Monday, October 31, 2011

A Glory Story Interview with Melody Richards


A Glory Story tells how you are seeing or experiencing the presence of God in your life. In the Bible, the word “glory” means a couple of different things. Sometimes it refers to the Lord’s fame and renown. Other times, it is rooted in the Hebrew word “shekinah” which refers to a visible manifestation of God’s Divine Presence.  For example, that word “shekinah” is the one used when referring to the presence of God resting or dwelling between the cherubim on the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle and in the Temple of Solomon.  It is also the term used in connection with the pillar of cloud and fire that led the Israelites to the Promised Land.  This understanding of the word glory sheds critical light on the reality of who Jesus is when we see it in Hebrews 1:3 where it says “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”
When we talk about “finding glory” at Walk Right In Ministries we are aiming to discover how God is present and active in our lives today.  Through a relationship with Jesus Christ we can personally and intimately experience the Divine presence of the living God.  Every time you see God at work in your life, there is an opportunity to tell a Glory Story.  It is your opportunity to bring honor and fame to God by making the reality of His presence known to others.
Today’s Glory Story interview with my friend Melody Richards will encourage you but it may also challenge you.  Melody’s story causes us to ask hard questions about how God reveals His presence to us even in life’s most difficult circumstances.
On May 17, 2008, Melody and her family experienced a tragedy that changed their lives forever.  They were awakened by the sound of a knock on their door. Melody faced a mom’s worst nightmare as a police officer explained to Melody and her husband that their lovely daughter Danielle had been in a car accident and did not survive. This devastating news rocked Melody’s world. Initially, she did not think she would be able to survive.
Melody’s experience has profoundly affected me and many others who know her.  To be sure, Melody and her family still struggle mightily with their grief and yet Melody is increasingly assured in God’s peace and purposes despite her pain.  I am grateful she is willing to share her deepest sorrow because it helps us to better understand God’s heart for our grief and it inspires us to draw near to Him when our hearts are breaking.

How has what happened to your family affected your relationship with God?
It’s common for individuals to react with anger against God when tragedies occur.  The untimely death of a loved one can elicit feelings of being abandoned and forsaken by God. But He never abandons us.  Personally, I did not have feelings of anger against God.  He became my source of comfort and healing as He gave me the hope, the assurance that I would see my precious Danielle again as she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  I clung to God’s promises in His word that He would never leave me. 

Second Corinthians 1:3-5 states that we receive comfort from the Holy Spirit SO THAT we can share that same comfort with others.  How have you experienced this promise in your circumstances — others sharing the Holy Spirit with you and you having opportunity to share Him with others?
I find that one of the best healing factors for grief is finding some way to touch somebody else's life, This helps to change the focus of your thoughts from yourself to other people. God has provided me with many opportunities to comfort others through my counseling practice, through Danielle’s website, and through speaking opportunities.  I have a passion to help others who are struggling with the significant grief associated with losing a loved one. 

Many have said, “God doesn’t waste anything.” Given the tragedy you have faced, what does that statement mean to you?
God has given me opportunities to reach many people who I never would have encountered without this tragedy.  God has also used this tragedy to strengthen my faith and help me to focus on priorities that have eternal consequences.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33 NIV) He also said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)  What have you learned about experiencing abundance while also in the midst of trouble?
Even though my heart was breaking, God gave me something worth trusting - and that's Him, and Him alone.  "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD" (Psalm 31:24).

Have you struggled with confusion, doubt, anger, fear or other difficult emotions as a result of the crisis?  
Absolutely. The unpredictable timing and odd combinations of emotions that hit you during grief can leave you confused and despairing.
What has been helpful for you in processing those feelings? 
Taking them to Jesus. David, in the Psalms, provided an excellent example of one who expressed his highs and lows to God.  Bring all your questions and feelings honestly to God. Appeal to Him; cry to Him; and then sit back in His arms and trust.

From a Kingdom perspective, what do you believe are the two or three most urgent things people need to learn about facing life’s struggles?
An eternal perspective — God has given me an eternal perspective to help me overcome the grief of such a shattering loss.  When you start seeing heaven as your true home, you begin to develop an eternal perspective that understands all sorrow as transient. Looking at life's tragedies through this eternal view provides us with hope to face the future. 
Truly believing in the sovereignty of God – that everything that happens to us is filtered by His hands.  It was important for me to continue to believe that God is good and He never makes mistakes even though this was the most devastating experience I’ve been through. 
The number one most urgent thing is “Are You Ready? When you take your last breath on this earth, do you know with 100% confidence that you will spend eternity with God in heaven?  According to God's Word, only those who have received Christ can go to heaven.
 _________________________________________
Thank you, Melody, for sharing what God is teaching you.  May God increasingly give you and your family deep and lasting comfort while encouraging all of us about His powerful and loving presence among us.  We are grateful for every opportunity to see the reality of His nearness!
To learn more about Melody’s story and read her daughter’s testimony of faith, go to www.daniellepound.com.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

Today's prayers for marriage are inspired by Ecclesiastes 3:1-12.

