Holy Week: Love Unveiled

Now we see things imperfectly,

like puzzling reflections in a mirror,

but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete,

 but then I will know everything completely,

 just as God now knows me completely.”

~1 Corinthians 13:12NLT

It makes me laugh to read the first line of this verse. I’m picturing that first-thing-in-the-morning glance in the mirror. More puzzling than pretty! That must be why I tend to avoid the mirror until I’ve had a cup of tea and time with Jesus. Then I’m up for the challenge of a new day in this not-so-new body.

 

I love this image of the bride’s mirrored reflection through her veil. It vividly illustrates the veil imagery in scripture. Moses wore a veil after meeting with God on Mount Sinai, because the glory of God radiated from his face. He covered it so that the Israelites would remain faithful even though the radiance faded away.

 

In the temple there was a veil, or curtain that set apart a section called The Holy of Holies, where only the priests were allowed to enter. They were the only ones who could come before the Almighty God on behalf of the people.

 

And, on this memorable day in history which we call Good Friday, the veil is significant in the crucifixion of Christ. In the last moments of Jesus’ death, God’s immense love was unveiled!

“darkness came over the whole land…the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last breath (Luke 23:44-46).”

That torn curtain (veil) of the temple is a powerful symbol of the divine purpose of Christ: that we may become one with Him and with the Father, that we have direct access to the eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful God.

“whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away…

“And we, who with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2Cor. 3:16,18NIV).”

The implications of the torn veil are beyond our human comprehension. Even though the veil has been torn, our vision and understanding remain impaired, imperfect, incomplete until the return of Christ. When we see Jesus face-to-face, all things will become clear.

When Christ arrives, He will lovingly lift the bridal veil from our face and wipe away every last tear from our eyes.

Never again will we experience pain or disease or grief or suffering of any kind. He will make all things new! In the meantime, we are like a bride watching, waiting, preparing for her bridegroom. (Revelation)

 

“Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever (2Cor. 4:16-18NLT).”

Don’t let the mirror discourage you. Start your day with your favorite brew and bask in the glorious presence of the Lord. Everything else will grow dim in comparison to Him!

Bask in the presence and glory of HIM today, with gratefulness and thanksgiving for the great sacrifice He made for YOU.

Love you…

CynthiaStiverson.com

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Holy Week: Love Perfected

“But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish things behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:10-11 NIV

 

“Why do we suffer?”

 

As a pastor, church leader, minister, I have been asked that question many times. My gut reaction? ”Why wouldn’t we?” When I try to imagine the suffering of Jesus, I wonder how we could ever think that He should intensely suffer, and we would lead perfect painless lives. It seems I have that perfectly logical thought one minute, and the next minute I am the one suffering and asking God that same “childish” question,

“Why must I suffer so? Why is my life marked with such pain?”

 

Today is Maundy Thursday, which seems the perfect day to ask that question. Today we remember events leading to the crucifixion of Christ: The Passover/Last Supper Jesus shared with His disciples, His arrest, suffering, and trial (Read Matthew).

Serving the meal to the disciples, Jesus spoke these words,

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:15-16NIV).”

The “fulfillment” Jesus speaks about in this passage is powerfully linked with the coming “perfection”  in today’s verse, 1 Corinthians 13:10.

Perfection, in Greek, means fulfillment, completeness, maturity, end. In both verses, this perfection or fulfillment is referring to the second coming of Christ, when all things will be perfected, completed, fulfilled.

When we’re hurting, we tend to mistake Christ’s first arrival as the fulfillment, our perfection, the end of our pain. Yet, suffering is the journey toward perfection. The Apostle Paul describes how he pleaded and pleaded and pleaded (3 times!) for the Lord to take away his pain. Instead, God spoke these words to him,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2Cor.12: 9).”

Has God spoken these profound words over you?

He has spoken them over and over to me. I can tell you firsthand, it really puts things in perspective when He does. It’s not really what we want to hear! We want God to coddle us and make everything go away. But that would not necessarily be to our benefit. The words Paul spoke in response to God have been my mantra through many a trial, “when I am weak, then I am strong”…

  • When I discovered my daughter had been sexually abused; when my husband committed suicide…His power was made perfect in me.
  • When I suffered with the pain of fibromyalgia…I was weak and He was strong.
  • When I grieved the pain of my past…processed repressed memories…His grace was sufficient for me.

