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Friday, July 11 2014

Guest Blogger... Thanks Lynn Bryant!!!


God Doesn't Make Junk!



“Where did you get these dishes?” my husband asked.  “They’re ugly and they are so heavy I don’t like to use them!”  I agreed.  They weren’t very pretty.  My older sister received the set when she married in 1969.  After she divorced and moved to a hurricane-prone territory, she asked my mother to store them for her in an outside shed.  When Mama died, the dishes ended up in my brother’s basement.  My brother and his wife didn’t like them either, so when my sister passed away a few years later, they gave the entire twelve-place setting to me.  Due to their sentimental value, I used the dishes as everyday ware for a time, but I soon grew weary of them too.  I told myself they were “just dishes” after all, so I decided to box them up and give them away to anyone who could use them.  


I told a friend about my plan, and she suggested I check on E-Bay first to see if the dishes had any real value?  I did so, and much to my surprise, they had great value.  The set is worth over $1,500!  Each piece of the stoneware was handcrafted by one of three artists and fired in such a way that no two pieces turned out exactly the same, making each piece an original.  The company that produced the dishes closed over 20 years ago, and the stoneware has since become a collector’s item!


So, for three years, I used vintage, collector’s items as everyday ware!  Because I didn’t know the value, a few pieces are now chipped or missing.  I hate to admit it, but my husband even brought two bowls in from outside that we had used to feed our cats!  Subsequently, I decided it might be good to check the value of my mother’s fine china that was prominently displayed in our china cabinet.  My mother had cherished the set for years and passed it on to me as a family heirloom.  Much to my dismay, my mother’s china, although finer and much more beautiful, was valued at less than a fourth of my sister’s dishes!  How could I not have known? 


As I pondered this series of events, the Holy Spirit began to show me parallel truths.  We often judge someone to be worthy of consideration due to their physical appearance or compatibility to us personally, while others seem less valuable, or maybe even dispensable, because they don’t measure up to our expectations or the opinions of others.   We rarely stop to consider the underlying value determined by the uniqueness of a thing in relationship to its creator.  Like my sister’s dishes, we are all unique creations of a well-known artist!  While that fact may not be fully appreciated by others, leaving us feeling chipped around the edges or even missing pieces of our hearts at times, the reality is that true value—ours or someone else’s—is never really determined by us!  We need God’s perspective to know what is truly valuable!  Is there someone or something in your life today whose value is far greater than you might have previously imagined?  Maybe we all should check with “Heaven’s E-Bay” to discover if we have unknowingly been treating some of our Father’s treasure like earth’s junk?


“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  I Samuel 16:7b

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Benefits of Weariness


WOW! How weary I am. And so are many of you. I know because I hear your cries: in my office, on the phone, online, in church, at the grocery store, you name it! So much of what I hear from people today is about how tired, weary, and worn-out they feel.

Then again, you may not feel weary;  instead you may feel anxious, depressed, scared, lonely, angry, or any mixture of these emotions. Perhaps these are more your prominent feelings.


However you may feel, it’s too easy to look for the source or to find blame: social media; busy schedules; technology; work/family demands; the causes are endless. Of course, these have validity, and we can certainly manage them in more appropriate and successful ways.


Yet, as I sit with God today, in my quiet time, and look over my journals, what I see is the benefit of weariness—the benefit of our broken feelings and situations.

 I see, time and time again, over the years (yes, I am rebellious and slow-learning, and God is very, very patient), God working in me and through me, enabling me to receive His antidote to this tough life and all of its problems. 


It is so simple; and yet it is so hard.


It is HIM: Jesus; always more of Him.


“But,” you say, “Angel, I have to know what to do with my children,” or, “Angel, these bills are piling up,” or, “Angel, you don’t have a CLUE of how bad it really is.”


And I will say, “You are right, I don’t. And you are correct, these things need to be taken care of.” 


BUT FIRST, we have a larger need. Oh, the catch is it doesn’t appear like the larger need. Our core need, before bills, children, purpose in life, change in our feelings, is to be convinced, truly convinced and accepting of God’s love for us and our identity as His children.


And your heart and head may rebel like mine did.


“BUT, I need to know the answer to my problem.” 

And Jesus says:

“I am the answer.”

“I am so tired.”

And Jesus says:

“I know. Let me restore you.”

“I am afraid.”

And Jesus says:

“I know, and my love will take care of that.”


That just doesn’t seem like much; doesn’t seem like enough, when we are about to be evicted or our kids are in harm’s way. That support just doesn’t seem practical enough for our human brains to rest on.


Perhaps then we’ve hit on the real source or problem of our weariness: ourselves. You and me believing that if we work hard enough, try enough, worry enough, take enough time to figure it out, talk enough to that person, ignore it long enough—whatever your “enough” is—WE can fix it. The true problem is that it’s all about US!


We want to stay in the driver’s seat and be our own savior. Or we look to other humans to be that for us. If we believe our answer lies in us or other humans, we are likely to stay in that “out of control” anxious space, and the weariness or depression or addictions are bound to take over. There can only be one driver in our car of life.


The benefit of our struggle is to be wooed into the true solution. Life’s struggles are an invitation to know God more intimately. As we allow Jesus, who is ALIVE, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, to become more real for us, more tangible, as we take Him at His word (Hebrews 13:5), as we choose to focus on Him and His promises, instead of the problems or feelings we are having, then we start to experience the reality of His presence with us.  With this, we begin to experience the peace He promises.

Why? Because our problems have been solved? The bills have all been paid? The feelings change?

NO…  peace comes from HIS presence. And in that place of peace we can see clearer, hear more accurately, and receive wisdom and direction.


As we “bend our knee” to Jesus’ love, dare to take Him at His word (John 3:16), choose to look to Him and depend on Him, and keep (John 17) depending on Him, then His life-blood starts to flow through us. It revives us, directs us, and transforms our thinking and feelings. Then life and all of its troubles, which are many (John 16:33), become manageable, doable.


Breath comes; rest comes; peace comes.


In this place new life springs forth. New ideas emerge and joy is eventually restored.


Struggling today? Rejoice in it, because it is calling you back home. Home to His heart of love (Romans 8:38-39), the place of true peace and rest. 

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