strengthened by grace

May 14, 2014

This is my life – acceptance

Filed under: life — peggywright @ 12:32 pm

 

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Some things in my life I can change.  Some things I cannot.  I frustrate myself with the unchangeables that I keep trying to change.   Why do I do that? Someone much wiser than I, had some advice for people like me:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

My valley journey continues, but I think – I hope – I am coming to some form of acceptance in being here.  And acceptance is an important part of the pilgrimage and the process of grief.

Grief is not just something we experience when someone dies.  It can occur with any kind of loss.  Loss of a job or a home.  A move to another place.  A broken relationship.  We grieve what we no longer have.  It must be worked through.

I’ve run the gamut of the grief emotions, and sadly I’ve stayed in the place of anger and depression a little too long.  Nothing has changed.  Nothing is going to.  It’s time to move on.

Acceptance must be preceded by learning to be content whether in plenty or in want.  Acceptance takes surrender of my own desires and plans.   Acceptance cannot dwell in me until I trust the unseen Planner when He cancels out my plan.

The question is do I really believe that God is good and that He gives good to me?  Can I unclench my tight fists of grief, anger, depression, stress, my grasping for more of what I think I need?  Can I open my hands to receive what God gives?

He does not withhold good from me.  He gives present grace and promises future glory.  He is a sun in my darkness and a shield in my battle.

He supplies all I need in Christ Jesus.  So If I don’t have something, it must mean I don’t really need it.  Even though I want it badly.

I must choose contentment in the place I am right now.  I must be thankful for what I have, what He has given, instead of being ungrateful and discontent for what I don’t have.  Paul said it was a lesson to be learned.

God gave His only Son after all, gave Him up for me.  Will He not continue to “graciously give [me] all things?  Graciously.  All things.  To me.

What more can I ask?

If I can get there, acceptance and contentment becomes an oasis, a place of rest.  A frustrated, tired child finally gives in to Father’s arms and falls into peaceful asleep.

I know the truth.  God has a purpose for my life and He uses His plan to bring it to completion.  Conflict occurs for me when His plan and my plan collide.

I don’t understand His plan, try as I may.  It’s too far above me to grasp.  But when I look backward, I see God’s faithfulness even when it was hard and I didn’t understand.  Some things I never will fully comprehend until death removes me from the bondage of my fleshly vision.

I look forward and see His promises.  I learn to trust Him even in the long valley, even when the way is hard and I just can’t make sense of it.

Something is going on in the Heavenlies, something eternal, something beyond me, so much bigger than me.

May I learn to be content until the day I see Him face to face.  And it will be enough.

April 30, 2014

This is my life – don’t go alone

Filed under: life — peggywright @ 10:50 am

Living in the valley is not what I chose.  It’s what I got after a season of climbing to the mountain top.

It’s been more than a week of walking through it.  There was rugged terrain, rocks in my way.  Water spouts suddenly spilled and drenched me.  Clouds moved in with thunder and lightning sending me running for shelter.

And what I’ve learned in this valley?  It’s not a good idea to go alone.

Alone was never God’s word for us.  He desired fellowship with man and woman so much that He made Himself available, coming in the evening to walk in the garden with them.

He was forever assuring His chosen ones that He would be with them and that they need not be afraid.

When He sent His one and only Son, He pronounced His name Immanuel, which means God with us.  God.With.Us.

Jesus assured His disciples that He would be with them even as He prepared to leave them.  And then He promised to send the Holy Spirit as a constant companion, comforter and guide.

So I learned and recognized that my God and Savior was with me even in the valley of the shadows.

I longed to hear Him speak my name.  And I heard the Father call to me as He whispered His everlasting love through the pages of Scripture.  I went back to familiar passages and remember His promises, His faithfulness, and His grace.  I remembered that I am His and that I He gives light even in the dark place of my despair.

I listen to the message of grace in music, my singing companions.  And I learned it’s hard to be downcast when music lifts my heart heavenward.  I sang along through tears and felt His pleasure.

I learned again that my faithful partner of 42 plus years, Sweet William, loves me even when I am tear streaked, downcast, and not so lovable.  His steady love still amazes me and I wonder why he chose me.

I learned something else in my trek though the valley.  God gifts us with friendships.  He created us with a need  for one another, the human connection, the flesh and blood, talking and listening kind of fellowship.  And that has been a source of strength during this season.

I learned that being open, truthful, and vulnerable about my valley experience did not produce condemnation and judgment. Instead I received an outpouring of loving encouragement and support.    It was like flowers strewn along the path and the sound of birds.  They were the treble notes of the sweet sisterhood of Christ.  From a fellow blogger friend far away to my early morning prayer partner.  From a younger daughter-of-my-heart to a grandmother-like-me friend.  From a fellow sojourner who knows my secrets and still loves me to a young single who said I’m like family to her.

