A Dugout

Just a couple miles south, no underground springs could be found. The only water source in this area was open dugouts. They were stagnant pools open to pollution by animals and runoff. Algae grew unrestricted during the hot summer months.

Our neighbours spent thousands of dollars in attempts to purify the stale water for usefulness. Winter and summer, they purchased and hauled suitable water for drinking.

A stagnant pool of algae!

Though this water was fit for ducks and deer, it wasn’t safe for human consumption.

A Deep Well

The deepest wells in the district descending hundreds of feet below the earth’s surface, tapping into an underground lake. Here too, the water sat stagnant. Hidden from the sun but exposed to underground elements, this water was saturated with mineral content.

Worse yet, the water smelled like rotten eggs! The water was extremely hard and corrosive. Even with expensive filtration equipment it was not suitable for drinking.

Not all water is equal! The source here was abundant; the quality, however, was disappointing.

An Artecian Well

Many years ago, my uncle searched for much needed water on his farm many miles away. To their great surprise, they accidentally struck a high pressure underground river. The “gusher” shot several feet into the air.

An unending source of water!

Up from the hidden reserve flowed water crystal clear and sweet!

Over the course of the summer an entire lake was formed where once there had been dry ground. When the pressure diminished, they were finally able to tap the well.

Decades later this well continues to serve the farm’s needs. The peaceful lake still fills the gully below the well-head. It too is a source of pleasure and usefulness.

The Holy Spirit

I hope I haven’t wandered so far talking about natural water that we have forgotten the essence of what Jesus was offering.

“When he said “living water,
he was speaking of the Spirit,
who would be given to everyone believing in him…”
John 7:39

Whether we realize it or not, we are all thirsty; we quench this spiritual thirst in only One place.

All you thirsty ones, come to me!
Come to me and drink!”

Money won’t do it! Fame or power won’t quench this thirst either. The wise respond to Christ’s open invitation to both come and drink – not just once, but continually!

Those who know me well, know I’m usually within arm’s reach of a glass filled with water. I thirst a lot!

Come and drink!

They also know that I’m never far from catching a fresh “drink” of Holy Spirit! Yesterday’s encounter with Holy Spirit doesn’t carry through to today.  Every morning I welcome Holy Spirit to infuse every part of my life. Only then will He “flow” in the river God intends.

What comes out will be a reflection of what I welcome in!

River of Living Water?

The concept Jesus presented is clear enough:

  • First Step: Come and drink!
  • Second Step: Believe!
  • Third Step: A river flows!

Is the river within me a quiet underground spring refreshing and useful to only a few?

Worse yet, is it an open and stagnant pit – polluted and filled with spiritual algae?

Is the internal reserve large, but without an outflow, “rotten” and hard?

Or is it a “gusher”? Is God’s reserve within me so full that it cannot be stopped, springing from Jesus Christ the true Source, with intense pressure that turns dry ground into a deep pool?

Rivers of living water!

If it isn’t, I’ve perhaps missed a step or two!

“Rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

Every time I come and drink from the Spirit, the pressure within is intended to build creating a supernatural force that flows from my life in a way that brings refreshing, healing, hope and strength to those around me.

So my question is, “How is my belly doing?” Is there any evidence of living water flowing?

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Give Praise to the Lord, Proclaim His Name

Praise is an act of worship, whether in prayer, song, dance or declaration. In praise, I thank God for all He has done, but more importantly, I worship Him for who He is. Praise is an action! It is meant to flow naturally from a heart of gratitude and awe.

Many words are often used as synonyms in parallel with “praise. ” They  words help point to its meaning:  “bless, ” “exalt, ” “extol, ” “glorify, ” “magnify, ” “thank, ” and “confess.” To praise God is to call attention to his glory.

From Genesis to Exodus the theme of praise runs through the pages of the bible. I am reminded constantly that life is not meant to be lived in self-focus, but rather with head and heart tilted upward, and eyes fixed on Someone far greater!

Beginning young!

Did you know our core purpose is to give God praise?

“The people whom I formed for Myself
Will declare My praise..”
Isaiah 43:21

Psalms of Praise

It is no surprise to discover the Hebrew title for The Psalms is “Praises”.

Giving God glory and adoration is more than an obligation, it is a delight!

