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Betrayed love

Lent devotional 32

Betrayed love

His head hung as the smile left his lips. This wasn’t right. Was it?
He took a deep breath and leaned in for the kiss.
This was wrong. Wasn’t it?
He looked into the eyes of the man before him. So filled with pain and sorrow. This is so very wrong. The other man just stared. Then his eyes moved past his betrayer to the soldiers behind.
What have I done?
The betrayer ran away, leaving his friend, no longer his friend. He ran and ran until he couldn’t run anymore as grief and guilt tore his soul.
What have we done?

What have we done?
How many of us have betrayed our Jesus at one time or another? Yet He still loves us. That has never changed.
His heart breaks as we betray Him. His heart loves us still and that is why it breaks.
What a paradox. What a mystery. That the king would leave His royal throne, to save a wretch like me. -Petra
We are all wretches, loved by a loyal king.
Reach out to Him today. He is reaching out to you.

If you have never accepted Jesus. Or feel a need to renew your faith. Please pray with me:

Dear Jesus.
I am a sinner and I know I need salvation. Forgive me for my sins.
Thank you for coming to earth to save me.
I accept you into my life now. Guide me to know you more.

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Suiting up

Every hero has their costume. Without it, they simply don’t look heroic.
If John Wayne didn’t wear his hat he would still look like a hero to us, but that is simply because we have seen him in action. On the other hand if you saw All Might walking down the street in civilian clothes he would look, well, a little bit like a hippy; but full dressed in his hero outfit, he looks like the symbol of peace. Right? Right.
People can’t look at us and see that we are God’s heros. We are always in civilian wear. We can’t suit up and say, “fear not, for I am here!” Because we have nothing to suit up with. Like the Duke (John Wayne) we have to let people know what we are all about by our actions. If they see us acting like Jesus then they will know, “we are here to help✌.”
So, suit up everybody. It’s time to act like heros.

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Setting your mind

Setting your mind

In one of my favorite movies the main character loves the song ‘country roads’ and rewrites the lyrics to it. The new version has a line that says:
Determined to live alone but fearless, my constant longing is to be courageous. Loneliness is bottled up inside, going down this path that I must try.
It’s a beautiful description of who she is. She knows herself and is willing to allow that to be enough for her. She knows her path is lonely but she takes it anyway with determination to contain that feeling and not allow it to control her. She is fearless and longs for even greater courage. These simple lyrics could apply to many of us. We all have a path to travel and we all have struggles along the way; some we can foresee others we can not, it’s how we handle these struggles that define us. Will we take them on like a ship breaking through a squall, heading for the light? Or will we shrink back inside our cabin and hope that it all goes away? Maybe we try to run from the storm, but we know that that never works out, just ask Jonah. However we face our troubles, however we take on our paths, God knows what He’s doing. He saw these squalls even before you were born, and He also saw a way through them. Some people fear asking for courage because they think that it will add turmoil to their lives, but lives will have turmoil whether you ask for courage or not. Isn’t it better to have already built up your courage before the big struggles come? If you haven’t then those times when you feel you’ve hit rock bottom will be harder to overcome. It’s not easy to look down the road ahead, feel the wind grab your hair, feel the hard path beneath your feet and take off your fear like a cloak throwing it over your shoulder, stepping off the threshold of your comfort zone at a run and smiling about it. Those who have done so have had the chance to touch their stars, yours are still waiting for you. When you look at those who have left their fear behind and taken hold of their path you will see a person scarred. Their cloths may seem torn and their skin marred by the hard falls, but you will also see a brilliant smile of triumph on their faces and when they walk by they drip of starlight, because they have touched the heavens. Why? Because they trusted God would lead them and never doubted His perfect, guiding hand. Do you see starlight in your future? Your future as an accountant, a plumber, a teacher, a doctor, an electrician? You don’t have to be an artist to gleam, you just have to give what you are meant to do everything you’ve got and trust that every time you fall a nail pierced hand will be there to help you back up.

