Sunday, December 10, 2017

Worth It


As I walked one afternoon, I meditated on what may be two familiar verses to some:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
 
God loved us smack dab in the middle of our sin.  He demonstrated His love while we rejected Him.  He poured His life out as an offering with the chance we may never love Him back.  Why would He lay Himself down for us in the midst of our wickedness? Why would He provide a way of escape for us when we lived a life that mocked His ways?  Why?  In that moment of question, I felt Him gently speak, “Not because you were worthy of it, but because you were WORTH IT.”
 
Immediately I was reminded:
 
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
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It is not a suggestion, but a commandment to love as He loved.  We are called to love those who do not deserve it.  Just saying we love people isn’t what He meant.  Love is a verb.  It is demonstrated in our actions, in our attitudes, in our words towards EVERYONE… even the unlovely.  Yes, even the one who disrespects you, the one who speaks evil of you, the one who has smeared your name, the one who has broken your heart, corrupt leaders, misguided politicians, the harsh boss that takes you for granted…
We've become accustomed to the idea that we are only to respect and love those who have earned it and are deserving of it. However, God's ways are much higher than our human logic:
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you to show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that?  And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the heathen do that?  You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:42-48

Image result for you are worth itEach of us was once lost in our sin and living a life separated from God… and yet - Jesus found us WORTH IT.  When we're tempted to pull our judgmental swords and withhold “the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts” let’s remember where we came from and love those who have not yet found The Way. 

"And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"  Romans 2:3-4

The goodness of God.  The goodness of God in what Jesus already did, the goodness of God in our everyday lives, and could it also be the goodness of God THROUGH US to others that will lead them to true repentance?  
 
May our love walk demonstrate the God who loved “while we were yet sinners.” May God's love in action - in us - be the very tool that gains us access to speak the Truth into those people’s lives who Jesus found WORTH IT! J
 
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Intricacies of Life

 
Walking through a "year round" Christmas store, I couldn't help but notice all the varieties of Christmas villages on display. From afar, they looked nice;  caught my eye, but when I really got up close and saw all of the intricacies of each individual piece, it made the display that much more beautiful and appreciated.

I began to think about our lives and how all too often we look at the BIG picture and miss the "little" things. Years pass us by and all we can account for is eating, sleeping, and paying the bills  - a life of what appears mundane when you look through it with surface vision. 
Day after day we acknowledge the  existence of people, places, and things, but fail to notice their beauty. We grow weary concentrating on what we don't have and miss out on the enjoyment of what is right at our fingertips.  We get so stuck in our routines that we sacrifice relationships both in our homes and beyond the four walls.
Looking at the villages, I was also reminded of a couple verses in Psalm 139. "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it."
When an artist puts detail into his creation: a painting, a sculpture, a writing,  it is placed there for a purpose... for the observer to take notice;  to find enjoyment in the beauty and uniqueness of it.
God is the Master Creator, the Master Artist, and He is into detail.  Everything He has ever created is an authentic masterpiece made for not only His pleasure but for ours! Our job is to slow down to find the joy in the NOW.
Let’s stop merely glancing over the big picture of life. Hit the “zoom” button and you’ll discover what a fleeting look will never see.
Begin studying the individuality of your children. Love them BIG right now in both their cuteness and what you may see as annoyances and quirks. Begin noticing the deeper things deposited within your spouse, your family, and your friends rather than year after year maintaining “how's it going?” shallow  relationships where you have no real desire to listen or share in either their joys or their troubles.   Quit being satisfied with the pet answer of, "It's going good," and begin to really care about people.   Care about them deeply.  Set aside your selfish, patterned day and allow for interruptions.  In time, it just may dawn on you that they were not interruptions at all.  These were the moments of true living like God intended. 

Seize opportunities to share life together and be an encouragement to one another.  Quit waiting for an "easier" or “more convenient” stage of life to live in the now. Before you know it, the chance you had is over and everything gets pushed off for a future that never comes.








“Slow down and smell the beauty in life.” e

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Veils


Years ago I  was scurrying around the kitchen taking care of my children’s hunger while worshipping along with the music on my laptop.   Suddenly I  came to a dead halt; not knowing that MY "hunger" would be met that afternoon.  Leaning onto my elbows on the counter, eyes shut - the One being worshipped reached down to touch me: depositing into me the only way to feed my longing to know Him more intimately.
 
“…the veil of the temple was torn in two.” (Luke 23:45)

Ultimately the veil has already been torn for our free access to God, where we can come BOLDLY to Him, but we are well learned in hanging up our own self constructed veils that keep us from confidently approaching Him.

I see Jesus, just the lower half of Him, in a white robe.   His hands outstretched beckoning one to come to Him…
 
A woman, behind a white veil – sheepishly pokes her head around to see Him.   She knew Him.  He knew her.   That was evident.
 
As she made her way to Him, there were rows of veils to maneuver around.   Each veil had a name such as shame, hurt, bitterness, resentment, anger, guilt, abuse, abandonment; all in which were blocking her from coming to Him FULLY.  She longed to be with Him, but these veils…

She loves Him and is in relationship with Him.   She is a worshipper, but she only presents to Him the “pretty” parts -  ashamed of those unhealed, dark areas of her life.  

We think these veils protect us.   We shy away because of shame.   We even unconsciously doubt His acceptance of us.  We've allowed the image of our worth to be molded by the pain we've experienced  and the people in our lives that have rejected us for who we are.

The most intimate relationships are born out of being vulnerable to share your whole “story.”   This is why He is calling.   He longs for all of you, and He knows the healing power His presence brings. Beloved, He is beckoning you…


Longing for a love exchange 
Abandoned and free 
I anticipate our togetherness 
As you make your way to Me

  Suddenly you cower 
From Me, your eyes divert 
Veils drape around you 
Tailored by years of hurt
 
I see the shackles tighten 
Binding up your heart 
You hold from Me the broken
Only giving Me a part
 
A part of who you really are
A portion of your soul
I need to embrace it all
To mend and make you whole

Restoration only comes
To places you let Me touch
Press past your own resistance
I’m the One who you can trust
 
Anxiously I beckon you
As a husband to his bride
To make your way again
Confidently by My side
 
Recklessly abandoned
To My arms you quickly run
Cradled in My acceptance…
Veils dropping… one by one
 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Peace


A cycle of confusion, so constant, that contentment can never take root.  Band-Aids don’t heal and time never cures.   You’re surviving, but you’re far from living.  Your day becomes about holding it together, but inside you are crumbling. 

Maybe its pain inflicted upon you by another.  Your heart is unsafe.  You long for true acceptance and unconditional love.  Your level of peace is being constantly aware and managing your actions, denying your own desires if needed, or even talking about them.  You try and you try until you realize that even if perfection were possible, it wouldn’t be enough. Callous words leave your heart numb, and yet somehow you still feel the pain.  Every time.
 
Maybe you’re at war with yourself.  Choices in life have left you devastated, guilty, or full of shame.  Or you have something going on inside of you.  It doesn’t have a name or a known reason for being there.  It’s sad.  It’s angry.  It’s depressed.  It’s stressed.  It’s hopeless.  So… you enlist.  You enlist in a losing battle plan of addiction, self harm, or abusing others.

Only the One who made us can restore us back to wholeness. In the midst of your raging storm, I pray you look to Him ~ where your release and your peace is found.


Peace


Crashing waves


Bruise my shore


Howling winds


 Blow in once more



Torrential rains


Pelt my skin


Lightning bolts


Come again




Turbulent waters


Staggered stance


Cycle repeated

In this dying dance



 
Trembling knees


Strike the ground


 Eyes glance up


To where help is found
 


An instant hush


The storm to cease


All at once


A soul at peace…

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fear

Image result for love my anti fear
 

We are all well acquainted with the emotion that bears a choke hold.  It's ruthless.  It's torment.  It's an enemy to faith, a thief that robs you of life - imprisons you to a false reality. 

Anxiety, depression, doubt, worry, hurt, anger, sadness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, hatred, prejudice.  It comes disguised underneath many different emotions, but it all comes down to one thing:
 
FEAR.
 
The paralysis for some is the dread of what could happen years down the road, anxiety associated with an unpredictable economy, and for many it is the torment of what today, the next hour, the next minute will bring. 

"...fear has torment." 1 John 4:18a

Fear is not only an emotion, but a spiritual force. It is very similar to faith in that both have an unshakable belief in an unseen future. Fear trusts circumstances, natural predictions, the enemy's lies, and self.  Faith trusts God and what His Word says.  Fear is negative faith. 
 
Fear is an enemy of God.  It in essence rips Him of His lordship in our lives. We become self focused and not God focused.  We put our trust in the wisdom of man rather than in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:5).  We no longer see Him for Who He is and who He desires to be in our lives...  He solely becomes a gateway to Heaven, but in our day to day living He is diminished to a dusty figure placed on a shelf.   

God is love, and the Bible says that Perfect Love casts out fear.  God is THAT perfect love. 
 
