Rooted in the Love of Christ

rooted in the loveAfter weeks of less than desirable (and downright chilly) spring weather, this past weekend we finally got what we had been longing for: three straight days of sun, blue skies and 70 degrees. Oh the joy!!! Truly there is nothing that makes me happy like sunshine. J We couldn’t wait to go outside and get some desperately needed yardwork done. My husband planted a couple of trees while I watched the boys, and when our youngest son went down for his afternoon nap (and oldest took to playing with a frog in the creek), we began weeding our long neglected strawberry patch. It was overwhelming to say the least…the weeds had nearly taken over.  I am always amazed at how it takes absolutely NO effort on our part for weeds to grow, but if we want nice trees and fruit plants and pretty flowers they have to be tended diligently. (Just like everything else good in life, right?) As I weeded I began pulling some baby box elder and cottonwood trees that had planted themselves among our strawberries. The first one I encountered was only a few inches tall, so I thought it would be easy to get out, but I was wrong! First I tried quickly pulling it with one hand but it held fast, then when I used both hands it finally relinquished its hold on the soil and came out. I was amazed to see that the root was almost TWICE as long as the tree itself. Incredible! I never would have guessed it. In that instant one of my favorite passages of scripture came to mind and I knew I was in for another spiritual analogy. That seems to be the way God often speaks to me and I love how even nature reveals the truth of His Word.

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

I really hate to stop there, since the next verse is so wonderful as well, but that one will have to wait for another article. These verses are so beautifully penned (they make my poetic soul happy!) as well as so rich with living truth.  Each one invites me to dig deeper into its richness, but for now I will just focus on the words I heard as I knelt in the strawberry patch on Saturday.

ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE.

This little tree was rooted and grounded in the soil, established and thriving. And if it had been left alone to grow, one day it would have been large and mighty tree, with roots reaching so deep into the ground that nothing except maybe a powerful tornado could tear it out. Wow. When I think about what that means for me as a follower of Christ, I get excited. Inspired. Encouraged to know that God has provided such a safe place for me to grow in Him. I realize it’s not enough to just know about His love – I need to truly KNOW it, and being rooted in the rich soil of His love is the only way I can truly comprehend the incredible immensity of that love. And for what purpose? To be filled with all the fullness of God. Rooted and grounded in Christ’s love, in order to KNOW His love, in order to be FILLED with ALL of His fullness. The word here used for “fullness” is the Greek word “pleroma,” which means “full number, full measure, plenitude, that which has been completed. It literally means fullness and completion.” It’s so amazing to me to think that God would make a way for me, a marred human, to be filled with the completion of Himself. Amazing! And yet…that’s what He did through Jesus. What a beautiful, glorious exchange that happened when He chose the cross and died in my place! What love. And what joy that I get to experience for myself the full measure of who God is – El Shaddai, more than enough, the All-Sufficient One!

So what does it mean to be rooted and grounded in His love?  The Greek word used here for “rooted” is “rhizoo,” which means “to cause to take root, plant, fix firmly, establish.”  The Greek word for “grounded” is “themelioo” which literally means, “to found, to lay the foundation of.” (It appears grounded would have been better off translated as “founded.”) Wow.  I can’t help but wonder: just what would this world look like if ALL believers were rooted and grounded in the love of Christ like that?  I believe in order for us to get to that point we must go back to the basics and see what True Love looks like: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…”  (John 3:16) The foundation of the Gospel message is Jesus (no other foundation can anyone lay that that which is already laid…Jesus Christ!) and His love. His love for me, for you, for the whole world. There is much we can learn and mature in as Christians, but the ONE thing we must build everything else upon is Jesus and His love. We must purposefully plant ourselves in the soil of His love and stay there, allowing ourselves to be watered by the water of the Word, receiving nourishment from the Son. In order to let our roots go down deep, we need to understand and be confident that His affection for us is based not on what we have done, but on what Jesus did and it will never change. Each of us must come to this revelation on our own (mine is still in progress, but I’m getting there!) and learn to rest in it: His love is mine no matter what I do. He is always for me not against me. My identity is who He says I am. Beloved, redeemed, sanctified, righteous. Child of God. As long as I know that, and continue living in that knowledge, I will be unshakeable. My roots will be solid and deep and established.  I will grow tall and strong in Him, able to always withstand the enemy no matter how hard he tries to uproot me. No ferocious wind of trial or persecution will ever be able to topple me, no fear will have any power over me, no devil in hell will ever be able to pluck me out or steal my joy if I am rooted in His love. If I know who I am and whose I am, both here on earth and for all eternity, I will always walk in victory!

I certainly don’t have the full revelation on God’s love, but I wanted to share my thoughts and encourage you today to let yourself be loved by Him! Immerse yourself in His love, dig into His Word and find out more about why He loves you…and why He’ll never stop. His love is the answer to any negative feeling that threatens to overwhelm you, the solution and end to all fear, the final destination for truth and the only identity you’ll ever need. His love is what your heart is craving and what your soul is longing for. So jump in. Drink deep. Lose and find yourself in Jesus. Feed only on His love and delight in hearing His gentle voice. Before you know it you will be so rooted and grounded in love, so full of His fullness, you won’t be able to contain it, and nothing will be impossible for you.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

Father God,

I thank You for planting me in Your amazing love! Help me to sink my roots down deeper and deeper until I am secure and established in You. Help me to rest my faith fully upon the foundation of Jesus and His love, and learn how to grow in Your grace and love and the knowledge of You every day. I want to know You completely and to be filled with all that You are!In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Sharilyn Edgerle

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in.  She grew up and graduated high school in Montana.  Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing.  She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team.  Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance.  Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

 

Just Pray

Women in the word saturday

 

 

 

James 5:16b, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Prayer is one of the most amazing gifts given to a Child of God, and yet, it is easy for us to get into the habit of praying for all the general things that we overlook or do not take the time to fully benefit from its power. PRAYER IS POWERFUL! Prayer has been defined as an action that activates the arm of the Almighty. When we pray, we are talking directly to the Creator of the world, the King of Kings, our Great Savior. As humans, we have no comprehension of all that He is capable of doing in and through us. That is why He tells us, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3) All we have to do is ask in faith, and He will take care of the rest. Prayer is a good way for us to put our faith to the test. Many times I worry about things or try to figure them out on my own and see what I can do to fix things, when the answer is just a prayer away. When I just give it to God in prayer and sit back and watch how He works everything out, I am amazed every single time.

I just want to encourage you and renew the aspect of prayer in your life with this writing. When I consciously spend more time in prayer, I have found that I effortlessly rely more on Him. Everything in my day could be going wrong, but when I am spending it with Him, it does not seem as bad. God wants to have fellowship with us, His children, so He has said over and over in His word for us to pray. I feel like my relationship with God is so much sweeter when I am talking to Him all throughout the day.

Our prayers should be for our personal needs. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” He cares about our needs, He wants to supply them, but He also wants that fellowship with us when we ask for His help. God wants us to be needy, because you cannot help someone who does not need help. Even when we think it is impossible, that’s when God likes to show exactly what He can do.

Our prayers should also be for others. On many occasions, Paul told the churches he wrote letters to that they were always in his prayers, or that he continually prayed for them. In James 5:16 it says, “…pray one for another…”  We should be conscious of those in need around us as well. Our family, friends, church family, neighbors, coworkers, and sometimes even our acquaintances need our prayers. I heard a statement once that was very thought provoking, you are the only Bible that some people may ever read. If that is the case, is the “Bible” of our lives lining up with the Word of God? Some may not know how to pray, but they know that you do. Praying for someone else will also make you closer to them and aid in building a stronger bond between friends. We should watch for someone that we can be a blessing to just by giving our time in prayer for them, or with them.

The biggest blessing I’ve had from prayer, besides getting answers to prayer, is the blessing box that I have started to keep. I have a jar that has blank squares of paper and a pen in it. I keep it on my dresser and any time I have an answered prayer I write it down, fold it up and put it in my jar. I’ve even started writing down little things that God has done for me that may not even be much, but it made my day brighter, even if I didn’t really pray for them. I write these things down throughout the course of the year, then at the end of the year, I empty the jar, and go back and read all the things that God did for me during the past year—whether big or little things, it is such a blessing to me all over again. To think of how much God really does love me, and how He really does answer prayer, it renews my desire to pray even more the next year. I put all the past blessings in a little box (this is why I call it a blessing box instead of a jar, I guess) and I start over with an empty jar for the upcoming year!

The last thing I would like to share is just the lyrics to a song that always minister to my heart. This is actually the last verse and then the chorus, but the words are so good!

Just Pray by Rodney Griffin

We have been given a means to the throne

Of the One whose potential is yet to be known

There is no limit as to what God can do

So just keep on praying, He’s listening to you

And prayer is just as big as God is

Prayer is just as strong as God is strong

Prayer can reach as far as God can reach

Don’t ever give up, just pray, just pray

Don’t ever give up, just pray!

Sarah Faye DeMaris

Sarah Faye may have been born in Minnesota, but her roots are deep in the Kentucky soil. She attends Commonwealth Baptist College in Lexington, KY where she is studying for her bachelor’s in music education and she will graduate this year. Sarah Faye volunteers her time at her church where she picks up children in the community for the Sunday service and she adores it. She loves to play the piano and being outdoors, but she has a passion for photography. Her whole hearted devotion to God, love of life and constant smile is immediately noticed by all. Sarah’s favorite verse is Psalm 68:19 because it is a good reminder of all that God has done for her. It says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”

Sarah Faye may have been born in Minnesota, but her roots are deep in the Kentucky soil. She attends Commonwealth Baptist College in Lexington, KY where she is studying for her bachelor’s in music education and she will graduate this year. Sarah Faye volunteers her time at her church where she picks up children in the community for the Sunday service and she adores it. She loves to play the piano and being outdoors, but she has a passion for photography. Her whole hearted devotion to God, love of life and constant smile is immediately noticed by all. Sarah’s favorite verse is Psalm 68:19 because it is a good reminder of all that God has done for her. It says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”

A Mother’s Boy

“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from him.” Psalm 127: 3

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” Proverbs 20:11

My third child, my youngest son, asked me to write about him today. I was surprised by this. Two of my children have social media accounts on the sites where I post Titus II blog entries, and he is one of them, but none of my children have ever really responded or said much about my writing. In fact, I assumed they really didn’t care about what I’ve been doing on my laptop lately. Other than their father – who has to read my entries before I submit them or I won’t untie him (semi-joking, of course) – I assumed my family just hasn’t been interested in this part of my ministries. So, I asked my son if he had anything particular in mind he wanted me to write about. “Not really,” he answered. I asked him if he had a specific Bible passage or verse he’d like to challenge me with. “No.” That came out in Fozzie Bear’s voice with a silly little chuckle afterward. Then he hugged me and gave my cheek a sloppy kiss before he walked jauntily away. That’s when I understood what he was trying to tell me. Here is the real challenge I heard my soon to be fourteen-year-old son extend to me: Show me what you love about me, Mom. What makes me unique and special? What do you tell others about me?

Well, my boy, let me tell you. You, child, are special because you are mine.

This is the child who has his dad’s shaped eyes with my color shining through, and most of the time there is a smile in them. This is the child that has my sense of humor, but he’s quiet and shy. This is the child most likely to respond to my voice, to respond to the feelings in my voice. This is the child who spends a great deal of his days entertaining me and trying to find that voice, joke, or action that will get the biggest reaction out of me and his siblings. This is the child that I have spent the most time praying over and fighting worry over because he seems fearless at times, and he is so much like me that I think of those things about myself that I don’t want him to repeat. Things that, thankfully, he never saw me do, but I have worried he may have the propensity to do. This is the child with two older brothers and a younger sister that I would love to see relax and enjoy who he is more, without thinking he has to do anything to win my attention or heart. This is one of the four children that I am not a friend to. I cannot be their friend right now because I am their parent, but I sure am looking forward to being friends with the man I see this child becoming.

Let me tell you a little more about this young man. This young man, when he was just beginning to walk, stood in the hallway without a stitch of clothing on his little body, only a big smile on his face, and challenged both of his older brothers to come and get him. This young man listens to his sister’s jokes and gives her the punchlines that make people laugh with her, not at her. This young man is a good friend to the bullied and the bully – he speaks truth into the hearts of both and laughs when people call him names or try to coerce him into falling. This young man is courageous and humble; an encourager – he is my own David standing against his Goliaths.

Toby, I am honored to be your mom. You were given to your father and I fourteen years ago as a gift to love. You have made this very easy, and you are special in all you are, and I am every bit as proud of you as I can be, but I still see you as my little boy even though I have to look up just to see your face.

Heavenly Father, when I looked into my son’s eyes this morning and heard his words, I wasn’t at all sure of how to assure him of my love any more than I already do. I thought of You then, and I thought about your Word, and I realized that sometimes I still ask You these same questions when You have proven so many times how deeply You love me just for who I am, who You have created me to be. I ask that You continue to give me ways of loving my children so they know my love with confidence as we can know yours with deep confidence. Help me to be a mother whose children arise and call blessed. (Proverbs 31:28) Amen.

Lorinda Freeman

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God.  She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them.  Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.  As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God. She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them. Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

In Over My Head

I am sitting down at my computer after a long day of work. Three years ago, my husband and I planted a church. A year ago, our church bought a 100 year old bar and tomorrow we get ready to open a family style restaurant in the front part of our building. I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment to say the least.

One of my favorite authors, Graham Cooke, says that “God is consistent and unpredictable.” There is this great paradox that comes in God’s nature. The Bible tells us that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:9). That means He is always the same. We can count on Him. There is stability in who God is.

But on the flip side of that, God does some crazy stuff. All you have to do is look through the Bible. There is story after story of things that God says and does that frankly don’t make any sense at all. Like “Hey Joshua, I want you to take over Jericho, and this is how you’re gonna do it. Just march around the walls for seven days, everything will be fine.”over head 1 Or “Hey Gideon, you’re going after a huge army, but the truth is, your army is too big. Three hundred men, that’s more like it.”over head 2

There is another part of God’s nature that we need to understand in all of this too. Everything He does is on purpose. He is so very intentional in the way He chooses to do things and in the people He chooses to use along the way.  It is very common to see God’s hand in a place where the odds are stacked against His people, because it is in those places that His glory can so greatly be seen. There is no doubt that the people involved could never pull off those victories in their own strength. His power and glory are the only conclusion. Those moments force people to make a decision about who God is.

About four years ago, I began a personal journey of faith when the Lord asked us to step out in faith and plant a church in a small town in Montana.  It was one of the scariest things I have ever done, but one of the best.  The scariest because there is so much unknown, the best because His glory, power and provision have been revealed in ways I could never have imagined.  And at that time four years ago, I asked God to keep me in that place of faith – stepping out in risk and watching Him do the miraculous. And let me tell you, He has proved to do just that.

I don’t know that this place of faith has gotten any more comfortable for me over the last four years, but I am learning not to find my security in what God is doing. What He does is often changing and sometimes doesn’t make sense. I am learning to rest, rather, in who God is. My faith is in knowing that the God who has come through since the beginning of time, will continue to do so on my behalf as I follow Him in obedience to the advancement of His Kingdom. I rest in His love for me that will never change and never fail. It’s a beautiful feeling, to be in over my head.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  –Eph. 3:20-21

Jessica Nelsen

Jessica’s passion for revival and worship exude from her every waking moment.  God’s presence is around her as she loves on her two beautiful girls, whom she homeschools.  Together, Mark and Jessica, make their home in Montana where they recently planted a church in a rural community and also where Jessica teaches piano.  Jessica finds great joy in helping others to find freedom through a relationship with Christ.  While Jessica grew up in Minnesota, she graduated with a Biblical Studies major from Trinity Bible College and she is currently pursuing a degree in Natural Health.  Jeremiah 20:9 says, “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ “then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.”  Jessica’s passion for the love of God starts fires of His glory wherever she goes.

Jessica’s passion for revival and worship exude from her every waking moment. God’s presence is around her as she loves on her two beautiful girls, whom she homeschools. Together, Mark and Jessica, make their home in Montana where they recently planted a church in a rural community and also where Jessica teaches piano. Jessica finds great joy in helping others to find freedom through a relationship with Christ. While Jessica grew up in Minnesota, she graduated with a Biblical Studies major from Trinity Bible College and she is currently pursuing a degree in Natural Health. Jeremiah 20:9 says, “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ “then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.” Jessica’s passion for the love of God starts fires of His glory wherever she goes.