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Friday, May 27, 2011

Pressing "Pause"

A few weeks ago, I felt led to press the pause button in my life.

I paused from Blogger.

I paused from Facebook.

I paused from Twitter.

And {gasp} ... I even paused from ministry.

I quickly realized how busy my life had become from seemingly good things. I want my blog to bless others. I consider it a privilege to edify and encourage women through words painted on a page. Facebook allows me to share Jesus on a daily basis with unbelievers and has become an effective witnessing tool in my life. Twitter enables me to connect with almost 1000 people simultaneously. And my ministry stirs my soul to dream big and believe God for infinitely and abundantly more than I could ever ask or imagine.

But when these seemingly good things shift my focus away from my two best things, I am in grave danger of losing my peace and perspective. And I've been teetering on the edge of "losing" for quite some time.

You see, I often take my two greatest gifts- God and my husband- for granted. Because I know they'll still be there when I'm done with the good things.

God will never leave me or forsake me. And most likely, neither will my husband. He's the rock-solid type ... a Mr. Steady through and through.

God patiently waits for me ... to spend time with me, to chat a while. So does my husband, but he often has to compete with the aforementioned "good" things in my life.

As I've paused these past few weeks, God has convicted me of just one thing- it's so easy to lose focus.

I'm called to love God first- to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness- and then to love my husband. To make my life about completing his. To be his helpmeet. His lover. His best friend.

It's really so simple. But in our busy world that beckons us to trade our true calling in for a fraudulent one, it's increasingly complex to be the woman God's called us to be. We need to hold tight to the truth that our love for our husbands should reflect the church's love for Christ.

I'm amazed at the peace that has flooded my life since I've pressed "pause". Maybe today you need to join me. I hope you'll comment and share what you feel God is asking you pause from so you can return to the two men eagerly awaiting you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Less Than-More Than

Please welcome my dear friend, Hester Christensen, to Sparkling to Reflect His Glory. I had the privilege of meeting Hester at She Speaks 2009, and we have remained close friends and co-laborers in ministry since that time. Hester's heart for the Lord is incredible, and her goal is to lead women toward spiritual maturity. I pray that her post below will help you perform the needed heart work necessary for lasting life change.


1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV) "But the Lord said to Samuel, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

My heart sank as my second born shared his troubles. Last week he had difficulty with friends and classmates questioning him about the birthmark on his face. This wasn't the first time nor will it be the last. His port wine stain covers half of his cheek, his chin and flows down to his neck. The pigment is not scarlet, but bright enough to be noticed by a nine-year-old boy trying to understand his identity. He tells me he thinks it looks weird and he doesn't want to be teased.

We live in a culture obsessed with our external packaging. Everywhere we look the world propagates an ideal to attain. Our world defines a person's value by what lies on the outside. The problem is, these expectations stem from a culture that values the wrong things.

The worldly recognition for youthfulness and perfection push individuals to have the right look, wear the right clothes, cover all the blemishes etc. The relentless pursuit of thinness drives people to lose more and more weight. Be the right number and wear the right size are the voices poured into our mind from the media.

Many strain to obtain these only to be left discouraged and feeling less than. Less than the air-brushed model in the magazine. Less than what Macy's offers. Less than what the day spa promotes. Less than the 'perfect' woman on the treadmill at the gym.

The temptation to look a certain way is enticing. It is easy to become fixated over physical appearance. As Christian women, God wants more for us than what the world offers. Our passage in 1 Samuel 16:7 shows us how to become more than in a less than world. It reinforces our understanding that the condition of our heart is more important to God than the condition of our hips. He cares about our faith more than our face. He's interested in our walk more than our wardrobe. He wants our maturity more than a makeover.

The prophet Samuel has arrived in Bethlehem to anoint the next King of Israel, one of Jesse's sons. Samuel sees Eliab, Jesse's oldest son, and thinks for sure he must be the one God has chosen. Listen closely to the Lord's response to Samuel's thought, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Did you catch that? "...but the Lord looks at the heart." Why the heart? God values the heart because it is the consummation of who a person is. It envelopes the eternal essence of each individual. God identifies us by what is on the inside, while the world tends to recognize us only by what is on the outside. If God values our heart more importantly than our exterior, then we should too. When our heart is rightly aligned with God, the expectation to live up to the world's standards fade away.

