Bible Verses about Spiritual Growth

  • 1 Corinthians 13:11 CSB
     When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.
  • Ephesians 4:15-16 CSB
    But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.  From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.
  • Philippians 1:6 CSB
    am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you[a] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
  • Colossians 1:10 CSB
     so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God,
  • Colossians 2:6-7 CSB
    So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.
  • 1 Timothy 4:14-15 CSB
    Don’t neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
  • Hebrews 5:12-14 CSB
     Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
  • Hebrews 6:1-2 CSB
    Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, teaching about ritual washings,[a] laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment
  • 1 Peter 2:1-3 CSB
    Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.
     Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation,  if you have tasted that the Lord is good
  • 2 Peter 3:18 CSB
    But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.

The Remarkable Exploits of Flash the Snail (and how I need to have more patience)

We have  named our pet snail: “Flash.”

I know what you’re wondering.

You have a pet snail?

Yes, yes we do.   On our last trip to the pet store to pick out some more fish for our aquarium, we spotted snails.

“How cool is that?” I thought.  They keep your tank clean and their shells are pretty.

Nice.

So, my daughter picked out a yellow snail to add to our tank.   His original name was “Sunny,” aptly named by my eight-year-old.

But then I discovered that this little guy was actually a superhero in disguise.  Certainly, he is no ordinary snail.

Snails are, after all, slow.

Our snail, on the other hand, has near-teleportation ability.   I wake up in the morning, pad out to the fish tank with my eyes still full of sleep.  I flick on the tank light and do the same thing I do every morning:  I find the snail.

Then, having found him in the bottom  left corner of the tank hanging out on some pebbles, I slip into the kitchen and make my tea.

By the time I return to  the tank, our snail is gone.  I play Find-the-Snail again and discover he is now at the top right corner of the tank attached to the heater.

This. Is. Amazing.

That’s what I think as I stand there with my tea.  We have a super snail.  Definitely.

So, after about a week of discovering the extraordinary speed of our pet snail, I finally explain to  my daughter that “Sunny” is a cute name, but our snail is something super and that merits a superhero name.

Hence, Sunny the Snail became Flash the Snail that day.

Here’s the wondrous thing about our amazing snail:  We almost never see him move.

In fact, I’ve only caught him in motion once when I flicked on the tank light in the morning and he was zooming across the bottom of our tank.

But most of the time, his motion in our little fish tank is unseen.   He is here one second and somewhere else after you blink.

We don’t see the progress or the actual moving.  We don’t see him slip out of his shell and scoot around.

We see big change.  Big moves.  Big progress.  That’s what shows up on our radar.

That’s what most of us want, after all.

BIG change.  BIG moves.  BIG progress.  We want all that and we want it fast, right away,  now, now,  now.

God, though, doesn’t get caught up in our forever-rushing or in our frenetic pushing to arrive already and be done with the journey.

God does slow progress.

He does stillness.

He does quiet and rest and the kind of change that lasts because it’s so deep and that takes time.

He doesn’t want us to have the facade of goodness.  He wants us to have goodness within.

He doesn’t want us to appear productive.  He wants us to mature and bear abundant, fully-ripe fruit.

Lysa TerKeurst wrote:

“In all of this remember, bearing fruit takes time.  Fruit doesn’t just pop up overnight.  Fruit comes in seasons.  Just because we don’t see tangible fruit in an area of our lives right now doesn’t e mean that God isn’t working.  Our job is to abide.  Remain.  Let’s keep doing that and watch to see how God might work in our lives” (Finding I AM).

While I want to be Flash the Snail most of the time, what I’m forgetting is that he is only fast for a a snail.  He doesn’t actually  teleport across my tank and appear in random places.  He pushes and pulls and meanders his way along, exerting energy and persevering without quitting until he arrives at his chosen destination (usually my tank heater).

So, let’s keep going, too.

Let’s not give up too soon or throw it all in because we just want to see the fruit already!  No more waiting! No more slow baby steps forward and a few falls back!  No more feeling like others are passing us along the way!  No more frustration with the process of bearing fruit.

The Psalmist tells us:

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

We yield our fruit in season when we worry less about the fruit itself and focus more on God  Himself, meditating on His word, delighting in His presence.

The fruit will  come, and it will be ripe, abundant, God-tended fruit if we let God work in our hearts over time instead of rushing impatiently to the harvest.

