Finding The Gold: “Made For Great Things”

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Last week on the blog I wrote part one of a three part series that I feel God has laid on my heart to share. If you’re just joining us today, I asked a group of people the question; “What top three words would you use to describe how YOU see YOURSELF?

We concluded that when people believe that because of Christ, above all else, they are redeemed, forgiven, loved, valued and free—they live their lives this way…knowing that along the way their imperfect human nature will cause them to stumble sometimes—but their stumbling will not define who they are. Their position in Christ remains the source of their identity. They have found the gold, they have uncovered what so many of us keep hidden.

The second question I asked in my short survey was:
“When someone tells you, “You were made for great things”, how does that make you feel?”

Much the same as the diversity discovered in the first batch of answers, were the results from question number two. Many said that having these words spoken over their lives would leave them feeling anxious, unprepared and stressed. Others, felt the complete opposite. They felt that having these words spoken over their lives would fill them with passion, give them hope and a renewed sense of purpose.

While I believe we were all designed and created for greatness, I am fully aware we have all fallen short of who we were intended to be by fault our sinful nature.
“For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”—Romans 3:23

But that doesn’t leave us without hope for doing good and living out the will of God with greatness.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” —Ephesians 2:8-9

As I encouraged you last week to view your identity through the lens of Christ instead of through your own eyes (which are sure to betray you!), I would like to similarly encourage you this week to view your purpose through the lens of Christ.

God has a purpose for all of us. Those of us who fervently seek to live our lives modelled after Christ and His biblical example will be those of us who live that purpose to it’s fullest potential. However, when we truly reach that point, our goal will not be greatness as the world see’s greatness. Greatness will be a means to measure the capacity in which we allowed God to use us to fulfill His will in our present circumstances.

Perhaps if your reaction to the question was feelings of anxiety, stress and unpreparedness you could break out of your restrictive box and take a bold step forward in the plans that God has for you. This action which will require you to intentionally view your purpose from His perspective.

Take a few moments and ask God now if you’re living out the purposes He has for you, and if you’re not, ask Him to reveal those to you.

Finding the Gold: This Is Me

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“That’s why I refuse to believe that there are ‘special people’ in this world. I think that everybody has special value. Our problem is that we don’t have enough time to find out what is too often hidden.”Carl Lentz, Own The Moment, pg. 74

Over the next three weeks I want to dive into some thoughts the Lord has laid on my heart in response to a few questions I’ve asked a very diverse group of people. We will start with the first question and apply biblical principles while we unpack some of the things I have learned from my friends honest answers. I will share my answers to these questions each week as well. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Question number one:
What top three words would you use to describe how YOU see YOURSELF?

When asking myself this question, I have come up with a few sets of answers that are dependant on which perspective I am looking through. If I am considering how I would describe myself through the lens of Jesus Christ, I may use words such as: loved, forgiven, and free. When looking at myself through the bare eyes of my own heart, my answers are much different.
When we accept Jesus as our personal saviour He hands us the most precious gift: a pair of corrective lenses. These lenses give us the ability to see us as He sees us. The unfortunate part is that the majority of us don’t use these lenses at all. We have full access to them, but we choose to keep looking through the blind eyes we were born with.

Of the twenty people I invited to take my survey, the following are their responses.
Failure, organized, caring, optimist, nice, short, strong, caring, peaceful, strong, beautiful, spiritual, dedicated, loving, uncertain, thoughtful, generous, compassionate, struggling, trying, confused, brave, strong, fun, encourager, Jesus-follower, servant, confident, dependable, honest, redeemed, loved, valued, strong-willed, determined, broken, passionate, busy, loving, compassionate, loyal, independent, christian, father, grandfather, courteous, impulsive, busy, head-strong, traditional, reserved, overweight, shy, unfashionable.

As you can see I have bolded three of the fifty-seven words that came in. Of the twenty people surveyed, only ONE person responded with words intentionally describing who they are through the lens of Jesus Christ. (My personal answers: creative, insecure, trustworthy). For the most part the words my friends used to describe themselves are great words. There is nothing wrong with being generous, loving, loyal or caring—those are all really great things. However, if the words we choose to BEST describe who we are are not viewed through those corrective lenses…then we will offer nothing more than who we were before Christ to our lives and the people around us. It is important to know who we are in Christ and then live that way.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”1 Peter 2:9

Some of my very favourite Christian heroes are those who are confident in who they are in Christ. These people believe that because of Christ, above all else, they are redeemed, forgiven, loved, valued and free. They live their lives this way…knowing that along the way their imperfect human nature will cause them to stumble sometimes—but their stumbling will not define who they are. Their position in Christ remains the source of their identity. They have found the gold, they have uncovered what so many of us keep hidden. Their example pushes me to want a better way of thinking for myself…and it makes me want to be that same example for those people in my life.

