Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I'm a Little Tea Pot

I have a confession: Hostessing, for some reason, is not my forte. I am nervous. I worry about being a hostess as a pastor's wife. When guests are coming over, I stress about having enough food. I worry that I'm forgetting something. I never think my house is clean enough, or decorated enough, or tidy enough, or... whatever. I feel pressured to get everything done in time for the guests to arrive. I worry about keeping the conversation going.

"But thanks be to God which always causeth us to triumph..." 
~ II Corinthians 2:14

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  
~ Philippians 4:13

"...much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." 
~ Romans 5:10

There is so much more to my salvation than just hope of heaven. And I long to truly learn this principle in the practical sense in my life. Sure, I have a head knowledge. I can quote verses and tell you that as I yield to the Spirit of God living in me, I can do all things. I am well aware that, as Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do nothing..." (John 5:30).

But in my practical, nitty-gritty, everyday walk... well... I tend to tell myself "It's normal for Christians to struggle; we're human." Isn't that what most people believe? Isn't that what most people will tell you? You get a free pass to worry today; you're human.

Of course, my God is not a mean, churlish god who demands my perfect performance! He simply offers His perfect Holy Spirit, who already lives inside me, as available to live His Life through my imperfect fleshly body!
How amazing is that! Of course, I have heard it all before. I have read it a thousand times. BUT, do I believe it? HE will live HIS perfect life through my imperfect fleshly body! Wow!

Imagine what that does for me! I can rest. I don't have to worry. I don't have to get mad. I don't have to perform as a perfect hostess. I'm the tea pot in HIS hands! The tea pot doesn't worry about whether her tea is perfect. The tea pot doesn't worry whether everyone is quite pleased with her! (And that really is the issue: worry="me focus"! But that's another blog for another day!) 

The tea pot is simply a tea pot. In the hostess' hands.
Just a happy little tea pot. That's me. In Jesus' hands.

(c) 2016 Dayna Spear Guenther

Monday, May 9, 2016

Life. Simplified.

Life gets busy. Muddled. Messy. Complicated. Stressful. Crazy.

Simplify is such a beautiful word. But it feels humanly impossible.

Yet it's so simple. Ha. Well, that is the root word: SIMPLE.

Simplifying is simple...
...for the Christian. It's not in yoga, meditation, zen, feng shui, or even a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps type of "mind over matter."

"For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
~ Apostle Paul, I Corinthians 2:2

Just Jesus. That's it. Only Him. His Person. WHO He IS. (Think, attributes.)

Saint Patrick, a Bible believing (non-Catholic) missionary to Ireland, can truly be called "Saint" just as you and I are called "saints" from the moment we repent of our sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour (I Corinthians 1:2). It was Saint Patrick who penned the beautiful prayer:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Yes, this is the secret to simplifying life. In everything, it's just Jesus. 

It's a choice. 
Every moment, I can choose to talk to Him about everything, no matter how simple or mundane. 

He cares about helping me plan my day as a busy homemaker with young children (Psalm 57:2). 
He cares about my hurt feelings (Deuteronomy 33:27). 
He puts His arms around me when I'm lonely (Psalm 107:9).
He reassures me when I second guess what I know is right (Proverbs 16:20).
He comforts me when I'm sad (Psalm 36:7).
He knows and understands my innermost thoughts. (Check out Psalm 139!)
He forgives me readily when I confess my sin (I John 1:9).
HE can live the Christian life through me. I can't (Galatians 2:20). 

Yes, all this and so much more! Jesus is my Best Friend, and He lives in me!!

That's the most amazing thing! The power that raised Jesus from the dead resides inside of me, ready to {not help me} LIVE HIS LIFE THROUGH ME, His yielded vessel. He's not living in me to add to the good I can do. "For I know that in me that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing..." (Romans 7:18). It's important for me to consciously know that in myself, I am nothing. Not to degrade myself, but to release me from the pressure to perform! I yield to HIM, and HE does it all! Any good that comes from me is actually HIM!

Why is that such a big deal? 
Because the truth is, I don't have to strive or try to do better or be better. I myself don't do anything. Moment by moment every single day, I very simply put my hands up in surrender and yieldedness to the ONE PERSON Who CAN do anything. The question is, do I really believe He can and will do it (Romans 6:8)? Will I yield myself completely to His control?

Will I allow HIM to take care of the children?
Will I allow HIM to do the laundry, clean the house, do the dishes, and run errands?
Will I allow HIM to be kind to that person who is annoying me?
Will I allow HIM to be patient with my child?
Will I allow HIM to love that person who seems unlovely to me?
Will I allow HIM to plan my schedule to the minute, trusting He is in control of what gets done?
Will I allow HIM to... {you fill in the blank}.

