“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” ~ Ephesians 4:23-24
This has always been one of my favorite verses in the Bible. As with many that get quoted and used for Inscription this verse is a pretty familiar one. I can remember it being the theme of entire series of sermons or seasons of study as well as being a close and very personal scripture. I believe the reason for its wide use is because of the many different aspects of Christ it presents us.
First, I love and think we can all identify with the freedom this verse (like so many others) gives us. Any of us can renew ourselves in mind and spirit any time we choose to. It points to the access that we have to Christ. He is truly our personal Lord and Savior. He is not a god hidden away in a temple for only certain people to see. We do not have to be dressed a certain way or say an exact phrase to enter into His presence. We can renew ourselves in Him anytime we want and see the change in our mind and spirit. We have to only take him up on this free offer.
I believe this verse also reminds us to show the world this change. If I renew my mind in Him but keep it to myself I am doing my Lord a huge disservice. I am also failing not only those around me, but also myself. Much like we have said in the past- we should be so excited to share the news about Christ that we can hardly contain ourselves. This also makes me think of how my renewed mind and spirit is not only something I can talk about but that the world sees on me. It should be obvious to the world that I, or we, are truly different.
I am truly excited that we can all be renewed in the spirit and be able to show this wonderful change to those around us.
Photo Credit: Matt Artz
(I really debated with whether or not I would write about another experience I had on vacation. So, let me preempt this whole story: This is not about my actions or what I did. This is clearly about how God can work through us if we listen to Him.)
I like doing laundry. I like the smell of clean clothes, and the warm feeling of towels just pulled out of the dryer. I like for the laundry basket to be empty, and I feel a little stressed when the clothes almost reach the top. (I don’t, however, like putting the laundry away. That’s where the kids come in!)
When I’m frustrated, I’ll go start a load of laundry. When I need a few minutes alone, I’ll fold clothes. After a few days of traveling with the family this summer, imagine my excitement that our hotel had a laundromat! Ahh…The smell, the steady hum of the dryer, the time alone. I definitely needed this.
I hauled all of our dirty clothes down the elevator and sorted them into two washing machines. I sat down for a few minutes to soak in the smell of Tide and the rhythm of the dryers. I noticed that the six dryers were all full of clothes, and there was one with 20 minutes left on it. Perfect. My two loads would be finished washing around that same time, and I could put all the clothes in one dryer.
I came down about 45 minutes later, and that one dryer had stopped, but the clothes were in it. What to do? What to do? Laundromat etiquette dictates you don’t pull another person’s clothes out of the dryer and replace them with yours. That’s rude. But…it was already 9:00 at night, and I really needed this dryer. So, with my heart racing like I was committing a felony, I pulled the clothes out and put mine in.
There was a folding bench, so I very neatly folded the small load of clothes. I folded two size small ladies t-shirts, a pair of size 5 denim shorts, a baby blanket, two onesies, and some baby socks. My mind began to picture a young mom. She probably threw the clothes in the wash because her baby son had spit up all over them. Now it was late, and she was probably desperately trying to get him to sleep. Maybe she wanted to come get the clothes, but there was no way she would leave him in order to do so.
Oddly, my heart began aching for her. I prayed over each piece of clothing. I prayed for the sweet boy whose tiny toes filled those socks. I prayed that God give the mom patience and peace. I remember those hard, baby days. I also prayed that God would give her strength.
I put our clothes on to dry, went back upstairs, and came down an hour later to get them. The small pile of clothes was still where I had left them. When I laid down that night, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I prayed for her again before dozing off.
When I woke up, she was the first thing on my mind. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me–prompting me to let her know about God. I felt it so strongly. I knew God wanted me to write something to her.
I grabbed the hotel notepad and wrote:
“God sees you and He loves you. He knows you are going through a hard time
right now, but He is there for you. Just turn to Him. I am praying for you.”
John asked what I was doing.
“I just really feel like God is wanting this lady to know He hasn’t left her. I’m writing her a note, and if the clothes are still there, I’m supposed to leave it on them,” I responded.
“You think the clothes are still there?” he responded. I just shrugged my shoulders.
We gathered all of our bags and headed downstairs to load the car and eat breakfast. My heart began to race as I opened the door to the laundry room. I paused and turned to face the folding table. There lay the small pile of clothes. Yep…God for sure wanted her to have this note. So, I placed it halfway in the shirt on top, said another prayer, and left.
Although I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see her response, that part wasn’t for me. I did my part. God wanted to speak to her, so I did.
The deeper my relationship grows with God, the more I am obedient to Him. And the more obedient I am, the deeper my relationship grows. Two years ago I never would have written a note, and I don’t know that I would have felt the Holy Spirit nudging me. Spending time in God’s word has changed me. Are you ready for it to change you too?
