Thursday, December 31, 2009


These are some quotes, thoughts, and ideas pulled from a couple of messages by a man named Rob Rufus.  These ideas were very encouraging to me, and I hope they encourage you, too:


I am in the presence of God today.
I expect good things to happen because of the New Covenant.
There is no condemnation on me today!
I am the righteousness of God in Christ today!
God approves of me 100%!
God is on my side and has taken my position to defend me.
I am free from fear of judgment because judgment has passed.
Not because of me but because of Christ on my behalf.
I am safe forever with my King!

I expect good today!
The New Covenant makes me bold in the Spirit of freedom.
I walk though this world free from wrath!
The Father loves me and cares about me.
The Father doesn't remember what I've done wrong.
The Father took an oath never to remember my sin but to bless!
The Son became poor so I am rich today.
The Son became sin so I am righteous today.
The blood declares I am righteous forever!
The Spirit is telling me my sins are gone and I'm perfect forever!
I have received fullness in Christ.
I am a prince and royal priest in the house of God!

                                                  (quotes and ideas - Rob Rufus)

Monday, December 28, 2009

His Purpose - To Love Us As His Children

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of heaven!  For consider what He has done - before the foundation of the world He chose us to become, in Christ, His holy and blameless children living within His constant care.  He planned, in His purpose of love, that we should be adopted as His own children through Jesus Christ - that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of His which has made us welcome in the everlasting love He bears toward the Beloved.  It is through Him, at the cost of His own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth.
                                                    Eph 1 (Phillips translation)

Amazing - His purpose all along was to bring us into the family so that He could lavish on us the very love that is enjoyed among the Trinity! (To imagine that the Father loves us just as much as He loves Jesus is mind-bogggling!)  He wanted us as His children, and He's put us forever under His constant love and care.  What a beautiful life we have with Him!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grace At Work: A Real-Life Example

I thought I'd share an example of how grace works itself into my life.  Here's the the thought process I went through today and how the God of grace did His special "God-thing" so beautifully:

For some reason today, I started thinking these thoughts:  "I must not be a very loving person.  Compared to _____, I'm certainly not!  Probably people start to get to know me and then pull away from me because they think I'm unloving.  I need to be more loving.  How can I work on that?  Do I need to try to do one good thing for someone every week?"  (You can see how these thoughts are performance-based..)

Then, like fresh air in a smoky room came God's heart toward me:  "Even if you never love another person, I LOVE YOU.  I'll NEVER pull away from you or distance Myself from you.  I am with you..  You ARE loving because you have the Ultimate Lover, who laid down His life for His friends,  inside you as your life. You have His loving nature.  And that love WILL come out.  So rest, my dear..."

And peace reigned again.  That's the way the God of grace works in my life!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Our Immanuel: Looking Into the Face of God

Jesus is God reaching out and embracing the world, wrapping His arms around every one of us.  He is God accepting us, God loving us, God forgiving us, God reconciling us, God with us.

Jesus is God with us in the flesh - Immanuel.  Jesus puts a face on God, and it's a nonthreatening face.  That face has a hauntingly beautiful look of something we've hardly dared to dream of in the face of God:  the look of a love without any conditions or any strings attached.  A love given for free no matter who we are or what we've done.  A love that calls the ugliest sinner a beautiful child.  A love that is literally dying to be with us!

When we look into His eyes, we know something.  No matter what our past, our struggles, or our doubts may be, we know something.  At that moment, we know we're accepted.

We know we're accepted, because in His eyes we see the unconditional love called grace.  We see a God who stoops to love and rescue the unlovable.  We see a God who saves (for "Jesus" means "God saves") by absorbing all our sin into His death so we can be raised up to a new life of walking hand in hand with Him forever.

Jesus is our Immanuel!  By His death and resurrection, He offers us a gift - Himself!  He offers His own life to indwell us forever!  To live for us, to love us, to hold us, to keep us, to be our most Intimate Friend.  This is God with us!  This is Love with us!

Jesus shows us who God is, and His other name is Grace!

Merry Christmas to all as we celebrate the gift of His life given freely to us!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

White Christmas Eve

Here are some pictures from the nearby mountains.  I've never had a white Christmas in my life, but went up in the mountains today to enjoy beautiful SNOW!  I'm counting this as a white Christmas (Eve)!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas With My Daddy

Growing up, I was blessed to have the greatest daddy in the world.   He delighted in giving me gifts, whether homemade (like a treehouse) or store bought (like a pretty dress).  One Christmas I decided that I wanted a little musical snowman that played "Frosty the Snowman".  So I told my daddy - on Christmas Eve! - that I really wanted this present.  And sure enough, after dinner on Christmas Eve my daddy disappeared out the door to the overcrowded store.  I smiled to myself in my self-centered little way, knowing my daddy would get me whatever I wanted.

Next morning, I ran into the living room to see my presents and there was a little box.  I quickly opened it and found, not a musical snowman, but a little figurine - a boy with a lantern - that played "We Wish You A Merry Christmas".  No Frosty the Snowman music box!  My daddy explained that the store had been sold out of the Snowman music box.  Of course in my childishness I was disappointed, but over the following weeks and months I began to like the little boy with the lantern more and more.  After a while I forgot about old Frosty.

The seasons passed and I grew one year older.  Christmas was already here again.  As always, early on Christmas morning I ran in to see my presents.  There was a curious little white box among the other gifts.  I opened it, and there was the Frosty the Snowman music box!  My daddy had remembered I wanted it.  He had remembered for a WHOLE YEAR a silly girl's Christmas wish.  And he had seen to it that the wish was fulfilled!  That's just the kind of daddy I have!

My earthly daddy is the best daddy in the world!  And it amazes me that his love for me is just a tiny picture of the great love of my heavenly Daddy! 

We have a heavenly Daddy who loves us beyond our human understanding.  Our heavenly Daddy is kind and gentle towards us.  He values us as His precious children.  He holds us close to His heart and won't ever let us go.  He knew the deepest wish of our heart was to be unconditionally loved and embraced and He fulfilled that wish through Jesus.  He delighted in giving us the gift of His Life and His Love.  He knew it was just the gift we wanted and needed, and He went through so much to give it to us.  His love for us will outlast any circumstance or any foolish action on our part.  His love for us will last forever!

He loves us just as much as He loves His Son, Jesus!

(P.S. I love you, Dad!  Merry Christmas!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We Are In The Victor, Jesus

Satan is the accuser.  He tells us we're awful sinners, that God won't love us after what we just did, that we'll never be any better, that God has rejected us....ALL LIES!

The Holy Spirit is the comforter.  He tells us we're righteous, that God loves us just the same even after what we just did, that we're already perfect in Jesus, that God will never, ever reject us...ALL TRUTH!

So Satan or the flesh or human doctrines lie to us, trying to put condemnation on us - so what!  Those things are still lies: no matter how terrible they make us feel, they are not the truth!  We're still ever and only OKAY, ALRIGHT, and PERFECT because of and in Jesus, and there is NO condemnation on us!  That won't change! On the cross He took away our sins and forgave us for all time without us doing anything!  And then when we believed, He made us alive with Him for all time!  What's done is done, especially if God is the One who does the doing!  He says, "I make, and who can unmake it?" 

Satan is a defeated foe!  He's fallen and he can't get up!  We are in the Victor, Jesus, and have already won in Him!  That victory WILL come out!  No matter what crap this world or evil throws at us, we're winners in Him and that's the fact!