These sweet sisters have held up my hands and strengthened my feeble knees when I could barely look upward.  They are God’s hands reaching out in feminine skin and bone.

My valley of Bacca has become a spring filled with my tears.  I’m not through with this journey yet, but I see light through the tall trees that have seemed to block the sun.   A spring of Living Water wells up within me to water the dry places, to heal my brokenness, to fill up my emptiness, to be enough!

I’ve learned that when I’m on the mountain, I am filled to the brim with glory, hands lifted high to the One who gave me the strength to climb.  And I worship.

I’ve learned that when I’m in the valley, I am face down on the ground at His feet, empty and needing Him desperately for endurance to go another step.  And I must still worship.

Either way, either place I find myself traveling, I can worship the One who knows the way that I take, goes before me, hems me in and surrounds me with His very presence.

So whether you are climbing the mountain today or heading down toward the valley, don’t go alone.

valley 2

April 23, 2014

This is my life

Filed under: life — peggywright @ 12:24 pm

I think I would like to live on the mountain top.  You know, the place where you feel exhilarated, where you celebrate your victories?  It’s the top of the climb when you have wrestled hard to get there.  And when you do, you sigh relief and you rejoice greatly.

The 40-day journey to Passover and Resurrection Weekend was like that for me.

It was a hard climb and hard work and sometimes I wondered what in the world I was thinking when I said I would joint-write for 40 days straight with my friend Robin.  And often I wondered where my words were going to come from.

But they came and I know from whence they came or should I say from Whom they came.  They were words of Truth, coming from the source of Truth.  I focused on the journey to the cross and the empty tomb.  And when I got to my destination, I celebrated the victory.  It was wonderful last week.

But we all know we cannot stay on the mountain.  We have to descend into the valley.

Moses came down from the mountain and one time found the just-delivered-from-slavery Hebrews dancing around a golden calf.  Elijah came down from Mt. Carmel and ran in fear for his life from a Jezebel of a woman and just wanting to die.

I sort of feel like them this week.  Angry.  Fearful.  Wondering what this life of mine is all about.  Sorry if I have burst anyone’s bubble about my human-ness.  I am oh so very aware of my feet of clay, my tendency toward self-incrimination, my sinful nature that fights with the Spirit of God living in me and wanting something better for me.

So after the mountain top experience of last week and the joy of Passover and Resurrection Weekend, I am being honest that this life of mine is sometimes a struggle.   Jesus warned me about that.  His encouraging words echo in my mind, “but be not afraid, I have overcome the world.”

I will cling to that.  And I will remember a different kind of 40-day experience, one where Jesus was tempted of the devil for 40 days in the wilderness.  After the meeting of wills of an accuser and a Savior and a victory win for the side of truth, then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.

Oh yes, “in the power of the Spirit.”  That is what I want, my heart’s desire.  To walk in the power of the Spirit after the time of temptation and questions and accusations.

The power of the Spirit that is a promise guarantee of something better.

As I walk this valley for the number of days designated for me, I will expect grace.  I will fight for joy.  And I will look for the lilies.

lilies of the valley

April 18, 2014

The body

Filed under: church,Easter,Passover — peggywright @ 9:50 am

Day 39 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Plan on attending Easter services at your church. Invite someone to attend with you.

Dear Friends,

It’s Good Friday, and we have come to the end of our 40-day journey to Passover and Resurrection weekend.  Robin Howe and I wish we could express how we have enjoyed your traveling with us.  Your comments have encouraged us along the way, knowing that we have been focusing on Jesus as we walked together.  It is with much joy and some sorrow that this particular journey ends.

We have reached our destination, the days marked to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Today’s challenge is to make plans to attend services at your church this weekend and to invite someone to come with you.  So may I just give a plug for the church?

I think “church” has gotten some bad press over the years, the centuries.  Sometimes we expect everyone in the church house to be perfect saints.  People remark about the hypocrites in the church.  When a minister or a high official in the church “falls from grace” or is caught in some public sin, suddenly we are down on anyone and anything church related.

No doubt the “church” has done some pretty bad things in the name of Christ.  She has failed to fulfill her calling which is to love one another.

But the church is not a building or an institution or an enterprise.  It’s a body, a body of Christ-believers who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God.  The members of the body are not perfect or completely holy.  On the contrary, they are quite imperfect.  However, they are forgiven and they know how and why.  And that makes all the difference.

