Tag Archives: Christ

The Unlovable

5 May

I heard myself the other day. Someone made mention of someone that I am not fond of. This person has been unkind to me and to others, is a churchgoer, so in my opinion, no need to “be the light” to her, so I avoid her.  My comment to this person about her was “I am not a fan of hers”.  Teaching moment! 

Interesting when you put things into a perspective of what Jesus tried to teach us in the Sermon on the mount. In that same vein of teaching, if I don’t love, I hate. Christ was very black and white in that sermon. (Matthew 5-7)

Hate is a strong word. I don’t know if I would say I have hatred in me. I would not call me an unloving person, but if you look at the words Christ tried to teach us, it’s exactly that. Unloving. 

The greatest commandment is love. Love God, Love yourself, Love your neighbor. Love those that do wrong to us? Those that cause great sorrow to us or those we care about? Love our enemy?  What about those that are simply unlike us, do weird things, talk about us?

Here is the truth I have learned. We simply are not capable of love like that on our own. 
I am, on my own, only able to do so much.I can try, but I will be caught off guard and in those times, I will fail.  In order to really love like the scripture tells us to love, we have to know we are loved. We have to be so full of being loved that we are able to love at all times.  Perfect love like that is simply not humanly possible. But with God, we can do all things. It takes an actual surrender of will.

So, how do you get there? To know God, to know His kind of love? Like any relationship, it happens over time. For me it was a multitude of things. It was painful at times. I began by just talking to Him. Listening to the words of song after song. It was me crying out from hurt and sorrow, and somehow finding so much comfort the minute I began to cry to him.It was inexplicable peace when everything was going wrong.  Jesus Calling Daily Devotional became incredibly restorative for me. It drew me in over a years time, to the heart of faith. I began to read His word. I gained the knowledge, that with or without my participation, I was loved. He was love and I didn’t have to be anything to receive it. He was not punishing me when things went wrong. Mostly,  I was not alone in this world.

It was years of studies, like the layers of a rose, it was a petal at a time. I remain open to learning. Learning to surrender to Him as I learn to trust Him. Over and over again.

So now, back to my unloving words. As He shows me the things in me, like this prickly part of me, I can confidently stand before my God and say “help me”. Help me love the hard to love. Help me to love those that are not kind. Those that do bad things. He answer’s me. 

He say’s “Love Me”.  I can do that. He say’s “see all the ways I have loved you”.  I can do that. He says “Pray that the person who did this, can love me and see all the ways that I am good and loving, pray they can receive all the blessings I have for them”.  I can do that. That’s it. If we really pray for the redemptive healing in the heart that caused a wound, or hardship, it shifts it all back to Him and our ego is removed. He says I need you to look at me and not at anyone else, because that is all I ask of you. Full attention on He and I. Not on what other’s do or say or don’t do or don’t say.

It’s important to remember that no matter what other’s do, if I react with my own ego, 
I am letting someone else distort truth.

I have a perfect God I can go to in prayer, lift the person to Him. Let go of the issue because it isn’t mine to fix. I need to say here that we don’t stay in abusive relationships and Jesus was absolutely not a doormat for anyone. He was strong and confident in His Father and we can be as well. We just have to be mindful of our heart condition when other’s do against us or those we love.  

So, today I began my day with this prayer: “thank you God for showing me the things in me that prevent me from fully receiving all your love. I lift this person to you Lord, may you bless them with the richness of your loving grace and kindness, and help keep my heart from betraying me. Amen”. Simple. Because now, He is already doing the work in you. 

 

What Can It Mean: “Faith”, “Christian”

2 Mar

Recently I shared the story of the night the lead singer from Tenth Avenue North performed for me personally a song he had recorded. It was a beautiful gift and a reminder of God’s perfection and immense love.

For me the song had significant meaning; *(lyrics below) It wasnt just a song. It was a song that had helped me grasp who Jesus was and what He accomplished. It was my aha moment of fully grasping the Grace and Mercy of the cross.

The shift from it impossibly being on me to earn heaven to fully grasping unmerited grace. The shift to hope.

I’ve spent so much of my last 10 years reading and studying the word of God. When I first came back to faith, I fought legalism, in any shape or form, thinking I was defending grace. In the end I realized I was working out my own belief and disbelief. Honestly, I think God was simply working things out within me, communing with me. I was so aware of His presence, so loved and held, especially since I had never had that deep knowing He was near. I didn’t see the changes He was making in me at the time. He does that. He changes us, reaffirms us, softens the edges that hard things created.

The shift began from a place of giving up, a deep desperate, empty longing from loss, fear, rejection and hopelessness. It was there that I finally looked up and saw Him, from the bottom of despair. 

I learned that even though I had great passion for Him, great desires to be the woman after His heart, even though I clung to grace,  I was still trying to earn it, trying to be good enough, trying to fit what my perception of salvation was against the Word.

