Quietly Drinking My Cup

inheritance welcolawyers_com_auMy lot, my assigned portion, my cup to drink – this is what I’ve been led to consider lately in breathing by grace.

Knowing that the portion of life I’m given is a gift and measured out by God’s love-shaped, eternal wisdom quiets me. I’m finding truth in Elizabeth Elliot’s words: “Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are cancelled. Decisions become easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter.”[1]

And yet I know I could be more at peace than I am. I know today once again my spirit might be aroused to mount a defense of myself to justify my existence and my worth before others. I know that I could very easily sin in this, allowing my anger to become my Director and my words to become my sword.

But for Jesus…

shearing IMG_1063 oldfashiongirl_blogspot_comThe ancient scriptures predicted that Jesus Christ would be like a lamb led to slaughter and a sheep standing dumb before the shearer (Isaiah 53:7). As one of his closest disciples testified, when Jesus was reviled, he didn’t revile in return. While suffering he uttered no threats, but instead entrusted himself to the Righteous Judge of all the earth, God himself. (1 Peter 2:23-25)

Oh, to be more like Jesus – but it’s so hard! This is a world where courage is often measured by how well one speaks up for oneself and demands respect. This is a world that never once has been totally and completely fair with me. Has it with anyone?

Charles H. Spurgeon noticed that “Jesus had never been slow of speech when He could bless the sons of men, but He would not say a single word for Himself.” In saying no man was ever silent like Jesus, he asked, “Was this singular silence the index of His perfect self-sacrifice?” Yes was the answer in Spurgeon following words: “Patient silence is the best reply to a world of cruel opposition. Calm endurance answers some questions infinitely more conclusively than the loftiest eloquence… The anvil breaks a host of hammers by quietly bearing their blows… The ambiguous and the false, the unworthy and mean will soon enough confound themselves and therefore the true can afford to be quiet and find silence to be its wisdom.”[2]

Oh, to be more like Jesus and truly quiet in heart.

Ps 16 5The 1984 NIV of Psalm 16:5 reads, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure.” If that translation were accurate, it would be enough for a quiet heart. But revisions of Psalm 16 since 1984 have deepened the spiritual power to be found in those words. Now, the NIV reads, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” This is far more fitting for what follows in verses 6-8, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Lam 3 24 lifeaftercaregiving_wordpressThe Psalmist’s testimony is mine and so my prayer today is “Jesus, you are my portion and my cup. My lot in life is secure only and always because you’re here with me in everything that happens. The interruptions and course corrections are no surprise to you. I can be quiet, Gracious Master, because of you.”

“In repentance and rest, you shall be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

– David Ewert

[1] Keep a Quiet Heart (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, ©1998 Elizabeth Elliot), p. 18

[2] https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/daily-devotionals/04/02/1/

Our lives are forever changed because of Linda Oltman

Linda at St. Helens (2)Today we are celebrating our sister Linda who arrived in heaven yesterday and found the answer to her lifelong prayer, “Be Thou My Vision.” We’re certain our Savior gathered her into his loving embrace and invited her to work and play in His Gardens of Glory.

Her artistic insights help us to see…

Linda’s amazing skill as an artist drew on the vitality and beauty of every part of God’s creation, but then went on to add her own soulful, unique interpretation as a Chief Steward of Creation. Perhaps one of the most glorious examples of this in our memory is a Cross Mosaic created out of broken pieces of pottery and glass for the family of New Hope Church.

We had been invited to pick out a piece of beautiful glassware or pottery we wished to represent our lives. Then we were asked to break those pieces to show how our lives have been broken in this sinful world. As we watched that pile of brokenness grow, we wondered what was to be done with it.

Linda's Cross (2)At that point two leading men of the church, Michael Stubblefield and Linda’s husband John, brought in two large rough timbers and laid them on the floor of the church – in the shape of a cross. Our “brokenness” was poured out on that cross to represent what happened to Jesus Himself when He died for us and opened the doorway to God’s redemption of our lives. Afterward, Linda graciously took the timbers and the broken pieces of glass and pottery and promised to create something that would represent how we find life in the death of Christ.

What she came up with is stunning!

The artwork she produced with the help for husband John is a beautiful mosaic in which every life that had been broken was somehow represented. The mosaic is on plexiglass with a light behind it, showing that God’s light can take the brokenness of our lives and shine His light through it and make it beautiful. In between the broken pieces she included bead work with the words of the scriptures that speak of Christ’s love for us – how woven into every part of our broken lives there is an amazing, beautifully good purpose created out of everything he allows to happen as we follow him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALinda’s inquiring mind helps us to never be satisfied with simplistic answers…

Linda might have been a philosopher ─ a philosopher who found color in a black and white world and couldn’t help but wonder how it got there. As teachers of God’s word, we were stretched time and time again to think beyond the clichés of the Christian world by her thirst for clarity and understanding.

She would ask difficult questions and keep asking those questions until we had exhausted our searching and finally had to rest in mere glimpses into the glories God was seeking to share with us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was not uncommon for us to be studying to preach or teach and ask the question of what we were preparing, “Would this make sense to Linda?” We still wonder as we teach, “What question will Linda ask of what we have to say?” 0h, for more like her that push us to search for the truth in everything! Oh, for more like Linda who invite us to live unafraid of questions.

Linda’s kind and generous heart is a guiding light for our journey…

Linda at St. Helens (4)When there was a problem, a need, or even just a task to accomplish, Linda was first in line to help. She helped paint several rooms in our house, even though she felt pain as she worked. Our dining room table often held sewing projects where she helped work out patterns as well as helping with the final results. Our front yard contains rocks she painted, intricate rock animals peeking out from under our porch.

Linda's fruitThe people of our church benefited from her green thumb as she shared her plants and extra produce. She read of the First Fruits offerings in the Old Testament and faithfully dropped off the first of the harvest of her garden and orchard at our home each year. She spent countless hours setting up for special events at church, for sharing her beautiful yard for a women’s tea or entertaining friends.

But one of the things Linda excelled at most of all was prayer. She knew how to hold people up before God and ask Him to step into their lives with His power and strength. It was so inspiring to pray with her, for as she poured her heart out to the God she loved, she drew those who heard her closer to God’s throne as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow she loved her family and how she enjoyed her grandchildren! Julia was privileged to be part of outings for tea parties or shopping trips to Eugene with she and her granddaughters. She was always thinking of ways to influence them toward Jesus and encourage them in using their gifts and talents in creative ways.

Linda was one of those unsung heroes of the faith, a person who loved God and lived out their faith without hypocrisy or pride. She was one of the most real people we’ve ever known.

Linda at St. HelensWith all our love and many prayers,

Dave and Julia Ewert | March 2, 2019

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BE THOU MY VISION (Slane) 

“Be Thou my vision / O Lord of my heart / Naught be all else to me / Save that Thou art / Thou my best thought / By day or by night / Waking or sleeping / Thy presence my light

“Be Thou my wisdom / Be Thou my true Word / I ever with Thee / And Thou with me Lord / Thou my great Father / I Thy true son / Thou in me dwelling / And I with Thee one

“Be Thou my shield / And my sword for the fight / Be Thou my dignity / Be Thou my might / Thou my soul’s shelter / And Thou my high tow’r / Raise Thou me heav’nward / O pow’r of my pow’r

“Riches I heed not / Nor man’s empty praise / Thou mine inheritance / Now and always / Thou and Thou only / Be first in my heart / High King of heaven / My treasure Thou art

John & Linda at Andrew's graduation (2).jpg“High King of heaven / When vict’ry is won / May I reach heaven’s joys / O bright heaven’s Sun / Heart of my own heart / Whatever befall / Still be my vision / O Ruler of all”

Eleanor Henrietta Hull | Mary Elizabeth Byrne © Public Domain

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Whom have I in heaven but YouAnd besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26 NASB

It’s In His Nature to be Faithful

How thankful I am that though we may be a broken people, God is faithful.

There’s really only one objection to sin that really matters. There’s only one person who raises an objection to our self-control, our self-righteousness, our self-this or self-that. It’s God.  He is the overwhelmingly big and powerful and almighty OBJECTION to sin in our lives.

And because of God, because He is there none of us can get away from dealing with our sin. God is too big to get around, too big to get under, too big to get over. He is just too big! He is this huge OBJECTION to our sin and the brokenness of life that comes because of sin.

But as He stands there, objects to life as it tends to go on and on in this sinful world, He is not just standing there like a brick wall. No, God is standing there with His arms open wide to us, saying, “I want to help you through this, I want to redeem you, I want to rescue you. I want to set you apart from all of this. I want to raise you up and some day take you completely out of all that junk. So God as this great OBJECTION to the sin and brokenness of our lives is also the great REFUGE and HOPE. And in His faithfulness we find all that we need in order to be whole people.

