Thursday, October 27, 2011

Do not forget

This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy 8.  Moses is reminding the people of Israel where they have come from - slavery, wilderness, testing - and where they are going - the promised land, prosperity, security.  And he says to them, "Do not forget the Lord your God."  When you are fully saved from the hardships you have had to endure, when you are living satisfied and blessed, do not forget God. 

But they, and we, have a tendency to forget. 

I love God's heart pouring out in this text, like a father to his child, like a lover to his bride.  Remember me.  I have loved you.  I have taken care of you.  I have brought you through such hard times of pain, hunger, thirst, fear.  I have made you my own.  Remember me. 

And then at the end of the chapter, a warning - if you forget God you will be destroyed.  And though there are definitely undertones of a God-wrath type of destruction, I think it also speaks to purely the cause and effect of forgetting God.

When we think that we have earned all the good things in our life ourselves, when we get proud and forget that on our own, we can actually do nothing, that pride will destroy us.  When we forget His sustaining grace and power, we begin to be drawn to other things that will destroy us. 

God longs for us to walk with Him, to remember His hand of guidance and continue living in it.  Do not forget the Lord your God.

Business matters...

Just a few notes about changes to my blog... 

I recently added an "about" page and a new section of the blog called "Rhythm in the Kitchen".  I feel like "The Rhythms of Grace" is primarily about exploring and celebrating living for God in various aspects of life.  I wanted a fun little place to also explore and celebrate my love for cooking and baking, showing pictures of my culinary endeavours and stories to go along with them.  I hope its fun to read.

I also have heard that people have trouble making comments.  Maybe this is true, or maybe no one is trying to make comments.  As far as I can tell there is no issues when you try to comment as "anonymous", and add your name if you want me to know who you are.

I feel blessed that people even read my writing! 

Love Jess

Monday, October 24, 2011

In short spurts

At our church we recieve a weekly email giving ideas of things to pray for.  This past week our Pastor, Amanda, started with these words:

Whether you pray in the morning or the evening, for a long time or in short spurts, with words or in silence, off the cuff or with ancient words, alone or with others, remember that:

"The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

- From our friend, Paul, in Philippians 4:5a-7

I really needed to hear those words, and they have stayed with me throughout the past few days. 

Often when I think of my "prayer life" I have felt discouraged.  I am not a warrior of prayer that finds it possible to dedicate large chunks of time to prayer.  When I pray it is often just in some of the ways that Amanda described it - in short spurts, alone and without the right words. 

But a few years ago I started thinking of prayer not as daily requirement of the Christian life, but more a part of walking with God, living in awareness of Him.  Prayer sometimes means purposely stopping and laying my heart out before Him.  Prayer sometimes means crying out in the intensity of a moment for help, for guidance.  Prayer sometimes means being filled with endless words describing His awesome character and faithfulness, and sometimes it means being quiet and just resting in Him.  Prayer is sometimes a quick remembrance or sometimes a long discussion.

He is not judging me based on how I pray.  He is near; He cares.  He is filled with joy when I come to Him, talk with Him, listen to Him, trust Him enough to ask Him for help. 

Prayer is talking with God about what's on my heart, and talking with God about what's on His heart.  Asking for Him to be present in my pain, my joy, my questions.  Asking to be present with Him in His work, His love, His story-telling. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

4 years...

In honour of Kevin and my fourth wedding anniversary today I wanted to reflect on our wedding scripture text, Colossians 3:12-17:

"12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."

I love the pictures this paints of how I should be a wife, of how I should love and honour my husband by treating him with mercy, kindness, forgiveness and above all love.  Our relationship has been and hopefully will continue to be marked by harmony, peace, thanksgiving.  We build each other up in Christ and we sing together of our Lord and Saviour.  And hopefully we represent Him well.  These are verses I strive to live by, in life, and especially in my marriage.

Kevin, I love you!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Soup's on?

Goals for 2011

Climb a mountain...check
Read four Christian living books...check (almost)
Continue becoming healthier...check
Learn how to make soup...not yet

It is Fall and I have been putting this goal off until now.  Summer was too hot to deal with long periods of boiling water but now that the wind has turned chilly and I'm dressing in sweaters, I think it's time.

I love cooking but for some reason just can't seem to get my head around making soup.  Everyone says it is easy.  But I guess my question is, how do I start?  Do I use ready made broth or go find some nice juicy bones to simmer?!? 

Regardless, it is time!  Let the experimenting begin!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Windy Places

This past week with my youth group that I am a leader in, we were talking about what are some ways you can strengthen your faith.  During our discussion I thought of an analogy given a few years back in a sermon.  I didn't share the analogy at the time with the girls, but I have been thinking about it through the week.

The analogy came from guest speaker Scott Cochrane at Crossroads Church sometime in 2008 I would guess.  He talked about windy places.   About how the Spirit of God is sometime understood as similar to the wind, effective and powerful, but not discernable to the human eye except by what it does.  Only this wind is not ruled by the forces of nature, but is the Spirit of God choosing to come.

Windy places then are places where God is at work.  Places (or people) that are responsive to the Spirit.  Places that are going to build your awareness of the Spirits presence already in you and around you. 

So where do you feel the wind blow?

I am aware of the Spirit when I am in nature.  When I am seeing the absolute beauty in trees, mountains, sky, stars, sunsets, rivers, animals, that He created. 

I feel the Spirit of God working in me when I am consistent in reading His word.  When I am reading and open to hearing His voice.  It truly is alive, and often God will bring a verse out that is so relevant to what I'm going through.  Or when I am leaning in to hearing the Word spoken through someone else, let's say on Sunday morning, or in a book.

I am aware of Him moving in me and around me when I am singing songs of praise to Him.  Either at home alone listening to my little ipod shuffle, or at church with a group of people that are also singing praise to Him with hunger, with passion.  Music that lifts high the name of God is very powerful to me and makes me aware of the Spirit.

Another very important windy place for me is to spend time with other people that are open and obedient to God in their own lives.  Hearing other people's stories, sharing in their lives, watching their example of faith, of trust and of love for God.  I know for lots of people reading this, they could say this about Adam and Melissa.  Windy place, hanging out with those two.  And its because they are open to Him, and willing to be fiercly obedient, even if it is painful.  And when I (or some of you) spend time with them, it is a windy place that helps strengthen my faith.  Adam and Melissa are just one example of this.  There are lots of other people in my life that I could name here.  But we influence each other.  Being around passionate Christ-followers will influence you in that direction.

So again - where do you feel the wind blow?  What places can you choose to be in that are going to make you aware of His Spirit and help strengthen your faith?