 

 

Change is in the air (and I’m not always happy about it)

2-corinthians-3

Sometimes you come right up to a line and you have to choose:  Choose to change? Or cling to the old, the worn, the ill-fitting but the known and comfortable?

Me?  I usually fight change, ignoring it as long as I can until I’m finally forced into it.

Change is relentless, though, like the arrival of new seasons.

Funny how I can dislike change so much, but still love fall with its consistent reminder that change is necessary and change can be beautiful.

In a way, this has been the topic of much discussion at my house.

For one thing, there’s this unstoppable force at work–this act of growing up–that we can’t pause, hinder,  or slow down.

I took my girls shoe shopping before the new school year began and the sales lady made the grand announcement: My daughter’s feet are bigger than mine.

Not the same size.  Bigger.

She’s been nudging close to me in height for the last year, but I still have maybe 1/8 of an inch on her there.

I never expected, though, to break through some kind of barrier while standing in the middle of the shoe store. That one snuck up on me.

Changing and growing and transforming: That’s what my kids are doing every single day. It’s hard to see up close.  Each morning, they look the same as they did the day before.

But then there’s last year’s school pictures.

Or the snapshots from a few years ago.

That’s where you see the truth of just how much has changed over time.

And yet, even my kids, as proud as they are of new growth chart markings and new shoe sizes, seem to push hard against changes to situation or even changes within.

They begin to “own” their quirks, foibles, and, yes, even sin.  I hear them say, “I’m picky about food.”

And it’s not a confession. It’s not a request to do better or to grow in an area of weakness.

It’s said with pride, like “this is who I am and that’s who I’ll be forever.”

“I can’t help it,” they say, “I’m loud….I like to be in charge….I like to spend all my money”

The message lies just underneath the surface: “This is who I am and I can’t change.”

So one day, I lean in close to my daughter as she makes another declaration about who she is and I say:

There’s only One who cannot change.  That is God and you are not Him.  Not only can we as humans change, but sometimes we should.

I was preaching to myself a little there, too.

It’s true.  God is unchanging.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last.  We can fully rely on His character and faithfulness because Scripture tells us He always has been and always will be faithful.

God does not change.

But He wants to change us.

He loves us as we are; He loves who we are; but He wants to move in our areas of weakness, in our hang-ups, in our sin-tendencies.

Paul tells us:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a]the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

The Message paraphrases this passage beautifully:

And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

Maybe all these ways I’m trying to hold back change, are really ways I’m trying to keep God from doing the beautiful work of changing me.

Maybe the circumstances I don’t want to accept, the relationship I don’t want altered, the “new” that I feel pushed upon me are God’s ways of molding me and making me more like Jesus.

And, that’s what I want.  I want to be more like Jesus every single day until eternity makes the process complete.

That means change. I cannot stay the same way and still become more like Christ.

It means cleaning out the closet of old, worn-out, too-small shoes (even if they are my favorite) and stepping into what’s roomier and gives me space to grow.

It means not holding onto sin, the weaknesses I consider “just who I am” or “just how I was made.”

Instead, we can yield to the Holy Spirit and say:

Have thine own way, Lord.  Have thine own way.  Thou art the Potter; I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after thy will while I am waiting, yielded and still (Adelaide Pollard).

I Bring Mess; He Brings Beauty

“But you remain the same, and your years will never end” (Psalm 102:27).

“Mom, I know how to spell the word ‘kissing.’”Photo by Viktor Hanacek

That’s what my daughter told me when she was in first grade.

I wonder how to answer.  Marvel over her accomplishment?  Ask to see her spelling list?

Finally, I decide to stick with Classic Mom: “Wow, that’s a pretty big word.  Spell it for me.”

Immediately, my first grader breaks out into the full-voiced sing-songy chant:

 “K-I-S-S-I-N-G
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”

Some things never change.

The same chants, the same games, the same tears, the same laughs, the same hand-claps and rhymes and teasing from generation right on to the next.

Some things never seem to change with me either.

The truth is I need a Savior.  I can make 50 resolutions a day not to lose my temper with my kids, but the moment my poky child pits herself against this super-speed mom, I fail.

In my own, the holding it together and the being perfect don’t happen. I find myself sitting in the pupil’s chair again, learning the same lesson from God that He taught me last year, and the year before that, and year after year after perpetual year.

In lessons of patience, grace, love and flexibility, I learn so slow.

But there’s something else that never changes.

God.

He’s immutable, unchanging, “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), who doesn’t alter “like shifting shadows” (James 1:17)

In all of my wayward sameness, I choose to go back to the beginning.

That same God, who stared at the dark shapeless mess and saw the potential beauty of the created earth sees beauty in me, as well.  He sees it in you.

No one but God could have seen the potential in that pre-Creation space. Genesis 1:2 tells us, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”treasure

Formless, empty and dark.

And God said, “Let there be light.”

Our God can make glorious possibilities out of nothingness, painting the sky onto a blank canvas.

He is original and uniquely imaginative, designing solutions that our finite minds could never have achieved.  That means when I am hopeless with no possibility of salvation, I know my God can create a solution that is beyond my comprehension.

And I know He can bring order to the most disordered and messy aspects of my life just as He shaped the earth out of what was “formless and void.”

So when it comes to the things that just don’t seem to change in me, it’s best for me to “let go, and let God.”  I struggle and strive to do the work of self-improvement, only to fail at the first sign of stress.

But when I call on the name of Jesus and bring the messy disorder of it all to Him, He sifts through the mud and mire and brings forth treasure.

It takes honesty, though, the heart-felt, soul-bearing truth when we finally just say, “God, this is a mess.  I can’t do it.  I’ve tried.  I’m a failure at this.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve fallen into the pit.”

When we finally stop pretending to be perfect, then and only then, can Jesus get busy creating, forming, cleaning, and ordering the mess we’ve brought to His feet.

Lisa Harper wrote,

Our Redeemer will carefully help us sort the treasures from the trash.  If we’ll just be honest about the emotional boxes we’ve squirreled away, Jesus will take charge of the cleaning process (Stumbling Into Grace).

Our honesty allows God to do the dirty work of changing us.  So, even when it’s painful, and even when it’s slow, and even when it’s hard, we know that we really aren’t staying the same.  The lessons may be the same-old, same-old, and yet our never-changing, immutable God teaches us a bit more and goes a little bit deeper.

We’re growing.  Sometimes in shoots and spurts.  Sometimes in painful inches.

Sometimes we can’t see the change at all, but our roots far below the surface are digging deeper down, planting us firm into the soil so that God can do the visible work later without toppling us right on over.

We’re changing.  But, praise God, He’s not.  He’s what really never changes.  With all His patience, and all His grace, with the love that manages to see beauty in our mess, He’s the Ever-Faithful Creator and we His beloved creation.

What messes do you need to hand over to our Creator God today?

Originally posted 11/4/2011

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Create Beauty’?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Unsweetened Iced Tea

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2  Corinthians 5:17

Unsweetened iced tea.

That’s what the quiz said my personality resembled.  Not sweet tea or peach tea or even a little wild raspberry tea or health-conscious green tea.

Unsweetened iced tea, as in bitter, plain, strong, and unfriendly.054

During our family trip to Pennsylvania, we spent a morning at the Turkey Hill Experience where my kids learned how to make ice cream, created their own flavors, starred in their own ice cram commercials, sampled some of the delicious treats, and more.  It was a great family day.

Before we left, though, my oldest daughter discovered a touch screen display with a little personality quiz.

What flavor of tea are you?

So, I gave it a little try, just for fun.  After a few questions about what I liked to do in my free time, how I handled conflict and what I was like around my friends, it made its deep psychological assessment of my character:

Unsweetened iced tea.

Underneath that was a paragraph about how I’m blunt and can hurt people’s feelings, but I get the job done no matter what the cost.  I sounded a little like Donald Trump.

I turned to my husband with a questioning look and he shrugged it off.  “Nah, that’s not you.”

Silly machine, I thought.  It’s just a foolish test that probably isn’t ever right about anybody.

So, of course I made my daughter take it just to prove my point.

She read through the questions and gave her own answers, and then it popped up with her flavor personality.

Peach Tea.

The read-out said she is smart, creative and a kind and compassionate friend.  They even recommended she pursue a career in making greeting cards.

That is so her.

If I had to write up my own assessment of this child, that is exactly what I would say about her, and this machine figured her out with only about five questions.

Silly machine?

It seems like it should be so much easier to ignore the accusations and judgments of just-for-fun personality games or even those of other people.

So what if they think we’re unsweetened iced tea?  Does it really matter what they think?  Should I care about what a machine says based on my answers to a few multiple choice questions?

