SOMETHING BIGGER.

I had a conversation a few days ago with a colleague about what was happening to comics right now, and where the industry might be when things eventually return to normal.  This individual had a very deep fear that their career was over, a feeling that I’m sure is being felt across much of the comic book industry.  Ours isn’t the only industry worried about what will be left after this crisis.  I tried to reassure this person that they had nothing to worry about, but the simple truth is none of us know when this will end, or how it will ultimately affect us.  I can tell you that this conversation opened a door to us having a very long conversation about God.  And as we talked, I kept praying for God to give me the right words, for God to use me to open the heart of this individual to His truth.

Now, more than ever we need to trust in our Heavenly Father.  It’s so easy to be ruled by our fear right now; fear of losing your job, your status within an industry, your way of life.  But, and this is something many people find difficult to accept, ALL of that is a gift from God.  “No.” you say “I work my butt off, not God, me.”  But the truth is, none of us get to write our genetic code, or pick and choose what gifts or talents we are going to be born with.  And yes, you may be an amazing artist, musician, writer, teacher, lawyer…and I don’t discount that you have worked hard to get where you are in your industry, but what you may not have seen are the many, many doors God opened for you along the way.  And, it is in times like these, that we see just how little control we really have over our own lives. Don’t let your pride (because that’s what your need to be independent from God is) prevent you from seeing and accepting all the gifts that God is offering you.  Don’t let your pride prevent you from accepting the ultimate gift…God’s love, and His hand and care over your life.

I believe that God expects us to work hard.  I also believe that he wants, and gives us every opportunity to use His gifts to their fullest.  But ultimately, I have found that only when these things go hand in hand with thanking God, and trusting in God, am I able to accept the blessings of peace, and joy, and the ability to use my gifts to their fullest potential.  I have been reading the prophet Ezekiel this week and there is one phrase that keeps getting repeated over and over again.  “They will know that I am the Lord…the Sovereign Lord.”  I think I copied it down four times in one chapter alone.  God is SOVEREIGN.  God is THE LORD.  And He’s got this.

Today I continue to give thanks for my blessings, and as this virus continues to spread through the world, I pray for each of you, that God watches over you and keeps you and your families in health and safety.  I pray for our doctors and nurses, and those who are working in groceries stores, and other essential services so that, even while we are social distancing,  we can live our lives.

Give thanks for your blessings today, and trust that God has a plan for each and every one of us.  Trust that even if a door closes as a result of this virus, you just never know what bigger, and better thing your Heavenly Father has in store.

God bless,

Meredith

BE JOYFUL IN HOPE.

In these rapidly changing, and challenging times I’m sure we’ve all had them; days when we give into our fear, and despondency.  Yesterday, we learned that our industry is coming to a standstill, like so many others.  It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when this global emergency comes to an end.  Yesterday was not my finest day.  I felt anxious and tense; and I ran into one disaster after another – including dinner.  Sigh.  So, last night as I lay in bed I reached out to God, just as I quoted from Lamentations yesterday; I cried out to him from the pit, and I fell asleep confident that he heard my cry.

This morning I was reading Roman 12 & 13.  And I’m going to share a few verses with you that helped me.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:13.  These were words I needed to hear.  This was the verse I meditated on this morning.

And as provinces and states are shutting down and declaring states of emergency, I felt this verse to be helpful.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”  Romans 13:1

I know I personally have railed against the increasingly stringent measure that are being put into place to keep us all safe.  But reading this verse reminds me that I should instead be praying for “the authorities…God’s servants who gave their time to governing.” Romans 13:6

With everything that is happening it is so easy to lose sight of where I need to keep my focus.  I want to go through today, and these next few weeks, and perhaps months, holding fast to this mantra;  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

God is good, and I KNOW that he will use this situation to his glory.

If you have a prayer request, please feel free to reach out and I would be happy to pray for you.

God bless, stay safe and don’t forget to check out today’s reading from John.

Meredith

THE ROAD BACK – PART TWO

Yesterday I talked a bit about my crisis of faith, and feeling as if I had let down God.  I wish that I was one of those people who just walked a path of faith that was straight and narrow with bright lights, and I never wavered.  Apparently that’s not how I was made.  Maybe you can relate.  Maybe your relationship with God ebbs and flows.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed with his love, and the certainty that you are loved by him.  Sometimes all you can feel is darkness, and the weight of oppression pushing you down.

I promised yesterday that I would talk about the new insight God shared with me about my own feelings of guilt, and unworthiness.  Would it surprise you if I told you it came from the introduction to the book of Job in my bible?  If you are not familiar with the book of Job it goes something like this:  God and Satan are having a discussion, and God invites Satan to “consider my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8  Satan suggests that Job is only faithful because God has blessed him so greatly.  God then allows Satan to take everything from Job, first his family and wealth, and then eventually his health.  Throughout much of the book Job believes God is punishing him unjustly for a sin(s) he has not committed and he angrily demands that God allow him to defend himself, but NEVER does he curse God as Satan suggests he will.  At the end of the book Job faithfulness is rewarded, he is restored to health and everything he lost is given back to him, twice as much.

That was a long way of getting to my point. At the beginning of this book the following  explanation is given  “The relationship between God and man is not exclusive and closed.  A third party intrudes, the great adversary.  This adversary or tempter seeks to alienate man from God; as accuser (one of the names by which he is called, śatan means “accuser”) he seeks to alienate God from man.  His all-consuming purpose is to drive an irremovable wedge between God and man, to effect an alienation that cannot be reconciled.  Can you see why this explanation was EXACTLY the wisdom I needed to hear?  When I “accuse” myself before God, when I tell myself I am not good enough or I’m not doing enough, I am doing the work of God’s adversary.  I am allowing an “accusation” that I level at myself to drive a wedge between me and my Heavenly Father – to alienate me from God.

Now, pair that with Romans Chapter 7 which I also happened to be reading that day.  In this chapter, Paul – the guy who wrote 14 of the 27 “chapters” or “books” of the New Testament – that same Paul who encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus; Paul wrote this: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”  Romans 7:18-19

THAT IS ME!!!  I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that exact way, and if God’s hand-picked messenger Paul can feel this way, then I have hope.  It was this that helped me to understand more fully, more clearly, more deeply the meaning of the gift that Jesus offers each and everyone of us.  The gift that I needed to open my hand to accept…Freedom from condemnation.  And in fact Paul states this very fact in the first verse of Chapter 8.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

So there it is.  I allow the great adversary, Satan, the devil, whatever you want to call him, into my life when I accuse myself before God.  It is not God who is pulling away from me, but rather the very opposite, I am separating myself from Him.  One of my favorite bible verses is 1 John 4:18  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 

When we accuse ourselves we are acting in fear; fear of not being good enough, of not being loved.  Whatever it is; that fear, that accusation you are directing at yourself – recognize that it is a wedge being used to separate you from God’s perfect love.  A love that has no condemnation.

On Monday let’s talk about how this truth brought me back to blogging, and where I go from here.  Today, I pray that God blesses you so that you may walk through your day free from fear, basking in the certainty and warmth of his perfect love.

Meredith

THE BITTER ROOT.

November was a month that was filled with blessings (although I admit to being a wee bit exhausted at the end of it).  Thanks to the prayers and generosity of many who allowed God to work through them, my Kickstarter for THE BOOK OF RUTH was more than 100% funded when it ended.  Through that entire process I could feel God’s hand, working, reaching out and putting it in front of the people who needed to see it, speaking to their hearts.  And for me it was definitely an exercise in trust, and the power of faith.  There were many times I just had to “step back and let God”.  And there were so many people who lifted me up with words of encouragement and prayers.  God is good.  And I want to say thank you again, to everyone who shared and supported RUTH.

You might be asking yourself if I’m feeling so blessed, why the title of today’s blog post is about bitterness.  Let me explain.  As often as we revel in God’s blessings in our lives, we are just as often tempted by sin.  This past week, within my community of faith, I have been wrestling with a situation.  I found myself being pushed out of a role that I had taken pride in.  A role that I enjoyed and looked forward to doing.  And I wasn’t happy about it.  In fact, I was very hurt.  I don’t know if the people involved even considered my feelings, I would even say that it didn’t cross their minds that I might be upset.  They just did what it was that they wanted to do.

This was a situation in which, while I didn’t feel it was necessary to take a stand and try to get my way, my first instinct was to step back.  To no longer participate in that particular group. As Dave puts it “to take my ball and go home.”  But I also spent time and prayed about it.  I asked God for help, because I wasn’t 100% convinced that my first response was the correct one.  There were other people outside of the situation that needed to be considered.  Maybe stepping away was the right thing, but maybe this wasn’t the right way to do it, or the right emotional mindset to be making that decision in.  And thankfully I had a week in which to make that decision.

It’s very easy to assign reasons and emotions to the actions of others, but it can be much harder to look at our own motivations.  I will say, however that I instantly recognized that pride was a part of the equation from my side.  I took pride in doing this particular job.  But maybe someone else needed to feel that pride more than I did.  I have found so many places in my life to share my faith, am I so greedy as to not be able to share the spotlight?  And stepping out completely also meant stepping away from those who needed someone to advocate for them.

I have continued to bring this situation and specifically my feelings about it before God this week and today this was the passage I read.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see God.  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 12:14.

If we, as children of God, seek to live holy lives, lives that emulate the life of Christ, then I have to consider His response to every situation – to this situation.  I know Christ would step aside graciously, and throw His support completely behind this peer.  And I know that is what God wants for me.  I can’t allow bitterness to take root in my heart and cause trouble.  I think this is why pride is such a subtle and dangerous sin.  But if Jesus could scorn the shame of the cross, then I can certainly give up my pride and help someone  have their own chance at ministering to others and being proud.

If there is a place in your life where you have a similar situation, or are finding pride is damaging a relationship, I encourage you to bring it before God and allow his healing power to change your heart just as he changed mine.

God Bless,

Meredith

Going “All In”

It’s been a bit since I’ve blogged.  Mostly this is because I have been focusing a lot of my time, and energy on promoting my newest project, THE BOOK OF RUTH, which launched on Kickstarter November 1st and wraps up November 30.