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If you’re not THIS, God doesn’t love you

If you’re not THIS God doesn’t love you

This world is a broken mess. That is clear, and Christian or skeptic we can all see it.
Sadly the hate of the outside world sometimes seeps into our Churches and into our Brethren in Christ.
It makes me think of an old anime I own. There was a small village living in the waste land of a once fertile country. Little by little the ‘toxic jungle’ spread until the inhabitants had to wear filtering masks when going out doors. Little particles of the jungle seeped into the houses too though, slowly destroying all until there was nothing left. If we took the spore of our world’s ‘toxic jungle’ and eliminated it completely our air would be breathable again. That spore I would like to say is hate, because hate is pretty easy to spot, but hate itself is just an extreme version of the true problem. Judgement. We throw down judgements like it is our job and justify by screaming out, “but the Bible says.” Um, right, the Bible also says many, many times that is not for people to judge that that is God’s job. Next excuse. “We can’t condone that because we are Christians.” Okay, but condoning the sin and loving or even accepting the sinner, these are two very different things.
I have heard too many Church people quote the Bible to make themselves feel more Holy. The problem is that we usually quote it with a, ‘if you don’t do this exactly the way God says He won’t love you’ insinuation. God loves you. That’s it. He loves just you, all of you, and any version of you to come. Does He want His people to be better. Of course! We’re people, there is always room for improvement. But just because you slip, or struggle, or don’t invite the Jones’ out for tea after Church; none of this, and I mean none of it, will EVER make God stop loving you.
If you are dirty, join the club, we are all dirty. If you struggle with drugs, alcohol, porn, infidelity. If you have committed murder, stolen, cheated, or lied, God still loves you. Nothing you are and nothing you have done can change that. Does it hurt God when we do wrong? Absolutley. Does He drop us like a bad connection after? NO! And don’t ever let anyone make you feel like He does. Nothing you don’t do and nothing you do do will change God’s love for you. We can let the need to accuse and judge others seep in from the outside world. By that I mean in from the world of the devil. The one who is against Jesus, that is the outside world. Little by little we destroy our Churches because we don’t want the sinners in to add mud to our name. We destroy ourselves by failing the second greatest command. Love your neighbor. Love can shown by simply going, “it’s okay, I won’t judge.”
I feel passionate about this because of the testimonies I have heard. ‘I have never met a Christian who didn’t judge me.’
I don’t witness very often. I let people know I am a Christian and just let God guide things from there so this is not a look at all the people I talk to thing because I don’t. It is just something that has come up…often. I have also heard pastors who use their pulpit as a shield while they judge and not from a Bible stand point. Please let the Holy Spirit guide your response to sermons and don’t get depressed. If God is telling you to change He will help you do so.
Last thing.
God knows how much you love Him. You don’t have to prove it. Do things to make God happy, but don’t feel He misses the fact that you care, in the simple human way we all do our best to love God like He loves us. Talk about impossible dreams.
So to sum up.
Don’t judge, that is God’s job. Love, that is your job.
God will always love you. No matter what anyone ever says. God says that He loves you. Just read the Bible and you can see for yourself.

Love Lauren

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Breathe in peace, Breathe out problems

The ASL sign for complain is a hand motion of a cup that pounds on your chest. Isn’t that exactly what complaining feels like? A pounding of grief, anger, pain, pounding on your heart until it overflows from your mouth in the form of a complaint.
Everytime someone in the Bible complained something either went wrong or got worse. So what is the lesson? Don’t complain.Ya right. It is so very hard to not complain, even if the verbal sensation steals our joy and causes us greater destruction. We complain because we need relief and feel like spouting our problems will help. I have a solution. Don’t complain to people, instead beg mercy from God. Tell Him what you are going through and ask Him to help.
This way you accomplish three things.
A. You set your problems in the hands of the one who can actually help
B. You talk about your grief and get it off your chest
C. You fellowship with the All Mighty.
All of these things cause you to feel better, and best of all, actually make a difference in your situation.
God wants to help us, but He also wants us to bring these things to Him. Sometimes we won’t see a change until we ask God. Cry to God. Tell our Father that we need Him. Then He reaches out His hand and helps us back to where we are meant to be .

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Heads or Tails?