God has used every pain, every trial to refine my mind, my heart, to mature me as a woman of God, “to put childish things behind me”.  Through suffering, God polishes me and perfects me and prepares me to serve Him fully, love Him completely, and to also love YOU. I know He is doing this same miracle in the midst of your suffering too.

Today, instead of focusing on our personal pain, let us consider the Love Perfected by a perfect man dying on a cross.

Not just any man, this man was and is the Son of God. Not just any cross, this was the cross of Christ.

“During the days of Jesus life here on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…(Hebrews 5:7-9NIV)”

Consider this:

  • If the one and only Son of God was brought into submission, learned obedience, and was made perfect through suffering, why would we expect to escape that process?
  • If Jesus prayed and petitioned and cried out to God in his pain, shouldn’t we do the same?

 

Oh Lord God, use my suffering to cleanse and perfect my heart, to bring me into submission to Your greater plans for my life, to “put childish things behind” me, to be made mature, complete, in You. May I point others to the “source of eternal salvation”. In the powerful name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Holy Week: The Lunacy of Love

Joan of Arc’s Death, by Herman Stilke

“If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”  ~~I Corinthians 13:3NLT

Giving. Sacrificing. Dying. For the sake of love.

At face value, it may seem absurd to think that you would do these three things for any other reason. But, think again!

This “sacrifice of the body” is translated in other versions as being burned at the stake. It brings to mind the early martyrs of the church. It also paints a picture, like the one shown here, of the young heroine of the Hundred Years’ War in France in the early 1400′s.

Joan of Arc had divine visions at the age of twelve, calling her to lead her homeland to freedom. By sixteen, this peasant girl moved in her perceived call of God. Weaving her way through hostile territory, she gained entrance to the French Royal Court and landed a private conference with Charles VII. Charles was inspired by her testimony and her determination to carry it forth. Yet, it was Joan’s motivation that became frontline in this battle.

Was she a saint or a sorceress?

The future of their country was at stake. The Royal Court was smart enough to know they needed God’s favor to win this war. So, they did a background check! Joan was found to be irreproachable. They joined forces with this teenager who they deemed a “good Christian”, who demonstrated “the virtues of humility, honesty and simplicity.” Joan’s reward for her military success? At the age of 19, she was burned at the stake. Her executioner said he “feared his own damnation” for having carried out this death sentence.

Motivated by God. To the point of death. Sound familiar?

Two thousand years after the life and death of Jesus Christ, people still question the mission and the motives of the Messiah.  If we think about it, it is a bit absurd, isn’t it?

  • Why would God send His son to earth? Expect him to live in human conditions?

  • Why would God allow His son to die a martyr’s death, even a criminal death?

  • Why would Jesus succomb to this, without trial or defense?

  • Why would his accusers not see that this was the Son of God? Not recognize him as their Messiah?

The answer is repetitive throughout scripture. The reason is love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).”

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (I John 3:16).”

God. Loves. Us. Enough to watch His Son suffer and die a criminal death. That’s the Lunacy of Love!

Yet, He did not die without judge or jury or justice. He is seated at the right hand of God in the heavens. He has become  the eternal and righteous Judge, who will determine the final resting place of all mankind.

Our eternal destiny will be determined by our motivation; our obedience to the commandment to love. The only way we can fulfill that command is to surrender our life to Jesus Christ.

Is it possible to do good things for the wrong reasons? Absolutely.

  • I can give generously to others to elevate myself, to make myself look good in the eyes of others, to feel good about myself.  not love!

  • I can take my own life for the sake of love, but it’s really an act of revenge, or of self-pity, of self-loathing, or of self-edification.  not love!

  • I can risk my life for the sake of saving lives, but it’s often for political gain.  not love!
  • I can love someone for the sake of my own need to be loved, which is really just an act of self-love.  not love!

Today, during Holy Week, is the perfect time to question our motives; to begin to truly love: selflessly, extravagantly, unconditionally, sacrificially –like a lunatic–!

 

“Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had…” READ MORE of Philippians chapter 2

 

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Holy Week: The Law of Love

 

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” ~I Corinthians 13:2

 As we enter Holy Week, our thoughts are drawn to the plight of Jesus.
He was and is The One, the long-awaited Messiah. He was the fulfillment of prophecy and He was prophetic. He understood all of God’s secret plans. In fact, He was God’s secret plan. He possessed all knowledge. He had faith that could move mountains. He had all of these gifts and abilities. But it was His love that changed lives. It was His love that got Him in trouble. It was His love that led Him to the cross.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, we see hecklers in every crowd: the Pharisees.