It’s definitely been an up and down month for me.  It was so easy two years ago when I felt God “calling” me to do this book.  I remember listening to the Matthew West song “All In”.  Strange that it would be so easy to take a risk and been all in at the beginning.  But then I guess at that point I haven’t really risked anything from a financial, or time point of view.  Now that we are so close to the finish line.  Now that I have put so much of myself into this project, I suddenly find myself doubting God’s commitment.

I’ve been reading the book of Matthew this week, specifically chapters 17 & 18.  In Chapter 17: 20 Jesus heals a demon possessed boy that his disciples had failed to heal.  When they ask him why they couldn’t drive out the demon he replies Because you have so little faith.  I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  I feel as if he’s talking to me. Because there have been times over this past week specifically that I have felt as if my faith was too small.  I keep asking for help and praying to God, but I don’t even know what to pray for. I’m so conflicted.

David and I have been so blessed.  Maybe the point of the blessings is to pay it forward.  To put out this book without counting about the cost. But I’m human, and working in comics you don’t have a pension plan.  And I want this book to be successful. I want people to see it and love it and get behind it.  I want that validation.   (You see why I’m struggling)

And then today I read this verse in Matthew 18:19  “Again, I tell you  that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  I was inclined to dismiss this and focus on other parts of that reading focusing on the children, but then it appeared again.  Isaac and I were doing his daily devotions.  We read Acts 10:44-48 and Acts 12:1-10.  This is the conclusion of the story of Peter and Cornelius and the story of the angel of God freeing Peter from prison.  And there is was, at the end of this devotion, the verse of the day – Matthew 18:19.

So today I’m putting it out to you.  The people who read my blog.  I’m not asking for you to pray for a successful Kickstarter.  But I am asking that you pray for this book that God has called me to write.  That he uses it for his plan (whatever that may be)and that he helps me to have faith (even if it’s as small as a mustard seed).  I’m asking that you pray for me to have my “all-in” faith in God’s plan renewed.

Thank you to everyone who reads this and God bless.

Meredith

THE POWER OF FAITH

Have you ever felt God put a calling in your heart?  Did you follow through on it?

Sometimes it takes a long time for those callings to manifest themselves.  For me, it has taken years.  I have said before that, when I first started writing comics, I felt God put a calling in my heart to adapt The Book of Ruth into comic book form.  It was one of those, “some day you are going to do this” type of things.  I carried that calling in my heart for many years, before I really felt that the time was “now”.

It’s funny how when you starting answering a calling, you have this mind set, or at least I certainly did, that you are doing something for God.  You know when Paul calls us to “resist the temptation to act as if we are righteous, especially by leaning on our good works”… yep!

It’s easy to start making plans and forget who, and what you are doing something for.  But, if you can keep your focus on God, trusting in His plan for you and your calling, the strangest thing begins to happen; or at least for me.  I came to the realization that this thing God had called me to do.  This thing that I was “doing” for God…it was actually something God was doing for me.

Maybe to some of you this is nothing new, but for me this is news!!!  The more I have worked on “The Book of Ruth”, the more I have poured myself into God’s plan; trusting Him, and turning it over to Him…the more I have found myself being blessed by the very thing I was supposed to be doing for God.  We have it all wrong, or I certainly did.  When God puts a calling in our hearts it’s because He has a blessing that He wants to share with us not because there’s something we can do for him.   But the only way that He can do that is if, and when we listen to Him.

I feel grateful and blessed that our God is forgiving, and willing to overlook my arrogance. (What could I possibly do for the God who created the heavens and earth?)  God stuck with me, He showed me the truth, and He brought me to the place where I am now; joyous gratitude.  What calling has God put into your heart today?  What blessing is he trying to share with you?

This song has really been my mantra since launching The Book of Ruth on Kickstarter and so I wanted to share it with you today.

God bless,

Meredith

Careless Words

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Matthew 12:34

Several times this month I have found a passage in my readings that speaks to me and then brings me to a new understanding of some of the readings we repeat each Sunday as a part of our service and where they come from.  This one today hit home particularly for me because this month I found myself lashing out at my family.  Fall is always a difficult time for me as the days grow shorter.  But for some reason, this year I have found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed.  Even the daily tasks of cooking and cleaning have, at times, felt like mountains to climb.   And those feelings I have nurtured in my heart, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and frustration, have of course flowed out of my heart via my mouth to hurt the ones I love.

This morning as I prayed on this verse and asked for God’s help, I found myself repeating familiar words…“cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy spirit that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name, through Christ our Lord”.

This verse comes from the Collect for Purity and is a part of our Anglican service every Sunday.    The entire collect goes like this; Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

I can only think that this collect was directly inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew in recognition of the struggles we all face; to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, so that it is the good stored inside us that comes out of our mouths, and not the evil.

I will continue to pray that my heart be cleansed so that when I am called to give an account for the words I have spoken, the good far outweighs the evil, in Jesus’ name.  Amen

God bless,

Meredith