Life is simple: it's simply the Saviour.

Just Jesus.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Ever Merciful in the Face of Suffering

"He is ever merciful..." Psalm 37:26

That verse is referring to a believer, a Christian human being. I'll be honest: there are times when I do not want to be kind and merciful! You may feel along with me: when I feel hurt or angry, too often, I want the person who hurt me to hurt also. Or I want God to get them back somehow!

"...put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?" Psalm 56:8

Recently I read a post from Leah at Embracing Grace in which she stated one would never regret extending grace.

Jesus had quite a bit to say about extending grace in Luke 6:
{Please read this Scripture carefully, even if you've read it before.}

"For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them...And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same...But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."

Be kind and merciful to someone who has hurt me repeatedly? Stabbed me in the back? Belittled me? One whose main M.O. is to one-up me? This is all too familiar, especially for pastors and pastor's wives, sadly, inside the church!

Love, forgive, be kind and merciful in the face of suffering? What a standard! We would say that's impossible! Surely God wouldn't ask that of me!

Truly, there is no way for me to do this--especially to do it with genuine goodwill toward the person and with good feelings coming along for the ride! That is, it's impossible for me outside of the Holy Spirit's control of my mind, will, and emotions.

That little thing called the "soul" holds these three components: mind, will, and emotions. These three have the capability of choosing the way of the enemy of God, rather than choosing "kingdom living." Kingdom living rejoices in the opportunity to grow in grace!

I love this little chorus by Bill Harvey:

Why complain about the problem? Rejoice in the opportunity!
You have a chance to grow in grace! Take hold of responsibility!
The reward is worth the suff'ring--there's glory some sweet day!
Praise God for the problem on your way!

God wants me to grow! When our babies are born, we watch for them to grow in each and every stage in which they are supposed to grow. If they get behind, we take them to a doctor. God, as our Perfect Father, naturally, wants us to grow, too! He's not content to allow us to keep drinking milk from a bottle when solid food awaits.

God's "purpose" which Paul speaks of in Romans 8:28 is explained in verse 29:

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son..."

God's purpose for me is not to be well-known, be acknowledged as a great mom or pastor's wife, or any of the other things we would consider as "greatness" or "purpose" in life. His plan is not even to allow me to make it through life with minimal suffering and sorrow! His one purpose is to make me like Jesus. He does that through many life experiences, and sorrow and suffering are two major vehicles He uses.

Jesus Himself learned obedience to His Father "by the things which he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).

The writer of Hebrews goes on to tell us to "Consider him..." in chapter 12, verse 3. Jesus is our example (Philippians 2:5-8). I know this in my head, but have I embraced it in my heart to the point that I'm willing to follow His example and love my "enemies" or those who hurt me?

Embracing sorrow and suffering, rather than resisting what God is doing, will enable me to love my enemies and extend grace, no matter how they hurt me. How is it possible? Because when I choose to believe that God is still on the throne and that He has a plan that far surpasses anything I could dream up, I am content no matter what comes my way!

Does this mean I allow people to treat me as a doormat? That's not what Jesus did. I believe in holding people accountable for their actions. Jesus held Peter accountable, yet He extended grace and love to him at the same time. (Further study: Matthew 16:21-23, John 18:10-11, Mark 16:6-7, John 21.) There are times when we are to turn the other cheek (see Matthew 5:39 and II Samuel 16:5-14). Too many times, though, I use the "doormat" excuse to escape, when I don't want to extend grace.

How many times have I hurt God's heart and yet He continues to forgive and extend grace to me? He loved me while I was yet a sinner (Romans 5:8). If I claim to follow Jesus' steps, I will choose to yield myself to His tender embrace, and by faith, I'll take hold of His Word! Then the fetters of unforgiveness will fall off, and I'll be able to anchor my soul--my mind, will, emotions! Then the Haven of Rest (Jesus) truly becomes my LORD in the face of sorrow and suffering!

I yielded myself to His tender embrace, in faith taking hold of the Word,
My fetters fell off and I anchored my soul;
The Haven of Rest is my Lord!

The Haven of Rest, lyrics by Henry L. Gilmour, music by George D. Moore

If you have never read the book, Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, I highly recommend it. Other than the Bible, it is one of the best helps I have found in coping with sorrow and suffering and understanding what God is doing in my life! You can order it inexpensively here.

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