Sadly, I gave into worldly pressures and influence as a young teen and college woman. My heart was preoccupied with fat grams and calories, the number on the scale, my pant size, and how much exercise I could squeeze into one day. This obsession with physical appearance resulted in a seven year struggle with anorexia and bulimia.

I thought the pursuit of "perfection" would boost my self-esteem when in fact, it robbed my self-esteem and left me with a misplaced identity. Not only was I physically anorexic, I was also spiritually anorexic. I focused on my body more than my Beloved. I starved myself spiritually by being consumed with my appearance and not with my Lord.

God radically opened my heart and enabled me to see what I was missing: a fulfillment only found in Him. The nourishment my heart needed was met with a deep passion for God and a hunger for His Word. This eye opening experience shifted my priorities. I realized if I would exert as much energy toward God and His Word as I had toward exercise, eating, counting calories etc., then I would be on my way toward spiritual fitness and a heart that pleased God.

Don't misunderstand, exercising, getting our hair cut or even buying a new outfit is not wrong in and of themselves. Matter is not evil. God created beauty. However, anything can become an idol. Whenever we worship the created over the Creator we flirt with the world's standard of beauty and security. Our heart becomes divided because we cannot worship self and God.

As my son sorrowfully shared his struggle last week I shared God's truth with him in hopes of establishing a secure identity in Christ and an understanding of what God values in our lives. When God sees us, He sees our heart, not our hair-do, high heels or handbag.

The truth is friends, we are more than. More than an air-brushed model in the magazine. More than what Macy's offers. More than what the day spa promotes. More than the 'perfect' woman on the treadmill at the gym.

We are MORE THAN, because He became less than.

Heart Work:

Evaluating our motives is crucial and valuing what God values is vital. Evaluate your motives for doing the things you do pertaining to physical fitness and your body. Pray over them and seek the Lord to see if anything is out of balance in your life that He wants you to change.

Heart Exam:

What makes you feel "less than"?

How has the world's view of beauty distracted you from who you are in Christ?

Does your life reflect the values that God values?

Heart Changing Word:

Psalm 45:11 (NIV) "The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord."

Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

1 Peter 3:3-5a "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful."

Hester's Bio:

Hester is a devoted wife, mother, speaker and writer. She lives in Boise, Idaho and enjoys the blessings of her three boys. She has served in ministry alongside her husband for 16 years. During this time Hester has spoken to a variety of audiences. She has impacted numerous women through retreats, conferences, Bible studies, mentoring, and other women's events. Hester's heart is committed to leading women toward spiritual maturity in Christ. Hester is also writing her first Bible study and is hopeful for publication. For weekly encouragement visit her blog where she posts a new devotion each Friday. (http://www.hesterchristensen.com/)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are YOU Risen?

On Easter morning believers worldwide greet eachother with the familiar mantra "He is risen!" But I wonder what would happen if we replaced the expected response "He is risen indeed!" with the question "Yes, but are YOU risen?"

For many years after committing my life to Christ, I clung to old sin-habits with a tight-fisted grip. On occasion I'd let Jesus pry a finger or two open and expose the sin inside, but as soon as control threatened to elude me, I clamped my fist shut once again. Cloaked in the false comfort being in control brought me, I refused to live the resurrected life in Christ. Brokenness bound me until I realized I had to die in order to truly live.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"

Jesus died to replace our old with His new. As believers we often settle for the mediocre instead of the miraculous. We pray the prayer, walk the aisle, and then try to be "good Christians." We cringe when we're challenged to die to our flesh. We'd rather be comfortable in our status quo Christianity than conquerors in Christ Jesus!
It's time to tap into the resurrection power that indwells every believer. Jesus is no longer dead and neither are we. So let's live "free from sin, [our] old master ... and slaves to [our] new master, righteousness." (Romans 6:18)  Let's shed our grave clothes once and for all and robe ourselves in the righteousness of Christ. Only then will we lavishly live the resurrected life Jesus died to give.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Surrounded by Silence

It happened in an instant. I had just strolled hand-in-hand with my sweet Jesus through one of most intimate seasons we’d ever shared, but now my direct line to heaven seemed snipped at the source. Try as I might, I couldn’t quite splice the wires of my prayer life back together. Silence hung in the air like a thick cloud threatening to engulf me. And all the while the enemy of my soul taunted me with ludicrous lies.