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
 Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”
Psalm 63:2-5

God is holy and fully good! He doesn’t need our worship! He is worthy of it!

Reasons for Praising God

It is impossible to quantify the many reasons God is most worthy of such adoration! Let me name just a few!

God is faithful to every one of His promises:
He is the One and only true God.
God is crowned with glory, honour, and splendor.
He is inerrantly good!
His word is faithful and true.
His love endures forever: His grace is beyond comprehension,
and His mercies are new each morning.
The Lord reigns in majesty and power.

People of Nation Worshiping God
He is a covenant keeping God –
our Deliverer, our Saviour,
our Rock and our Defender.
God is a Righteous Judge, a Mighty Warrior,
and Gentle Shepherd.
He is the Creator of all and Redeemer of people.

And that is just the “tip of the iceberg”!

Unchanging God

The same God that delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt and made a way through the Red Sea is with us today! He is for us, not against us! He is still Healer, Restorer, Comforter, and our Anchor of Hope.

Every anthem of praise still applies!

Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
 proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known  in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Do you notice how each one of these words are actions? Praise is not quiet nor passive acknowledgement of God’s goodness and greatness.

 

“Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!”

God is still great! He is still present! He is worthy of highest acclaim!

The Best Time

Often the best time to give God praise is before the breakthrough, before the healing, before the dawn breaks forth or the storm ends. As we choose to pronounce His attributes  peace, confidence and strength begins to fill us. God dwells in the midst of our praise!

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Habakkuk has the right idea!

In the light of a palace Solomon wrote the proverbs. In the darkness of the wilderness, fleeing from his enemies, David wrote the psalms.

I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
Hebrews 2:12

Yes! Worship God in your local church, but don’t limit your worship to these beautiful corporate times.

How to Praise

Some lifted up shouts of praise and singing

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music

…and the sound of singing.”
Psalm 98:4-5

Shouts of Praise!

Miriam picked up a tambourine and led women in a dance of praise rejoicing on the freedom side of the Red Sea. (On a side note, remember Miriam was well into her eighties at this time!) Miriam’s dance of worship may have been the first mentioned in bible, but it wasn’t the last. Decades later, David danced in the streets

“Wearing a linen ephod,
David was dancing before the LORD with all his might,”
2 Samuel 6:14

A man healed gave a different kind of praise:

“He jumped to his feet and began to walk.
Then he went with them into the temple courts,
walking and jumping, and praising God.”
Acts 3:8

The way your walk, the way you talk and where you chose to go, can demonstrate praise.

Children and adults alike waved palm branches is jubilant exaltation as Jesus entered Jerusalem

“They took palm branches and went out to meet him,
shouting, “Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
John 12:13

Children praise God!

More important than the method we chose is a heart fully devoted to honour and glorify God.  Praise is one of the few things we rehearse on earth and do perfectly in heaven. Around God’s throne over seven thousand different nations, tribes and tongues will join together in one glorious anthem. Let’s be ready!

May praise be active daily as we proclaim to our world, God is worthy! Whether on your own or combining your voice with others, declare it, “God is worthy of all praise!”

 

Kintsugi – The Beauty of Brokenness

Kintsugi - The beauty of brokenness

Kintsugi is a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Instead of attempting to hide brokenness, the lines are actually accentuated with gold celebrating the pottery’s history. The uniquely fashioned seams glint with gold, bringing beauty from brokenness.

I never realized how many “broken” possessions I value:

my grandfather’s wooden wagon wheel
my great-grandmother’s vase
a favorite pair of jeans
hockey sticks repurposed into garden stakes
a tire rim fire pit
a piece of beach glass art
even a Christmas tree topper.

None of them compare to the beautiful pieces of kintsugi; nonetheless, they are precious even in their brokenness.

I have come to realize lately that God is exposing and actually accentuating my brokenness. He is “kintsuging” me!

I would much prefer that my brokenness remain concealed, masked or hidden from public scrutiny. As a matter of fact, I try my best to do just that. I’m not alone! The cosmetic industry tops $62 billion annually – that is a lot of concealing imperfections and finding new beauty.

Cosmetics -

God recognizes beauty in us, just as we are. It isn’t just women who struggle to grasp this God perspective, we all do.

The Pain of Brokenness

Kintsugi recognizes breakage is part of the history of any object. How do we value and even embrace the beauty while living in the pain of brokenness?