Now I can see, looking back, even as recent as 2 years ago,  As I was working through the idea that Christ fulfilled the law; I realized that I wanted to be set free, grasp the grace, forgiving me of my sins, but I was still wanting “credit” for doing good things, my goodness.

This journey of faith isn’t scary, like I thought, it isn’t fraught with failure. Fear of the Lord isn’t a hell and brimfire. It isn’t condemning, not of me or anyone else.

Our journey of faith is deeply personal. It is ours alone to work out. No one can change it, direct it, or make it happen. It’s only us, standing before our creator. And I want to hear, I know you and you know me. We have walked this garden together for a long, long time. Welcome.

If I really believe in Him, if I really trust in Him, I see it as all about Him, for Him, because of Him. I can let go of control. Surrender my grasp to control outcomes, my fear of everything, my disappointments because things aren’t how I thought they should or would be. I can press forward with Hope, with trust. I can believe He is always working things out not just for my good, but also for His purposes. Which are always good.

But its a journey. We don’t read something and have all the knowledge. We learned and grow all the time. I am not sin free simply because I know Jesus. I am not without trauma or sorrow either. I just have strong faith that this too, is part of the plan, I am to work out my salvation with trembling. Meaning I will be like Christ was in the garden of Gethsemane. He worked it out in prayer until he surrendered and finally said “Thy Will Be Done”.  It’s hard to surrender. But we must do the work to get there, He isn’t going to just be content with us ignoring Him, and expecting the God that created all of the universe to also do all the work in you without your submission. Without your desire for Him to do so. 

Religion has it messed up. People have messed it up. Paul says clearly in Roman’s it all comes down to  faith. Jesus says clearly in Matthew 5-7, it’s personal.

It’s a personal reconciliation between us and God. Grasping our own need to control everything to surrendering to our own inability to be good enough at fulfilling the entire law ( seriously read the Torah! Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, no way can we do it all) all by ourselves.

Trying to be good enough means we need to measure. Measuring us against each other. It makes us finger pointers and holier than thou and judgemental and fearful. Everyone is that way if they haven’t surrendered. Even those that don’t follow faith at all. 

We have a perfect healer, perfect hope,a perfect promise keeper, a perfect I AM the way. We either reject it all completely, or we grab hold and work out our idea of Him with truth. His truth. Obedience comes from suffering. Christ suffered too. Suffering meaning- it’s hard to let go of our own God’s for the one God. It’s hard to let go of our own ego centric idea we can affect the world around us to be the way we want. To let go of legalism.

I am not the person you can’t question faith with, I’m the person that openly, transparently has shown my crazy journey to wholeness. I’m stronger than ever, yet I have so far to go. And honestly, there is so much freedom in knowing I don’t have to. I won’t tell you your sins. I won’t tell you the bible isn’t accurate. I believe every single word even when I don’t want to. Even when I disagree. I believe it is the Living breathing word of God. Because I have seen the truth with my own eyes. 

If you haven’t read the bible, or you have only read a scripture here and there, and you aren’t sure what you believe. Just some food for thought. Read some of it. Start with Roman’s, Matthew, Luke and John. Read it in the NLT or NIV which is much easier  to read, a more conversational language.Read it and ask God, to show you what He wants you to understand. Tell Him you don’t believe. He already knows anyways. 

Maybe I will get to the end of the road and it will stop there. But my hope is in heaven and I am joyful even in sorrowful times. What have I lost? Nothing. What have I gained? Immeasurable strength, courage, love, hope, joy, peace. It’s pretty amazing. 

Romans 10:1‭-‬11 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God. For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

Lyrics to By your Side, Tenth Avenue North

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face, just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child?
Tell me where will you run, to where will you run?

cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands at my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world’s sin
So I could carry you in and give you life
I wanna give you life

And I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

‘Cause I, I love you, I want you to know
That I, I love you, I’ll never let you go
And I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding youHere at my side
My hands are holding you

 

Help My Unbelief

11 Feb

I recently wrote a bible study for a group of strong, wise women, leaders. In the writing of this, I was not really writing about what I fully know but rather what God knows and what I understand Him to be saying. His nature, His being, His qualifications. I really didn’t grasp the depth of what I was writing at the time. Truth be told, I will probably never fully grasp it all.  Sometimes God just writes through me. I just obey.

I have been drawn to Psalm 139 since my mother was passing a few months past. I would read it to her, that and several others. Psalm 139 has come to my heart a few times since. I woke this morning with this scripture on my heart. More specifically the question “do I really believe God is who He says He is?”

Omnipresent and Omniscient. Two big words at the very top of this scripture.  All knowing and all being. The understanding that God is in everything and everywhere at all times. That he is not away from me. Not ever. Nor is ever away from those that would be my enemy but also claim faith in Him. He is never away from them either.

That he knows every single thought before I am aware of them myself. (Do my thoughts always match what my words speak? Oh my friend, absolutely not. )

Omnipresent. Meaning His presence is never apart from me; Never apart from me. Not one moment have I been alone, ever.

