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

What Kind of Person Would I Be?

We all have good days and bad day.  And then sometimes we have days that are complete and total disasters, when we feel completely out of sync with who and what we are.  Yesterday morning was one of those for me.  I could feel the tension as soon as I woke up.  So much to do and not enough time to do it in.  I raced around the house trying to knock things off of my list before settling down with Isaac to begin his school day.  But as I sat there I could still feel the tension in my temples, my clenched jaw.  I was practically vibrating.

Let’s just say that school did not go well and I was less than kind to my sweet, little boy.  Angry word are like toothpaste, you can’t ever take them back.  All you can do is ask for forgiveness.  This morning Isaac and I were talking about our experience yesterday and he reassured me “don’t worry mom, we all have bad days, I forgive you”.  I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated his understanding.  And then, from my sweet little child, came such a brilliant piece of wisdom… “What kind of person would I be if I didn’t forgive you?”  Indeed, Isaac, what kind of a person would you be.  What a special gift he gave me this morning, and with such unconditional love.

And it just reminded me again of the amazing gift we have been given as children of God.  Last night as I lay in bed I felt just awful about my behaviour toward a child that I love and adore.  And though I prayed for forgiveness, I just couldn’t give it to myself.  But Isaac reminded me this morning…to err is human, to forgive divine.  I will always make mistakes no matter how hard I may try to be perfect.  But there is always forgiveness available to me in those times that I fall.  And the biggest lie of all is when we don’t take that forgiveness, offered to us just as Isaac offered it to me this morning, freely, innocently and unconditionally.  When we refuse to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and failings, and lack of perfection we are turning our backs on the most beautiful gift it is possible to receive.

If my child can offer forgiveness so freely, how much more powerful is the forgiveness offered to us by Christ.  Give Him your cares and your burdens and let Him show you how to forgive yourself, just as He has forgiven you; to love yourself as much as He loves you.

God bless,

Meredith

What’s The Point?

For a little while now I’ve been struggling a bit with the idea of heaven.  Specifically, what is the point of Jesus coming again if we all go to heaven and live with God when we die?  I mean isn’t heaven…well…heaven?  I’ve kind of put that thought at the back of my mind and figured I’d get around to it eventually.  I was reading Paul’s second letter to Timothy this morning and verse 9 said “this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  And I got to wondering about Jesus, what really did he teach?

So I decided to go back to Matthew, chapter 4, and then I started wondering what the “gospel” or “good news” Jesus came down to earth to share with us really was?  I wanted to really understand it.  So far I’ve gotten the idea that he preached the gospel/good news that the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God was at hand.  He called his listeners to repent and believe.  At this point he wasn’t saying anything about grace.  So then what does it mean when he says the kingdom of God is at hand.  Looking at the world we live in, it doesn’t really feel as if God’s kingdom has been established on earth to me.

I believe that Jesus lived and died and rose again.  I believe that he said he is the way, the truth and the life.  I read one site that said you can only get to the kingdom of heaven through grace.  But I feel as if I need to really understand this to take the next step in my spiritual growth.  Maybe when I really understand this I’ll also have an answer to my question about heaven, and Jesus coming again. I’ll keep you updated as I go.

God bless,

Meredith

The Un-Facebook Version of Me.

It’s so easy to get misdirected and caught up in things that don’t matter.  It’s so easy to turn mole hills into mountains and as a result fail to see what’s on the other side. I’ve had a few things lately that have been causing me some degree of anxiety/stress/worry.  Sometimes it’s easy to turn to God with those problems, sometimes it isn’t.  When I was injured I could absolutely turn to God and pray for strength and patience throughout my recovery.  But what if what I’m worrying about is petty?

Do you sometimes feel restrained in the things you bring before God because maybe they aren’t big enough?  Maybe they aren’t Godly enough or you think that your worries don’t come from a place that would be acceptable to Him?  I have absolutely been feeling that way about one of my worries.  I mean really, it’s a problem of having too much…

So this morning I did my bible reading.  And while Isaac was working on his reading I picked up my phone.  I have to admit to not always noticing the daily message I get from my bible app.  But today, it came up as soon as I picked up my phone and it read… “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Now I read that passage in Philippians a week or so ago as I’m working my way back through Paul’s letters.  And I’m on 1st Timothy at this point.  But there it was, looking at me, compelling me not only to read but to understand the message…to write it in my heart.

BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING!!!  Think about that…God is telling me, he’s telling you to stop worrying about what you are bringing to him…to stop guarding your heart from him.  He doesn’t want a carefully curated, Facebook perfect version of you.  He already knows exactly who you are, the REAL you.  He knows your heart’s desire and wants, even if you feel ashamed to admit it.  And he tells us what to do with those desires… in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  If you want a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, to get in better shape, to be better.  Whatever it is, give it to God.  Give him EVERYTHING!!!!

The next verse is where the really important part comes in…and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus”.  This verse doesn’t say that you’ll get everything you ask God for, but it does say that if you give him everything, then he will give you something that surpasses anything you could possibly have desired…peace.  Just sit there for a moment, right now, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, close your eyes and feel it…really feel it fill your heart and your mind…the peace of God.

