Pursuing God’s Heart, Becoming His Friend

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Post One, 2018 (Formerly En Courage)

As this new year takes shape, I’m thinking a lot about my word for the year, ‘Heart.’

My goal for 2018 is to pursue God’s heart  by discovering more closely those things that matter most to Him. For me, this doesn’t necessarily mean projects and social interest, although it could include that. It does mean discovering God’s personality and thereby growing in intimacy with Him much like I got to know my husband. I learned my better half’s heart and passions by taking time to listen to him long before I spent time with him in pursuing them. And in spending time with my husband, my priority is on what matters most to him. I can do ‘my thing’ when he’s not around.

HOW WILL I DO THIS?

  • Reading and studying the Bible looking for what moves God to respond, whether positively or negatively, what brings Him joy, what hurts Him, what angers Him
  • Reading and studying the Bible to discover why God would respond to me and call me to friendship with Him, and how I should respond in return
  • Meditating on and memorizing some of these verses, passages to get them stuck in my heart and brain
  • Praying the verses/passages back to God, making them personal to our relationship
  • Worshiping God for who He is and His heart toward me

WHAT PROMPTED ME TO MAKE THIS 2018’S WORD?

I’d have to say last year’s concentration on ‘Perspective’ greatly influenced this year’s longing to not only know God’s heart better, but align mine with His. Last year I often prayed,

God replace my perspective with yours regarding yourself, life, and me. Click To Tweet

As I prayed this prayer, read God’s Word, and pursued God’s perspective in daily life, God answered my simple request. I began to discover two things critically important to pursuing God’s heart and becoming His friend:

WHY DOES THIS MEAN SO MUCH TO ME?

I don’t think many of us mortals can boast that we know God’s heart. Most often, we assume we can’t know it and so don’t even try. But His Word says we can and so this has become the greatest pursuit of my life. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be ‘besties’ with the God of the universe? I mean no disrespect, and hope none is taken. God is holy (so far above us) yet His Word says he longs to be our friend.

“And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God.” James 2:23 (nlt)

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” John 15:13-15 (nlt)

 

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I can’t think of anything better than to be God’s friend. But, first, I must know His heart to understand what a friendship with Him would look like. Friendship doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen without work. That’s just the way relationships are. So, through this coming year, I’m going to be focusing on how I can be God’s friend. And I’m going to take my readers along with me on the journey.

To become God's friend, I must know His heart. Click To Tweet

CHANGES COMING TO THIS SITE

As I take on this task of pursuing God’s heart by learning about friendship with Him in 2018, I will also be making changes to ‘En Courage.’ I’m coming to realize, because of my life’s journey with God in 2017, my passion is more aligned with helping other’s experience friendship with God. Because of this, I will be changing the title and emphasis of this site to more align with my passion. I’m currently working on a new title and categories, along with posts that will represent this new focus more fully. I won’t be getting rid of the old posts, but will be adding them into the appropriate new categories.

What do you think? Does this intrigue you? I’d love your feedback. Also,if you’d like to read the next post in the series, click here.

Until next week!

Robin <3

If you would like to comment, you may always do so in the comment section. If your comments are more personal or if you’re uncomfortable within this public forum, you may always comment below in order to remain confidential. I love your comments either way!

 

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God’s Abundance or My Scarcity?

My God will supply allyour needPart one in a series running through December

If you tried to download this already, please forgive me, I didn’t realize it wasn’t working – I’m so new at this! It is now working. If you have any problems, please contact me!

My gift to you!

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For the last three weeks, through 2 sermons, a blog, and finally through a speaker at a Christmas dinner, I’ve heard this question posed in a variety of ways:

Do I recognize and embrace God’s abundant gifts; or do I instead choose to live on my scarce resources?

What does God’s Word say?

…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19 (NLT)

I rarely use the words ‘abundance’ or ‘scarcity’, let alone use them together, and so hearing them multiple times over the last three weeks has gotten my attention and made me consider my life on several levels.

When I first heard a similar question posed three weeks ago, I immediately thought of our finances. My husband has been off work for several months with an injury, and finally went back to work Monday.

