Brokenness to Beauty

Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life


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Power Lifting for Jesus = JOY


(Centerpoint Church of Colton, CA, volunteers serving with MCCA delivering foodstuffs to Christian orphanages in Mexico. Our son Seth is the good-looking guy in the black T-shirt and his handsome son Caleb [a little family bragging here] is in the white T-shirt, his head being squished by his cousin twice removed, Colton; his girlfriend Hailey is next to him. My friend Bob is on the far left. He’s been doing this for over 30 years and is grateful for the young, strong backs joining him! Read on to find out more about where they are and what they are doing, and why.)

For the most part, I’m on facebook to see what my kids are up to and I’m glad I saw this post by our son Seth. He gave me permission to use it for this blog post.

A verse came to mind as I thought about this post, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4, NIV). I am happy when I see or hear of my sons following the Lord in whatever he calls them to do. Here is one way Seth is serving the Lord, and by taking Caleb with him, he is discipling him and modeling for him the kinds of things godly men do when they love Jesus. From one generation to the next …. Read on.

By Seth Wallace

On Saturday my son, Caleb, and I went with Mexican Christian Children’s Aid (MCCA, http://mccaredlands.org) taking food supplies to Christian orphanages in Mexico. I spent 15 hours on the road, loaded and unloaded 4,000lb in our truck alone, helped load other trucks, hauled 6- 100lb packs of blankets up nearly vertical stairs in TJ (Tijuana, MX), sat for 2 hours at the border crossing, and got home tired!

The “hard work” of the day, the “frustration” of traffic and driving, the “inconvenience” of a precious weekend taken … is real … but I consider it JOY. I realize what a small sacrifice of time energy and money it really is with Kingdom eyes! So did 20+ other volunteers!

The call to serve others has been given to ALL believers in Christ! Those opportunities to serve can just look like hard work. They are, but it is extremely rewarding to know that others, especially the vulnerable children, will be safe, fed, warm, loved, and blessed!

There is truly no ego or boasting when I post this! Because of the need, I’d love for this to serve as an encouragement to action for you to be God’s hands and feet, with work boots and gloves, and come serve with me!

Centerpoint Church #consideritpurejoy #Godshandsandfeet #selflessgiving

If you can’t join Seth in Mexico delivering food to needy orphanages, what is going on in your area that you can volunteer for? There is need all around us crying out for extra hands to meet those needs. Be the hands and feet of Jesus, power lifting not necessarily required.

 

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Journaling—Again

 

The other day, reading something in a book my brother sent me (he asked for my opinion of Hope in the Dark: Believing God is Good When Life Is Not, by Craig Groeschel, and yes, I do recommend it) I was spurred to start journaling again. I say “again” because I’ve started and stopped journaling numerous times over the years. I’ve always felt rather disappointed in myself and a bit guilty for not seeming to be able to continue the practice. Journaling really can be beneficial in many ways.

For instance, I decided to pull down a couple of the journals I’ve saved from past years. There are probably half a dozen of them, mostly unfilled. First, I was surprised that I actually filled one whole journal with about a year and a half of notes. Pat on the back for that one!

Second, I wrote it during the last half of my cancer treatment; this particular journal started in September of 2008, in the midst of my chemo treatments, ten years ago last month. That I’ve had ten good, cancer-free years since that time is humbling and yet an occasion for rejoicing and giving praise to our good God and heavenly Father for his mercies to me and my family.

Third, along with putting recorded life events (and prayer requests and answers to prayer) in their rightful order and year, it answered a question I’ve had and others have asked me several times. It is a question I confess I didn’t know the answer to–when did I start writing my book, Brokenness to Beauty? Well, there it was, in black and white in my journal. Sometime in 2009 I began to compile my blog posts into a form that could be shaped into a book. So there it is if you ever happened to have asked me that question.

Another benefit of my journaling is that I’m reminded of insights God gave me in the past which I have been building on to the present. Truth is eternal; it doesn’t go out of vogue (at least not in God’s economy). I sometimes recorded lessons God was teaching me from his Word and I’m encouraged all over again reading them years later.

