Carefree #366Days Day 265

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I come by worrying honestly. My daddy says they used to say if his mother, my Mama Camp, ran out of things to worry about she’d go borrow some from the neighbors. 

I’ve never had to go looking for things, because my over-active mind can always make up a list of its own. Left alone, I’d worry up clouds on the sunniest day, churning them out of my thoughts like the heat boils them up on an August day. 

But 1 Peter 5:7 tells us that’s broken thinking. “Cast all your anxiety (cares, as I learned it as a girl) on Him because He cares for you.”

I’ve known those words most of my life, but they practically jumped off the page at me this morning in The Message translation I’m reading. 

Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.

I’m not sure what ad person is responsible for planting the thought in my head, but as a child of the 1970s, the word carefree makes my mind see these beautiful young women with long flowing hair running through a green field in the sunlight. The soft-focus filter — or maybe in those days just Vaseline on the lens — gives everything an almost heavenly glow. 

Carefree. 

That field isn’t just a place to visit but a place where we should live. Why? Because we’re before God

We are before God who is stronger than our problems, bigger than our fears; who loves us fiercely; who forgives us readily; and, as the second part of the verse adds, is most careful with us. 

But don’t think us when you read that. Think that He is taking directly to you and directly to me. God cares for us as individuals, not just the us where I’m on the back row and maybe He didn’t notice I’m there. 

Careful. Protective. Caring. Loving. He’s got this — whatever this is — so there’s no need for us to be anxious or worry. Only to trust Him, obey Him, and rest in the glory of His eternal light. 

Who is that guy? #366Days Day 264

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I love the Apostle Peter. There’s something inside me that relates to his quickness to act–and to overreact. He’s the first (and only) one out of the boat to walk on the water, the first to blurt out an answer to an important question, even the first to want to fight for justice by lopping off somebody’s ear. 

We talk a lot about the Peter who walked with Jesus during his early ministry. We hear the story of Jesus returning to him after the Resurrection to draw him back in. We even read about his work in the early church. 

But today, I heard from a much wiser Peter, one who’d seen God’s faithfulness and wrote letters to point the way for the exiles and also for us. 

He tells us that we are being refined spiritually, that we should focus on the Day when Christ will return. He encourages us to “keep on believing.”

I’d think Peter knew my heart, if I didn’t know it was really the One who told Peter what to write. In 1 Peter 1:13 he says,”So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing.”

My mind can easily slip out of gear and return to autopilot, following habits of thinking that are already there. The problem is, we have an enemy who watches for us to stop paying attention so that he can work on manipulating us, upsetting us, and leading us on paths that are anything but righteous. 

Peter tells us to be diligent, to keep on living the life we are called to through Christ. In chapter 2, verses 1-3, he says, “So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.”

From lopping off that ear and running away on the night of the Crucifixion to “drinking deep of God’s pure kindness” and “growing up mature and whole in God,” the changes God has brought about in Peter’s heart are evident in the words of his letter, and that’s the kind of change I’m praying for in my heart, a change that will show I’ve spent time drinking of God’s pure kindness. 

He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. #366Days Day 263

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When I was a little girl, I remember pulling petals off of a flower, repeating the classic lines:

He loves me. 

He loves me not. 

He loves me. 

He loves me not. 

Sometimes the flower would have an even number of petals — bad news for a young heart — and sometimes it would work out just right, the way I’d hoped. 

Problem is, at the end, all I was left with was a useless stem and a pile of damaged petals. My situation hadn’t really changed at all. 

Sometimes, it seems we want to play the same game with God. We want to determine by our own reasoning — or something as silly as the number of petals on a flower — how He really feels about us. 

So, we pull off one petal and think things like If God loves me, would He allow this? 

Then, if God loves me, wouldn’t He have made sure I had that?

And on and on we reason our way so that we ourselves become the empty stem, useless, not pretty at all, having sacrificed the God-given beauty of our petals to our own questions. 

I can tell you the answer and save some petal-pulling. 

He loves you. 

He loves me. 

And He is good. 

And we can count on Him. 

Anyone or anything that tries to tell us differently is spreading lies from the pit of Hell. Including us, when we doubt His love and goodness. 

James 5:10-11 tells us “Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.”

I had one of those nights where even my dreams seemed to be whispering lies to my heart. I’m so thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning — new THIS morning — and that He reminded me of His great love for us. 

Better than the Classic Navy Blazer #366Days Day 262

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I ran across a quote from Kafka on Twitter this morning. It said, “Don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion.”

For somebody who wrote about a guy who woke up and found himself to be a giant cockroach, the quote seems pretty spot on.  

In fact, it echoed the words I’d just read written quite a bit earlier by James, who is believed by many biblical scholars to have been the half-brother of Jesus.  

In James 2:1, The Message translation reads, “My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.”

Public opinion is always that: opinion. And like lots of things — lots of fashions — it is fleeting. Yesterday’s leisure suits and bell bottoms become just another fashion joke, until there’s a brief resurgence (hopefully not for leisure suits!) and then we again find ourselves wondering “What was I thinking!?”

Instead, when living out our faith, we should focus on the constant, unchanging opinion of the One who matters. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus isn’t going to change. He’s not going to have some new style rule we’re violating as soon as we catch up with the last one. 

Nope. He “is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

And I’m thankful that in the constant, abiding, unchanging nature of Christ are love and mercy through which He offers to clothe us in His righteousness. 

Talk about a style that will endure the test of time!

Cool Things #366Days Day 261

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The other day I got a new follower on Twitter. I didn’t know the name so I clicked to learn more and profile lead to Tweet which led to Tweet which led to a reading list on how to be a missional church. 

Since I’m a true nerd, there’s nothing better than a reading list on a topic I want to know more about. So, I zeroed in on the book described as “foundational” and looked it up on Amazon. (In addition to being a nerd, I’m also an Amazon Prime member!)

I found a used copy of the book that came with my much-beloved free Prime shipping. The book arrived last night, and I was torn between starting it after I got home from Bible study or just vegging out in front of So You Think You Can Dance. 

The call of the DVR was winning slightly but I started thumbing through the book’s opening pages. The book was autographed by the editor — and not just autographed but personalized. 

Personalized. And. Made. Out. To. The. Nickname. My. Husband. Calls. Me. 

I turned off the TV and hurried to show him the book, complete with tears streaming down my face. 

I love that we serve a personal God who reminds us that He orders our steps, that in the vast sea of social media He can send a message to us individually, if we listen with faith-filled hearts. 

I don’t know what the book may hold that I need to know, but I’m reading it with an expectant heart that God can and will teach me something new through it. 

Because He is awesome.