As a Christian, we can gloss over this and say “of course, I believe this to be truth”. But last night the question came up “But do you really?”  Do I? If I believe that He is omnipresent, how could I ever feel alone or lonely.  If He is all knowing, all being, all powerful (Omnipotent). Sovereign over all and I believed Him, I would never fear, never feel alone, never be prideful, never be reactive to circumstances. I wouldn’t make bad relationship choices. I would be… like Him.

How many times in my life have I cried out from loneliness, felt too alone, felt separated, isolated? What did I feel isolated from?   How many times have I been so self-sufficient that I stood in my own sorrow, my own suffering, my own fears, rather than grasp hold of His nearness at all times.

He is near to us,  always. The truth in that then is that we just don’t draw near to Him.

Oh how my unbelief is evident in so many ways. It is not a lack of God. It is not a lack of trust. It is a lack of belief. You can’t trust what you don’t believe in. So the truth is, and this rocks me to my soul; I don’t, at the core, believe it all.  Isn’t that a shattering thought?

Christians, like all people struggle, with truth, with our quest to understand God and how it all applies to us. We struggle with our belief. That however, doesn’t change Him in any way.

Growing in our understanding, in our submission, in our belief and our faith is a journey. More times than not, because of my openness about my Christian journey, more is expected of me. To be less of a work in progress than I am.  To be without stumbles and hard times. As much as I am in the deep end of seeking, I am still at the core, ego. I will still try to do this my way. My unbelief will be exposed over and over to me, us.

However, as we learn and grow, layers of misguided thoughts, or ways that we have learned that are not His ways, get shed from us, we become more submitted to Him.

Mark 9:23-24  Jesus said to him, “What do you mean ‘if’? If you are able to believe, all things are possible to the believer.” When he heard this, the boy’s father cried out with tears, saying, “I do believe, Lord; help my little faith!” (The Greek is “I do believe; help my unbelief.”)  What a beautiful example of humility and submission. We that can’t, ask the One that can. The One that will.

As I realize my lack, my unbelief, the beauty is, I know He knows and is waiting for me to simply ask. The more submitted I become, the more freedom and joy I have. Less of me and more of Him is not a decision. It is a work that He promises to finish in me, over a lifetime of lessons and opportunities, trials and joys.

Oh Lord, help my unbelief today. Amen.

Psalm 139 (AMP)God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

139 O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken],
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.
Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me,
And the night will be the only light around me,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You and conceals nothing from You,
But the night shines as bright as the day;
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was being formed in secret,
And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were appointed for me,
When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape].

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

19 a]O that You would kill the wicked, O God;
Go away from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20 For they speak against You wickedly,
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with perfect and utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

23 Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Footnotes:  In the first eighteen verses of this psalm, the psalmist acknowledges that God knows everything that the psalmist ever does, no matter when or where he does it. Although God’s vast knowledge of an individual’s deeds can be reassuring for the righteous, it should be frightening for the wicked. 

Work In Progress

5 Dec

I have learned so much in the past 10 years. 10 years ago today, I went to a tea at a non-denominational church. I began attending this church every week. Within a few months I bought my own bible for the first time AND I actually began to read it. 9 years ago today, I was re-baptized at that wonderful church.

You have to know this. I am still a work in progress. I have been studying His word for 10 years. I have been in deep relationship with him for about 8 of those years, or maybe 7. I am being changed and healed and softened and made stronger, every single day.  I submitted every nook and cranny to Him. And then, I pretty much forget and take it all back on my shoulders for a bit, then re-submit. It’s okay! That is our journey with Him. Not one part of us is perfect and we cannot perfect our selves. He can though. I am slowly being perfected. One day, when I get to heaven, I will be perfected. Not before then.

I say this often because I really struggled to grasp what Grace meant, what Jesus meant to me, for me. “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Hebrew 5:8 NLT.   I had to learn that being a Christ follower has nothing to do with me. It is all about Him. I didn’t earn my way to heaven. You can’t earn it by being good. Heaven is about accepting that this Christmas birth was a gift! That Jesus came to show us what faith is. What God is seeking from us is to let go of our own ego’s and our need to earn; our own checks and balances way of living and just accept the gift.

Salvation is simply a life altering, mind blowing, ego balancing, rule crashing, insecurity killing acceptance of the greatest act of love ever.

I have learned that abusive people and unkind people, swindlers, manipulators and cruel people can actually have that mustard seed of faith and can also be saved. I have learned that really devout people have super big doubts sometimes. I have learned that it doesn’t matter what we do or who we are, salvation is not about us. It is about accepting Christ. In the same breath, I have accepted that God is not a punishing God. We don’t earn that either. We do suffer, but everyone suffer’s. Jesus did too and God as His Father, suffered for us, and Mary his mother, suffered. It’s our journey here. We suffer because of darkness, sin, because of brokenness. It’s important.

