The Living Word

Bible

I may never get over how His Word breathes life into my soul. How, even though it was written so long ago, it becomes relevant to my daily struggles.

It’s the promises I cling to most. Because I know and believe in the very fiber of my being He will never change. His Word will stand true.

So today, over at my second home, 5 Minutes for Faith, I’m sharing 5 promises I’ve clung to lately. I’d love to have you stop over and share what other promises you’re thankful for. Simply click on the icon below!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Without Jesus {All I Have to Gain}

bw_church2

Sometimes I wonder if we think of our Christian life in resumé terms. If we bullet point our deeds, actions, capabilities, gifts, all on pristine paperstock. And when we get to Judgement Day, we picture handing it over and anticipate hearing the words we’ve longed for.

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve made tallies of others and compared them to my own as I wonder where I fit in this Church we are building here for His glory.

Why would I do that when none of it matters, anyway. Not really. For none of that truly shows what God sees within.

Because when it comes down to it, I’m a sinner. A failure. I’ve made more mistakes than successes. I’m only saved through His grace. And I’m certain you’re not too far ahead or behind…

What God’s looking for is if I’ve prepared a place for Him and His Son in my life the same way He’s prepared a place for me.

It’s not about me and what I can do. It’s about embracing what they’ve done for me and what I can become as a result.

Plain and simple: I’m nothing without Jesus.

I’m nothing in this Act until He takes center stage within me.

He is everything…my everything.

Friends, I need to strive to live like I believe that. I need to live in the reality that I have nothing to gain except His favor. And the only way to do that is actually so simple it’s complex:

I need to invite Him in,
let Him take residence in the primary room of my soul,
and let Him lead the way.
For there’s no telling what He could do in and through me.

There’s this song that’s been haunting me lately. I’d like to share it with you this Music Monday and hear your thoughts on it. Here are the lyrics that linger long in my heart:

You could memorize
Become a Mennonite
You could speak in tongues
And raise the dead to life
You could build a big church
Call it ministry
Teach ’em all they need to know to run a family
You could sell it all
Be burned at the stake
But what in the world have you to ever gain
Without Jesus
If all I ever get out of laying my life down
Is thorns in the shape of a crown
On the brow of a man from Nazareth
And if all I get is what Jesus did,
And said, and put within my heart
Then I get it all
I have it all
Everything is mine

Friends, don’t you think that says it all?

Everything is mine when I’m His.

This song is worth a listen, if only to help you think about what He did for you and what you are with Him. Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in.

Without Jesus

Shane and Shane

How about you, friend? How do you embrace your place in The Church? What do you count as gain? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Living Loudly for His Glory {Forever Reign}

very-little-room-for-error-M-1

We sat shoulder-to-shoulder, all sipping something hot. I whispered first, as if I didn’t want to believe it myself. Their eyes searched mine while I worked through my thoughts out loud. Her gentle hand patted my knee, encouraging me to keep going…I was on to something.

So I started over, this time with much more conviction. I told them we’re all in a position to influence another whether we feel ready or not. We have daily opportunities to impact another for His glory…His good.

Are we taking advantage of them?

The book in discussion challenges us to take Christ’s example of living/influencing seriously by abiding by our simple calling: to be like Jesus. And I told them outright how not simple and impossible this sounds. How I grow overwhelmed with the task

until one day I realized…

Friends, we don’t need to focus on influencing and being Jesus as much as we need to set our hearts on living out loud Christ that is in us. Because if we do, He will take the little moments we offer and turn them into bigger moments of glory.

It’s not our doing. It’s always His. Every time.

Do we need to be Jesus? No. We just need to let Him be…allow Him to live through us. No matter how incapable we feel to that task.

And I may never fully comprehend how He’s able to use me for His good. How He can craft me with grace and mold me into a useable vessel…it blows my mind. Yet He never disappoints. He’s up for the task every moment of every day. I simply have to stretch wide, deny myself, and let Him lead the way.

I may feel incapable, but He’s not.
I may make a mess of things, but He’s the best mender around.

I may even see how He was able to turn my ashes into beauty. For His glory.

He’s always enough.

And so today, I offer myself to be used. No matter how small, regardless of how big. I’ll admit my own shortcomings while clinging to His promises. And I’ll join the battle of glory and fight for His reign.

Because He is. He does. He always will be.

Would you like to join me? This song sets my heart on the right course. I invite you to worship by my side. Subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in.

Forever Reign

One Sonic Society

You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love
On display for all to see

You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true
Even in my wandering

You are joy
You’re the reason that I sing
You are life
In You death has lost its sting

Oh I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord
All creation will proclaim

You are here
In Your presence I’m made whole
You are God
Of all else I’m letting go

My heart will sing
No other name
Jesus, Jesus

How about you, friend? How do you live out loud Christ that is in you? How do you simply let Him be, through you? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

The Gift of Sacrifice {Thanksliving}

Give Thanks

Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more — a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

For the month of November, we at 5 Minutes for Faith will be spending time each day Thanksliving. That’s what I call it, anyway. Where we take the time to list our praise. Our thanks. Our admissions that we would be nothing without Him.