A prayer for your own marriage—

LORD OF ETERNITY, thank you for creating seasons in life and love. As it relates to my marriage, God, please help me to see the beauty in each season and to be refreshed in the changes. I confess that it is tempting to enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves this fall and forget to credit the hand of You who created that beauty in the first place. Likewise, when things are going well in my marriage, I tend to forget how You are at work in our hearts and in my marriage relationship to glorify Yourself and bring us joy.

My husband/wife and I desperately need Your help to prepare for and enjoy each new day. Strengthen us to endure the difficult seasons and help us to thrive. Whether we are in a season of hard work, a time of grief, a season of planting or feeling uprooted, a time of harvest or a season of waiting, help me to remember that you have good plans for me and for us. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You in every season, Lord — good and bad — so that the beauty of the covenant commitment we made will be fully enjoyed by my family and all those who intersect with it. AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

LORD OF ETERNITY, thank you for creating seasons in life and love. As it relates to marriage, God, please help my married friends to see the beauty in each season and to be refreshed in the changes. It is tempting to enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves this fall and forget to credit the hand of You who created that beauty in the first place. Likewise, when things are going well in the marriages around me, I tend to forget how You are at work in my loved ones' hearts and marriage relationships to glorify Yourself and bring joy to Your people.

My loved ones desperately need Your help to prepare for and enjoy each new day. Strengthen them to endure the difficult seasons and help them to thrive. Whether they are in a season of hard work, a time of grief, a season of planting or feeling uprooted, a time of harvest or a season of waiting, help them to remember that you have good plans for them. Help them to keep their eyes fixed on You in every season, Lord — good and bad — so that the beauty of the covenant commitment they made will be fully enjoyed by their families and all those who intersect with them. AMEN

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

Thank you for joining us here to explore God’s ways as it relates to growing, thriving and experiencing Him through adversity. Please do more than just read. Share your perspectives! Finding Glory Wednesdays are designed to be a conversation in addition to opportunity for private reflection. God is doing big things through the intersections of your life with others.

Today’s scripture and discussion question challenge us in the area of surrender.
Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!” Joshua 1:16-18
When you believe you are being prompted or led to follow God’s call in certain direction in your life, what helps you respond like the Israelites did when they said, “whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go?”
These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Active (not passive) Waiting

I am a grateful follower of The Gospel Coalition Blog. It feeds me with truth and food for important thought while keeping my heart looking more broadly at the issues facing Christians today than I am sometimes inclined to look if left to my own narrow vision.

A few weeks ago, my husband Larry forwarded me one of their posts which I had missed. The post by Phil Tripp, titled God's Will for Your Wait, resonated deeply with us. The last number of years have involved many seasons of waiting for us. Things we have waited for include healing, jobs, a book publisher, financial recovery and security, ministry clarity, partnership opportunities and so on. I know there are many who can relate to that struggle — experiencing some seasons of clear vision and mobilization and other seasons of waiting and wondering about God's presence and purposes.

If you have ever wondered about God's will in your waiting seasons or if you are wrestling, like us, through one of those right now, please take a few minutes to read that post. It offers very practical and gospel-centered direction.

Our family is traveling as you read this (some work and some play in Nashville). It's been a time for continued prayer seeking God's heart about the direction of our ministry and family. Even as we wrestle through wishing we could know more about God's higher ways, we are also grateful for the ways that wrestling draws us into closer step with Him. Knowing that Abraham's waiting (Romans 4:18-21) was also for our benefit is a great encouragement and an inspiring model.

Let us remember we are never alone in our waiting and let's be active in the process — celebrating, studying and yielding to the One who credits our faith to us as righteousness.

Lord, may our waiting be an act of worship! AMEN

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

Today we're going to take up an offering of marriage and trust that every stretch is worth the effort.

