{re}fresh

Month: June, 2012

Before Coffee

by happilyeverbecoming

Today we welcome guest blogger, Jenn Beglinger.

FINDING FRESH GROUNDS IN THE DAILY GRIND

“His mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:23

I’m a bit of a coffee lover (okay, somewhat obsessed).  Although I don’t like Folgers coffee, I agree with their slogan that one of the best parts of waking up is coffee in my cup.  On occasion I’ve classified mornings by my coffee consumption: b.c. (“before coffee”); a.d. (“after demitasse” – which is a half cup of coffee); and c.e. (“contentedly elated”).

Although I value sleep there are many nights and early mornings that I am awakened by things that don’t add value to my life – like worry, regret, fear. Right now it’s so early the coffee grounds are hitting the snooze button.

I’m awake even though my eyes are closed and crusty (where does that stuff come from?).  I remember a scripture verse that says, “I slept but my heart was awake” (Song of Solomon 5:2).  I imagine that the writer of this verse is awake with excitement because he is delirious with love.  This morning, I can relate to the delirious part, but the eyes of my heart are heavy with a crusty vision.  So instead of being swallowed up by things that are out of my control, I’m pouring out my heart to God before pouring my first cup of coffee.

Just how early is it?  Should I even look at the clock?  No,  it’s time to cast my cares upon my dear Friend who has big shoulders, listening ears, an understanding heart, and He knows me like the back of His hand.  It’s time to look upward and not inward.  It’s time to be filled with life.  It’s time to find Him and ask how He sees me and my situation.

“God I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You, You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom; You know just what to do”

(Jenn Johnson/Ian McIntosh Bethel Music Publishing 2010)

Good morning, Friend.  Help me look to you and not within myself where I will only find more discouragement.  Help me to draw upon your strength today and all the resources You offer.  Help me to take advantage of the opportunity that is called today.  Before getting ready for the day, help me to shed yesterday.

Every morning You look at me with fresh eyes.  I’m fairly optimistic and try to see the best in people.  But You God, You can truly see the best in us because when we confess our sins You not only forgive us, You throw those sins into the sea of forgetfulness.  You clean off our slate EVERY DAY.  The enemy slimes our “slate” and calls it our identity.  And we can choose or deny to take on that slime.

Help me to see others as You see them, and to extend forgiveness.  “Forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive others who put trash in our baskets” (anonymous 4-year old child).

So, thanks Friend for giving me a new day and for making me new.  Thanks for lifting this heaviness and walking out this life with me. 

The sun is rising, it’s time to face the day… how do you take your coffee?

To learn more about Jenn Beglinger, please visit our Contributors page.

Grace – Unmerited Favor

by Dawn Aldrich

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

Frustration and anger brimmed over and I steamed under the pressure. I stormed toward his office hurling insults under my breath, ready for a fight. But she stopped me, pulling me aside.

“Sometimes we just need to grant a little grace,” she said.

Grace — a familiar word — God’s unmerited favor and love, freely given through Christ. I knew grace. God’s grace covered my ugly brokenness and allowed Him to see only beautiful wholeness. But what was this grace she spoke of?

“He doesn’t deserve grace!” I barked.

“No one does,” she refuted.

Arms crossed, leaning against the copier between his office and my wise co-worker, my eyes spilled as her words pierced my heart. She stood silent there without condemnation — only compassion — until my demeanor softened and I gained composure.

The silence between us taught me more about grace than any church sermon.

No one deserves God’s grace and yet he sacrificed everything — his only Son and all creation — to offer it to us, through Christ’s death. He put aside his anger and offered Jesus so that we might enjoy the richness of relationship with him and through that same grace, draw others to him.

God’s grace duplicates through us. That’s his plan — Christ in us the hope of glory. For those who carry God’s grace are called to bring God’s grace to the world through our words.

Is there a difficult situation, person, or place has God called you to carry his grace?

To read more of Dawn’s posts go to Dawn’s New Day at http://blog.DawnAldrich.com

The Armor of God

by Rob Dunne

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

I am a big fan of the Star Wars movies.  In the second episode, Anakin Skywalker loses his lightsaber while chasing down a bounty hunter.  Obi Wan Kenobi retrieves the lightsaber and returns it to his young Padawan learner.  He admonishes Anakin to be more careful stating, “This weapon is your life.”  Though owning a lightsaber would be incredibly cool, I don’t think it would be very effective in staving off our mortal enemy the devil or his minions.  Rather, the best weapon we have as believers is the armor of God.

While in Guatemala on a missions trip, our team ministered to another Connecticut church.  Observing what we did, they joined us in prayer.  That night, teens and their leaders did serious battle against the enemy.  Foolishly, I neglected to say a cleansing prayer over them or to warn of how the enemy might come against them that night.  I failed to point them to the armor of God to protect them.

At breakfast the next day, I watched wounded warriors returning from the front line.  The students shared stories of horrific nightmares and physical attacks that left them fearful and shaken.  Fortunately, another leader and I were able to meet with them and explain what happened.  I took ownership of the fact that I did not pray for cleansing and a hedge of protection around them at the conclusion of the ministry time.  We then gave the students the tools they would need for their next encounter with the enemy.

In Ephesians 6:10-19, Paul tells us that we do not battle against flesh and blood.  Our fight is a spiritual one involving beings and powers that cannot be seen with the natural eye.  Thankfully, God has equipped us with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.  The last one is my personal favorite because it is for offense as well as defense.  Assisting the Lord in taking back ground from the enemy is invigorating!

The mission field is not the only place where we encounter the enemy.  Spiritual attack can happen at work, the grocery store, the local bike path and even church.  With the dawning of each new day, we must remember to put on the full armor of God.  Have you put on yours today?

To learn more about Rob please visit our Contributors page.

Vocation: It’s not Me vs. God

by Mike McKinniss

As part of my work with the Wellspring School of Leadership, I wrestle a decent amount with the question of vocation or calling.  In the church, we often like to talk about feeling a call towards a certain work.  One is not merely employed as a writer or a childcare worker or a doctor, she is called to it.  The underlying notion is that the person has a sense in which God has directly declared that she will do this specific work.

In many ways, I like this way of referring to one’s vocation, as it can grant someone a perspective that her work is a vital part of God’s overall agenda on the earth.

In speaking this way, however, we have to be careful that we don’t psych ourselves out.  I’ve had plenty of conversations with friends over the years in which the idea of receiving a call from the Lord was elevated to an unattainable height.  Somehow, in seeking God’s call, these friends had disregarded their own gifts, abilities, and passions.

But pitting “what I want to do” vs. “God’s call on my life” is a false dichotomy for the Christian walking with the Lord.  (This attitude was most commonly expressed when I was a teen as, “If you really follow the Lord, He’s going to send you to Africa, right where you don’t want to go.”)

Let’s be honest: Not everyone hears a voice out of the sky telling them precisely what to do with their lives.  Nor should they.  For many Christians, the process is appropriately much more organic.  The process of uncovering one’s call may very well begin with the question, “What would I like to do?”  After all, we’ve each been wired in particular ways, with specific interests, skills, and dreams.  And God has had an awful lot to do with that wiring.

In our individual searches for our specific callings, let’s allow the process to develop in conversation with the Lord, rather than, perhaps, simply waiting on a flash of lightning in the sky.  Tell God what it is you’d like to do.  See what He thinks of it; compare it with the trajectory of God’s work in the world, particularly through Jesus; and see if that doesn’t release you to pursue those desires with passion.  Oh, and see if, as you continue to walk with the Lord, He doesn’t refine the call along with you.

You never know, you may find that walking through that process will eventually feel like a bolt of lightning.

To read more of Mike’s blog posts go to http://mmckinniss.wordpress.com.

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