March 16, 2011 § 8 Comments
Someone asked me knowing what I know now what I would tell my sixteen-year-old self if I could go back in time.
Sixteen…Driving…High School…After school job…Kansas Bible Camp…Debate/Forensics (speaking tournaments not CSI type stuff)…Youth Group…
I was the “good little Christian girl.” I carried my Bible to school. I helped lead a Bible Study (held off campus on Thursday nights). I spent summers working at Kansas Bible Camp. I went to church every Sunday and since my church was too small for a youth group I went to Topeka Bible Church on Sunday nights for youth stuff. I prayed at See ya at the Pole events.
I looked great on the outside. Oh, but I missed out on something. Somehow I thought I was smart enough to figure out that I needed God. Everyone who hadn’t figured out they needed Jesus were less intelligent than me.
I stood in judgment of those who were not following Jesus. Instead of extending grace, I looked down. Instead of considering someone’s story, held them accountable for what I had experienced. Surely everyone heard of Jesus, surely they should know. I did not realize the depth of my need. Instead I decided who was worthy of God’s love.
I fear I pushed more away from God than towards Him. I behaved like a self-righteous Pharisee and I looked great on the outside, while on the inside I was a rotting corpse. I missed grace and mercy. I read James and didn’t apply verses like:
“Act and speak as those who will be judged by the law that gives freedom because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13
I am grateful that God’s mercy extended to even me. I have since become aware that I am helpless and hopeless without Jesus. I am aware of the ugliness of my sin and my desperate need for grace and mercy. Since God has made me aware of this, I am more able to offer mercy and grace to others.
How about you? What would you tell your 16 year-old self?
February 23, 2011 § 4 Comments
Last week I got a call from my sister. She was preparing a devotional talk for the inmates at a woman’s prison. She and several other women go to the jail to play basketball with the inmates and share Christ with them. She had a great idea about what to share, but needed some direction. So we began bouncing ideas around…Here is the general idea of her talk…
Everyone likes heroes. Little boys love super heroes. They are strong and tough. These heroes fight for what is right! Our society has lots of heroes. Sports heroes like A-Rod, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers who just won the Super Bowl. After 9-11 our society realized there are also everyday heroes. Firefighters, police men and women, EMT’s all who willingly laid down their lives for the sake of others.
Do you have a hero? What if someone came into this jail today and told you that he would serve the rest of your sentence? So that you can go free now. Would he be a hero to you?
I have a sentence against me. The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23) eternal separation from God. That is what I have earned for doing things that do not please God. But God sent His son Jesus, my hero. He took my sentence for me so that I can live in heaven with God forever! “For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I have a hero, and His name is Jesus. Do you want to know Him as your hero? Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Powerful stuff isn’t it? Jesus our SUPER HERO, our sentence bearer, God wrapped in flesh, died to make us His adopted children. It still amazes me. I pray I will never get tired of hearing this news and that each time I hear it, I will be more and more amazed by it.
Is Jesus your hero? Tell me what He is doing in your life or how He is amazing you. Have you asked Jesus to be your hero (or Savior)? Please consider praying this prayer:
Dear God, I know that I am a helpless sinner. Your word tells me that I have earned death – eternal separation from You – for the choices I have made that are not pleasing to you. Please forgive me for my sins. I thank You for sending Jesus to take my sentence so that I can live with You forever. I accept His offer to be my Hero, my Savior, my Lord. I give You my life from now on. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Now tell someone that you made this step of faith. Share it here so I can be praying for and with you.
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…
February 8, 2011 § 10 Comments
My eyes pricked with tears – tears seem to come frequently – as I choked out the words to the song. Grateful, humbling, overwhelming tears. The kind that come from deep joy, deep sorrow, and the awe of amazing grace. The joy that God would save me, the sorrow that my sin would cost Him so much, and the awe that He gave it all for me. How Deep the Father’s Love for Us we sang while taking the bread and the cup. Reminders of what He did for us. His body broken, His blood shed, to make “a wretch His treasure.”
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
As we sang, my sweet E, not yet eight-years-old, leaned in close.
“Mommy,” she whispered, her face bright and smile snaggletoothed, “my heart is on fire with joy.”
Through the tears I manage my own smile, my heart full as if God Himself had overfilled it, “Me too,” I barely choke. “Me too.”
Again I am humbled by the profound words my sweet girl utters. My heart on fire with joy…Joy that ignites my heart. Fire that burns away the pain of longing, regret. As Nehemiah says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Neh. 8:10) We often forget that our strength lies in finding joy in God. Finding joy in the Lord leads us to live according to His word. Finding joy in the Lord leads us to live a life of love and grace. Finding joy in the Lord means our joy is not based on human experience, capricious feelings, or others’ choices. No our joy is found in Him who “does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1: 17)
Is your joy founded in the Lord today? Is your heart on fire with joy that He alone brings? Share the joy that has your heart right now. I can’t wait to hear about it.
December 7, 2010 § 6 Comments
I haven’t posted in a really long time. That isn’t really a confession since I am sure you have noticed. However, the reason behind this lack of posting is truly interesting.
I have been feeling dry and raw. I think we all periodically feel
like our hearts are on the wrong channel.
Like trying to tune the radio of your heart to your favorite station and
somehow you can never quite get it tuned in right.
Well, I have been feeling that way and wondering why…
The bottom line is that I am a mess.
I am not organized, but I aspire to have an organized house.
I want a clean kitchen
and laundry that gets folded and put away.
But I am not that person…Oh, but I try to be that person.