Monday, December 21, 2009

So Glad That Jesus Came

  He loves me so much, He loves you so much:
    * He came from one universe to another to find me
    * He came knowingly into our planet’s disease, fear and anger
    * He chose to lose all memory of heaven, to come as a baby to save earth, to rescue me
    * He came knowing He’d lose rights to use His powers to protect Himself
    * He came knowing He’d experience the pain of deceit, abandonment, including mine
    * He came knowing He’d experience violent hatred
    * He came knowing He’d experience heart-breaking loneliness, some of which I have caused
    * He came knowing He’d be rejected by his closest friends
    * He came knowing He’d suffer temptation to its end
    * He came knowing it would ultimately kill Him

“Immanuel”-God in me, God with me, God next to me, God protecting me, God defending me, God loving me, God enjoying me, God over me, God through me, God for me, God from me, God defining me, God with His arm around me.                                 

                                                               John Lynch

You know, at times in the past when I have thought of Jesus' coming and His death on the cross, I have felt guilty.  I have felt like I should have been more obedient and more holy because of all He has done for me.  But is this the reaction the cross is meant to inspire?

I once read about a painting of Christ on the cross which contained this caption at the bottom:  "All this I did for you - What have you done for Me?" Such a thought is truly condemning and guilt-producing, since we could never do anything equal to His work on the cross!  We'd be coming up short and feeling awful about it for eternity!  I don't think that caption captures Jesus' heart at all!

How about this for a caption:  "You are worth it!  You are precious to Me!  I wasn't about to let sin crush and destroy you.  I hated how it enslaved you and made you misunderstand me - not seeing Me as love!  I hate how it had trapped you, my dear!  It made me angry!  I was willing to do anything to free you from sin's grip.  I would do anything - even move aside this whole creation - just to get you back, to win you!  YOU ARE WORTH IT!"

That's what the Incarnation and Passion of Jesus mean to me!  And now that He's shown me His heart about it all, I don't feel guilty anymore - I feel special and loved!  And that's true for all of us - we are special and loved to Him, and He says we are worth dying for...we are worth it!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

He Understands

I think for many years I have felt it was wrong or un-Christian to feel certain emotions.  I felt it was wrong to feel angry, that I should be calm always.  I felt it was wrong to feel depressed, that I should always be "up" and happy.  I felt it was wrong to feel confused, that I must always have everything figured out.  But I think that really there is no emotion that we are "not allowed" to feel.  Jesus understands us completely.  He knows what hurts us.  I think He wants us to feel completely at home with Him and able to share how we really feel.  We have His complete acceptance and He is a safe place for us to share our hurts.

Are we afraid?
    He understands.

Are we hurting?
    He understands.

Are we alone?
    He understands.

Are we struggling?
    He understands.

Are we depresssed?
    He understands.

Are we angry?
    He understands.

Are we despairing?
    He understands.

Are we anxious?
    He understands.

Are we frustrated?
    He understands.

Are we numb?
    He understands.

Are we confused?
    He understands.

And I think that not only does He understand, but He also completely accepts us with those feelings and even feels those things along with us.  He  is with us in every emotion, and there with Him is our place of safety to share our heart.  We will not be judged or ridiculed, we will not be rebuked or condemned for what we are feeling.  Instead, we will know His tender care and utter compassion in the midst of all that we feel.  We are allowed to feel.  We are free to be real.  He knows, understands, and feels what's in our human hearts because He has a human heart, too. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 10

                           GRACE IS FOREVER

Grace is forever.  Grace means that God will always be for us and never against us.  He will always hold us.  He will always love us.  He will always accept us. 

Grace always comes to us and grace always finds us.  No matter what we've done, where we've been, or who we've become, He will always accept us.  Always welcome us.  Always means always.

Grace, whose other name is Jesus, will never let us down.  The love that formed the universe will uphold our hearts and uphold our souls.  And uphold our eternity.  We will be forever loved, forever accepted, forever held.

Grace always comes to us.
Grace always holds us.
Grace is forever.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Special Quote

Here's a special quote God gave me recently:

"Peter knew that noone had ever loved him or could ever love him as Jesus did.  The Son of the living God looked into his eyes...and loved him.  The love of Jesus for Peter lay in His complete and unconditional acceptance of him."

God delights in breaking through the craziness of our world and daily life to bring us a love message.  Sometimes it's hard to believe He loves us, for so many other messages come in that seem to say the opposite.  We hear so many lies.  Yet God is true.  He looks into our eyes and sees all the fear, doubt, anxiety, despair, and confusion that is there at times....and He loves us.  He takes us just as we are.  He accepts us without hesitation.  We are worth His Son, which makes us quite valuable and special.  Our sins are gone and we stand before Him beautiful at all times.  I want to gaze into those eyes and be renewed and swept away in the Love that holds me forever!  And I pray that you will experience that Love in a special way, too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 9


The goal of God for our lives is not to change us but to love us.  We won't always have perfect circumstances or perfect behavior, but the cross brought us and God into a perfect relationship.  The goal of God for our lives is for us to enjoy that relationship. 

God wants to hang out with us.  He likes for us to just enjoy everyday life together.  Our life with God is a dance of two lovers who gaze into each other's eyes and swirl around with joy. 

God didn't love us in order to improve us, change us, fix us, or use us for His program.  He loved us in order to share everything of Himself with us.  God's "main thing" is Life.  He made us alive with His Life and shares His Life (Himself) with us.

We can relax and just "be" with God.  Our mission and purpose is just "being" with Him, knowing and being known, sharing life together, enjoying Love.  This is eternal life - knowing Him!  That's the whole reason He brought us to be alive in union with Him.  We are in eternal union with God.  There is no end to this dance of love.  He will forever be whispering in our ear "I love you. I love you. I love you."  There is Someone who knows all about us, our hopes, our fears, our pains, our loss, our doubts, our failures, our insecurities, our longings, - and LOVES US AS WE ARE!  There is a Holy Lover.  There is a True Friend.  There is Someone who will always listen to us, always understand us, always be there for us.  He will be faithful forever, for no matter where our confusion may sometimes take us, He will be traveling down that road with us, loving us perfectly, gently, truly. 

We are accepted in the Beloved.  We are at home in God!  We were made for this!  We are known and understood, accepted and held forevermore!

Friday, December 11, 2009

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Let not your heart be troubled, His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


Some think sparrows are worthless little brown birds.  It's hard to even tell one species from another.  But Jesus knows each one.  Not one of those little feather-bundles falls to the ground without His knowing, seeing, and feeling.  He cares for each of those seemingly unimportant creatures.  They are beautiful and worth much in His sight. 

I have seen myself in exactly this way, seemingly small and insignificant.  I may seem that way to myself or even others, but I'm not that way to God.  I am loved.  Cherished.  Significant.  Watched over, held, accepted.  Never alone.  I have a constant Friend, and I can rest and relax in His goodness!  His love has set me free!  So I can sing and be happy, for His eye is on me.  His heart is on me.  His love is on me.  And His life is in me!  I may be little but I am loved!

That's true for all of us sparrows!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 8


God is not relating to us on the basis of law; the cross dealt with that.  Christ nailed the law, with all its ordinances and requirements against us, to the cross (Col. 2:14).  He fulfilled the law for us.  He took it out of the way, and the law is now obsolete.  He is the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe (Rom 10:5).  We died to the law by the cross and were married to Christ (Rom. 7:4).

God makes no demands on us.  We have no requirements or obligations before God.  God doesn't "should" on us.  We have no Christian duties or obligations.  We are free from the law!  We are not under the law but under grace. We don't think about good and evil, right and wrong, do's and don'ts; we think about Life!  We now have Christ in us, with His righteous nature and desires inside.  Christ is our life, and He will live through us and keep us.  We are truly free from worrying about what we should or shouldn't do, free to enjoy our relationship with Christ!