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”Romans 15:7

Let’s work on living our lives they way Jesus intended.

Secondhand Faith

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost. (Proverbs 22:6)

I saw a quote this morning by Joyce Meyer that really spoke to me:

“You can’t get buy on secondhand faith. It doesn’t matter what your Mama believes. You have to find out what YOU believe.”JM

It’s true that I am praying my guts out that my kids grow up to believe in Jesus Christ like my husband and I do. It is also true that they have the choice to believe in whatever they want.

I believe it takes so much more than words to leave an eternal impression on our children. We need to be living examples of God’s truth and love. We need to pray without ceasing for their salvation. We need to share with them the wonder of the miracles that God does in our lives; both big and small.

I was raised in a bible-believing, faith-based home but I made my own decision to serve Christ at the age of thirteen. I was surrounded by generations of family that lived their faith in Christ out loud every day. Their faith stirred up a craving for a relationship with God – a relationship of my own.

This is what I so hope for my children; that I might be a living, breathing example of faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t simply want to pass down my faith to my kids. I want to live in such a way that my children are inspired to embrace an authentic journey of faith of their own.

God gives us lots of opportunities to share in His realness and goodness. Will you embrace these opportunities?

Jesus, thank You for my precious children. I pray for their hearts, that they would seek You with all of their might. That they would turn to You at all times. That they would live in Your truths and share those truths with their children, and their children’s children. Jesus, I pray for my friends with young kids- please give them wisdom as they raise their children to serve You. I also pray for my friends with older children who are running from You……Jesus, I pray that You will give them peace and perseverance to continue living an example of truth. I pray for those kids who are running, please help them to see the truth and turn back to You. I pray these things in Your holy name, Jesus, Amen.

Inhale The Future, Exhale The Past

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

There are moments we experience in this life that are truly undesirable. Sometimes those moments are added to more moments, and sometimes those moments roll into a season. One big undesirable season. I have learned that these seasons are temporary no matter how they seem to completely envelope us into their ugliness; at times pulling other undesirable moments in for the journey making the day seem as an insurmountable mountain.

What is worse is when you are experiencing those undesirable moments with your children. For me, their undesirable moments are worse than those of my own because it hurts my heart to watch them struggle. I want so badly to do what I know I cannot; fix them.

It is during these moments, or seasons, that I cling to the scripture from Jeremiah 29:11 that promises “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a bright future.

It is sometimes hard to see past what is taking place in our undesirable moments or seasons to the hope and bright future that God has for us BECAUSE of the things He is bringing us through—but He does promise us He will bring us through to see the hope and bright future He has waiting for us.

So, friend, if you’re like me, and you’re walking through more undesirable moments than you’d like to lately…take a big deep breath and inhale the future, then exhale your past. There are two great things to note here in this verse. First, God knows the plans He has for us. I am so thankful He knows; that brings so much comfort to me. Second, he doesn’t just see and know what we are going through— He has planned better things for us in the days to come. Days full of hope and bright futures. What an incredible promise.

God has strength for us in each new moment we will face in the days to come and He will equip us with exactly what we need, when we need it—we just need to ask Him.

Let’s cling tight to the truth that our undesirable moments and seasons are simply temporary. More so, let us embrace the God that will equip us with everything we need to journey through these times and anticipate with great expectation the future He has waiting for us on the other side of these mountains we are facing.

Father God, while it seems impossible to do, I thank You even for the hard times I experience. Bless each moment whether it be wonderful or seemingly impossible to face. I hold tight to the promise that You will bring hope and a bright future from these adventures. Thank You in advance for what You will reveal in the days to come. In Your name, Jesus; Amen.

 

Do Something Kind For Yourself

By: Mandy Larence-Hill

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

I have this sweet friend, she is always encouraging the people in her sphere of influence to ‘Do something kind for themselves’ Those of you who know her, have been encouraged by her in this very way, I am certain of it. Her words, while spoken often to myself personally, have only recently began to penetrate the walls of my heart.

Sometimes our life’s journey can be energy draining, to say the least. Add a handful of kids and a husband in there and you have your work cut out for you. Amen?! Any and all thoughts of being ‘kind’ to yourself and/or ‘doing something nice for yourself’ just spur guilty feelings and such endeavours get pushed to the wayside.

What if we were to look at such endeavours differently?! What if being kind to ourselves was a portion of God’s purpose for us?

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)

Giving yourself room to be kind to YOU, in addition to all of your other roles is not a bad thing, sister. In fact, realistically speaking, taking care of yourself will likely make you a brighter light to this dark world. If you’re not happy yourself– how are you hoping to spread joy to others?

Here are a few ways that I am kind to myself:

– a Starbucks peppermint mocha
– a manicure (sometimes done by myself, or others at the salon)
– curling my hair
– a tall ice-filled glass of Pepsi-lime
– a coffee date with a friend
– a warm bath with a good book
– getting dressed up
– photography

Thank You God, for these treats that make my heart happy.

Taking a few moments to enjoy what makes YOU happy can make all the difference. If you feel comfortable sharing, please share with us what you do to be kind to yourself! And if you have a hard time doing something nice for yourself, intentionally carve out some time this week to really give it an honest try.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for special treats that can bring us happy moments. I pray that You will speak to us in times that we feel we are undeserving of such simple pleasures, and remind us that we have been called to be kind to all; including that of ourselves. I pray this in Your precious name, amen.

The Other Half of Sorry…..

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Has your spouse ever made you really angry? Maybe he forgot to take out the trash for the third week in a row. Maybe he broke a promise to you that you were really counting on. Perhaps he made an important decision without conferring with you first. Perhaps the reason for your anger was pretty menial….but he caught you at a bad time.

Friend, I’d be lying if I said I never get angry with my husband. I do. Sometimes I get really angry about really stupid things.

We all get angry. Sometimes we get angry for reasons that feel legit and justified. Other times, our reasoning is unmerited and slightly off kilter.

There are two things that God has been working on my heart about regarding forgiveness.

1. Ask for it.
When we react in anger foolishly it is our responsibility to ask for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we simply ask for forgiveness, God will continue to be faithful in keeping no record of our wrongs and forgiving us of our sins. Forget your pride, friend. Asking for forgiveness is SO important.

2. The other half of sorry.
There is more than just that flood of satisfaction when someone who has treated you wrongly apologizes. We have just as much responsibility when someone asks for our forgiveness; we must actually forgive them. How often do we walk away from an apology with bitterness still enveloping our hearts? Unfortunately, I do it far too often. My flesh is slow to shrug off hurt and bitter feelings. However, the Holy Spirit can and will help us with that as long as we ask Him to. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (‭Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭32‬ NIV)

So friend, is there an area of your heart that God has given a little nudge after reading this post today? Do you need to improve on asking for forgiveness when you find yourself reacting in anger unnecessarily or does God desire you to improve on your ability to extend forgiveness? May I pray for you? “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (‭Mark‬ ‭11‬:‭25‬ NIV)

Father God, thank You so much for Your forgiveness and the healing, peace and joy that comes from the truth that You have indeed washed us white as snow. Jesus, I pray for my friends who also struggle with asking for and extending forgiveness. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will encompass us with each opportunity that arises where we are able to utilize these powerful words: I am sorry or I forgive you. Bless each heart that reads this post today. In Jesus name, Amen.

A Clean Slate: 2018

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

On the very first day of a brand new year we are presented a unique opportunity to start fresh in so many areas of life. For some, a new semester at school will commence in a few short days and an opportunity will be given for a clean slate to make those aspired A’s and A+’s. For others, more intention will be focused on becoming healthier by means of a diet and/or exercise. Perhaps you have a particular goal in mind (like a job promotion or writing a book) and plan to work hard to achieve that goal over the coming months of this new year.

While reading my bible just a few days before this momentous day of fresh slates and new beginnings, God really got my attention. He challenged me to not just ingest His word over the coming year—but to digest it as well.

It has been a custom of mine to wake up hours before my family, curl up in my big comfy grey chair, coffee in one hand, bible in the other —and soak in the words that cover those pages. But, as God spoke to my heart this morning I had to ponder the thought: Am I actually digesting these words…or am I just biting them off and taking them in.

Am I truly allowing the words I read to change me?

I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can all do a little better at allowing the word of God to change our hearts and subsequently, our lives. It takes discipline and intentional, purposed time to meet with God every day— but I want my time with Him to mean so much more than just reading the words from a book. If that were the case any book would do. I want to do more than read and ingest the wisdom found within those pages. Alternatively, I want to digest the wisdom and allow it to both penetrate and transform every corner of my life.

Can I encourage you to do the same?

Let’s make the year 2018 a year of incredible spiritual growth, my friend. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:22-25)

Have a wonderful New Year, friends!

Everyone Else’s Highlight Reel

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Facebook reminds me a lot of the church.

Facebook has proven to be a wonderful tool to connect me with new and old friends, share encouragement and opportunity, and figuratively speaking, live life together. While Facebook is great at providing a connection with others, the screen that separates us does limit our awareness and perception into each others lives.

