Spirituality

The Most Important of Seeds

Our thoughts are among the most important of seeds, yielding a harvest of good or of evil. May our thoughts bear good fruit, producing words and actions of justice and truth, mercy and love.

 

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Our Thoughts, Our Lives

EVERY thought must be held captive and made obedient to that which is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Each day, we must stand on alert, combing through our minds for any thought that can take us off course. Our lives depend on it.

 

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13 Reasons to Live: Lest We Forget

For the past thirteen weeks, I’ve been focusing on the many reasons we have to live. It all started with an article I read about the potential negative repercussions of the show 13 Reasons Why, and how its depiction of suicide could influence those struggling with suicidal tendencies to take their own lives. My desire has been to help people to look beyond, to remember all we have to live for.

The world gives us so much to be depressed about, if that’s all we focus on. Even people of faith get depressed, because we see the world as it could be and should be and is not. When we lose focus on the hope we have, it’s tempting to wallow in the mire of misery.

If you are among those who have considered leaving this world behind, please take these words to heart. If someone you love is battling with thoughts of ending their life, please help them to reconsider. The list below contains highlights from the past thirteen weeks. I’ve put them all together in hopes of saving someone’s life. And more important, of helping you find the only one who can truly save you both for now and for eternity…

Reason #1: Life is Worth Holding On To
While we could use the evil of the world to deny purpose for life, what about the good? A history of suffering men and women found enough good in this world to keep living, to keep moving forward. Would we be here now, if not?

Reason #2: It’s Not About Me
Maybe if we adopted this grand mission of putting even the smallest pieces of our own corners of this world back together, we would find our purpose is far greater than ourselves. And we would find that is more than enough reason…to live.

Reason #3: The Promise of Redemption
We may think that all the suffering life brings is reason enough to end our own. But the knowledge that we have a God who is able to bring beauty from ashes, joy from tears, and praise from despair is reason enough to live.

Reason #4: This Ain’t Hollywood
The most influential, significant person in history lived the most humble life and died the most despised of deaths, giving not just hope…but LIFE, abundant and everlasting, for the world. For generations to come. In his eyes, you ARE significant. And in his hands, you FIND significance—not in pursuit of the world’s applause. But in living the life you were created to live, surrendering to sacrifice for those in your own sphere of influence, however small it may be.

Reason #5: Tenacious Beauty
Where there is beauty, there is hope. And if there is hope, there is reason to live.

Reason #6: It’s Not Over
What carries us through the daily warzone? The knowledge that we’re in the midst of redemption’s story, in which the Author of all life is the Author of our lives, working every scene together for good.

Reason #7: There is Freedom
God our Father understands our daily battle with temptation, and yet, because he has overcome, he is able to help us to overcome.

Reason #8: You Are Not Forgotten
If you feel forgotten, know that there is a God whose name is El Roi, “the God who sees me.” When no one else sees. When no one else cares to see. His eyes invade our hearts with light powerful enough to split the darkness and birth new life.

Reason #9: You Can Be Repurposed
Nothing is useless, and nothing is wasted. In the hands of a master craftsman, even what most would view as junk can be turned into a priceless treasure. A skilled artist can transform the most useless items into something of matchless worth. And that’s what our loving God is able to do with the most hopeless pieces of our lives.

Reason #10: It’s Not in Vain
The things of the earth are fading, failing—a mere chasing after the wind. But it is NEVER in vain to pursue the things of heaven while here on earth. Because there will come a day when we will finally see eternity. And it’s gonna be worth it.

Reason #11: We’re Not Home Yet
When we follow Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life, we have hope of eternal life in heaven, where there’s “no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.” The best things on earth are mere shadows of the best things of heaven.

Reason #12: You’re Here for a Purpose
God has placed you here on this earth for a purpose, and part of that purpose is to contribute your gifts, your personality, your talents, and your life to community. You are needed and you are necessary. You’re here in this generation for a reason.

Reason #13: You’re Not Alone
Unfortunately, there is no promise that life will be pain and problem-free. If anything, we’re told, “in this world, you will have trials.” Yet we can’t neglect the words that follow: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Freedom comes in knowing we’re not alone in the midst, and there is one who is stronger, and able to carry our every burden.

As I’ve said before, please take these words to heart. Print them, share them, remember them. Always know you are loved, you are needed, and the God who created you is able to keep you.

 

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Why Do You Look for the Living Among the Dead?

