The Power of God and the Partnership of Obedience

Sometimes, afternoon lands heavy and hard. The morning caffeine has long expired, the daily do-list looms unfinished, and it’s clear that I’m going to run out of energy before I run out of day. That’s when the brownies on top of the fridge start crooning my name. The open carton of mint chocolate chip in the freezer has my number on speed dial.

Standing at the intersection of tired and tempted, there’s a collision that dissolves all my pious parsing of doctrine into a howl of dismay. “God, don’t you see me struggling here? Why don’t you do something?”

At the boundary line between will power and God’s power, I see what a courageous risk it was for God to give us freedom, for Him to release His beloved into the threatening territory of our own poor choices. Every day, we trust for grace in our battle against a custom-made constellation of sin tendencies.

And I’m wondering . . . how is this working in your life?

Paul’s New Testament writings reveal that he was no stranger to this fight against active disobedience, and he shares vital encouragement, cheering us on as we strive to “fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power. “ (I Thess. 1:11 ESV)

CaptureThe welcome mat is down and the door is flung wide over at (in)courage today, so I’m hoping that you’ll click here to join me and continue reading. Then, be sure to add your thoughts to the conversation about this paradox of engagement in which we take strength from God while also exercising our own will in the fight against temptation.

Also, don’t forget that you can sign up here to receive free notes from (in)courage, sent right to your inbox daily

I’m looking forward to meeting with you over there!

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Photo by John Westrock on Unsplash

 

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Taming Anxiety Over the Unknown

Knocking twenty-two years’ worth of dust off a resume stretches the definition of “creative writing” to its limit. After giving my time away for two decades, could I convince even myself that my skills are marketable? Was I still capable of holding my own in the workforce? The questions hung in the air like a challenge.

At about this time two years ago, I was embarking on a job search that did not happen at all the way I had planned it. I’m sharing that experience this month on The Redbud Post where we’re examining the topic of anxiety for the month of May.

The truth is that whenever the unexpected happens, I’m thrown against the framework of my theology. Will it hold? Does what I believe about the sovereignty of God accommodate a veering turn that was not anywhere on my road map? With anxiety over the unknown comes a greater need for and reliance upon a sinewy faith in God’s good intentions toward me in this following life.

Redbud Writers GuildIf this is also your story, I encourage you to click on over to The Redbud Post where you can read a collection of articles on the topic of dealing with anxiety.

Thanks for reading, and I trust that you will also share your own thoughts on dealing with anxiety in the comments below or over at the Redbud site. I have found these words from Paul Miller in The Praying Life to be especially helpful and wise:

“Instead of trying to suppress anxiety – to manage it or smother it with pleasure – we can turn our anxiety toward God. When we do that, we find that we have slipped into continuous praying.”

Blessings to you!


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I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Caregiving: Wisdom for the Sandwich Generation

I heard her footsteps on the stairs one night — jolted out of a sound sleep and into the familiar world of worry.

Step, click, pause.

The foot, the cane, the balance check.

Exhaling in the dark, I realized . . . no.  I had been dreaming.  She’s not here anymore.  She’s walking in safety now, through hallways with sturdy rails, assisted by M.A.’s and C.N.A.’s and an alphabet soup of helpers who tend to her every need.

That transition from our home to a long term care facility was heart-wrenching. Today, the first anniversary of my mother’s passing, I’m sharing some reflections on that season of care giving at The Perennial Gen.

As difficult as it was to have Mum in our home, it was even more difficult to make the decision that she needed more advanced care. In His mercy, God gifted a peaceful and painless passage to Mum, and in the year since then, I’m thankful to find that the memory of hard days and relational tension is being swallowed up in healing and forgiveness.

For those who are walking the tightrope of parenting your children while giving care to an elderly parent, please know that your sacrifices and struggles are seen by God, and He will give wisdom and strength — even for the decisions that feel as if there is no right answer.

I’m sharing our family’s story of grace with the folks at The Perennial Gen today. Join me?


If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

The Crash and Burn of a God-Sized Dream

It all started as a strategy for outreach. We sat around a table and began to dream out loud, trusting that the fire of shared passion and the wisdom of group process would yield creative ideas for communicating the love of Christ to our community.

I don’t mind confessing that I loved my dream. We would offer free oil changes to those in need: the poor, the elderly, single parents, come one, come all! Coffee and brownies would make the most of the waiting time as those of us less talented with a wrench would fill cups and keep the conversation flowing. We prepared colorful informational brochures about our church and its programs. We bought supplies, spread the word, and waited.