So as I take up pen and journal once again, I hope this time I will keep on writing. There is value in the written word, even our own words.

Do you journal? In what ways have you benefitted by it?

 

Photo by clairtrafton, words.jpg by clairetrafton XqcqdT.jpg


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Back to Blogging

After four months away from blogging, I’m back and hope to stay here posting more often.  In May, you could say I was thrown a curveball, health-wise, by an exacerbation (a big word for worsening) of the MG (myasthenia gravis). I was out of commission for several weeks as a result.

Thank God, my strength is nearly back to where it was before the curveball hit me and knocked me down.

As I cried out to him with this new hit to my health, the Lord brought this verse to mind, “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22 NASB).

I especially like the note in my Bible indicating the word “burden” can mean, “what he has given you.”

“What God has given me.” That put a completely new spin on the idea of a burden. Somehow, as bad as the burden might be, knowing God has given this burden to me for this time, and knowing God, it is for a reason, gives me hope. Even when I don’t know that reason or how long the ordeal.

How is that I have hope? My hope is rooted in the character of God, not circumstances.  I know God is compassionate and gracious, full of lovingkindness and truth (Exodus 34:6), and is righteous in all he does (Psalm 145:17).

And not only do I know it in my head from reading the words of Scripture. I have experienced God’s compassion and grace, his lovingkindness and truth and faithfulness. This experiential knowledge is part of me now.

 

Even when I cried out, “Why is this happening, God?” he reminded me to throw this curveball back to him.  Knowing that he wants me to give it back to him also gives me hope. I have confidence that “what God has given me” is not for my destruction but for my growth in grace, and God, who gave the burden, will hold me together and not allow me to be shaken to pieces (Colossians 1:17) for I belong to him by faith in Jesus Christ. I will not destruct, because his gracious hand is holding me (Psalm 37:24). Peace follows from the decision to trust God and throw the burden back onto him.

I cannot have hope and peace and confidence if I refuse to throw that burden back onto the Lord, if I turn my questions into a rant and accusation against God that refuses to remember all the goodness of the Lord poured out on my life.

I’m not referring here to an honest pouring out of your heart to God as you wrestle with the real circumstances you find yourself in. The psalmists did that all the time. But they came with humble hearts as well to the God they knew they could trust, even when it felt like he was absent.

I’m talking about continuing to accuse God and harden my heart. If I harden myself to his kindness, I may very well become so brittle that I will be shaken into a thousand pieces. I may very well self-destruct.

I do not want to go there. Ever. From that place, it is a hard, long road to get back to where I should be. And I don’t have to go there, I don’t even have to carry that heavy burden. God will.

If we give the burden back to him.

When we do our part of that verse (cast our cares on God), he does his part (keeps us together, keeps us from falling apart). I can attest to the truth of that.

This hope and peace God gives are available to anyone who will humbly come to Jesus, embrace the truth that God cares for us enough to carry our burden, and throw their burden on the Lord in the midst of their suffering. Hope and peace are there for us because God is faithful to do his part, holding us up and keeping us from falling apart.

Now, because of his goodness and faithfulness keeping me from being shaken to pieces, I am back at the keyboard creating blog posts.

What is threatening to shake your world? Be encouraged to trust in the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in the midst of it.

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash


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Love Does

“We can measure success by how many people attend church services on Sunday. Or we can measure success by how many people serve God and others on Monday.”[1]

Recently I’ve been pondering Hebrews 10:24, the verse that resonates with me as I think about the way I believe God wants to use me in his Kingdom work. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV). Whenever I sign a copy of my book, Brokenness to Beauty, I write the reference to this verse behind my signature.

At the end of the day, I want to measure the success of my life’s influence on others by how many people love and serve God and other people on Monday, and every day. Of course, I may never see that in my lifetime, but whatever I do—whether writing, speaking or any interacting with others—I want people, myself included, strengthened and challenged to do what the Scriptures teach: love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. We’re all works in progress but we should be advancing in that direction.

There are many rich truths to pull out of this one verse. I don’t want to skip over them but like an archeologist carefully dig them out and lay them on the work table for us to consider. Where to start?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV). Let’s start with a look at the meaning of the original Greek word translated love in English.