Interludes of silence with our Savior shock us when we’re not prepared for them. Silence makes us squirm with discouragement and doubt. We wonder what we’ve done or failed to do. And in our solitude we feel not only forgotten, but forsaken.

When we're surrounded by silence, we can re-visit the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26) and know that we're not alone in our affliction. For it's there we find the fullness of Jesus' humanity. And it's where we can remember He understands exactly how we feel.

Jesus didn’t put on a plastic smile and pretend He wasn’t distressed by His looming crucifixion. The agony of His impending death forced Him to contend with His feelings. Jesus understood the importance of fellowship in suffering and shared His emotions with His disciples. He asked them to watch and pray while He went before the Father.

As drops of blood splattered the ground where Jesus lay prostrate, He prayed three different times for His cup to pass. And each time He fully submitted Himself to His Father’s will.

In every instance God’s response was the same—silence. God knew that rescuing Jesus would forfeit victory over death not only for Him, but for all who would ever believe. God chose the eternal over the immediate.

Silence is often a difficult response to bear as believers. Waiting on God may frustrate us, but silence makes us feel abandoned. Jesus’ example proves we can surrender even when God seems silent because His will is always better than our own.

Maybe today you feel forsaken by God. The all too familiar words My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46) reverberate through your soul as you watch your life unravel. Turn your eyes to Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, and remember "not to be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you." (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I'd love to have the opportunity to pray for you if you're amidst a season of silence. Please share your request in the comment section below.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Headed for Heaven?

I assumed it would be just another normal Monday morning. As I rolled over in bed and grabbed my phone, I noticed I had a voicemail. I immediately checked to see who had called me so early in the morning, and my heart sank when my mom's phone number crystallized before my eyes. Before I even listened to the message, I knew something bad had happened.

I dialed my voicemail, and as the phone rang I prayed, "Lord, give me peace. Lord, help me with whatever I'm about to face. Lord, keep me calm." My dad emphatically began his message and said only a few words: "Stephanie, this is your dad. Call me immediately. It's very serious."

I hurriedly dialed my parents' number and willed my heart to stop beating so fast. My dad answered and handed the phone to my mom. She was crying, and the words that tumbled out of her mouth left me numb. My Aunt Melinda, the oldest of eight siblings, had died suddenly a few hours before.

The shocking news of my aunt's death was surreal. My Aunt Melinda was a beautiful, vibrant lover of life. She was a beacon of light for Jesus Christ to all who knew her. And she lived like He would return at any moment, in eager expectation of His arrival.

Well, He didn't return. Instead, He called her home. And she was ready.

The question today is: Are you ready?

God had every day He ordained for you written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). He knows the day you were born, and He knows the day you'll die.

Life is but a vapor (James 4:13-14) and death but a blip as we pass from this life to the next. That's because we'll all live forever. The only thing in question is where.

The reality is, we were created for a relationship with Jesus Christ. And He is the only person who will ever fill the hollow places in our hearts. God created us to know Him intimately, as a best friend (John 15:15).

But when Eve took a bite from the apple and sin entered the world, it marred God’s plan and separated us from Him forever. Instead of living intimately connected to God, we decided to follow our own selfish ways.

Thankfully God loves us with an everlasting love, and through Jesus’ death on the cross, He’s made a way for us to know Him. God waits patiently for us to trust Him with our lives because He doesn’t want us to perish in our sin (2 Peter 3:9).

Our salvation never depends on what we do; it depends solely on what’s been done.

We don’t have to wait until we get our acts together to come to Jesus. He beckons us to come just as we are so He can place crowns of beauty on our heads instead of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). He desires to separate our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He longs to make us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

Through His death on the cross, Jesus paid the price in full for the sins of the entire world (John 3:16).