Looking to God can be a struggle because the world always says ‘yes’; God sometimes says ‘no’.
To face God and accept that your answer may be ‘no’ is painful and very scary. We want a ‘yes’ answer, and we want it quickly; meet World, because he answers with what you want quickly. Why? Because World doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about you or what happens next, he doesn’t even care if you have a story or a future, if you want a quick fix, find World, because that is how he operates.
If you want perfection, look to God.
My mom always says ‘wait for perfect,’ meaning the perfect that God is preparing. My answer? I want the perfect when it comes, but I want the temporary to fill the gaps of waiting.
Stupid? Yep. Bad logic? I know. Not realistic? Absolutely.
And in a few moments of post conversation reflection I see my flaw, or error in judgement I guess would be a better term.
Wait for perfect and accept that your ‘no’ is leading you to that perfect… whatever… whatever it is you seek, wait for it to be perfect. It is easy to say this, I know, but living it means pain at times and struggle at others. If you trip don’t worry about it, confess it and trust God to set back on your path, but keep seeking God and His answers because, painful or not, they are your best option. World is what they call a ‘toxic relationship’, God, the one who cares enough to want best instead of good enough, the one who goes with you and fights for you, (often fighting against World for you, ) He is the fairy tale relationship. He is the Prince, or in this case the King, riding in to give you the life that you need. Oops. That isn’t how the story goes is it? Doesn’t the King give the life you ‘want’? No. This King gives the life you need, but the end of the story is a dream come true when follow the King.

God please guide us to you in your power. Please help us through the pain life sometimes brings and please show us your road for our lives. In Jesus name..amen.

Credit to owner for cover image

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Who am I?

Who I am?

One of the most important things I learned how to do as a pre-teen was how to make a pot of coffee. Why? Because if you cut me open I would bleed Tim Horton’s blend medium roast.

One of the most fundamental mistakes I ever made was my first boyfriend. At 13 years old you don’t know enough about yourself to start knowing someone else. That being said, it was a mistake that I no longer regret, because of how much I learned about myself, my values, my goals, other people and life in general. Oh ya. And high school really does never end.

My best friend has always been my dog. Every dog I have ever owned has quickly gone from cute pet to soul mate in a matter of days. We get each other. We sacrifice for each other. And when my love for live runs dry my dog pours his love onto me, ( usually in wet kisses.)

I grew up somewhat self reliant due to being an only child, so group activities always made me uncomfortable. I also became jealous of the people who click easily and fit groups well. But in turn I ended up with one or two solid friendships instead of tons of wishy washy ones.

Jesus knew what my life needed to make me who I am and who I am becoming. Whomever said that you are an adult by your twenties missed something. 20+ is a small number and we are still small in our understandings, probably still small in our works, and most likely small in the world. That is not a bad thing. We are still growing up and figuring out who we are and where we belong. We don’t need to have everything figured out, that’s God’s job.
I know many people who, at over 40, have decided to rewrite their lives. Why? They wanted to have everything figured out and in place before they were 30, so they ended up in jobs that don’t suit them and with a life style they hate. Enter the re-write.
Take time. Get to know yourself. Get to know God. Slow down and find your ‘sweet spot’ as Max Lucado calls it. If you are in a life place that you don’t feel God has called/ guided you to and you want out..get out. He knows what He is doing and will lead you where He knows you belong. Trust Him.
In the armor of God we almost always forget one important piece. Shoes. The shoes of readiness are things we tend to forget to put on. And come on, don’t the perfect shoes make the outfit? Where are your shoes of readiness leading you? Where does God want you to go?
Slip on your flats, runners, steel toe work boots, or lavendar stilettos and be ready for what God is calling you to do and where God is calling you to go.