You may already know or have guessed this one. This love is the Greek word agape; the love God has demonstrated for us and for the whole world. Mounce[2] describes it as generosity and kindly concern. Strong describes it as affection or benevolence.[3]

Though we can define a word with other words, what does agape love look like in action?

Action is a good way of thinking about agape love because when Jesus said God loved the world, his love wasn’t just about words. God proved his love; he did something. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV, emphasis added).

God loved; God gave. This is the essence of agape love. It gives. As a result of God’s active, agape love, “we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18 NIV, emphasis added).

God showed us what his love is, what his generous, giving love is. Therefore, we should be clear that when it comes to loving God and our neighbor, words alone aren’t enough. Agape love is love in action. Agape love is a giving love, even sacrificial giving love. It is not just any action though; agape love is rooted in putting in to practice the Word and will of God.

Jesus was clear on that point when he said, “21Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” He went on to explain. “22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21–23 NIV, emphasis added).

With Jesus’ words in mind, we could say, “Not all those who say they are Christians, come to church, or even do great exploits in Jesus’ name will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who go out and do the will of our Father in heaven: loving God and people and serving them Monday and every day.”

And in order to do the will of God, we need to know the Word of God so we can put it into practice, thus doing the will of God. Then we will love and serve God and others Monday and every day.

How could your actions this week be expressions of agape love, rooted in the Word and will of God?

 

First Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Second Photo by Claire Trafton

Third Photo Crucified with Christ

[1] Dr. Jim Denison, Denison’s Forum https://www.denisonforum.org/columns/cultural-commentary/560-million-lottery-winner-can-remain-anonymous/

[2] William D. Mounce, Interlinear for the Rest of Us (Grand Rapids: Zondervan) 2006

[3] James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers)


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Treasures of Wisdom in a Dollar Store

You never know what you might find in a Dollar store. I stopped in there to buy some small paper plates, plastic forks, and napkins for the Mission Partnership meeting held at church today, and in the checkout line I spied this refrigerator magnet:

 

This must be the California surfer’s version of “When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Lemonade, surfing, however you choose to say it, this is a good philosophy for life. Because we’ll all get lemons, or waves, at some time (or several times) in life.

And we need to know how to deal with them.

Don’t I know it!

Many, many people had encouraged me to share what I had been learning about surfing the waves that came into my life and making lemonade from the lemons on the tree that took root in my life when I was just a young teenager. I’ve had lots of years to learn “best practices” for dealing with difficulties and trials in life.

To share with others about learning to surf life’s waves and make lemonade from life’s lemons is the major reason I wrote Brokenness to Beauty. The subtitle says it all: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life. It is not easy, this kind of learning. It takes time and effort, persistence and patience but it is terribly important and so worthwhile.

And I’ve written down all these lessons, or at least most of them, in Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life.

It’s there for you, sort of like a mini-mentorship.

Or for someone you care about who is struggling, trying to keep their head above life’s waves.

Are you successfully learning to surf the waves coming into your life? How are you doing?

 

Brokenness to Beauty can be purchased at the online stores listed here, as well as other outlets. Click on the store name to purchase the book at Amazon , Barnes and Noble , Kobo Bookstore, and from the publisher, WestBow Press Bookstore.

 

 


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Love is …

Love is …

 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13 NLT).

 

Love is … easy, love is hard. Love is … simple, love is profound. Love is … a command, love is a choice.

Jesus said to his disciples, “You must love each another, just as I have loved you” (John 13:34 CEV). Jesus means these words for me because I declare I am his disciple, a learner and one who seeks to obey him. If you are his disciple, this command is for you as well.

My choice to love was made when I chose to follow Jesus. Same for you. We chose to obey his words, his commands. And he commands us to love each other.

This love is not just human love for friends. This love is well beyond and above that love. This is the “as I have loved you” love of Jesus; God’s love.*

“This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13 CEB).

“As I have loved you.” Now that’s a thought we can chew on for some time.

As I move toward the final stages of writing prior to publishing the Bible Study for my book, Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life, I’ve crafted a page of etiquette for Bible study group behavior.

Sounds funny, a page on etiquette, but these reminders are needed. The points simply remind us of how we should act with one another. It dawned on me that these points of etiquette are actually ways we can love one another in a small group setting. Or anywhere, anytime.

I want to share with you some of the easy ways to love one another, excerpted from my Bible study group etiquette page:

“Value each person in your little community of the Bible study group. Give each other the respect due each one. Commit to:

  1. Show up. Someone said that 90% of any task is just showing up. Be at the group meetings (barring an emergency). And when there, be present. “Be Here Now,” attentive and engaged in the moment. This is for your own benefit as well as the benefit of the others. You never know what God may speak to you through another person, or what God may impress on another through you. Sometimes you just being there is all the encouragement someone else needs (Hebrews 10:24–25).

 

  1. Do your work. The week before you meet, do the work for the upcoming lesson in preparation for the group time. The more effort you put into the study, the more you will get out of it. Solomon said, “The soul (appetite) of the lazy person craves and gets nothing [for lethargy overcomes ambition], but the soul (appetite) of the diligent [who works willingly] is rich and abundantly supplied” (Proverbs 13:4 AMP).

 

  1. Be generous and share the discussion time. Be short-winded so others may also participate in the discussions (1 Peter 5:5–7).

 

  1. Be a better listener than a talker. Bible study discussions are not the place for giving advice or counseling. You are not meeting together to solve anyone’s problems but to learn what God has to say in his Word. “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving] (James 1:19 AMP).

 

  1. Be trustworthy as you listen. What is shared in the group discussions stays a secret with the group. These things are not to be told to anyone else. “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden” (Proverbs 11:13 AMP).

 

  1. Be a Berean Christian. When questions come up, don’t default to traditional, current, or even “common sense” ideas, but search the Scriptures like the Bereans did to find out what God has to say about the issue. He does have a word to say about it. And unlike the words of men, God’s Word “endures forever” (Acts 17:10–12; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:22–25).

 

These are some easy, simple, yet thoughtful ways we can love one another in any group setting, and these few guidelines will serve as our standard of etiquette for this Bible study group.”

Though the above points are designed for a small group setting, they are applicable in most life situations. I’ll let you make the leap to apply these principles, rooted in God’s Word, to your everyday life, at home, at work, at school, at church, and everywhere. I’m working on it too.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 CSB, emphasis added).

 

Daily Verses

 

How can I move from my limited, human brotherly love to Jesus’ love, to love as he has loved us? A song just reminded me of the only way– “I’ve Been Crucified with Christ,” (by Robin Mark) quoting Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 CSB, emphasis added)

Listen to the song here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoZWRfXdh4w

I want to cooperate with Christ and let him live his life through me. That’s the only way to love others as he loved us.

Love is … all of the above, and so much more. In Christ we can do this.

 

The Bible Study for Brokenness to Beauty has yet to be published; hopefully, by autumn it will be available. However, the book Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life may be purchased now at Amazon books. Click here to go to Amazon.

*Agape love: “Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13. https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html 

Scriptures are taken from https://www.biblegateway.com


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Living Like You’re Dead

I’ve had a blog post rattling around in my mind for several days, yet unwritten. Then I read Bills’ post this afternoon. It is so true and powerful, I had to share it with you. Bill always teaches and challenges me. I hope you will feel the same way after you read this post, take to heart what he says, and implement what is needed to rise to the challenge of God’s Word spoken by our brother Bill.

Unshakable Hope

The title of this blog might seem like an oxymoron, but I hope to convince you otherwise.

I have come close to death several times even before ALS entered my life 21 years ago. With each brush with death, the more I am able to identify with death and eternity and live my life accordingly.

You might think that viewing my life as having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel would be a depressing way to live, but I’ve discovered just the opposite; it’s a very liberating way to live, at least, from a Christian point of view. I think it’s also the viewpoint that Christ intended us to have.

In the days leading up to Christmas every year, Mary and I always watch “It’saWonderfulLife” and the 1951 version (the best version) of “AChristmasCarol.” After…

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