We never need to do something to get God's favor, for we already have it as a gift by Jesus' work, not our own!  And we never need to do something to "regain" the favor we feel we've lost by sinning.  The fact is, we don't lose His favor when we sin.  (Since His favor is based on Christ's perfect work, the only way we could lose that favor would be if Christ were to sin!  Not gonna happen!)  We are truly free from trying to get God's acceptance and a perfect relationship with Him, free to enjoy the acceptance and perfect relationship we ALREADY have with Him as a gift through Jesus!

The Christian life isn't about what we must do for God; it is about what Jesus already did for us.  It's not all up to us, but all up to Christ, and Christ's work is finished!  All that's left is to enjoy the party!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Right With God and Accepted by Him Forever

 I once read a wonderful illustration in the book Classic Christianity.  The author, Bob George, describes a time when he spoke at a seminary:

"In the course of discussing the Christian's identity in Christ, I asked a series of questions.  "How many of you," I asked, "are as righteous and acceptable in the sight of God as I am?"  Every hand in the auditorium was raised.  "How many of you," I asked again, "are as righteous and acceptable in the sight of God as Billy Graham?"  This time about half of the audience raised their hands.  "How many of you are as acceptable and righteous in the sight of God as the apostle Paul?"  There were around ten percent of the hands raised.  "Now here's the really tough one," I said.  "How many of you in the sight of God are as righteous and acceptable as Jesus Christ?"  Only three hands were raised out of an entire auditorium of seminary students.

"I..told that group of students..."If you are a true Christian, then you are as righteous and acceptable in the sight of God as Jesus Christ!"...2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."

"Righteousness (a right standing of total acceptability before God) is a gift.  You don't work for it.  You don't earn it.  You don't deserve it.  Like any gift, all you can do is accept it or reject it.  And once you have it, it's yours.    

"Those seminary students,able to effectively defend the doctrine of justification by faith, were too timid to state in so many words that they are as righteous as Jesus.  And yet to say one is to say the other.  The word "justified" means to be "declared totally righteous."  (Bob George)

For many years as a Christian, I never felt God accepted me, and that was all I was searching for, all I wanted, just to know He accepted me. I always felt He was disappointed with me.  I felt He must be thinking, "Oh, I love you but I wish you could just do better" sickens me now to think of that LIE I was under!

I also suffered for years under the burden of trying to get "right" with God.  Every time I sinned, I felt I was not "right" with God. So I assumed I needed to pray and confess and somehow show I was going to really be dedicated this time, and then maybe He'd forgive me and I'd be "right" with Him again - ugh - another LIE! (As Bill Gillham says, I rededicated my life to Him so many times that my "rededicator" got worn out! And all along it wasn't my dedication that mattered but His - He is dedicated to us! That's why this whole Christian life thing is so sure!)

Yet here was "justified" being defined as being declared RIGHT/righteous, and here was "righteousness" being defined as being ACCEPTABLE to God and in RIGHT STANDING with Him!  As I read that, it just all clicked together suddenly!  I'd been a Christian for so many years and I didn't even know what those words really meant! Ever since I'd become a Christian I'd been RIGHT with God and ACCEPTED by God. Ever since that day! Every second! No matter what! I had been accepted and right with God all along! What a relief - I can't explain it! It stills feels so wonderful,
years later!

If you have believed in Christ, you are right with God and accepted by Him now and forever!  Nothing can change that!  You have been welcomed in and received into His arms of love for all time!  You are acceptable, okay with God, totally righteous, in right standing, - however you want to say it, everything is all right now between you and God!  You're perfect for Him and in intimate relationship with Him.  He delights in you.  He adores you!  He embraces you completely!  Isn't grace the best thing going?  Grace is something I think we'll be celebrating for all eternity! He saved us to show us His kindness and grace for all eternity - isn't that wonderful!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

By Your Side

Jesus' love song to the world:

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

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

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

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

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

                                  Tenth Ave. North

Friday, December 4, 2009

God And Sinners Reconciled

Hark, the herald angels sing!
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!

When I was in college, I once borrowed something of my friend's without asking her permission.  She was understandably upset, and I was so embarrassed that I couldn't bring myself to apologize.  Years and years later I was still feeling this low-grade guilt about that episode.  Whenever I thought of my friend, I immediately thought of my offense against her.  Finally I gathered up courage and called her on the phone.  I said, "I am so sorry I took your ___, please forgive me."  And you know what she replied?  "I don't even remember that incident!"  Then she told me that all these years she had felt guilty because she had promised to make me a cross-stitch picture (she does beautiful needlework) and she never had made it.  And to that I replied, "I don't remember THAT!"

All these years we had felt guilty about an offense that the other person didn't even REMEMBER!  We had assumed the other person was angry and hurt, when the other person had only good and friendly feelings!  We had felt estranged when all the time the other felt only friendship.  We had been living behind a barrier that didn't even exist, that wasn't even there!  We both felt relief that day and were able to put all our fears and guilt to rest and get on with being friends again.

God and sinners reconciled - the baby born as King and Savior took away our sins and reconciled us to God.  That's true for the whole world (John 1:29)!  He has promised never to remember our sins again, for they are GONE!  They were placed on Christ who became sin for us, and they were absorbed into death forever, never to rise up again.  There is NO barrier between us and God!  We feel estranged, when we think of Him we think of our offense, but He is feeling only love and friendship.  We say, "Oh God, my sin!"  And He says, "What sin?  I've forgotten you ever sinned.  I don't REMEMBER your sin!"  The One we've assumed was angry and hurt is actually looking on us with love and acceptance!  What a gift! We can look at God with clear and unashamed eyes, knowing we've got a Friend. 

Through Jesus God has reconciled the world to Himself and made us His friends.  The eyes of God which gaze on us are full of love and grace.  We receive, we rejoice, we shout for joy, "God accepts me and welcomes me into His arms!  My sins are gone and there is nothing between us!  I am God's friend and He is mine!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 7


God is not dealing with us in reference to sin - the cross finished that.  On the cross Jesus took away all the sins of all people for all time.  He took away all sins - past, present, and future (John 1:29).  Our sins are all forgiven and taken away (lifted off of me).  The punishment due to humanity for sin was taken by Christ - our death He died - so there is no punishment left for us.

When we sin it changes nothing in our relationship with God.  We don't go out of fellowship or stop being "right" with God or need to try to get forgiven.  The sin is already dealt with and we are forgiven people at all times.  We're right with God forever because of Jesus; that won't change no matter what we do.  That means that even in the midst of our worst sin, God is looking on us with a smile and delighting in us!  He's already taken care of that sin completely at the cross (Jesus' work is FINISHED) so it isn't on His mind; what's on His mind is His love for us and His joy in the new creation He made us in Christ!

Thus sin can never come between us and God.  All guilt and shame and condemnation are removed; if we feel any of that, it is not from God.  At the cross all sins were forgiven and God is not counting the sins of the world against them.  Sin, being taken away at the cross, is not longer an issue between us and God.  God is not pointing out what's wrong with us; He's pointing out what's right with us because of Christ!  God doesn't see our sins.  He sees us in Christ as holy new creations with Christ's righteous life inside!

Monday, November 30, 2009

You've Got a Friend

Here's a song for my good friend, Julie. I'm thanking God for her true friendship today! 

"You've Got A Friend"

When you're down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a friend.