Not one person signed up.
Not one person called to inquire.

The spectacular crash and burn of my dream rang in my ears for a long time. In fact, it was all I could hear, and it was ages before my idea spigot found its way back to the on-position once again.

I hope you’ll join me over at God-sized Dreams today where I’m reminiscing about a colossal failure early in my ministry life that convinced me of this truth:

Our story does not end with the death of one dream.

Click here to continue reading, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts (and maybe your shared experiences?) on the holy persistence that presses into a dream when all around you wafts the stench of failure.

God-sized Dreams

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I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Everyday Habits of Holiness

The insistent tone of my cell phone’s timer carried through floorboards to our basement schoolroom–another call to prayer unanswered.

I sighed, turned the page, and continued with my sixth-grader in a lesson on fractions.

I had been reading about the historical practice of praying the hours, setting aside intentional moments throughout the day at specific times to stop everything and pray.

Believers long ago listened to the sounding of bells to remind them to pray.

My solution?

Setting a cell phone timer.

It seemed like the perfect solution for a more intentional prayer life..

Why, then, did my timer always seem to sound when I was in the middle of an un-interruptible task?

  • Dinner preparation on a ball game night.
  • A fervent untangling of numerators and denominators.
  • An intense disciplinary moment.

The reminder was impractical for that season, but it was an important step on my journey toward a more mindful use of my minutes in building my relationship with God.

Today I’m joining Sarah Koontz over at Living By Design to share 5 ways I’ve learned to invite holiness into my every day habits. Click on over to join me there, and let’s pause together to consider how these simple strategies may encourage your faith and help you to grow.

Everyday Habits of Holiness

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Managing Time on the Fringes

The most common complaint about time management is lack of time. With most of our moments already spoken for by the work that pays the bills or the tasks that keep family life on the rails, the challenge is to make the most of our little minutes, the time on the fringes of our days.

For example, if you are an average reader (250 words per minute), 15 minutes per day will take your eyes through 3,910 pages in one year. That’s 20 books! If you struggle to set and keep fitness goals, consider the efficiency of a 20-minute walk.

A Matter of Focus

Like beads on a string, our minutes slide by. Poor, cynical Solomon bemoaned the futility of it all, dismissing his significant accomplishments as a chasing after the wind. Author Annie Dillard speaks a better and more hopeful wisdom:

“How we live our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

If you’re a regular here at Living Our Days, you’ve heard that quote before, and today I’m sharing it along with some thoughts on Time Management over at the writing home of my friend Kelly R. Baker.

Click here to join me as we spend some time discussing the importance of stewarding our time without making an idol of efficiency. Time management in light of the gospel means that God will help me to perform my daily, mundane tasks with Leviticus-Level attention to detail, investing the same purposefulness that transformed curtains of goats’ hair and rams’ skins into a house of worship.

I look forward to your input to the discussion over at Kelly’s place!Managing Time on the Fringes


Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Two Reasons to Give the Church Another Chance

When my husband and I were still a “young couple,” we used to laugh over an imagined scenario at our church:

“What ever happened to that young couple with all the boys?”

“Haven’t you heard?  They divorced – someone said that they just grew apart, that they didn’t know each other anymore.”

“No!  They were here at church all the time!  How could something like that have happened?”

Truly, it’s not funny, but we laughed because we knew that even though our church family loved us,  if we had said, “Yes,” to all the ministry opportunities that were pressed upon us,  it wouldn’t be long before this was our fate.  Fortunately, we were able to remember their love for us as we made decisions to become the guardians of our own margins and boundaries.

For many people, the church has a reputation to overcome.  It’s hard to trust The Body when you’ve been burned by its members.  For various reasons,  believers are staying home on Sunday mornings, and the experts say that only 20% of Americans attend church regularly.  Certainly, anyone who has done time in the pew can find a reason to gripe:  lack of appreciation; not liking the pastor/the music/the sermons/the color of the carpet; unsatisfying or turbulent relationships.   All of this should be no surprise to us, for even the healthiest, most vibrant fellowships are populated with . . .  well, sinners.  There’s really no one else to come to church!

I’m over at The Perennial Gen today making a case for giving the church another chance–even if you feel as if you’ve been burned in the past. Ponder the wisdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and then click on over to read the post in its entirety:

“The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him.  He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself . . .”

Please join the discussion over at The Perennial Gen, and I do look forward to reading your thoughts on the church gathered and the role it has played in your spiritual formation.


Many thanks to Jen Ferguson for the lovely image.

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.