Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Yes, Jesus Loves Me

Spokane, WA  (August 2016)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”John 3:16-18 (ESV)

Sometimes a verse arises from its page, its place in Scripture, and gives me a hug. One that comforts my soul and reminds me, “Yes, Jesus loves me; the Bible tells me so.” And what joy it is to my heart when my loving, heavenly Father condescends to me in such a marvelous way.

John 3:16-18 is one such passage of Scripture for me. God loves me so much, He gave me His Son so that I might be reconciled to Him. Jesus is my Savior, the mediator of my life. A life that was once in utter condemnation but is now completely righteous in Christ. And why? How is that possible? Because by His grace, I believe in Him. I believe His testimony is true and that He is God almighty. I believe there is no god beside Him.

Think of it. What god out there knows our condemnation and yet offers His Son on our behalf—not to condemn us (which we deserve!)—but to save us? He is a just and holy God, and this side of Heaven, instead of judgment, He offers us hope and eternal life in Him. He offers us freedom and release from our sin. Our sin, which we were born into. Our sin, which separates us from the love of God. Our sin, which our Creator responded to by sending us His Son to save us from sin’s eternal consequences. Our sin, which drew the Savior to earth, to die on the cross, so that the condemnation we justly deserved was laid upon His shoulders.

So, I can’t help but believe. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible does indeed tell me so.
_______________________________

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
By: Stuart Christopher Townend

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Moral Compass



“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—Romans 12:2

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace …”—1 Corinthians 14:33a

Processing what is going on in the world is something that takes its toll on my spirit. So much of what takes place in my generation goes against what I know to be true, right, and dare I say logical? Confusion abounds. Media loves to add to this cacophony for their own profit, which makes the discussion among the masses often one of contention rather than polite discourse.

Sometimes the best help for me as I process these thoughts is having an open and judgment-free space and a willing ear. I can then lay it all out there and sit back and listen to the wisdom of those I love and respect, who themselves desire to walk with God in a way that pleases Him. Many times when I share my thoughts with others in this way, God brings me peace in the midst of the confusion, by recalibrating my mind on what is true, kind, noble, of good report, pure, etc. (Philippians 4:8).

Recently, I have had two such open spaces, one with my dear husband and another with my close friend. Both of them hit the “Cassy-sharing-is-caring” jackpot when I burst out of my seams with some of what confuses and bothers me about the world we live in. I really needed to understand how God sees what’s going on in our world and how to move forward in that understanding, both personally and spiritually. How do I approach living in the world but not being of the world as a parent, a relative, a friend, but most of all, as a Christian? How would Jesus act and react to these goings on today and how should we, as His ambassadors on earth (1 Corinthians 5:21), express to others what He would do?

My desire is to be Christ-like in the face of such confusion—not to condemn those who I believe are making choices contrary to God’s Word, some of whom are truly soul-searching and trying to find a place and a voice in this world. I know Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, but to save us (John 3:17). So, should someone ask my opinion on this or that matter, I could lovingly speak the truth of God’s Word into their hearts (Ephesians 4:15).

As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the Word of God and the final authority for all my decisions in faith and life. So, I am to make decisions as best as I know how based upon God’s Word, and not what Christians refer to as the “world’s standard” or doing what I think is right in my own eyes.[1] Again, I am not to conform to the world around me but to renew my mind. I do this by reading, studying and meditating on His Word. Through that process, I am transformed in that renewal so that I may prove the perfect will of God.

As God’s people who live in this world but who are not of this world, our “job” as Christians is to offer a lifeline to those who may also be looking for answers in the midst of all the confusion. We are encouraged in Scripture to do this in a winsome manner (1 Timothy 2:23-25). We aren’t to condemn others for making decisions that stand in opposition to what God states in His Word (John 3:17). We aren’t to condemn ourselves or other Christians because of a perceived spiritual failure on our part that opened the gates to whatever confusion exists.[2]

Satan is at work here (Ephesians 6:12). We as Christians need to realize this and not only that, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). I will give you that perhaps whatever “new” thing you may be facing may not have been as open in the past or as talked about as it is today (e.g., our 24-hour news cycle). But I guarantee whatever you and I are struggling to understand has happened in the past and is not new to the world. More importantly, it is not new to God. I find comfort in this thought, because I am so often like a deer caught in headlights and shocked and baffled when confronted by all the new theories that abound about all manner of topics. It heartens me to know, God has seen all this before and He not only has an opinion about it, He has a plan to use it for His glory (Romans 8:28).

The answer to all my heart’s questions is simply this: God’s Word is a steadfast and sure moral compass. It does not change because He does not change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Its truth, its principles, its wisdom can be applied to all generations in all types of situations. I have faith in Christ. I believe the Bible to be His Word. And that is my moral compass. He steadies me in the storms of our day and my prayer, my heart’s desire is to reflect Him to others in this world in case they, too, are looking for answers beyond the world’s conclusions. I hope they will see in me someone who has a peace that is beyond human understanding and someone who can explain to them lovingly, kindly, and in truth how they, too, can have God’s peace (Philippians 4:7).

The opposite of His peace is the world’s peace, and it changes daily. One day the world will give you peace, and the next day it will be taken away because of this new study, that knowledgeable person’s opinion or this person’s experience. It’s never the same.

I don’t know about you, but I am desperate for guidance and peace in the midst of all this confusion. If you, too, are looking for direction, I can suggest nothing better than His Word to show you the way. It not only tells us how we can have a peace beyond human understanding, it guides us to our true Compass, Jesus Christ.



1 There are many verses in the Bible about mankind doing right in his or her own eyes and how that is the way to bring troubles upon oneself. The most telling verses on this topic are found in Judges, which is the book of the Bible that is the most descriptive (and frankly, one of hardest books for me to read because of it) of how wicked man can get morally when he is left to his own judgments. (See Deuteronomy 12:8; Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25; Proverbs 12:15.)

2 Don’t get me wrong. We should regularly ask God to show us sin in our lives, personally, and from there confess our sins and repent should God prick our consciences about where we as individuals are not walking with Him. What I am referring to here, however, is a fault-finding spirit that is divisive and not one of unity. One that criticizes and puts down others, especially other believers, instead of lifting and building up. If we as Christians maintain a habit of putting down fellow believers for this or that thing, the world may see us as not having love for one another. And it is this love that Christ commands us to have, so that the world knows we are His disciples, thereby being able to point others to Him (John 13:35).

Monday, April 11, 2016

Children Are a Blessing


“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
—Psalm 127:3

“Children are God’s gifts, a heritage, and a reward; and are to be accounted blessings, and not burdens”—Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on This Passage (Biblehub.com)


I’ve been meditating on this verse a lot lately. I have a three year old, and I’ve been needing to meditate on this verse. I’ve come up with my own paraphrase, “Children are a blessing.” And I’ll say it over and over because I need to remind myself of this. Here’s why.

This verse keeps me centered on truth and not how I feel in any given moment. (Did I mention I have a three year old?) Sometimes, I just have to take God’s word for it that children are a blessing because much of the parenting of my personal little one feels like a slog, and I wonder to myself regularly will this stage ever be over?

I derive little pleasure in continuing to "train" my daughter to go potty, something we began over a year ago. And something, quite honestly, she knows how to do!

There is also the fact that about 20 times a day, I need to tell my daughter, “Now, how do you ask nicely?” I do this to try and soften that demanding three-year-old tone to my ears so that I feel like better serving her (I know, very servant-like of me).

And then, there is her turtle-like slowness to obey my wishes, a simple one being, “Honey, please stop being silly for the next minute so I can put your pull-up on after bath.” It’s these silly episodes that make me really feel my age. I wonder if I was at least in my early 30s would I be more patient with her sillies.

I don’t know.

I do know though that it’s in these moments and many others like them that I catch myself before I get too frustrated and speak this truth into my heart and mind: children are a blessing.

I have to sometimes admit to God, okay Lord, I’m just going to have to take your word for it because right now in this challenging moment with my little one, I don’t feel like children are a blessing. It really feels like the opposite of that.

And yet, something changes when that truth sinks into my mind and heart. The parenting cup that was half empty is all of a sudden half full, and I see a glimmer of that truth in her. Oh it may not be in big bursts on par with how she can just come apart over having to wear a long-sleeved shirt “coat” over her purple T-shirt because in her mind it just isn’t right!

What I see are little glimpses of the person God made and then placed in my husband’s and my care. I laugh at her humor (even her sillies!). I share joy in the things she enjoys. I’m in awe of her already adventurous spirit that often asks, “What next mommy?” I love hearing her daddy chuckle at her reasoning when she says something like, “But it will break my brains … what’s my brains again?”

I even love the smile she brings to my face when she says so matter of factly, “Princesses don’t wear jackets.” That is, until she goes outside and realizes it’s too cold and we go back in the house to put on a “princess” coat.

Truth is, I have been having a difficult time dealing with my emotions and feelings since I became a mom. It has not been an easy road for me. I have been wondering what’s wrong with me because I actually do not love being a mom. Parenting is hard and I feel it’s especially hard for me in these early years of my daughter’s life. 

It's because of these feelings that I get trapped in negative, “less-than” thoughts. I feel inefficient, lacking, and somehow deficient. Frankly, I feel out of my depth as a parent. Unfortunately, this not only distorts my own vision of myself but also how I see my daughter.

Thankfully God’s word is always true and always dependable. It contains the windshield wiper fluid and the wipers themselves that clear up my vision. Then, I see more clearly, albeit still very imperfectly, how my child is a blessing from the Lord and not just because God says so.

My sweetie is a blessing. Let me continue to count the ways.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Profitable Labor

“In all labor there is profit.”--Proverbs 14:23a



Ali'i Kula Lavendar Farm 
Kula, Maui (Feb 2016)

The first Monday of every month, I meet with a group of ladies at a local church for a group called Temple Restoration. This group gathers to discuss honoring God with our bodies, souls, and spirits. We spend a good deal of time discussing honoring God with our bodies through our health choices. I have met with these ladies for a year now and have been so blessed by their fellowship. Also once a month, one of us writes an eVotion in this theme. What I'm sharing with you today is the last one I wrote for the group. It specifically addresses health choices, but I believe this can fit into any situation you are trying to overcome and receive God's victory in. 

Full confession. I am not at the best place spiritually and physically with honoring God with my health choices. If someone were to back up and view from a distance the overall picture of my health journey of late, they could easily conclude she’s been eating more sugar, more processed foods, less fruits, and less veggies than she was about a year ago at this time. She exercises less than what she should, especially less than what she did before she met her husband. Let’s face it. She’s gained weight and she’s gotten out of shape for the third or fourth time these last several years.

And they would be right. However, that voice has the shrillness of another’s voice we have come to regard as our own, but it is not. It is the voice of our accuser, the one who whispers in the ear of our Savior and says, see, she can only be healthy as a single person. She wastes precious time resting when she should be exercising. See, look at her eat (fill in the blank) she shouldn’t eat. What a waste of time You are spending on her in this process and this monthly gathering of ladies for “Temple Restoration.”

And then, my Savior, and His voice of truth comes like a refreshing wind and lifts my spirit, while advocating on my behalf. My child, don’t listen to that voice. I said in my Word, “In all labor there is profit.”

So, while I may not be at my best place toward the health of my temple, the strides I have made do count for something. Am I where I was? Do I know more about honoring God with my temple Biblically? Do I find encouragement and strength walking side by side with others on a similar journey?

Yes, there are struggles. Yes, I find myself taking one step forward, two steps back. But this verse gives me hope. That one time I said no to that extra bowl of cereal at night. There was profit. That time I had a hot cocoa instead of a candy bar. There was profit. The other day, when my daughter was in her ballet class, and I squeezed in 30 minutes on the elliptical machine at the YMCA. There was profit. And in all these little profits, in these small steps of obedience to the Lord in His direction of what to eat and how to keep moving, God in His grace, gives me strength. Oh, that I would walk with Him more deliberately with this truth in mind.

Beautiful in Its Time

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”—Ecclesiastes 3:11


Ali'i Kula Lavendar Farm 
Kula, Maui (Feb 2016)

It’s time to begin again. It’s time to share the insights God graciously gives me as I read His Word. It’s time I glorify His working in my life with all its highs, lows, and everything in between. It’s time for me to worship Him. To enjoy Him. To magnify Him. 

And humble myself.

For as John wrote: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Lord, please help this verse cover the words of this blog.

It's time I do this again out loud. Or in writing, as this particular case may be.

You see, after 609 days (I just can’t believe that!), I have taken a step in faith to begin this blog again. What was supposed to be a summer break in 2014 became a one-year-and-eight-month break. In the last few months, I have begun to feel the tug on my spirit by His Spirit to begin this again.

Trusting this pull, perhaps He is saying to me, it’s time for me to make your words beautiful again. Beautiful in the sense that strangers, friends, and family will be able to share in my walk with the Lord as they read my journal-like devotions. They will see the beauty of His Word applied to just one life in His great mosaic of created beings. And in that seeing, they will also enjoy the beauty He has for them individually.

So, let this be my first post of many to come after my long break. I hope you join me on this journey, and I hope you are blessed by what you read. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

He is (The Names of God) by Eric Ludy

I hope you are all having a blessed summer. The youth pastor at my church closed last Sunday's sermon with this video below. It is so powerful and gorgeous and will get your eyes upon the Savior of our lives. 

One of my favorites, "He is my Husband." Whew!

I encourage you to take the time to give it a watch and let me know what "He is" to you. God bless you. 








Thursday, June 19, 2014

Taking a Summer Break

I have been thinking about and studying many things lately with regards to what I believe and my walk with Christ past, present, and future. It is in large part because of this spiritual season I’m in that I think it would be a great idea if I were to take some time off and process all that God is trying to share with me during this time.

So, this summer, I will take a break from my “Under the Shadow of His Wings” blog.

Please pray for me as I take this little pause in sharing my devotionals.

May God bless you.

Until next time,
Cassy


“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: 
for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, 
that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
—John 16:13


Monday, June 02, 2014

Handfuls of Purpose: A Poem and a Devotion

“And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.”—Ruth 2:16

A POEM:

God to Boaz
Let fall handfuls of purpose for her
She knows not the blessings I have in store
And while My plans for her are taking form
As she waits, please bless her with provision, kindness, and care

Boaz to His Men
Let fall handfuls of purpose for her
As she ministers to her mother-in-law and likely grieves the passing
Of her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law
Comfort her with generous amounts of barley in our harvest
and protect her from any harm

I admire this young lady
She has shown commitment to our God
By leaving her comforts, her home, and her family—all she knows
To join herself with His people
Out of love for her mother-in-law

Show her the kindness of our God
Let her know that He does not let one of His children go uncared for
Show her the respect that she likely has never known
By letting handfuls of purpose fall before her
And watching over her as she gleans in my field

While I may not see the picture clearly
I know she is a special woman
She's young, yet has shown great wisdom
In how she is faithful and obedient to her mother-in-law

Boaz to God
So, Lord God,
Help me be to her
All that you are to me.
While I let handfuls of purpose fall before her.


A DEVOTION:
In the book of Ruth, Boaz told his young men to let “handfuls of purpose” fall on the ground for Ruth to pick up and glean. Not only was she to glean after the reapers what fell to the ground, more handfuls of barley were to be dropped on purpose on the ground in front of Ruth to glean. As far as we know, she was the only one of the maidens of Boaz' field who got this privilege. I think it could be said that she did not know this provision was taking place on her behalf. She just went along with her commitment to provide for her mother-in-law and reaped blessings in return.

So, too, in our lives. God's handfuls of purpose may not be easily understood or seen by us at the times of His provision of them, but when we look with hindsight back on the workings of God in our lives, we then see clearly that He, too, lets fall handfuls of purpose (or in a general sense, handfuls of blessings) before us.

Another way of saying this is that God not only provides for us, He gives us much more than we expected or even hoped for from Him. This could be monetary provision. It could be in the form of wise counsel from our brothers and sisters in the Lord. It could be the illumination He grants us when we read His Word. Whatever it is, if God is doing the providing, it is abundant, free, and given without rebuke or strings attached.

I think many of us, who have trusted Christ as our Savior, and received His free gift of salvation believe that somehow we need to work for His blessings. While there is some truth to the fact God blesses His children while we are faithful to Him in the here and now, I think God's handfuls of purpose are completely free and not dependent on anything we do.

Like salvation, the gifts and provisions He gives us in our daily lives, when viewed in light of Ruth 2:16, are blessings above and beyond our good works, our hopes, our requests, and our desires.

I think the best way to fully appreciate and acknowledge these handfuls of purpose then is to be thankful to God. Not congratulatory of ourselves in our walks with God and how we've “earned” these blessings, but to acknowledge that without Him, we would not receive these handfuls of purpose, these above and beyond blessings from His Hand.

As I survey my life, I can look back and see many of these kinds of blessings from the Hand of my Savior. I acknowledge that He has provided for me above and beyond what I ever hoped in my education, in my relationships with my family, in my work, in my growth in Him, with the recent gift of a husband and a daughter, and so much more.

It is good for me to remember as I reflect on these handfuls of purpose that God has let fall along my path, that they are from Him alone and are a testament of the greatest gift He could ever give me—His love.

(Source: Mark Oehrhardt on Pixabay)

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