It was their religious position, or disposition, to protect and enforce the law of the Jews. They were religious to a fault. They were legalistic to a fault. They imposed so many rules and regulations that the people became slaves of the law.

They tried to impose their laws upon The One who came to fulfill the law.

Jesus refuted the laborious laws of the self-righteous. He condemned legalistic religiosity. His message was compassion, healing, resurrection, justice, mercy…LOVE. His message was more than a message. It was a public demonstration of a new order, a new Kingdom, a new covenant between God and His people.

This covenant is a covenant of Love.

The ultimate absurdity is that the religious leaders nailed Jesus to the cross. It demonstrated their spiritual blindness. It demonstrated their lack of love for God and His word, their lack of love for one another for the sake of their devotion to laws and religions of man. This was no surprise to Jesus.

It was God’s plan for Him, for us.

I love the preaching of Peter on the Day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2:

“Men of Israel, listen to this:  Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs…and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him on the cross. But God raised him from the dead…Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart… (vvs. 22-24,36-37).”

Then they asked Peter, “What shall we do?” 

Peter instructed them to repent. We must repent too…

  • for leaning on our knowledge of scripture rather than allowing it to change us at a heart level
  • for believing in our own self-righteousness rather than seeking God’s righteousness
  • for making this Covenant of Love into a rulebook for others to follow
  • for imposing judgment on those who do not know Christ
  • for not obeying the Commands of Jesus, the LAW OF LOVE:
    • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
    • “Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).”

 

Lord, forgive us for our tendency to cast judgment, to overlook our own faults and criticize others. We are truly sorry, for we, like the Pharisees, can easily fall into the habit of reading Your Word just to grow in knowledge, to display our knowledge before others rather than hiding it in our hearts and applying it to our lives.

We, too, have nailed you to the cross because of our sins. Thank you for your selfless act of forgiveness, Lord. May we truly live out this Love Command. Fill us anew with Your love and give us a burning passion to love others. Help us to appreciate and embrace this covenant of love that you’ve made available through the death and resurrection of Christ. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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FREEDOM! Woven Weekend REcap

Beautiful. Transforming. Powerful.Woven Weekend 2014 White Flags bw

All apply to our Woven Weekend 2014: FREEDOM!

It was truly a work of the Holy Spirit.

The journey toward this event was rugged and ever changing. God was definitely putting His thumbprint on the outcome. The first “oops” was an “error” in location, which resulted in Transformation Round One. Witnessing the body of Christ coming together to prepare our Newark Naz REAL LIFE location for this event and for the future of this congregation was beautiful. The transformation was amazing! It was the perfect space for our event…a God “oops”!

Another “oops”… our Worship Leader Melissa Anderson was quarantined until Saturday morning. What are the odds of that? We put to death our plans and sought God’s plan. Recording Artist Heather Evans stepped right in and blessed us with her vocal and acoustic giftedness Friday night. What a powerful strummer and vocalist!

Transformation Round Two:

No more “oops”!  The beauty of our Friday night service was to the tune of “White Flags”. The sight of every woman in the place waving a white flag of surrender was a visible welcoming of the Holy Spirit. To make the vision complete, two of our women marched the aisles with huge white flags and placed them near the altar. We were ready to hear from the Lord.

God was not going to allow me to speak about surrender without going there myself! Through all the “oops”, I was a prepared vessel for His word to prevail through this frail frame of mine.

The power of His Story intertwined with My Story applied to Everyone’s Story and exposed our need for pure transformation.

The response was the most sacred part of the evening: I invited the women to write their “battle” on their white flag. We had created a ‘Veterans’ Memorial at the altar where they could place their flag in the sand.

It was our way of declaring, “The battles over! I surrender all to You, all for You!”

Our Woven Leaders were there to offer prayer and donned the ladies with engraved dog tags: “FREE 2B you&me”.

Transformation Round Three:

Saturday released our Worship Leader Melissa Anderson from captivity. :)  (It wouldn’t be a Woven Weekend without her beautiful voice and dynamic leadership!) My daughter, Nicole Braddock Bromley, shared Her Story and journey to FREEDOM which God is using to set others FREE around the world. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what an amazing woman she is. Despite her accomplishments and name recognition, she’s still just our Nicole, so authentic and down-to-earth. Her message speaks so powerfully and pointedly to the heart.

Nicole challenged us to share our story, find our voice, reach out to the hurting, and seek justice for the captives.

