Trial Perspective

You are right in the middle of it,

and it is painful

 

It hurts

and it pulls downward

 

Your trial threatens

your heart

your mind

your faith

 

But friend

look UP

 

Recognize what is happening

 

This time

this moment

this circumstance

 

God wants to use it!

 

Please don’t miss that

 

Your growth

your strengthening

your unexplainable peace

 

is yours for the taking

 

Don’t turn your back

on the One who blessed you

with easier times

 

He is close

 

And His Spirit-help is there

for those who turn their eyes to Him

 

HE

is your strength

is your peace

is your joy

 

IS the One who feels the deepest

about your situation

 

He is kind, you see

 

Walk with HIM

when you need Him most

 

and KNOW

God-strength

in the middle of it all

 

– Susie Stewart

 

In his kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.

– 1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)

 

If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!

– Proverbs 24:10 (NIV)

 

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.  If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.

– James 1:2-5 (VOICE)

 

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.

– Romans 8:28 (VOICE)

 

You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You,
        for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You.
     So trust in the Eternal One forever,
        for He is like a great Rock—strong, stable, trustworthy, and lasting.

– Isaiah 26:3,4 (VOICE)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Tough & Tender

The heart

 

is a curious

and beautiful

and complex

thing

 

With our hearts we feel the depths

and the heights

 

and all that is between

 

It is the core,

and it is to be guarded

 

But how do we guard it

without becoming calloused?

 

And how do we sense

without becoming overly-sensitive?

 

How is it that we can be strong of heart,

and at the same time

tender-hearted?

 

All in christ

always

 

All in Christ

 

 

And it all begins

 

with a heart

surrendered

to Jesus

 

Only He can bring strength

and tenderness

to co-exist within us

 

Allowing His Words to penetrate

any hardness of heart

 

we let Him soften

the callouses

 

As we become tender to His Spirit

 

our softness and sensitivity toward people

will grow deep

and beautiful

and sincere

 

Forgiveness and grace

will flow

and heal

and bless

 

Then there is His strength

welling up

 

We allow His Words

and His presence

to strengthen

our weakness

 

We believe HIM

and take our thoughts captive to His Spirit

 

We are strong in Him!

We KNOW that He is God!

 

Strength of heart develops

when our focus is on HIS strength

in us

 

not our own

 

And we let His peace

RULE in our hearts

 

Let it rule

 

Which means surrender to His will

and trusting Him

with everything

 

Strength

and tenderness

can live in the same heart

 

through Christ,

the strongest

and most tender

 

Loving with quiet goodness,

fighting for us

with all passion

and strength

 

 

~ Susie Stewart

 

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

– Colossians 3:15 (NLT)

 

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

– Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

– Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

– Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

 

So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

– James 4:7-9 (MSG)

 

They won’t be afraid of bad news; their hearts are steady because they trust the Lord.

– Psalm 112:7 (NCV)

 

I have pursued You with my whole heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.

– Psalm 119:10 (VOICE)

 

Don’t put on a show just because they are looking (as if you were a people pleaser); but as a slave of the Anointed, do the will of God from your heart.

– Ephesians 6:6 (VOICE)

 

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

– Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

– Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

 

I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

– Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

 

A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.

– Proverbs 14:30 (AMPC)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Waiting…

Wait for it….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….

 

 

 

 

 

……….

 

 

 

That’s what God asks us to do

sometimes

 

Just wait.

 

And we want to not

wait

 

but in the waiting

is the trusting

 

in the waiting

is the growing

 

in the waiting

is the God-dependence

 

in the waiting

is the patience-building

character-growing

self-denying

 

goodness of God

 

When we wait with surrender

He strengthens tenderly and mightily

 

Waiting reminds us

of the Lord’s broad view

of heaven and earth

 

and we TRUST

in His perspective

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

– Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

 

Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won’t become weary. They will walk and won’t grow tired.

– Isaiah 40:31 (GW)

 

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in His word I put my hope.

– Psalm 130:5 (NIV)

 

Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.

– Psalm 37:7 (GW)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

 

 

Glory Through The Darkness

So here we are again

five years after the first time,

 

cancer has made its ugly appearance

in my body yet again

 

And people wonder how I’m doing…

 

The news felt like a rude sucker punch

mixed with a river of sorrow

 

and yet

I had a feeling that was the diagnosis I would hear

 

Once again my husband and I held one another

and cried

and have stayed close to one another since the news came

 

Our children were told

and they were stunned,

sorrowful,

and older and braver than last time

 

My parents

supported with such love

and tenderness

and words deep

 

My brother and his wife

came right over

with food love

and flowers sweet

and listening ears

 

Phone calls were made

and friends were told

and they offered up unbelievable support and love

endless

 

And people wonder

how am I feeling?