God’s people may be broken by the oppression and sorrow that follows their sin. But, He is faithful – faithful to His own pure goodness (holiness), and also faithful to His heart-felt purpose to restore us to a holy fellowship with Himself.

God IS faithful. It’s his nature to be faithful to Himself, to His purposes, and to His people. God ACTS faithfully – always!   “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)

As a result of God, we do not throw away our confidence in Him, but declare with the writer of Hebrews: “we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:39 NASB)

David Ewert

Saturday, November 3, 2018

What about core weariness?

I can see nowRecently I’ve been learning a new way of thinking about relational wisdom from Ken Sande and his team at rw360.org. I highly recommend his work to anyone who wants to have healthier relationships and get upstream of conflict.

Pastoral counseling has been a huge part of my life one-on-one, in group settings, and in public teaching, but not until now have I seen as clearly the answer to a couple of things. The tools provided by rw360 are wonderful, and I’m beginning to make use of them daily. Management of my emotional responses is getting better in the hope that I reflect the Lord Jesus as He truly is. How to respond to others, when feeling anger or frustration, delight or satisfaction is now much clearer, and therefore the follow through to peace is becoming easier than it has ever been.

Waking up to relationships

The best kind of life is truly one in which relationships are thriving – molded by selflessness, joyful expressions of delight in each other, and cooperative effort to walk together in whatever opportunities or challenges life brings.  That means that the first thoughts I have in the morning do not remain on how I’m feeling or what I’m going to do in the day, but move to how God and those around me are feeling about this day and what I might do to become a helpful part of what can be done together.

30-emotions - nerissa golden-001Emotions are God’s gift

There is built into every one of the core emotions the possibility of enrichment (see table below). I’ve heard that all emotions are a gift from God and meant to be an integral part of a whole, together-kind-of-life.[1] And yet I have especially struggled to accept the negative ones, failing to see why I should embrace them rather than running from them or fighting against them.  When I’ve been depressed, for instance, I’ve done everything in my power to be rid of the depression but not to discover the benefits hidden inside those feelings. I have grown through those times, but usually only with hindsight. Now, however, my mind and heart are changing toward these things that have been so much a part of my living.  I can see now that it is possible to be “emotional,” and be energized in a good way whether the emotions be positive or negative, as long as my spirit is aligned with my Creator (cf. Matthew 26:36-46).

The question remains

fatigue-coffee kecuteh_blogspotWhat about core weariness? How do we deal with the relational difficulties of living with weariness of body or soul? With chronic illness comes chronic weariness.  With persistent struggles to do good toward, and with other people who can be very selfish, deceptive and mean comes weariness of soul. With persistent effort to keep a worldview centered on the Lord and to understand a complex and messy world comes weariness of mind. How can I love the Lord with all my, now very tired, body, soul and mind, and how can I love others as weary as I sometimes am of life?

I’m not sure yet how it all works out, but for me one of the greatest difficulties in responding well emotionally to life’s challenges is how tired or unwell I’m feeling in body or soul. Those times of core weariness add confusion and a sense of helplessness or hopelessness that bring on irritability, impatience, and self-pity – all enemies of the best kind of relating.

Hoping in answers because of what Jesus said

Not everyone today feels soul-weariness, or the crushing weight of past sins, failures, hurts, and rejections. But when you do, the words of Jesus may be your greatest reason to hope. Jesus said…

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)

Because of what Jesus said, I can imagine being at peace in the midst of any storm.  I can dare to imagine being loved and forgiven – when I’ve been at our worst. I can dare to imagine teaming up with the Creator – when I can’t imagine facing another day.

 

emotions-different-faces steemit_com[1] Emotions are a gift of God

“We were given emotions by God, being made in the image of God, not from sin. So why throw away a gift from God? In moments of despair or grief we wish them away. Yet the right response is not to run from them, but to learn to deal with them and use them. We cannot just let our emotions go but we don’t have to pretend they are not there. These emotions of ours are tools God has given us: tools to grow, tools to love, tools to inspire.” (Brandon Fusco, theodysseyonline.com)

“We have wrongly concluded that negative emotions are from Satan. The Scriptures teach that emotions are a gift from God. They motivate us to take constructive action. Anger motivated Jesus to clear the temple of robbers and thieves. Emotions call us to engage the mind and to make wise decisions on what needs to be done. When we make wise decisions, emotions have served their purpose.” (myemail.constantcontact.com)

From solutions-recovery.com…

8 Basic Emotions solutions-recovery_com