Today I beg you to evaluate whether this is the Jesus you know. We are all sinners in need of God's mercy (Romans 3:23). And God made a way for us to have a relationship with Him through Jesus’ death on the cross (Romans 6:23).

Jesus Christ came to Earth to be the payment for our sins so that we might live forever with Him in heaven. This is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9) that we can’t earn by being good people or attending church on Sundays.

If we could somehow earn our salvation, Jesus’ death on the cross would not have been necessary.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

It's that simple.

Maybe you're sitting on the other side of your computer screen right now and sense something is missing in your life. You have all you’ve ever wanted—a wonderful family, a beautiful home, a successful career. Yet inside you feel an emptiness you can never seem to escape. Or maybe you’re at your lowest point and the only place to look is up … but you have no idea who to look up to. Nothing has ever gone right in your life, so you figure you’ll just be broken forever.

God hears the cry of your heart right now. It's no accident that you're reading this post at this exact moment in time. God loves you, and He's pursuing you today.

Pray to God and acknowledge your need for Him. Tell him exactly how you’re feeling, admitting your brokenness. Confess to Him that you have fallen short of His glory because of the sin in your life. Admit that there is nothing you could ever do to earn your salvation. Tell Him you believe He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins so that you can live forever with Him in heaven. Thank God for His free gift of eternal life.

And then REST, knowing that God will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). The moment you are saved you receive the Holy Spirit, who is your counselor, comforter, and helper. The Holy Spirit steers your life and guides you into truth (John 16:13).

Because of the Holy Spirit’s power, you can live free from sin (Romans 6:18) and become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Trusting Jesus transforms your life. As you surrender your life to Christ, you begin to look more like Him and less like yourself. There’s a visible difference in how your life looks before and after you meet Jesus.

So I ask you again: Do you know about Jesus, or do you KNOW Him?

None of us are promised tomorrow. So make sure you're ready to meet Him face to face today. Don't delay. You never know if this moment might be your last.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rotten or Respectful?

I'm turning the screen toward my husband as I write this so He can see every word. Just typing the blog title makes me cringe ... and proves how necessary transparency truly is.

Respectful communication is a must in marriage. There's just one problemthe little pink thing that flaps back and forth in my mouth. Without warning it rages. I'm sure you have as much trouble with yours as I do with mine.

Proverbs 12:4 says, "An excellent wife is a crown for a husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones."

A few weeks ago, Mark and I hit a slippery slope. To tell you the truth, I didn't even see it coming. I let my responsibilities with my ministry take precedence over my marriage, and before I knew it, my husband was sending me an email to tell me how he was feeling.

An email.

After reading it I had a choice to makerespect him and acknowledge his feelings or shame him and shirk responsibility.

The second choice would've been much easier. I could've come up with ten-thousand excuses about why I was so busy. After all, serving God is paramount, right?

Wrong. It's number five on the list. According to Titus 2, it comes after my relationship with Christ, my husband, my children, and my home.

By the grace of God, I didn't go on a rampage as I've been known to do in the past. Instead, I respectfully talked to him with a repentant heart. I confessed to him my misplaced priorities and asked him to forgive me. And just so I didn't forget what I'd acknowledged as sin, I shared his email with two ladies on my leadership team for accountability.

There isn't a man in this world that wants to be shamed. That's why the locked-vault syndrome occurs when you disrespect your man. I know you know what I'm talking about.

You disrespect him; He clams up.

Then you get even angrier because he refuses to talk.

Men need the respect of their wives, which is why Ephesians 6 commands wives to respect their husbands. In the Greek, respect means "to fear, reverence, or be in awe." That sounds a lot like how we're supposed to treat God, doesn't it? God has given our husbands authority over us here on this Earth until he returns from heaven as our bridegroom.

When was the last time you stood in awe of the amazing gift God has given to you in your husband? Praise Him and thank him today for joining you together as one flesh, and confess to God any disrespect or shame you've shown your man. But don't just tell God; tell your husband as well. Then you'll be his crown.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Rhetorical Response

Are you ever brazen with God? Do you ever question Him and demand a response?