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Victory takes time

Victory takes time

John Millias’ painting ‘Victory oh Lord’

Exodus 17:11

Who remembers Moses having to hold up his hands to God for victory in battle?
Remember? As long as his hands were up God’s people were winning but whenever they were down God’s people would lose.
The battle lasted so long that Aaron and Hur had to come and hold up Moses’ hands because he was exhausted.
If you were Moses’ wouldn’t you be thinking,
‘Anytime now God! I am really losing will power here!’
Yet Moses persevered in Faith and ultimately the battle was won.
We live in a ‘now’ society.
Everything happens quickly, and we expect it to. When my wifi is slow and I have to wait a minute before something will download instead of the 10 seconds it normally takes, I am irritated. I am also an impatient person and am working on that.
You see my point though. Moses waited so long for God to bring victory that his body literally gave out on him; but Moses knew God well and had seen Him do unreal things before, so he kept his Faith and kept his hands raised.
We know God can do unreal things, so why do we doubt Him? Our arms get tired and we lower them. Our praise ceases, our prayer wanes and eventually we give up the fight. Don’t give up the fight! One more time. Don’t give up the fight! God is moving, acting and working! Keep your hands raised high! If you can’t keep them up on your own, seek help. Help from friends, family, your pastor or church, from a devotional or online Christian speaker, find somebody you trust to help hold your hands up with you. God will bring you the victory, just keep reaching up to Him and don’t stop until you see your breakthrough.

Thank you Lord Jesus for being our breakthrough. I pray for whomever is reading this devotional that they find peace and strength and support as they wait for the victory you are bringing. In Jesus name.

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Carrying your sword in hand

I have an author that I used to read a fair bit when I was younger. In the end of one of his books the ships are leaving with all the warriors of the king and one soldier comes running last of all. A soldier who had chosen to never go to war and to simply carry his weapon and claim to be part of the king’s army. In the end the king refused to take the soldier with him to his kingdom because, though he carried a weapon given him by the king, he never used it.
This made me think of God. Do we simply carry God’s gifts and feel that because we have them we are special, the ‘God chose me’ mentality? Are we special if all we do is posses unused gifts? We cannot simply believe in God but not serve Him. Now, I have no authority to say Heaven is out of reach for those who only believe and do not serve, but if God has given you a gift He has done so so that you can use it for HIM. He does not gift us for the sake of our pride. Romans 12:7 if your gift is teaching, teach; if it is serving, serve.
If your gift is being a mom then be the best mom you can possibly be to God’s glory.
If it is construction then construct to God’s glory.
Whatever you do, give your gift back to God. You do not want to simply carry your sword in it’s scabbard and never draw it. Do you polish it so you can admire your reflection or so it is optimal when you go to battle? Be a warrior who carries their sword in hand and is ready to use it. The sword of the Spirit is hungry and ready to be wielded, and if the Spirit is leading you then you are fighting on God’s team. Do not be discouraged, you may be already wielding your sword and not know it. Listen for God’s direction and let the Spirit guide you. Serve God the best way you know how. Further His kingdom as only you can. God gifted you for a reason and He will show you that reason but do not give up on searching for ways to be God’s warrior no matter how small it may seem. You are special and having a gift is a special thing, but being special without using your specialty is a waste. So waste not, find your niche, and fight for God’s kingdom.

Credit to owner for image

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There ARE going to be empty branches

When I go camping I love having a spot that is surrounded by trees because the trees can feel……almost magical. Have you ever taken note of the delicate work of each branch? Some full of leaves, some of flowers, some bare of anything growing.

What massive, living creations trees are; they don’t think, they don’t feel, but they are still alive.

Imagine, as the tree grows it feels each branch grow out and form flowers, berries, leaves. The tree feels joy, even pride as it reaches toward the sun. Suddenly a branch feels wrong. It feels bare. The tree works hard to grow something, anything from this branch but it remains without addition. The tree tries another branch and finds it also unwilling to yeild. Confused, the tree asks God why some of it’s branches are bare.

God gently replies:

“Not everything you try will grow and succeed. Do not focus on these branches, instead focus on the branches that are blossoming and blooming. Please do not be descouraged by the feeling these leafless branches bring, wait and see what these empty branches add to your life.”

Not everything we try will succeed. Some things we simply cannot do, and some things we are not meant to do; but do not focus on these empty branches. Allow them to be signs that we tried, even if nothing produced from the attempt.

Focus on your growing leaves and flowers, allow them to encourage you to branch out and once again try something new. It might succeed, it might fail, but God is there for us even as we try. And remeber, the best branches to hang a swing from are empty ones.

In other words, focus on your successes and let them encourage you, but do not hate your misadventures because they have a purpose too; and in everything God has a purpose and a reason.