Jun 28, 2012

How Spiritual Discernment Works

This is an excerpt from Ruth Haley Barton's post over at Gifted For leadership:

Cultivating the habit of discernment means we are always seeking the movement of God’s Spirit so we can abandon ourselves to it. Sometimes abandoning ourselves to the will of God is like floating down a river: we relax and allow the current of the river to carry us along. At other times it is more like trying to run the rapids or ride a large wave: we must keep our body and mind attuned to the dynamic of the water so we can ride it to its destination rather than being toppled by its force. Either way, we do not set the direction or the speed of the current; rather, we seek the best way to let the current carry us in the direction God has for us.

Read the rest here

Jun 24, 2012

Disappointment with God and Life ~ Connie Smith Jakab

An honest reflection from my friend Connie Smith-Jakab over at Culture Rebel:
Before my dad passed away six years ago, God led him to this scripture: “You will see your children’s children…” (Psalm 128:6)
When my dad was given this verse, he had a one in three chance to live with the cancer he had. I suppose he decided to share this with me to give me hope and comfort that he would live. A month later, he died.
As you can imagine, I questioned God about this. Why give my dad this scripture only to have his life end? I’ve struggled with this question till about two weeks ago.
I struggled with wanting to have kids. Many women want kids and are excited about it. For me, I wanted to excel in my career and ambitions that the thought of kids scared me. I thought I’d never be able to achieve all I wanted to after I had them. We finally had our first son when I was 31 years old. We had just moved to Calgary to be with my mom as everyone in our family had died and she was alone. Moving to Calgary was very hard on me. I was 8 months pregnant and had nothing to do when I got here except walk my dog. I felt very alone. It was like my life had ended. When my son, Ben was born it seemed like I would never taste my dreams again.
It is now four years later, and our son Christopher was just born in October. Again, after having my first son I struggled with having another. As Ben grew older, I started to gain more freedom to pursue dreams again. The thought of going back to square one was overwhelming and sad for me. It seems each time I’ve had a child there’s been a journey of death to myself as a part of the process. I was enjoying being in ministry again and at the time of Christopher’s birth, God again removed it from me.
My journey for the last five years has been death. Death in my family, death to my dreams, and death to self. If this sounds depressing, don’t worry, it gets better! Through this journey I am discovering that God loves to turn death into life.
I’ve been so driven my whole life to achieve. To excel beyond mediocrity--I still have that passion inside of me. However, something I’ve learned is that God’s purpose and dream is THE ambition. And for me to invest all my energy into MY dreams can be foolish – if it means forgetting the family He has given to me. If, by me pursuing my own ambitions causes me to forget my sons, then it really can be all lost.
Who’s to say that all that I’ve been through and will go through isn’t so that my sons can grow to be strong in the Lord? Wouldn’t it be amazing if they grew up to do far greater things than I could imagine! For God to release THEM! Ironically, if God asked me what my greatest desire is, I could honestly tell Him; For my sons to know Him and live their lives for His glory.
For two years I didn't speak anything to God other than, "I'm so sorry." Somehow I believed my father's death was God's disappointment in me. Shame turned to bitterness, bitterness to emptiness. I would run as far away from God as I could. Out of the blue, one day I started to pray for God to give me a desire for Him again. To this day, I don't know what prompted my heart to pray for this because it was not my desire. I prayed this prayer daily for one year before I felt a hint of desire to live for God as I once did.
For me to come to this point in my life where I am willing to say, “It is well with my soul” shows progress. For me to say: “Ok God, if I never get to do what I wanted to accomplish, it’s ok.” Even though I struggle even writing that sentence I know that God will use my life for His purposes as long as my life is focused on HIS purpose and not my own.
For my dad to share with me that God told him, “You will see your children’s children” gives me hope that my sons will grow to serve God. That one day, they will stand before Jesus and receive the crown He has for them. My dad WILL see them – in heaven. Before, that verse made me mad. It brought tears of disappointment to my eyes. But now? That verse gives me hope for my greatest desire. And not only that, it reminds me that to live this life for me will not be of any gain. But if I will see my role as a mom as a chance to raise up two strong, mighty men - how amazing is that! That’s not mediocrity; it’s greatness wrapped in what looks like a simple package.

It is well with my soul.

Jun 17, 2012

The Immense Value of a Father's Affirmation

I am linking to a post by my friend Marlene Molewyk. Click on the link below to read the rest:

The Immense Value of A Father's Verbal Affirmation

I know my father loves me, but I've rarely seen it in his eyes. Instead, the emotions I usually see when he looks my way are disgust and anger, because I've made spiritual, career, and childrearing choices that reflect who I am, rather than who he wants me to be....

Jun 14, 2012

Why Are Christians So Mean? Keri Wyatt Kent

Keri Wyatt Kent is an excellent writer on many topics including spiritual formation. In this blog, she reflects on Christian Venom. She writes:

Fellow Redbud Writer Halee Gray Scott has a very interesting and controversial post up on the Christianity Today's women’s blog. Its generated a flood of comments, many of them simply mean.

Of course, she picked a controversial topic....Understandably, the mean comments come from people of a wide variety of orientations and beliefs. But my question is this: why do Christians, whom Jesus said should be known by the LOVE, act so hateful?

Read the rest here.

Jun 10, 2012

My Way of Jesus's Way? Having Full Life in Jesus

Some practical guidelines in the Jesus Way. Here is an excellent sermon by Charles Stanley.

Practical Guidance in Following Jesus

Jun 8, 2012

The Meek Will Inherit the Earth: The Way of the Humble

"Humble people do not force their way, ignore authority and wise counsel, step over people to get what they want or manipulate situations. Humble people surrender to the Lord with the trust and understanding that he will chart a way that is good and that he will fulfill his promises to them."

Click on the link to see the guest post from my friend Natasha Robinson over at A Sista's Journey. She has some great thoughts on the namesake of the is blog: wilderness.

I just gave birth to our second precious daughter, Valentina Graves. So, I'll be featuring/linking to guest posts from some very good people. I am glad I can introduce you to them.