Hi friend! Here’s an update from Lysa TerKeurst!

The Blessings Found in the Fire
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.” Malachi 3:3 (ESV)

Do you ever get tired of the constant battles in your life?

Let me be the first to say I understand.

There are times it feels like I hardly get one issue resolved when another seems to pop up. Not that I go looking for problems; they just seem to be incredibly adept at finding me.

I’m learning, though, to view my troubles in life as “growth opportunities.” They give me a chance to recognize God shaping and molding me to fit the calling He’s given me. They remind me God is interested in my character, not my comfort.

Which brings us to a passage of Scripture I’d love for us to look at closely together today. In Malachi 3, God wants His people to know they have some character issues that need to be addressed.

The Lord declares through the prophet Malachi: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD” (Malachi 3:1-3, ESV).

The messenger in this passage actually refers to John the Baptist. (Matthew 11:10-14) He went before Jesus to ready the people’s hearts for Jesus’ first coming. Now we are the messengers God has called to prepare people for Jesus’ second coming. But that means our own hearts need to be purified so we’re prepared and mature for our calling.

Malachi 3:3 reveals that the Lord comes both “like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.” The “fullers’ soap” (or alkali) was a strong soap used in the ancient Near East to whiten clothing.

And the refiner’s fire? This is a method of purifying precious metals with intense heat. Impurities rise to the top where they can be skimmed off and discarded. The way a refiner knows that the process of purification is complete is by looking into the open furnace and checking the reflection. He knows the dross has all burnt away when he can see his reflection clearly.

This is what we were made to do — to clearly reflect the image of our Maker. Genesis 1:27 tells us God created us in His likeness and image. But when sin entered the world, we were “marred” by sin. We were left spiritually disfigured and defiled. The purification process removes that sin and disfigurement and restores our ability to reflect the goodness of God Himself.

Another name for this refining work is sanctification. It’s the Lord’s continual process of making us holy and wholly set apart for Him. And today’s passage reminds us that sometimes the sanctification process involves suffering.

I saw such a vivid depiction of this when I took my children to a silversmith’s workshop when they were younger. We saw firsthand how the magnificently beautiful pieces in the showroom had to undergo a grueling process in the workroom. There was pounding, turning, heating and then even more pounding before the polishing. For the silversmith to put his name on a piece, the silver had to submit to treatment we might say is harsh and cruel. But every painful blow the silver endures … every scorching second it sits in the fire … each moment has great purpose. And the results are truly stunning.

Oh, how I pray this will stir our hearts to trust God in the midst of our troubles. Our God is not a cruel God. He allows the heating and shaping, the abrasive rubs and polishing in our lives for a reason. They are purifying and smoothing us so we will reflect Him.

Is it always an easy process? No. It’s not.

But is beautifully reflecting our Creator and having lives that point hearts toward Him worth the discomfort? I truly believe so.

How grateful I am to know that nothing God allows us to go through is pointless. Even in the midst of hurt, He will work things for our good and His glory.

Lord, I’m so thankful that I can trust You, even in the most difficult and refining seasons of my life. Shape me. Purify me. Make me look more and more like You. I want to reflect You in all I say and do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Inside a Library

My Joyous Feature

The library holds a bit of something. Something that shall convey that reading solution along the way. Making it fill with complete knowledge. Finding that endless wonders through each and every journey. Taking that moment through love and bravery.

Inside the library, there’s books. The books contains so much personality that shall sense that perfect joy in reading them. A lot of books and other things at the library can carry out something. Something can be equally powerful as ever. Bringing that reading pattern to that very test.

There’s that imaginary moment that can cherish something inside the library. Bringing that moment that can open up into that peaceful feeling. It’s like there’s so many stories to choose from. Each story delivers that true, meaningful moment. Carrying something over to a visualize solution. Kind of like when a story can challenge through the soul of happiness. Taking it along the…

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Mission of Saint Thorlak for Autism Thought for the Week of July 29, 2019: Book Spotlight By Aimee O’Connell

Originally posted here: https://www.mission-of-saint-thorlak.com/mission-activities/missionary-thought-for-the-week-of-july-29-2019-book-spotlight-continued

We continue our look at How to Welcome, Include and Catechize Children with Autism and Other Special Needs by Deacon Lawrence R. Sutton, PhD. This week, we hear from a Catholic parent of autistic children.

The first thing which really stands out for me is that this does not read like the other books I have read by autism experts describing autistic kids. Here we have a licensed psychologist and former manager of his state’s Bureau of Autism Services writing about autistic children in a way that states all the same facts as every other book, but does so with the intent of explaining how autistic kids develop relationships – with themselves, with peers, with teachers, and with the world around them. The “understanding autism” section lists all the usual headings – social skills, communication skills, rigid and restricted behavior, stimming – but describes how autistic behaviors are kids’ ways of making sense of the expectations of other people. It reads like a two-way translation guide, rather than a list of “deficits we can expect.” As a parent of autistic kids, it feels great to have an “expert” acknowledge that our kids’ behaviors are their unique and complex ways of compensating for the things they can’t understand!

I also appreciate the honesty in this book when it comes to how it feels to have kids whose behaviors don’t make sense to others. Parents are often told on the one hand that this is how our kids cope with the world, and then, many times, we are told on the other hand that, in settings like church, they have to curb these behaviors for the sake of not bothering others. This book candidly acknowledges that some parishes are not yet comfortable with autistic behavior, and it just as candidly challenges such communities to examine these attitudes from the perspective of autistic children and their parents. If all parishes truly welcomed autistic kids the way the author’s parish does, we would see drastic increases in church attendance and participation, and I know it would bless the entire community.

What I enjoyed best is reading about the program itself, which is described in the second half of the book. A lot of this section applies more to parish staff than me as a parent reading it, but the idea is that parishes can offer individual instruction to autistic kids by having teens (who have been trained and prepared for teaching the faith) act as mentors. I know my children would take to this model immediately if it were offered at our parish. It is positive peer role modeling at its best, and could see my kids coming week after week if they knew their mentors were waiting to greet them and cheer them on. What a beautiful way to make faith come alive! What’s more, the parents bringing kids to instruction also form their own supportive group where we would have the forum to share our own fears and triumphs and realize we’re not alone. So many times I have brought my kids to things and felt like a misfit myself because nobody else realizes what a huge deal it is to get my children there in the first place, never mind the dread I have of the phone call saying they need to get picked up early. It’s very isolating. So, this program also has a support in place for parents like me who really need it.

Overall, this book is an inspiration to read. The only critical point I have is that some people will be put off by Lawrence Sutton’s use of person-first language. The book repeatedly talks about “children with autism.” It is not an issue for me, but I know a lot of people prefer saying “autistic children.” With everything else written in such a positive tone, I don’t think this was meant in an ableist manner, and I don’t think it should be taken that way. I certainly did not feel put off! Thank you, Deacon Sutton, for answering the call of God in your parish in such a beautiful and far-reaching response!

Your Body Is A Gift By Bobby Schuller

Originally posted here: http://hourofpower.org/your-body-is-a-gift/

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”

– 1 Corinthians 6:19

Do you know that your body is a gift from God? Do you believe it?

Unfortunately, we live in a world that is constantly telling us to dislike our bodies. Whether it’s images of “perfection” to which we can’t begin to compare, or a constant barrage of illnesses or things that can go wrong, it’s difficult to maintain a Biblical view of our fleshly tent. After all, though we are eternal, our flesh and blood are subject to the effects of sin, which means that we may have to deal with an affliction, a disability, an injury, or just overall signs of aging. We might have hair growing in all the wrong places or be carrying around a few extra pounds of flab. Whatever the case, I want to tell you today that your body — the very one you spend time feeling self-conscious about — is a sacred gift from God, and He loves it.

Friend, I encourage you to learn to love your body in the same way Jesus does. As we look at what this means for the next week or so, open up your mind and heart to receive new truth, and be willing to challenge your pre-existing beliefs about your earthly tent. You’re alive and you can read these words, which means that you’re blessed, so stop tearing down the very vessel that enables you to experience the wonders of life. God employed expert craftsmanship when He created you and He took great care in your design. You are His precious and beloved treasure whom He fashioned uniquely from the inside out. Isn’t that a powerful thought?

Prayer
I am thankful, Jesus, for the gift of my body. As challenging as it may be, I want to learn to love it like you do.

Reflection
How do you feel about your body? Do you see it as a gift or a hindrance? Why?

Today’s Word with Joel & Victoria Osteen Ministries

Today’s Scripture
“My times are in Your hand…”
(Psalm 31:15, NASB)
Trust His Timing
One thing I’ve learned is that God doesn’t always work on our timetable. In fact, He rarely does. But in a single moment, God can change your life! All throughout Scripture, we see examples of how God was working behind the scenes and instantly turned things around for His people. Scripture tells us He is the same yesterday, today and forever, which means if He did it for them, He can instantly turn things around for you, too!

You may be going through some difficulty today, but be encouraged because your times are in God’s hands. Trust that He has your best interest at heart. He wants to pour out His favor. He wants to take you further than you dreamed possible and work in your life in ways beyond what you have ever imagined. And while you’re waiting, don’t try to figure everything out. That’s only going to frustrate you.

Let this truth sink down into your heart today. Resist discouragement by speaking His Word over your future. Keep standing, keep hoping and keep believing because He is working behind the scenes. Have faith because your times are in His hands, and He will lead you in the life of victory He has for you!

A Prayer for Today
“Father, today I humbly come before You giving You all that I am. I trust that my times are in Your hands. I trust that You are working things out in my favor. I set my focus on You knowing that You are working things out for my good in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Monday 17th Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 10.38-42
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Feast Day of St. Martha
July 29th is the Feast Day of St. Martha. She is the patron saint of servants and cooks. There is not much in the Bible about Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, who was raised from the dead.
The last thing that is mentioned about Martha in the Bible is, “Martha served.”
Dorothy Day said: “If everyone were holy and handsome, it would be easy to see Christ in everyone. But it was not Christ’s way for himself. Ask honestly what you would do when a beggar asked at your house for food. Would you give it on an old cracked plate, thinking that was good enough? Do you think that Martha and Mary thought that the old and chipped dish was good enough for their guest? It is not a duty to help Christ — it is a privilege.”

Mess is Part of Blessed By Bobby Schuller

Originally posted here: http://hourofpower.org/mess-is-part-of-blessed/

“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”

– Proverbs 14:4 NKJV

Are you a neat freak? If so, you may have a hard time with the concept that messy is okay. Unfortunately, without messiness and discomfort, good things rarely come to fruition. Moving beyond mess is a process that can be daunting to those of us who don’t want to face it in the first place, but it is inevitably part of the landscape on the road to abundant life.

Take spring cleaning, for example. I guarantee that when you are in the midst of a major tidying up or cleaning out project, the landscape gets a lot worse before it gets better. For at least a short period of time, there will be stuff strewn everywhere, and from an outsider’s perspective, it will look worse than it did before you started. However, as you clean, you can remain at peace because you know where you’re headed and you understand that mess is an important part of the forward-motion required to get to where you want to be. The same analogy rings true in other parts of your life. Yes, it will be messy to re-establish a relationship with an estranged child. Yes, it will be uncomfortable and daunting to confess something to your spouse, but the rewards of choosing to take action when the Holy Spirit leads will ultimatley outweigh the pain. Facing reality and walking in truth, especially when they have been hidden, is always uncertain, but it’s the right way because it’s God’s way. This is why the Bible says that if you don’t have oxen, although you may have a clean barn, you won’t have a harvest. Bringing forth crops means the trough will be dirty, but the mess is always worth it in the end!

Friend, facing the mess is part of being blessed! Whatever obstacle you perceive, even if it’s a secret or something that’s been dormant or in the dark for years, I encourage you to embrace the pain for your greater gain. It may be a long road, but if it ultimately leads to growth and the fulfillment of your dreams, it’s the right one. Don’t shy away or turn back when the going gets hard; rather, invite Jesus into the middle of the mire and His peace will meet you there and pull you out. Isn’t that wonderful news?

Prayer
Jesus, give me courage to face my mess with the understanding that it’s part of being blessed. I relinquish control and choose to do the things you are leading me to.

Reflection
What is God calling you to do? Might it create a mess? If so, how does knowing that He is the middle of it help you to step out?

Sunday 17th Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 11.9
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

The Eucharist is the sacrament through which Jesus enters into an intimate, permanent communion with us. It is the sacrament of the table. It is the sacrament of food and drink. It is the sacrament of daily nurture.
Henri Nouwen

Saturday 16th Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 13.24-30
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

Hail, Mary, Mother of God, venerable treasure of the whole world. You are the lamp that is never extinguished, the crown of virginity, the rule of orthodoxy, the incorruptible temple containing the one whom nothing can contain, the mother and virgin, through whom the one who comes in the Name of the Lord receives in the Gospel the name of “Blessed.”