It’s not rational or logical, but it did matter to me a little.  Unsweetened iced tea….that’s who I used to be.

Sixteen years ago, I was bitter and hurtful, strong, unrelenting, and essentially unconcerned about who got knocked over or bruised when I focused on accomplishing tasks and reaching goals.

Maybe I was a miniature Donald Trump without the hair-do or bank account.

But God.

God took that teenage mess of a girl, who seemed so in control and together, and broke her in ways she needed to be broken.  He shattered pride and the hardness I had built in my relationships with people.  He reached in and kneaded my heart until it became soft and pliable in His hands.

He taught me how to receive grace…and then how to give it.

Yes,  He re-formed me.

Maybe in seasons of pressure or stress, I still have that capacity to revert to who I used to be.  Maybe my tongue can still slash through people like the sharpest of weapons.

But today I am thinking as I cut through the butter with the tines of the fork and smash it to the bottom of the bowl, crack open the eggs, and watch the sugar pour in grain upon grain.  I mix with the spoon at first and then finally reach in with my hands to do the work needed.

And as the dough pulls together, I realize—hadn’t God done this to me?

Paul wrote:

 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3 NIV).

That means seeing the truth about me—not who I was, not who others say I am, or how I measure up on personality quizzes.  It means looking deep and seeing “this is how God has made me and this is who I am in Christ”—no better or worse than that.

If God’s grace did this, smashing and breaking me until I could be pulled together again into something He could use, then why still think of myself in that old way?  Why hold myself to labels from the past and an identity formed oh-so-long-ago before grace bruised me and healed me in the way that grace does?

Some machine still saw me as unsweetened iced tea.

But God’s sweet grace had poured into my soul and I’m not the same.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Christmas Devotions: A Birthday Encounter and the Magi

Originally posted on December 21, 2011
Today is my oldest daughter’s eighth birthday.  Here’s the post I wrote last year when she turned seven about growth and how encounters with God change us.

“Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (Matthew 2:12).

Seven.

My oldest daughter turns seven today.  She asked me to stop calling her “Baby girl” this week.  She seemed to think that seven year olds are too big for a nickname as embarrassingly babyish as that.

Birthdays never seem to be what my “Big girl” expects.  We take a birthday trip.  We do presents.  She shares in time with friends and family.  We sing to her.  She picks out her favorite cake (spice with cream cheese icing) and her favorite dinner (tacos or chicken and dumplings).  We celebrate her that day and she’s sheepish and sweet and content.

But at night as she climbs back into bed, she wonders why she hasn’t grown six inches.  Why, if she’s now seven years old, is she still wearing some 6X clothing?

Somehow my girl thinks an annual encounter with a birthday candle should provide immediate change, as if it’s a fairy dust *poof* over her head.

I can’t say how these things happen.  I remember so clearly the night nurse bringing my newborn into my hospital room at 3 a.m. seven years ago to the day.  She was screaming inconsolably.  Didn’t want to cuddle.  Didn’t want food.  Just needed to scream in protest for a bit.  I looked up at the nurse with the fear of a brand new mom and asked, “What should I do?”  She shook her head at me and said, “I don’t know!”  Then she walked out leaving me with Victoria, still screaming at the top of her lungs.

She was strong from the beginning.  Sure of herself, demanding of others.  Determined.  Sensitive and full of big emotions that just didn’t fit all bottled up and contained in a little body.

I remember her crawling, walking, talking, reading, dancing, and her first day of preschool and kindergarten and first grade.  Her love of horses, princesses, tea parties, arts and crafts, sparkles, and dancing and the mystery she is to me.

And yet, I can’t say when she grew up.

When, after all, does change happen for any of us?

Surely we have that immediate moment of course redirection when we first choose to worship Jesus.  Paul describes it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

One encounter with Jesus was enough to change the Magi’s travel plans also.

They had come from the east to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1).

Their Messiah pursuit wasn’t popular.  It disturbed King Herod and “all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3).

Undeterred, the wise men followed the star and found Christ.  They were overjoyed, bowed down and worshiped him, presenting the gifts they had carefully toted along on their journey.

Then, “having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (Matthew 2:12).

It was a practical decision for them.  To trick King Herod, they slipped quietly out of the country.

It’s spiritual for us.  We meet Jesus and from then on, we simply can’t travel back the same way we came.  We have to follow “another route.”

Nor is this a one-time course correction for us.  Just like my birthday girl who doesn’t magically grow six inches at each birthday, so we change gradually.  There’s the initial moment of commitment to Christ and we are a new creation.

Then there are seasons of growth spurts as God performs focused work on our character. Intense encounters with God cause us to drastically change course.

At other times, the change is slow and daily as we shed layers and layers of flesh.  It’s so gradual we can’t always see it until someone sees the change in us.

They see how we react differently now.  How our words are seasoned with grace.  How people have become our primary heart motivation.  How our hearts are broken for the lost. They see that the faith we profess now impacts our motivation and activity.

It’s the change God is working in our hearts, just as Paul said: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

But the ever-increasing transformation in us requires us to drop the veil from our faces and “contemplate the Lord’s glory.“  Like the Magi saw Jesus after their relentless, focused, studious search for Him, we have to seek God in order to see God.

That’s our task, to “look for God like the watchmen looks for the morning” (Psalm 130:6).  We search.  We find Him.  We adjust our course to follow Him.

That’s how change happens.  That’s how we grow.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Remembering: Some Things Never Change

Originally posted 11/4/2011

“But you remain the same, and your years will never end” (Psalm 102:27).

“Mom, I know how to spell the word ‘kissing.’”

To myself, I think, “That’s kind of a strange word to show up on the first grade spelling list, but okay.”

Aloud, I say, “Wow, that’s a pretty big word.  Spell it for me.”

Immediately, my first grader breaks out into the full-voiced sing-songy chant:

“K-I-S-S-I-N-G
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”

Some things never change.

The same chants, the same games, the same tears, the same laughs, the same hand-claps and rhymes and teasing from generation right on to the next.

Some things never seem to change with me either.

The truth is I need a Savior.  I can make 50 resolutions a day not to lose my temper with my kids, but the moment my poky kindergartener pits herself against this super-speed mom, the explosions begin.

In my own, the holding it together and the being perfect don’t happen. I find myself sitting in the pupil’s chair again, learning the same lesson from God that He taught me last year, and the year before that, and year after year for as long as I can recall.

In lessons of patience, grace, love and flexibility, I can be a pretty slow learner.

But there’s something else that never changes.

God.

He’s immutable, unchanging, “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), who doesn’t alter “like shifting shadows” (James 1:17)

So, it gives me hope in all of my wayward sameness, to go back, all the way back to the beginning. That same God, who stared at the dark shapeless mess and saw the potential beauty of the created earth sees beauty in me, as well.  He sees it in you.

No one but God could have seen the potential in that pre-Creation space. Genesis 1:2 tells us, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Formless, empty and dark.

And God said, “Let there be light.”

The fact of our Creator God mounts my faith on the firmest of foundations.  I know He can make glorious possibilities out of nothingness, painting the sky onto a blank canvas.

I know He can be original and uniquely imaginative, designing solutions that our finite minds could never have achieved—like how fish “breathe” under water.  That means when I am hopeless with no possibility of salvation, I know my God can create a solution that is beyond my comprehension.

And I know He can bring order to the most disordered and messy aspects of my life just as He shaped the earth out of what was “formless and void.”

So when it comes to the things that just don’t seem to change in me, it’s best for me to “let go, and let God.”  I struggle and strive to do the work of self-improvement, only to fail at the first sign of stress.

But when I call on the name of Jesus and bring the messy disorder of it all to Him, He sifts through the mud and mire and brings forth treasure.

It takes honesty, though, the heart-felt, soul-bearing truth when we finally just say, “God, this is a mess.  I can’t do it.  I’ve tried.  I’m a failure at this.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve fallen into the pit.”

When we finally stop pretending to be perfect, then and only then, can Jesus get busy creating, forming, cleaning, and ordering the mess we’ve brought to His feet.

Lisa Harper wrote,

Our Redeemer will carefully help us sort the treasures from the trash.  If we’ll just be honest about the emotional boxes we’ve squirreled away, Jesus will take charge of the cleaning process.

Our honesty allows God to do the dirty work of changing us.  So, even when it’s painful, and even when it’s slow, and even when it’s hard, we know that we really aren’t staying the same.  The lessons may be the same-old, same-old, and yet our never-changing, immutable God teaches us a bit more and goes a little bit deeper.

We’re growing.  Sometimes in shoots and spurts.  Sometimes in painful inches.

Sometimes we can’t see the change at all, but our roots far below the surface are digging deeper down, planting us firm into the soil so that God can do the visible work later without toppling us right on over.

We’re changing.  But, praise God, He’s not.  He’s what really never changes.  With all His patience, and all His grace, with the love that manages to see beauty in our mess, He’s the Ever-Faithful Creator and we His beloved creation.

What messes do you need to hand over to our Creator God today?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Devotions from My Garden: Guest Post!

Today, I have a special treat for you!  Bill Jones over at I Was Thinking the Other Day About is guest-posting here and sharing a devotional from his garden!  I hope you enjoy and take the time to check out his blog of devotional thoughts and encouragement.

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I marveled at our backyard’s beauty. The white phlox beamed beside the weathered picket fence. The hibiscus was nearly eight feet tall and had smothered itself in pink blooms. Long tendrils of the guara held out their flowers and danced as the bumblebees did touch and go landings. Cardinals and bluebirds were bright spots of color at the feeders.

Several years earlier the yard was just an expanse of pasture. Over time I built the garden’s structure and established the flower beds. The fence came first and defined the back of the yard. I think I actually applauded in satisfaction when the gate’s latch clicked in place and fit perfectly.

A working gate deserved more than a dirt path, so a walkway of red concrete pavers came next. The addition of a pump house with a barn style roof and weathervane on top added a rustic touch to the scene.

The bahia grass in the old pasture was so thick that my tiller just dragged me along as it bounced over the top. I’m sure it was comical to watch, but to me it was frustrating. With that obstacle, it became a struggle to transform sections into flower beds. Many exhausting sessions of hand work were required but the transformation did occur.

The histories of many of the plants also came to mind. The oak leaf hydrangea was 12 inches tall when planted. Now it covered an area twenty five feet across and has been the mother plant of several more now spaced around the yard.

I bought the pagoda plant sight-unseen. What a surprise we had when it produced spectacular orange blooms over a foot tall that did look like a Chinese pagoda – with multiple stems and flowers in layers that decreased in circumference from the bottom to the top. And they were like butterfly magnets.

Standing there, remembering the years of work that had been involved, I could have shouted “Look at this great garden I have built!” Thankfully, I thought better of it and didn’t.

I thought of King Nebuchadnezzar who gazed at his city and said: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? (Daniel 4:30 KJV) At that moment, God showed him who had the power and majesty. The King spent the next seven years eating grass like an ox.

I didn’t mimic his words. Not from fear of having to eat grass, but from the realization that without God I could have done nothing. I praised the Lord for the beautiful flowers and birds He created. I thanked Him for the strength to build the fence. I thanked Him for the time, resources and opportunities He had provided.

That day I knew what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote that he had planted and Apollos had watered but God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). Paul was writing of spiritual growth, but in my physical garden I understood that while I may have built and planted and watered, it was God alone Who, in His power and majesty, had completed it and made it beautiful!

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk: Cracking Eggs, Learning Faith

It began with the sugar cookies we made a few weeks ago.

Fall is prime baking season at our house, time to pull out our favorite recipes, now dotted with batter and splattered with sugar and flour, vanilla, and spice.

Of course, baking at our house always involves one Master Baker and three assistants, who all want to crack the eggs.

For years, I’ve declined, confining my helpers to stirring and pouring in the already measured flour.  Finally, though, I relented when we crowded around the table to make sugar cookies.  Thus I began the risky job of teaching children how to crack eggs into a bowl of ingredients without also dumping in egg shells.

One daughter daintily tapped the egg on the table, barely making the tiniest crack in the shell.  Another practically slammed her egg down on the side of the bowl.  My preschooler tried to mimic the other girls, tapping and then slamming.

Eventually, I exhaled.  I had survived the initial egg cracking and only had to dip my hand in to snatch a few shells from the batter.

Since then, we’ve baked another batch of sugar cookies, some cinnamon bread, ginger spice cookies, and a pumpkin pie and every time there is improvement and growing confidence.

I may never crack another egg open again.

As a mom, it’s so difficult at times to teach and let go, instruct and then take my hands off and let my daughters try, maybe fail, maybe succeed, but always try and try again.

But if I’m always the one cracking the eggs into the bowl, how will they ever learn?

Spiritual growth happens the same way.  God may teach us truths from His Word, but eventually we have to live them out and apply them in the dailyness of life.

“Trust Him” we read and so we must eventually trust.  “Rest in Him” we learn and so eventually we must ease our white-knuckled grip off the steering wheel and relax under His guidance.

Anything else isn’t spiritual growth at all; it’s stunted dependence and shallow faith, quickly dried up into cracked and dusty death at the slightest drought.

So, this week I’m thinking about the many ways I need to teach and let go and I’ll be meditating on a verse that reminds me how I myself am growing, little by little, sometimes via mistakes and occasionally in triumph.  But always God is patient when He has to pull out the eggshells when I’ve made a mess of things.  And gently He allows me to try again.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

You can check out some of my recipes here!  Or, you can visit the links below for some of my favorite fall baking:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

It’s A Dirty Job, But Somebody’s Got to Do it

It was as exciting as Christmas morning.

Our girls had been asking us for a Wii since last summer.  So, when a friend from church said he was selling his used Wii system, we knew this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

We surprised our daughters with it as a way to celebrate the end to their school year and my husband explained to the girls how proud we were of their hard work and their many achievements.

The girls jumped around the living room squealing and hugging us.  My oldest announced, “I just can’t stop thanking you enough!”

Giving good gifts to our children brings me incredible joy—to see them so excited, so grateful, so delighted to have the desire of their little hearts placed into their hands.  Matthew 7:11 tells us, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

If giving the perfect gift excites me, I can only imagine those moments of divine anticipation as God prepares to bless us.  Does He laugh as we dance around the room, full of thanks and praise?  Does He hug us as we humbly bow, so aware that we don’t deserve His gracious blessings?  Does He wipe away the tears of overwhelming gratitude?

We enjoyed just a taste of that pleasure as our girls popped in the first game and began to play.

Then the whining began when they couldn’t make their guy jump high enough after just one try.  The frustration kicked in when they didn’t know how to move their hand to make their bowling ball slide just the right way down the electronic alley. There were angry grunts and declarations that, “it’s too hard.”

Even worse, when the girls played a game together, there was the inevitable struggle over winning and losing graciously.  Apparently, kids are not innately “good sports.”  At first the winner was kind and encouraging; the loser begrudging and complaining.  Then the winner gloated.  The loser started declaring, “it’s not fair.”  It was war.

Overall, the girls still love this gift and they are getting better at it all the time.  As parents, though, there were some moments when we weren’t so sure this was such a good idea.  Our gift seemed to be bringing out the worst in them.

But the reality of parenting is that it’s a messy job.  And I’m not talking about potty training, dirty diapers and sickness.

We could shuffle along on the outskirts of our kids’ character and life would be pretty easy.  If we closed our eyes to their weaknesses and ignored their mistakes, this would all be more “fun.”

We’d be failures, though.

Sometimes we have to put on the big muddy rubber boots and wade into the mess in order to pull out the gunk that is sin and human nature and weakness.

We have to buy one toy and insist our kids learn to share.  We have to play games and teach losers how to lose and winners how to win.  We have to look in the face of a defeated child and remind her that the best things in life are worth working hard for and that giving up simply ensures failure.

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it—and that someone is us.

In the same way, the circumstances God gives us, the jobs He calls us to, the ministries He lays in our hand, the responsibilities He entrusts us with and the relationships He places in our lives often bring out the worst in us. They certainly do for me.  There are times that I am shocked and embarrassed when all my “uglies come out” (to quote Lysa TerKeurst).

God’s not surprised, though.  Our heavenly Father never shirks His parental job and uses these opportunities to deal with the sin that is bubbling to the surface of our hearts.

This is why “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).  God uses conflict to mature us.

This is why we should “count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-3).  Trials mold our character and make us more like Christ.

Spoiled children that we often are, we might think God always needs to give us the gift we so desire, the blessing we’ve been longing for, and the success we see others enjoying.  Yet, we’d never grow, never mature, never get one tiny bit closer to Jesus in a life free of conflict and trouble.

Proverbs 30:12 says, “Don’t imagine yourself to be quite presentable when you haven’t had a bath in weeks” (MSG).

We might at times do just that, walking around without any awareness of our own mess.  Then something like a Wii brings out the worst in us.  We want to give up.  We fight with our brother or sister.  We whine about how hard it is and how unfair.

Sometimes that’s a good thing–as long as we’re willing to let God scrub at us for a while and deal with the sin that surfaces.  Then we can enjoy the gifts He’s given fully and completely and He can laugh with us in delight and bless us with His favor.  It’s a dirty job and He’s just the One to do it.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King