It is still the body fitly joined together to accomplish the purpose of telling God’s story, of revealing His love letter to people who have not yet understood. The personalities are different.  The gifts and talents are varied.  They are young and old and teenagers and children.  They are sometimes radical and sometimes conservative.  They have grey hair and streaked blond hair and even stand-up-straight-in-the-air hair.  They carry King James Version Bibles and New American Standards and The Message and The Living Translation.  They come from the east end wealthy and the down and out streets of the poor.  They come in all colors.

They have one bond in common.  They are brothers and sisters in Christ, are blood bought, and are striving to follow Jesus more and more each day with all of the heart, mind, soul, and strength.

The Bible says the world will know we are Christians by our love.  Yes, love will identify us.  It should identify us.  Not the way we dress or wear our hair, not the denomination on our membership card.  Not how large a Bible we carry or whether we are reading it from an app on our smart phone.

But we should be identified by our attitudes, our work ethic, our willingness to lend a hand, our ability to look past the flaws in others, our quickness to forgive, our love for every human being whether saint or sinner, our openness and giving spirit, and our passion to tell the world that Jesus is the answer to all of life’s problems and situations.

This would be the church in all her glory and perfection.  This would be Christ’s body moving and working in unity and love.

No, the church is not perfect yet.  But she is the best plan God had for spreading His good news.

Let us be the church and be about our Father’s business.

church people

We have completed our 40-day journey.  Come visit us at PeggyWright.wordpress.com and IGetUpTooEarly.blogspot.com.  We would love to see you again soon.

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download

April 17, 2014

He is not here

Filed under: Easter,Passover,resurrection — peggywright @ 7:18 am

Day 39 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad! Your God is alive!

Sweet William and I will attend a funeral today.  My dad’s brother, Uncle Bub, will be laid to rest.  His wife and children, grandchildren, sisters, and relatives will gather to remember his life and his legacy and say their final good-byes to one who was loved.  Songs will be sung.  A sermon will be preached.  The hearse will take the body to its final resting place.  And we will leave with only our memories of him.

I’ve witnessed the same ritual hundreds of times with countless relatives, friends, and friends of friends.  And it is always the same.  We leave the body in the grave and walk away.  And I know that one day it will be me in the grave and my family will walk away.

But as a Christian, a believer in the One true God and His Son, Jesus Christ, I live in hope, not in fear, of death.

Jesus’ story, told by four men from four different viewpoints and perspectives, ends much the same.  Very early in the morning on the day after the Sabbath, after the crucifixion and Jesus’ death, the most important fact in history was discovered.

When Mary of Magdala and the other women went to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid for burial, they could not find Him there.  The tomb was empty.  They were distressed, confused, concerned.  Where could the body be?  Had someone stolen it, hidden it?  What were they to do with no body to anoint and prepare with spices?

And then the discovery – He is alive!  At first it is hard to believe, but then it becomes a reality because they see Him.  He reveals Himself to them, eats with them, fixes them breakfast, talks with them as before, lets them view his scars, explains the Scriptures about Himself, instructs them and encourages them.

This is no ghostly aberration.  This is a living, breathing, walking-around-man who has come back from the dead.

Resurrection!

The resurrection sets the Christian faith apart from all others.  Every  belief system has its prophet, its leader, the one people put their faith in to be all and reveal all to them.  But none have a resurrection story.  None has a Savior who died and yet now lives.  All others have their grave sites where bone and flesh deteriorated and went back to the dust.  None have an empty tomb.

And this is what gives us hope.  His resurrection is part and parcel to the crucifixion story.  They cannot be separated.  Jesus died for our sins but He arose and came back to life to show His victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave.  He proved once and for all that He is the mighty conqueror, and satan’s dominion has been cast down, never to be revived again.

The gospel writers conclude with the resurrection story.  The remainder of the New Testaments writers reiterate it and bank their faith on it.  The church that was born in first century AD stake their lives upon it and willingly suffer and die for it.  They spread the word about it to the four corners of the earth.  John the revelator writes it in golden pen as He tries to describe the glory of the risen Lamb of God in His heavenly surroundings.  And the saints surrounding the throne of God are there with Him because of it.

The resurrection.  It’s truth astounds the scoffers.  But they cannot disprove it.  Too many eyewitnesses saw it and too many lives were changed because of it and too much history was affected by it.  And the story of it could not be silenced.

Our God is alive!  We worship One who lives today.  He lives so that we might live also and that is our hope.

So today at the grave site, we lay another loved one in the ground.  But we will see him again because of Christ Jesus, because Uncle Bub knew Him and accepted Him as his Savior and had no fear of the afterlife.  He knew there was more to come.

And so though we cry at death’s finality, we rejoice as those who have hope beyond this life, beyond the grave, in the beyond of the moon, sun, and stars.  We look for a city whose builder and maker is God.  And when we get there we will see Him in all of His glory.