As one month turned into two, then three, then four, and now seven, my tendency to worry has increased as finances have gotten tighter. Yet, through this whole time, God has taken care of us. One of the biggest gifts is that Gary and I have had time to spend together as we’ve never had in our young marriage. It’s been sweet for both of us. Gary’s body has healed well. Throughout this time, we’ve been able to use savings, and God has provided in other unexpected ways.  To add to the blessing, upon showing up for work Monday, Gary was made supervisor of a job requiring a lot of overtime, which will help greatly. So rather than focusing solely on my concerns, I need to thank God for how He’s abundantly cared for us. Since several of the gifts have only come within the last couple of weeks, it’s taken some effort on my part to re-focus my thinking, to be honest.
It helps to make lists of God's daily gifts. Click To Tweet
Maybe your situation is different. Maybe you can’t yet see any of God’s gifts and things are getting pretty rough. Or maybe you see His ‘gifts’ but they aren’t what you wanted or expected. I get it. I’m truly sorry.

Can I pray for you?

Lord, whatever situation my friend finds themself in, please give them hope. Even if the gift you provide is different than they longed for, or not what they expected, help them to hold onto your love and good plans for them as they unwrap this gift from your hand. Please. Use this unexpected gift to show them your ultimate best for them. Help them to hold onto you as they wait to see your plan unfold. Please. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let me know if I can pray for you in any way, especially if this post has brought pain screaming to the surface. It may also be helpful to look at Part 2 in the series, “To Trust or Worry.

With love,

Robin <3

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A Fresh Look at My Role in Christianity

Week 4, Part 4 in the Series: “Christianity From a Fresh Perspective”

 

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

What if I daily treated Jesus as the most important person in the world? What if I believed my relationship with him through prayer, Bible reading, and worship was the most important thing I could do all day? What would happen if I took what precious little time I have in a day and gave some of it to him as a gift? What if I stopped trying to gain more knowledge, or buy his favor, and just enjoyed him?

How would my life change if as I read his Word, I asked Jesus to show me:

  • Who He, the Father, and the Spirit really are – not just who I think they are.
  • His power for my life – what that looks like today, not just 2000 years ago.
  • His promises and gifts – and how he intends they are to impact my life and the lives of those I love.
  • How he longs to convict, lead, and comfort me in my current circumstances.

How would my life and the lives around me change if when I prayed I first asked how he would have me pray for my needs, my circumstances, and the needs of those around me?

What if I asked him to show me how he blesses my life – to open my eyes to the daily gifts I don’t see. And what if I then took time to thank him, and recount those gifts to him often?

What would happen if I had the boldness to make these requests:

  • This situation______________________is way beyond me. Please show me your power.
  • I feel hopeless, please show me your love and goodness.
  • I can’t change, please change me!
  • I’m not even sure you exist – if you are real, show me!

What if I then trusted God to come through? What if I then chose to yield to Him and let go of my control?

I know what would happen – my life would change. Because I would be asking the only One able to change my life to do so, and then let him do it.

What if then I asked for the boldness to tell someone else what I’ve seen and heard? How would that change my world?

I know the answer to that as well – by the power and love of Jesus Christ through us, the world would slowly change, one person at a time.

I know, because I have seen and and heard and can testify – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and he has not only the power, but the desire to change lives and set captives free. He’s doing so for me and for many around me daily. (I John 1:3 NLT)

This song beautifully portraits our role in Christianity –

Ashes Remain, “All Of Me”

With great longing for the Giver of the gospel,

Robin <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fresh Look at Jesus

 

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

WEEK TWO OF FIVE IN THE SERIES: “CHRISTIANITY FROM A FRESH PERSPECTIVE”

If we are going to take a fresh look at Christianity, then we must begin with how we view the One we worship and the message he came to proclaim.

Over the last 4 years I’ve had the opportunity to take my own fresh look. And although I met Jesus at 4 years old (and am now 58), and have been walking with him since – what I’m discovering has radically changed my life and walk. Even if you have walked with Jesus many years, please join me in taking a fresh look at this One who came to earth 2000 years ago for the purpose of restoring a relationship between God and man.

For those of us who’ve walked with Jesus any length of time, we can become immune to that which once captivated us. So before I begin, let me pray.

“Lord, protect us from boredom and from thinking “I already know this.” Rather, give us the heart of a child to see you from young eyes. Remove any hardening of the heart and any staleness. Breath your fresh, living Spirit upon these words so as we read them, we would we feel your wind blow life onto any parched ground. And give us a fresh longing to know you in all your majesty. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

WHO IS JESUS?

