Another offering of “Strong” for FMF

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday (FMF) community (on a Monday) for our weekly writing adventure. This week’s prompt is, “Strong.” I am sharing a post originally written in 2019, for a 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Writing Challenge.

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It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life, of life in the Kingdom of God: the person who is most aware of her need of God, that he can do nothing without Him, is strong. This truth is clearly demonstrated in what God said to the Apostle Paul after he beseeched Him three times to remove an unnamed “thorn.” He told him,  “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, AMP).

This revelation changed Paul’s perspective on his circumstances. He exulted, “Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength]” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, AMP).

Let us read that last phrase out loud together, “..for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength] (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, AMP). Our ABBA has never required us to be strong in our own human strength.

Five Minute Friday: Summer

I am joining (on a Sunday), the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Summer.”

“The day is Yours, the night also is Yours;
You have prepared the light and the sun.
You have set all the borders of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.”
(Psalm 74:16-18, NKJV).

Gracious God and Father, Psalm 74:16-18, among many other verses in Your written Word, remind us of Your sovereignty. Remind us that You are in control.

The day and night, the borders of the earth, the seasons of nature and of our lives are ordained by You. Summer and winter cannot be more different and different things are required to successfully navigate each season.

But there are also things that remain the same. Truths we can count on in every season. Truths such as Your faithfulness. You remain in the same and You are with us in each season, providing all that we need. And our greatest need in summer, winter, and all other seasons is You. Always You.

Deserve

Deserve – to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward, punishment, recompense, etc.:

We can be fierce about our rights.

Speaking out clearly, firmly, even loudly when we perceive that those rights to which we believe ourselves entitled, deserving of, are being threatened.

We can be fierce about our rights but ignorant or silent about the unearned privileges we have due, for example, to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, place of birth, gender, with the most significant unearned privilege being the one highlighted in the following verses of Scripture:

“If You, Lord, should keep an account of our sins and treat us accordingly, O Lord, who could stand [before you in judgment and claim innocence]? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared and worshiped [with submissive wonder].” (Psalms 130:3‭-‬4 AMP).

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in compassion and lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins [as we deserve], Nor rewarded us [with punishment] according to our wickedness. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear and worship Him [with awe-filled respect and deepest reverence].” (Psalms 103:8‭-‬11 AMP).

God does not treat us as our sins deserve. But what does He deserve? What are His rights, given that He is the Source of everything? The Creator and the Sustainer of all that is? What does He deserve?

I will attempt to name a few.

He deserves our relentless pursuit, in the mold that David spoke of in Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.” (NKJV).

Our whole heart, whole soul, whole mind love.

Our full, ongoing surrender. Nothing held back.

Our unquestioning obedience.

Our unwavering trust.

Our ceaseless praise.

Our riveted attention.

Our awe.

Our gratitude.

But too often what we offer is faithlessness.

Rebellion.

Divided hearts.

Distracted minds.

Doubt.

Unbelief.

Complaining.

Irreverence.

And yet He loves us still.

And pursues us.

And keeps drawing us to Himself. 

We can be fierce about our rights.

Speaking out clearly, firmly, even loudly when we perceive that those rights to which we believe ourselves entitled, deserving of, are being threatened.

We can be fierce about our rights but ignorant or silent about the unearned privileges we have due to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, place of birth, gender, etc. 

But what about Elohim’s rights? What does He deserve given that He is the Source of everything? The Creator and the Sustainer of all that is? What does He deserve?

I used last week’s writing prompt from the writing community, Five Minute Friday, as the seed for this post. Thanks, Kate Motaung. The definition for, “Deserve,” shared in this post is from the website Dictionary.com.

Quiet

I am joining (on a rainy, Sunday afternoon), Kate Motaung and other members of the encouraging and courageous Five Minute Friday Community for this week’s writing adventure. The prompt is “Quiet.” Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday.

The post shared below was originally published on January 30, 2016, my FMF offering for the same prompt, “Quiet.” I read it and realized the “longing for stillness … within,” remains.

Quiet.
This word,
this prompt,
ushers in a longing.

A longing for stillness,
not in the world outside,
but within.
In those places where worry hides,
where anxiety resides,
where concerns about the future,
have made a comfortable place for themselves.

I long for the stillness which only He can give.
And so even now,
I reach for Him in prayer.
“Abba, help me be still,
as You commanded me in Psalm 46.”

“Be still and know, that I am God.
I will be exalted in the heavens.
I will be exalted to the ends of the earth.
Be still and know that I am God.

That thing that created unrest within?
I am God over that.
I will show Myself strong on your behalf,
if only you will be quiet and wait patiently for My salvation.”

Quiet.
A longing in my soul.
A need met as I turn to and wait patiently for Him.

Five Minute Friday: Lift

I lift up my gaze when I am walking.
It is inevitable.

It is not just to see where I am going.

Sometimes it is to follow a bird on the wing.
At other times it is the sunrise that captures my gaze.