If you know me, I promised to be transparent every step of the way.  This former perfectionist put on a good front for the world. The need to be right enough and validated enough girl is now the self-proclaimed wishy washy Christian. I still sin, in my head, my words and in my heart. I am constantly learning and growing, I have a sense of confidence in Christ I have never had before.  God has changed so much in my heart, healed so much and filled the hole inside my heart.
I am also the girl that has a hard time with trust. Actually I believe that to be my biggest hurdle.  Probably for all of us, this is the biggest hurdle. Trusting when we can’t control or see the future. Trust is faith. Period. Trust when it all looks like it’s falling apart at the seams. Trust when our hearts our broken. Trust when we can’t understand.

No matter how far I swing away, no matter how close I walk; the words below are my reminder, and if I write it all on my heart, then I can constantly redirect my fears, my worries, my self reliance, my anger, my sorrow, my hopes and my desires of my heart. If we are seeking His will, we will have perfect peace, if we focus on our own plans, our own path; there is no peace.

They say “Leap of Faith” for a major reason! Faith is hard! It’s also an amazing journey full of amazing people. There is a deep joy that comes from hope in God. I have had deep doubts in Him, He was fine with that. He is steady, sure, unchanging and un-freaked out.
Isn’t it time to figure out what you really know about Him, what is truth to you? Based on learning who He really is? Not what you see a building of people being but what His word tells you about him?

Without Him I am nothing.

“My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
nothing you desire can compare with her (wisdom).”

Proverbs 3:1-6 NLT

Follow The Leader

15 Oct

 

How many times have I held myself hostage to shame or guilt; Lost sleep over things I have said or done, things I wish I had done differently?
How many times have I sat in sorrow, feeling like I have blown it all; Blown God’s blessings for me, messed up and knew He must be so disappointed?
How many times will I question whether I am being punished by Him?
How many times do I question my own belief; How many times will I feel too hypocritical? Like I am supposed to be better than I am doing.
How many times will I be offended or feel resentful over things, hurt by rejection or presumed being unchosen?
How many times do we say, I have to do better, be better, watch my words, grab hold of my sins and fix them?
How many times do we want to do the right thing and ask God over and over, “what is your plan”, “what do you want me to do”, “Open doors, close doors”, and become frustrated because He didn’t answer. Maybe it didn’t matter? Maybe it was more about submission than the outcome.

No More!

This is probably the most powerful truth we can grasp. He wants to be in a close relationship with us. He wants to know us. He wants us to know Him.  To submit our will to Him, our independence to Him, our need to fix life, fix people, fix ourselves achieve stuff, to Him and Him alone. To have a real relationship with Him.

If we believe that Christ was the sacrificial lamb, who died and rescued us from the punishment for our sins, that his death was merciful and complete; Why do we throw that away and reclaim the hopelessness of being judged by the law?

The Sermon on the Mount is so powerful in the expression of the true consequence of our belief. If we judge sin, we will be judged by the law. If we surrender sin, we will be washed clean. Surrendering our ability to do to the one that already did, is powerful and because of our ego, very difficult to do. We don’t have to be perfect to know Him. We just have to know Him, seek Him. We begin to fill up with Him, through His word, through prayer, through being still and letting the words wash over us, by journalling, with praise of Him, worship of Him.

Take your tears, your anger, your brokenness, your fear, your hopes, your wishes, your control, your illness, your insecurity, your anxiety, your hopelessness, your joy; take this all to Him. He knows everything and still loves you enough to take it all away and make you new. Build you back up, create in you a new mind, a new heart, a new hope.

If we don’t trust God with our complete hope, we fall short. We, the ones trying to do the impossible-becoming perfect, or running away so fast because we are imperfect, we need to remember who is the only one that will ever be perfect. And learn what His love and death for us, did for us.

We are all sinners.
All are welcomed by God.
We love ourselves and love this world best when we begin with loving God and accept His love in return.
We don’t turn from our sin and with this perfected new self, accept Christ and His Grace and Mercy.
We turn to Him, the only one, that can rescue us and transform us by our own submission to Him

It isn’t those that worked so hard at changing their sins and being good, that will be known by Him.  The ones that knew they couldn’t do anything without having a deep and trusting relationship with our Lord, will be known.

We are so unworthy, every one of us, to sit in Heaven with God, but He chose you, not because your so great, or so perfect, not to be the judge, or the next teacher; not to be the next amazing, not to be the next best, but to be loved by Him, for Him, for this world.

He will transform you, rebuild you, for His purpose. He will not leave that work undone. He did not say you will not leave the work undone. He did not say reject those people, judge those sins as abomination. He said be a light in the world. Know you are a sinner yourself and from that joy of forgiveness, let other’s see what grace is and does.

When the townspeople were set to stone the woman for adultery, Jesus taught the message of let the one without sin, throw the first stone. No one could. But don’t miss the second part of that message. Everyone left, leaving the woman alone there. Jesus is the only one that didn’t leave that woman alone in her sin. He loved her so much even in her sinful state of being an adulterer. He didn’t judge her. He instructed her to not sin any longer. I would love to know her testimony from that rescue, that love, that welcoming.

This is what it means to follow Him. Follow His examples of prayer, of relationship to the Father, to surrender and submit over and over and over again.

Grace cannot be earned; Grace is not the goal. Grace is the gift, the fulfillment of requirements, someone else took the punishment of your sins for you. Grace is the invitation to join Jesus in a relationship.  ALL are welcome to this.

This relationship will be harder, not easier. Submission is hard. God transforms you, and it can be difficult to be healed in many ways.  Remember though; In the perfect garden, Eden, where all needs were supplied, where God walked as a friend, Eve chose deception for more than all supplied needs and God as a friend and Adam chose to please Eve and blame everyone. We are built this way; Imperfect creatures. You are never going to be perfect. Not ever.

Knowing who God is, knowing He loves you, letting that fill your heart, letting that move you and guide you; trusting in Him, through every up and down, every betrayal, every trial, every loss… That is where your purpose and your freedom is found. That is where joyful living begins and endless pursuit of happiness ends.

“For sin will no longer be a master over you, since you are not under Law [as slaves], but under [unmerited] grace [as recipients of God’s favor and mercy].”

ROMANS 6:14 AMP

https://www.bible.com/bible/1588/rom.6.14.amp

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ———-”

John 8:1-11 NLT

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/jhn.8.1-11.nlt

Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 5-7. I encourage you to read this.

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/mat.5.1.nlt

Hope

2 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

God gave my friend and I this word last night. It was just one word. A powerful word.
I have realized that Hope is what drives everything; Everything!
We go on dates because we hope for this to be the one.
We flirt, we share, we open our hearts up because we hope for the relationship to be important, we hope for love.
We begin new jobs, plan families, plan vacations, all from hope.
We fight disease from hope.
We stay in jobs because of hope.
We invest energy, resources and time in the hopes of outcomes.
We go on diets, and begin exercising with a hope of achieving a goal.
We look forward to an event, hoping for a fun time.
We pray from hope, and sometimes we pray for hope.
Today, we pray for a hurricane to move away, we hope for safety, for lives to be spared, for change.

Hope is hugely important and drives just about all we do or desire.
The Hebrew root words to describe Hope all stem around the word trust: To trust, or worthy of trust.  To put our trust in God is to put our Hope in Him.

The entire bible is about Hope. Jesus himself was about Hope. One of my favorite scriptures is the epitome of that Hope. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is a hope that comes from knowing that at the end of our time here, at the end of this amazing and turbulent world, we will no longer suffer and there will be joy everlasting. What a hope this is.

There is a hope that comes from trusting that even when we can’t see an outcome, with things out of our control, God is still in charge, still working all things out for our good. There is a hope that when we look back on our lives, we can see that we always came out of hardship. All the pieces made us who we are, gave us our purpose.

When you don’t have that hope, when you are trying to do this all on your own, when you have lost the ability to see hope, find hope, we become desolate and alone. We crumble. Sometimes hope is all that is left when the suffering is great. It can be just a thread, but it is life itself. Without that thread of hope, we have nothing.

Hopelessness is a rampant disease these days. People suffering and taking their lives, because they have lost hope. Our world isn’t becoming more evil, our world is losing hope.

In all that I have gone through, in all I have done, I can only give God that credit. It is because I learned from hopelessness, that He is my hope. And all my hope comes from the Lord. I have learned to trust in His sovereignty. I am grateful to not have to shoulder everything myself and I know this world will have it’s share of suffering and sorrows, but my strength and joy comes from the hope for heaven. For eternity.  I can lean on that when all else falls apart. This life is a vapor and it without the Hope of more, it loses all meaning.
Literally no one will know most of us even lived here 2 generations from now. We are not so important to be remembered like that.
However, we are so important to those people we love and those we encounter. We are also important to God.
We can be the ones that light the fire of hope in this suffering world. One smile at a time. We can be the hope that says to one person or many, every day, “I see you, you matter”. “There is still good here”. “You are loved, even if I don’t know you, I know God and He loves you beyond measure”.

Hope. We talk about being accepting, being love, but what we really need to be is hope spreaders.  We need to share what Hope looks like, feels like, and how we found it, how we find it every day.

That is our calling here. That is our legacy for the future generations. That is our light in the dark.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. “- Romans 15:13

Suffer with Hope

20 Apr

I don’t know why we think life shouldn’t be hard?  Where did we ever get this idea from?We all (ALL) have this idea that life should be easy.  I had to work this out myself, this legalistic idea that I somehow had become “good enough” to deserve less suffering.

My non-believing friends speak about  controlling the things that happen by “what we put in the universe”

What if I told you that it was never intended to be easy or without sorrow. Jesus, the “Son Of God” himself drank from the same cup of sorrow we suffer, on our behalf.

He suffered rejection and betrayal, especially at the end of His life. He sat at a table, washed the feet of those that would abandon Him and betray Him.  The disciples fled and left him, Peter denied knowing Him; Judas sold him out!

I saw this photo and it really brings home the fullness of suffering.

Mary, who bore our King in the most difficult of ways, also had to watch Him be beaten, dragged, mocked, spit on, nails driven in his feet and hands so he could hang on the tree until he died. His side was stabbed.

This mother, aside from being the Chosen King, loved her child,her first born son!She loved him beyond measure. How her heart must have suffered! She must have begged and had her own prayers not mentioned in the bible.
Our Lord, how He suffered! Imagine the pain and the fear! His prayers in the garden, his frantic beseeching of  his friends, his disciples to stay awake while he prayed.  He was alone, afraid, he was human in that moment.

Yet, His words “Thy Will Be Done” is the overall theme of trusting in God, trust that has so much Hope behind it.

Life is hard! This world though it has life, love, joy, and health, it also has death, sickness, betrayal, loneliness, fear, unkindness, evil.  Our poor kids don’t get to see the posts on social media about all the good there is. There is an epidemic of hopelessness.

Jesus understood us.  He knows your thoughts even before you speak them and he completely understands, completely relates to you, because he walked through this world, just like us.  He is full of acceptance, love, encouragement and understanding.

If you really get to know Him and His life, you can see how he worked out his obedience through all the suffering he witnessed to and all that he endured. He modeled it all for us.
It isn’t about how you react, it’s how you walk out a trial. We work through things. It’s not that we don’t suffer at all. We will and we do.

We stumble, we fumble, we fear, we cry…BUT peace, hope and joy can co-exist within those same feelings, when we just come to Him with it all, with every bit of it. We are set free and placed back on the path. Our circumstances may not be changed, but our peace returns, even while our trial still rages.

Mary loved her son. She was chosen by God. She suffered terribly, I can’t even imagine her mama’s heart!  But Hope.

This world doesn’t need more politics, more laws, more leaders, more religion. This world needs more hope. Hope is what I see so lost in this world.

Placing our hopes on success or people, or politicians or husbands, or friends… we will never be at peace. Placing our hopes in the finished work of Christ, the hope of all hopes, our perfect salvation, the one we don’t have to work out for ourselves, gives us renewed vigor to get through everything.

There is a divine Hope, an unsinking, unshaking, unrelenting hope I have found in my Savior. It is there even when everything falls apart. I celebrate this with so much gratitude every day., even more on Easter.

Even in the hard times, even when I sorrow, fear, or have anger. He is always near.  I am unreliable to Him, but He never leaves me, nor forsakes me. He is who he says he is, no matter what we do or say.

This beautiful Easter season, find Him. Seek Him.  He died for everyone, even those that will never acknowledge Him. He is waiting, never giving up, always pursuing you.

1 Peter 1:19-20 – “He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, He was sent to the earth for all to see. And He did this for you.”

True Religion

26 Nov

As I began my rediscovery of my faith, I promised to always be transparent. I may not always be completely accurate but I am always honest with you. Especially in the ways I doubt or mess up.

I think the hardest part of my faith journey these 10 years, is shaking off the beliefs, the ideals, the teachings that actually kept me from really knowing God, knowing Christ.  I think you can be saved, by simply accepting the gift of salvation Christ gave to you.  That mustard seed, if it took root, is enough.

Religions have made it difficult for us to really know Christ. To know God. To know the Holy Spirit. The rules and politics became magnified and we lost sight of the fact that people in need of a savior were the ones teaching and preaching and leading us.  Sadly, because of the sin in people, it is hard for people to find God.

Religion became about people; Like we did it, like we saved ourselves. We lost God in the mix. Even our non-denominational churches need a shaking up.  We spend so much time on wrong things. We waste opportunity after opportunity, simply because we missed the point.  WE are not the point. WE didn’t earn our salvation.

Sin is a black stain. All sin is a black stain. Whether you lie about why you’re running late or you harm a child. Sin is black. It is all black and in need of a redeemer. Period.  Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5) fell to his knees and couldn’t even look at God because he was able to fully see the stain of his sin compared to the Glory of God.  That is us. Each and every one of us.

That is why Jesus was born.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”” Luke 19:10 NLT

He is the seeker, the all-knowing, just waiting to be known.   Period. 

God created every life. He loves every single life. He seeks every life to know Him.

If the creator of all things,  loves every life, cherishes and longs for every life to know Him, pursues every sinner, how arrogant it is to judge any single person anything.

He isn’t doing this to you. He is seeking you. He is saying “look at me, look to me, seek me and you will find me, hear me, follow me, trust me. ”  It is not a human responsibility to fix society. It is a human response to salvation to want to share that amazing advent with the world.

God could force us to worship Him, but he seeks us. He could reject us for not choosing Him, but He simply continues to pursue us.

There is a longing in us, for more. A hole inside our heart, a wounded sorrowful place that without Him, never becomes full. He left that space inside our hearts just for Himself.  I have times where I don’t feel Him there and it hurts. Physically. I miss Him.  When I begin to worship Him, glorifying Him, I feel my whole being fill up.

My faithwalk is one of ups and downs. I go through periods of deep devotion, humbled and reverent awe of all He is. I also go through periods of time where I forget about Him, I do things out of my own ambitions and needs, and not out of obedience and submission. I am prideful at times, without acknowledgement of all He provides. I am self sufficient, moving along without thinking of Him, at all.  There are times that I have literally sat in such a place of awe, knowing it was Him with me because the atmosphere completely changed.  I have also been edgy, worried, fearful, gossipy, insecure, all things that I am when I forget who He is and who I have dwelling within me.

Honestly, I am in a weird place in my journey. It is so different that at times, I worry that my faith is going cold, yet at the same time, knowing it isn’t. I am trusting Him with this new place, not because I am so good at being a Christian…(I am not), but because I have learned that I can try to be but it really works much easier if I remember that He is in charge and He has never let me down. He is sovereign.

It is so hard to imagine a God that can dwell inside of us. How crazy does that sound? That He would choose us, to dwell within us? We know, deep down, from that humble awareness that we are probably not perfect enough for Him to be inside of us. So why do we expect perfection from the world around us?

HE is the one that loved us first. HE, the one that created the world, also numbered every single hair on every single head. He is self reliant and self existent. He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need one single thing because He is omnipotent and sovereign.  We just get to travel through this world, on our way to His world.

He didn’t tell us we were so wonderful, He said we were wonderfully made. He didn’t say we were worth rubies, He said we were bought with the price of rubies.

I forget this humility.  Often. We all do.  We need to do better at loving this world, and we need to start by loving God and loving every person God created, starting with ourselves. We all walk around with that hole inslde that only he can fill and we all walk around with the big black stain of sin. No sin is exempt and no sinner is exempt. No sin is darker. No sin is less than.  Neither are the sinners. We, every single human on this earth is a sinner. Period. It isn’t that we are free to sin however we choose, it is that we are called to humble our own selves before Him and surrender our own sin to Him. It is vertical, this sinner/savior relationship. This is what Jesus meant about the plank in your own eyes. (Matthew 5-7).

My faith may not “feel” tangible to me, but He is really opening my eyes to the truth. To my lowness in the big scheme of things. That lowness is blessed with promise and joy everlasting. Truth shall set us free. I want us all to know true freedom.

So, put your bible on your bed-stand and walk out your door today and see the hole in people. Not the black stain. Find the love inside of you and look around you, see the love needed and share that love, pursue it passionately. When we do this, then we are behaving like God. Oh that I would walk this, every moment of every day.

This is true religion.

 

Turn Back

9 Aug

As I begin to really get into the prophecies now, I am prompted to share. One commentary brought me to 2 Peter 3:9,15.
We that are called have to first come to a deep understanding of who God is. The old testament tells us clearly that this world is a fallen world. Nothing is new under the sun.  Sin runs rampant and always has. Time after time, we lost our way from Him and His desires for our living.
Time and time again, we turn back. This new age of believers – harmed by legalism, have swung a bit too far from really knowing His desire for our obedience, and how it protects. New age Christianity will tell you that sin is not that big of a deal because you have Grace. Grace doesn’t exclude the law, it just made you saved regardless of your sin. But you have to know Him, you have to know His laws. Others may attend church, they may believe but really don’t know Him or what His word says. It’s not about punishment or judgement. It’s about freedom. The law was written for our protection and also to give Him praise. What pleasure to Him when we choose to obey rather than sin. When we choose to really be like the disciples, like Paul.
We are not meant to correct the behavior of others, we are called to love our sister’s and brother’s and help them stay the course! What is that course?

Do you ever stop to think about the way you see your Christian Life through God’s eyes?

We are not condemned. We are blessed. We have been set free and Satan knows he can’t steal our salvation, but he will try everything to steal our reputation, our legitimacy in this world, so we can’t be the hands and feet, so we can’t be the light!
He will encourage other’s to lie about you, to discredit you. He will use other’s to negatively affect your ability to touch more lives. He will use your pride, your ego to poke at you. He will use your mistakes and your past to hold you back from really surrendering. He will lie and tell you that to go all in, is to be the church lady! None of those are true. He is a liar. He is very smart and very cunning. But his power is beneath ours that walk in faith.
Every one of our sins, great and small, is still known by God, whether we ever bring it to His feet or not. You are not so far gone that Grace can’t reach you. If we are so self focused, so worried about our lives, so panicked about provision or loneliness or what other’s think of us, how can we honestly give Him glory, how can we be ready if He calls?
This is not the religion of right and wrong, this is the religion of faith, of worship, or trust, of being a disciple! We are saved, and we all sin. Every single one of us. Our salvation happened the moment we turned back. the minute we surrendered, whether we sin or not. He died for us while we were still lost. Sin is what we always battle.. for sure, but our sin, if not observed by us, acknowledged by us, repented by us, is giving Satan a handle on our lives. We give him tools to hold over us.  It causes us to harm ourselves and other’s.  Only the truth will ever set you free. God already knows it all.

Peace comes from knowing we are set free because we can take our unholiness and bring it Christ and we are forgiven. It doesn’t mean we can ignore our unholiness and continue to just be who we are. We must surrender, we must turn to him. Submit to Him. It isn’t the finger pointing, shaming of our sin but rather the “tell me everything so we have nothing between us, so we can be close and I can do everything I promised to do for you. He says to confess to one another, and forgive and ask forgiveness of other sinners. It removes all power from darkness when you do that. You break the chains that hold you back. God say’s I will protect you, love you, grow you, help you and lead you to lead others”.
Deep thoughts!! But my fellow believers, we are Babylon!! We are Isreal! We are Judah! We are Nineveh. Clean your hearts of the sin that is there. Stop living in hiding! No one can judge you as harshly as you do! Go to Him and worship Him. Give him your sin, break the chains that Satan uses to hold you back from a full relationship with Christ!! 
Amen!

Discernment

8 Aug

As a Christian we are given many gifts. The Holy Spirit,  our intercessor and helper, is an important gift.  The Word of God is also His precious gift. In the pages of His amazing book, chapter after chapter, God shows Himself to us fully. He speaks to us. He directs our steps. He gives us the gift of discernment.

Discernment is something we as women are not very good at when it comes to our heart. We tend to lead with our hearts. He tells us to put our faith and trust in Him, yet we can discount discernment for fear of not being loved or liked. Fear of upsetting someone.

We are to love people, and trust God.  Why does He tell us this? He tells us this to protect us. Not because we are weaker, or because we a gullible, but because we all fall short. When we place our trust in God, and not in the words man tells us, when we seek Him first, seek discernment, He protects us. Whether or not we listen to Him, He is trying to protect us.

Broken people do what ever they need to do, to not have discomfort.  I have ignored God’s voice, the Holy Spirit, when He has been cautioning me.  I  have defended people, even when I found them in lies. I have been unconsciously unwilling to really hear God, worse, unwilling to trust Him fully instead. I have ended up with mighty painful lessons.

In the end, what they choose isn’t about us. It is about their battle. What we choose is. We absolutely may suffer, we may be collateral damage, and it can be painful, but in the end, all sin is vertical. Theirs is, and ours is. Everything we do, praise, obedience, sin, is between us and God. We hide nothing from God. Not one thing we do is ever a surprise to Him. If we are not living according to His word, we sin and all of us sin, daily.

But God, But Grace.

The beauty of our relationship to Christ, when we are believers, is though we are not kept from the consequences of our sin, we are still loved and not condemned. The gift is the conviction so we can bring our sin to Him as soon as it is revealed.  God loves us and washes us clean and we don’t live under the weight of sin.   Repentance is freedom. Lies are prison.

Brokenness in people is like the poisoned water’s surrounding Florida.  Suddenly there is a crisis. There has been damage being done, for years, lots of history of it. We all see it, but we just don’t do anything about it because we think something will be done by someone else. One day, the damage is too far reaching, there is too much harm. Lies are like that. People stuck in sin are like that.

We don’t hate people caught in sin, we hate Satan’s hold on a person, that causes the damage, we hate the fallout. God allows things, over time, but when those lies do damage to His Glory and His purposes, He says, we are at crisis, be a warrior for me now.

God says to live in peace with everyone. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for peace and a time for war.  Sometimes, even as a woman, God says, I need you to stand on truth. I need you strong and I need you to go to battle.  Ephesians gives us the Armor to stand firm against the attacks from the darkness. For me, peace is the obvious option, I fear even though God has made me very strong.

I learned recently, sometimes God calls us up, arms us to do battle. He will arm His people to stand firm.  Sometimes it is to be still. Sometimes it is to speak the truth. Our reputation in this world truly doesn’t matter in the big picture, that is God’s protection for us. All that matters in the end is God’s purposes,  God’s glory. Discernment is vital for our walk and our well-being.  We must be close to Him to be able to hear when He says go or stay. Not our own voices or our own offense. We only have one enemy. We do battle with Satan, His lies.   If we stand on truth, refute the lies, and then let God do the work;   The truth will always set us free. God hates lies more than anything. Lies are the greatest tool of darkness. We do not fight to win a war, we simply battle for truth.

In the end, we are here for a breathe. When we answer His call, when we are working for the Kingdom of God, our purpose is to be His hands and feet, to bring light where there is dark. To shine Him in all we do. Satan knows he cannot change our salvation. He isn’t trying to steal our redemption, He knows when we are chosen and answering the call. What He is doing is trying to steal our influence, our ability to touch the lost.  He will use anything to do that.  Even when we are afraid to stand against the enemy, God will fight for us. Sometimes, we have to go to war for that.  Sometimes, Peace at all costs is not peace at all.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Proverbs 28:26  (NIV)

26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

Psalm 119  (MSG)

119 1-8 You’re blessed when you stay on course,
    walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
    doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
    you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
    now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
    keeping to the course you set;