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This word.  Worthy.  The question of what it actually means to be worthy has been playing over and over in my mind all week and just like many other questions the answer usually depends on who you ask.  So naturally I asked google.  “What is the definition of Worthy?”

worthy

adjective wor·thy \ˈwər-thē\

Simple Definition of worthy

  • : good and deserving respect, praise, or attention

  • : having enough good qualities to be considered important, useful, etc

There it is, good, deserving respect, considered important, useful…so who decides that?  Who decides what is good?  Well, let’s think about our options.  If my worthiness depends on the culture than it will change depending on what society values at the time.  If my circumstances, family, and environment determine my value then all of these things are outside of my control and there is nothing I can do to affect how worthy I am.  If it is my actions that are the determining factor  than what decides which actions are “good” and which are not.  Is it even possible to know what my worth is?  A simple answer, yes.  Your value, my value, anyone’s worthiness really doesn’t depend on us.  It depends on something far greater than us.

When we look at the world around us we see hate, bigotry, natural disasters, death, homelessness, starvation, childlessness, the shear magnitude of evil around us can be overwhelming and when we compare ourselves to that we seem like we’ve got things pretty well in hand.  Compared to everything that’s happening in the world I’d say my life looks pretty good, but let’s take a minute and separate ourselves from the fallen conditions around us.  Let’s just look at us… or no, me, my own heart,  lets look at that because my worthiness does not depend on what’s happening in the world, it depends on what’s happening in my heart and when I look at that I see everything in a different light.  In my heart there is pride, jealousy, and hate, just to name a few off the top of my head.  Now, I’ve never killed anyone and overall I’ve done some OK things in my life so with that in mind I’d say I am a pretty good person overall.  I have some bad things but hey who doesn’t.  I’m still good enough, that doesn’t make me unworthy, or does it?

Well that depends.  If there’s no standard of what is good or bad, right or wrong, than absolutely!  Live however you want because ultimately it really doesn’t matter, except that it does.  There are standards.  The bible clearly lists standards that we are supposed to attain to.  They lay out the perfect life, how to live without sin.  The only problem is this: No one qualifies (Romans 3:10).  What does this mean?  It means we are lost.  We are a people without hope struggling in vain to be good and attain a standard which in the end is like treading a stormy sea.  We are cold, wet, exhausted, and alone.  We feel as if the strength in our body is failing and soon the sea will overtake us.  Only to our surprise someone has thrown out a life preserver.  There is one who is worthy.  One who has managed to rise above temptation and the evil that surrounds us to live perfectly.  God came down in human flesh to be one of us.  It was His plan all along.  He saw His creation, humanity, and knew we would never be able to attain to this standard, but the standard could not be changed.  God is not only perfectly good but He is perfectly just.  He must judge sin and He is holy so he cannot be near sin.  In order for God to be Holy and still be able to love His creation, to draw near to His people, than payment must be made, the sin had to be atoned for.  His solution, to leave the glory of Heaven and be Emmanuel “God with us.”  He lived perfectly so that in the end He would be the final sacrifice, the perfect lamb to offer as payment for the sins of a dying world.

Today, my friends, is Good Friday.  The day we look back and clearly see the death of a man who committed no crimes, the sinless Son of God “who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).  He is what makes us worthy because He is worthy.

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

Revelation 5:12b

Can I just be honest for a moment friends?  I really think part of our problem as a culture especially as believers in our culture is that we focus way to much attention 0n this question, our own worthiness.  We remind ourselves constantly that we are enough, we are beautiful, and worthy.  We buy prints, mugs, t-shirts, and books that tell us what we need to feel better about ourselves.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love many of those prints, mugs, t-shirts, and books.  Hey, I even sell some of them, but I think many times our focus is wrong because it is on ourselves.  In the end what makes us confident is not our own self-worth but how much value we find in our Creator.

“for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,”

Philippians 3:3

So today sisters let’s remember the One who is worthy.

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This year I’m Not Studying the Bible

“Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
Psalm 30:5

Like that title?  Yep, you read it right.  This year I’m not going to do devotionals or bible study.  I had planned on reading through the bible in a year but I am tired of reading through passages of scripture superficially.  I no longer want to just read my devotional each day and forget what I read after I close my bible so this year I’m going to do something a little bit different.  Each year in January we all make resolutions, choose words, make goals.  Last year my goal was to keep a bible journal for one year.  It’s one of the few resolutions I made that I actually kept and it changed the way I studied the bible. It forced me to reflect on the words I was reading.  This year I’m going to do something else and I’m asking you to join me if you like.

