other: learning to celebrate our difference and unity

In terms of being different and distinct, “other” isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be. Although we wouldn’t want to be extraneous or surplus to requirements, we all revel in our individuality and uniqueness. One person’s cage is another’s idea of freedom. Difference can be celebrated.

Unity is worth rejoicing over too. Because what unites us (especially as people of faith) should be greater than what might divide us. We all need others to relate to and to help us feel cared for, encouraged and understood. God made us for relationship. Together we are stronger.

Being “other” includes: the old and young, the able and less able, the small and great, the bold and confident and the shy and timid ones, the full spectrum of society and those who we might not look at twice, if we didn’t share a common humanity and feel a sense of connectivity in Christ.

Other

When we think about the other we consider
not only our sisters and brothers in faith but
the estranged, the alien and strangers in our
midst and ourselves—when we feel cut off
and adrift, isolated and lost to all but God

To be other is to feel excluded and less than
unless we think about our inclusivity in Christ
and how his otherworldliness makes us awed
and his willingness to include us is a pure act
of God’s supreme holiness, mercy and love

We are most like one another when we can grasp
our unity in him, our bond of faith acting like super
glue to hold us together, despite our differences of
doctrinal practices or lived out spiritual expression
as we respond to Holy Spirit’s ministrations within

I am the other half of you and you of me, for our
God-woven togetherness exceeds all boundaries
and wraps us around with his holy similarity, while
we bask in being wholly unique—yet joined in him
© joylenton

I’m delighted to be sharing my 5 minute poem with the fabulous #FMF writing crew today as we express our thoughts on this week’s prompt of “other.” Please click here to join in and read the great posts being shared.  Thank you! 🙂 

privilege: the wonder of surrendering our lives to Jesus

 

My husband often jokes that I have a hot-line to heaven, the privilege of seeing my prayers answered more than he does. Maybe it’s because I see no limitations in what I pray about, including minor things, such as obtaining parking spaces and finding lost objects – yes, really!

I didn’t grow up in a privileged way or with any sense of entitlement. On the contrary, my background prepared me for the school of hard knocks I’ve been in for the majority of my life. Yet threaded through it all, often in intangible ways, God’s goodness and grace have been the backbone of everything I have experienced.

Although it might have taken me years to really appreciate it, I am discovering that time and hindsight are uncovering the enormous privilege it is to be a beloved child of God and a woman of faith who, despite her obvious weaknesses and glaring inadequacies, has been given the privilege of living and witnessing for Him.

I have the privilege

I have the privilege of being a writer and poet
who God works through to minister to others
while I pour out my heart, witness to his work deep
within and seek to encourage them to trust in him

I have the privilege of being a child of God
who is wrapped round tight with his infinite
love, made safe and secure by his mercy and
held closer than I am aware of or can see

I have the privilege of being a woman of faith
with God’s holy grace filling and flooding my
days, and his forgiveness readily available
for every sin I might commit, and those
I don’t even know about yet

I have the privilege of being able to pray
minute by minute throughout the day, as I
yield and surrender my heart and soul to my
burden-bearing Lord, and watch how wonderfully
he lifts my cares and pain, while restoring me
gently back to wholeness again
©joylenton

**I also have the privilege of a 5 minute poem arising in response to this week’s #FMF prompt of ‘privilege’. You are very welcome to come join us here and read the wide variety of posts being shared.** 🙂 

eyes: looking for the eternal rainbow of hope

 

Our eyes swivel with hope, desiring to discern wonder, keen to see how Mystery pervades the everyday. A rainbow is seen as a sign of hope and blessing. In biblical terms, it reveals God’s eternal covenant with mankind. We also see it as a marker of His glory and splendour.

The eyes of our heart slowly become awakened by God’s glory and grace, made aware of His penetration of everything. For our heavenly Father eagerly desires us to discover and be drawn into relationship with Him.

We begin to chase the rainbow of Holy Light, seeking to unearth deep treasure hidden within the pages of Scripture. Because a shaded life is made bright by grace. 

As we trace Christ’s steps to Calvary, become awed by His risen resurrection victory, we begin to see the cost of so great a salvation—abundant, lavish, rich and free.

Gradually, we are transformed from the inside out, enlivened by God’s grace, given a brand new start, new life, new heart. No longer are we in a driven race for success but in a place of deep, abiding soul rest.

The darkness within is a result of sin, as we wrestle with our flawed desires and the heat of them. But God has paved The Way for us to become reunited with Him. A road of Love, a public pathway of Christ’s freely spilt and poured out blood.

Who will quench the fire?

Behold our desires

like hot eyes of flame inside

Who will quench the fire?

©joylenton

 

God’s eyes roam throughout the whole earth. He sees you and me and we look lovely in His sight, viewed as we are through the lens of unconditional Love, a beautiful mirrored reflection of His Son.

Dart of love

We are beholden

God’s sharp, keen-eyed dart of love

has pierced our armour

©joylenton

 

Once we have tasted God’s glory and grace, it makes us hungry to know more. Our inner and outer eyes become better attuned to His presence with us, even as they yearn for the Day when Jesus returns physically to earth in full power and splendour.

We behold glory

We behold glory

Hearts fill with wonder—eyes see

Jesus is with us

©joylenton

 

The words above were inspired by this week’s haiku challenge prompt of ‘Behold&Eye’, set by our Poet Master, Ronovan. Just click here to read the great posts being shared and join in if you want to have a go!  🙂

joy in having a new identity in Christ

write31days-journeying-into-joy-new-identity

 

For way too many years I wore labels. Not the coveted designer kind, more the state-of-mind type people designate to us, or we happily pin on ourselves. Most of mine got attached in childhood and others soon followed suit.

I lost my true identity in a sea of shame, a ditch of guilt and a river of pain. It felt like my head was branded with words like ‘failure’, ‘not enough’, ‘mistake’, ‘unattractive’, ‘rejected’ and ‘unwanted’.  Maybe you’ve worn a few of them, too?

The thing is, unwanted labels can become so intrinsic to who we think we are, so familiar and comfortable we forget we’re wearing them. But they’re speaking lies, sending out false messages, keeping us bound, chained to the past.

Because the truth? We are God’s beloved children first and foremost, given a new identity when we come to faith in Christ. Our old filthy rags don’t fit who we are anymore, yet we cling to them like the latest must-have fashion accessory, and they still stick to us until we realise we can become free of them.

Our minds don’t have to be dressed in ill-fitting garments, because Jesus offers us His own robe of righteousness, a royal cloak and covering, perfectly fit for children of the King of kings.

In order to remember we are covered by Christ’s righteousness, mercy and grace, we have to make a conscious daily choice to put on the identifying clothing of love, joy, compassion and kindness.

We are not the weak saplings we see ourselves as, but strong oaks of righteousness, planted by God for the display of His splendour. Instead of the flawed, misapplied labels from the past, we now answer to words like ‘precious’, ‘honoured’, ‘beloved’ and ‘blessed’.

God sent me to announce the year of his grace — a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies — and to comfort all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory” ~Isaiah 61:1-3 – The Message

You offer me

I hunger for affirmation

and thirst for recognition

You offer me soul completion

 

I hunger for acceptance

and thirst for love, romance

You offer me sacred dance

 

I hunger for gainful employ

and thirst for things that destroy

You offer me deep inner joy

 

I hunger for life perfection

and thirst for new direction

You offer me resurrection

©JoyLenton2016

“You’ll get a brand new name

straight from the mouth of God..

No more will anyone call you Rejected…

You’ll be called Hephzibah (My Delight)…

Because God delights in you” ~ Isaiah 62:2-4 – The Message

Dear Father,

May we learn to live defined by who we are in Christ — your blessed, beautiful, cherished, joy-filled adopted children, sons and daughters of the living God, heirs with Jesus —rather then as unwanted, unloved, rejected, scorned orphans of our circumstances.

Help us to remember and rejoice in knowing we have been set free from the past, given a new name and identity. We are redeemed, restored, renewed, forgiven, accepted and made righteous because of your generous mercy and grace.

Thank you for the joy we have from our new identity in you. May we embrace it to the full and gladly share it with others.

Amen

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Welcome to the final day of #31days of journeying into joy. Where did October go?! Thank you SO much for being here. I’ve really enjoyed sharing this series with you.

And I have a hunch this journey will be an ongoing faith exercise for you and me, a lifelong pilgrimage to the Father’s loving heart.

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how to experience joy for those fading days

write31days-journeying-into-joy-joy-for-those-fading-days

 

When energy flags and health fails or fades, how do we keep joy in our souls? it’s something those of us with chronic illness have to consider, as well as all who are exhausted, stressed and depleted.

I know that having M.E and other health challenges has affected not only my ability to carry out daily tasks but also made me more prone to feeling downcast. Physical depletion can lead to soul weariness too.

Attainment of joy begins with recognising our joy stealers, those things that detract and distract us from God’s best for us. You can probably spot your own if you investigate a bit.

Here are some of mine:

  • times when I neglect to prioritise prayer as much as I need to
  • reading Christian books and blogs more than I read God’s word
  • failing to pace well or take adequate rest periods
  • missing small Sabbath pauses in my day/week where I listen to God
  • forgetting to have one whole day a week devoted to switching off
  • spending too much time on screens and on social media
  • neglecting to make real life relationships a top priority
  • pushing on regardless whenever some energy and strength are present

If I allow these things to drain me, my already severely limited energy levels dip alarmingly. Weakness and weariness invade my mood and attitude, leading to impatience and irritability – it’s not pretty. Maybe you can relate?

As we age, have health problems, extra life challenges and demands, we women, especially, can feel like faded flowers wilting with fatigue – though we often try to battle on regardless, don’t we?

Flowers are beautiful but fragile. They each have their season to shine, days when they delight with sweet fragrance and soft beauty, but all too soon they wilt, dry and die. A stark reminder of our own fragility and mortality, as well as our innate loveliness.

The roses above were photographed in evening light, making them glow and look lively, curled and furled as they may be. Day’s bright rays revealed their ragged state, now they exude an inner zest as they hang on to their life by a slender thread.

They speak to me of the way we begin to droop and stoop low with lengthening years, slump and slide with fatigue,  but are still able to glow with an inner warmth that only time and experience can provide.

We shine still in our softer, radiant way, giving off the sweet fragrance of Christ’s gentle presence within, hints of His grace that grow more perceptible the longer we have known and grown in His love.

“[Growing in grace] they will still thrive and bear fruit and prosper in old age; they will flourish and be vital and fresh [rich in love and trust and contentment]; They are living memorials to declare the Lord is upright and faithful [to His promises]; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” ~ Psalm 92: 14-15 Amplified Bible

We have joy in knowing we never outgrow our purpose and usefulness in God’s Kingdom. We are His beloved  children, growing in grace and joy the more we look to God for help and wisdom.

*to read more about the challenge of understanding and living well with chronic illness by listening to what God is saying to us, do pay a visit to my friend Bettie’s beautiful blog, because this month she is focusing on just that theme. Here’s the intro to her series*

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Welcome to #day17 of #write31days Thank you for joining me as we journey into joy!

Feel free to share what you are learning in the comments below.

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Being set free

being set free PJ pin

Life has a way of wrapping tentacles around our hearts. Finding a weak spot and pressing painful.

Tormenting our thoughts, suffocating our spirits. It sucks life, drains energy, depletes and discourages if we let it.

It doesn’t take much for me to feel tipped sideways sometimes and wonder how in the world it happened.

Those are times when feelings overwhelm, fear sneaks in, comparison captivates our souls and we become weighed down by earthly concerns.

Feel the pressures mounting and feel ourselves drowning.

And we will sink unless we remember we have a Lord who walks on water, lives lightly and freely, calmly and peacefully, and wants us to do the same.

Impossible? It sounds like it if we see things only from a human perspective.

But when we reach the end of our fraying rope we find God is already waiting to lift us up, to heal and set us free.

Because rescuing lost and lonely souls, restoring and healing broken, bleeding, damaged and drained people is what He does best.

Because grace is new every morning and so are His forgiveness and mercy. A fresh start is available today to you and me.

When surrendered to God, our hearts, minds and lives are continually being set free from all that enslaves and entraps us, even if we fail to fully see or appreciate it.

Such thoughts were already in my mind today as I reeled from a restless night where fear and anxiety had sought to get the better of me.

And so I couldn’t help but smile when I saw today’s Five Minute Friday prompt was:‘Free’. 

How could I resist?…

START…

Set free

Some days I don’t feel free at all

ensnared as I am, entrapped

by my thoughts and caught

in the permanent tug of worldly

concerns with their tempting thrall

Some days I forget I’ve been

released by grace, set free by

mercy to become more fully me

given a new heart, redeemed

life and new identity in Christ

Today I feel like wounded bird

held tender in Your hands

cradled soft and comforted

as I shiver and shake my wings

afraid to leave Your fingers

Now I sense them unfurling

yet still curling warm into

my feeble frame, and I hear

Your voice whisper my name

as You remain ever near

I don’t feel ready for letting go

There’s so much pain I still

don’t understand how to embrace

But You breathe out Your love

say “I am enough” as You release

me into Your current of grace

©JoyLenton2015

STOP.

I’m connecting today with the wonderful wordsmith community over at Kate Motaung’s place where we write bold and free on a weekly theme. Come join us?

bird being set free PJ

A new identity

believe who we are in Christ ~ PJ file image

 

Letting go of our past and embracing the future can feel like a step too far.

It’s all we know. Our one certainty is where we’ve come from. Where we’re going to is another matter entirely.

Hearts quake and courage fails. It’s hard to believe for what we cannot see.

Leaving our Egypt behind to enter the Promised Land feels unsafe, dangerous even.

Questions rise to our lips ~ “What if?…” rules. Where is our ‘brave’ when we need it?

How different is it when God calls us to believe who we already are in Christ but we hang back, uncertain, doubting?

Such is the battle I’ve been facing as I attempt to live pre-approved by God.

Those dirty rags of sin and shame? They cling close as weeds, strangling hope and choking forward momentum.

Yet, we are clothed in new garments as believers in Christ.

His death and resurrection to glory paved the way for us to be arrayed in a robe of righteousness.

A Divine exchange took place at the cross ~ our sin, sorrow, shame, sickness and pain for His mercy, grace,  forgiveness, healing and restoration.

God already sees us as perfected, beautiful and whole in Christ. The hard part is seeing, accepting and believing it for ourselves.

Maybe a glimpse of the future we have in eternity will help.

Here’s a link to ‘Casting Crowns’ song, ‘Wedding Day’ which speaks of how we are the Bride of Christ, wearing white, pure and spotless in His sight.

And this is  a prayer whisper God spoke into my life recently. My hope and prayer is that it will bless and encourage you too.

What helps you to feel more secure as a new person in Christ?

Do feel free to join in the conversation below.

prayer whisper image

‘Prayer Whisper’ ~ ‘New Identity’

Let go of the shame and reproach that sit heavy on you. I have taken them from away. You are washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. My robe of righteousness covers you. It is enough, more than enough for all sin.

Do not grieve over your sin each day; consider them dead. They have been covered by grace, mercy and forgiveness. Instead, look up; look to the Son and be radiant. Bask in My Love-Light.

You wear robes fit for the child of a King. Those stinking rags of filth and sin do not fit who you are any more.

Reach out each day for My grace. Embrace your new identity in Me and clothe yourself with garments of praise and thankfulness. I have taken all reproach from you. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Pick up the mantle of mercy and wrap it close around you. Remember My loving arms encircle you at all times. There is nothing you can do to make Me love you less; and there is nothing you can do to make Me love you more.”

Linking here with Holley, Rebekah and Jennifer as we seek to encourage your heart with a word today and tell His story of love, mercy, redemption and grace

girl wearing robes fit for the child of a King ~ PJ new identity file image pin