Well lately, I've had a lot of questions for my sweet Savior. Although I seem to have fallen off the face of the blog world this past month, I've just been wrestling instead of writing.

One thing I love about God is that He doesn't scoff at my questions (or yours!)—but He often answers them differently than we might expect. You see, God already knows the minute aspects of our characters. He understands our motives long before we do. He dares us to discover the root problems which lie deep within our questioning hearts.

If God gave us immediate answers when we question Him, we wouldn't have to peel back the layers of our lives to learn what lurks beneath. That's why instead of giving us the answers we so desperately want, He often answers our questions with a question of His own.

Thankfully, we're not the only ones with whom God used this tactic! When Moses doubted God's call on His life and battled unbelief, he questioned God. But God often asked Moses a question before giving him an answer.

When Moses asked God what He should do if the Israelies failed to believe him, God asked him what he held in his hand (Exodus 4:1-2). God reminded Moses He would provide the needed tools for ministry.

When Moses argued that he wasn't eloquent, God asked him who gave man his mouth (Exodus 4:10-11). God reminded Moses it was not about what he could accomplish in his own strength but about what God would achieve through his obedience.

Like Moses, I desperately want to know the end before the beginning.

It's been months since I found out a publisher was interested in my submission for Grafted into Godliness (the first Bible study in the GEMS curriculum), and I often ask, "God, how long will this take?" He responds, "How long are you willing to wait?"

He mercifully shows me my impatience and unbelief. He reminds me that my times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15) and that if I truly believed His Word I wouldn't care if the publishing process took two years or ten.

Another question I often ask Him is how I'm supposed to juggle ordinary life with the awesome responsibility of ministry. After all, I'm called to live my priorites of being a wife, mother, and keeper of my home, and just because He's called me to ministry doesn't mean I can neglect my family, trash the toilet scrubber, and kiss the laundry goodbye.

He answers, "What branches in your life will you let me prune so you aren't just surviving but thriving?" (John 15:2-3). We often think Jesus only wants to cut off the dead branches in our lives. But He sometimes needs to cut off the fruitful ones as well so we can FOCUS. Only then will we truly flourish.

I struggle with the "YES" complex. I think I can have it all, do it all, and be it all. I battle busyness and wonder why I wind up shortshort of time, short of enery, short of faith. God hasn't called me to race through life; He's asked me to rest in His perfect plan. And most times that plan involves doing one or two things with excellence- not ten thousand things well.

What questions have you been asking God lately? Instead of an answer, look for the question He's asking you back. Dig deep to discover what part of your heart He desires to change, and you'll have the answer you really needed after all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Draw Me Close

Today I had an epiphany of sorts. One of those light bulb moments you could say. Now don't go expecting me to unleash something profound or unveil some marvelous mystery. Cause this one is simple. So simple it often slips right by us.

God created us for fellowship. He tells us to love HIM with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. He even makes it the FIRST commandment so we atleast have a chance of remembering. His desire is that we draw close to Him in every thing and every relationship and every aspect of our lives. I don't know about you, but I often overlook this truth.

My Bible reading becomes a check mark instead of an invitation to intimacy. A call to come. To draw close.

My prayer life becomes about the answer instead of the great I AM. I grope for the answer and fail to grasp God. I often miss Him altogether. He allows me to cast all my cares upon Him because He cares for me. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Yet I'm the one hunched over, disconfigured from being the burden-bearer. I forget to draw close.

My marriage is often about my happiness. I want romance and roses, not budgets and bills. I forget God created marriage as a picture of His love for me, His bride. God continually reminds me that marriage isn't about making me happy but about making me holy. I have to remember that the only way to be holy is through Christ alone. Through the Spirit's power. By drawing close.

My children become a burden instead of a blessing. Society screams that I have too many, since I have more than the 2.2 allotment considered normal. I forget that in motherhood God beckons me to draw close to Him, to stop and see the immense love He has for me reflected in my relationship with my children. To see them as He sees me- knitted together by a perfect Creator; fearfully and wonderfully made; a masterpiece.

