SHARING IN THE SUFFERINGS

Last year our two dogs got into a dog fight. One was a newly adopted rescue and showed signs of anxiety. One afternoon the new rescue attacked our puppy. It escalated quickly and the anxious dog was clearly out of control and in a crazed state. It scared me so bad, I thought she might kill our puppy.

I reacted in trying to break up the fight and protect—I stuck out my arm in the middle to remove the one dog that was out of control, consequently, she bit me very deeply in my arm close to my wrist.

I have never felt anything like that. It was immense pain. I felt as if my whole arm was on fire. It burned like nothing I’d ever felt.

Thankfully I was ok—no infection and got it stitched up and it healed, but there is a pretty deep scar there that is a reminder.

Fast forward almost a year later and I have been reading a book by Spurgeon called “All of

Grace.”

There was a part in the book that spoke of mediating and contemplating the death of Christ. Just to preface before I came to this passage, my mind was distracted and out of nowhere looked at my scar on my arm and started reliving the dog incident in my mind. I thought why am I all the sudden thinking of this? I continued to read….

“Do not sit down and try to pump up repentance from the dry well of a corrupt nature. It is contrary to the laws of your mind to suppose that you can force your soul into a gracious state. Take your heart in prayer to Him who understands it and says, Lord cleanse it. Lord renew it. Lord, work repentance in it. The more you try to produce penitent emotions in yourself, the more you will be disappointed. However if you believingly think of Jesus dying for you, repentance will burst forth.”

Wow! What timing on thinking of how I stepped in the middle of that fight and I innocently suffered out of love. I loved those dogs, and I wanted the fight to end. That was no mere accident that I just started thinking of that as I was about to read this passage.

Spurgeon went on to say, “Meditate on the Lord’s shedding His heart’s blood out of love for you. Set before you your mind’s eye the agony and blood sweat, the cross and the passion.”

As I looked at my scar and remembered my own grief and suffering and blood shed, I was immediately overcome with emotion thinking of the gravity of the pain and suffering Jesus endured because of His love for me.

Christianity is not just head knowledge and moral duty, it is experience with the real Jesus.

Through my experience with the dog bite, I believe God used that to show me something about himself and experience Him in a real tangible way. Christianity will be more than just a system of thinking and religion when we get in on the real experiences God has for us. He is trying to show us Himself.

Christ is all in all! Look to nothing else but the cross of Jesus. He has stepped in between the fight and sacrificed himself for us! He bled in our place. He suffered in our place. He took on the pain in our place.

“But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of his glory.” 1 Peter 4:13

“But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:5

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The Christmas Wrapping

My favorite time of day is the first thing in the morning and bedtime.

These two times I love equally. They are different, but I love them the same.

In the morning even though I’m not particularly a “morning person”, I wake up with a fresh start. I open my eyes, and I know that His mercies are new every morning.

I love bedtime because I can lay all my cares and worries of the day at the feet of Jesus. I receive peace and comfort as I rest in Him.

God is the alpha and the omega so this makes sense.

When we start with Jesus and end with Jesus then we can rest acknowledging that everything in between is wrapped carefully and in His care. We need not worry about the contents because God surrounds it from the beginning to the end.

As I get ready to wrap presents for Christmas, I’m thinking of His wrapping around me. Jesus has covered it all from beginning to end. So get wrapped up in Him! May we all know the comfort of Jesus in a new fresh way!

Joy to the World the Lord has come!

Merry Christmas!

Johanna

The Story Of The Holey Snoopy Jacket

Today I was feeling worn out and down and sort of beating myself up. As I walked into the kitchen this morning, my husband smiled and said “you are cute with your Snoopy jacket.”

So let me tell you about this jacket—I’ve had this jacket since I was about 18 or 19, over 20 years. I like to call it my holey Snoopy Jacket.

I refuse to get rid of it, like Linus and his security blanket. I’m not the type to hang on to things, so this is uncharacteristic of me. So what is it about this jacket?