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Romans 8:14
Photo Credit: Kristopher Roller
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” ~ Colossians 3:16
Of late I have continuously felt like I’m the world’s most perfect example of a broken record. Not only in the same things I’ve felt and expressed but also in the polar opposites of my attitude and how they reoccur. I find myself constantly saying, “I don’t know what my problem is today, I can’t get anything done,” or “I feel so tired today and just can’t get into it.” These notions are immediately followed a day later by “I had the best day today,” and “I just felt excellent and had such a blessed day.” Back and forth, over and over, the sentiment has been the same. As it continues to happen time just goes by.
So what changed from day to day? The more I thought about it the easier it became to pinpoint. I changed. I chose to let myself get down and just as quick I chose to pull up my boots and not let the circumstances of the present make me feel so dejected. Now I’m not saying that some days aren’t going to be difficult because that itself is just a part of life. What I am saying is that we have the power and control in our lives to choose how circumstances affect us and how we respond. We can do this on our own but sometimes the effect is little more than just “putting on a happy face.”
We can take this feeling and also look to our Heavenly Father in order to find true joy and happiness. When I read this scripture and thought of His word in me I couldn’t help but smile. His word in me…richly in all these things to the point that I sing with grace in my heart to the Lord. The thought of having this wisdom and teaching that overwhelms me to such a point that I had to convey that via psalms, hymns and songs with someone else sounds almost too good to be true. The reality though is that it’s not. God is His word. If we have His word in our hearts we not only have Him in our hearts but it creates in us such a joy we are truly overwhelmed.
My suggestion for myself (to avoid the broken record syndrome) and for anyone else is to bury His word into our hearts. To let Him be the source of our joy and rejoice in that with everyone around us. I know this will do far more than just put a smile on our faces, it will change our attitudes completely.
“And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44
Inscription and inspiration both tend to come from some very interesting places for me lately. I have to be honest in the fact that this week it came from cleaning out a drawer of old t-shirts in my closet. I came across a shirt that I remember buying when I was a sophomore in high school. It was at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes retreat and I have always held on to it remembering those days with fondness. Unfortunately, the years and frequent wearing have rendered the shirt into tatters with so many holes in it so enormous you can hardly read the words.
The shirt depicts an advertisement if you will for “The Lord’s Gym.” On the back it reads “No Sweat, Yeah Right!,” and then has the scripture from above.
When I started reading more of Luke 22 the verses really began to make me think. The chapter depicts some of the last hours Christ spent before His crucifixion. It takes us through the administering of the Last Supper and His journey into the Mount of Olives. Knowing what the next hours would bring Christ says in verse 42 “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.”
I had to ask myself how often do I pray and leave that last part out? I can only imagine the number of times I have simply asked for my circumstances or those of others to change for personal reasons. I have begged for that cup to pass from me without acknowledging His lordship in my life and that His will, not mine be done. I don’t believe it is wrong to ask for something, but if I am following Him as a believer it should all be asked for and done according to His will.
After recognizing this and how He shows us how to pray I then thought of the strength and dedication in His prayer. The utter agony He was in knowing what was to transpire but the resolve to accept it as “thy will be done.” The turmoil to sweat as great drops of blood is something hard to imagine and yet it should also be mine. If I consider myself a follower of Christ, I have to be willing to sacrifice and pray as earnestly as He showed me. It made me want to pray harder than ever before. It made me want to be a true prayer warrior according to His will and seek only that. I hope we can all do this in our own lives as well as the lives of others.
Sounds like no sweat huh?
~ Kenny Stahl
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
Psalms 84:10 ESV
I was reflecting this week on the time I spent as a single father again. I was very poor, and those times had some terrifying moments where I thought I may lose my home or maybe not afford groceries. I had a good community that stepped up, but it was exhausting at times and frightening as well.
Not to cheapen my victories as a single parent, or the growth as a perso, but my worst day being married is better than my best day being a single father. I get more time with my children, worry about money less, and have a wonderful companion with whom I share it all. It’s easy to forget those times that I had none of those things though.
My relationship with God can be like that. I’ve known Him all my life, and He’s interwoven into every facet. I’ve tried to remove Him a few times and almost been successful. Those dark times were long ago and tough and filled with heartache. The truth is that my worse day now is better than my best day then. But just like being married fills my life, it’s hard to invent that contrast.
Oddly enough, people are superstitious about this and afraid to ask God to remind them of the goodness of His presence. They think if they ask Him to show how they’ve taken Him for granted, He’ll withdraw from them and show them just how good they had it before. But that’s now out history has shown us he works. Jesus said “which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish would give him a snake?” So why do we assume if we ask God to show us His glory He’d withdraw from us?
If you feel like you’ve taken God’s presence for granted, then I encourage you to sit down with Him this week and confess that to Him. Ask Him to show you how one day in His courts is better than 1,000 elsewhere, and be ready to be amazed at the day he has for you, and not the 1,000 more away.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve probably spent too many free moments scrolling through my Facebook feed over the past week. The news and images from Hurricane Harvey have put me on an ever-changing emotional rollercoaster. My range of emotions have gone from utter disbelief, to pride in my fellow Texans, to anguish…and everything in between. I’ve been in a constant dialogue with God as I pray for others, and ask Him to guide our family in what we can do to help.