Empty Tomb from CrossCardsWhen hope dies, it’s hard to believe life can prevail.  We remain at the burial site—gazing upon what we’ve lost, unaware that something greater is destined to arise from the ashes.  Helen Keller once said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”  When Jesus died on the cross, those who had followed him closely were unaware that His death was only the opening of a greater door in which God was about to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that [they could] ask or think” (Eph 3:20).

The women who witnessed the miraculous were met with the question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). They earnestly came to Jesus’ disciples with news of the empty tomb, only to be met with disbelief.  It was as if they had come to a tomb of another kind—where hope itself was permanently laid to rest.  The disciples who’d walked with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry had mistakenly believed He’d come to set up an earthly kingdom.  He had been their hope of liberation from oppressive governmental and religious systems—a political Messiah.

When He died on the cross, their dreams died with Him; when they buried Him in the tomb, they buried their aspirations as well.  They did not understand Jesus’ destiny of suffering, predictions of death or promises of resurrection. They didn’t understand He had far greater things for them, an everlasting hope.

Many times we find ourselves in what appears to be a hopeless situation—a graveyard of disenchantment, surrounded by death.  Life has disappointed us; we have disappointed ourselves.  It seems that God has abandoned us to the grave.  We cry out for hope, but Heaven is as brass.  Alone in a graveyard of doubt and defeat, it seems that the promise of resurrection was nothing more than an illusion.

Yet it is when we have come to the end of ourselves that we are on the verge of finding true life.  When things seem most hopeless, we are closer to a breakthrough than ever before.  Why?  Because we finally come to realize that the things we were hoping in were not worthy of our trust to begin with.  They were incapable of sustaining us or providing the life we were looking for.  We finally seal false hope in a tomb—never to be revisited.  This is the beginning of resurrection.

When find ourselves at the entrance to life’s tombs, we have not come to a place of death:  we have instead arrived at the door that leads to everlasting life and hope.  Jesus’ death on the cross is an invitation to die to all our unworthy expectations.  His resurrection is an invitation to find hope that will never die.

Source: Why Do You Look for the Living Among the Dead?

Settling for Less

What is it that so moves us to go through the mindless motions, week after week, year after year? Why do we settle for infinitely less than what our Savior died for? Why do we live bound to our comfort zones and safe houses when he left his comfort and security behind to suffer and die that we can have LIFE that is truly LIFE? There’s a vast difference between walking dead while awaiting resurrection, and walking dead unaware, desiring for nothing more.

 

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Among the Dead

No man dies to live among the dead. No man lays down his life so others can live as zombies. And, to be honest, that’s what empty religion can do to a person. We appease our conscience with a weekly (or yearly) visit to church—stand up, sit down, repeat memorized phrases in droning monotone, and leave unchanged. And I must ask…is THIS what Jesus died for?

 

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A Simple Prayer

blog_snowywoods“Live simply, love generously, serve faithfully, speak truthfully, pray daily. Leave everything else to God.” I saw this quote while sitting in a café the other day. As I consider the direction of my life, these words speak to me about a simple yet profound calling. So often, we’re looking for the big, the extravagant, the noticeably noble. We want to be significant, and we perceive significance as something evident to the masses.

Yet what if greatness has a humbler definition?

And that’s why this has become my prayer, and my desired life-theme. To truly live simply—not bogged down by temporary things, unnecessary work, trivial concerns, or excessive material endeavors. To love generously: that my love for all would be abundant, honest, and overflowing…not in word alone, but in action and in truth.

Father God, remove every ounce of selfishness from within me: my self-centeredness, self-preservation, self-exaltation. Move in my heart to make me someone who thinks of others more than I think of myself.

Let my service be for the motive of honoring you by helping others. Let it be pure and untiring, all-encompassing—infiltrating all I do and done with all my heart, soul and strength. I confess I’ve grown weary in well-doing. Please renew my strength.

Tame my tongue to be still when I need to be silent and to speak truth boldly and always with love. Strip me of the veil of the fear of man.

I’ve been prayerless, so move me to pray. Prayerlessness is the root of all my trials, or my misunderstanding of your purpose in the midst of trials. Release me from bondage to laziness and unbelief, that my prayers may flow unwavering, unhindered, and unceasingly to you.

Build up my faith to know with confidence that when I’ve done all you ask of me, I can be at peace and leave all else to you. I want to live at ease with you, knowing you alone hold my life and I will stand before you alone at the end to give account for my thoughts, words, and actions.

This is my simple prayer.

 

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