A prayer for your own marriage—

GRACIOUS LORD, you keep giving us good gifts in our marriage even when they are undeserved or we are unaware that they are there. Make us a couple who is welcoming to You in all of our circumstances. Keep us attentive to Your presence and grateful for it. Teach us how to express our thankfulness to You by sharing generously with others. Even when we feel we have so little to give, Lord, make much of it! Take our small spaces, our little leftovers, our thin schedules of time, our struggling love and magnify it for Your kingdom purposes. Stretch us to give sacrificially and cheerfully of our time and ourselves so that others may be blessed to know they are WORTH it. Thank you for Your promise that when we step out in faith and obedience to You, there will be a revelation of Your character, power and love that is unmistakable. Show us Your glory, Lord! AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

GRACIOUS LORD, you keep giving good gifts to my married friends even when they are undeserved or we they are unaware that You are there. Make these friends couples who are welcoming to You in all of their circumstances. Keep them attentive to Your presence and grateful for it. Teach them how to express their thankfulness to You by sharing generously with others. Even when they feel they have so little to give, Lord, make much of it! Take their small spaces, their little leftovers, their thin schedules of time, their struggling love and magnify it for Your kingdom purposes. Stretch them to give sacrificially and cheerfully of their time and themselves so that others may be blessed to know they are WORTH it. Remind them of Your promise that when they step out in faith and obedience to You, there will be a revelation of Your character, power and love that is unmistakable. Show them Your glory, Lord! AMEN

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

As we round out another cycle through the Road Map to Glory, let’s take time to reflect on God’s faithfulness in our lives.

He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.” Joshua 4:21-24

What does celebrating and remembering God’s faithfulness look like in your family? Like the rock piles from the Old Testament (there were several, by the way), do you have special traditions that help inspire new generations into a relationship with God?

If you are part of a past or current Finding Glory Group, please give us your feedback about what is going well, what could be better, and how God is working. Your comments help us develop and improve future resources. Please write us at larry@walkrightin.org or lisa@walkrightin.org.

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Shout-Out for "Deep Cover" & Friendship

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

As a teenager in high school, I never imagined how some of my Christian friends would continue to help me grow in my faith for decades to come. The story behind how one of my girlfriends has encouraged and stretched me may be of interest to some of you. At the very least, I pray it challenges and inspires you to be intentional about developing and maintaining Christ-centered relationships in your own life.

I went to high school in Southern Ontario. I have lived in Minnesota now for over 27 years. Three years ago I received an email from a high school girlfriend I had seen only a couple of times since graduating and then singing in her wedding. She told me she was going to be in town for a few days and wanted to get together. I was thrilled!

After a couple of mysterious emails back and forth, she admitted her reason for being in Minneapolis was because she was a finalist at a national Christian fiction writers conference. I had no idea she was writing fiction and she had no idea my husband and I were about to release our first book. And so began to unfold a new era in our relationship.

During the last three years, Sandra Orchard (her pen name), and I have been exchanging numerous emails. We have prayed about life, agents and publishers together. We have commiserated about writer’s block and the challenges of squeezing writing time into a mother’s day. We have strategized book-marketing ideas and pondered the pros and cons of blogging. The topics of our conversations have covered the gamut of life, work and ministry and always been saturated in a mutual sense that our relationship and work is a reflection of our love for Jesus and our passion to share Him with others.

When Larry and I appeared on 100 Huntley Street in Toronto, Sandra brought two of our precious high school classmates and all three grinned at us from the studio audience. Later that weekend, her church was one of those in the area that hosted us for a speaking event. Everyone should have a cheerleader, coach, friend and prayer partner like Sandra.

Sandra released her first novel last month and I wish I could tell the world to go buy it. (In some way, this blog post is my small contribution to that effort and a way to thank Sandra for being among my dearest and most long-standing friends.)

Deep Cover is only Sandra’s first novel. Her publisher has already purchased two more — with one scheduled for release next fall and the third some time after that. Such a commitment to a writer speaks volumes of their confidence in her talent and messages!

I read Deep Cover a few weeks ago and could hardly put it down. I’ve been restless to tell you about it ever since! This story is true to its label “Christian suspense romance.” Sandra does a fabulous job of developing characters and portraying realistic and creative adventures. I was impressed with how much “homework” she must have done in order to capture the essence of main character Rick Gray’s life as an undercover cop.

But what touched me the most was Sandra’s portrayal of Ginny, the heroine of the story. Ginny is the older sister of a young women with cognitive disabilities and the daughter of a recovering alcoholic. Ginny bears much responsibility as it relates to caring for her sister and she does so with great compassion, commitment and love for her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It has hard for me to read about Ginny sometimes as I found myself projecting my own daughters into that role with their sister Carly. As Larry and I are feeling the ticking of life’s clock, our hearts ache at thoughts of how Carly will be cared for when we are gone. But I think they ache even more at the idea that two of our daughters will, in some way, share a heavy burden for most or all of their lives. Yet even as I watched Ginny function as caregiving sister with joy, I knew that Alex and Erin would also consider it a joy and privilege to be Carly’s sister despite the burden it will often be.

