A Grateful Heart

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For the past few years, I have done “30 days of thankful”.   Every day in the month of November I would post something I was thankful for as my Facebook status.  My intent was to do the same this year, until I thought about an old song we used to sing in church, “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”.  We “give” thanks with our mouth.  We speak it.     But do we mean it?

The mouth is a wild animal, often speaking before we can check the attitude of our heart.   The song title suggests that when we do give thanks, we must check to be sure that our hearts are as grateful as the mouth.   I didn’t post something every day for thirty days because I wasn’t sure that in years past my heart was sincere.   So I asked myself a difficult question, am I truly giving thanks if my heart isn’t in it?  God hears me when I talk, but he also sees my heart (I Samuel 16:7).  I don’t feel I am truly giving thanks if my heart isn’t in it.  The words of my mouth and the attitude of my heart must be the same.  Then I am truly grateful.

I made a decision to spend the days up until now thinking of things that I am truly grateful for.   Friends, I give you my heart.

I have not and will not have children come through me but I have many whom have come to me.  They enrich me, challenge me, change me, make me think, and give me more love than my heart can hold.   I am so grateful for the gift that is each one of those kids.   Lil Man- in my heart, every day, forever.

My husband- God didn’t give me what I wanted, He gave me what I needed.  And that is so much better than anything I could have ever dreamed of wanting for myself.  He isn’t perfect, and neither am I, but we make it work.  He is my teammate!

My family- all inclusive!  I am blessed to still have grandparents, and at my age that is a true gift.  I enjoy relationship with them.   My parents are such an example of marriage, dedication, and hard work. To say thanks for not giving up will never be enough.   My brother, in spite of it all, we managed to find our way.   My sister in law- truly grateful for the wife and mother she is!  My nieces, you are quite simply my world.  To the many I didn’t mention- thank you for the things you add to my life. My heart overflows because of each of you.

My friends and church family- What a blessing you each are.  It is a pleasure to laugh with you, cry with you, and live out life with you.  You are a community Michael and l have chosen, and I am happy to say we have chosen well.

Last but not least- Jesus, keeper and savior of my heart and soul without whom I would be lost.

This is my challenge to you, when you are thankful today, consider your heart, and listen to it.  What is it grateful for?b4eabf6d80bdd1a0eee5352c88d05920

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November 27, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Easter Sunday

     I admit it. I went to church this morning jaded but desperate. I have long been used to “Easter Sermons”. You know the ones; “Jesus died on the cross for your sins, rose again, accept Jesus as you Savior.” Now, there is NOTHING wrong with those kinds of sermons, those are needed and necessary. I was just desperate to hear something new. I went to church this morning and felt the shackles fall off. It was an amazing feeling.

   I have long believed a lie. The lie that I somehow had to “maintain” my salvation. That my relationship with Jesus was based on how much I read my bible, prayed, how many hours of worship music I listened to every week, and whether or not I felt “close” to Jesus.   That lie was shattered this morning when I heard my pastor say “Jesus maintains the relationship. He did the work on the cross. It isn’t about your perception or how you feel. It is about reading your bible, praying, because you LOVE him.” Mind blown. WHAT!? I thought I HAD to do all this “stuff”, and when I didn’t Jesus and I weren’t close. LIE.

               Salvation is utterly dependent on what Jesus did on the cross. It was grace given I didn’t earn, and mercy extended that I didn’t deserve.   The work of salvation was completed when Jesus died and rose again; anything I do or don’t do doesn’t add or take away from that. He doesn’t change. My feelings ebb and flow. I am human I fail miserably and often. It doesn’t matter because he is unchanging, constant in his steadfast love and righteousness (see Jeremiah 9:24).

                 Realizing this today was FREEDOM!! Now, I have a choice. I do things for my husband out of love for him not because I feel some sense of obligation as a wife. I talk to him because I want to know him better. It is after all thru communication that our hearts become intertwined into one.  So it is with my relationship with Jesus. I can talk to him, read his words to me, no longer because I feel a sense of obligation, or because I feel like it is necessary to maintain my salvation. No. I can do those things simply because I love him, and I want my heart to be intertwined with his heart. And on those days when I don’t “feel” close to him? I understand now that is ok. It doesn’t change my salvation or take away from it. There are days I don’t “feel” as close to my husband either, but the fact we are still married and very much in love remains. So it is with my salvation. It remains.

   I left church no longer jaded and with a much lighter heart. That is what Easter Sunday is all about, freedom, and a new life. I hope you find it.

   “ Oh precious is the blood…..”        

******  For the podcast of Easter Sunday’s sermon please visit  lifepointchurch.com , it usually posted by mid week!

April 20, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Grace Extension

                           I like receiving grace.  Receiving grace makes me feel good, because it frees me from my wrongdoing, my selfish nature, and allows me to keep moving forward instead of staying stuck.   But when it comes to giving grace?    I am like a spoiled child with my favorite toy, I am not about to give away my grace.   Why? Because giving grace away requires much more of me than receiving it.   Being on the receiving end of grace is easy; being the one to have to give the grace is hard, sometimes beyond my human ability.   Instead of doing the hard thing and giving, I act like a child and keep it.   And the act of keeping grace  keeps me bound.  

                    God’s second greatest commandment to us is to love our neighbor as we love our self.   We easily love our neighbor (those around us) when our neighbor does everything right.   When our expectations are met, when we are loved the way we want to be loved, when they extend grace to us, when our neighbor doesn’t show us their brokenness, we love them.  We are happy.   We easily give them grace, because things are good, nothing hard is required of us.   Then the “uh-oh” happens. They disappoint us, they hurt us, they don’t meet our expectations, and they show us their brokenness.  In these moments something more is required of us.  They need our unconditional grace and love, given without restraint and expectation.   When we are handed hurt and disappointment the last thing we want to do is give these two blessed gifts. Instead we want to be angry, hurl hurt back, and do everything we can to hurt them as bad as they hurt us.   And in doing so we cause more destruction.

   This is not God’s will for us at all.  First and foremost we are called to extend grace and love without condition or expectation because Christ first gave it to us. Secondly, you give it because it keeps you free.  In Galatians 5:13 Paul states that we are called to live in freedom, not to serve our sinful nature, but to serve one another in love. Notice he doesn’t say only when you are happy and things are good, in fact he gives no qualifiers or conditions to this call at all.   It is simple.  You extend grace and love because it keeps you free. Free from bondage of sin, free from the bondage of destroyed and broken relationships. 

      Lately I have found myself asking how I can live in the freedom of giving away love and grace, especially to people who have hurt me or not extended me grace.  As I previously said, I am a spoiled selfish child, grace and love my favorite toys.   Then yesterday the answer smacked me between the eyes.  I can give grace because God gives it to me, and his word tells me that His grace is sufficient, and that his power (strength) is made perfect in my weakness ( 2 Corthians 12:9).  I have no strength to give grace on my own, especially amidst hurt.  So I admit my human frailty and throw myself on HIS GRACE, and HIS STRENGTH.  Then and only then can I give grace and love with no condition and no expectation.  And I am free.

                        

October 2, 2013. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.