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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Instruments of Peace

I am not one to mix my politics with my religion. I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state. Christians came to America centuries ago to flee countries where no such separation existed. It is one of the bedrocks of our democracy. So, because of my strong stance on this I often stay out of the political discussion that is so much the fabric of social media today. My blog is one of Biblical and spiritual discourse, not political. 

But, our calling as Christians is to rise above politics and be Jesus' hands and feet to a broken world. Our mandate is to love as He loved, not to create division based on our own personal political stances. Churches are full of people who disagree politically but stand united under "one Lord, one faith, one baptism..." (Ephesians 4:5). Our mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus should not be road blocked by our fear. We are called to love despite the political climate and dare I say, despite executive orders. No matter your political stance as a Christian, our mandate to love supersedes it.

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."
 1 John 4:7

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."
 1 John 4:18-19

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" 
Matthew 22:37-39

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."
 John 13:34

As I go about my days trying to fulfill my calling to sow Jesus’ love in the world around me, this is my prayer:

"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
Where there is injury, pardon; 
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life." 

Prayer of St. Francis


Monday, January 2, 2017

Renewal

My favorite time of year is fall, but my second favorite is the start of the New Year. I love fresh starts. As much as I enjoy Christmas, I'm a huge fan of putting the decor away, deep cleaning my home, decluttering and starting the new year with a clean slate. Out with the old, in with the new! Every year, I welcome the freshness of it all and the hope of renewal.

The Bible also has a lot to say about renewal. (All verses are from the ESV.)

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10)

"...and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:23-24)

"...but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

I am a New Year's resolutions person. I guess it goes with the territory of someone who loves the start of a new year. But, this year I've been thinking less about resolutions and more about the areas of my life where I want to see renewal.

Spiritually

I am definitely sitting in a place where I'm in desperate need of spiritual renewal. Like the verses above, I want a clean heart, a renewed spirit and a transformed mind. So, what does that look like for me, practically? Yesterday, I did an inventory about where I spend most of my time and what mostly fills my mind. And, what was my conclusion? I spend most of my time filling my mind and my spirit with social media and binge television watching. Don't get me wrong, I see immense value in social media. As a blogger, it is a very useful tool. It is also a wonderful way to connect with family and friends around the world. But, for ME, it has become a time suck and an empty mind filler. So, I'm detoxing. I will use it for work and writing related purposes, but otherwise I'm hoping to spend more time reading, writing and filling my mind with information that will renew it and my spirit, not empty them.

Physically

I'm tired. My body is worn out. I'm in desperate need of physical renewal. I can't expect to be used by God to serve my family and others, if my body is worn down. For me, that means more clean eating and exercise. My prayer is that the renewal of my body will facilitate my spiritual renewal. And, don't get me wrong, losing 10-15 lbs won't hurt either. :)

Relationally

My last prayer for the new year, is that this renewal process will have a domino effect in my life. I pray that as I'm being renewed spiritually and physically; I will be more refreshed which will leak out into my relationships with my husband, my children and my friends. 

So, what about you, friends? What areas of your life would you love to see God renew and restore?