It is the mark of great storytelling when we can readily place ourselves in the spot of fictional characters and have that experience move us, shape us, and enlighten us. Deep Cover helped me think through some things I don’t ordinarily spend much time thinking about. More than that, it got me praying more about things that need to be taken to Jesus.

I’m so thankful Sandra’s book did that for me.

I hope you’ll look her up and buy her book. Deep Cover has a lot of important things to say to people in a variety of life circumstances. And besides that, it just plain entertaining reading! And who doesn’t need a great book to snuggle up with now and then?

Deep Cover will be a book you’ll want to take to the sofa next weekend and stuff into someone’s stocking this Christmas. Click here for a direct link to Sandra's book at Amazon!

Friday, October 14, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

Today we are praying for married men and women to hear God's Word and put it into practice like wise people building their houses on a sure foundation — the Rock of their salvation.

A prayer for your own marriage—

CREATOR GOD, thank you for establishing my marriage and home on the firm foundation of You. Thank you that Your grace and power are sufficient to bring us back whenever we drift away from that foundation. Please strengthen me and my husband/wife to honor You as the builder of our family (Hebrews 3:3) and forgive us for those times when we make anything about our home (stuff, schedules, circumstances, etc.) more important than You. Most of all, Lord, please make our hearts Your home and dwell within this family. Fill the walls of our home with the sounds of laughter, joy and praise to You. AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

CREATOR GOD, thank you for establishing the sacred union of marriage on the firm foundation of You. Thank you that Your grace and power are sufficient to bring any marriage back to Yourself even after it has drifted away from Your foundation. Please strengthen my married friends to honor You as the builder of their families (Hebrews 3:3) and forgive them for those times when they make anything about their home (stuff, schedules, circumstances, etc.) more important than You. Most of all, Lord, please make their hearts Your home and dwell within their families. Fill the walls of their homes with the sounds of laughter, joy and praise to You. AMEN

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

When we are facing a disaster like a serious medical diagnosis or job loss, the circumstances can quickly become emotionally consuming. The logistics of life can also become very complicated, at least for a season. It can seem impossible to find time, energy or ways of reaching out to others while in the midst of our own chaos yet God never excuses us from loving and serving others. We are part of a family.

Today’s scripture and discussion question challenge all of us in the area of sharing life together.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:15-17

As children of the Heavenly Father, we share in His sufferings as well as His glory. It also means that we are part of a spiritual family. In what ways might God be prompting you to reach out to your Christian brothers and sisters today or this week?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, October 10, 2011

True Hope in This Present Hell

I had the privilege of being invited to a fundraiser luncheon for Treehouse Ministries last week and the added privilege of bringing a friend. Treehouse is a faith-based organization offering hope and guidance to at-risk teens and their parents — a ministry we are proud to support because we share their vision and know too many hurting young people who need them.

I was able to take with me a college friend I rarely see but keep in connection with through a shared love for kids, writing and the Lord. It was an absolute delight to catch up with her and even more so given the nature of the event and the stirring keynote we heard together.

Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, talked about hope. After welcoming 600 ladies to lunch in the voices of several God-loving vegetables we all know, he used personal testimony and examples from the scriptures to point to where true hope comes from. He applauded the value of bringing encouragement to kids who need to have a vision for their future in a career, outside of addiction or in healthy relationships but cautioned everyone that putting hope in their life’s dreams is really a false hope. The only real hope, Phil poignantly stated, “comes from an encounter with God who made you special and loves you very much.”

After the luncheon, I had 20 precious minutes in the car with my wise and ever-encouraging friend, Mary, who needed me to take her to the airport. During our brief conversation about the challenges and joys of raising kids and living life in this desperate economy, Mary said two things that will ring in my ears — sustaining me and spurring me on for the rest of this life. One of them was of a more personal nature and requires too much explanation to go into today. But the other point has a simple brilliancy of value for anyone reading this right now.

Because of our salvation in Christ, the suffering we endure in this world is the closest thing to hell we will ever have to know.

Stop. Rewind. Did you fully absorb that? When compared to what eternal separation from God would be like, your difficulties in this world will always be vastly more than pale. When you are in a personal and life-saving relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never know of hell. Whatever difficulties you experience, no matter how significant they are, that’s as bad as it will ever be for you because everything — absolutely everything — is eternal magnificence after this!