I am not the most thoughtful person.
I want to remember birthdays and send out the best
Christmas letters, but I don’t.
I am not the most insightful person.
I have sweet friends who share and discuss and think of great topics
to mull over together, but I don’t.
The more I get to know myself, my true self, the one apart from Christ,
I honestly can say I am an ugly sinner.
I do not like the things I think or the things I do.
It is serious ugliness.
But I try.
I try my self-help, self-talk and tell myself, “YOU CAN DO IT.”
The truth is that I can’t.
I can’t live up to the Martha Stewart – Beth Moore – Carol Brady – Supermodel standard I set for myself.
Most of which no one could do and live up to nor did God call me to do.
True lasting life change doesn’t come in the form of New Year’s resolutions or goals or plans.
No true lasting life change comes from God.
You see I am a helpless sinner.
Jesus goes so far to say, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Oh, but the joy that there is in knowing that in Him I am free.
Jesus also tells us, “I have not come to call the righteous [or perfect], but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)
Do you see it?
Jesus wants us the mess that we are.
He wants us to cling to Him because without Him we can do nothing.
Oh but with Him…
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20
Let’s free ourselves from our own expectations.
Will you join me in laying it all down at God’s feet?
Asking Him what He has for us to do.
Then do ONLY what He guides us to do.
I would love to hear from you.
Leave a comment so I can pray with you as we let go of our expectations.
August 30, 2010 § 2 Comments
I hate to admit it, but I am ungrateful. Often I do not appreciate how hard my husband works, nor do I thank my children when they are kind to each other or pick up after themselves. No, I expect those behaviors. I expect as part of our marriage contract that my husband works outside the home so that I can work inside the home. I expect my children to do what I tell them, but I do not give them an incentive nor show appreciation when they try hard. I often look over the things done well to the next thing we need to tackle. It is as if I have a check-list in my head, now that we are not bickering, check, lets move on to picking up after ourselves. Instead of basking in the glory that is an hour or two without fighting or arguing among the siblings in my house. When it comes to my husband I may think, “Wow, he is doing a great job taking out the trash. Now if only I could get him to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Check.” I say, to myself, “Yes he did a great job, but there is still work to do.” I miss out on honoring and praising my family, in the midst of my check-list, my schedule, my plans.
I do it to God as well. Sure Jesus died on the cross to save me. Yes, I was a hopeless, helpless sinner and He made a way for me to live forever with God. So He died when I was His enemy and He calls me to draw me near to Him. God made a way for me to have an eternal hope. Yeah, but… It is so crazy that I am not on my face, beating my chest, every day saying, “Thank you for dying for a wretch like me.” Instead I have myself convinced that I am doing God a favor. I am writing this blog to spread His word, I am teaching Sunday School to fifth and sixth graders, I am teaching my kids about God. I pray and read God’s word. Oh, but I miss being grateful that God sent His Son to die for a wretched, blind, bull-headed woman like me.
1 Peter 1:6 says, “In this you greatly rejoice…” The “this” is the living hope we have in Jesus. It includes the “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance” we have in heaven AND the “power of God” that is currently protecting those who know Jesus as their personal Savior. We have a future hope and a present protection even if we are currently facing storms in our lives. So my question is, “Am I GREATLY rejoicing in my hope of heaven and the protection God is giving me?” Or am I ungrateful for the work Jesus did on the cross? Am I satisfied with thinking I can do favors for God or am I rejoicing that He uses me in His eternal plan?
Father God forgive me for being ungrateful. Forgive me for taking the cross for granted. Forgive me for thinking that I can do You a favor. Please fill my heart with wonder and rejoicing at what Jesus did for me on the cross. May my life be an outpouring of humble gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice. Thank You for Jesus. Amen.
July 20, 2010 § 3 Comments
Envision a bright, sunny, winter day. Snow is on the ground, and the sun creates a magnificently brilliant, and blinding glare. That is the day this idea came to me. I was walking between classes at college, without my sunglasses on, and God seemed to tell me. “The reason you can’t look at My holiness, and My glory is that you are not wearing your Son-glasses. That is why the world didn’t recognize Jesus as God when He came to earth. They weren’t wearing their shades” Only through the lenses of God’s Son, Jesus, can we hope to “see” God. Ezekiel 1:27 mentions a vision of Jesus on his throne, and says that “brilliant light surrounded him.” God is that amazing! God’s glory is brilliant, too brilliant for our human eyes to see. That is why Moses only got to see God’s back. (Exodus 33:12-27). Only through the redeeming blood of our Savior, Jesus; only through the Son-glasses of salvation can we see God.
The thing is that we often think we are smart enough to put on our “Son-glasses.” That somehow, we had something to do with finding salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The first “that” in the verse is referring to our faith, not God’s grace. So our faith is THE gift of God. If our faith itself comes from God, then how can we say, I am better or smarter than those who don’t choose God? No we are all in need of grace. At some point we are all deceived by sin. We are blessed to accept Jesus, not smart enough. Yes, God in His sovereignty allows choice some how, don’t ask me how. The point is that we need to be gracious to those who don’t know God. We need to show them how salvation affects our daily lives; how we live out our salvation in all we say and do. They don’t need condemnation. They don’t need a watered down version of the truth. They need to see God’s kindness which leads them to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
Oh, that I would live a life full of God’s kindness. That I would live a life viewed through the Son-glasses of salvation so I can be intimate with God. As I view life through those wonderful, grace given, Son-glasses, I pray my heart and my perspective will change to be more like God’s.
Now are you wearing your shades?