If the sky above you
Should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together
And call my name out loud, yeah
Soon I'll be knocking upon your door.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running, oh yes I will
To see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Oh, you've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
You've got a friend.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quotes From the Past

When I first heard about grace, I found a Yahoo group on grace called Believer's Rest.  I never posted on this group, but I read and enjoyed the posts very much.  I almost considered this group like my "grace church" at the time.  The archives for this now defunct group were accidentally deleted long ago, but I copied some of the posts.  Here is one by a member of that group.  I hope it encourages you as much as it has me..

"[God] bundled up every one of [our] sins and placed them on the sinless One, His unique Son, Jesus the Christ.  He dealt with the 'sin' issue once and for all...

"Where there is no law, and there isn't for us as Christians, then there is 'no transgression.'  We can't violate something that doesn't exist in our life.  Let's forget sinning, as God, did, and go about loving, loving, LOVING because that's all we can do.

"Every breath we take we worship Him, full and free, without realizing it.  We are totally free to love as God wants us to, and His Spirit fulfills everything God wants from us.  It's really an 'effortless' thing that we just rest in."
                                                           Marcus Chewning

Friday, November 27, 2009

So Beautiful

Can we hear God singing this song to us?

You are so beautiful to Me..
You are so beautiful to Me..
Can't you see?
You're everything that I hoped for,
Everything I need..
You are so beautiful to Me!

So beautiful - we are altogether lovely in His eyes, a delight to Him!  He wants us to see that, to see that we're beautiful!  Often it seems He impresses this truth on me when I'm at my worst, feeling sinful or condemned - that is when we need to hear it the most, isn't it?  No matter what we do we are beautiful to God!

Everything that He's hoped for - We're the child of His dreams, His dream come true!  We're just as He dreamed we would be, made just as He desired, fulfilling all His hopes.  We are perfect new creations wonderfully made by God Himself!

Everything He needs - He doesn't need us to change or be any different than we are right now.  We are perfect to Him, made complete and whole in Christ!  He is so delighted with what He made, His great masterpiece of grace - us!   He knows we have all that's needed because He gave it to us when He gave us Himself!

We are so beautiful to Him!  Have a beautiful day in our beautiful God!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Condemnation

I have been reading some messages by Rob Rufus lately on how Jesus dealt with our sin and gave us His righteousness.  It has been so encouraging!  So great to meditate on the truth!  It is so beautiful to think that because of Jesus, we are never condemned.  Never!  To me, condemnation is the opposite of acceptance, and acceptance for me is just another word for grace.  The law covenant was a covenant of condemnation and ministered death; the grace covenant is a covenant of acceptance and ministers life!

It is so easy to feel condemned and guilty when we sin, but such a relief to know that those feelings are not from God!  He never condemns us or berates us for our sins.  Condemnation and guilt feelings leave us feeling ashamed, but God says all who call on His name (believers) will never be ashamed!  So those shame feelings aren't from God at all!

He never even convicts us of our sins!  (That goes against what I always thought - but when I really look closely at scripture, I don't see any place where conviction of sin is used for believers.  Wow!)  In the past I thought His main focus was in pointing out our sins, but that isn't so!  He is not pointing out our sins, He is busy pointing out our righteousness which we have as a gift in Christ!

One of my favorite Bible passages is Isaiah 54.  I remember sitting in church one day reading that chapter and suddenly seeing with new eyes verses 9 - 10: 
    “ For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
      For as I have sworn
      That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
      So have I sworn
      That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
      For the mountains shall depart
      And the hills be removed,
      But My kindness shall not depart from you,
      Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
      Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

God swears He will never be angry with us or rebuke us - that is so amazing!  That means that any sinking feeling that God must be angry or disapproving of us after we sin is A LIE and not from Him!  In fact He says His kindness and the peace between us will never be removed from us, never!  Even when we sin!  Even when we sin, He is looking on us with kindness and is at peace with us - wow!

Isn't it wonderful that God isn't focusing on our sins?  Jesus already took them to the cross and brought us forgiveness.  He is finished dealing with sin, for He said on the cross 'It is finished!'  God is focusing on the fact that we are the righteousness of God in Christ.  That is the truth that He is speaking into our hearts.  He knows what He did in us through Jesus, and He did something wonderful - He got rid of our sins and our old sinful selves and re-created us in Christ as holy and righteous children of God having the very righteousness and life of Christ within!  We have a new heart and nature that is pure and innocent and beautiful to God!  Wow - we are beautiful to Him! 

I want to be strengthened every day in the truth that God never condemns, accuses, guilts, convicts, disapproves, shames, or gets angry with me!  He is always saying that I am His righteous and holy child, made perfect by the once for all sacrifice of Jesus!  That's true for everyone who believes in the Son!

Peace to everyone who stops by today!  And Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Your Love Makes Me Sing

Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging
Your love is a mountain, firm beneath my feet
Your love is a mystery, how You gently lift me
When I am surrounded, Your love carries me

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Your love makes me sing!

Your love is surprising, I can feel it rising
All the joy that's growing deep inside of me
Every time I see You all Your goodness shines through
I can feel this God-song rising up in me

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Your love makes me sing!
                                       Brenton Brown, Brian Doerkson

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Will Jesus Ever Backslide?

I read this quote from a message by Ryan Rufus recently and loved it:

"You do not have a covenant with God. God didn’t make a covenant with you. He made it with His Son. He made it with Jesus. And then He brought you into it because you are in Jesus. Jesus will never ever break His end of the covenant – He fulfills it perfectly. He is eternal! He is a perfect sacrifice. He offered a perfect sacrifice, which perfectly removes your sins and perfectly makes you righteous.

"He EVER lives to intercede for you and I! That means in the eternity of eternities if we ever sin then we are STILL righteous! We will never ever get kicked out of His Presence and the oath God makes with us – the way it works is that God binds Himself to the New Covenant – the grace covenant – and says;“I will bind Myself and promise that I will never, ever relate to man through his righteousness but I swear by an oath to always and ever relate to man through Christ’s righteousness and on man’s behalf!”.

"The New Covenant is not a fault-finding covenant. You have to get that – you have to see that. It can never be a fault-finding covenant because God is not relating to you through your performance. He is relating to you through Christ’s performance. God will never find fault with Christ – He is perfect. He is absolutely perfect! For you to break covenant with God or to lose your covenant with God would mean that Jesus would have to be made unperfect. It would mean that Jesus would have to backslide. It is absolutely impossible for Jesus to backslide – He is absolutely perfect in all description. He is indestructibly perfect. He is immutable and unchangeable and we are perfect with Him and He has made us perfect forever. This is the good news! This unlocks Scripture!"

The only way we could lose out on the New Covenant would be if Jesus were to backslide!  Imagine Jesus backsliding - it is so ludicrous!  Jesus is just never going to sin - never!  If anyone's righteousness is sure, it's HIS!  And since we are in a covenant based on HIS righteousness, not our puny filthy-rag-righteousness, therefore we are SECURE!  SAFE!  HOME FREE FOREVER!  We just can't mess this up.  I love how secure my righteousness before God is, since it's actually His righteousness given to me for free.  And it's true for you, too! Have a great day in Him, celebrating the fact that the unbackslideable Jesus is keeping you!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Recently I've been reading a book by Darin Hufford called The Misunderstood God.  It's very good and eye-opening, basically showing that the true nature of God is often the polar opposite of what we may have come to believe.

He talks about how God in love will never leave or abandon us.  It's wonderful to know we are secure in Him and He won't ever reject us.  Our relationship with Him is a "done deal".  We just can't mess this up!  Here are some quotes from the book on that subject:

"Security is free, open space all relationships need to grow.  You have that in God...Your relationship with God and your security with Him can never be taken from you.