 

I feel

sad

and  I feel thankful

and I feel strong

in my sorrow

 

And I am keenly aware

once again

that all the people care,

 

but my deepest need

is for my Jesus

 

In all of this

I can’t get my mind off of the One

who is my Rock

my Comfort

my Everything

 

And it’s me

and it’s Him

eyes locked on one another

 

My good

and His glory

are

ALWAYS

His intent

 

And I walk forward

taking one day at a time

just like we all do

 

yet

with a sharper focus

on every

little

thing

 

I pray with all my might

that healing would be mine

 

and I know He’s heard every word

 

And the sentiments I penned

one day before diagnosis

are true in the valley of the shadow ~

 

“My relationship

with the Lord of the Universe

is new

freeing

and vibrant”

 

Cancer is ugly

God is my freedom

 

His unchanging character

did not flinch

 

when I was diagnosed with cancer

once again

 

and I can’t imagine

walking this road

without Him

 

My life is still

for HIM,

not for me

 

Not what He does

for me

 

This is such a broken world, friends

 

And you hear and experience bad news

every

single

day

 

The signs are pointing

to the earth groaning

in preparation

for Jesus’ return

 

Be ready

 

And don’t get hung up

on whether God is good or not

when bad things happen

 

tossed and turned in your faith

by bad news

 

God warned us

of trials

and tribulations

and pain

 

and attacks from our circling

and preying

and vicious enemy

 

Stay with God

and do not be swayed by your feelings

about why He lets certain things happen

 

What kind of God would He be

if He claimed to be Love

and claimed to be good

and claimed to be just

and claimed to be ALL the things He claimed to be

 

and then forfeited it all

by allowing trials in a Christ-Follower’s life?

 

It’s not possible

 

He is perfect

and His ways are right

 

And what a patient and amazing God

to reach into our broken world

 

and provide salvation from it?

 

I choose to rest in Him

in this cancer journey

 

And believe what you will,

but I have been singing His praises with joy

since I got up this morning

 

– Susie Stewart

 

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 firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

– Romans 8:22, 23 (NIV)

 

Jesus Christ is [eternally changeless, always] the same yesterday and today and forever.

– Hebrews 13:8 (AMP)

 

But as for me, I will sing about Your power.
    Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love.
For You have been my refuge,
    a place of safety when I am in distress.

– Psalm 59:16 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Call Me Religious

Whatever you do,

don’t call me religious

 

And you might be confused

because I go to church regularly

and I talk about God

and I read my Bible

 

but please

don’t call me religious

 

Because I’m not

 

I am a Follower of Jesus,

the One who said,

 

“I am the WAY

the Truth

and the LIFE…”

 

not ONE of the ways

ONE of the truths

 

He is my LIFE

 

And all the religions of the world

are full of people

 

working their way to God

or to something other than God

 

While I place all my faith

with evidence

on my God who came down for me

 

Religion is ritual

and repetition

and redundant

 

My relationship

with the Lord of the Universe

is new

freeing

and vibrant

 

Religion constantly has its focus on

“What can God do for me?”

 

Relationship with God has its focus on

God

 

Please,

whatever you do,

don’t call me religious

 

for my Jesus

who took on human flesh and humanity

 

reserved His harshest words

for religious people

 

They might have looked pious on the outside

but they were not God-alive on the inside

 

they were dead inside

 

We need Jesus to cleanse us from our sin…

 

Uh oh, I said it,

SIN

 

Who wants to hear that word??

 

But we all know we struggle with it!

Sin, like cancer, eats away at us

 

And God had a plan all along

to save us from the bondage of it

 

He would step into our world

and make the payment for OUR sin

 

by sacrificing His perfect self,

unconditionally loving us

all

along

the

way

 

But He didn’t skimp on words

while He was here

 

and He wanted everyone to know

 

that the Son of God does not stutter

when He says,

 

“NO ONE comes to the Father

except through Me.”

 

No one

 

Not a single

religious

person

 

who is trusting in themselves being religious

to get themselves to God

 

For there is no good deed that wins God’s favor

 

No amount of charity work

or chants

or  going to church

or bowing 10 times…

 

It has always been about God,

not what He can do for me

 

This is not about self-centered religion

but a God-centered life

 

committed to His glory

 

What a free

and abundant

and wonderful way

to live

 

Thank you, Jesus,

for setting me free of

RELIGION

 

~  Susie Stewart

 

Pass this on to everyone you know.  The message is for the whole world.  

 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

~  John 14:6 (NIV)

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

– Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

 

You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.

– Matthew 23:27 (MSG)

 

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

– Romans 10:9 (NIV)

 

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.

– Romans 3:22-26 (NLT)

 

Photo by Andy Stewart

The Only Thing

Some day

when my spirit soars to God’s side

 

the only thing

I really care to be known for on this earth

 

is that I made Jesus known

and lived my life for Him

 

for His glory

 

I care that people know

that I love Him

 

with my heart

mind

soul

and strength

 

and that they would be drawn

to His unbelievably fierce love and grace

 

knowing that I love them unconditionally

as He loves me

 

No matter the trials

no matter the pain

 

my life is about Him

and His renown

 

Nothing else

 

matters

 

– Susie Stewart

 

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by Him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience His resurrection power, be a partner in His suffering, and go all the way with Him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

– Philippians 3:7-11 (MSG)

 

We love because He first loved us.