There is no physical possession, no award or accolade that can give you the lasting feeling of peace that comes from knowing God and maybe even more importantly…from being known by Him.

Today God reminded me to let go, to give him everything in prayer and supplication and to be thankful.  Thank you Father for allowing me to be my uncurated, unadultered, mostly broken-down self.  And thank you for never tiring of reminding me just how much You love me, for giving your only son over to a death that he freely accepted…all so that my faith could be enough.

God bless you all, have faith, be brave.

Meredith

I’ve been thinking a lot about judgement lately.  Sometimes it feels as if it’s what life boils down to.  We judge how well our kids are doing in school, in sports, how social they are or aren’t.  How “normal” they are or aren’t.  We judge what kind of parents we are, and we judge how well those around us parent too.  We judge how well we are doing at our jobs based upon our peers, how successful we are, how successful our friends and family are.  From a very young age we are taught to judge; whether people are good or bad, if it’s safe to cross the street.  We make judgements every single day of our life.  Sometimes those judgements keep us safe, but sometimes they are a means of building ourselves up on the backs, or failures of others.  And it’s because we are all guilty of that type of judgement that the word has taken on a negative connotation.  The word judgement has become synonymous with condemnation.   We can make good “choices”, but we “judge” people.

I think it’s that word that becomes the excuse so many people need to reject God.  It’s easier to not believe than it is to believe in a God that will judge or condemn them.  What an awful job we have done as his children to share who and what he is.  We have all been the victim of someone else’s judgement at some point in our lives, and I for one, have not found it the most enjoyable experience.  So then why would I want to join a church, or worship a creator who is going to subject me to those same feelings of judgement and rejection?

It makes me sad that the people who share the biggest truth about Jesus Christ and God are the ones we most easily classify as crazy.  They are the people who stand on the street corner or  wave signs at football games saying John 3:16.  And you all know what I’m talking about.  You give them a wide berth if you encounter them, maybe even cross the street.  But I think that their message is the most credible, the most powerful, the most truthful.  “For God SO LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  That message that those “crazy” people are trying to share with you…with the world, is one not of judgement, but of LOVE!

So what’s my point?  I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop spreading messages of judgement with our lives…with our faith…and we need to start sharing more messages of truth…more message of love.

Do I believe that God will judge us all according to our actions.  Sure, but I’m at a far different place in my walk with God than someone who is just starting out, and everyone’s journey is different.  I can’t claim to know God’s will in this world, so I do my very best to let him make those calls, and instead I try to make good “choices”, good “judgements” about the way I treat the people in my life.  Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not.  But at the end of they day, God loved me enough to give his only Son, and all I have to do to bask in the glow of his love is believe!!!!!

Just believe.

God bless,

Meredith. (I feel like this song really speaks to the heart of what I’m trying to say)

An Object in Motion.

I think on some level we are all inherently lazy.  Some of us just have an easier time pushing through that inertia.  We all run on Newton’s first law.  An object or person at rest, stays at rest. An object/person in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.  Have you ever heard that expression, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the room?

This past week I’ve been reading Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.  There is so much good stuff in those short letters that speak to this, to respecting those who work hard and warning those who are idle.  Here are a few of my favorite verses and why.

“Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:12.  I love the reminder in this verse to respect people who work hard, and for us to take criticism.  I think we all have a much harder time these days listening to the opinions of others, especially when they dare to tell us that our actions might not be okay.  We forget that we learn from failure as much or more than from success.  And maybe some days we need to be told to get moving, or to work harder.  I know I certainly do.

“Live in peace with each other…warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”  1 Thessalonias 5:14-15.  Be patient!!  Words that I sometimes struggle to live by and it is through my lack of patience that I sometimes find myself in conflict rather than peace, or I forget to encourage or help others.  But I always find those times when I can step back, and try to understand why someone is reacting a certain way are the times I feel the closest to God.

And then in 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul says “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you to keep away from one who is idle… for even when we were with you, we gave you this rule:  “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” …”And never tire of doing what is right.”  

I know that I’m always much happier and more relaxed the busier I am.  There is nothing more guaranteed to make me feel drained and exhausted than spending a day on the couch.  And people who don’t do anything want you to do nothing with them.  It makes them feel better for not accomplishing anything.  Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a time for rest.  Even God took the seventh day off, but you can be sure, he worked hard the other sixth.   And it’s when you work hard that you can rest on that 7th day, look around and say “it is very good”.

“…be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” 

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire, test everything, hold on to the good, avoid every kind of evil.”

The one who calls you is faithful…”

What a recipe for the life we are called to live as children of God.  So often God is portrayed as self-righteously looking down from on high and judging us.  But this letter from Paul so beautifully sums up the life that God wants for us.  To be joyful always, to work hard and be respectful and peaceful and to be kind to each other.  Instead of turning away from God, we should be turning back to him.  We should be stoking the Spirit’s fire instead of putting it out, we should pray continually…thank God for that parking spot, that break in traffic, that green light.  Newton’s law applies to your faith as much as your physical activity, so keep moving, and keep praying.  Be an object in motion.

God bless,

Meredith