"The starting point of all true relationships is the knowledge that we will never be abandoned - our experience of love will never be taken away for any reason.  This is the foundation of relationship with God and, therefore, the very foundation of faith.

"What kind of security is there if it's not total and absolute?  We give it to our children without a thought - why wouldn't God, who created us, give the same as our 'Father'?

"Love is the author of forever covenants."
                                                                 Darin Hufford

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 6


God loves us.  To love is to give value, thus God's love for us shows us that He see us as valuable and important to Him.  To love is also to delight in, thus God's love for us shows that He delights in us and wants us around.  He likes to be with us.  He actually likes us!  He made and likes each one's personality and enjoys being with us.  He knows us in every way, knows us in our nakedness, and loves us as we are!  He rejoices over us and sings of His love for us (Zeph. 3:17)!  We are the pearl of great price that He "found" and just can't give up! 

His love is so deep and wide it truly fills Him and encompasses everything He is, so much so that He is actually defined as love! And it is a perfect love.  God actually loves us with the same love Has has for Jesus (John 17:23)!

His love for us is a great big love.  It cannot get any bigger, and nothing we do or think would ever make it get smaller.  His love absorbed all our sin on the cross, taking away anything that would keep us from fully enjoying that love.  Yes, it is in Jesus' life, death and resurrection that His wonderful love is revealed.  He went through the hell of carrying all our sins in order to bring us back - that's true love!

He doesn't relate to us in order to "use" us, and He has no hidden agenda - just showering His love on us and being with us is an end in itself.  In fact, just being with us in loving union the "main thing" with Him (John 17:26)!  His focus is not on changing us but on loving us.  Relationship with us is the most important thing to Him!  God has a wonderful plan and goal for our life, and it is to love us, to love us, to love us...

God's love is without condition, given for free.  We don't have to do or be anything to get it or to keep it coming.  It's ours already - now and forever - freely given just because that is how He is!  He will never relate to us on any other basis than love!  Not on the basis of sin, performance, law, change, growth, teaching a lesson, - not anything else but LOVE!

And this love is a forever love.  It will outshine the brightest stars and outlast eternity.  We are loved for good, for all time, forevermore!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

God's Focus

I don't know where I read this quote, but I love it and thought I'd share it:

"God's focus is not on changing us but on loving us - and not loving till we're helped or healed, just loving freely with no expectations."

"Mostly what God does is love you....Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was no cautious but extravagant.  He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us"  (from Eph. 5, MSG).

So many times I fail or get confused, and He is still there loving.  Just loving.  His love is like cool water pouring down on parched lips or a refreshing breeze in the hot desert.  He just keeps on "loving freely with no expectations." 

That makes me feel free, and I should feel free because I AM FREE in Him!  You too! Free from shoulds, free from ought to's, free from regrets, free from struggles to "understand", free - free to enjoy being loved!  We are in the Lover's arms expectations...only Life....only freedom and relief!  I needed to hear that today!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Just the Way You Are

So many of the lyrics in this song just fit how God relates to us:  with grace and acceptance, not "conditional love."  We don't have to change a thing.  If we never improve, never do another thing for Him, never fully understand or live out grace, it doesn't matter.  He accepts us just the way we are. I see it as a love song from God to us:

              JUST THE WAY YOU ARE

Don't go changing to try and please me,
You never let me down before,
Don't imagine you're too familiar,
And I don't see you anymore.

I would not leave you in times of trouble,
We never could have come this far,
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times,
I'll take you just the way you are.

Don't go trying some new fashion,
Don't change the color of your hair,
You always have my unspoken passion,
Although I might not seem to care.

I don't want clever conversation,
I never want to work that hard,
I just want someone that I can talk to,
I want you just the way you are.

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew,
What will it take till you believe in me,
The way that I believe in you?

I said I love you and that's forever,
And this I promise from the heart,
I couldn't love you any better,
I love you just the way you are.

                                                         Billy Joel

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 5

                        WE ARE SAFE AND SECURE

Because of what Christ did for us, we are safe in His hand and nothing or noone can pluck us out.  The evil one cannot touch us (1John 5:18b).  God will never leave us or forsake us - so there's never anything we or anyone else could do to ever make Him leave.  Sin is the only thing that brings  alienation, and since He's taken all our sin away already, we'll never be alienated from Him again, no matter what, ever! 

We're stuck together by "grace glue"!  He promised He'd never turn away from us or stop doing good to us, and He's given us a new heart that won't turn away from Him (Jer. 32:40).  He'll neither leave us nor let us go.  We can fail and still be "in" - that's security in His love.  He put us "in" and keeps us in by His grace, not be any work of ours; and since it's up to Him and His work, it's done and sure.

We're not vulnerable.  We don't have to think that "anything" can happen to us; we're safe in His hand.  He won't harm us.  He won't send evil things on us, for He only gives good gifts.  His Life in us will buoy us up in every situation.  He will never leave us alone no matter how we react to hard times.  He will carry us safely in His arms no matter what.  He always leads us in triumph (2 Co. 2:14).

God has a hold on us and He's not letting go.  His Spirit sealed us for the day of redemption - we're secure in Him.  He will finish what He's started in us.  He will bring us physically to the heavenly kingdom (I say physically because our spirits are already there, relaxing on His lap on the throne, "seated with Him in heavenly places" - Eph. 2:6).  With Jesus, we cannot lose.  And we can't mess this up, it's a done deal.  As R.F. Capon says, "You can't get away from a love that will not let you go!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Happiness of God

I have spent most of my life thinking of God as an sullen God or a disappointed God.  At least I usually saw Him as a very serious God.  Yet more and more He's showing me He's a happy God.  He's jovial and joyful.  He's got a spring in His step, a sparkle in His eyes, a song on His lips!

God is happy, I believe.  He's happy because He knows grace wins!  God is happy about the perfect, finished work of His Son and what it accomplished - the forgiveness of humanity!  And He's happy when we see that finished work on our behalf, delighting in our smile as we realize we are loved and accepted for free.  The good news of grace is the happiest message in the world!  He did a perfect work in us and He's happy with what He made us - new creations in Christ.  He is always pleased with His work, and we are His workmanship...that means He's pleased with us!   We are beautifully re-made by God Himself, Designer Originals with His stamp of approval on us.

If He's happy with what He made, we need never condemn ourselves for failure.  We need never fear He'll withdraw favor if we do something poorly or mess up.  He doesn't see us in terms of good or bad actions but only as alive and new creations in His Son!  He's joyful about what He sees!  And if God is happy with me, I can be happy with me, too....

God, I wasn't feeling very joyful today, yet I had been planning on posting this and so I went ahead and did so.  Just typing the words in encouraged me!  Thank you for Your joy in me even when I don't feel so happy.  Thank you that you ARE my joy and happiness which can never be stolen from me!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rejoicing Always

God gives us joy and He is joyful in us.  And nothing can take away our joy!  Here is part of a message by Graham Cooke that is so encouraging on our joy in Him:

"Living in Christ makes us vulnerable to laughter. Laughter is more than a choice; it’s a requirement for us that we be happy. God’s highest plan for our lives includes a desire for us to find, live in, and love the joy that is in Christ. God is good news! His love and presence is an absolute tonic for us.

“'These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full,' Jesus said in John 15:11. Every time God speaks to us, or reveals more of His nature to us, joy is part of that equation. Beholding Him and becoming like Him is an invitation to party and celebrate with Him. Everything God says to us is designed to bring us into joy. Everything in the Kingdom of Heaven is about gladness, joy, happiness, and laughter. God wants to bring a smile to our faces.

"God is joyful because He knows what’s coming next. He knows the final score. When you know the end from the beginning, you can’t help but laugh at all of evil’s schemes and tricks. They become irrelevant when you know that you win. There is a continuous joy in Christ that runs so deep that no one else can even touch it...

"For me, joy is a safeguard. It’s a shield against the enemy. When the enemy comes, we can laugh in his face—because God laughs at him first...

"Psalm 23:5—'You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.'

"When we’re on the battlefield just trying to survive the next wave of the enemy, God is thinking about menus. He looks around and says, 'What a great place for a picnic! We can have sausage rolls, meat pies, cheese sandwiches. This will be perfect.' He is so secure in who He is and in His power to defeat any enemy that He can feed us in the middle of the worst battle of our lives. And that confidence should be a source of pure joy in our lives."
                                                           Graham Cooke

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 4

                       WE ARE COMPLETE IN CHRIST

There is no need to try to become something we already are or get to a place where we already are.  We are complete in Him (Col. 2:10).  God says He already foreknew, predestined, called, justified and glorified us (Rom. 8:29-30).  God says He already washed, cleansed and sanctified us (1 Co. 6:11).  We're home.  We're sitting on Daddy's lap, held close by Him, at home with Him.  We already have all of God and all in Him.  We are not lacking in any way.  We're already close to Him - one with Him, in union, "in" - and you can't get any closer than that!  We are already pleasing to Him - as pleasing as Jesus is.  We are already communing and fellowshipping with Him.  The Spirit even prays for and in us, and that's perfect prayer.

Our relationship wasn't put in place by our works and it isn't maintained by us, either.  Nothing we do can change His love for us.  We're not trying to get righteous, get closer to God, get God's favor, or get an intimate relationship with God - we already have a perfect relationship with God.  We are righteous and accepted right now, so there is no need to strive to get what we already have.  We're perfect to God right now, perfected forever by the one perfect sacrifice of Jesus!

We live out of what is already true.  We live in the land of "already there", not the land of "trying to get there".  We are full of Him; we shall not hunger, shall not thirst, shall not walk in darkness, shall not lack!

A Little Change

Since I've started blogging, I've been thinking of how to have a blog that fits both my personality and my purpose.  I've decided after much thought to remove the comments area and instead might put up an email address for anyone to contact me with comments, questions, thoughts, and etc.  I've found that sometimes if I have a really big question, I would rather contact the person directly by email to ask it. So it's a bit of a personal preference.

This decision wasn't based on any comments I received at all; it was based on my own personality and my purpose for this blog.  So I hope that is okay with everyone who stops by here!  All I have met have been so kind to me as I entered this new world of blogging.  I have appreciated all your comments and support.  You have each been part of my growing understanding of grace!  So I hope that my decision is okay and will be a good fit for this blog. I am stumbling along a bit finding what works best for me. 

                                       With love to all from


Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Daddy and Me

I look at the sin and what's lacking
   in my faith, in my understanding
You don't look at that
You see a child
That needs to run and play
A child that needs to smile again

You see someone precious to You
That You hold close
You see Your baby
Your precious one that You hold
  so dear
You snuggle Your baby girl close to
  Your heart

You are delighted in Your little one
She's perfect in Your eyes and
 Always will be
You look in her eyes and are delighted
  with her

You see someone you want to talk to
Someone You like to be with
Someone You want to share Your life with
Someone special to You

She is held so close and safe
She need never fear
For Daddy will take care of her
She's warm and embraced in Your arms

You love to hear her laugh
You look at her with compassion,
  so proud of her
You're never too busy for her
You love to play with her
To watch her dance with joy
  and live free

You love Your girl - that's me!

Thank you so much for this, Daddy!  I needed to hear that today!  You hold me close!  You love Your precious child!  I will always be in Your arms.  It's a LIE that I'm ever far from You, displeasing to You, or lacking in any way in Your eyes.  I love You!

It's true for all of us, no matter how we feel, no matter how we've failed, no matter how little we understand, no matter how our faith lags - we're still little children held safe in His arms today!  We are hugged!  We are cherished!  This is what we were made for!  Just to be loved by our Daddy!

Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the CHILDREN of GOD: and that is WHAT WE ARE! (1 John 3:1)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More Fall Photos

Here's some more fall photos.  The top one is at my aunt's farm - she has some beautiful woods!  The middle one is the view from the top of my neighbor's driveway.  The bottom shows leaves on the grass.

Peace to all who stop by today!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 3


Since Christ is in us, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  Christ has given us His righteousness; we're not only declared righteous, we are righteous because we have a new nature, the nature of Christ within - His very life and righteousness!  When He died, He took our old sinful self down to the grave with Him, and when He rose He raised us up a new holy, self in Him!  We're new creations, with a new self created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24).  We've been perfected forever (Heb. 10:14).  Since we've been justified (made innocent and right with God), there's no condemnation because it's God Himself who says we're right with Him! 

We delight in God's law in the inner (real, true) self.  We don't want to sin; it's not our nature.  We've been given a new heart that desires to do good and longs to please Him, and He has caused us to walk in His ways.  He's given us a new heart that won't turn away from Him, and He's promised He won't turn away from us or stop doing good to us (Jer. 32:40).  He's taken away our sin and made us good!  When joined to sin, we were separate from Him.  Now joined to Him, we're separate from sin!  So now we can stop worrying about sin and just enjoy our being together with Him!

Having His perfect righteousness, we have a perfect relationship with Him always (righteousness means right relationship).  We are right with Him always, even when we sin or fail!  We never lose that relationship or go out of fellowship!  Christ earned all this for us and gave it to us as a gift.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 2


We are in union with Him!  God created us for intimate union and constant fellowship with Him, and that's what we have right now and for all eternity because of Christ's finished work!

The one joined to Christ is one spirit with Him  (1 Co. 6:11).  We are all we were ever meant to be:  one with the One who is Life (Dan Stone).  There's no more separation.  His Spirit is in us.  We're hidden with Christ in God.  We're in Him, and He's in us.  We're one with Him as He is one with the Father!  No need to try to get closer to God, for we're in Him - you can't get any closer than that!

Our life is a dance with our Lover, and we'll gaze into each other's eyes for all eternity!  We're wrapped in His arms of love and can't get away.  Nothing can take us out of Him.  He's always with us and we're always with Him.  We'll never be alone!  We have all of Him in us already, right now!  We're filled with God through our union with Christ  We have everything since we have Christ (Col. 2:10)!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wonderful Truths of Grace, Part 1

Over time, it seems I keep coming back to certain things about God's grace that mean so much to me.  These truths are the ones I need to hear every day, the ones I need to "preach" to myself, the ones that just make my heart sing!  Sometimes I have trouble believing them, but still they're true!  I'd like to post them one at a time.

                      GOD ACCEPTS US

We're accepted.  "He made us accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6).  The word translated accepted means "to grace, to favor".  He has graced us and favored us.  We are standing in His grace (Rom. 5:1)!  He has welcomed us in and embraced us.  We're adopted into His family and are His beloved children.  The Spirit confirms this and tells us to call Him "Daddy"!  He loves us with the same love He has for Jesus (John 17:23)!  We're accepted no matter what happens, no matter what we do.  We are accepted at our lowest, even.  We are accepted as we are, not as we should be (Brennan Manning).  We are taken in, brought into His circle of love.  He is totally okay with us.  And this acceptance is never based on us our our performance but always on Him and His nature of love.  His acceptance is freely given and never needs to be "earned".

This was one of the first big grace truths that God showed me, and I'm still needing to hear it daily.  It changed my life to find out that what I had been trying so hard to get - His acceptance - was mine already.  The cross is God loving us, embracing us, ACCEPTING us.  So we are okay to God!  He's not angry with us, disappointed with us, or frustrated with us...He's happy with us, content with us!  We are accepted!  Thank you for that, Jesus!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Special Place

The woods I walk through with God....

Peace and Joy to You

I am a nature lover.  I often see God's love and beauty when I'm outdoors.  His world is so beautiful - my special places are the beach, the mountains, the woods, open fields, and waterfalls.  But my favorite "nature thing" is my morning walk through my neighbors' woods, which they kindly allow us to enjoy.  Just a short walk under the trees can uplift and invigorate my soul.  I really can't explain how special this walk is to me. 

I remember something Darin Hufford once talked about how God just likes to spend time with us.  He was saying that the Christian life isn't about change but about relationship, just enjoying life with God.  It suddenly dawned on me that God wanted to walk in the woods with me.  This revelation brought tears to my eyes!  He just wants to hang out with me and enjoy that special walk that I love so much.  And I don't have to pray or make it a spiritual activity.  It something we can just enjoy together.

Here is an old blessing that I'd like to send your way!  May you enjoy your life today in the One who blessed you with everything in Christ!

                          Peace and Joy

Peace of the running waves to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the shades of night to you,
Moon and stars always giving light to you,
Deep peace of Christ, the Son of Peace, to you.

                                                         (Scottish blessing)

Joy of the waving grass to you,
Bright joy of the singing brooks to you,
Bright joy of the sunlit trees to you,
Bright joy of the cloudless sky to you,
Bright joy of the break of day to you,
Warm sun always giving light to you,
Bright joy of Christ, the Risen Life, to you.

                                                         (my addition)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Let's Get Crazy

This is what I feel it's like, jumping (or falling - failing!) into grace!  It's a great party, a wonderful new life, so let's get up and dance!

Are you ready?
Here we go!

Life is just a party so come as you are,
Dress it up or dress it down,
Never forget your guitar,
Just be courageous,
This style's contagious
Everyone can rock out like a superstar.

Lets get crazy!!
Get up and dance,
Take a swing,
Do your thing,
If were taking a chance,
Lets get crazy!!
Turn the music up loud,
Now's the time to unwind,
Lose yourself in the crowd,
Lets get crazy!!

Yeah the fun's just begun,
Come on dance everyone.

Here's an invitation, to every nation.
Oh Oh yeah, Oh Oh yeah

Take a swing, do your thing,
If were taking a chance,
Lets get crazy!!
Yeah just kick up your heels,
Don't miss out, time to shout,
Always keeping it real,
Lets get crazy!!
                                        (song - Hannah Montana)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Worry About Growth (and a Testimony)

I have spent a large portion of my Christian life worrying about my growth.  Was I growing?  Was I growing enough?  Was I growing in all the right areas?  Was I growing as much as others?

Then I burned out on Christianity.  I just got so tired, I couldn't maintain the effort.  I couldn't keep the "perfect" mask on straight enough.  The Christian life just seemed so HARD.  I figured that I was basically a failure at Christian living, growth, righteous living, you name it. Everything felt cold and dead.  I just didn't feel like trying anymore.  So I didn't...

It was Christmastime.  The church was decorated with greenery, so lovely and festive.  I just sort of sat there.  And I remember the pastor saying, "Ask God to touch you this Christmas."  Yeah, right.  I knew that wouldn't do anything for me.  But I said inside in a half-hearted way, "Ok, God, touch me."

Well, what happened on that day was magical.  By the time I got out to the church parking lot, God had actually spoken in that still, small, but unmistakable voice - to me!  He had whispered words of reassurance that were just what I needed.  And something started to wake up inside..

Some time around this day, I can't remember exactly when, I was talking to my dear cousin on the phone.  We had always sort of connected about spiritual things.  He casually mentioned that his church had been teaching about GRACE, and it was like the words stood out in my mind just like those capital letters!  Of course, you can guess the rest of the story.  He recommended a few books, and it didn't take long before I was ruined by grace.  Yes, another victim of victory, to quote Rob Rufus.  Another captive of compassion!  Another grace junkie.  Yes, legalism lost another one - ha ha!  I have never been the same!

Well, I say all that to ask a question: why did God speak to me that day in the church parking lot?  Why then, when I was at the lowest, dumbest, most burned out point of my whole Christian life?  I think He wanted to show me something - that this whole work of salvation, sanctification, Christian growth and Christian living DID NOT DEPEND ON ME!  I always thought it was all up to me to make life work, or else He wouldn't accept me.  And here He was saying He had accepted me all along, and that everything depended on Him.

If everything depends on Him, why should I worry about growing?  Why should I worry about trying?  Why should I compare myself with others?  Why should I keep doing "fruit checks" to see if I'm progressing?  Why should I even be focused on my progress or changing at all?  HE'S TAKING CARE OF IT!  So I don't have to.  In fact He's already made me perfect in Christ, and He'll bring that perfection out in His time and in His way.  I'm free to take a nap with Jesus.  Sounds like a great idea!

                              The Rebellious Vine

One day, the vine
That climbed on God's own house
Cried, "I will not GROW,"
And, "I will NOT grow,"
And, "I WILL not grow,"
And, "I will not grow."
So God leaned out His head,
And said:

"You need not."  Then the vine
Fluttered its leaves, and cried to all the winds:
"Oh, have I not permission from the Lord?
And may I not begin to cease to grow?"
But that wise God had pondered on the vine
Before He made it
And all the while it labored NOT to grow,
It grew; it grew;
And all the time God knew.

                                                 Poem by Harold Monro

A Wedding Song

I love the idea in scripture of us being the bride of Christ.  It's a beautiful metaphor and also a beautiful reality!  I took some verses from Isaiah and Psalms, using the Message Bible, and sort of rearranged them into a wedding song for us and our Heavenly Bridegroom...

                              A Wedding Song

   I'll marry love and tenderness.
   I'll marry you for good - forever!
   Yes, I'll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go.

   You'll address me, "Dear Husband!"
   You'll know Me, God, for who I really am.
   I'll say, "You're My dear Somebody."

   Your Maker is your Bridegroom...
   Happy to have you back, He'll calm you with His love
      and delight you with His songs...

   Oh, I'm so glad in Your presence!
   Festival joy!
   The joy of a great celebration...

   It's with lasting love that I'm tenderly caring for you..
   My love won't walk away from you...
   I'd never forget you - never.
   Look, I've written your name on the backs of My hands.
   You'll be called, "My Delight"...

   God delights in you...
   The King is wild for you...
   As a bridegroom is happy in his bride, so your God is
      happy with you...

   God promises to love me all day,
   Sing songs all through the night.
   I am the Beloved of God.

   You are precious and honored in My sight, because
      I love you.
   I have loved you with an everlasting love..
   I've never quit loving you and never will...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

You Never Let Go

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even though I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back I know You are near

I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh, no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh, no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh, no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

You keep on loving and You never let go..

                                                      Matt Redman

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Will Always Be The Beloved

It's just amazing that He would call me Beloved.  And it's true for all of us: we really are beloved of God.  "I have loved you with an everlasting love," He says.

Many times it's hard for me to see beyond my failures and really believe He loves me.  I've tended to see God through my sin, but God is beyond and above sin.  He's taken care of sin anyway!  He freely loves me..  He says it and that means it's a fact.  Not a possiblity.  Not a goal to reach.  Not a future hope.  God loves me and everyone as we are NOW!

So who cares about the devil, about condemnation, about feeling separated or unworthy...He loves us!  That is true whether I believe it or not, see it or not, feel it or not.  It doesn't depend on me.  What a relief that it's there no matter what...