Oh, how good it is when a friend puts succinctly into words a truth that resonates so clearly and refreshingly shines the light of God’s perspective into the deepest places of our soul!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith and shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 PETER 1:3-6

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Marriage Prayer Friday!

We all say things we wish we could take back sometimes. But words are a powerful thing — for better and for worse. Let's go to the Lord humbly in this area today.

A prayer for your own marriage—

ALMIGHTY GOD, I am encouraged, challenged, and inspired to live in the Light of Your Word. T

hank you that Your Word gives life. I confess that my own words are often reckless and have created wounds in my marriage. You know that my husband/wife's words have pierced me as well. We are both guilty of showing disrespect and sometimes outright cruelty. Forgive me for my part in speaking lies or causing deterioration or reaping destruction in my marriage because of my words. Give me a wise tongue that brings healing (Proverbs 12:18). Help me, Lord, to know when to listen more and when to talk more. My spouse wants to know my heart and I need to learn to communicate more effectively. But there are also times when I use too many words or too much emotion. Give me discernment and self-control so that my communication with my husband/wife reflects compassion, genuine respect and encouragement. Please use the power of Your written Word and our own words with each other to create a safe haven in our home and make the communication in my marriage a place of refreshment! AMEN


Something to pray for a friend's marriage—

ALMIGHTY GOD, I am encouraged, challenged, and inspired to live in the Light of Your Word. T

hank you that Your Word gives life. Words are having a powerful effect in the marriages of those I love, Lord. Sometimes words have been spoken recklessly and created deep wounds. Please show my friends where their lies or unwise words have caused deterioration or destruction. Give them tongues that bring healing (Proverbs 12:18). Help them, Lord, to know when to listen more and when to talk more. Give them the desire to know each other's hearts and teach them how to communicate more effectively. Guard the quantity of their words and the emotions behind them. Give them discernment and self-control so that their communication reflects compassion, genuine respect and encouragement for each other. Please use the power of Your written Word and their own words with each other to create a safe haven in their home and make the communication in their marriage a place of refreshment! AMEN

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

Today’s scripture shows that Jesus had his attention and affection fixed on something and SOMEONE outside of himself. He was able to endure the cross and opposition from sinners because of the “joy set before him.” He endured for the sake of His Father’s honor and for the sake of our salvation. As usual, Jesus had his attention and affection fixed on someone outside of himself. What amazing love!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Where does this passage say we should fix our own attention and why does it say we should do this?

According to these verses, why should we “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles?”

What benefits have you gained from fixing your eyes on Jesus and disentangling from sin?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

Monday, October 3, 2011

When Tension is a GIFT

Why do we do the things we know we shouldn’t do? And why don’t we do more of the things we know we should do? We get impatient waiting for dreams to come true and get frustrated when our hopes aren’t satisfied. We try to flee from suffering and cling to comfort zones. Few of us are strangers to these kinds of tension.

I used to lament the tugs-of-war so commonly experienced within my spirit. But my perspective is changing. I’m learning to appreciate that much of the tension within me is actually a gift — a privilege born out of a growing relationship with my Lord and Savior. Why can I say that? Consider these verses with me:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25 (NIV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NIV)

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11 (NIV)

Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. Philippians 1:28-30 (NLT)

In light of these truths, we can receive some encouragement:

· Recognition of our sin nature and that growing distaste we have for it is evidence of an aspiration toward holiness — and that’s a good thing! (Someone who is far from God does not aspire to Christ-likeness or care about his sin.)

· Confusion can cause us to search for Truth and clarity from God’s Word — and going to God’s Word is always a good thing!

· Inner tension can help change our perspective (which often needs changing).

· A troubled spirit can draw us closer to Jesus.

· The restlessness that comes from growing passions, dreams and vision can be God-given helping to motivate and mobilize us for new or broader ministry.

FATHER GOD, I am coming to realize that many of my inner tensions are evidence that I am Your child. There is freedom in knowing that these feelings are not always a bad thing. I want to praise You today for the privilege of drawing near to You when I am restless, frustrated, confused, or ashamed. I want to stay firmly rooted in my relationship with You despite the obstacles that will come my way. Help me to persevere, Lord. Thank you for the holy discontentment that keeps me from being apathetic about sin. Help me to turn away from temptation and offer my body as a living sacrifice to You. Thank you for stirring God-given dreams in me. Help me to be patient and persistent, always yielded to you. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, please energize me for things that please You, precious Lord. AMEN

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