Tag Archives: lent

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

 

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Every Precious Life

11 Mar

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.~Matthew 10:29-31

Someone posted this photo on Facebook. I hesitate to share this post. I steer clear of politics as much as possible, but feel God put this on my heart heavily, to share my thoughts. What strikes me about this picture is that it is aimed at Christians, and it comes from a place of seeing the hypocrisy in us, from a place of feeling judged in the name of Christ.

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The truth of my walk is this, the deeper I go in my relationship with Christ, the more I abide in love. I used to abide in the law, in the order of things, right and wrong, opinions that were very black and white. That was my security, that was how I remained in the false sense that all was under control; That I was in control.

The more I learn, the absolute belief that every moment, every part of our journey and every being is a perfect creation of God himself, even before conception. The bible tells us that every hair is perfectly placed; every life is lovingly designed, by Him, for a purpose. God loves with a love that you and I will never understand or ever come close to.

I love the Lord and know He loves us all. If He can love a sinner like me, a person so full of mistakes and imperfection, then I know this to be truth: If there is to be any judging it will be on me.

1 John 4:8 (NIV) 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Lord, you didn’t say, “except for those people, they need to be judged” you said “love, as I have loved you”. Please, let me always be an example of your love.

Walking in faith isn’t about changing laws, it is about changing hearts. If I could inspire a love for Christ, then I know His great power to change hearts and lives. I don’t judge on either above “political” issue, but I do so love my gay friends and family members;I do so love the babies. Truth is, I will hurt forever for the life I took.

I wouldn’t lobby, argue or fight on either political issue, but my one true hope, as a Christian, is that I would be willing to lay my life down for both, for all.

John 15:12-13 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Galatians 1:15 (NIV)
15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased

Jeremiah 1:4-5(NIV)
The Call of Jeremiah

4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

John 1:3 (KJV)
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

She Walked in Faith

16 Feb

I lost my beautiful friend this week. Though I am mourning her loss, I rejoice that her time here is done. She is free from the bondage’s of this world and she is with Jesus.

I feel so blessed that for my comfort and grief, I have my faith, God’s promises, and beautiful friendships to keep my heart set straight.

There is promise in the words of our Father, Hope in our Savior and Peace in the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 34:18(NIV)
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

John 16:22 (NIV)
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

I want to share some inspiring thoughts on my friend: She touched lives, she loved unconditionally and she walked her talk. We are all broken, but we are all given amazing gifts, as well. Jill’s gifts were Encourager, Mercy and Giver and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit were evident in her.

Jill was so beautiful in spirit, she shone with love; His Great Love. Jill was incredibly kind, humble and she was a stinker. Jill made me laugh, and I made her laugh,what a precious laugh and wicked sense of humor she had, too. Most of all, she loved the Lord with all her heart and wanted everyone around her to feel loved. Jill was not perfect, (to me, she was) but she had flaws like the rest of us. (There is no one without fault, you will always fall short). You will never achieve wholeness until you arrive in Heaven, then you will be made whole.

My thoughts have been around who we are called to be, who we are to one another, what our responsibility to one another is and walking our faith. This world is so unkind, so unforgiving sometimes. We will be disappointed many times, by many people (there is scripture for that, as well). We are to forgive. We cannot walk this world with hate in our hearts. Hate will destroy our peace and our relationships, especially with Christ. True, we are saved from our sins by Grace, we do not pay for our sins by God’s Great Mercy, yet we are called to walk within that belief, as well. We can’t perfect it, we can never be good enough to earn our way into heaven, we can never be flawless, but we know our Savior, we know who we are called to be and we are directed to walk in that faith.

Ephesians 5:15 (AMP)
15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),

This walk means you stumble,fall,and start back on your knees tomorrow. This walk means you focus on His teachings and allow Him to soften you, to take your sin from you, one by one. This walk means you allow yourself to be convicted, to learn, to grow. You let go of shame, judgement and self righteousness. You learn to walk like Jesus; obedient and with Love. You allow yourself to be transformed, little by little. You become more and more whole, more centered. You heal and then you become the light you are meant to be. You find your gifts and you share them with the world.

“As a believer, your question is no longer what do I want to do, but rather What do YOU want me to do, [God]?” (Pastor Mark Ragsdale)

Jesus loved; Jesus loved everyone. Imitation is the sincerest form of gratitude and humble appreciation for our salvation.

Jill loved; Jill loved everyone.

“Good” Christian

2 Sep

Every week, I am touched in one way or another, called upon to learn and to grow in my walk with God. This week was no different. My thoughts have revolved around how others perceive us or even persecute us.

How many times in our Faith journey have we been misunderstood, judged, shunned, gossiped about? We are definitely watched.

Do they watch because they want us to fall? Do they watch because they want to believe it isn’t real? Are they jealous of our joy? Have they been hurt by those they hoped were kinder because they said they were Christian. What does it matter? They are watching! How are we measuring up? There is a song that says..

“They will know we are Christians by our love…”

The truth is, we should be held to a higher standard, and if you are honest, aren’t you being a hypocrite? Where is the Grace and Mercy that was given freely to you, with incredible suffering and paid for in blood?

The world tells you that your emotion, your anger, your hurt feelings are so important that they need to shared. Where in our Bible does it instruct us to judge someone’s choices, or to share our political rant, or prejudice. The willingness to share our opinion of right and wrong is not biblical.

We are instructed to take our whole lives to Jesus; To take our unkind thoughts, our hurt feelings, our indignation at the unkindess of others Only to Jesus, in prayer. I challenge that we should not even share these things with our best friend or our spouse. Seek to be forgiven for harboring hurt or resentment, forgive and then pray for the person(s) that you are holding any negative feelings about.

1 Peter 2 (AMP)
2 So be done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy, jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.

The Bible clearly states that if you are in ministry at all, then your standard should be nothing short of transparent in your sin and The Fruits of the Spirit should be visible.

Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP)
22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,
23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[a]that can bring a charge].

That said, if you praise Jesus at all, in an open forum, if you proclaim His Name; You are ministering. You are held accountable. You must take account of your actions at all times. When you walk in Faith, even if you don’t preach, the world is watching you. To be a Christian means nothing will be easy. The words, “she is supposed to be a Christian” will be attached to the gossip. We are expected to be better than others, Non-believers actually expect us to act more like Jesus than WE seem to at times.

Though the world judges and the world gossips, YOU will be called out on such actions,even by those that are judging you or gossiping about you. Those actions bring mockery to your faith. But, to point a finger and call a sinner a sinner, when we are sinners, IS hypocrisy. To do as I say and not as I do, is a grave sin.

To be a Christian means you MUST hold your actions to a higher standard. You cannot walk with one foot in this world and one foot in His and not suffer. I wonder just exactly how many times I have given the naysayers justification and the hopeful watchers disappointment? I am a hypocrite far more often than I care to admit. That knowledge stings, but it is the truth. This should pierce you as well, because it is true of all of us!

Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)
21 Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

It isn’t our works but our walk that He is most interested in.The world should not know our works as we should be doing our faithworks for the Glory of God and not for the eyes of mankind. So it goes without saying it is our walk that the world is watching as well. How does your walk look?

Matthew 5:16 (AMP)
16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your [a]moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and [b]recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

1 Timothy 4:12 (AMP)
12 Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.

James 1:26 (AMP)
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren).

Matthew 17:5 (NIV)
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

How many times

4 Aug

How did I miss you?

When a detour put me directly in front of someone I miss so much, in a town far from one another, how did I miss my chance to praise you, to see you showing off for us, for gifting both of us with the blessing of such a moment! How did I miss what a complete gift of love that was?

How did I miss you when my car wouldn’t start? I was praying to remain patient, to remain faithful and not worry, praying to have my car start, to make it home…that I missed the unbelievable opportunity to praise you and share your faithfulness by the blessing of the tow truck that just happened to appear in the parking lot. I was thankful but how did I miss the opportunity to be blown away? That you did that for ME!

I thought I got it! I thought I was in TUNED. I was so good about it!

I missed the beauty of your gifts, you were lavishing love on me, pouring down gifts, trying to capture my full attention, I was so busy praying that I missed the reward for my trust, the love you shared.

Instead of dancing on my tiptoes, singing your praises, I was making sure I had people to call on for the drive home, praying all the while.

YOU WERE RIGHT THERE! How did I miss that opportunity to see how much you love me? The favor you showed me?

How often am I so busy being faithful and mindful that I actually miss you? Miss seeing you? Miss your hello’s, your treasures of love notes, your romantic gestures.

Please never stop. I never deserved a single treasure but please, never stop.

God is love. He didn’t need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing. ~ Rick Warren

The quiet time

27 Jul

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

We are not meant to travel this life alone. God saw this immediately and created Eve. The Bible itself is a story of relationships; God and us, woman and man, friendships.

Loneliness is a very real threat to our peace. We fear it because it is uncomfortable, it feels sad.Loneliness can sneak in and grab hold, robbing us of our joy.

If you process your loneliness with purpose, it can be as vital to our spiritual maturity as our relationship to God and our fellowship is.

Loneliness feels awful; I described it to a close friend “I’m so lonely I almost can’t breathe”. Recently (last night, lol) I was looking forward to a night of quiet. I found myself not enjoying the quiet, so I walked for a short while alone. There was thunder in the distance (I love thunderstorms). Suddenly this weight of a wish, of having a someone walk with me, the holding of hands; The memory of having someone or the idea of someone, a man.

It hit me hard. I am not used to this thought process or desire for companionship this way.

There was much comfort in the reaching out to my understanding friend. It made the weight bearable, not desperate. From that I sought to understand my heart.

Loneliness is not unique, we all fight it at times. It has no bearing on the quality of the relationships in our lives. I would have said it was ego based, the lack of acceptance of where we are at in this exact moment; Instead, I found there is a very real reason for our loneliness, it is essential for our spiritual growth.

In my journey through my heartbreak, I have relied on loving friendships that walk with me and keep me moving forward. I don’t know why I haven’t been focused on finding a relationship, I just haven’t been. I love my relationship with Christ, my family and the friends, male and female. It was enough.

So what was this loneliness that blindsided me? I believe it was God’s whisper; reassuring me, reminding me, and opening my heart to new hopes. He places those hopes in our heart. He wants to bless me, but I have to be ready to receive those blessings. I have to trust His timing, His desires for me, His plans for my life.
In my pain, I built a wall around my heart that would prevent me from seeing all that He would place in front of me.

When we have pain or uncomfortable feelings, like loneliness, we can surrender to the Devil that would take us down the path of self pity. Or we can lean into the feeling, and let Him guide us through; trusting that we are meant to be in pain for this moment and He will open our eyes to new understanding.

I understand His teaching. He is preparing me. I trust Him completely. It may not be today, it may not be this year. There is a plan for my future that includes
a man that God has hand-picked for me. My friendships will flourish, my light will grow and my heart will continue to soften because He loves me that much.

I choose to trust that and to share that. If we are sharing our hearts with others, there is no room for loneliness.

Psalm 27:10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
1Samuel 12:22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Just Him

19 Jun

I am not religious, I am on a journey. My journey is a growing journey, a path of Love; Of Peace; Of Hope; Of Joy.

I am sorry for every time you thought you were being hurt by the Christian and not the human. I am sorry people hurt others in the name of God when it truly is in the name of a cause or an ego. But you know, that people that hurt others are really hurting within themselves.

I am sorry if you were disillusioned, mislead or harmed by Religion; I was. It was the great lie of Should’s and Should nots. I didn’t know God. I didn’t understand Faith. I only knew I was unworthy. I thought you had to be “good” to get to heaven. Great question would be “how good do you have to be to get in?” I was never going to be good enough.

I love my Lord, my Rescuer, my Hope.. I love the Bible, it keeps me together and it is, to me, incredibly alive. I love Church, it lets me dig deeper; seek Him more. I am nourished and fed; I feel a sense of sameness, of oneness.

What I am not is perfect. What I am not is good enough for heaven. What I am not is Holy enough. I am only saved because of Grace; Forgiven not because I became holy but because I was struck by the amazing realization that inspite of how wrong I can get it, He died for me, he took pity on me and with Mercy for me, took my sin and suffered a horrible death for me.

I still mess up. I still have moments of weakness. I still get caught up in things that certainly don’t serve God. I have been attacked, lied about, judged. I am despised by some,even those that don’t know me. I am judged as holier than thou, yet I strive to wear my sin openly, strive to be transparent in my journey to become a light of God. What I desire is not your approval but for you to know the relationship I know with God. It is incredible. I didn’t become a religious person, the scales of blindness just fell away. Because I walk with Him every day, He changes me;there are things that become less important over time; other things that replace those that fall away.

There is a work going on inside my heart. I see this world with different eyes. It is this amazing journey of pride and rebelliousness to peace, loving gentleness and growing selflessness. Remain [in HIM} is a definition, a natural follow-up to the words ‘I do’ believe. It is a peace-filled passive term of acceptance AND a word that requires action. This development of relationship in which we, after receiving our salvation, need to grow in. Like any relationship, you don’t get to “acceptance” in one step. It is over time, over sorrows, over missteps, over hope. It is the building of a trusting relationship with God. It requires us to ebb and flow as we give and take back, seek and turn away, until we develop a deep and trusting, committed, and incredible relationship where we are almost walking a bit in Heaven everyday. And when we arrive at this amazing place, we can look back and see that He remained with us because we said I do.

This is my religion. There is nothing I fear. There is just hope, joy and incredible trust. There is just The Holy Spirit, My God and My Savior.