And it’s my turn today!

Won’t you stop by and share with me what you’re thankful for today? Let’s offer a sacrifice of praise together! Simply click on the button below:

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
      If you keep to my path,
      I will reveal to you the salvation of God.
Psalm 50:23 NLT

Epic Grace {A Book Review}

I assumed it would be a light read. A simple testimony on how one has grabbed hold and clung on tight while being flipped upside down. That’s what grace does, after all, in epic proportions. And I was intrigued to know if the author’s experience was similar to my own…or worse.

The funny thing about grace, you learn to realize, is that once you understand what it’s capable of, there is no worse. Only similar. None of us can be the exception. We wouldn’t want to, anyway, because look at where being the exception leads you — hung on a tree, left alone to die. And no, there’s no graceful way to say that.

What I enjoyed most about this book was that the author felt like my next door neighbor. One I could meet with at the fence any time and gain some perspective I hadn’t seen in my everyday — how every circumstance is laced in glorious grace. You just can’t get high enough on the fence to see it sometimes.

I like what he said about perspective:

At best, we humans have a three-dimensional ability to see the world around us…Our vision is limited. It is restricted by our humanness on the one hand and by circumstances beyond our control on the other…Why is it, then, that we are so surprised when things sneak up on us? Why is it we’re so easily blown away by the circumstances and trials that seem to come out of nowhere? ~ pg 156

Friends, do you see where grace sneaks in and grabs hold? Some day I’m determined to become merely blown away by grace freely offered rather than the circumstances and trials. For they both creep in when you’re not looking, but only one offers any form of control…even if we have to give it away to obtain it.

I really enjoyed the real life, personal examples Kurt Bubna shared in this book. And the journey this life has lead him on provides many. I could relate to each one. Some hit too close to home for comfort. Others made me appreciate my path a bit more.

After reading, there was one topic he touched on a few times I couldn’t stop thinking about. And I wanted to share it with you. I’ll quote directly:

God will use whatever means necessary to create in us the likeness and character of His Son. He is absolutely committed to our spiritual growth. In fact, God is far more concerned with our growth than He is with our comfort. ~ pg. 144

So, when life surprises you–and it will–what are you going to do? Who will you trust? Where will you turn for help? Who will you love the most? Remember this: God will use whatever means necessary to bring ongoing spiritual development into our lives. ~ pg. 153

It’s the “Who will you love the most?” question that haunts me still. Because think about it, friends…God is passionate about me becoming whom He has made me to be. He won’t rest until the job is done.

And what I can’t seem to wrap my mind around is this:

  • God loves me in spite of me.
  • What’s more, He loves me enough to not be satisfied with the me that spites.
  • Not only that, He’s willing and offering to help me become what He has created me to be — a likeness of His perfect Son.

So I don’t have to do this alone–even though He has instilled in me all that’s required.
THAT is epic grace!

I know it deep in my marrow, and still I struggle with loving Him…the most.

Friends, I long to say I love my Creator above all. And some days, I can. Other days, grace does it for me. I’m so thankful…

So if you’re like me…if you need to cling tightly to the lifeline that grace is. If you desire to feel you’re not alone in the battle. If you realize you are far from perfect yet He loves you anyway — this book is for you.

You can view the trailer of this book HERE. It is a very good depiction of the testimony shared within the pages.

You may also purchase the book HERE. (I’m not an affiliate. Just making it easy)

How about you, friend? What does grace mean to you? Do you still struggle with the perspective grace gifts us with? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Note: I am a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network. I have received this book for free in exchange for my review. All opinions and thoughts listed above are my own.

How I Need Him {And Me Being Okay With That}

Jeremiah 29:13

It’s a simple promise. An invitation, really, to come looking with insurance attached.

Jesus reiterated it in Matthew 7:7 and in Luke 11:9, and my heart warms with the assurance that when I need Him and search for His presence with my whole being, He’ll be there. Always.

Yet how often do I look? How many times in my everyday do I go knocking?

I cannot think of one single day I didn’t need Him. I can’t recall one moment when I should have gone alone. Still I often try.

It was in my devotions a couple of weeks ago I read these verses differently. And something in my heart finally clicked on to the truth.

Friends, God’s expecting us to come looking. He’s fully aware of how much we need Him every moment of every day.

We’re not built to be self-reliant. We may grow old, but we never fully grow up…up to the heights of Him. And He’s okay with that. He’s offering His assistance with a promise that He’ll never turn us down.

And here’s what my heart struggled with: I need to be okay with that.