This thing is falling apart. The zipper broke, it’s faded, there are holes and it’s unraveling around the cuff, but I won’t get rid of it. No way!

Well my holey worn out jacket got me thinking—I’m worn out, sometimes I feel like I’m unraveling. I’ve got holes. I’m far from being zipped up to perfection. At first glance, this could be a reason to throw in the towel—lose hope and heart, and just give up. Maybe you say, I’m so far in disrepair that it’s no use.

I’m so thankful, there is a hope and an answer better than that.

Jesus sees us with all our holes, worn out, tattered, and unraveling fits and He says, I’ve got you. I won’t let you go. You may be tattered and torn but you are valuable to me. You are more precious than gold!

I began a good work in you and I’m making you new.

He is in the process of transforming you from holey to holy. What a gift! Do you accept?

Even though I may be worn out, torn up, holes all over the place, I can still find comfort in my savior who loves me and I know is making all things new.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”

“Take heart, I have overcome the world.”

God Gold Foundation

This is a wonderful encouragement! Enjoy this read.

God Gold of the Day

Instead of the usual Son-day Surprise, I felt the need to share the story behind these messages. Just in case you ever wonder why I write these long, sometimes “too long”, wild messages everyday I wanted to share my heart and intentions behind these words. This is the background and foundation to the messages about the One who has changed my life forever.

The “God Gold of the Day” got it’s start when a close friend asked me to help him stay accountable in the Word and life. Being new in my faith, I had no idea what I was doing but it didn’t take long and the pure Gold God revealed to me turned my world upside down. I was coming into these messages and His Word for the first true time in my life. I had grown up in church throughout my younger…

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Pleasing People vs. Loving People

For many years, I have struggled with confusing these two things.

I’m beginning to understand the distinction as I get older.

Pleasing people:

Can be Stressful

Can Cause worry

Can stir up strife

Can bring division

Can Cause envy

Can cause us to focus on our own ego.

When we are trying to please people—we will have with it expectations from the person(s) we are trying to please. We will never meet anyone that will meet the expectations perfectly.

In short, I have found pleasing people turns out to not have much to do with the other person and more about what’s happening on the inside of me. Maybe I’m really just trying to please me. Now that’s a thought.

Pleasing people is small minded and comes with it baggage.

On the contrary love is so much bigger than me. Real love can’t be limited the way pleasing people can. Real love is free and not a burden. Love doesn’t have expectations. Love doesn’t keep a record of wrong. Love tears down walls, it doesn’t put them up.

If there is conflict when all your doing is loving that person, rest easy—remember it’s not about pleasing them. Shake the dust off your feet, move on and keep on loving them.

We are called to please God not man. When we put that as priority we can love our fellow man the way we are called to.

Pleasing people starts with me and ends with me. Loving people starts with God and ends with God.

I don’t have this down the way I wish I did, but God is gracious. He is sufficient and helping me in my weakness.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

Have a blessed weekend!

Johanna

Epic Story

For the last few days, I have been listening to film scores. I love this music with its big orchestral sound, rolling timpanis, the swell of violins, the ethereal voices. When I listen to it, it takes me on my own journey. My life to a soundtrack! Clearly movie producers and writers, see the value of music in telling the story. Music penetrates past the words and the scene and seems to seep down into our souls.

As I was walking the trails, I had my epic soundtracks going on my phone, and I was overcome with the beauty that surrounded. The leaves were falling down on the tree covered paved pathway, and the music made it seem like I was walking through Narnia! I thought to myself, what I am experiencing is something bigger, deeper, and meaningful, than just a feeling. I was paying more attention. If you think about it aren’t we drawn to anything epic!? Don’t we want to live an epic life!?

As a Christian I believe we are all called to an epic life! Each will have its own story line within the main story line. Isn’t that epic!? We are called to be brave and take on the adventures that God lays out. We are called to be a hero or heroine in the name of Jesus lifting his name high above all else! And finally we will have the most epic ending, and you can’t really call it an ending, because our ending is really just the beginning! We are His masterpiece!