John the Baptist, a man sent from God to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming, described Jesus in John 1 in this way:

  • The only life-giving, creative Word – whose very words powerfully spoke the world into existence, and who continually speaks life into his creation
  • God of very God over all life and creation
  • The only Light, so powerfully bright it quenches the blackest darkness in universe and heart
  • One so great he could demand allegiance, yet chose not to force himself, accepting the rejection of his very own people
  • The One who lovingly embraces any who come and receive Him, granting them the honor of becoming part of his grand family – re-birthing them not because of any man’s decision, but by His Father’s decree
  • One so limitless, but yet chose to subject himself to the confines of human birth and existence. And living with us, among us – he allows humanity to see and touch glory
  • The One who fills our lives with his fullness, giving us the ability to experience abundant and overflowing grace and truth (Greek: kindness and reality)
  • The One who in making himself known, revealed God
  • The Lord (master); so perfect and flawless – yet he chose to sacrifice himself to pay the penalty due for the rebellion of his subjects
  • The One the Spirit of God descended upon at his baptism, thereby God declaring him “God’s Chosen One”
  • The One who fills us (his children) with that same Spirit (John 16:1-16 NLT; Romans 8:11 ESV)

Meditate on John’s description of Jesus. Don’t quickly brush by him. Then ask yourself: Do I recognize Him as he truly is – the One full of power and might, life and light, grace and truth – all things we desperately need to live? Do I act in a way that represents such great power, might, glory, and grace truthfully to my world?

WHY DID JESUS COME?

Luke 4, (especially verses 18-21). After being baptized, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert alone with God, also being tempted by Satan. The Bible says, after the 40 days, he returned to his hometown, Nazareth, filled with the Spirit. He entered the Synagogue on the Sabbath (the day of worship for Jews), which was his custom, and was given the opportunity to read the scriptures and then teach those who’d gathered.

As Jesus read and spoke from Isaiah 61, he proclaimed why he came to earth:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. (emphasis mine)

Do we see Jesus’ heart in coming to earth? Do we believe and long for the world to experience what was most on his heart, or do we respond as those did that day “He’s a good man with amazing words!”

Do we view Jesus as One with authority and power able to release those held captive, to set the oppressed free, and cause the blind (in life and in spirit) to see? Or do we act as though he is only “Joseph’s son”?

As I look at these few verses, and there are so many more, I’m struck with three things:

  1. I don’t really see Jesus as he is, and want to.
  2. I don’t live as though I believe he has the power today to release those held captive, set the oppressed free, and make the blind to see, through me.
  3. If I intimately knew Jesus as John did, and lived as though Jesus were who he claimed to be, my life and the world around me would be transformed.

Lord Jesus, please change my heart and mind. Grant me the ability to not only see you with fresh eyes, but to be transformed by knowing you. May I become your “skin” so as to become freedom and healing to a dark, imprisoned, hopelessly blind world. In Jesus’ name, amen.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 (NLT)

With great joy because of the message of the Gospel,

Robin <3

You may also appreciate reading: Christianity from a Fresh Perspective and Power to Give Life 

 

 

Cleaning Up the Debris…

Week 4, “Tearing Down Lies”

Second of 2 Parts dealing with STD’s and Pornography

When Gary and I were dating, our choice to live apart and abstain from sex until after marriage garnered questions from more than one stranger. Often the conversation would begin with an innocent question such as, “What will you be doing this weekend?”

During that time I loved the challenge this question brought to the table! My eyes would twinkle as I’d respond, “My fiance is driving up for the day, and we are….(fill in the blank with “going to the beach”, “going to the park”, or whatever we were planning).”

Their startled reaction invariably went something like this: “You mean you don’t live together? But you do sleep together, don’t you?” (Yes, total strangers would ask such questions!)

Since my response was, “No, we believe in waiting until after marriage for that.”  The final question would be, “Well, then how will you know…uh…if…uh…things…you know…will work fine between you?”

It brought me pleasure to state truthfully I wasn’t worried, because we serve a big God. Since he brought us together, he would take care of that as well.