For our God is alive!

welcome to heaven

We have almost completed our 40-day journey.  Stay with us, won’t you?  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download

April 16, 2014

He is alive!

Filed under: Uncategorized — peggywright @ 7:16 am

Day 38 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Read about Jesus’ victory over death and the grave: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20.

Today my friend Robin takes us on a journey and ends at an empty tomb.  It isn’t just a story, however, it is truth and revelation.  It is what gives me hope and proves Christ is the conqueror over sin, death, and the grave.  Take this journey with me, won’t you?  IGetUpTooEarly is where we begin.

empty tomb

We have almost completed our 40-day journey.  Stay with us, won’t you?  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download

 

April 15, 2014

The crash of the cross

Filed under: cross,Easter,Passover — peggywright @ 8:15 am
Tags: ,

Day 37 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Read about Jesus’ crucifixion: Matthew 27:27-66, Mark 15:21-47, Luke 23:26-56, John 19:17-42

the cross

Today I defer to Oswald Chambers whose words about the cross of Christ stagger me.  His depth and wisdom about the event that impacted all of eternity are enough today.

Be amazed at the price God paid for the redemption of your soul.

The Collision of God and Sin

Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”  1 Peter 2:24

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin.  Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ.  The Cross was s superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken.  There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross.  He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God.  He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The Cross did not happen to Jesus:  He came on purpose for it.  He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross.  Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin.  The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption.  God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization.  The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience.  The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God.  When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.

The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much.  The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened—but the crash is on the heart of God.

– My Utmost for His Highest, April 6th

We have almost completed our 40-day journey.  Stay with us, won’t you?  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download

April 14, 2014

On trial

Filed under: Easter,Passover — peggywright @ 7:33 am

Day 36 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Read about Jesus’ arrest and trial: Matthew 26:47 – 27:26; Mark 14:43 – 15:21; Luke 22:47 – 23:25; John 18:1 – 19:16

the-passion-of-the-christ-jesus-arrested-accused

When I see the word “trial” above,  I smirk with disgust.  Jesus had no trial.  His doom was embedded in the hearts of evil men intent on having their way and getting rid of this rabble-rouser once and for all long before Judas ever struck a deal for 30 coins.

Jesus had disrupted their Sabbath services by healing the sick.  He had trashed their traditions by pointing to the true intent of the Law.  He had threatened their political clout and watered down their power by pointing people to a relationship with an Abba Father who loved them.

Oh yes, Jesus was in their cross-fire, and they would stop at nothing to accomplish their goal.  How little they really understood the Law and the Prophets and knew the God who spoke through them.

They refused to see God in the flesh standing there.

But others saw a glint of glory.  Pilate’s wife warned her husband to have nothing to do with this just man.  Pilate himself said he found no fault in him.  Even the betrayer returned with his contract payment and admitted he had betrayed innocent blood.

And one of the thieves on the cross, guilty as sin, saw a glimpse of a King about to return to His kingdom.

It was a mockery, this thing called a trial.  Yet, Jesus own words to Pilate reveal what was actually happening.  “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.

Then Pilate asked, “What is truth?”  The Way, the Truth, the Life stood before him, face to face, eye to eye.  This was Pilate’s moment to see, but instead he gave in to crowd, he caved to their pressure.  He washed his hands and walked away from his moment of decision.

The same moment of decision comes to each of us as we determine who Jesus really is.  Is He a king?  Is He the Messiah?  Is he the One who came as a lamb to die for the sins of the world?

Examine His teachings and His actions and His life.  You will see that Jesus was guilty of one thing.  He loved this world to death.

We are nearing the end of our 40-day journey.  Thank you for traveling with us!  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download

April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday

Filed under: Easter,Palm Sunday,Passover — peggywright @ 5:30 am

Day 35 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Rejoice this Palm Sunday.  Your King is coming.

Zechariah 9:9 – 10

Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!

    Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
    a good king who makes all things right,
    a humble king riding a donkey,
    a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
    no more war horses in Jerusalem,
    no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
    a peaceful rule worldwide,
    from the four winds to the seven seas.

                                            — The Message

palm-sunday

April 12, 2014

He prayed

Filed under: Easter,Passover — peggywright @ 12:43 pm

Day 34 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Read Jesus’ prayer for himself, his disciples, and you: John 17

Won’t you go with me to IGetUpTooEarly and be amazed once again that Jesus prayed for you.

JesusPraying

We have almost completed our 40-day journey.  Stay with us, won’t you?  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download

If you’d like information about the Passover Celebration at Little Flock, visit here.

 

 

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