We must choose which road we will take. Do you want to travel down the lane of a lost heart, working to make ends meet, trudging through life with chains wearing you down, like Bob Marley in Dickens, A Christmas Carol? Or choose the road that has meaning and purpose? I’m not going to say it will be an easy road; His way is the narrow way, we are told. It will take more courage, more faith, but we will be part of an epic story beyond what we could imagine. We will be fully alive, not zombies walking around just getting by.

Think of many of your favorite Bible stories, one Epic story after the other all pointing to the main story of Jesus! They just had to take courage and follow His lead. What will the choice be?

Get in on the adventure! Your epic story is waiting.

What will your soundtrack be?

Blessings,

Johanna

Aging vs. Maturity

Aging is automatic, maturity is not.

I know this to be true, because sometimes, even now at the age of almost 40, I can act like a 10 year old. How embarrassing. I catch myself. I will react in a way that I did when I was a kid.

I suppose one good sign is that I noticed.

Be willing. Be conscious. Be uncomfortable. Be willing to face discomfort. Awareness is the first step.

Just like we don’t grow up physically overnight, we don’t mentally, emotionally mature overnight either. It’s step by step choices.

Maturity is not just learning how to behave and conduct yourself. We can do this and still be really immature.

Maturity is earned through conscious actions.

Maturity happens when we can set aside our pride and ego. Maturity happens when we love when we don’t feel like it.

Maturity happens when we choose to have a good attitude despite our circumstances.

Maturity happens when we admit we are wrong.

Maturity happens when we are willing to hear criticism. Maturity happens when we commit to something and follow through when the going gets tough. Maturity happens we get up and try again when we’ve failed.

Maturity happens when we choose to be gracious even if not deserved. Maturity happens when we sacrifice what we want for what we need. Maturity happens when we give of our time and resources for the benefit of another. Maturity happens when we forgive. Maturity happens when we choose to not complain and whine.

Maturity happens when we are willing to hear advice and wisdom from others.

Maturity happens when we serve.

Maturity happens when we trust in God.

Maturity is a step by step growth, there is a physical maturity, emotional maturity and spiritual maturity.

The physical happens automatically, the emotional and spiritual do not. It’s our daily decisions and how we react to what life throws at us, that ultimately helps us in our maturity.

I’m so glad God is patient with me when I have an emotional meltdown or I sulk and want to act like a 5 year old. God is helping me in my weakness, and knowing that I can get back up and keep running the race that is set before me. I can rely on Him for strength.

Maturity happens when we keep running the race. Quitting and standing still won’t do.

So keep running. Every hurdle you come across, know that God is your strength and you will jump those hurdles and if you trip and fall, get back up and keep running. Press on to the goal, the prize, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Blessings and have a good weekend!

Johanna

10 Ways My Parents Loved Me

My dad is getting ready to do a speaking engagement at a men’s group he attends and it’s on how to love your children and grandchildren. I’m writing from the perspective of the child being loved and how that love was demonstrated in my life.

We all like lists, right? I do.

I made a list of 10 ways my parents demonstrated their love for me growing up.

1. They sometimes said “no.” I didn’t always get what I wanted when I wanted. I tried, boy did I try. I even found a note to my mom that she saved that said “please can so and so come over we won’t make noise and we will clean up.” I’m not sure if they gave in, but I remember many times no matter how hard I begged it was still, “no.”

2.They corrected me. When I got out of line, I got a talking to and paid the consequence. This taught me that there are consequences for your actions.

3.They taught me how to be orderly and responsible. I had chores and I didn’t get $5 for doing them. There was no bribery.

4. They talked with me about life, purpose, and value. I have memories of asking about the universe and other deep subjects and my dad willingly talking with me. We also would talk after seeing a movie about some of the philosophical or theological points. He taught me how to be discerning of these things as I navigate through regular everyday life. My mom always had great wisdom too. She was more practical and frank about things, a great quality she passed on to me.