Several days ago, however, I was struck by a new emotion to this situation…disappointment. Disappointed in how quickly the truth seems to disappear in an effort to get “Likes” or attention. It all started with a picture someone posted of a shark in the flood waters on a highway in Houston. I couldn’t imagine that the picture was real, but I honestly did not think much else of it except to notice that it had been shared dozens of times. Then, I saw a video of horses being rescued from rising water in Houston. The person shared it as if it was just happening, but the date on the video showed it was over a year ago. Then there’s the whole controversy over the truth about Joel Osteen’s church. It all finally struck me solidly last night when I read a post about how to determine if photos from the hurricane are real or have been fabricated. (BTW, the shark picture is a fake!)
Unfortunately, the truth is being lost.
I felt disappointment because I realized that I couldn’t really count on anything I’ve read (or seen) in my news feed to be fully the truth.
I do know this, however, there is one place I can always go to find the whole truth–to our Almighty Father. The Bible is full of verses about truth, but these are two of my favorites.
“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” Psalm 119:160
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, You would have known my Father also. From now on you know him and have seen him.” John 14: 6-7.
In these times of great uncertainty, let’s focus on and cling to the truth that we find in the Lord, and in His words.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
I appreciate this is an extremely popular verse and one that is often quoted and referred to. In fact I have had a feeling writing this that it might have been used by another one of the Inscription writers prior to this. In any case I chose this verse because it has been on my mind and has also come up several times in reading different places these last few weeks.
First of all, this scripture has been the favorite verse of several very special people in my life. Many of them are no longer with us here on Earth but thinking about them having such a hope in the Lord and renewed strength gives me such a beautiful peace. Just thinking of a friend or loved one soaring like an eagle and never becoming faint or weary because of their hope in the Lord is such a wonderful image in my mind.
Before this verse helped me to remember these people in my life I was expanding for other reasons. Once again my thoughts were drawn to the extreme weather that has already, and is potentially affecting so many people in various parts of this country. I put myself in the shoes of those waiting for a storm they know is coming and the damage that could follow. Even though possessions aren’t even close to being most important in our lives just thinking about this could make a person lose hope.
The beautiful and most encouraging message in this verse comes from the fact that we can find hope in the Lord. If we do that He promises that our strength will be renewed. This renewed strength gives us the ability to soar like eagles as well as run and walk without ever growing weary or faint. I know it is very easy to lose hope sometimes in the face of adversity. Circumstances can seem so dark at times that the thought of holding on to hope seems impossible. Yet we must all understand what is available to us when we do place this hope in the Lord. I pray we all bind ourselves to this hope in Him and know He will guide us through all trials in our lives without ever becoming faint.
Photo credit: Søren Astrup Jørgensen
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”
1 John 3:18 NLT
I think I’ve heard “I’ll pray for you” uttered as a conciliation prize more often than anything else. We say it like, “I can’t do anything more, so I’ll do this thing. It’s the least I can do”.
But it’s not. As a Christian, it’s the first thing you should do, always, and it’s the thing you should always be doing. And sometimes it is the only thing God will implore you to do. But it’s not often. In your prayers, He will usually tell you your next steps.
Currently in our world there is almost too much to care about. There are hurricanes and wildfires that have currently displaced so many, there are many more who were already homeless in our nation, and there is famine and disease around the world. The opportunity to love and serve is overwhelming. “The harvest is great, but the workers are few”. You as one person cannot do it all.
This week I encourage you to pray for your fellow man, but in doing so, ask God what His next steps for you are. Ask Him to show you where He wants you next. Be ready to move when He says to go. Speak the truth with your lips, but moreso let His live be known through your actions.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” James 6:10
Much like so many, if not all of you, I have spent a lot of time in reflection and prayer this week. Largely this has been due to the tragic disaster we have all seen unfold over the coast and surrounding areas of Texas. The loss of human lives, animals and property has been catastrophic. I doubt there is a single one of us that doesn’t have family or friends that are being directly affected by this terrible storm. If not directly family or friends we have been concerned with the suffering of our fellow man during this time. We have all worried about the well being of these people and many have attempted to help in any way they can. This help and compassion has come through the donation of time or money, by sending items in dire need or most importantly through the supernatural power of prayer. All of these are examples of our care, concern and love.
Our desire to help and love others in need is a wonderful expression of the love that Christ shows us. As we demonstrate this love what greater comfort could we ever have or hope for than the very fact that He see and will not forget what we have done? This is far different than when we repent for our sins and God blots out our transgressions and will remember them no more. So knowing the fact that He will not remember our atoned sins but will instead not forget the love we show others I will strive to choose love.
Prayerfully, as this catastrophic disaster rages on from what now seems like only the beginning, I urge us all to love people. Through any means possible we should all reach out in prayer, comfort and support of those affected by this storm and so many other storms of life. Lending any hand we are able to we show the love Christ has for us all while knowing that He is just and will not forget.
Photograph by: Milada Vigerova