Brokenness can seriously limit our ability to freely choose and presently live to our fullest potential. Pain has the ability to densely cloud our perception of personal identity, worth and purpose.

I can personally testify how the gold of God’s truth can infuse even the most crushing moments and reveal His design and glory in the midst of overbearing tragedy or loss.

“And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

The psalms simply say “He sent his word, and healed them and snatching them from the door of death.” The truth of God’s word gently breathes life back into our shattered pieces. His truth sets us free to see brokenness from a higher and eternal vantage point.

At one time I had many delicate and beautiful ornaments; many were gifts. Then we had five sons! Few of these delicate pieces survived! I wish I would have known about kintsugi then.

Brokenness may scar us, but it will never diminish our value! As a matter of fact, after the Master Artist remakes us, we hold even greater distinction!

Scars of Beauty

In Kintsugi, scars actually become the most valuable and beautiful part of the whole.

I honour those who bear their scars well. Scars are the solid evidence of survival and over coming difficulties. They form the beautiful marks of an enduring life!

That Jesus would maintain His scars after the resurrection is a marvel to me. He didn’t need to! He chose to!

“Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here; see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it into my side.
Stop doubting and believe.”
John 20:27

The scars Jesus bears continue to prove His identity. Scars identify us too! They prove God’s faithfulness to heal and restore our brokenness.

The Beauty of Brokenness

Scars are the marks of our personal journey between birth and death. They are the road map of experiences we have lived through, conquered and overcome leaving us better than before.

“You will either step forward
into growth, or you will step back
into safety.”
Maslow

In Guatemala, a man who had been healed of extremely large stomach cancers revealed his deep scars with pride. They were evidence to Christ’s healing power in his life. The physicians said, “You will die!” Christ spoke the contrary, “You will surely live!” Live is what this man was doing years later!

Graphed In

Sometimes in Kintsugi, a brand new piece is graphed in.

do not consider yourself to be superior
to those other branches.
If you do, consider this:
You do not support the root,
but the root supports you.”
Romans 11:18

Sometimes Kintsugi is two individual pieces graphed together. They actually create a brand new form, quite different from the original – a delicate and unique work of art.

God has specifically designed each of us to bear both similarities and differences to every other person. Kinsugi reminds me of this truth.

When I hear of the God-stories of others, I am hushed in amazement knowing only God could create such beauty out from horrendous brokenness:

a baby given a name meaning “you shall die”
becomes a light-bearing torch of hope to nations;
a woman poisoned, beaten and left in the bush –
now speechless but speaking life to many other broken;
a young girl abandoned and severely abused
teaching and loving children to life;
refugees escaping, then returning, home to spread the Gospel of Peace;
drug addicts ministering in rehab centers;
former prostitutes delivering hope to the streets
they once walked….

These new lives  bear no resemblance to the old!

Beauty of Brokenness

When hope shatters against the cruel pavement of life, beauty seems impossible to visualize. Impossible that is until The Master, takes each broken piece in His gentle hands and creates a new and beautiful masterpiece.

So I went down to the potter’s house,
and I saw him working at the wheel.

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;
so the potter formed it into another pot,
shaping it as seemed best to him.”
Jeremiah 18: 3-4

No matter how marred and broken, God reforms, reshapes and repurposes our lives. As a matter of fact, when He is finished the result appears so perfect, we wonder if this wasn’t His “Plan A” all along.

God is never the one who breaks or harms us. We have an enemy who is bent on stealing, killing and destroying any worth or value we possess. God is THE Ultimate Restorer!

“God, your God, will restore everything you lost;
he’ll have compassion on you;
he’ll come back and pick up the pieces
from all the places where you were scattered.”
Deuteronomy 30:3 

Kintsugi is both a beautiful art form and a fitting illustration of God’s compassionate working in each of our lives. Every place of brokenness is a gold vein of God’s love and mercy. It shouts to all, “God is faithful!”

So the next time we meet, ask, and I just might let you see my scars.

Do not hide your scars. Instead, paint them gold, and let them glow in the sun. For they are the cracks that let your soul breathe. e.m. Click To Tweet

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Further Reading

Gold and Silver – Refined Through Suffering

Never! 8 Things God Will Never Do