Discontentment v. Biblical Progress

Our family has started pulling away from social media over the last year as we have seen its constant influence become toxic to our thinking patterns. Perhaps the filters are falling off as sellers push harder and our guards have been let down by idleness and pent up frustration with current events. The pendulum swings from nauseatingly fake to “too real” and I have whiplash from scrolling sessions. At one time, I reached a point where I had to delete all my apps. I knew that my discontentment and influence-ability was off the charts, and I was not in a good place to be browsing around the web where the Enemy lurks behind the grid seeking vulnerable prey.

Discontentment Sells

Discontentment is one of his most utilized weapons. Sadly, discontentment sells. It sells in America. It sells in my host-country and all over the world. Our hearts are unknowable, both deceptive and easy to be deceived. Discontentment is a lever on our backs effortlessly manipulated, forcing our hands to reach for more. A well-targeted ad, a craftily worded blog post, pro-level photography of happy families in matching pajamas. We are being sold dissatisfaction over and over again, and we don’t think anything about it until we are sick with buyer’s remorse.

“Get a better body in 8 weeks,” or “Transform your home with 1 can of paint” — no matter the tagline, the message is the same: your life and the person behind your feed is not acceptable as is. We don’t want who you are so you better change. I’m not immune to this message living overseas because it’s everywhere and it’s effective. 

Biblical Progress Gives

Progress is the key word of this DIY culture. Every purchase decision and lifestyle change is inching us closer to an illusive perfection. Discontentment fuels economies and fills bank accounts, but it does nothing for the soul. The Scripture is anti-discontentment, but it is pro-progress. Biblical progress is vastly different than what the world teaches us it is. Knowing we are fully accepted as we are frees us to live the counter-cultural life — a higher and better life to Him, through Him, and for Him.

Biblical progress is growing in grace and brotherly love as we are truly satisfied in Christ. It is completely the opposite message than the one we gulp down like Gatorade with the rest of the thirsty world. The Biblical message seems harder to swallow, but it is life-giving rather than soul-starving. We are challenged not to DIY our way to an enviable life but to surrender to being unseen by the world but intimately known by God. We are to commit ourselves to live in contentment the calling to pursue Jesus and love others well.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.And having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content”

1 Timothy 6:6-10

“…but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”). 

1 Thessalonians 4:9-11

The word study here tells us that this endeavor does not happen without concentrated effort. It is a discipline that must be cultivated, and we are to work at it every day. Social media, streaming channels, or inspirational bloggers may be enemies to Biblical progress. We may need to do the difficult task of rooting these influences out of our lives because the stakes are higher than we realize. Discontentment pulls our hearts away from the giver of all good gifts and bows our hearts to things and to people so sadly undeserving of our worship. Discontentment breeds idolatry.

The rewards of our diligent efforts to live a counter-cultural life of contentment are many. Beyond the joy of growing in communion with God, Biblical progress provides a testimony of godliness to unbelievers giving us more influence for the cause of Christ. Biblical progress stirs up good works among the people of God. As we delight in the Lord and live peaceably with one another, our fellowship brings glory to Him. Finally, Biblical progress holds promise for the peace we pursue in each one of our failed DIY efforts. 

Content in Christ, we can see that we lack nothing. Only then, will we abound in all we truly need. Only then, will we not have much use for influencers. We finally won’t be buying what they’re selling. 

Have you been sold discontentment?
What steps can you take toward Biblical progress?
Talk to me in the comment section below!

The You of the Golden Rule

Day 6, Five Minute Prompt: YOU

 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:11-12).

The Golden Rule is not about you.

It’s not about me.

It’s about God and his goodness.

It’s about how the gate is wide and the way is narrow and what our lives say to those who haven’t been captivated by the Love that calls us down it (v 13-14). In our efforts to be like Jesus, we depend completely on His grace to bear fruit which makes His presence in us known (v. 16-20).

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Karma says “do good so good will be done unto me” while grace says “You can’t repay me, but I will serve you anyway.”

Grace looked at us in all our filthiness and died to make us its own. That redemptive act moves us to say, “I will lay down my life for the least of these because I know Whom I serve.” We serve the Almighty God who put on flesh and died a criminal’s death so we could fall in love with Him.

It’s about Our Father who gives us good things.

Proclaiming His name in our families and among the nations is the best gift we’ve been given after salvation.  I want to live as a servant sharing Christ and helping a few more people find the narrow road. I’ll sing and serve my way to golden gates.

What does God’s grace move you to do?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Giving the Creator Room to Make a Masterpiece

My husband slipped me a note during the meeting designated for Sunday school teachers and youth workers. This otherwise insignificant act would set a chain of events that would domino me into some of the hardest days of my life.

“Should we announce that we are going to India [as missionaries] tonight?”

“Up to you, babe,” I replied in attempt to mask my panic.

“Are you 100% in?” (Quite a weighty question for note-passing, right?)

I quickly scrawled, “YES.”

I had previously been on a missions trip to Africa, and we made plans to serve somewhere on that continent. When I thought about missions, I saw black faces decorated with tribal paint. I prayed more fervently for the work there, decorated my home in souvenirs, and dreamed of returning someday.

We had a friend whose heart for India was contagious, and the Lord wrecked our plans with this viral compassion. He dreamed for the church that would send us to plant 8 missionary families in India. We would be one of them.

We made a trip shortly after the loss of our second child, and God gave me such a great peace about where we had been and where He was taking us. I didn’t know it would all unravel soon. I didn’t know that I would have to change the focus of my gospel-passions again. I just knew Who sent us and Who was going with us. That was enough.

I write this in Nepal, totally humbled by the work He has done and undone to bring us here and see His work accomplished. The stain of goodness left by His fingerprints hints at the masterpiece that is to come. It’s made up of brokenness and jumbled up plans, but it is good because the Artist that made it makes no mistakes.

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I can trust Him as the brush strokes glide across the canvas I’ve given Him to work with. Whenever I start to gain a sense of how the final product will appear, the hand at work spins in another direction. I feel frustrated, as if I’m crossing my eyes and backing away from a picture, trying to see what I am supposed to see.

Other times, the brush is dipped in pain and hardship, and I’d rather see the pretty pots of sunshine and warmth spill onto the page. But because I have grown to know the heart of the One who wields the tools of change, I know that the finished work will require nothing but a deep sigh as I gaze into the depths of its beauty.

For now, I’ll hold my breath and my tongue as I watch the Artist in action. It is quite the sight to behold.

How may you yield to the Master Creator today?
What hints do you see of the masterpiece to come?

Talk to me in the comment section!

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College: Where my Dreams Went to Die

I bounced into the second row of my first college class, ready to take on the world. How would God move in my life at college? How would He show up, mold me, and move me to action? How would this campus differ from my presence? I know, I know. I was a dreamer.

Three semesters later, I sat in the Dean’s office to share my intentions for discontinuing my education at this institution. I was in no way displeased with the quality of academia. I wasn’t leaving because I had a difficult time choosing a major due to my interest in all subject matter. I was leaving because the young man I told that I would follow Him anywhere was asking me to go. Like now.

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I had a ring on my finger and a passion in my heart. I longed to travel the globe with him, leaving gospel-changed lives in our wake. Our happy bubble was threatened only by criticism and resistance to the plans we had forged in naive faith caught up in a whirlwind of love.

I thought back to a class with a professor convinced of the power of prayer. I had never heard someone talk so confidently of the ways of God which remained a mystery to me.

He encouraged the freshmen to hand God an empty sheet of paper with our name signed at the bottom, surrendering our rights to make decisions based solely on our dreamed up desires and fairytale futures.

I wondered if my name might be signed “Dr. Amber _______ (insert last name of studly husband here),” but I took the last name of the only boy I’d ever loved (who is a total stud, by the way). He had signed a covenant contract to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

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I was pleased at the prospect of sitting sideline and seeing him achieve this dream. I soon realized, however, that my cooperation was imperative to the mission. And my cooperation required a yielding of my right to further my education.

Salutatorian of my, albeit small, graduating class and recipient of several college scholarships, I fought this in my heart. Why would God gift me in ways He wouldn’t use?

But there was sweet peace in surrendering to this part of my story.

I now have a two year degree, am married to a man of God, and have two beautiful children. I’ve learned a second language and serve the sweetest people in a spiritually impoverished country.

On graduation day, it hurt to see my roommates walk to receive their diplomas. Videos aired during the ceremony and were shared on social media. I was surprised to see a few photos of me scroll across the large screens while I watched from my new basement dwelling with a baby in my lap.

That time was not wasted. It was there that I learned to surrender my will.

It took me away from that wonderful place, from my friends and my education, but it brought me here. And here is a pretty great place to be.

What might God be calling you to surrender today?

Share with me in the comment section below so I may pray with you!

Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye [ought] to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that (James 4:14-15).

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Trusting Jesus my Refuge AND Friend

The house is shaking, swaying, swirling me into the sea of fear and doubt again. I thought we were done with this. It had been nearly been a year since the monstrous earthquake rocked my new country of residence and my self-set security.

I run to check on the baby, who had finally given up the bed-time battle but was now wide-awake, shocked and sweaty.

I pray a silent, stressed-out prayer. In my reality, I had run up the stairs. But my weary soul that dictates my steps ran them right to the Refuge I had never utilized as such until it was my last resort at rest. I’ve lived under His unshakeable shelter ever since. What else can I do?

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He’s my Refuge.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof (Psalm 46:1-3).

The quake that tips the Richter scale doesn’t hold a flickering candle to the power my God possesses.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust(Psalm 91:2).

I can weather the storms that will inevitably rage. Not because I’ve crafted a tempest-tested vessel, but because the Christ who humbly let death momentarily defeat him conquered it three days later.

His power walked His once lifeless body out of the tightly shut tomb, but His love for me kept Him shamefully still on the cross as His last breath escaped His colorless lips.

He’s my refuge.

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But He is also my friend.

And isn’t that the best kind of friend to have? A trustworthy treasure, a selfless safe place, a reliable Redeemer.

I can shoot a text to my BFF who may roll her eyes at my latest conundrum as she seeks to untangle the fears and temptations that weave tightly around her own soul. Or I can cling to the hand of my soul’s indweller as He leads me to my only true confidant, my best friend for eternity.

He’s been called a friend of sinners. And, rightfully so, since he’s a friend of mine. The benefits of this relationship so lavishly extended to me are as freeing as they are mind-blowing.

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:16-18).

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He equips me, in His love, to live fearless and free resting in His refuge yet enabled in boldness that draws others in for an introduction. As I invite them into my safe place, I can trust that the Holy Spirit that guides my steps to the Cross time and time again will pull them in with power and grace that comes not from my weak attempts to convey His worth that speaks for itself.

I can’t force people into the Refuge or pressure them into a relationship with the most precious Friend they could ever have. But I can proclaim with unwavering faith forged in His providential power that He is the only One who can save us from death and set our feet on unshakeable ground.

How empowering it is to serve the Savior! How sweet it is to call Him friend!

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