The church is a place where we connect as well. It is a place we share and learn ideas, a place we grow, a place where we gather and celebrate. The church is a place where you can find real transformed lives as well as new and old friendships. There are times though, that I feel the same disconnection in the church as I do on Facebook.

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I often see perfectly well-behaved children, magazine-worthy homes, picture-perfect family vacations, and thriving marriages. It is rare to scroll through and see mountains of dirty laundry, misbehaving children, family vacations gone wrong or an argument between spouses.

It is unfortunate that this same portrayal of perfection often leaks into the church. After all these years, I see people who still try their best to live their lives like they have it all together, only allowing people to see the parts of their lives that illuminate the idea of perfection. It’s both unhealthy and unrealistic.

From the outside looking in, both on Facebook and in the church people appear to be in essence; perfect. And, if you are totally honest, you probably find yourself feeling a little insecure in light of all that…perfection. Right?

Me too.

“This is one of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity: we’re comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else’s highlight reel.” — Steven Furtick, Crash the Chatterbox

It is up to us—we have to guard our heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Too often we ‘take the bait’ and believe in these illusions of perfection and then fall prey to the shadow of insecurity. Comparison has become a sport— a game to be played with obvious winners and losers. The truth is, no one is perfect so participating in this sport will always leave you feeling defeated and unworthy.

I think a step in the right direction is to first acknowledge that we are all sinners and all fall short (Romans 3:23). Reminding ourselves of this will substantially change our attitude when scrolling past those perfect illusions and instead, propel our hearts toward an attitude of love for others and gratitude for our own blessings.

Party of One

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Have you ever met someone that is just truly never satisfied?! They throw ‘pity parties’ for themselves because this or that did not go the way they wanted it to….They wallow in self-pity when they don’t own the newest trend; act jealously if someone else has something that they’d like to have; and or withdraws when something really good happens to someone else?

Maybe this person is you?

Two important biblical truths come to mind when I meet or know a person like I’ve described above:

1) “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

If you are always on the receiving end of things….you are not doing what The Lord asks of you. You do not have to have everything or have bags of money laying around to be able to help someone else. Helping someone else could be as simple as sending an encouraging word, making a meal and bringing it to their home during a difficult time, or, just lending a listening ear when someone needs a friend.

2) Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I get it, friends, sometimes you just want to wallow. May I make a suggestion….? Don’t. It’s not healthy. No matter HOW bad your circumstances are, there are still SO many reasons to give thanks. The Lord is so good to us. It’s time to praise Him in all things, for His goodness to us.

Self pity is the act of dwelling on the misfortune of your own circumstances, rather than depending on God to meet your needs and desires His way.

If you only occupy yourself with pity; such will be your reward.

Dear Heavenly Father! Sorry for all the times we’ve wasted on our own pity parties. We know that acting in such a way distracts us from the fullness of life that You have so generously given to us. Forgive us, Jesus. We desire to give thanks in all things; in all circumstances. Please bless my sisters; in Jesus name, amen.

 

Fashioned for a Sacred Calling

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I believe I’ve had many callings in my thirty years on this earth. Some of the callings have just been for a season, while others will last until I breathe my last breath. One of the callings that God has drawn me to in this season of my life; is being a wife.

Sounds cliché, I know, but it’s the truth.

I met Nathan when I was just 18 years old. I had one other short relationship with a guy I quickly discerned I had no future with; so I ended the relationship. My relationship with Nathan however began much differently; we were friends first. As our friendship grew, so did our love for one another- and so goes our story.

Almost as quickly as I agreed to date Nathan, I knew he’d be the man I would one day marry. The Lord worked hard and fast on our hearts to bring us to the conclusion that we would begin a life of ministry together; as a married couple. We said ‘I do’ a couple months after my 20th birthday and began full-time ministry a few weeks after that.

My calling, however, is not limited to ministry for those in attendance at our local church, or in our community. My ministry begins at home; as a wife. I believe I have been fashioned for this sacred calling; being a wife.

There are many things that make up my ministry or calling as Nathan’s wife, but three stand out amongst all the rest.

1) To respect him.
….and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)

2) To be his helper.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

3) To love him.
….love their husbands…. (Titus 2:4)

You see, sisters, being a wife to Nathan is most definitely a sacred calling. The Lord joined us together because as a team we are so much better than we are individually. As I voluntarily respect, help, love and honour him, I am helping him fulfill his responsibilities, and I am helping him become the man, the husband, and the leader God intended him to be.

Are you fashioned for a sacred calling? What does that look like for you?