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I am Redeemed: A Joint Post

thefreeslavesdevotion

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians. 2:4-6, NASB

From Jen

I was blinded by the devil, born already ruined. Stone cold dead as I stepped out of the womb. . . Lyrics from Third Day’s Saved.

Words that paint a grim picture.

I was thinking today about being redeemed–how can that churchy idea be communicated? A scene from the moving The Green Mile came to mind.

It’s execution day. Can you forget how the condemned man walks down that last path in life. Slumped. Beaten. Terrified.

“Dead man walking! Dead man walking!” The jailer cries out, a little too pleased…

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I am a Servant, Uncategorized

I Am A Servant of the Most High

Don’t you know…you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. –Romans 6:16-18, HCSB

From Jen:

There are two types; willing or unwilling. But all are servants. Either to the Most High God, or to the prince of this earth. Slavery isn’t optional; it simply is.

The willing types? They fall into both categories. Some ultimately and knowingly chose rebellion. But here’s the interesting part: the Servants of the Most High God are always willing. Always.

Where do you fall?

From Susan:

When I was 8 years old, I chose to serve God. I may have been quite young, but I certainly understood that I was making a choice, one that would last a lifetime.  At that moment, God sealed me as His servant forever.

Of course, as I grew older, there have been seasons when I’ve gotten confused. The world offers many pretty baubles to its servants, and their glitter has attracted me more than once.  I’ve taken steps toward them, hands outstretched, even reached out to touch their brightness on occasion.

But without fail, my true Master has called me back. His Holy Spirit inside of me has convicted me.  “No, Susan.  True peace is not found there.  Come back to me.”  He’s never forced me.  But His love compels me.  And, quite honestly, the emptiness of the world’s offering is always disappointing.  And that, too, turns me on my heel running – willingly – back to my Master.

My Father.

My God.

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21-Day Gratitude Challenge!

LaTrice at Simply Life has given us this challenge, and I love it! Perfect way to look up. Stop over and let her know if you’re in. Let us know, too!

Simply Life

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It’s November!! and I decided what a great time to begin a 21 – Day Gratitude Challenge! This will be a slightly altered version of the gratitude challenge I participated in and hosted on last year.  The purpose of this challenge is to focus on the blessing of the Lord and be a blessing to others. Sometimes our outward circumstances don’t look to swell but there is always something to be grateful for and that’s what we will put into practice and share with other’s as we take on this challenge.

The 21 – Day Gratitude Challenge will begin on Monday, November 3rd and will end on Sunday, November 23rd. The challenge is for any and everyone who wants to participate by practicing gratitude and sharing the results (I hope you will join with me ;-).  There will be gratitude challenges given each day until the end of the challenge.  The task of the gratitude challenge can range…

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His Time

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. –James 5:7-8, NIV

I have to admit, I’m an impatient gardener. I buy my veggies pre-started, because once I’ve tilled my plot, smoothed it and have it ready to plant, I want to see something green for my efforts. If I stuck to the old fashioned (and more economical) way, I’d poke hard little seeds into the ground, water the bare dirt and…wait. The sun would rise and set, and…I’d still have to wait. Seven to fourteen days, depending on the veggie.

Not my cup of dirt. So, my favorite local nursery gladly accepts my green cash in exchange for their green plants. I carry them home in a flat, let them sit in a sheltered spot for a while, and then set their roots into the cool, loose dirt. Viola! My garden is beautiful. No waiting.

Farmers? They don’t roll that way—because it’s way too expensive. They plow the dirt and plant the seed, and then suck it up and employ some patience, because they have a grander vision than my small plot of veggies. They have more acres to grow than I have wrinkles in my brain, and the best way to farm on a large scale is to wait.

Jesus referred to the world as a field and he commissioned his disciples to get to work. It’s a tough job, though, planting seeds of faith and waiting for green to spout. I seem to want to rush the harvest. Heaven sounds pretty good, and especially on days when I feel wind-whipped and thirsty, I think, “When Lord? How much longer do we have to wait?”

But the God of the planting is the also the God of the harvest. He knows the perfect time to sow, as well as the exact moment to gather. I may think the season of ripeness is here, but my view is hardly panoramic; His is all encompassing. So He leaves me with this admonition: “be patient and stand firm. I am coming.”

His time. Not mine.

I have been offered rest, Uncategorized

I Have Been Offered Rest: A Joint Post

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 HCSB

From Jen:

Rest? Ha!

Okay, so Susan and I have been thrust into a couple of hurricane-force schedules over the past few weeks. Our emails have resorted to choppy, fragmented sentences. Exhausted. Can’t see straight. I’m sure y’all can relate, we’ve all been there, right?

So where are these green pastures and still waters Psalm 23 talked about? Where do I get to lie down? And what is Jesus talking about when he says “I will give you rest?”

From Susan:

When ancient rabbis chose their disciples, they picked only the brightest. They’d invite a few straight-A students into their personal disciple-corps with this sentence: “Come take my yoke upon you.”  A yoke, for the non-agrarian among us, was a collar fitted on a pair of oxen so they could pull a plow or cart. A yoke was a burden to those beasts.  And so the rabbis were telling their chosen disciples: “Come, follow my way of doing things. Walk the way I walk.  Put my understanding of our religion on your necks like a yoke.”

But Jesus was a Rabbi of a vastly different sort. He not only offered the invitation to follow Him to everyone (not just a few stellar students) but he told us his yoke would a “light” burden, one that offered rest.

But rest from what? Hectic schedules?  Trials?  Sorrows?  No.  He made it pretty clear that those sorts of burdens will assail all of us, whether we are following Him or not.  The rest Jesus was talking about here was freedom from all the religious rules and regulations, from legalism.  Instead of trying (and failing) to keep a zillion laws, we disciples of Jesus need only to believe in Him, resting in the Work he accomplished for us on the cross.

So what does that mean for Jen and me during our weeks of frantic flurry? For me, it means that yesterday, the Christian Sabbath, I didn’t get zapped. I broke the Sabbath, you see.    I had a huge editing assignment due, and I simply had no other time to do it.  So instead of resting after church and reflecting on God, as the Jewish laws would tell me to do, I got to work, earning money and keeping my commitment to a client.  It’s not my habit to do that.  I usually don’t.  But yesterday … well I didn’t have another choice.

I’m so thankful my Rabbi put a yoke of grace around my neck so that even when my schedule exhausts me, I have rest in Him.

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I drowned Jesus

Gaining approval is like writing a resume. You work hard, collect brownie points that make you sparkle like a freshly cleaned bathroom…and all the while forget that, really, you house the toilet. This isn’t the calling of Christ. He frees us to do the things that glorify him, we don’t glorify ourselves so that he’ll set us free.

Melissa writes in this post “I quit the things that fit neatly in a resume.” I love that. It is because of his righteousness that I am called righteous.

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Banned Books Week: My Story of Censorship

This was blogged over on the artistic Christian last week. It was a good reminder of how very privileged I am and also of what being blessed really means. I have no fewer than ten Bibles in my home. Daily, I am free to reach for any one of them, open it, and read what God has preserved for me to read. Let me never, ever take that for granted.

The Artistic Christian

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Here we are in the middle of Banned Books Week (September 21-27), where librarians, teachers, and avid readers from across the globe are celebrating the books which have been censored throughout history and their right to read and think about whatever they wish. This may not seem important to you… unless you’ve been in a situation where what you were allowed to know about was heavily censored.

Several years ago, I stepped off an airplane and into a Communist country to find myself greeted by a long row of soldiers with rifles at the ready. Coming from America, this blatant display of power was like a cold slap in the face. Later, I was taken to an elementary school where I would be teaching English, and as the school administrator introduced me to the children two more guards stood with rifles pointed at the elementary students. The message was clear…

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