Another beautiful response: I invited the women to come and place a candle in the sand to represent their prayer for survivors of abuse, whether themselves, someone else, or for the greater cause or call in our community, our country, the world. Then we responded to the challenge of sharing our story through a short exercise and partnered with another person to briefly share.Woven Weekend 2014 Pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention

After closing in prayer, we travelled to the YMCA for the March Against Child Abuse. Our own Woven Woman Renee Steele was the coordinator of this event (so proud of her!). What perfect timing to give legs and feet to the challenge and to reflect on all that we had heard. It was my privilege to shout out a prayer over this group of marchers at the Pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention site. The perfect ending to a perfectly beautiful Woven Weekend.

In the weeks to come, I will be unfurling those white flags and addressing some of the battles that our women surrendered there. Other Woven events will also be launched from this event. Stay tuned…

A huge THANKS to all who were involved and a PRAISE to the God who loves us to the extent of attending to every detail.

 

 

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FREEDOM Woven Women’s Weekend

freedomposter FINALLess than a week away, our 2014 Woven Weekend Retreat is coming together beautifully. God is definitely attending to every detail. Your Woven Team and our home church is going to great lengths FOR YOU to feel right at home WITH US! This is truly our heart– God’s heart!

Here’s a quick look at the Event:

It all begins Friday evening, April 4th. Join us downstairs at 6pm for food & friendship. Our Woven Boutique will be ready for you to shop: everything is $5 or less! Guest Speaker (aka: my daughter) Nicole Braddock Bromley will have a book table upstairs, as well as One Voice T-shirts and wristbands. You will have the opportunity to purchase shoes for a child in Cambodia. I will have a selection of my artwork available for purchase also. So, come prepared!

Worship begins at 7-pm. Melissa Anderson has put together an incredible band again this year. No doubt that God will be glorified! As pastor and founder of Woven, I will bring God’s message to you Friday night. Let me just say this about that: He wants to SET US FREE!!

Saturday morning: Breakfast is at 9am. Our leaders love to love on you, so just get used to it!! Let them do their thing! LOL. Worship begins at 10 and Nicole will inspire us with her story and how God is using her past to change the future…to proclaim FREEDOM for captives.

I will take it from there, as we process the weekend and God’s heart for each of us; how our stories can make a difference. Then we will “walk the talk”. I was so amazed that on this same day, one of our Woven gals (Renee Steele) is the organizer of the Licking County March Against Child Abuse! How perfect is that? So, bring your walking shoes and a jacket. We will drive a few blocks to the YMCA and join the march on the bike path at 1pm, and I’ve been given the honor of closing the MACA with prayer.

A few extra notes:

  • Be prepared to give to a love offering for Nicole’s mission in Cambodia: 1Voice4Freedom.
  • Get your tickets in advance $10: at all 3 NewarkNaz locations tomorrow morning, Sunday, March 30, or online, or at the door ($12).
  • We will have security and parking attendants in place to help you.
  • We cherish your prayers and can’t wait to welcome YOU!
  • Location: REAL LIFE Church of the Nazarene, 24 Mill Street, Newark, OH

We Are Woven into a tapestry of love!  Woven Weekend 2014.brochure

CynthiaStiverson.comContact me

 

 

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LENT: What is Prayer?

 bprayer conversations with gody Nancy Stiverson

 

“Devote yourselves to prayer….” Colossians 4:2a

 

 

 

PRAYER IS…

  • a confession
  • a praise
  • a petition
  • an act of communion with God
  • a reverent petition to God

But my favorite definition…

Prayer is the ability TO SEE!

Just think of that: Prayer is the ability to see— the ability TO SEE GOD! What a wonderful reality! When we pray, it is the breathing of the Spirit in us.  A woman is never more powerful as when she is on her knees before the Lord in prayer. We’re waiting and trusting in Him.

I read a touching story about an elderly woman who lived in the 1800s, during the early days of the Western Movement.  This woman, who had never seen paper money, came to her minister saying she was in desperate need.  She explained that her son had traveled farther west to seek his fortune.  Although the son sent many letters, she explained that he never sent anything to help her financially.  “All he sends me are letters and pretty pictures,” she said.

“May I see one of the pictures?” asked the minister.  “Yes, I have all of them here in my Bible,” she answered. Between the leaves of her worn Bible, the woman pulled out a huge handful of bank notes.

“These are the pictures,” she said.  The minister was astonished!  “Why you have more money than all of us put together.  You are richer than anyone in town!” Laughing, he continued, “You have a fortune in your Bible!”

WE have a fortune in our Bible, too!