In one of my favorite Psalms, of the Songs of Ascents, Psalm 121, the psalmist wrote,
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.”

While on the journey of life,
I notice the hard seasons, “the hills.”
I notice them.

Sometimes this noticing is accompanied by jolts of or the drumbeat of anxiety.
But the answer is the same for me as it was for the psalmist,
“From when does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.’

May eyes, my gaze always be drawn to You.
May these words be true of me, //
“I have set the LORD always before me;
because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. “(Psalm 16:8)

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Lift.” The verses from Psalm 121 are verses 1-2 (ESV). The content behind the // was written after the allotted 5 minutes had expired.

From the archives: Complete

“You complete me.”
These three words have been repeated at least 100s of thousands of times.
In movies.
In poems.
Whispered sincerely by lovers
and even by besties (BFFs).

But whenever the words, “You complete me,” are stated by one human being to another,
they constitute a falsehood,
because no human being,
no matter how loving,
how selfless,
how noble,
can complete another human being.

There is only One who can complete us –
God.
We can enrich each others’ lives.
Be used by God to sharpen each other,
to move each other toward our destiny,
to encourage and uplift,
but never complete.

To expect someone to complete us
is to put a burden on that person
​that he or she can never carry,
and it set us up for disappointment.
Let us look to God to make us whole.

This post was originally published on 9/21/2018, in response to a writing prompt. The definition of “Complete” used in this post is from merriam-webster.com.

Another offering of “Slow”: FMF

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday (FMF) community (on a Monday) for our weekly writing adventure. This week’s prompt is, “Slow.” It has been several weeks since I accepted the standing invitation to engage with my writing tribe so I decided that, instead of missing another week, I would offer again, a post written for FMF in 2017.

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I have a crock pot. I have had it for over 10 years but have not used it ten times. It clearly is not one of the most frequently used items in my kitchen. Interestingly enough, when I do use it, I am always satisfied by the quality of the meal made.

Why have I not used it more? You guessed it. It is a slow cooker and unless I have intentionally chosen to cook a particular dish over an extended period of time, I use other utensils at my disposal.

I am thinking as I write of the things God has purposed for my life and yours. And how often it seems that He is working very, very slowly to accomplish His goals. Much like if He is “cooking with a slow cooker.” But His timing is perfect. And He can never be rushed. And the finished product will always be worth the wait. Whether it is a situation or a change He is working in us.

To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here.

More: A Prayer

Abba Father, You cannot be or become more.
You cannot be more compassionate because You are full of compassion and plenteous in mercy.
You cannot be more constant because You are faithful and unchanging.
You cannot become more powerful for You are and always will be omnipotent. 
You cannot be more generous because You have already given Your Son, in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
You cannot be more present because You are omnipresent and have promised never to leave us or forsake us (and You cannot lie).

Abba Father, You are able to do exceedingly more than we can ask, think, or imagine.
Your grace is and always has been sufficient. 
You are omniscient so there is nothing for you to learn and nothing surprises You.
You are the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles.
You are Love and love us unconditionally, perfectly, eternally. You cannot love us any more than You already do.

Elohim. Adonai. I am the one who needs to become more:
More aware of my desperate need of You.
More focused on You and Your purpose.
More yielded to Your will.
More quick to forgive.
More loving. 
More compassionate with myself and others.
More grateful.
More of who You created me to be for Your glory.
Help me, Yahweh.

A version of this post was published on March 9, 2019.

middle

It is the middle of the week and this post is my response to the writing prompt, “Middle,” provided last week by Kate Motaung, the host of the writing community, Five Minute Friday. It is too late for that writing episode and the post took more than five minutes to write, so I will share it here only. 🙂

Middle.
It can refer to time, as in –
the middle of the morning,
the middle of the afternoon,
the middle of the night
or the middle of the day.
It can also refer to position, as in –
being the middle child in a birth order,
being in the middle seat of a row,
or in the middle of a queue.

Sometimes it is easy to know when we are in the middle simply by taking stock of what is behind us and what lies ahead. For example, if I have the goal of writing 500 words a day, I am at the midpoint when I have written word number 250. (Yes, I may edit out most of it later, but that is not the point right now.)

Similarly, we can identify if we are in the middle by using standards or measurements external to ourselves. For example, what our culture defines as middle aged.

But sometimes we do not know we were in the middle until we have fully passed through a season. It is upon looking back that we can tell when we were in the middle.

It can be challenging. This not knowing exactly where we are in the process.

This is where trust becomes a necessity. Trust that God knows exactly where we are and will guide us through each stage in our journey, including the middle.

Five Minute Friday: She

I think of her in a different way this Mother’s Day weekend.
She who carried me in her womb
and her heart
and with her prayers.
I wonder if she thought of the one who was stillborn,
as the time of my birth came close.

First she carried me in her womb
and then continued to carry me with her prayers.
And, if the words of a pastor-author are true
that our prayers out live us,
I am still being carried by her prayers,
even as I carry her now
in my genes,
in my heart,
in my memory.

I am joining (on a Saturday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “She.”