I was Smart, Once

March 3, 2011 § 8 Comments

I used to know a lot more than I do now.

I had the best opinions about everything. I knew how to solve complicated problems because I was right.

I was going to be President. It would be easy, I already had all the answers.

I didn’t have experience, but I didn’t need it. I had a great imagination and logic.

I was smart once, but I also missed out on some things.

Namely: grace and mercy.

I didn’t realize how much grace I really needed. I lost sight of mercy in the pride that I “figured out” that I needed Christ. Somehow I saw that I needed Christ “back then,” before I asked Him to be my Savior, but then I had it handled from there.

I would put on a self-righteous smug smile and say I loved the lost, but in reality I found them less intelligent than me.

I never stopped to consider their backgrounds and experiences that could drive them away from Christ. I never considered that grace was the answer. Instead I spewed judgment. I was right and they were wrong.

It took me many years to discover it wasn’t judgment that brings others to Christ it is grace. Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

Grace and kindness lead us to the cross. Getting a glimpse of the depth of God’s grace, the magnitude of His kindness draws me to Him. Swimming in the sea of His kindness and grace is where I find a deep and abiding love for Him.

The more I realize the depth of my need, the more His grace and kindness grow. The larger His grace and kindness, the larger my love for Him. The more I love Him the more I desire to obey His commands.

His ways are upside-down, inside-out and topsy-turvy in our society of personal rights. He even told us in 2 Cor 1:27 that, “…God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

I was smart, once. Now I am a humbled, grace covered, child of God. I hope as I swim in God’s sea of grace, I fall more in love with Him and that my love with be contagious. I know I have said it before, but knowing I am in desperate need of graces frees me to extend grace to others. The more I swim in that ocean of God’s grace, the easier it is for me to live a life of grace.

Do you have a story to tell about how you used to be smart and God changed your brilliance to foolishness? I would love to hear your stories. The comment button is under the title of the post.

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A Soul Healing

February 20, 2011 § 9 Comments

My soul feels raw.
As if it had been drug down a carpeted hall at break-neck speed.
A dry,
burning,
prickly raw-ness
that hurts, hints, points and practically begs to be noticed…

Oh, but I am too busy.

Want to read the rest? It is over at (in)courage. I have the honor of being one of their daily guests today. Please hop on over there to read the rest and leave a comment for me…This is a big deal for me. I appreciate your support.

Have a BLESSED day today!

The Smelly Truth About Sin

February 16, 2011 § 6 Comments

“EWWWWWWWW…MOOOOOOMMMMMYYYYY, J pooped,” her voice shakes the paintings on the walls as she flees her brother’s presence.

“J we don’t want to play with you when you stink,” his other sister chimes in with the painful truth. I wince to hear her shun her brother. Oh, but I understand why. In fact there is a part of me that wants to shoo the offender and the odor out the door. It is nasty.

The smell permeates the room, paint peels, the smell discolors the carpet (ok I exaggerate, but the smell does stick around for a long time). In fact it hangs in the air long after the diaper has been changed.

As I changed my son today, it hit me. Sin is so nasty, so stinky, so disgusting that God cannot have it in his presence. But it is the sin not the sinner He shuns. God doesn’t say stay away from the sinner with the poopy diaper. No, instead like a mother changing a nasty filthy diaper, God calls us near to Him. He draws us close and uses His Son’s blood to cleanse us. Just as we put a clean diaper on our child, God wraps us with His grace and love.

However the sin smell can linger. We humans don’t like the messiness of it all. We like nice explainable packages and clean good smelling people. So as my daughters did, we point our fingers, shun the sinner, and fail to extend grace.

When we remember that we have stinky poopy diapers and are in desperate need of grace, we are free to offer grace extravagantly to others. We can sit with our friend who has confessed their sin, the smell still hanging in the air, their rears chaffed by the rash it has caused, and we can love them through the pain. We can do this because we are painfully aware that without Christ our sin would still be filling our pants, the smell permeating our skin. Our offer of grace does not remove the consequences of their sin, it only reminds them that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. It only echoes God’s response to us when we run to Him saying, “I pooped again. Change me please.” Amazingly God never runs out of Christ’s blood in which to cleanse us nor does He run out of grace in which to wrap us.

Oh the amazing love of Our Father. That we as cleansed and redeemed sons and daughters would extend His amazing grace to others!

Is grace difficult for you to share with others? What are your thoughts about God’s grace? I can’t wait to hear what you think. Jump in and leave a comment!

Now for your enjoyment a little silliness…This video always makes me smile…

Grace-full Accountability…

February 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

We open our hearts to one another. Share the hard things. The stuff that we struggle with. The things that leave our souls raw. The things we know are not quite right, but are not sure how to change. Some of the raw places are of our own making and others are wounds caused by the clash of our soul against another. She wonders how? How can I change this? How can this stop being a repeated dissonant chord in her relationship?

Her story reminds me of a similar chord I have longed to stop hearing in my relationships. So I tell her my story of how the dissonant chord was partly of my own making. How changing my reaction to the note he played made the chord harmonious instead. I had a choice to trust God and play the note He called me to play or the note my heart longed to play. My story told of the wrestling in my spirit and working it out the raw painful choosing of His note over mine. Yet choosing His note, changed the melody completely. As I obediently and unwillingly played the note my Father called me to play, his notes began to change too. Suddenly the chaos than ugly tune we were playing through our own raw reactions was transformed by God. As if joined by the Holy trinity itself, the tune began to work, healing and redemption followed. It was how God showed me to stop repeating that dissonant chord.

My story finished, just a story of how God changed me – a hopeless, helpless, rebellious, and sin-diseased woman – and help me make beautiful music in my relationships. She listened to my story, but not sure if my story could work in her story. Uneasy and unready to accept that maybe God was ready to change her that way too. She said thank you and waited. Waited to meditate, pray over, and decide. Is this what God is calling me to do?

Later she called and thanked me. Not because I am some amazing example to follow, but because my story shed light on a way to make the chords in her relationships more harmonious. She was able to see a new way, a new choice that she was unable to see before.

Grace-full accountability. Filled with knowing we all need God’s grace and it is only by His grace any of us are able to choose to play His notes and not our own.

What are your thoughts about this kind of accountability? I would love to hear from you. Grace and Blessings to you all!

Accountability…

February 10, 2011 § 9 Comments

Deep down that word makes me cringe. It makes the inner rebellious child in me stand up and say, “I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do.” It is hard for me to swallow the truth that I need help.

The bottom line is that I like to think I have it all together and I don’t need someone to speak truth in my life except for God.

There I said it. It is ugly. It is pride. I don’t like it about myself.

So for years I had this debate going on inside me. I knew I needed someone to keep me accountable, but who? How do you decide? How do you open up the ugly parts of yourself to someone? I feared rejection, I feared the ugly would make others think less of me. I feared my response when I didn’t live up to the accountability.

So essentially pride and fear kept me from obeying God. As I searched for and prayed for someone to help me. Someone I could do accountability with, God started speaking to me. Here is what I discovered:

Accountability is either specific or organic. Specific is you come to a friend and say, “Please hold me accountable for _____________ .” Then set up times to get together and talk about it or text each other.

The organic kind is sticky, but it happens when you and a friend are chatting. It happens in sharing the stories of your lives together. It must be wrapped in grace and left as a present. Your friend may not accept that present. Your story may be too raw or fresh, but if shared with love, given as a gift in grace, then you can leave that gift with him or her to open and use as he or she feels fit. If your friend does not use your gift of accountability and falls headlong into sin you lovingly speak of God’s grace. We all need it. Grace to get out of the pit we dug, grace to redeem our dirty messed up lives.

Accountability is God’s grace. It is His way of helping us avoid the pits of sin we are apt to fall into. I discovered that my fear was really pride. That my pride was sin and sin is exactly why I need accountability.

Tomorrow I will share a story of organic accountability. I hope you tune in to see what happens.

Do you have an accountability partner? How do you work that relationship out? Is it organic or specific? I would love to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Grace…

January 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

So God has been working on me about grace. I am slow to learn, but yesterday something came to me…

When I remember that I am in desperate need of grace, I am free to extravagantly extend grace to others.

It frees me up to love God for He is the giver of all grace and to love others for love covers a multitude of sins.

Giving of grace doesn’t negate the sin or its consequences. No, it stands in the ashes of the home burnt by sin and cries, loves, encourages, and goes about the painful work of restoration and reconciliation.

It is in knowing that I need the grace, that I am hopeless and helpless without it, it is in that state of mind that I can better understand God’s love for me. When I am in a wild love affair with my Heavenly Father, I want to live a life holy to Him. It is then that holy life is a spiritual act of worship.

So Grace is the beginning of it all. Loving God and loving others. It is what draws us to God.

I would like to know what your thoughts are on God’s amazing, painful, radical, wild grace. Share a comment with me.

Hooters and Honoring God

January 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

“Hooters?!” I said incredulously as we drove past what used to be an empty commercial lot.

“Yep,” my husband nodded and he made the first left turn after Hooters to head to our lot. The lot we were building our new house on.

I could hear the questions before they came. The questions from little mouths. “Can we go to the new owl restaurant mommy? Why not mommy?”

How do you do it?
How do you teach modesty to children who see the world in black and white when grace is in the picture?

How do you teach your daughters that you feel God’s desire to dress modestly means you don’t wear a two-pieces swimming suit, but others who love and honor God may not have that same view?

How do you make sure your kids don’t tell others that Santa isn’t real because we don’t pretend, but others like to pretend?

My answer is it is all about honor.

1. We are to honor God (1Cor 6:20).

All we do, all we say, what we wear, where we go, all of it should be in an effort to honor God. Brushing your teeth? Do it because you want to honor God by taking care of the body He gave you. Teaching your kids about dressing modestly? Do it because we want to honor God with our bodies, not because it makes us righteous. No it only helps us honor a God who died that we may live.

The question we must ask ourselves is am I honoring God in what I say, do, think, wear, my attitude? Then we must step back and know that there is freedom in Christ. Your definition of modesty may be different from mine, but if we are looking to honor God, it doesn’t matter as long as we encourage each other to honor God.

2. Romans 12:10 tells us to “…Honor one another above yourselves.”

Honoring others means extending God’s grace and love in times when we disagree. I have some sweet Godly friends that go to Hooters. I don’t feel I have that freedom in Christ, but they do. I may even tell them in a loving way why I don’t go to Hooters, but love and honor rule that conversation. All covered in the freedom Christ gives. It is about honoring and loving those around us.

Honoring others also means treating them the same way you want to be treated. None of us want to be judged or misunderstood. None of us want to be told because you wear something or go somewhere you are in sin and wrong. Romans 14 tells us about our freedom in Christ, not freedom to sin, but freedom to live out honoring lives to God whether we go to Hooters or not.

Does adding grace into the black and white world of my children work?

Amazingly, yes. I think kids get grace so much easier than we adults do. We try to add things to it.

We add living a “good” life to grace so we can be called righteous, when we know we are righteous by faith in God. (Gal 3:1-6)

Kids just accept it for what it is. We are not righteous by what we do, we are righteous because of whose we are, because we have faith in Him, who died that we may live.

What do you think? How do you teach God’s grace and freedom in Christ in the midst of God’s precepts?

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