The Bible is God’s word to us. It gives us personal examples of calling on the name of the Lord, seeking God’s face, crying out to God, lifting up our soul to God, approaching the throne of God, lifting up our hands to God, drawing near to God!  What a wealth at our fingertips! The Scriptures give us many examples of Prayer:

  • praising prayers
  • joyful prayers
  • prayers of thanksgiving
  • prayers of confession
  • intercessory prayers
  • prayers of petition

The Bible wasn’t written just to give us more knowledge. It was written to change our lives! The Bible is God-breathed! It’s God’s way of lovingly teaching us about prayer, about life, about His love and desires for us. It is life-sustaining. It is truly worth a fortune!

LENT is a season of prayer. Have you opened your Bible yet today? Have you prayed? The Psalms are full of prayers and praises. You’ll find them right smack in the middle of the Bible.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.” ~Psalm 119:105

____________________

It’s a joy to introduce you to my “sister” Nancy Stiverson.

Nancy edits

Nancy in my Nook!

Nancy is married to My Boy’s older brother Rev. Dr. Russell Stiverson. Besides being a pastor’s wife, she is a retired school teacher/principal. Her favorite role in life is Mom of Tracy (Darren), Russ (Liz) and Mommaw to Timothy, Molly, and Haley.

Russ & Nancy live in Oregon where she loves to read, crochet, substitute teach, and love and encourage women.

So thankful God has WOVEN her into my tapestry of love!

Love you Sis!!!

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Love Is Our Legacy

“But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part…”    ~1 Corinthians 13:8b-9NIV

Planning. Preparing. Predicting.Ever feel like you spend more time in the future than you do in the present?

 

I know I do. As a visionary leader, much of my time is spent looking ahead. Promoting the next event. Planning months, even a year in advance. Preparing the next lesson I will teach, the next message I will speak, the new paintings I will market. Predicting the outcome so I will know how to prepare.

I’m guessing most of you live in the future too. Whether it’s predicting, forecasting, marketing, event-planning, networking, learning, educating…we are compelled to keep one foot in the future for the sake of success.

What happens when we come to the end of our lives and that one foot in the future becomes the metaphorical “one foot in the grave”?

Planning and preparing take on a whole new spin. Things that seem so important when we’re young and active are no longer pertinent.

 

Two years ago, I walked this journey with my mother. She was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in August. In the following months, her health rapidly deteriorated. Along with her health, her memory and cognitive functioning decreased. We were faced with many decisions. The most difficult was where and how she would spend her last days. Her possessions were reduced to what would fit into a shared room in the nursing home. But these concerns paled the morning of January 3rd, when I received the call that she was unresponsive. At this point, she could not even speak. Finally, her entire body gave up the fight as she breathed her last breath and fell into the arms of her eternal home.

That’s what this passage expresses. The brevity of life. The length of eternity. The “things” of this life pass away, as I witnessed with my mother. Knowledge fades with age. Our minds grow dim. We forget. Even now, I forget where I put this or that! Sometimes I swear someone has taken my keys or my cell phone, only to discover they were right where I put them…if only I could remember where that was!

Knowledge, predicting, preparing, planning, speaking, prophesying…they will cease and pass away as the life within us ceases and passes away.

LOVE goes with us to the heavens. It greets us at the pearly gates!

It never leaves us or forsakes us. It’s the legacy that we leave on earth beyond our grave. It’s what I miss most about my mother. It’s what my heart speaks in her loss. Love IS the greater gain for the greater good!

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man/woman who does the will of God lives forever (IJohn 2:17).”

The will of God is to LOVE! Love Him first and foremost. Love others in the way that you want to be loved.

We found this poem in my mother’s bedroom.  She had cut it out of an old magazine and framed it. It appeared as a final love note to her children. Now I pass it on to you because LOVE IS OUR LEGACY!

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Notes from the Nook: REpurposed

Just Be HappyFebruary 9th marked our first full year in “this old house”! I have to say I am loving my Nook more than ever. It truly is a happy place, a sweet hideaway for serving precious guests and sharing with open hearts. Surprisingly, the Nook is even becoming my little get-away with the Lord — doing my devotions —  when my office seems too consumed with business.

It’s funny how my perspective has changed since we first moved in. I was on a mission to REdo, REplace! The light fixture in the Nook was atrocious to me; and I was thinking the one in the dining room just had to go.  Consumed with the process of fitting into this smaller home, those minor details (that were major in my mind) had to be shelved for later.