I need to admit every day I’m useless without His guidance.
I’m hopeless without His promises.
I’m worthless without His salvation.
I’m nothing without grace.

But, friends, just think of what I am in Him…just imagine what I can do with Him by my side or carrying me through…

Oh How I need Him.

So it’s settled. I want to wake up each dawn, see His splendor in the sunrise, bow before Him and knock. I want to appear before the King of Kings each morn and invite Him to my side. Or in front. Or whatever position He deems best for what I’m about to face that day. He knows best. Always.

This morning, it went something like this:

Father, here I am admiring Your masterpiece before me. Just when I think I’ve seen all the beauty there is to behold in a sunrise, you dazzle me with more…more of You. Thank You for showing me You have so much to offer. You have so much to give and You never grow weary of splashing me with surprises. Even in something that happens everyday.

Lord, I don’t know what today holds. I cannot anticipate every incidental or circumstance I’ll need to take on around every bend. Father, please, come with me today. Be my guide. Because You know. You see. You have the best course of action ready. And that’s the one I want. I want…no…I need You right here with me.

Show me the way, Abba, and I’ll go. Lead me and I’ll follow. Carry me and I’ll hold on tight.

So break the dawn, crack the skies, make the way bright before me. For I know in Your light, I will find all I need for today….You.

Oh how I need You…

Then I blast this song and sing along. I invite you, friend, to do the same (subscribers, CLICK HERE to listen in to this amazing moment of worship).

Oh How I Need You

All Sons and Daughters
Integrity Praise

Lord I find You in the seeking
Lord I find You in the doubt
And to know You is to love You
And to know so little else

I need You
Oh how I need You

Lord I find You in the morning
Lord I seek You every day
And let my life be for Your glory
Woven in Your threads of grace

Light glorious light
I will go where You shine
Break the dawn, crack the skies
Make the way bright before me
In Your light, I will find
All I need, all I need is You

How about you, friend? How do you claim your dependence on Him every day? Are you okay with it? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

WRITE {Bleeding Black and White} ~ Five Minute Friday

This is the post where I
Link arms with others who like to
Write on the wild side –unabashedly
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

DSCN4724

For five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

WRITE

It’s never been my thing. I didn’t want it to be, anyway. But I’ll never forget the day I felt it. It came during a time I was feeling very little–all by choice. You see, when pain hit me the hardest, I chose being numb over feeling how powerful love’s pull is. Yet, I couldn’t shake the ache. The longing. The choking desire to hold a pen in my hand and let it express what I refused to feel.

Friends, I wrote it which gave me permission to feel it. I wrote its resolve which directed me to His open arms. And in the writing, I was healed.

Ernest Hemingway is quoted saying there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed. Friends, you don’t know how close he is to the truth until you do just that. Until you risk it all and bleed in black and white.

It’s vulnerability at its finest.

In practicing this art, that which I will never master, I learn to appreciate its value. It’s changed my perspective on what I hold most dear.

I cling to my Bible now as I tenderly trace these Words written with my heart in mind. And as I read the Words spilled of the blood shed for me, I allow myself to feel. To accept His grace described and share it with others.

It’s why I write. Because He wrote to me first. And until He comes back to take me Home, we will continue this scandalous love affair of written exchanges. Just Jesus and me.

STOP.

Would you like to see what others thought of the prompt?

Would you like to play along?
Join in on the Five Minute Friday Flash Mob!
Simply click on the button below!

How about you, friend? Do you bleed black and white? Do you exchange love letters with your Savior? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Prayerful Perspective {How My Prayers Have Changed}

Psalm 34:4

My prayers for those I love and those I should have overwhelmed even me as of late.

There’s health concerns.
Financial struggles.
Unnecessary trials.
Unknown journeys.
Difficult decisions.

And I want to bring them all to the Cross and leave them in His capable hands. Yet, often, I don’t know how to pray.

Then I read this:

“Are you in the midst of a situation where, as you pray, you find yourself putting the problem first? If so, you’re starting where you should end. You’re rehearsing the problem, making it seem larger than it is, when what you need to do is rehearse God’s greatness and bigness. Then the problem shrinks to its right portions.”
The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan

Friends, I’m sharing my thought process regarding this over at 5 Minutes for Faith today. I’d love to have you stop by and help me work through it.

Simply click on the link below!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

A Sacrifice of Praise

Worship is a Lifestyle

We gather ’round and join our hearts in praise. Some sit. Others stand. Most sing along with those leading the way.

Just like we always do. Every Sunday.

And I’ve liked it that way — praising with song. An offering, enabling us to lay it all down before truth is spoken to our weary bones. It’s the foundation worship is built upon…

All of us come in different forms. Some broken. Tired. Anxious. Preoccupied. Parched. Yet we all can choose to worship right then. Together as we join in the sweet chorus. We raise our voices high and cry holy. Every week.