Late in December I was thinking about words, one word specifically, I was trying to think of a word I would use for 2015.  The holidays are always crazy and when you are a homeschooling mom trying to run a small business sometimes life feels like absolute chaos.  So, after a month of craziness I decided that it was necessary to slow down and see what God wanted for me in 2015.  After trying to think of something profound like all the other people I follow in the social media scene I decided that I would forfeit my own self righteousness and pride and just pray, read my bible, and see what the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart.  After lots of thought the word I came up with was listen, real profound right?  It’s something I’m terrible at, really good at talking, not so good at listening.  This year I’ve decided to commit my time to really listen to God and His Word.  Then last week I was listening to Janet Pope on Revive our Hearts with Nancy Leigh Demoss, find the programs here (I highly recommend listening to all three).  I was sitting in the car running errands, like a chicken with my head cut off per the usual, and I was stopped dead in my tracks by these words:

Janet: Well, if I might share this story. I want to share it in the most loving way that I possibly can. Recently, I was teaching a conference to a small group of women, a group of friends. They actually call themselves “The Bible Girls.” I’ve been speaking to them for the last three years.

On the final night of the conference, one of the girls said in front of the group, “My problem is, I’m just not disciplined.”

And I said, “Penny, can I say this to you in the most loving way? And I mean it with all my heart. What if I said to you, ‘You’re so disciplined in eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day. You rarely miss a day.'”

Nancy: Most of us could say that.

Janet: But you would say, “No, it’s not discipline. I’m hungry.” And so I would say to you, it’s not that you are lacking discipline. It’s that you are not hungry.

And in that moment God gave her a teachable heart, and she said, “You’re right. Thank you.” And so what we all decided as a group was that our prayer would not be “God make me disciplined,” it would be “God make me hungry. Make me so hungry for God’s Word that discipline is not the issue.” 

-Courtesy of Revive Our Hearts

That was me, not undisciplined, just not hungry.  So I decided that I was going to change that.  For the last few weeks I’ve had a verse from James running through my head.  I’m not sure why but it just kept popping into my head;

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”  -James 1:22

So I read through the book of James and it resonated with my heart so deeply I decided this was it.  This was what I was going to do this year.  I’m going to let scripture permeate my life and memorize a whole book of the bible!  I’ve done chapters and verses but I have yet to do anything like this and at first It was daunting and then I broke it down.  There are one hundred and eight verses in the book of James if I started today and memorized one verse a day I could have the whole book memorized by May 5th.  Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen.  It might take longer (it probably will) but if I want to live out God’s word in my life what better way than to fill my heart with His words.  Not the voices of great christian authors (even though I like those) but the real words of the living God.  His truth.

So far I’ve memorized the first 8 verses.  It has been a challenge but a blessing.  What has worked for me is as soon as I wake up I either look up the verse on my phone or in my bible then I write it in my bible journal.  Writing things down always seems to help impress it in my mind.  Then I just repeat that verse throughout the day, alone and in context with the other verses I’ve memorized.  Whatever I’m doing whether it brushing my teeth, doing the dishes, driving around, it only takes a minute to repeat a couple words and if I don’t remember I just check my journal.  01ac071d9ca01b40f3bc9cf844d34aa22d1eee3313

This practice over the last week has really changed my heart.  Instead of just spending 10,15, or even 30 minutes in God’s word each day I am thinking about it all day.  I would love to have a group of people come alongside and memorize with me so at the bottom of this post is a downloadable .pdf with instructions and a checklist of verses.  So you can keep track of your progress.  There are two tracks on the sheet.  The fast track is one verse a day for those of us who really want to just focus on memorizing James but if you would like to continue your normal bible study routine and memorize you can do one verse every three days.  This way the memorization doesn’t interfere with your studying.  I can’t wait for you to join in this journey with me!

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Love and Fear

Last week I wrote that this 31 day challenge was harder than I thought.  I never imagined just writing once a day for 31 days could be so difficult.  It has stretched me in a lot of ways and the last four days have been especially difficult. I spent a wonderful weekend out of state with my family and unfortunately got sick.  I’m just beginning to get over it and with quite a few orders and homeschooling I’ve been swamped to say the least.  I made the decision when starting this small business that my family would always be my first priority.  This week has tested that and I’ve tried to focus on getting well and taking care of things on the home front.  But that has meant the blog was pushed aside for a few days.  So, here I am again attempting to finish well.

For the last few weeks Ebola has been in the headlines.  The news today of the latest patient, a nurse, has really hit home because where she traveled in Ohio was not to far from my family.  A virus can be a terrifying thing.  It isn’t something we can cure or control.  It’s easy to let the fear immobilize us.  So today I chose to focus on truth.  The truth that we serve a Heavenly Father who cares for us.  That He is in control of all things and this did not take Him by surprise.  He loves my family more than I do and I can trust Him with not only my life but also my husband’s and the lives of our children.  He is good in every circumstance and He has a plan.

When I meditate on what is true it helps put that fear into perspective.  This month my focus is on abiding in love.  1 John 4 talks about abiding, love, and fear.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another,
God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us,
because He has given us of His Spirit.

14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,
God abides in him, and he in God.

16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.
God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment;
because as He is, so also are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

1 John 4:11-18

We have nothing to fear.  We are His and He “abides” in us.  The very thought of this gives me chills.  The God of the universe abides in me.  And I do not have to be afraid.  Instead of focusing on the fear of this so called “oubreak” maybe we should focus on what this means for us as believers who abide with the Heavenly Father, because abiding in love means abiding with Him.

As believers this virus should be a wake up call for us.  No one lives forever and all being diagnosed with a terminal illness does is take away the illusion that we control our lives, we don’t, no one does.  Eventually everyone will die and face judgement.  Thankfully as believers we can have “confidence in the day of judgement.”  There are many others however who don’t have that confidence.  In light of this epidemic I pray that we would not cower in fear but instead stand up as witnesses of real love and hope because we were sent to “testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”  Through Him they can have confidence.  There is no more noble or loving thing to do for someone than to show them a means to salvation.

So don’t be afraid any longer.  I believe fear is a tool of our enemy.  Instead be reminded of what the Lord told Joshua, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9

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What is love?

The funny thing about writing on love is almost every post I’m reminded of a song.  Like today all I can think of is “what is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more..”  Anyways, I felt compelled on this journey to love intentionally to define love.  In our culture today, for a variety of reasons, love has become confined to this sexual love box that quite frankly I don’t believe it belongs in.  Actually even the Oxford Dictionary defines love in this way:

love  [ ləv ]

noun

  1. an intense feeling of deep affection:
    “babies fill parents with intense feelings of love”
    synonyms: relationship · love affair · romance · liaison · affair of the heart ·

    More
    • a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone:
      “it was love at first sight”
      synonyms: infatuated with · besotted with · enamored of ·

While this type of love is real there is so much more to loving a person than being emotionally attached or physically loving them. The bible defines love differently.  It explains true unconditional love.  Love that doesn’t depend on our feelings but remains despite our feelings 1 Corinthians actually lays out in detail what real love is,

1Cor1348

Many of us have heard these verses over and over but when you break down the truth of scripture.  You realize how far as a culture we’ve missed the mark on this one.  Love is not some fairy tale ending even though I some days I desperately wish it could be.  Love is not an amazing feel we get when we care for someone.  It isn’t a sweet kiss or a bouquet of flowers.  All these are just the effects of Love.  Love is choosing the good of another person over your own good.  Sacrifice.  It’s not always fun, it’s not always easy, and quite frankly more often than not it’s something I don’t feel like doing, but it’s good.  And love that has been tested is deep and rich.  That is why at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 Paul writes “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

So today I’m taking a moment to breathe and consider what it really means to “abide” in love.  I’m considering ways to step out of what is easy for me and do something hard for someone.  Something that actually puts their good above my own.  I pray you can do the same thing too.

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Abide, 31 Days of Love: an experiment

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
~1 Corinthians 13:13

Over the last couple weeks I’ve felt compelled, although I’m not sure why, to join The Nester (Myquillyn Smith) and her idea to write a blog post every day for 31 Days. I’m really not a “blogger” so this is kind of a big deal for me. I’m terrified of doing this and I’m also pretty sure I’ll fail. But, I believe that hard things are worth doing even if they seem impossible. In the words of Lewis Carrol “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” This month I’m believing three. The first is that I’ll actually be able to write every day for thirty one days, the second is that I can show love to someone different and in different ways every day for thirty one days, and the third is that I can plan meals for each day this month. The third really has nothing to do with the first two other than it actually was one of my goals this month and it does seem impossible. I am not a type A personality, in any way, shape, or form. I write lists. I also usually lose those lists before I can actually use them. I love the idea of a clean organized house with schedules and order. Neither my home nor my life reflect this. I try, I really do, but in the end I’m normally my own worst enemy.

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Anyway, the topic I’ve chosen for this month is “Abiding in Love” This year I’ve been trying to build relationships and love people like Christ. That’s why when I was wracking my brain for a topic I kept coming back to love. Because real love is hard. So I’m not sure how but each day in October I will intentionally act out my love for another individual. Most of the post probably won’t be me sharing how I did that, some might, but because love is intimate and personal there are probably going to be times that sharing will not be appropriate. After all we’re not supposed let our “left hand know what our right is doing…” right? (Matt. 6:2-4)  This is something I as a believer should really be doing anyways.  The love of Christ should be natural to me.  I should be so filled up with the spirit that love is pouring out of my every crevice  but the closer I  examine my life the more I realize that I am not overflowing with love and concern for others.  Instead I’m absorbed with myself.

When I think of abiding it fills my mind with fall like images such as cozy blankets, warm coffee, sweaters, scarves, and crisp fresh air.  But when I consider what abiding in real love is those images are stripped away.   It isn’t cozy or comfortable.  People aren’t easy to love.  Love requires sacrifice and intentionality.  It is so much richer and deeper than just a feeling we have for another person.   So this month I’m going to love and write intentionally. I hope you can join me.

31 Days:


Day 2- Gather Together, Because No One is Called to Hermitude

Day 3- What is Love?

Day 4- Learning How to Love

Day 5- Resting in Love

Day 6 & 7- Grace in Love

Day 8 – Keeping it Simple

Day 9 – This is harder than I thought…

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