Thick-Skinned

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I heard a talk by Beth Moore recently where she focused on the vineyard theme in the Bible. One of the many nuggets of truth I got that day was this – thick skinned grapes make the best wine. I am not a wine connoisseur but I do like a nice glass of white wine – not too dry and a bit sweet. Beth talked about the various stages of grapes – grapes to be eaten (thin skinned), raisins (dried grapes) then wine. Wine takes the most time to develop. Grapes that become wine are invested in and allowed to become something that is wonderful to taste over time. We, as God’s creation, become even more wonderful in time, if we let God invest in us. Taking this grape analogy a bit further, we are the grapes that become wine. The fruit we produce (our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control – Galatians 5) is more powerful and effective in time. It’s also more effective if we develop a tough skin.

“The thicker the skin, usually the richer the color.  The darkest, richest and fullest red wines are made from deeply pigmented, thick skinned grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petite Sirah.” – Wine 101: color & taste sensations by Randy Caparoso, July 26, 2011 https://www.lodiwine.com/blog/wine-101-color-taste-sensations

What does this mean? If we don’t sweat the small stuff and forgive others’ offenses, we can produce some fabulous wine. We can provide those in our sphere of influence a rich taste of who God is.

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. ~ Proverbs 19:11 NIV OR

Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget. ~ Proverbs 19:11 MSG

So a thick skinned believer is one who doesn’t sweat the small stuff. We let it go. We don’t have to rehash everything and every offense. Don’t be a doormat. I am not saying that and neither is scripture. It’s asking us to extend grace. If we stay in relationship with others and invest in those relationships, we are fine wine. We are providing others with a glimpse of God’s grace, His glory, and His character through our lives.

I’m not thick skinned always. When I’m tired – thin skinned. When I’m pms-y – thin skinned. When I’m not spending time with God daily – thin skinned. When I’m hurt by a friend – thin skinned with all friends. Thick skin doesn’t mean we aren’t ever in a weaker state of thin skinned. However, when we see we aren’t thick skinned, let’s start investigating why. Why am I more sensitive to this issue today? What is missing in my life? Have I been eating well, sleeping well, taking care of my soul well, etc.?

Let’s build up our skin to be thick because we are grounded in God’s love and all that He provides. Let’s produce some beautiful wine because we are pouring out on others what we allowed God to pour into us. Let’s take time to do self evaluation and self care when we find ourselves being thin skinned.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

A New Thing

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Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. ~ Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Yesterday Pastor Michael Fields said “What was, is no longer and will never be the same again. Wait on God for He’s doing a new thing.” As the passage says – forget the former and see the new thing. We have come though an unprecedented time in our world. Many are eagerly jumping back into the “normal” rhythms of life. However, let’s wait. Let’s not rush back in. This is your chance for a do-over. Do you want to live the way you were before Covid hit? I don’t. I like my tea time with God in the mornings. I like connecting with small groups of friends. I like having more time at home. I like cooking again.

What is the new thing God is doing? Look for it. He has something new for you. He wants to invite you into a new rhythm of life. A new pace. A new way to connect with others. Forget how you did it before. Embrace the new. What do you see in your new pace of life that you really like? It may be counter-culture. It may be very different than what you did just a year and a half ago. Choose it. Don’t return to the past – embrace the new thing. I don’t know what it is for you. For me, I don’t plan to give up my time morning tea time with God. I need it and I like it. This is one of many new things He has given me. One simple but wonderful change is that I am cooking more. We ate out very little during Covid. Old recipes were dusted off and became new again. Time with friends was limited during Covid. However, I found my safe pod and we dove deep into life together. I definitely plan to keep that going. I will add back time with other friends, but slowly and intentionally. Time is precious and I hope to use it wisely.

The 2nd part of the verse talks about a stream in the wasteland. What part of your life needs refreshment? What needs some water to be restored? I am seeing God refresh me in my health. I am seeking medical wisdom after a year of not seeing any doctors. I am fine but need some fine tuning. Also, my relationship with my kids has grown during this season but I need more pathways to connect with them. God is showing me that as well. Let His truth wash over you and bring streams to the wasteland areas of your life. Your new thing may be a resurrection of an old thing.

Do you perceive it? Look – God is doing a new thing!!! Let it spring up in your life.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Freedom

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Fourth of July represents a celebration of our country’s freedom from Great Britain. We live in the United States of America. We are called the Land of the Free. However, many of us haven’t felt that way lately. For many reasons, freedom is not what it used to be. Before you think I’m going to get political or stand on my soap box, I am not. My blog is about our life in Christ. My focus may touch on the things going on in our nation but only in how we need to rely on God to endure, survive, thrive, grow and be strong. Freedom in the USA is a gift. Freedom in Christ is a bigger gift and one that must be accepted in order to have that freedom.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. ~ John 8:36 NIV

The Son is Jesus Christ. If you have faith in Christ, you are free. If you live in America, you aren’t truly free. Only those who have a relationship with Jesus are truly free. True freedom lies with God.

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. ~ Psalm 119:45 NIV

What is a precept you may ask? Oxford Language dictionary defines it as “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.” It is a guiding principle or rule that is used to control, influence or regulate conduct. One basic example in the Bible is one of the Ten Commandments. If you seek God’s way of life, His guiding principles and rules, you can walk in freedom. How can we do this if we aren’t spending time in His Word? God’s Word is God’s way of teaching us His precepts. If you want to be free, be in God’s Word and live it.

I love that I can walk about in freedom. I am not burdened by sin. I am not a slave to sin. I still sin. I seek forgiveness. I repent (change my behavior) and move on. Freedom. Let’s live in that freedom today. Dive into His Word. Walk about in freedom. Whether you live in the US or anywhere else, be grateful for where God has placed you to live in His freedom. Freedom comes from Christ and seeking God’s guidance for you life.

Dream Big! Pray Big!