I’ve grown accustomed to this place. These people. And I’ve loved worshiping this way.

Just like we always do. Every Sunday.

It was something he said mid-sermon that made me realize I had it all wrong. Some might assume it was simply an afterthought uttered –this phrase that made my world spin upside-down. It doesn’t matter how it happened. The point is, I heard Him. And in this Kingdom of Grace, being turned upside-down or inside-out is a good thing.

His message was on true worship. The kind that pulses from your inmost being. That radiates through your soul until it bursts forth with joy and proclamation.

It’s one of my favorite subjects.

My hearing perked when he described worship as Worth-ship. Because that’s what one does when you worship anything…you give it meaning to your life. You stake its worth in your everyday as you bow low in admiration. And I get that. Even found myself nodding along.

Just like I always do. Every Sunday.

But friends, all this time, I’m not sure I had truly gotten it right.

Ann Voskamp said in One Thousand Gifts that we always live bowed down to something. And if we don’t live bowed down before God, we’ll bow down to something else.

And that’s the thing. Worship isn’t something we can turn on and off. Declare HIS worth one day and live free of Him the next. No.

Worship requires a constant commitment.
Worship demands our attention.
Worship expects a sacrifice on our part.

And in this upside-down Kingdom of grace, that sacrifice of worth can be … praise. A sacrifice of praise.

Not just like we always do. Every Sunday.

Friends, it’s easy for me to sing along in praise. Even on a weekday. But do I sacrifice a bit of myself everyday? Do I bend until I stretch? Do I give Him my full attention. My utmost effort. My complete submission as I cry holy?

What would it look like if I did that every day?

Should I dance as David danced? No matter who was watching?
Could I live as Jesus lived? No matter whom it offended?
Will I offer all I have to His disposal? No matter the cost?

Pastor gave an example of how we give our best cheers and exude immense excitement while watching our favorite team/group/artist as they give their all. But do we put as much passion into watching The Creator of all things as He performs every day?

Not a morning has gone by where He hasn’t painted a truly unique sunrise.
Not a day has passed where I haven’t seen grace present its best.

Just like He always does. Every day.

And I can say with complete confidence: God has never gathered ’round me and sang half-heartedly to my soul. He has never forgotten me a day in my life.

Friends, Jesus proved my worth long ago. And every day since, He has offered the same sacrifice. I don’t know about you, but I can bow down to that.

I can worship Him. Every day.

So this week, as I teach my boy his spelling, arithmetic, and the ins and outs of this world we’re using as our temporary home, I’ll do so in adoration of The One whom has made it all possible.

And I can be His hands and feet to those I encounter this week. If done with Him in mind, it can become an act of praise.

This everyday business we submerse ourselves in, friends, I do believe can be done in complete worship.

Today, I will bring Him a sacrifice of praise.

Just like He deserves. Every day.

How about you, friend? How do you plan on worshiping Him this week? What sacrifice of praise do you offer? I’d love to hear.

And thank you for your grace as I stretched Music Monday’s theme this week. In comments, I’d love to hear what song helps you prepare your heart for worship.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

The Truest Things {I Believe}

let-the-sun-shine-M

My questions are in the gazillions. I have so many I-wonder-moments I’ll most likely never be able to answer.

I don’t know why He is good all the time.
I’m not sure when/how He’ll answer my prayers.
I couldn’t explain to you how the Trinity works exactly.

But I’ve felt His arms surround me. I’ve witnessed His healing hand — watched Him turn brokenness into beautiful. I’ve seen what He’s capable of creating and I’ve watched His glory unfold.

He just Is.
He just Will.
They just Do.

Sometimes I try to picture Him and … I just can’t…
Even still…I believe.

Because I don’t need to know it all — HE does.
I don’t need to know too far ahead — why, when I haven’t even conquered today.
And some things don’t need to be explained  — they need to be experienced.

Friends, I may not be able to see Him with my sense of sight, but I trust my sense of soul even more. I may not have all the answers, but I am striving to know The One who does.

The One who still calms storms…even in me.
The One who has conquered today.
The One who is the answer to any trouble, trial, tribulation I could ever experience.

And in my heart, I believe that’s enough.

So tomorrow, when I rise and see the sun has done the same,
I’ll experience firsthand how faithful He is.
So good. All the time.
And I’ll remind myself His timing is perfect. He’s worth waiting for.

One day I won’t have to picture Him….one day, I’ll be made whole.

I believe.

It’s because of that I can say wholeheartedly:

I’d rather have Jesus than anything.
I’d rather cling to the hope of His glory than something I can own from a store’s shelf.
I’d rather He led the way, so long as I can hold His nail-pierced hand.

I Believe

JJ Heller

How about you, friend? What do you believe to be true? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki