As we wrap up our nurturing theme this week, I reflected upon the contrast between the spiritual positions of “consolation” and “desolation.” I was struck anew how key it is to allow God to nurture us in order for us to nurture others.
Consolation draws us towards God’s presence in our lives. While desolation pulls us away. One is life-giving. The other is loss. Life or loss. Somewhat like a choice between thriving or wilting. Deuteronomy 30:19 speaks of the choice between life and death, blessings and curses.
Consolation allows me to be me my most authentic self with God. In good or bad, I am aware of his love and grace at work in me and through me. Desolation leaves me feeling out of touch with God. I am off-kilter. Not free to be myself, with God or others.
The word “consolation” can sound negative. As in, “consolation prize.” But the root is “console,” as in: solace, comfort, delight, pleasure, consoling. We could say these are parts of nurturing.
To nurture is to cause growth. To be life-giving is the epitome of nurturing. And to do so lovingly, we must do so freely, without a sense of burden. The Bible is clear that with God there is more to life and freedom (John 10:10, 2 Corinthians 3:17). Scripture also says we get comfort from God, which in turn, we pour out to others.
Each day is a choice. Consolation or desolation. Draw near to God, be poured into, and pour into others.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NLT)
My dad died at the beginning of May and today is his birthday. I thought about him most of the day. When someone you’ve known all your life dies, your mind is flooded with memories. Memories reveal themselves through the lens of the eyes and age that captured them, and they are held, tucked away, suspended in time. I pulled some out today and sifted through them. The good ones I decided to hold onto, the ones I declared not-so-good I’m in the process of tossing out. Nothing can be done with those once the story ends for a life.
This month’s blog theme is connection and nurturing, and what better example can be found than that of a parent? The Bible says-
“And fathers, do not provoke your children, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (I’m sure this applies to mothers also)
These two things go together, and because they are “of the Lord,” we know they are to be filled with His love and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
My dad came to parenthood with little preparation or resources to pull from. He did the best he knew how, just like many of us do. We are all flawed people, so how do we nurture our children and others? How do we connect and support them and one another?
I find my answer in Jesus. He shows us the way to The Father who is perfect in His love and nurturing. He sent Jesus to connect with us and make us His children. He is the answer to- “HOW?” In Him we cannot only nurture and connect with others, but we can receive those things for ourselves. Jesus sees beyond our outer wrappings into the hidden areas of our hearts where we store our deepest needs. He touches us there and nurtures our souls.
His example shows us that nurturing is putting love into action on behalf of another. He created a connection with people because he stopped, He saw them, He listened, and He acted by meeting their basic need- the need to be fully known and fully loved.
When I ponder the memories of my dad, I see the ways he nurtured me and my sister, in the ways he knew how. Those are the memories I choose to hold onto. I hope my children will do the same with my flawed attempts at being a nurturing parent. I am convinced the only way we can nurture better is by following the example of Jesus. Apart from Him, we are all broken people trying to figure things out with limited resources. With Him, we have all we need!
Is there someone you can nurture and connect with today?
In His love,
Man says..show me and I’ll trust you.
God says..trust me and I’ll show you…
For those of us who are Christians, God is transforming us into the image of Jesus when He walked this earth.
He’s making us more Christlike. He’s even more committed to the process than we are, and that’s okay because all God wants us to do is keep showing up and be ready and willing for him to use us in the world.
When our Holy Spirit indwelled in us, we were taken out of ourselves and beyond our very real limitations.
When you are asked to give of yourself to others, you may think, “I don’t have enough to give, I don’t know what to do, or I’m not qualified for this.” That may be true for you, but definitely not for God. All you need to do is just show up and be faithful. And as you follow His lead, you’ll be transformed, and you’ll witness His unstoppable power. He will continue to make you more like Jesus as he expands your impact on the world.
Embrace this mystery of Christ in you, and you’ll find yourself choosing to love the lost, the hurting, and the forgotten with your words and actions.
You’ll find yourself being used by God to transform the world around you.
God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others.
Rely on His strength and allow Him to work in you and through you to help others.
Stay in God’s peace,
With Mother’s Day in mind, the Freedom Writers are composing our thoughts on the nurturing qualities of God.
I must admit, I love lady’s events! I love the décor, the warm greetings, the kindness and compassion that just embody what I think of when I think of nurture. But I must admit, growing up a tomboy, I didn’t always appreciate or understand…
I loved the picture of the warrior God, God almighty, El Shaddai. Funny thing though, when I looked up this word in the Hebrew, it has a double meaning – what???
Most Bible scholars say that Shaddai is derived from the Hebrew word, “shaddu” meaning mountain. As a result, the most common interpretation of the name El Shaddai is God Almighty or God the “overpowerer.” Other Bible scholars have said that “Shaddai” is from the Hebrew root word, “Shad” meaning “breast”. In addition to El Shaddai speaking of God as being almighty, El Shaddai also speaks to His ability to nurture and satisfy. These scholars say that the name speaks to God as being nourishing, satisfying and supplying all our needs as a mother would a child. (crosswalk.com; El Shaddai meaning) I think Amy Grant says it best…
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
An Endearing Scene…
This month, my prayer is that we would crawl up into His lap for a hug. I pray that we would receive the comfort we need from The Almighty, nurturing God, and “comfort those with the comfort we have been given.”
With Much Love, Hugs, and Pretty Décor, 😊
Jesus rose. He is alive. He is seated at the right hand of God.
What does that mean for you and me?
It’s a new day.
What gives you confidence? I usually go about my day trusting in Jesus.
I suppose that answers the question for me. Jesus’ presence is my confidence. “Jesus-confidence” versus “me-confidence.”
But it’s more than that. It’s an assurance that I’m in his will. Or at least, actively seeking to be. In surrendering my will to his, peace gives me strength.
What does this have to do with Jesus’ resurrection?
Jesus’ resurrection changed everything. His presence is the confidence that I can be where I am meant to be. I can be who I am meant to be.
His presence brings strength in convictions, perseverance through hardships, healing in hurting, peace in storms.
Friend, your strength may run out. You may grow weary. But Jesus doesn’t. He understands what it’s like to be you. He knows what you’re going through.
Because he is with you, everyday is a new day… A new opportunity to trust in him.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
A Carpenter’s son, not owning much,
His toys were hammers, nails, wood and such.
There on the floor day after day,
In shadows of the cross he played.
The sound of hammer hitting nails,
Echoing stories that future tells.
When days of playing with toys are done,
And time has come to reveal God’s Son.
Sent down from Father- the Great I Am,
To be the sacrificial Lamb.
Though world around him thought it odd,
A carpenter’s son- the Lamb of God?
Meeting nails and wood again,
And hammers in the hands of men.
He chose to die on rugged tree,
To save a lost humanity.
In humility He freely gave,
And placed within a borrowed grave.
Victoriously He rose again,
Paying the ransom for our sin.
The child who played on dusty floor,
Became for us the open door.
To enter into the Father’s grace,
And behold God’s glory in Jesus’ face.
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts. To bring the light of the glory of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
He is not here; He has risen just as he said.
Our eternal life comes down to who we recognize Jesus to be and how we relate to Him. It’s one thing to know about Him, but it’s another thing all together to have a genuine relationship with Him through faith.
The Bible tells us that we are invited to confess our belief that Jesus is Lord, this means we’re confessing that He is our God and has ultimate power over our lives.
Jesus is the source of our eternal life. He conquered death when He rose from His tomb.
If we place our faith in the risen Savior, Jesus Christ we are saved. We are eternally rescued. We are promised a place in God‘s presence forever. The Lord has revealed these things to us because He loves us. He invites us to receive the gift of salvation through faith in Him and to live with confidence and the fact that he is a source of our life and our hope.
This month the freedom writers are penning thoughts about Christ’s resurrection. As we discussed resurrection, we were all struck with the fact that death comes before the new life; good Friday comes before Easter Sunday.
As I was working in my yard, preparing it for our Easter dinner, I noticed something…Springtime is overflowing with resurrection examples. Trees that looked lifeless sprouting beautiful blooms. Bulbs and tubers buried in the ground for months, breaking through the dark earth to present themselves; a bunch of sticks being formed into a nest in my camellia bush in anticipation of life…”May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” Galatians 6:14&15.
And our lives are overflowing with resurrection.
My daughter Mary who has suffered with anxiety and depression for years, shared her story on Saturday – losing the fear of sharing, to gain the freedom that comes…”Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25
My friend Becky and her husband Earl left everything here in California and moved to Oregon – loss of what they knew to grasp what was before them. “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13 & 14
This month, our prayer for all of us, is that we would experience the resurrected life for yourself. You will be in excellent company!
As you reflect on Christ’s sacrifice,
May He fill your heart with grateful praise
And surround you with His redeeming love
That reconciled you to the Father –
So, you can live in Christ’s resurrection,
Knowing death could not consume Him,
For when He rose victoriously,
He sealed eternity for you. – M.S. Lowndes
With Love & Gratitude – Christina
Recently, I was reading a devotional on “flourishing,” which got me thinking how God has people flourishing in roles for a season.
It seems he often makes room for new vision in our hearts as old seasons come to an end. And as with many endings, there is often painful growth in the transition of letting go.
Like seeds, some things must die in order for the new to come to fruition. And those things aren’t always clear… timing, places and people come into the sovereign mix orchestrated by God.
Throughout the ages, God has continuously called people to flourish in the new seasons of life — always for his glory.
When I meet with someone or lead our Starting Point Q&A I tell people, “there’s a place for you in God’s Kingdom!” (and I always follow it with, “and whether it’s here or elsewhere, it is my sincere hope to help you find it!”).
It’s exciting to walk alongside others as they seek God’s will for their lives. It’s also a bit nebulous, mysterious and not for those unwilling to step into the adventure of following Jesus.
Flourishing according to God’s purposes is not for the faint of heart - rather it is for the caring of heart - the one after God’s own heart!
What is God asking of you in this season? Let me know if you want to chat about it!
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19, ESV)
For appointments: email@example.com
“Day by day, day by day,
Oh, dear Lord three things I pray,
To see Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly,
Day by day.”
Do you ever have lyrics from songs of the past sing their tunes in your memories? The song above from the 1970’s musical, “Godspell,” comes to mind often. It’s a simple song that puts words to the desires of my heart. I love to sing it and pray it. It reminds me that we can flourish in our faith by keeping God clear, dear, and near.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6-7
When everything around us goes awry, our walk with Him can remain strong and steady. The Maker of the world is also the Shaker of the world, but not for our harm. When we are clear, dear, and near to the Father, our faith will flourish…even in a messy world.
It’s helpful to ask ourselves these three questions on a daily basis:
What am I facing today that I need to see God in more clearly?
What do I need to add, or let go of, to love Him more dearly?
What holy habits do I need to start, to follow Him more nearly?
In answering these questions, I believe our faith will grow and we will flourish- day by day!
“The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing,
To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock,
and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Psalm 92:12-15
Seeking His heart,
I’d love to hear your stories of flourishing! Charlotte@coldspringschurch.net
Day by Day Music by Stephen Schwartz Lyrics by Saint Richard of Chichester (13th century)