On one occasion, as a young man from the car rental agency ferried me from the rental place to my vehicle, we had the above conversation.  But because of time, I was able to also share the beauty of knowing my fiance waited for me, even after having been sexually active 25 years in his prior marriage.  Adding, I was so important he’d willingly forgo his own pleasure to wait until we’d fully committed ourselves before God and friends in marriage made me feel very special.  I shared how that willingness gave me a sense of security, knowing if he’d go that far, he’d also be less likely to cheat on me later if/when things got hard.  That young man having never thought of such things, said he found it important enough he needed to take time to contemplate my ideas further.

What Does the Bible Say?

19 Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. I’ve told you in the past and I’m telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit God’s kingdom. Galatians 5:19-21 (GW)

18 Stay away from sexual sins. Other sins that people commit don’t affect their bodies the same way sexual sins do. People who sin sexually sin against their own bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:18 (GW)

21 I’m afraid that when I come to you again, my God may humble me. I may have to grieve over many who formerly led sinful lives and have not changed the way they think and act about the perversion, sexual sins, and promiscuity in which they have been involved. 2 Corinthians 12:21 (GW)

But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28 (NLT)

What Should Be Our Response?

As the body of Christ, we have an awesome gift to offer the world.  Today’s culture has no idea they can wait, and that waiting can make for more healthy marriages later on. They’ve never heard that God’s laws regarding sex and marriage are for their own benefit, and that in abiding by them, they will less likely face STD’s, the issues of pornographic addiction, and the heartbreak stemming from repeatedly giving yourself away intimately to those willing to take but never commit.

Rather than blush, thinking of abstinence as “archaic”, we can confidently share the beauty of waiting.  We can  live out the reality of marriage representing Christ and his church. Christ’s grand sacrificial love providing a home,  name,  and heritage to a bride so below him,  and a bride so in love she willingly saves herself for his return and their union. We can also share that within even this perfect union there are at times great struggles and conflicts as we grow in coming to know him more intimately, and as we wait for the full benefits of our relationship.  (Ephesians 5)

Will this still all the waves pounding at our culture? No,  but it will help strengthen two of its greatest foundations – marriage and family. It will also rescue some from being swept away by the pounding lies of our culture.

We as the hands and feet of Jesus have a responsibility to tell the truth, because the truth is what sets men free.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Write For An Audience of One

In many of the blogging training sessions I’ve listened through, professional bloggers state to write well, you must picture your audience as you write. This tip has helped me immensely in honing my craft.

As Christian bloggers, we each have our own story, and therefore will each have a different audience. Yet, as I ponder my own life as a blogger, I realize underlying this niche of society I write for, I first and foremost write for an audience of one.

If no one were to ever read a single word I pen (and many do), as long as I write the words God has placed on my heart, for his pleasure above my own, and for the building up of his kingdom, I’ve already been successful, because I have done what I was called to do.  I then must trust that he will direct those words to those for whom he intended them.

I must trust that if God has given me the words to write, he has also given others the desire to read them.  In his timing.

I’ve heard of missionaries sharing the gospel for years, even decades, before seeing any change. “Do not grow weary in doing good….” (Galatians 6:9)

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23 (NLT)

I am amazed when I see people reading my blog from China, or Russia, or India – many parts of the world where hearing about the love of Jesus is rare, or non existent. Only in this age of technology, can I write and have people from all over the world read.

In my moments of discouragement, I try to remember God is fully in charge, and will direct my words to those who need them.

I must also remember, those who read, will share with those whom God has prepared them to share.  Their lives and words, altered by what I wrote, change the lives of those around them.

Lives being changed by what I write, yet never having reading a word.

Take heart, discouraged one.  Only eternity will tell the impact of the words now burning in your heart.

 

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. You may also wish to read yesterday’s post, “Encouragement for a Weary Christian Blogger“.

 

10 Tips to Help Work Through Grief

When I was living the worst of grief, there were several things that really helped me through.  All of us are unique, and so I don’t assume every suggestion will help.  Feel free to scan the list, and read only those portions that pertain to you.

  1. Be very careful with the use of medication and alcohol.  Grief doesn’t allow us to think most clearly, and so things we would normally never do, could become a problem.  One area I had to be particularly careful of was help in getting to sleep. Three to four times a week, I’d have a glass of wine to help me relax so I could more easily fall asleep.  I chose not to use alcohol nightly because I was afraid it could become a habit I’d later have to deal with.  I have heard of others becoming addicted to sleeping medication during this time. Talk with your doctor, but please don’t quietly self-medicate.
  2. Choose what fills your mind.  I had the radio tuned to my favorite Christian station almost 24 hours a day, playing softly in the background.  The words and soothing music kept me focused on truth, and helped me refocus more easily away from thoughts that could otherwise have plagued me.  Also, on many occasion, the Lord orchestrated a particular song to be played at just the right moment, embracing me with his love.20150626_203124
  3. Train your mind and “heart” to turn to Christ and his promises when panic about the future assails.  When fear and panic about the future would begin to plague my mind (usually at night or first thing in the morning), I would remind myself that I didn’t need to think about it right then. I would literally turn my thoughts and heart to focus on Jesus alone.  Forcing the thoughts of the future to take second place to facing Jesus Christ. It took time to train my brain to remain focused, and avoid the panic.  Tomorrow, I will share some verses that may help.
  4. Learn your body’s indicators of being over-stressed.  When I began to notice feelings of being unsettled and anxious, I eventually learned these were often indicators that I was spending too much time in activity in order to avoid grief. Learn your indicators.  If you aren’t certain, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you your personal indicators of a need to stop running and rest.20150626_210108-01
  5. Set aside time to rest. Resting is so much harder while grieving, because it gives our minds time to think.  Thinking causes pain, so we avoid resting.  Yet, our bodies need rest. They need down time to heal from the trauma caused by the grief. Also, so many of us have had a space of time prior to our loved one’s death where we were busy caring for them.  Our bodies, minds, and souls need time to rest and restore.
  6. Set aside time to grieve. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t.  We don’t want to feel pain, so we avoid grieving.  However, I am learning now, almost 9 years later – we will grieve.  If we avoid taking time to grieve now, the emotions will come out one way or another – and they may not come out in ways constructive to us or others if we refuse their release.  I’m not saying we can always choose the place or time we release emotions, that isn’t possible. But, I have found it helpful to ask God to orchestrate down time when I could grieve before him.  This became especially important when I began feeling as though I was becoming unsettled and anxious because of over-busyness.  Those God-orchestrated moments were special moments between us where I would wail and voice my pain, the tears washing and cleansing me on the inside.  A sense of release and relief always followed.20150701_202353-02
  7. Don’t rush the grieving process.  I have read it isn’t wise to make any major life decisions for at least a year. Our brains aren’t able to think clearly enough.  Even though the numbness, for me, lasted about 6 months, the second year was the hardest. Everyone’s timetable for grieving is different – so don’t assume another person’s timetable for yourself. However, I’d add, if you are several years into grief, and aren’t any closer to healing than the day of your loved one’s death – please consider professional counseling.  Getting stuck in grief isn’t what God want’s for your life!
  8. Don’t rush getting rid of your loved one’s belongings until you are ready (unless extenuating circumstances require it). This shouldn’t be decided by friends or family.  When I was ready (about 6-8 months into grief), it helped me to purposely choose organizations that would appreciate my husband’s things.  I took photos of his “collections” which made it easier to release them.  I also chose to keep several mementos, and gave away items to special friends and family members for them to remember him by, making this stage memorable and less difficult.  However, if it has been years since your loved one’s death, and you are still unable to get rid of their belongings, this may indicate you are stuck in grief and may need professional counseling to help you heal.20150701_185956-01
  9. Make use of local resources.  Hospice often has local grief groups.  I’ve mentioned GriefShare.  Also, a book that greatly helped me was “A Sacred Sorrow“, by Michael Card.  It taught me the gift of being able to “lament” or grieve openly before God, and his loving response to those who grieve.
  10. Finally, cling to Jesus and his people.  If you aren’t in a loving, supportive church home, find one.  My church family’s love and support during this time helped more than I can say.  Stay in his Word – even if you can only read a verse or two a day – the Psalms are wonderful.  A good devotion for this period of time for me was “Streams In The Desert“, as the daily readings were collected by Mrs. Charles Cowman, a woman acquainted with grief.

You may also wish to read:  “Happy Anniversary Dear“, “White Picket Fences

I have received no compensation of any kind for my recommendations. I am not a licensed counselor, so my recommendations are from experience alone, and not intended to be professional in any way.

I would love to know what has helped you work through grief.  Also, if you would like to share any prayer requests, or wish to talk, the form below allows you to contact me confidentially.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3