Sunday, August 5, 2012

He Makes You Whole

Do you know how much Jesus loves you?

We’ve been told that He loved us so much He died on a cross for us. But that is so huge, so unfathomable, we don't really grasp the love in it.

I want to tell you how much He loves you.

He watched you as you slept last night. He sang songs over you as He absorbed the wonder of you. He was with you as you crawled out of bed. He ached for you as you showered and imagined those conversations you really want to have with your mother-in-law.

He was with you as you ate breakfast. When you yelled at your kids for the third time this morning his hand gently rubbed your back.

On the way to work when your eyes strayed to the guy in the car next to yours, He whispered how much He loves you and how desperate He is to heal you.

When you poured yourself a drink, the secret one that you slip into your coffee or cola, He called you his daughter and spoke words of love to your heart. He aches to free you, to make you whole.

His love is the desperation of a father who sees His child entangled and snared by the lies and pain of a life disconnected from Him. This love drove him to rescue you.

I want you to imagine a child, dirty and abused. Hair snarled and tangled with dirt and lice. Clothes filthy and torn. That is a picture of you before the cross came into your life. Before the ultimate price was paid for you.

Now I want you to picture a child of royalty. Oh, how she glistens. Her eyes sparkle, her clothing is the finest imaginable. She is fresh, rested, peaceful and fully clean. That is a picture of who you are now. You may not see it, but your Father does.

Every curse, every sin, every stain was paid for and washed clean at the cross of Jesus. Every pain you’ve felt, every humiliation, every horrible word you’ve hurled at someone you loved or hated. Every terrible act you’ve committed: the lies, the cheating, the unfaithfulness, the murder you’ve committed in your heart. Every awful thing you’ve said, done or thought—each one has been dealt with. Jesus took it all onto himself. He did this for you.

Every awful thing you do tomorrow, next day or next year or when you’re eighty. It’s all been dealt with.

The anger of God toward your sin went on Jesus. Every bit of God’s anger was extinguished in the person of Jesus. There is no anger left. No disappointment over your choices. Just a longing to free you from the unhealth in your life. The places he doesn’t inhabit. The places that aren’t working any more.

He wants to fill you from the inside, so full of His love that you start seeing and believing the reality of who you are: a child of royalty.

You are a prince or princess in His household. In the Kingdom of God. You fulfill a place in His heart that no other person ever can. He longs for you. There is so much He longs to tell you of His love and His plans for your life. Plans that will excite and delight you.

The Bible is not a list of do’s and don’ts. It is a love letter He wrote to you. In it He tells you that He is love (I John 4:8) and He tells you all about his character (1 Cor. 13). How kind and patient He is. And He has the best sense of humor and longs to laugh with you.

He will never turn you away or turn away from you.
Come to Him all you who are weary and lost and without hope. He longs to give you rest. To show you a new way that is full of life, rest and peace.

Friday, February 17, 2012

We Are Not Our Own

Our lives are not our own.

We hear that over and over in church settings. It tends to go in my left ear and out my right. But our lives truly aren’t our own. We don’t choose when we’re born and we don’t get to decide the day of our departure (unless we violate the principles of life).

We are in the hands of a creator. The Creator. I was feeling distant from God this morning. I get that way if I get sidetracked and stop tuning into Him. As I was trying to find my way back to that sweet place, I said to Him, “You really do love me even when I stop talking or ignore you.”

He responded, “When you’re not doing?”

His point being: You are viewing my love as dependent on what you do, not who you are: My beloved child.

That caught my attention. I want to walk free from performance with a fierceness you can’t imagine. I crave that freedom. So many Christian terms have become bubble-wrapped in a religious mindset. For me anyway. They trip off our lips so easily they’ve lost their meaning and power.

Mercy. Grace. Redemption. Sanctification.

What do those words truly mean?

When we talk about being wrapped in His arms of love, do we really feel wrapped by Him? Do we steal into a place of freedom and love that His presence is supposed to bring?

I do. But I don’t know if many people follow that invitation. Or if they even know what freedom looks like.

I have met him in the still places of my heart. I’ve heard his laughter, felt His arms around me and looked into His eyes.

And I want more. I want to dive into the deep places of God.

That’s His desire for each one of us.

Want to join me?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Learning Curves

Learned something about serving today.

I was on the phone with my cell phone provider needing a simple question answered. The gentleman helping me hadn't attuned himself to actually listen to my words.

Footnote here. I have a big "disregarded" button that I hate having pushed. I don't like being disregarded, or ignored or disrespected (my poor kids). I want to be heard and validated.

The poor man on the phone didn't really push my button, just leaned up against it a little bit.

So when he asked me if this was the first time I had called the provider about this question, I firmly disavowed him of that notion (politely of course), explaining that I'd already told him I'd been talking to another agent about this issue.

He then very politely asked if I had any more questions and got off the line.

I sat staring at the phone, thinking about how I heard him close down. Second time that's happened when I've spoken with salespeople this week, so I did a little self-examination.

I'm a coder by default. I tend to peek between the lines of what people are saying to ascertain motives and hidden objectives. It happens in a matter of milliseconds and I usually don't notice it.

That is until the Lord gently cleared his throat and pointed to those dad burned assumptions.

He conveyed that I'm on guard against being taken advantage of, or of being rejected by others. The lie is that if I can figure it out then I can protect myself. Yeah, like that works.

It is self-focused rather than others-minded. And he wants me to be about people, because He is about people. About loving them and serving them.

So what if someone has an agenda. That doesn't mean I have to buy in.

The last little thing he said with a wink and a grin was, "Isn't this fun?"

Yeah, actually it is.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Uncharted Depths

I feel God calling me to new playing grounds. To deeper levels of intimacy and connection.

He's asking me to open my heart to Him. To really open my heart. No holding back that guarded five percent that I do with most people. My safety zone that I can hide in when I get fearful or uncertain.

He wants me naked and transparent in all my emotions. Not coming to Him after I've locked anger and resentment, or jealousy and envy back into that closet in my mind. The place I store all those ugly "not Christian enough" emotions.

That smoke and mirrors room that hides behind perfectionism.

He wants me to bring everything to Him. All the dirt and ugliness that I slog through. And I'm finding that incredibly difficult.

And terribly exciting.

There's that curl of anticipation, like when you find out that the boy you've had a crush on just might like you.

It's called HOPE.

Hope that God truly will embrace me when I stand near Him with the fruit of my fleshliness weighing me down.

Hope that the truth that I read in the Word about Him, will make that twelve inch drop from head to heart and flow into every part of my being.

Hope that I will truly begin to grasp the Nature and Goodness of the One who created ME.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Whose Mirror Are You Looking In?

A year ago we acquired a playful, sandstone-colored ball of inquisitiveness, who could have authored the "curiosity killed the cat," saying.

Hudson's an indoor cat, a stance I took after our last indoor / outdoor cat had an unfortunate run-in with a passing car. But Hudson hasn't reconciled himself to this state of affairs. After a few tentative ventures onto the front porch when we took our dog out to potty (and failed to shut the door completely), he's been attempting to sneak outside.

Today his wildest dreams were realized when we left to go school shopping (I finally broke my tradition of racing to do it a few days before school starts) and someone left the front door ajar. My eight-year-old was flying solo, so he did the hunt through the house as we called for Hudson. But no caramel-colored cat came sauntering out.

We prayed and then TDH (tall, dark & handsome) slipped on his sandals and said he'd go looking for him. I was a bit surprised and touched. He and Hudson haven't exactly bonded. Though he didn't make it farther than the side yard where I found him pulling weeds.

I went to pick up our eleven-year-old twins from youth group, biting down several nails as I wondered how I was going to break the news. Especially to my tender-hearted daughter.

Halfway home, I took a deep breath and explained that the front door had been open while we were shopping and Hudson had gone on an adventure. Stricken blue eyes dashed toward mine and I quickly added that Hudson would likely show up in the morning when he was hungry. Not wanting to get hopes too high, I added that he might have packed a big knapsack and wouldn't be back for a couple days.

She calmed some, so I added, "He'll probably come back with a couple tattoos." A slight mile emerged and she said, "Yeah, he'll probably have shaved his whiskers."

I was grateful that they could see it as Hudson's grand adventure and not slide into gut-wrenching panic.

After dinner, TDH redeemed himself from the weed-pulling detour and after praying for Hudson's safe return, glanced out the front door and there he was, hunkered down below the porch, eyes wide and fearful. We gave him space and he launched himself toward the open door, body low to the ground, fast as a missile as if one of us would capture him and toss him back into the darkness.

It brought to mind a conversation I'd had with my daughter earlier in the day. She'd been tormented with guilt and shame by a choice she'd made earlier and had difficulty forgiving herself. Like Hudson, she couldn't see through her own poor choice to the love and forgiveness waiting with arms stretched out.

We talked through salvation and how Jesus on the cross took all sin on himself, receiving God's anger in our place. He lived out our jail sentence.

She pondered that and then with a bit of skepticism asked, "God's not angry with us?" I told her he wasn't. She processed that and then with a bit of wonder she asked, "Not even a little bit?" I told her that he wasn't angry in the least and that because of what Jesus did, we have God's pleasure and delight in us.

God then did one of those cool things He does for us, and in a nanosecond deposited a whole revelation into my mind. I saw a little girl standing in the righteous robes of Christ while the enemy of our souls stood nearby slinging mud onto her—rejection, anger, insecurity, hurt . . . and while none of the mud could stick, he held up a mirror and spoke lies that made her believe she was covered in the filth of hell.

But we don’t have to believe those lies. We can soak in the truth of our forgiveness and redemption—which is defined as our deliverance or rescue.

Jesus is the great Rescuer and God awaits us with arms stretched wide.

(Art by: Brielle Sand)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Temporary Blog Hiatus . . .

Due to a couple of projects I will not be posting for a while. But I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of blogging soon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grocery Lists

Thankfulness. . .

The Word says that we enter God's presence with thanksgiving in our hearts. He's been impressing this on my heart over and over lately.

I remember when I used to sit down for my quiet time with the stress and burden of my troubles cloaking me. My mind a fog of frustration or trying to spin out solutions.

I'd have to intentionally clear out a space in my brain and get to my thankfulness. Thanking Him for our house, our car, our health, our kids—okay sometimes they were strictly on the prayer request list . . .

While thanking him for all those things is vital, I'm learning that entering His presence with thanksgiving doesn't necessarily mean pulling out a grocery list of thank you "to do"s while a huge pile of hurt and stress sits on our shoulders.

My time with Him becomes more real and intimate when I can say, "Thank you for being with me in this stress and hurt. Thank you that you have a path already laid out to navigate this situation I'm facing. Thank you that You have everything I need. Thank You that you provide the energy to be what I need to be for my family during this time. Thank You for the answers I know You have for these problems. Thank You that You never leave me alone to handle it by myself."

My thanksgiving can be for who He is to me in my mess.

There is such power and comfort and freedom in speaking truth about who He is and what He wants to do in the midst of my challenges and struggles, that I come away from those times renewed, throwing off the fear and discouragement.

When we give Him our burdens, He gives us joy and hope.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When Life Gets Rough

I first noticed my emotions flat lining in February.

But it wasn't until I got a concerned note from my son's six grade teacher about a nose dive in missing assignments that I figured out what was going on.

We were nearing the six month anniversary of my father-in-law's death. According to grief experts it's a difficult milestone.

My reservoir was swinging toward empty but life's challenges didn't slow down to keep pace. They kept coming at full fury.

I wanted to pull over into an emotional rest stop. When I signed up to me a wife and mom, I forgot to ask about the vacation benefits (found out there's no sick pay either).

While the benefits of being a wife and mom far outweigh the challenges, those low spots can be pretty low and pretty lonely.

Quiet times can feel desolate.

It's easy to get caught up in emotional negativity. If I don't "feel" God near me, I could assume that I hadn't lived up to heavenly standards and he withdrew some of His love for me.

I know, if I hadn't been floundering in pain and defeat I'd have realized that is counter to everything Jesus said about our Father's heart.

But I'm learning a principle that I heard Graham Cooke speak about once: God is always present to our faith and occasionally we feel Him.

I love that. When life gets overwhelming, stand on what you know to be true.

God will never leave us nor forsake us. Amen!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Short Ponderings

The kindness of God leads to repentance.

So when my kids disobey, my kindness toward them leads to their repentance.

Punishment (not talking about discipline), even when deserved and just, does not bring an inward change.

Love covers a multitude of sins and opens the doors to restoration and reconciliation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The NOW Syndrome

My husband is endlessly patient. He's kind of like God that way.

I'm not. Apparently I was taking a bathroom break when that gift was handed out.

So rather than patience, I have a syndrome. The NOW syndrome. I want an answer to my email NOW. I want to know what God is going to do in this situation NOW. I want your room cleaned NOW.

Life does not cater to my syndrome. People have their own lives to function in that, unfortunately, do not revolve around me. God . . . he just laughs at me, TDH is convinced of this. And my children certainly do not fall at my feet begging to know what I need them to accomplish right NOW.

Okay, there is someone slavishly devoted to my happiness, but I don't know if it counts since he is only twelve inches tall and covered in brown and white fur.

I can't stand waiting. And I'm talking about the important stuff—relational conflict, the teenage years, pregnancy . . . these things do not resolve themselves overnight.

I'm surprised I wasn't one of those kids who unwrapped her Christmas packages in the dead of night and then repackaged them and pretended surprise two weeks later. Okay, there was the baton I found one year under my mom's bed and practiced with daily behind locked door until she wrapped it.

What I've learned is that God wants to work things out in us in the waiting. To help us gain a deeper understanding of who Jesus is to us in that situation, so we can become more like Him to others. (I know, I've argued with him about it too, but He's not budging).

So the more we fight a situation or beg and plead to be delivered from it, the more we waste an opportunity to learn.

To learn about ourselves and to learn what God wants to be to us. He always makes provision for us, we just have to discover what it looks like and then hold on tight.

My default mode will probably always be impatience. But I'm learning to take a deep breath and look at things from a new angle, from God's angle.