My home is often a havoc instead of a haven ... chaos instead of calm. But God desires to draw me close to Him as I work in my home and steward well over the material blessings He's bestowed on me. He reminds me how little I need but how much I often want, and He purifies my heart as He sows contentment deep within. He reminds me that godliness with contentment is great gain.

In all things God desires to draw me close, and what He's teaching me is that anything that doesn't draw me TO Him is drawing me FROM Him. My life is really all about drawing close to Him. Yet so often I desperately want my life to be about ME. And that's where the great divide begins.

Today I pray the Holy Spirit pulls a string in your soul and turns on a light bulb in your spirit. I hope God illuminates dark corners of your life you didn't even know existed and shines the light of His holiness. May He reveal the areas where you've been drawn away from Him, and then draw you close once again as He wraps you tightly in the arms of His everlasting love.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just "Be"

Do you ever get so busy with the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to just be?

As I lay with my four year-old son, Noah, in his bed tonight, we played our make-believe game of "animals." He's usually the beautiful blue rabbit with the fun floppy ears, and I'm the big brown monkey with the bright red nose. Together we act out silly stories that send us into fits of giggles. Even if we attempt to be serious and act out a Bible lesson we just learned, it's inevitable we'll wind up laughing.

After our game was over, I didn't rush off like I typically do, determined to get one last thing done before a new day dawns. Instead, I rolled over and scooped him in my arms. And in complete silence, I held my precious little boy for several minutes. As I smelled the sweet scent of his freshly shampooed hair and watched his little chest rise and fall, I relished in just be-ing.

Because so often I am busy do-ing.

I'm do-ing homeschooling.

I'm do-ing housework.

I'm do-ing laundry.

I'm do-ing dinner.

I'm do-ing things for Jesus.

And before I know it, I've missed the blessing of be-ing because I'm present in body, but absent in spirit.

In the stillness of silence, the Lord reminded me that do-ing doesn't equal be-ing. I can do and do and do and never be.

Our society measures productivity in terms of what we get done. I'm so thankful God doesn't measure my productivity in parenting that way.

A crucial aspect of loving our children as God commands us to in Titus 2:4 is willingly laying aside our doing at times to just be. And the beautiful thing about be-ing is that you don't have to be do-ing anything at all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

White as Snow

With the tip of my nose pressed against the cool glass of my back patio door, I marveled at the beauty of God's creation. Snow had begun falling hours before, and though it was almost midnight, beams of light danced off the ice. It looked so clean. So pure. So bright.

It's been seven years since my family moved from New Jersey to Mississippi, and I'd forgotten the magnificence of ten inches of snow. I couldn't resist stepping outside to let the flakes fall softly around me. I slid the patio door open, and without any shoes on (yes, I'm a Cajun girl), I pranced in the fluffy white powder.

As I basked in the beauty that surrounded me, the words of Isaiah 1:18 flooded my soul.

"Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool."

Just as the snow blankets the Earth and covers unattractive things under its surface, the blood of Christ covers our sins and makes us beautiful. Because of the shed blood of Jesus, we are pure and clean. We are redeemed!

But not only does snow cover what is ugly, it illuminates the world around it. As I stood in the stillness of the night, I couldn't believe how bright my backyard was. The darkness of the midnight sky was no match for the light reflecting off the freshly fallen snow.

Jesus didn't spill His crimson blood to cover our sins so we can still live like we're dingy. He cleans us up and purifies us so that we'll illuminate the world around us and shine for His glory. Our brightness bears witness that we're new creations in Christ.

But we often get sullied because we forget it's been settled. We mull around in the muck and mire instead of living the victorious life Jesus died for us to live. We allow the Devil to deceive us into thinking things will never change.

God wanted to make sure our fickle minds would remember that He's cleaned us up- once and for all. That's why He started this scripture with "Come now, let's settle this." I'm sure He knew we'd somehow slip back into our sins and forget that He's already won the victory.

What if today you and I decided to live like it's been settled?

How would our attitudes change? Our outlook on life?

Would our Kingdom impact be drastically different?

I believe it would.

Sweet friends, may today be the day we begin to live like we remember. Our sin has been settled. It's time to sparkle like new-fallen snow.