- 2016Dec 02
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)
Easy, right? Hardly. This is just about one of the hardest callings.
You toss potato salad at my face? I smile and speak in an angelic tone to soothe you.
You throw me under the bus with my boss and steal my promotion? I make allowance for your mistake and let go.
You con me out of all my money? I humbly confront you with words of kindness.
How is this possible?
Not by my own strength, I'll tell you. My own strength would have you pressed up against the wall with a lesson stuffed down your throat. It is not easy to respond with humility, gentleness, patience and allowance for mistakes.
In fact, it's pretty much impossible.
All our righteous acts are like filthy rags... (Is. 64:6)
It's impossible by our own strength because we are weak. We either muster up humble-arrogance, which looks a whole lot like pious Christianity, or brute force, which ruins relationships. Either way, the result is not from God and it's quite ugly.
...For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Phil. 2:3
God works in us and God wills us to act out his good purpose. God moves then we move forward in love.
Yet, I often live backwards-grace. This is where I muster up good within myself and force it on the world. It usually ends up looking a whole lot like manipulation rather than ministry. Yuck.
Backwards-grace is fruitless. It leaves Christians dejected, demoralized and discouraged. It flat-out doesn't work. What does work is getting with Savior. Seeking his heart. Letting him mend yours. Allowing him to grow you. Returning again to the wealth of his truth. Letting his grace cover your failings. And then, from the place of heart-change, allowing that very shift, within you, to work kindness, patience and humility into the world.
If you let God into your heart, you'll find he changes it.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps. 51:10
- 2016Nov 30
The boy stood there. Between him and the time of his life - was glass.
To move on to new adventure, he had to let go of reservations and fears and find a way around what stopped him. He had to submit to Father's way, so he could find his way.
Often we get stopped. All the same, we peer out, uncertain about how to proceed, how to claim joy. We see the barrier - our fears, rejections and worries.
God doesn't see barriers. God sees perfectly. He sees us. He sees our way. It's crystal clear.
What is holding you back? Stop, and really consider this. It could make all the difference to your life.
Are you proceeding with the God
who removes barriers?
Or are you proceeding straight into a glass window
that gets you nowhere?
Here's a quick test to tell...
Do you think:
- With God, all things are possible. He will do what he will do, but no matter what he will get me through.OR
- I've got to make a way or I'll be left and standing here watching my dream take-off. I'll be forgotten and worried and never to be loved.
We need add nothing to the perfect work of God.
Have you been adding stuff?
Stress? Anxiety? Plans? Opinions? A controlling spirit? Doubt?
I consider myself a know-it-all on this subject matter, for good reason, I bang my head on the window of my own self-preservation, self-seeking and self-righteousness all the time. But, here's the kicker - when I do, when I actually turn around to find him - He is there. And, I find joy.
Mercy abounding, he waits. Love untainted, he restores his daughter. Grace unfolding, I access new hope.
He gives me a one-way ticket to new adventure and calling in Him, when I finally "re-turn."
Do you feel too far gone - to get back?
Let me remind you of something important: the perfect Savior saves the imperfect people. This is the bottom line of the gospel. That's me! That's you!
Even more, the perfect savior empowers imperfect people. Imagine that!
That's me! That's you!
All that is required is, us, simple folk, like lost prodigal children, just "re-turn." No shame about this friends, every disciple had to do it.
God breaks the glass standing between us
and Him when we let him.
The weary get rest.
The tired get blessed.
Anxieties are less.
There is clarity to see.
Where we believe we could never go, God takes us. It isn't by our efforts, for there was no way we could climb over the issues ourselves, but - with God - he can do it.
- 2016Nov 29
Post By: Susan Pettrey from Brooklyn Tabernacle
It was another night of going through the normal bedtime routine I have with my 6-year old son, Levi. Something was wrong. It had been for days. He was unusually hyper, unfocused and distant from me. I knew why.
We had recently moved to a new neighborhood, and within the past month, Levi had to adjust to a new home, school, peer group and, even, a new nanny. It was a lot. It would be for any child, but Levi is adopted and, as I’ve learned, adopted children intensely crave security.
I can only imagine what goes on in his little mind as he tries to process the implications of his adoption and life, but it was no mystery that all of the recent changes were creating extreme anxiety in his heart.
As Levi jumped up and down on his bed, I decided that a reprimand was not what was needed at that moment. Levi needed to be ministered to. I asked him what was bothering him only to be given his typical response of “nothing”.
The more I probed the more Levi tried to change the subject until, finally, I said, “Honey, it’s very clear right now that you don’t have peace in your heart.”
With that, Levi got quiet and waited for me to continue telling him what he couldn’t find the words to express himself. I did my best to validate his feelings. Then, I encouraged him with words of hope.
I told him that I knew God had led us to this new home and, so, we could trust He had a plan. It would be for all of our good.
He laid his little head on my chest. I could feel his body slowly begin to relax. It was as though my confidence…or peace about Levi’s life and future was transferring into his own heart.
We prayed together. I kissed him goodnight with an assurance that his anxiety had subsided. I was grateful for that moment and thanked God for it without realizing the deeper truth He was going to teach me.
When I opened my Bible the next day, this is what I read- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” >John 14:27
As I pondered the verse, God showed me my exchange with Levi was just a dim reflection of what He desires to have with me.
So often, when life has been difficult and seemingly out of control, I’ve prayed for more peace. As if the process involved God giving me the power to muster up my own peace in the midst of my troubles. But, now, what Jesus was saying became so alive to me as I remembered my experience the night before.
Just as Levi received my peace as his own,
so Jesus wants to give us HIS peace.
When we were saved, God’s Spirit took residence in us. Our old man was put to death and, now, it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives through us. How often I forget the benefits that come with this great truth. I don’t have to be a better “Susan” anymore. All I need to do is look to my Savior who longs to give me everything He is. Not only does Jesus want to fill me with things like His love, His strength, and His wisdom, but He desires to fill me with HIS very own peace too!
Not a peace that is manufactured by me or dependent on imperfect people or an unstable world. It’s a divine peace rooted in the one, true God who has all authority over heaven and earth.
It’s a supernatural peace that can never be moved or shaken by the circumstances of life. It’s a peace that comes from the One who knows how the story really ends.
Whatever the challenges we might be facing at this moment, Jesus invites us to lay our head on His chest and receive His peace today.
Susan Pettrey’s Bio
Susan Pettrey is the second daughter of Jim and Carol Cymbala, who pastor the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, NY. Susan grew up witnessing great moves of God and His power to change the most hopeless of lives. As an adult, Susan has been all over the spectrum of ministry at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. She has served as a worship leader and soloist in the choir. She is the director of the women’s ministry, as well as, the BT Drama Company, where she writes and produces full-length plays that are used to minister to the church and evangelize her city. Her greatest priority, however, is her wonderful husband, Brian, and four amazing children, Luke (19), Claire (16) and Levi (6) and Charlotte (1)