Preparation as Christ’s Lover [Audio!]

Hi, friends!

I’m attempting to share a bit more via audio for those who prefer to listen rather than read, or who would like to be able to clean or wrap presents while drinking in the Word.

I hope you enjoy! Peace.

Christ’s Advent at Your Christmas Party [and on the last day of your achy body]

We prepare for who is coming.

Many of you, I think, experience this: You set a date for a gathering. You envision friends or family at the table, their smiles. You picture soft lights and imagine breathing in delicious smells— so you make sure your star lights have batteries, make a grocery list, and pick a cookie recipe. You prepare for what you set your mind on.

We prepare for who is coming. And, in the process of preparation there is something of the celebration itself— a foretaste. When I’m excited for an event, I have deep joy and delight in my preparation. I want to invite comfort and joy, I want the people at my table to be filled with love…and maybe experience a taste of Love Himself.

I visualize the goodness and try to prepare so it just might become a reality.

But, I seriously fall short of goodness when I only prepare materially and mentally.

Let’s be realistic…as I prepare, I also taste spiritual germs on my breath and others’ threatening to spread our soul-sicknesses, fractures in hearts, death cycles, my social anxiety creeping up my neck and squeezing.  We can experience a foretaste of anxiety rather than celebration. A foretaste of the broken can steal our preparation for goodness.

So, when I am wise (by the grace of God), I prepare my heart—I beg for my broken heart to be prepared and repaired. I pray for God to shift my focus from the wounds to the Warrior-Healer-Carpenter. For my roof to be patched, my windows to be sealed tight, and my door to be unlocked— for my home and my presence to be a haven from the cold.

I want these precious people I envision sitting at my table to experience a little bit of Emmanuel. And, as my great-grandmother Vivian would say, a little taste of heaven.

We prepare for who is coming because we love them.

Yet, we also are filled with God’s love in the process of preparation— as we ask God to help us prepare out of love for Him, He lavishes us with more love to give. As we confess our brokenness and invite Him to repair our hearts we have peace with Him.

YES, isn’t this one of the greatest treasures?  When we prepare for Christ’s coming at our Christmas party or His guaranteed Second Advent, we experience ever-increasing peace with Him because we experience more and more of Him.

Isn’t that what we really, deeply want as we hang lights and make menus and vacuum under the chair?

Peace with God.

We have peace with God through Jesus— the Holy Spirit is with us through Jesus. God has come, God is here.

BUT, never forget, God is coming.

He is coming to work in your broken heart, at your invitation. He is bringing joy as you sweep. He is washing feet and pouring grace at your Christmas party.

And that is not all!

He is coming on the clouds as King! He is coming to establish a new, unimaginably radiant Earth!

He is coming to be with us in a way we have yet to experience— a way only He can prepare us for.

He fills us and moves in us to prepare for more of HIM. For the true life He intended. And, guess what? In this process of preparation, there is a sweet, sweet foretaste of  His peace and His glory because He Himself is our peace and He is inexpressibly glorious.

How do you prepare room for God to work in you?

What time will you set aside this week to re-focus and re-center on Christ as your motivation?

I invite you to open up a gift I prepared for you! Click here for simple daily scripture readings I put together on preparation:  Advent Week 2 Scripture Readings 

If you would enjoy hearing this content read, click here to listen: https://m.soundcloud.com/doni-owens/christs-advent-at-your-christmas-party-and-the-last-day-of-your-achy-body

Love and peace,

Donielle Hart

Advent [Expectation, Prophesy, Hope]

During the first week of Advent, we are invited to remember prophesy of Jesus’ birth and the expectation and hope of a Messiah among the people of Israel.
But, that is not all– WE have hope through Jesus’ first coming because He paid for our sins and made a way for us to be reconciled with God. And, the story doesn’t end with His resurrection and ascension. He is not done!

I celebrate Jesus’ birth, but I am also filled with an aching longing paired with a life-giving hope.

One day I will be entirely free from my sins. I will be with my Lord, Savior, Lover, and perfect Friend. I wait for heaven, Jesus’ second coming, and the New Earth with expectant hope…and awe. 

 

“Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Philippians 3:20)

 

“We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
(1 John 3:2)

 

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
(Romans 8:22-25)

May you be filled with hope and joy in the gift already given and the gift to come.

Love,

Doni

Dreams are Tawdry

Elisabeth Elliot’s voice, low and calm, read from a journal entry of her deceased beloved— the statement, bold and heavy with conviction, landed hot on my heart through the car speakers, “Dreams are tawdry compared with the leading of God.”[i]

Not simply, “we must sacrifice our dreams for God’s dreams” or “our dreams must not become idols.” No, no. Jim Elliot, considers (I am quite certain his opinion hasn’t changed since meeting God) human dreams with a flavor of distain. He considers them “tawdry”— gaudy, showy, cheap, low, mean, base, or, as a noun, “cheap, gaudy apparel.”[ii]

Human dreams, I think, can be worn in attempts to show people we are worth something in the world. We are headed toward greatness of some sort— in artistry, finance, even ministry. We are not solely the person standing before them, mortal and unimpressive, we are small gods who can fabricate greatness out of something that is not— the future. Many of us know in our hearts that our dreams are ultimately fiction. They are stories we weave for ourselves that we hope will come true— not only hope, but work toward. At times, it is not a stretch to say, serve.

Numerous qualifying fine lines of motive and heart can be drawn if we are trying to figure out when a dream goes from being moral to immoral— from beneficial and productive for the Kingdom to idolatrous, prideful, and selfish. However, even if a dream or desire is good and submitted to God that does not change what our dreams are in comparison to God’s will: Tawdry.

Jesus tells us our love for Him and desire to serve Him should be so great that, in comparison, our relationship with our family should look like hate.[iii] Paul says, “Those who have wives should live as if they do not.”[iv]  As has been explained by many a pastor and writer, this does not mean we should hate our families or leave our spouses. However, this should not take away from the weight of the call…and, the basis of this call— the great, great worthiness of Christ and His Kingdom.  And how very small our other loves and dreams should be in comparison. Eyes solely fixed on Christ, love for sister and spouse becomes more holy. But, in choosing between the two, the answer is always to be Christ. If it’s not, our love is sullied. The same is true when considering good dreams.

Clothe yourself in a dream of your own invention and it is sewn with all your brokenness.

Clothe yourself in Christ and you are covered in power, righteousness, and light. He will mend the brokenness of your dreams and shape your dreams to His will as you choose Him time and time again.

This is so amazing!

The possibilities we have on our own are limited. Our God does beyond what we could ever imagine— His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.[v] His power so far exceeds our abilities but our dear Lord, He, (great mystery) uses His power through us as we submit. “That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”[vi]  [SAY WHAT?!?]

The will and power of God may seem far from you, but it is not. He is not. He is accomplishing His will through you as you walk in obedience and communion with Him— even when it means putting a dream second. He is accomplishing His will as you respond to the prompting of the Spirit—even when it means putting a dream to death.

The “kingdom of God,” at least in one sense, is not far off: “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can observed, nor will people say “Here it is” or “There it is” for the kingdom of God is in your midst [or, ‘within you’].”’”[vii]

He is working now and He wants to do His work in and through you.

I trust that His dreams are so much better than any dreams I could write for myself. The future He has for us makes me tear-up in awe— I know He will use me beyond my power and this ASTOUNDS and humbles me.  Such great delight. Such great mercy. His wind blows and whispers and clothes my heart with His. Jim Elliot died by spear trying to connect with the Aucas, a tribe who had never heard of Christ. Elisabeth Elliot forgave, lived with, and ministered to that same tribe for two years. Many were added to the Kingdom.

My dreams are so tawdry compared with the will of God.

 

I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:8-14

  • [i] Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot
  • [ii] Dictionary.com
  • [iii] Luke 14:26
  • [iv] 1 Corinthians 7:29
  • [v] Isaiah 55:9
  • [vi] Ephesians 1:19b-20
  • [vii] Luke 17:20-21