Here is part of a talk by Graham Cooke that has comforted me in His love:

"You will always be the Beloved...
His love is unchanging and He love you 100%
He won't love you any better when you become better
He loves you 100% right now
And even if you have no plans to become better,
He will still love you 100%
Because that's the way He is.
And even if you don't want to change,
He will love you 100%
Even if you have no plans to walk with Him,
He will love you 100%
Because that's His nature
He loves all the way, all the time
His love is unchanging...

"[God says:]
I love you as you are right now
I love you 100% as you are right this moment
I love you as you are
So be loved
You are the Beloved
It is your job, says the Lord, to be loved outrageously...

"Beloved, you are Beloved
You are My Beloved
And in My love, I want you to feel good about yourself."

                                                                Graham Cooke

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Autumn

This is such a lovely time of the year!  Today at the park with some friends I was able to take in some gorgeous fall scenery.  Beautiful maple leaves glowing scarlet, the soft light filtering through the trees, the clearest blue sky you ever saw, it was so lovely!  Thank you God for such a day!  I believe You "done it for love"!


A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tints of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high;
And all over upland and lowland
The charm of the goldenrod,-
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

                                      William H. Carruth

Monday, October 19, 2009

Peel Back The Law

It seems like the answer to so many things in the Christian life is to just peel back the law, remembering that we aren't under the old covenant (law) now but the new (grace).  (I'm getting the phrase "peel back the law" and some of the ideas that come out of it from a blog called Truly Amazing Grace.  I thought it was a neat concept and I sort of ran with that idea in the following paragraphs.)

How do I walk by the Spirit or be led by the Spirit?  Peel back the Law.  We are free from the law, free from rules and regulations, free to do as we want.  And we want to hang out with Jesus, love people, and enjoy real life!  Peel back the law, and the natural desires of Christ in us just come to the surface and we live "freely and lightly"!  Without even trying, we live by the Spirit as easily as we breathe.  Peeling back the law makes everything so easy and natural.

How do I convince myself I'm okay with God even when I sin?  Peel back the Law.  Where there is no law, there is no transgression.  There's no punishment, then, either.  So even if we sin, nothing at all has changed in our relationship with God.  Nothing that we do can get between us and God since our relationship is based on grace instead of law.  We're never lawbreakers in His eyes!

How do I have the close and intimate relationship with God that I so desire?  Peel back the Law.  God is not holding us to a bunch of standards to meet in order to be close to Him.  Intimacy with Him is not earned but freely given ALREADY in Christ.  There are no "shoulds" hanging over our lives that will pull us from Him if we fail to comply.  We cannot mess this relationship up!  God has no demands upon us, so we are FREE to fellowship with Him completely unhindered and uninhibited and unashamed.

I love it when God peels back the law ideas I may have so I can see clearly through grace eyes!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Breathe Easy

Lately I have been thinking about what it means to walk by the Spirit or be led by the Spirit.  Since all who believe in Christ are truly IN the Spirit, not in the flesh, it seems that walking by the Spirit would just mean being oneself.  It's our reality to be in the Spirit, so living out of that seems like it would be very natural, as easy as breathing.

Here is an article from the archives of an old grace website (Eternity Now) that expresses this idea:

Breathe Easy

"I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Never?  Did Jesus really say, "never"?  How often do believers walk in darkness?  It may be difficult to believe, but when Jesus says never, He means never.  You probably thought that you were walking in darkness at least some of the time, so what did Jesus mean when He said that as a believer, you will always walk in the light?

The purpose of the gospel is to open our eyes and turn us from darkness to light (Acts 26:18).  God has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13).  This was not by your own doing, or by your own obedience, but by His doing.  You no longer stumble around in the dark trying to find God -- you are in Christ, who is the light of the world!  You are a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Co. 5:17).

We walk in the light, not by doing the things we do, but because we have a new identity in Him.  Following Jesus is just like breathing.  It is something we do because of who we are.

Breathing is one of the few functions we do both voluntarily and involuntarily.  We often think about breathing.  Take a deep breath.  Now exhale.  You can control it, right?  Take another deep breath, but this time, don't exhale.  Don't breathe... Keep holding you breath...You'll hunger for air, crave it.  But be stubborn.  Resist!  Don't breathe...

What happens if you refuse to breathe?  You'll pass out -- then you'll breathe.  You were really never in control.  You just thought you were.  You can't help yourself -- you breathe without thinking about it.  It's the way you are made.  Sheesh!  That was a foolish exercise, wasn't it?  Let's not repeat that one.

Do you want to walk in the light?  Great!  It's as easy as breathing.  Read the verse again, carefully.  Jesus says those who follow Him are walking "in" the light.  He isn't describing "how" they walk, but "where" they walk.  They have the light of life, Jesus Himself.  In Him, they aren't struggling with how to live the Christian life.  Christ is alive in them!

Now, try walking in the light by doing the right things.  You can control it, right?  Try harder... Keep trying... You'll hunger for it, crave it, but you will fail.  In the end, you will have no choice but to fall upon God's grace.  You were really never in control.  You just thought you were.

Jesus is always with us, everywhere we go.  Everything we do is done in Christ!  Because we are always in Him, we are always in the light.  We don't hide in the darkness. We don't have to be ashamed.  We are not condemned.  You who have followed Christ are walking in the light.  Sin can't control us; God does.  We don't live the Christian life, He does.  We can trust Him; take a deep breath.  Rest in Him.  Enjoy!

                                                       Paul and Becki Armstrong

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Law vs. Love

Law burdens.
Love blesses.

Law breeds rebellion.
Love breeds rebirth.

Law puts demands on us.
Love puts desires in us.

Law is the realm of force.
Love is the realm of freedom.

Law inevitably leads to condemnation.
Love inevitably leads to consolation.

It's so good to be under the love covenant, not the law covenant!  The law covenant put rules on me which I couldn't bear, but the love covenant invites me to come rest in Jesus' arms!  The law covenant pointed out all that what wrong with me, but the love covenant points out that Jesus is delighted with me!  The law covenant made me feel unworthy; the love covenant makes me feel embraced!

The greatest power for good in this world is not law at all but love!  "...but the greatest of these is LOVE" (1Co. 13:13)!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunset Thoughts

I went out in the backyard a few days ago to a more open spot, not blocked by woods, where I could see a beautiful sunset.  Pink, gold and purple bands streaked across the wide, bluish sky.  It was so pretty.  Then as I was walking back to the house, two things happened: I smelled the fresh, grassy smell of the yard and I heard the twilight chorus of cicadas.  Suddenly I was transported back to my childhood.

I grew up on a small farm, and the smell of grass after rain was so clean and good that it just made you feel better.  And the woods behind my childhood home were filled with cicadas and little frogs that would "sing" so loudly on summer nights.  It was a peaceful feeling to realize that after all these years, those two things were still the same.  The grass still smelled so fresh.  The night creatures still sang.  I grew up, my life went through ups and downs, but it was comforting to know those special parts of God's creation were unchanged.

I think that is what God is teaching me about His grace lately.  Though I have maneuvered through the years and experienced highs and lows, He and His grace haven't changed.  Our relationship is still perfect because of Jesus' work.  His love toward me is just as strong.  He still looks on me with love.  He still holds me close.  I haven't out-sinned grace, I haven't drifted out of His love, I haven't ruined my chances with Him because of whatever wrong choices I've made.  I have changed, but that doesn't matter, because He hasn't.

It's nice to know some things never change, like the fragrance of green grass and the fragrance of unconditional love....and like the sweet song of cicadas and the sweet song of His acceptance!
May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14