– 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Solid

Keep your focus

on the target that doesn’t move

 

All distracting targets move about

and are unpredictable

 

Fix your gaze on the Lord

 

And don’t look for fulfillment

in what is seen

 

for what is unseen

makes all of that pale and meaningless

 

Fix your gaze on the Lord

 

And don’t spend all your time thinking about

this temporary world

 

for it is not meant to last

and all will be stripped away

 

Fix your gaze on the Lord

 

Don’t trust in that which is fallible

and worldly

 

Fix your gaze on the Lord

 

Unmovable

Immutable

Undefeated

 

Our Rock

 
Solid and trustworthy

is our Lord

 

– Susie Stewart

 

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

– 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

 

Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.

– Hebrews 12:2 (VOICE)

 

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our Apostle and High Priest.

– Hebrews 3:1 (NIV)

 

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

– Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)

 

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!

– Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

 

Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.

– Proverbs 4:23-27 (MSG)

 

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

– Matthew 5:19-23 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

 

 

CircumSTANCE

What is your stance

on your circumstance?

 

Do you only feel God is good

when life is trouble-free?

 

Do you only draw near to Him

when you think He is making things easier?

 

Or do you cling to

His faithfulness

His constant love

His unchanging nature

 

His holiness

 

in this imperfect life?

 

You see, He has warned all of us

that life here will not be easy

 

and that trials will pile up

upon trials

 

He

warned

us

 

And then

He made a promise

 

“I will never leave you.”

 

And He doesn’t

 

So when you are tempted to take the

“I’m mad at God” stance

in your circumstance

 

Remember

 

that He is the One you need most

at

all

times

 

especially in those trials

 

and that His love

does not shoot arrows

to make your life miserable

 

He is the One

who holds your tears

and provides

just when you need it

 

Your stance

in your circumstance

should be

 

I am confident in His perfection and goodness and love

in the brokenness of earthly life

 

– Susie Stewart

 

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

– John 16:33 (AMP)

 

…God has said, “I will never abandon you or leave you.”

– Hebrews 13:5 (GW)

 

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    He’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give Him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under His loving correction.
It’s the child He loves that God corrects;
    a father’s delight is behind all this.

– Proverbs 3:5-12 (MSG)

 

My help and glory are in God
    —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
So trust Him absolutely, people;
    lay your lives on the line for Him.
    God is a safe place to be.

– Psalm 62:7-8 (MSG)

 

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in people.

– Psalm 118:8 (NLT)

 

For the Eternal will be a shelter for those who know misery, a refuge during troubling times.

– Psalm 9:9 (VOICE)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart taken in the deserts of Israel

 

 

 

 

 

Morning

As the pink-orange sun

slices through the morning haze

 

I bow my day to You, Lord

 

I gaze at Your beauty

with new morning eyes

 

I take in Your love

and I breathe it back

 

And quiet peace

grounds me to You

 

The colors of morning

draw me to Your side

 

and I enjoy You,

my beautiful

beautiful

God

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.

– Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

 

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

– Romans 1:20 (NLT)

 

Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. Evening gave way to morning.

– Genesis 1:31 (VOICE)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Spirit Walk

Holy Spirit

guide my mind and heart

this day

 

May I not heed

pop culture’s grasp

emotion’s wave

accolade’s hold

comfort’s woo

distraction’s tug

 

 

the wisdom of this world

or the lies of the enemy

 

May I follow You

wherever that leads me

 

confident in my trustworthy God

who sees the big picture

from eternity’s standpoint

 

Holy Spirit

lead on

into my unknown day

 

known by You

alone

 

– Susie Stewart

 

So now, where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the skilled debater, the best of your time? Step up, if you dare. Hasn’t God made fools out of those who count on the wisdom of this rebellious, broken world?

– 1 Corinthians 1:20 (VOICE)

 

When Jesus returned from the Jordan River, He was full of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit led Him away from the cities and towns and out into the desert.

– Luke 4:1 (VOICE)

 

If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children.

– Romans 8:14 (VOICE)

 

Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit.

– Galatians 5:25 (VOICE)

 

But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

– Mark 13:11 (VOICE)

 

The Spirit of truth will come and guide you in all truth. He will not speak His own words to you; He will speak what He hears, revealing to you the things to come and bringing glory to Me. The Spirit has unlimited access to Me, to all that I possess and know, just as everything the Father has is Mine. That is the reason I am confident He will care for My own and reveal the path to you.

– John 16:13 (VOICE)

 

But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.

– Acts 20:22-24 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart