Tag Archives: joyful place

Filling Holes

17 Oct

There was a time in my walk that I found great joy and deep fulfillment in my one on one relationship with Christ. I loved my alone time with Him. I was also surrounded with constant activity and demands of my time and attention. He was my solace, my retreat.   He wasn’t my first and most, He was my refuge. He instructs us to make Him our firm foundation, not just our  ‘go to’ for peace.

He calls us deeper and we tend to put more energy, more weight in the tangible: Leaning on friends in hard times and trusting Him from a distance. Like the Wizard (Oz)  behind the curtain.

I have just walked through a season of loneliness.  I am reminded that Jesus wants the firsts and the most of us. He tells us over and over that we are not alone. Yet…we are all afraid of being alone. We seek friendship, we seek love, we occupy our spaces of alone times. We focus on our kids or keep the television on as a distraction.

Learning to enjoy Him, to lean into Him first, truly is the foundation of faith- removing all idols and just be still with Him. He wants to sit with you one on one before anyone else pulls up a chair.  No distractions, no other loves before Him, no busy life. He wants to be that call on the drive home.

When life changes and you find yourself alone, as well as lonely; Trust Him.

Commune with just Him. Let Him show you the deep content of relationship with Him. Over time He will bring your people to you – the right people will show up at the right time.

In His infinite wisdom, He has kept me to himself until I finally stopped hearing the silence and began to hear Him. Feel Him again.

Until being alone with Jesus is enough, more than enough – even a full room won’t fill the ache, the hole of loneliness we feel and strive to satisfy. So, turn off the world -begin to speak to Him of your day, your thoughts. Join Him. He is waiting for you.

 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.”‭‭John‬ ‭14:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬                 

““If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”Matthew‬ ‭10:38-39‬ ‭MSG

“I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭94:18-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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Light In The Dark

10 Aug

In the midst of all  the harsh realities of hard times,  we will sink, we will soar, we will say and do things out of hurt or anger and we will make mistakes. The truth is, the pain is not constant and it is only a portion of the journey. Light remains.

The beauty of having a relationship with God, in trusting Him, is knowing that this is not permanent. Having faith doesn’t stop the pain from overwhelming you at times, we are still flesh and bones and our hearts truly ache at times. This journey can be so painful. Faith is knowing, even in the depths, that you are not alone. He is suffering with you and you know this, even when you can’t find Him.   In this hurt, in this lack, you absolutely know He is there, you know this is an important time of your journey with Him, you know this won’t last.

God doesn’t cause suffering, hard things don’t happen to us because he’s an unruly, unrelenting, punishing God. Hard things happen to us because freewill exists, evil exists because sin lives in all of us, disease lives. The most amazing thing can be found in God’s living Word. The bible lays out experience after experience for what we walk through today. Not to control our response but to teach, empathize and encourage us; To guide us in hope from each trial.  Ecclesiastes says, nothing is new, and also, this too is just one of many seasons in life, this hardship.

God is faithful and He loves each life that roams this earth. He longs for all of us, knowing He will only know some of us. We are His creation and He adores us. When we embrace the life He laid out for us, we must trust that He knows where he needs us to get to,what we need to go through to get there, who is going to be touched by that. He also uses this time to minister His healing in our hearts.

There will be hard moments during these time where we don’t feel Him, where we feel lost in our sorrow or trial. Hre is still there, but there is purpose in that as well. We may be pulled deeper, we may be healed more, we may be called out on the water to trust a little more. It is in the looking back, that you see every blessing that came along just when you needed it to even if you couldn’t see it at the time.

He will slowly remove the barriers and strongholds from our past, He will show us the lies Satan tells us that attempt to deter us from healing and peace. As we suffer, we often cause ourselves to suffer more. Maybe we pick up some old legalism,that  we deserve it, that we can somehow fall outside of his grace and his mercy.  These are lies of Satan. God’s beloved Son,  promises us fully that His mercy and grace has been there every step of the way simply by believing that it’s truth.  He will not leave us,  He will not forsake us, He holds us, He guides us. He is and always has been our only true hope.

From my own journey through divorce and betrayal, my faith is assured, even in the hardest moments of all this life has brought my way. What shattered me two days ago has empowered me today. He is so gracious, so amazing like that. Peace comes for a moment and rests within me.

There comes a point as you journey through a painful time that you realize that this is your life’s path and it matters; not just for you but for others as well. We cannot be lost in the moment and lose sight that in the end, this will be a page, a chapter or even a section, but it isn’t the full story.

If you are walking with Him, I will bet that even the darkest parts had light. Praise God for that hope. The light may dim and flicker sometimes, but that light is shining bright within our soul and it is meant to be shared with the whole world.

What will your story tell?

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope.”Psalms‬ ‭119:49‬ ‭NLT

Time For Grace

3 Jul

The Beatitudes:

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God. ~Jesus

The past year for me, like most, has been extremes of trials and blessings, but for me,  the lessons of grace and mercy have taken my heart captive.

I have such strong feelings when I feel my fellow believers are being religious, legalistic, unkind or in my opinion, standing in the way of true evangelism. Yet, as soon as I think that way, The Holy Spirit convicts me and shows me my own sin. My own pride. My own legalism in my judgement.

We are supposed to love God, love our fellow Christians and mostly, love our neighbor. This is the fulfillment of the law.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:4-14 

Loving your neighbor doesn’t just mean those that are in your inner circle but rather this includes those that are different from you- the atheist, homosexual, abortionist, muslim. This also includes the guy who disagrees with you, or the guy that just cut you off on the freeway, the girl that was rude to you, the boss that screams at you. It also includes your husband when he is unloving or your wife when she is disrespectful. This is agape love. This is grace. This is where I sin most.

Grace is essential in every single aspect of our journey to become Christ like. Without grace, you truly are not aligned with Christ and your faith is not evident.  If we seek it, we need to give it. Your walk should embrace grace and be evident.  Jesus warned us about Spiritual pride. 4″ Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4, 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:10 

So before we can walk in grace, we absolutely must humble ourselves. God teaches us in His own way, in His own time, and The Living Word breathes truth into us, over and over again, we grow, we soften, we learn, as that knowledge is shown to us, by the Father.

Humility is essential to growth, to love, to grace, to salvation. Without it, we can’t possibly understand how to love as Christ loves us; Our ego fights this, our free will fights this.

We are sinners. If we are judging the sin in other’s, we take a step away from humility,  from grace and from Christ. Before you hate the sin in other’s you must first hate your own sin and your own sin nature. Ask forgiveness for your own sins. Let Him walk you through your own refinement. This is faith. This is how God can begin to change the world, first within us. Then through us.

After all, He loved us first. All of us.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

I have recently had my own major lessons and convicted misteps in grace. Being hurt by family and/or family of believers,  I being shocked by the dishonor, blatent unkindness and later, the untruth and slander that was exposed. responded with protective anger. Especially at the cruelty that crushed the spirit of someone I care about.  There is a hurt that goes so deep when the hurt comes from family and/or our family of believers. It is more unexpected in some way. We walk more transparently with our fellow believers, or we should anyhow.

But Christ himself walked everything before us and he expects us to stay focused on him and on grace.

39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:39

He teaches us how to stay focused on what truly matters in our journey to eternity. We can’t care about what others think of us. God has a different expectation. His approval is all we truly need.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26  

As with all scripture, you must read the whole in which the context is taken Jesus didn’t mean to “hate” your family but rather this is a warning that walking a Christian life is difficult. We must love God first and be willing to lose all the rest, in the end, for that love. Jesus loved the law, including to honor your mother and father. but He was very clear:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

In the end, humble, forgiving grace is essential to our journey. Grace doesn’t approve of, enable or minimize sin. Grace doesn’t decide forgiveness of sin, Jesus did that on the cross for us. It is not our job to convict, nor judge. That is the Holy Spirits job. Justice is not ours. Humility says, if justice were served, I would be unworthy to receive the mercy and grace of our Lord’s crucifixion.