"There is no fear in love (dread does not exist), but perfect love turns fears out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment.  He who is afraid has not fully experienced His perfect love." 1 John 4:18

Image result for chains broken jesusFather, we want to know Your love... Your love is our freedom.  Your love removes shackles. Your love delivers us from all fear.  You are not what our circumstances look like. You are not what the latest trends define You as.  We commit to growing in the knowledge of who You truly are as defined in Your Word, and through that knowledge - growing in intimacy with You... We know that in experiencing that intimate love - fear has no more room in our lives. Thank You for Your love and the hope and peace it brings.
 
 
"I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day



Father, we thank You for Jesus - the One who willingly laid His life down for our eternal freedom.


 We also thank You for the men and women who have served and are currently serving our country. Like Jesus, they have committed themselves and their time for the sake of freedom. They have unselfishly laid down their lives for us and even a future generation yet unborn.


We thank You for the Holy Spirit who is our Comforter. Comfort the families who have lost their loved ones while battling for our country's freedom. We are so thankful for the price they've paid. Comfort the families whose loved ones are away. Give them strength and courage to face each day.


We lift up those who are on the battle lines now and those who could be called at any time. We pray for their protection and safe return. We pray that their purpose in fighting for our peace not be in vain.


 We pray for the servicemen and women who do not know You. Send laborers into their path. May the blinders be removed and their eyes be opened to the Gospel message. We pray Jesus would become their hope and comfort, and that they would then unashamedly share their experience with Him to others. We pray for a domino effect to happen - that the saving message of Jesus would spread like wild fire!
 
We pray that the United States would come back to You. We pray that revival would be sparked in the hearts of all - that a great awakening would strike the land and Jesus would be glorified in America. Bless our country, Father. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Easter Story

Image result for jesus on the cross passion of the christ
 
Twelve men left all and followed Him
Miracles they had seen
They watched Him heal all who were sick
Those with unclean spirits were made clean

But one follower named Judas Iscariot
Betrayed Him with a kiss
Handed Him over to the chief priests
To be scourged and put to death

He was mocked by those that held Him
“So tell us, are You the Christ?”
“You wouldn’t believe Me if I told you,” He said
For they accused Him of speaking lies

“Are you the Son of God?” they stammered
He responded, “Yes, I am He”
Accusations of blasphemy filled the land
An act deserving the death penalty

They all condemned Him to be put to death
As they struck Him and spit in His face
Even one of His disciples whom He loved very much
Denied ever seeing His face

Carrying Him away; they delivered Him to Pilate
“Are you the King of the Jews?” Pilate sneered
“You say rightly that I am a King,” Jesus said
“But My kingdom is not from here.”

Jesus, the Christ, and Barabbas, a murderer
Stood before the multitude
By custom one prisoner could be released
The one whom the people choose

“Away with this Man; release to us Barabbas,”
Insistently the people cried
“Then what shall I do with Jesus, the Christ?”
They shouted, “Let Him be crucified.”

A purple robe they placed on His body
A crown of thorns twisted on His head
“Hail, King of the Jews,” they mocked
As blood streamed from His head

His back took brutal beatings
His head they struck with a rod
Spitting into His face they scorned
“Save Yourself if You’re the Son of God!”

He didn’t fight back to prove who He was
For He knew His hour had arrived
To fulfill the very purpose for why He had come
For a lost people He would have to die

As they drove the cold nails in His hands and feet
His body exposed for all to view
Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them”
“For they know not what they do.”

Blasphemous words echoed throughout
Gross darkness encamped the land
And with His last breath He shouted aloud
“Father, I commit My spirit into Your hands.”

On the third day since His burial
An angel descended from Heaven
The earth quaked; the stone rolled away
The tomb was empty, for Jesus had risen

Two women mourned nearby the tomb
For they thought His body had been stole
The angel approached them and declared
“Rejoice, for He has arose!”

Quickly they fled to tell the disciples
Their hearts filled with great joy and fear
Some of them rejoiced while others doubted
And then in their midst Jesus appeared

They fell at His feet and worshipped
As He blessed them with His hands
“Go into all the world and tell them of Me,
I won’t be back ‘til it’s reached every land.”

“Remember you're not of this world
If you've received Me as your Lord
Be not like the world; keep from all evil
So that you may receive the final reward.”

“It’s time for Me to leave now,
You must carry out My ministry
I give you the authority to be My hands and feet
With My name you’ll set many free.”

“For it won’t be long before I return
For those who live for Me
They are who I will take as My bride
To Heaven for eternity.”

“Keep watch for the hour is so near
Be prepared to meet Me again
For in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye
As I am now, I will appear again.”

 
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