As I updated and decorated the Nook, that awful light fixture got even more awful. It stuck out like a sore thumb in the New Look of the Nook! Ugh! We shopped till we dropped, heads tilted, looking for lights at Lowes, Home Depot, and the like. But the problem in REplacing it? It’s so old that there is no wall switch–the switch is in the light itself.

The solution to the problem? I have to give My Boy the credit!

He offered to paint it. The pitted bronze was definitely a dislike! I couldn’t imagine that paint would make much difference, but I gave my approval. The power of a can of spray paint is amazing! That awful eyesore became quite quaint. But the blue-flowered globe just had to go! Where, oh where, would we find a globe to fit?

As he hung the light back in the Nook, I studied it. After a few days, I discovered the perfect solution. I noticed that the fixture actually had an inner ring, like an antique oil lamp. The outer ring held the ugly white globe with ugly blue flowers, which took over my Nook.

That’s when the light bulb came on!

I didn’t have to search for the solution. I already had it– a vintage clear glass globe! I placed it in the inner circle. It was so beautiful! And the light is free to SHINE–no longer masked by it’s overbearing predecessor!

Instead of REplacing? We REpurposed! Isn’t that what God does with us?Shine!

So often, we look in the mirror and we’re offended by what we see. We focus on our every flaw, thinking of ways to REdo, REplace, or mask who we are.  We shop for solutions to our “appearance problems”. All the while, our TRUE BEAUTY is waiting to be revealed. God has placed it within. His light is longing to be UNveiled in US!

When we give our whole heart to Jesus, we give God permission to REpurpose us. We gain entrance to His inner circle.

He REdirects our attention to His desires. Our inner beauty is UNveiled. We become HIS LIGHT in this dark world:  FREE TO SHINE!

God removes the veil … We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.  2Cor 3:18 TM

Oh yeah! I love this transformation process: ever-increasing glory from the inside out. Only God can make us bright and beautiful. Only God can REdirect us to our true life purpose.

“this little light of mine, i’m gonna let it shine…”

you are my sunshine…

Love,

CynthiaStiverson.com

 

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LENT: Produce Fruit

picking fruitJesus did some weird things. Some he explained and used as illustrations for right living. But some he really didn’t explain all that much. In Matthew 21:18-21, he wants us to figure it out for ourselves.

It was the last week of Jesus’ life. He was walking from Bethany to Jerusalem. Jesus was hungry for some breakfast. There was a fig tree along the road, so he stopped to pick some fruit. It’s hard to picture, but imagine Jesus throwing a fit when he discovered the tree was full of leaves but there was no fruit! Hard to conceive? Well, he was so upset that he even cursed! Yes, Jesus cursed the tree. He said…to a tree… “May you never bear fruit again!(vs. 19b)”

You may be wondering, “What’s up with that?”

The disciples were even more astounded when they saw the fig tree wither up and die right before their eyes! They must have thought Jesus was on a rampage. After all, the same day He went into the temple courts and overturned the tables of the merchants and money-changers.

What’s up with Jesus? Is he misbehaving?

The truth is that He is still turning over tables. He’s still searching for fruit. He’s still upset because WE ARE MISBEHAVING. Jesus is offended by our fruitlessness.

His curse remains on those who choose to live a life of sin. But on the other side of the table are those who live in the Spirit and embrace the lifestyle that God desires. And for those Christians, not even the sky can limit what God has for us! When the disciples asked about the withering of the fig tree,

“Jesus was matter-of-fact: ‘Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles’ (vs.21-22).”

One of our biggest obstacles is simply choosing to live a life that is holy and pure, free from sin. I love the description of these “fruits” that reveal the Holy Spirit as active and working in our lives:

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)” 

These attributes of the Holy Spirit are a litmus test of our walk with Christ. I’m thinking that Jesus is saying to us, just as He said to that fig tree, “You are cursed if you do not produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit on your tree of life. I would rather you not even label yourself as a Christian if your life is not evidence of the love, joy, peace…that I offer you.” 

Today, we solemnly remember that our hearts are the temple of the living God.

  • Make an itemized list of the fruits of the Spirit.
  • Pray over them.
  • Seek the Lord’s help as you rate yourself on each one.
  • Present your weaknesses to Him. Pray. Surrender.
  • Ask Him to remove the curse and fill you His Holy Spirit.
  • GO FORTH AND PRODUCE FRUIT lest you wither up and die!

I pray this season of Lent is challenging you and shaping you into the image of Christ.

CynthiaStiverson.com

 

 

 

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