5.They Laughed and had fun with me. Made music, went shopping, took me and my friends on outings. My dad would joke around with me and my friends a lot. Such great memories. Life doesn’t always have to be serious!

6. They listened to me. I never felt, that because I was a kid, that I didn’t have anything valuable to say. I always felt valued.

7. They taught me to be forgiving and gracious.

8. They taught me the value of giving and thinking of others. My mom set a beautiful example of thoughtfulness and a generous heart.

9. They taught me that sometimes you have to do things that you don’t like. Don’t whine. Sometimes there are sacrifices that have to be made. Sometimes life can be hard, but be an overcomer. Be courageous.

10. They taught me above else to honor the Lord and put him first. They prayed with me. I have memories of me and my dad praying before going to school in the morning.

They demonstrated this in their own walk with the Lord. They taught me the scriptures. I’m so thankful I have God’s word hidden in my heart because they planted that seed.

How these things have benefited me, almost goes without saying. Every one of these 10 things(and there are many more than 10) have impacted me as a person greatly.

I realize that not everyone has this story and even my story is not perfect. No one loves perfectly except God.

If you can’t relate to my story, please know that God loves you perfectly in all these ways and infinitely more.

Ultimately He is love! And God demonstrates it perfectly through Jesus.

We love because He first loved us!

Blessings and have a great weekend!

Johanna

Rejection

I never really experienced rejection growing up as a kid, at least not on a scale that I can recall deep feelings.

It wasn’t until I got into young adulthood that I started experiencing this where it made lasting impressions.

When someone says, “no I don’t want you,” whether it’s a love relationship, friendship, family relationship. The key word is relationship. We are not robots and we live and thrive through our relationships.

And when someone says, “nope I don’t want what you’ve got. I don’t want what your giving,” It is a pierce through the heart. It penetrates deeper than most anything else.

I have recently gone through a couple of rather painful rejections, and it still stings.

Through these experiences, God has been teaching me three things:

1. It’s not about me. I’m forced to stop thinking about how hurt I am and start loving and forgiving. The broken relationships have a much bigger picture than I can ever see. God is doing something greater. He is making all things work together for good, to them that are called according to his purpose. Can I trust that? Yes I certainly can. What He says, is a promise.

2. We are created for relationships, yet there is one relationship that should be above all and that is with Jesus. Is He number 1?

3. I am sharing in Christ sufferings. Jesus was/is rejected. All of his sufferings, rejections were for us. Jesus knows this hurt, this pain, but He loved, he forgave those that rejected and hurt Him.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Over and over Jesus shows us how to deal with this. Repay with love!

I think the only way God can get through to us on a personal level is to show us a glimpse of the rejection he received/receives. He is teaching me that this is a part of my becoming more like Him.

Be encouraged! He has overcome the world!

1 Peter 4:12-13

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Thursday Reflection – Expect Comfort

Have you ever thought about the beatitudes, specifically, “blessed are they that mourn.” At first reading of the beatitudes, it kind of sounds like God desires us to be sad and have a rough go at life. These are the people that are blessed? Right? But of course if all that was said was, “Blessed are those that mourn” and nothing else after that then yes I suppose that would be the conclusion, but there is one little word, “for” –this word connects the next part which is God’s desire for us. “Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.”

We all want and need comfort, and God knows this. Do we expect it from Him? P.B. Power said, “Man’s expectation is generally a prelude to God’s action.”

Live in expectation of his comfort to us that he values, and desires for us. He longs for Eden to be restored for us one day as much as we do, but we must look to him as the primary source and way.

I’ll leave you with this scripture to take with you as a promise. Expect it.

Isaiah 51:1-3

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness

    and who seek the Lord:

Look to the rock from which you were cut

    and to the quarry from which you were hewn;

look to Abraham, your father,

    and to Sarah, who gave you birth.

When I called him he was only one man,

    and I blessed him and made him many.

The Lord will surely comfort Zion

    and will look with compassion on all her ruins;

he will make her deserts like Eden,

    her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.

Joy and gladness will be found in her,

    thanksgiving and the sound of singing.