When our fellow Christian sins, (not the unsaved), like we do ourselves…we must help them back to God’s truth, even if it is our spouse. We submit to God first. If our fellow believer, whether friend, child or spouse is hurtful or walking away from alignment in Christ  we lovingly speak truth, sometimes it is a must, but it also must include acknowledgement of forgiveness, and our own need for forgiveness and grace.  Ultimately, it can cost rejection, but if it is in line with Christ, it is worth it.

When the world walks in sin, like we do ourselves, we must step out of discipleship and into evangelism. Jesus was a revolutionary teacher of peace and of LOVE in a time of arrogant legalism and religious politics. Truth be told, times were very politically extreme like it is today. If we aren’t perfect, like He was, which we are not, we can’t have the same righteous anger. If we aren’t transparent and humble, walking in grace and love, then we are not following the words of Christ. Our words and actions at all times are our evangelism. If they aren’t in line with scripture, we have too much work to do on ourselves before we put ourselves in a role of leadership. Period.

In the end, Grace wins.  I think The Message version sums it up best.

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

 

Works?

21 Mar

One of the craziest, most mind blowing change that happens when you begin a walk with Christ, is this:  The more you know-the less you know; The stronger your faith becomes, you grow more and more needy for His direction, HIS wisdom, HIS approval, less concerned with your place in the world but rather, your place in His heart and His Heaven.

“He must become greater;I must become less. John 3:30 NIV”

As the years creep by that I have been making notes and highlights in my bible, I often revisit the same scripture that was so powerful before and maybe this time, it is just as powerful but in a different way, or today, it may just be a Good Word.  The Living Word, (*insert big sigh…) I gain new knowledge, new application, new wisdom every single time I open my bible. Every sermon, lesson, even a song, will lead me to the Word.

I didn’t always believe the bible. Well, I didn’t actually ever read it. I honestly didn’t really understand much more than Psalms. I figured it was man’s interpretation. Nature was my bible, my church. I had my own opinion of faith, prayer, and what Christians looked like.  I judged a relationship with Christ by those that went to church. I expected them to be perfect, and because none of them were, I judged them as hypocrits. I didn’t need to go there, and I didn’t need to read the bible. Until I broke; Until there was nothing left but God and I.

In the depths of my despair, He rescued me. He didn’t just make it all better, he filled me with unspeakable hope, he began a ‘good work” in me. What a fantastic journey it has been! And! …the Bible came alive for me. Understandable, expressive, moving, it truly sustains me.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Now it makes sense. It isn’t “magic”-it’s just a wisdom that comes with growth and communion with the Holy Spirit.  We don’t begin our new or renewed faith knowing the bible either, nor does God expect that from us. You only need to know this truth. That Jesus died for you and has been waiting for you to follow Him ever since. That begins the relationship. God takes us through our very own journey designed just for us, full of mistakes and love and forgiveness and healing. He will bring those along side of you to help you along.  And you will want to know Him more. You will read the bible and it will begin to make more sense than you ever imagined.

You see this all the time…John 3:16 but there are so many more!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace Ephesians 1:7 [Full Chapter]

Now, if you know me at all, you will agree that I am absolutely not legalistic.  I would describe my walk as a bit of ‘Grace and Mercy’ rebel.  I fight hard against any words that direct me to “DO” rather than “BE”.  Those that declare (which is grave sin) who is saved and who is false or heretic or unsaved, also push me away. I have been so hurt in my life by those faith talkers which is probably why it has taken me three different studies of James to fully embrace His writing.

Things are getting a bit shaken up and stirred out in a different way for me. I have gone toe to toe against believers that will disagree with my mercy belief; I always felt wrong because they were more studied than me, I never knew how to answer them. I just held hard to my hope that the Love He filled my heart with, was the same love He would pour out on all who seek Him. So I set out upon truth (growth leads to growth). I wanted to fully understand a more DO book, like James.

In my studies, which I now thirst after- *Psalm 42:1 (how did He know that about me?) I have grown beyond reacting to the legalistic undertones of some of our scriptures, to understanding rather our human journey to holiness. This is not something we do because scripture says to, we do it because as we begin to embrace our salvation and walk in it, we long to become more like Him. I have realized in my own journey that to understand what that looks like,  you first have to understand the entire journey from Genesis to Revelations, that includes the journey of the law (Torah).

First, lets define who is going to heaven. If you say everyone, do you truly think Hitler will? Do you truly think a child molester will? If you drew a line and labeled good and bad on either end, where is the line that says, too bad. Crazy as it seems, truly there is no stopping point of grace or mercy on that line for those that are in Christ.

Our salvation is bought and paid for by the suffering of Christ on the cross.  In my journey, I hung so tightly to that point and understood that the change that took place in my heart, is still taking place, every day, is Him, not me. It isn’t me being a “Good Christian”. I am on a journey of becoming holy, I am still changing. That said, here is the change in verbage for me….   even though you are saved, if you start at the ‘bad’ end, shouldn’t your salvation and hope move you a little closer to the ‘good’ end?

I remember hearing Francis Chan years ago, as he demonstrated faith as a balance beam exercise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y46YoVzX0VM   I liked it, it made sense. I read Kyle Idleman’s “Not a Fan” four years ago. I remember really enjoying it, but at the same time, not liking the legal tones echoing within my own heart!

It wasn’t the author, nor the scripture becoming legalistic, it was my difficult journey to know my worth to God. To understand ‘Agape Love’.

The truth is so crazy! ~ To fully understand what freedom we have in our salvation, we have to submit completely.

“Submit yourselves, then to God.” James 4:7, “in all ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight”. Proverbs 3:6

In the end, the legalism is to know where we have come from, who to turn to, submission, hope, trust…faith. To know the importance of submission to Him. Faith without works is dead. If we believe that Jesus died for us, and we are forgiven, this should shake our world! This should overwhelm us with repentance, hope, and a desire to “pay forward” if you will, that amazing gift. It should begin to change us, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the DO part! Let HIM do!

If you read the Sermon on the Mount, it is all there. The sermon on the mount is my “go to” I find all I need to know, right there in the words of my Savior. Unlike the teachings of “The Secret”, the need for total perfection of thought and words, putting things or not putting things in the universe (where does that go?)~  Christ achieved that for me.

My goal is not perfection, my goal is obedience. Always has been. It is not a place you arrive at; It is a place you seek. He calls us to desire to live in a submissive longing to please God. To stop assessing (judging) how well other’s are doing in their walk, to come along side those that need help back up in their walk, gently, with love and humility. Not from a knowing better, but a place of “there but the grace of God go I, point of view.

Christ followers are called to Seek Him in all things. Seek the truth. It doesn’t matter what we DO, it is the very core of our faith that becomes the truth. Only God knows this place in us. What good is anything we DO if our hearts have any form of judgement, jealousy, envy, anger (same as murder) insecurity. That is the DO part of our walk. Cleanse our hearts, our minds and our spirit by meditating on Him at all times. (It is truly the only way).

Truth is humbly being transparent.  Truth is loving at all times the entire body of Christ. Truth is loving our neighbors, no matter their color, their faith, or how they sin. Truth is not pretending to know God, but seeking to know what He desires for us. Truth is submission. Truth is forgiving everyone, including ourselves, everything. Truth is not self seeking. Truth doesn’t reject or boast. Truth is not about anyone else. Truth is the humble understanding that He is the only one that truly knows our heart, our life, our walk, our sin nature, our journey. Truth is love in action and mercy towards others. Only He knows your neighbors heart. Truth is that it is from fear or ego that we judge. Judgement is not discernment and conviction is not condemnation and the anger of man can never truly be righteous. Watch that you are not representing God, but actually following Him. Submissively.

James 4:12 “But who are you to judge your neighbor?

If His words are not honing you, building you up, tearing you down, healing you, teaching you, preparing you, softening you, strengthening you, removing pride, arrogance, judgement, if His words are NOT creating your next steps to walk in His plan for your life, to share in His wisdom through your own testimony, then you aren’t doing it right!

This is the works. Submission and mercy. Gentle mercy towards all. Especially your body of believers.

In the end, my issue has not been with legalism.  My issue was with man’s (including my own) interpretation of what that meant. Jesus fulfilled the law so we could live with God forever. He did this because there was no other way.  God knew this. Truth…That takes but a mustard seed. However, that mustard seed should change you atleast a little bit, should it?

We will still have an accounting for our journey. If the world holds more value to us than pleasing God, then it is time to really assess what our true belief is.

Works: Acceptance that I will never be perfect but that I can embrace and openly admit my arrogance, my lies, my hypocrisy and doubts and fears, and submit to Him to heal and be healed is freedom. To allow him to hone me even when it hurts.  It allows for true relationship free from ego.That is what faith with works looks like. Because from that place, He shines so brightly within us. We give Him Glory.  We hear His calling, His prompting.

We become strong.  We can say to that mountain move, and it will.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

 

Brotherly Love

4 Nov

Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail]” Hebrews 13:1 AMP

What happens when a room full of God-loving, Spirit-filled friends begin to worship and pray together?

They begin to make waves. Change begins to take place. Just when they could do great things, when the seeds begin to grow, Satan sets his sights on doing all he can to stop this.

He hunts and seeks out the weakness in each of these people. Friendships will begin to be tested. Strong followers will become distracted. Where the weakness is, there will be satan. My weakness was weariness in struggle. My idol is security.

Beautiful friendships, built on fellowship, support and love, with Christ at the center, began to unravel. Judgement of one another began, eye rolling, gossip, arrogant judgement of those deemed not as “righteous” as them. Judgement turned to unforgiveness and rejection; Division took place.

Our whole world is built on the Grace and Mercy of Christ towards us, yet we are unwilling to extend that to those we worshipped with. Satan has had a field day.

We either ask God to remove the evil that lies there or we look outside and see the flaws that exist within us all, and close the door. The world will tell us that some people are “only in our journey for a season”, But GOD, in his most beautiful words, scripture, will say, leave no one behind.

Isolation is a tool of the devil. We are told to be there for one another, to protect each other from our weaknesses. Forgiveness, love and forbearance are attributes of God. We are called to be that for our brothers and sisters.

The bible is very specific about division within the body; It is most definitely not of God. Jesus spoke very clearly about forgiveness and judgement. Acts, and Paul’s letters to all churches include these instructions.

We absolutely do not know what is in a man’s heart. Only the Father knows. You do not know what is God’s wisdom, only the Father knows.

We are called to [and I have] examine our own hearts, and asked God to expose our own sin. God blesses us with freedom and peace in our painful refining. We need refining at all times, so we can be the light that we are called to be. To truly walk our purpose in this world.

I prayerfully and purposefully have asked for Him to reveal to me all that is in my heart that is not truth, that is not of Him. I have asked for His wisdom to be evident.

This is the truth He has shown me: Through prayer, through study, through sermon, and conversation.

Satan is never going to be stronger than we allow him to be. It all comes down to ONE truth, ONE way, ONE redeemer. Put your faith back in Him and not in ourselves. His words, His promise, His desires for our lives, His provision, strength and consistency.

We must be there for one another in the days that are coming. We MUST stop judging the saved and start supporting one another. Always.

We all stumble and let one another down. Nothing hurtful towards those we truly care for is ever intended to harm, otherwise that would be true of every one of us, of our intentions.

We all have different roles, different gifts, unique journeys meant to be learned from, cultivating a deeper relationship with Christ. We all have a purpose here, the outcome of walking our purpose is to be light-bearers to this world. The WHOLE world.

We are not the sifters of the heart. Only the Father can do that. Mustard seeds are very difficult to compare to mountains.

Our painful times, our testing times in the desert, are meant to deepen the faith in our hearts, so when that day comes, that evil stands before us we can, with confidence, claim victory through Him that gives us strength.

Our faith can move mountains. Our redeemer is amazing.

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” Psalms 42:7 NKJV

“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:11-15 NIV

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9 NIV

“[My] brethren, do not speak evil about or accuse one another. He that maligns a brother or judges his brother is maligning and criticizing the Law and judging the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a practicer of the Law but a censor and judge [of it].One only is the Lawgiver and Judge Who is able to save and to destroy [the One Who has the absolute power of life and death]. [But you] who are you that [you presume to] pass judgment on your neighbor?” James 4:11-12 AMP

“Where there is strife, there is pride,but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Proverbs 13:10 NIV

“he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5 NIV

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” Deuteronomy 32:2

Seeing God Through Love “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. ” 1 John 4:12

Transparent

19 Sep

When I began this blog, my prayer was to always be completely transparent in my journey towards holiness. I have been, until recently. My transparency became vague because I was in a state of confusion and I didn’t want to show how far I stepped off my path, I suppose.

Walking in faith, still being me, and allowing my heart to open towards someone else has been truly the most convicting, amazing, difficult, sin-filled, painful, prayerful time of my walk yet.

When I fell in love, I knew it had to be with a man that wanted to know Jesus. When I met David, there was a moment outside of my church that he said to me, “I am not where you are at, I don’t know anyone that talks about Jesus as much as you, I just don’t know if I can be that. I am not there yet”

I think, I found this to be an oddity on my part, and I guess I thought maybe I needed to scale back a bit. I didn’t consciously process that, but in retrospect, I do believe I stopped making David come through Jesus to find me at that point.

A few months later, we became intimate, a few months later I moved to be near to him and he moved in with me.
Conviction came frequently, like when my pastor’s wife referred to David and I as married and I didn’t correct her.
My friends were worried, speaking truth to me, I never once downplayed it, and I prayed about this sin constantly. I had conviction but I also didn’t know what to do about this sin or maybe I just didn’t want to have to do anything about it. I decided to lay this at the foot of the cross.

In the process of this, what I can see in the looking back, is that David and I had no chance at all of having a Christ centered relationship (which is what we both claimed we wanted) while we had the door wide open to all the fear, doubt and division that satan could use with us. You cannot build a foundation in Christ while letting satan have a seat on the rock.

David and I began to fall apart. After church one day, conviction was very real and I began to cry. My heart was heavy with the un-holiness of our relationship and David asked me to marry him. I think somewhere, even in that moment, I knew that David wasn’t asking me for the reasons my heart desired but because he felt it was the right thing to do.

A recent trip home to Minnesota, I saw my shepherd/pastor’s wife at my reunion. Sue was there the night my life changed, July 9, 2010. I spilled my guts to her in the first 2 sentences. “David and I live together and I didn’t correct my church friends when they assumed we were married.” The next day at church, my pastor prayed with me to do the God honoring thing, to put my relationship back into line with all of God’s desires for me.

I came home to find that my relationship had some major cracks in it and we broke up. David moved out, just 2 days after I confessed and prayed. In true swiftness, God took up where I was weak. I begged Him to forgive me. I prayed for an answer.

What has happened since that time is pretty close to miraculous. David and I, both individually, began our relationship back to Christ; David on his own and me on mine. David was humbled and became completely transparent, asked for forgiveness from me and from God, and has began a walk I can see, I can hear, I can lean on. I became grace filled. I have an understanding beyond my own for David; A compassion that can only be God lead. I forgive him and he has forgiven me. We are beginning with a true foundation in Christ. It is a beautiful beginning. It is a blessing in many ways.

This is the need for transparency. For those of us mature, previously married, single in our mid years or beyond, it is easy to justify or to fall into this intimacy. It isn’t impossible but it is really, really hard. It isn’t about wrong, it is about falling out of the circle of favor and calm, joy and peace that is Christ. It alters the relationship we have with Him.

David has truly become a man after God’s own heart, and mine. I have found my eyes filled with the wonder of God from a new place of true need, true humility. We have begun to build a true foundation in Christ. It is so hard to not act on feelings and desires, but when you place them at the foot of the cross with your strong desire to be obedient, He helps you. He makes one strong when the other is weak. Obedience is not easy but it is not the worst thing that we endure. Losing my close relationship with Christ in my sin was painful. Lonely. Sorrow-filled. Scary.

Jesus was tempted in every area of his life, with the same temptations we endure, yet HE never sinned. He has so much empathy towards us, because He knows without Him, without constantly walking with Him, we will lose out to temptation. When we give way to temptation, His worry for us, is that we allow Satan a foothold.

Transparency is essential to a true walk. Confession to my pastor was essential to my soul. I could go to this world and tell them “David and I are intimate and we live together” I will hear from the world “Good for you!”. Christians will often tell me I will miss out on the blessings. But I am here to tell you, transparently, satan doesn’t sit idly by when you open the door to him. He will use that open door to have his way. Guard your heart! Guard your future from him.

The truth is this, this is what God has shown me:
“Your sin has shown your gaps, your fears, your idol’s. It lay bare the fears of your heart. You were not as weak as you were insecure; Insecure in MY Love for you. My darling child, MY Love is bigger and grander than any love you receive here, MY Love is beyond compare. You are made right in My Love. When you walk close to me, when you keep your eyes on Me, you see a bit into heaven. That is the JOY in you. Obedience is not a right and wrong, it is a trust. You didn’t trust me. And my darling child, I want you to see that I am with you even still. My Grace is big enough, wide enough, strong enough, MY Love is sufficient. My strength will get you through any challenge, any temptation, any test you must endure when you walk with Me. I brought you MY Word, yet you doubt, I brought you friends, yet you hid from them. I brought you writing skills, yet you skirted the truth. You can never run too far from me, because I LOVE you beyond measure. My Mercy is bigger than your sin. Trust ME.”

I am now being led by God first and led in obedience by a man I respect, a man that loves God more than he loves me, a man that is willing to leave me, rather than bring sin to my life. He and I have so far to go but we will go this road together. Humbly, seeking wisdom, helping one another stay strong in our journey. We have found a joy together by being truthful, transparent and encouraging of one another with empathy, prayer and gentle kindness.

I am so excited for this next part of the journey, though it hurt so much to get here… but that just makes it even better. Redemption is never easy but it is so amazing.

Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

1 John 1:9 & 2:1 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness… My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

A Case For Forgiveness

3 Sep

I have learned so much about my own weakness and sinful nature over the past 6 years. I have never had stronger faith and a deeper desire to please my Father, and still I sin.

During this growing time, I have lost my narrow need for control by needing to define right and wrong, black and white, from judgemental eyes.

I have learned to lay at the foot of the cross, set my sin there and ask God for wisdom and strength, forgiveness for my weakness and gratitude for not taking away my hope.

I have new eyes, His eyes, eyes that have allowed me to love myself even through my sins.

From that love comes love and forgiveness for those that sin against me or other’s I care about. If my sin is not meant to harm, why would I persecute other’s as if they intended to harm.

This is not to say sin doesn’t matter, because it does, because it carries consequence; To myself, or to others, yes, there is always consequence, consequences that can hurt, deeply.

What sin doesn’t do is separate me from my salvation; Salvation gained through no doing of my own, only by the sacrifice of one Son to carry my sins on His back, so I may be redeemed. If He was willing to do that for me, and I am willing to accept that, then I MUST choose to grant mercy and share grace with everyone- All- Regardless of the harm they have caused.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we allow them to harm us again, but we carry no un-forgiveness or bitterness in our hearts.
God does this for us, Jesus suffered and died for us, as He died He cried out on behalf of those that harmed Him. “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” His forbearance is beyond understanding, yet we can pray to have that patience, that wisdom, that acceptance, that love!

When we are betrayed by those we care most about, we can get angry, we can lash out or we can begin the process of healing by forgiving.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

If you have faith, you have all you need to weather the hurts in this life. What forgiveness does is it allows your offender to move closer to God, to show mercy is to demonstrate the Love you have received. If we don’t show grace, or accept it, we stand in the way of God. If Christ died for us, and we believe that, then it should be without merit that we share the full impact of Grace.

Shame and guilt are not of God, they are of the un-forgiven. Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.”

I am not without sin. But.. I am forgiven. And I choose to forgive.