Beautiful Things

My husband and I loaded three screaming children into our car.  They were scared.  They were sad.  They were confused.  Three young lives were coming from a life of pain and joining our family through adoption.

To try to soothe the children, we attempted to vocally calm them down, held their hands, and played worship music through the car stereo.  

Gungor’s song, Beautiful Things, was the first song we heard.  

“All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth    
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all”

The children continued to cry in anxiety, yet as the music ascended above the clamor, I found the music calming my soul in a manner to better pacify these brokenhearted children.   The lyrics insistently continued.

“You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You”

Almost a year later, this memory crept up as we were beginning our morning worship time.  Our daughter, one of the three children mentioned above, spoke up regarding the music playing softly in the background: Gungor’s Beautiful Things.

“I love this song!” she exclaimed!

Watching my little girl dance and sing to the music made my heart jump back to the day of pain for her. 

Immediately, I thanked God that He makes all things new.  I thanked Him for making such beautiful things right in front of our eyes.

What chaos are you facing today?  God is calling to us through an unrelenting love and hope for us.  If you were wondering if anything good could come of these trials you are facing… Yes, it can.

Written throughout the Scriptures is a calling from pain to newness through Jesus.

In Jeremiah 29:11 we read,

“For I know the plans I have for you, “ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

2nd Corinthians 5:17 says:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Life’s path will be speckled with difficulties to overcome.  So often, we get caught up in the chaos that this world has to offer instead of the joy and peace that Christ has offered to us.  If we rely on ourselves, we are undeniably going to be burdened with anxiety.

In order to live in the newness that the Bible speaks of in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, we must cling to the One who offers us newness, as it says in Isaiah 26:3:

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”

Regardless of how you are feeling, regardless of your circumstances, regardless of the pain, God has promised you a perfect peace in Him through Christ Jesus.

Before these three young children could overcome their fear, they needed to trust us by building a relationship with us.  Every day as the relationship grows, so does the trust that we are not going to leave them.  A trust that we want a bright future for them and that we hope for them as they grow.  

The same is true about our relationship with God.  We need to daily build our trust in Him so that when the chaos comes, we can firmly keep our hearts aligned with His hope-filled truths.

Today, let us welcome the difficult circumstances that have manifested in our lives as an opportunity to trust God in an unfathomable approach to this world’s chaos.  That is when anxiety ends and beautiful things are created anew.

“Lord,
I give you my deepest desires, joys and fears in steadfast trust with You.  I know that through ALL circumstances that my hope comes from You.  I entrust my loved ones to You.  I entrust my concerns to You.  There is no need for fear and anxiety as I walk in complete trust with You.  Thank You for making me new. Amen."

See Y'all In The Round!
Kim

The Tithe of a Good Steward

No one likes to hear it—give, give, give. Give to your church! Give to this organization! Support that organization! We need your money!

Give it to God. He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). It doesn't have to be a traditional tithe of ten percent, though if that works for you, do it. But God doesn't want just your money—yes, churches and missions need money to operate, but tithing shouldn't be about just our money. Don't just give to an organization; give to God.

You've heard of the three T's—time, talents, and treasure.

What can you give to God in the way of your time? It can be a mission trip or sharpening the pencils for the pews. What about your talents? I used to play the trumpet in church. Some people teach, others can build shelves or repair the roof. And treasure—the last one. I once heard of a couple who promised to give as much to their church as they spent on Christmas on year. Now that's conviction!

And there it is—promising God what we'll give. Don't hold back.

“'Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.'”
(Malachi 3:8-10)

Robbing God! What an accusation! But how true it is, too. Even in tiny ways, when we hold back what God has called us to give or what we have said we would give, we are robbing God. Remember Ananias and Sapphira—they sold some land, gave some money to the apostles, said that was all the sale brought in, and God took 'em down. Ouch! (Acts 5:1-11)

Tithing has to do with being a good steward of what God has given us. Not only does this mean those three T's, but I think it can also extend to things like our children and our bodies. We're only temporarily in charge of these babies, raising them and guiding them to know their Lord and Savior. And according to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, our bodies are not our own, either; rather, it is “a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God[.] You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Maybe for some this means a little more exercise or less sugar.

We are all given different tasks and have different convictions as the Holy Spirit leads us. How is he working in your life? What can you give to the Lord? “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

See You In The Round!
Christina

Only God Is Our Refuge

Our Lord Jesus,

We thank You for not allowing us to face valleys on our own.  Thank you for the goodness of Your love.

As Psalm 62 states, we praise You for being our Rock, Salvation, Fortress, and Refuge.

We pour our hearts out to You today, Lord. Thank You for giving us hope in You.

For women who need Your comfort in the shadow of the valley, Christ, we pray that they will find rest in You.

God, calm our souls and remind us that we will only find hope in You.

Love,
Your Daughters In the Round

 

Ellie Holcomb website

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

God's Smallest Blessings

As I wrote recently, being in a new place for nine months with no friends, family, or church made me feel disconnected and lost.  Who knew that God would answer my prayers in the form of a four year old named Katie?

Joy’s recent post, A Limited Time Opportunity, spoke of the importance of God’s gift of community. Her words rang in my heart and mind as I sought God’s will in the church that I would attend. By God’s grace, He led me back to the first church I visited after moving.

What timing God has!

The church is small, yet their love for God is ENORMOUS! There was a community church picnic happening the weekend I decided to go back.  What a blessing! A few people even recognized me from visiting a few months back, but there was a special family who stood out to me. 

I learned that this family was comprised of a grandmother and her three young grandchildren.  The grandmother shared with me that she had recently moved across the country to be geographically close to her grandchildren, but more importantly, to be a christlike presence in their lives.  

Get that.  She picked up her life and moved across states so that her grandchildren would have the opportunity to attend church and learn about Jesus.  

That kind of sacrifice blew me away.

That afternoon, I offered to play with Katie so that her grandmother could visit with other adults. I was so happy to receive a big hug from my new friend when it was time to say goodbye until the following week.  Since then, Katie has sat with me every Sunday morning until it’s time for her to go to children’s church.

Jesus tells us, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:37, NIV). 

Katie’s grandmother told me when looking for a church, it was important to find a church family to come alongside her, teaching and showing the love of Jesus to her three young grandchildren.  My new church has promised to support her in this sacrifice.  They have shown great love to this family. 

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  Now You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:26-27

How great it is that we are members of one Church body!

Just as my new church has welcomed these children, Jesus drew kids to Him (Mark 9:37, 10:14, Matthew 19:14, and Luke 18:16). I am already amazed at this small church’s example of Christ!

What kind of sacrifice have you seen to share Christ with others? 

See you in the round!
Jennie

 

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

An Uncanonized Psalm of Rebuilding a Marriage

EH_Rebuilding A Marriage.jpg

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted my husband and I to be on the same side of the spiritual fight as it relates to brokenness in our marriage. Another story that resonates with me in the battle is that of Nehemiah. 

Nehemiah is a servant of King Artaxerxes who learns that the wall of Jerusalem and its gates have been destroyed. He is devastated by this news and after deep prayer finds favor from the King to be sent to rebuild it. In order to do it he faces tremendous opposition and conspiracy, but does not give up. As a result of his work he is blessed to witness Israel’s repentance.  This is a very brief description of an incredible book in the Bible. Here are some lessons from Nehemiah as they apply to my marriage.

Praying… 

Scripture says that as soon as Nehemiah heard that the wall protecting Jerusalem and the temple for worship was in ruins he “sat down and wept and mourned for days” both fasting and praying.  I have heard it said that the equivalent of those days was actually 3-4 months. This is just one of the many examples of how he was constantly in prayer for the brokenness. 

He knows the power that God has over the situation that he is in and acknowledges his need for that power. My marriage was in ruins.

Imagine if I mourned, prayed and fasted as Nehemiah did. 

Re-building…

In chapter 1 Nehemiah remembers God’s promises to Moses. This place was specifically chosen by God and is intended for the gathering of his people to make his name “dwell there.”

Nehemiah knows that what once was glorifying to God is now destroyed and needs to be re-built. 

I have referenced before that marriage is the picture of the Bridegroom (Christ) and his Bride (the church). Like Jerusalem, I believe our marriage was specifically chosen by God and that it is a picture of worship.

It is worth working hard to rebuild! 

Fighting… 

Nehemiah had enemies trying to stop the re-building. It says in chapter 4 that the men with Nehemiah were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.

I really find the picture of the men holding the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other to be a powerful image.  Although they are re-building they do not lose sight of the battle. 

Like the enemies of Nehemiah we face regular opposition from the ultimate enemy.  

Satan does not want to see restoration of the things that bring glory to God. 

Community…

Nehemiah certainly could not keep up with the intense fighting and the hard work of building by himself. He had trusted men working alongside him. At one point they say to Nehemiah “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”

Nehemiah encourages his men to “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” I imagine them taking turns fighting, building and encouraging one another as they grow weary. This is just what community should be. 

Nehemiah does not re-build this magnificent wall by himself nor should we expect to be strong enough to re-build our marriage alone. Sometimes it just feels like there is “too much rubble!” We all are forgetful, we all grow weary when opposition comes and need reminders of truth.  

We need community to come alongside us.

Trusting… 

In chapter 2 when the people working with Nehemiah questioned their work he said “I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good.”  And when the opposition was trying to stop his work, he said, “The God of heaven will make us prosper.” Nehemiah knew God and his confidence was not in himself, but in the Lord.

I am confident that God wants restoration for our marriage and need to trust God to work. 

Great and awesome God, 

You remain in steadfast love with those who love you. Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant…

Rebuild this marriage that you brought together. Grant us true repentance for our sin that we might glorify you in it. And when we are weak and weary because it all feels like too much remind us that we are not alone. The God who made the universe is our strength and you have given us community here on earth to fight beside us. Do not let the enemy have this union! 

When we fail to believe and trust in you remind us of your goodness and the restoration you have already begun. 

Yours in the Round,

Erin

 

Erin's Bio and Blogroll

Please stop back on Fridays for more about Erin's story and what God is doing in her marriage.

 

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."